Here’s a version of something that comes late in Chapter One of my Ecologies of the Moving Image manuscript. This follows a description of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (USSR, 1979), which I take as a kind of paradigmatic model for the process-relational framework the book develops. Here I discuss the film in its relationship to its social and material contexts, including that of the Chernobyl accident, which occurred seven years after the film was released, but which the film might just have anticipated.
If Thoreau’s quest to “live deliberately [...] and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” were cross-bred with A. N. Whitehead’s insight that creativity is the driving core of all things in the universe, the “universal of universals,” then today’s “artmonks” are children not of Marx and Coca-Cola (as Godard once labeled the activists of the 1960s and Xiaoping Lin more recently called the Chinese artistic avant-garde), but children of Thoreau and Whitehead.
There is something sad and elemental about them, in their depiction of the self-containedness of our worlds and their ultimate vulnerability in the face of the chaos beyond. At the same time, the title suggests an alchemical remedy of sorts. Is this the elixir (of self-awareness) that will heal the rift between us and the cosmos, the child-like Aeon about to be born into the storm, or is it just another placebo, the child’s toy of Heidegger’s account of the Heraclitean Aion (which, after all, is as good as things get in this part of the universe)?
To the USA, perhaps… But mostly neither here nor there…
- There’s an interesting flare-up occurring over Moammar Gaddafi’s son Saif’s Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, involving respected political theorists David Held and Benjamin Barber, among others. (See Eric Schliesser for more.) The issues it raises are as old as the oldest profession: universities’ acceptance of money from dubious sources and whether it’s possible for that money not to have “strings attached,” the role of advisers and examiners in checking out every potential instance of plagiarism, the glamor of well-dressed and politically well-placed youth (why wouldn’t you want to teach Gaddafi’s son if he seems smart and interested in what you have to say?), etc. I once taught a niece of Robert Mugabe’s; nothing interesting to report about it, though — she didn’t talk much, and seemed to do her own work.
I enjoyed Astra Taylor’s film Examined Life when I first saw it a couple of years ago, and, having just watched it again, I’m glad to see that it bears re-viewing.
As one might expect, some segments are more lasting than others. Slavoj Zizek wearing an orange safety vest talking about ecology at a London trash heap (above) is the most brilliantly conceived segment, and one gets to hear the full (and in its own way brilliant) incoherence of his position on the topic. “The true ecological attitude is to hate the world: less love, more hatred,” as he puts it in the full interview (available in the book-of-the-film, p. 180).
The fuss over Survival International’s “uncontacted tribes” (see my earlier piece) hasn’t ceased — the Huffington Post and others continue to spread the original news largely uncritically. (William at the excellent Integral Options Cafe shared that news, but has now kindly amended his post in response to my own comment regarding it.)
Now Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology has stepped in to clarify things in much greater detail than I could possibly have done. His ‘The last free people on the planet’ is a very well balanced and informative summary which, while it raises the question of what it means to be “free” and especially “last,” renders the issue much more understandable.
Thanks to the “Jungles” segment of BBC’s Human Planet series, Survival International’s photos of an “uncontacted tribe” in the Amazon are making the rounds once again — see Environmental Graffiti’s “Images of the Last Uncontacted Tribe on Earth“, Ron Burnett’s “Never Before Seen Footage of an Amazonian Tribe,” and MSNBC’s PhotoBlog. The rhetoric here — “last uncontacted tribe on Earth,” “never before seen footage”, etc. (Burnett should know better!) — sounds as if it’s right out of a nineteenth century circus sideshow.
“Concepts are like multiple waves, rising and falling, but the plane of immanence is the single wave that rolls them up and unrolls them. … Concepts are the archipelago or skeletal frame, a spinal column rather than a skull, whereas the plane is the breath that suffuses the separate parts.”
“it is a [the?] plane of immanence that constitutes the absolute ground of philosophy, its earth or deterritorialization, the foundation on which it creates its concepts. … The problem of philosophy is to acquire a consistency without losing the infinite into which thought plunges.”