Deleuze and the Cinemas of Performance: Powers of Affection by Elena del Río

By Elena del Río

This ebook deals a distinct reconsideration of the acting physique that privileges the inspiration of affective strength over the concept of visible shape on the centre of former theories of spectacle and performativity. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of the physique, and on Deleuze-Spinoza's appropriate innovations of impact and expression, Elena del Río examines a type of cinema that she calls 'affective-performative'. The positive aspects of this cinema spread through special and fascinating discussions of the hobbies, gestures and speeds of the physique in numerous movies through Douglas Sirk, Rainer W. Fassbinder, Sally Potter, Claire Denis, and David Lynch. Key to the book's engagement with functionality is a constant consciousness to the body's powers of love.

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Sample text

But ironically, the “phantasmatic gesture of femininity” that Butler posits as the “unknowable initial premise” of her argument can only fit in a context of representation, and hardly in one of performance. For, whereas representation is always irretrievably marked by lack and negativity – the difference between a transcendental elsewhere and a material here, a phantasmatic ideal and its poor imitations – performance involves a desiring production detached from the kind of notions of originality and transcendence that suffuse Butler’s rhetoric.

As is the case with the female dancer, for whom dancing “figure[s] as the . . very mode of being in the world” (Foster 1996: 4), these films no doubt position the women characters as natural performers and exhibitionists. qxp:Andy Q7 6/5/08 10:46 Page 31   31 (Lana Turner) strives for a career as a stage actor, while the daughter of Lora’s black maid, Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), light-skinned Sara Jane (Susan Kohner), imitates Lora’s white, successful identity in the less exclusive world of vaudeville and cabaret performance.

The interiority of individual life, its rationality . . the possibility of transparent transmission . . between the private and the public, and the notion that what is transmitted is fundamentally information. All of these assumptions have been severely tested by structuralist, poststructuralist, postmodern, and postpostmodern thought. Communication has long since fallen on hard times and with it, expression. (Massumi 2002a: xiii) Butler is no doubt one of the critics implied in Massumi’s comments.

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