Introduction: Imagistic Information
bio: Jim Roberts is completing his dissertation in film history and theory at Penn State University's College of Communication. His dissertation, entitled Shadow Zones: Cinema, Image, Affect, makes the claim that an image is not so much a vehicle of meaning as an intersection of rhetorical force and information. The images of concern range from the cinematic to the autistic to the images of contemporary philosophy. Jim lectures at Penn State in film history and theory, rhetoric, literature (and film), as well as cultural studies, and he has published articles in Post Modern Culture, Enculturation, and a forthcoming, edited volume entitled The Terministic Screen: The Rhetoric of Film and Film Theory.
abstract, intro: The articles collected in this issue of Enculturation map a variety of avenues for theorizing the cinematic image. From Bunuel's eye-slice to Bigelow's oeuvre, the issues at stake in these essays concentrate on what it might mean to think with and through various images.
abstract, review: This review examines Leo Charney's most recent book, Empty Moments: Cinema, Modernity, Drift ,and Hal Hartley's 1998 film Henry Fool. Charney's book provides thoughtful, example-free, analysis of the birth of the modern body in a time when society was cinematic before the invention of the apparatus. The ways that modernity attempted to overcome the new subjectification leveled after the turn of the century (the focal analysis of Empty Moments) are contrastingly broached in Henry Fool. This film shows what can arise out of the cracks of the contemporary body: a garbage collector come nobel prize poet.
Eviscerating David Cronenberg
bio: David Blakesley is Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He has published essays and articles on rhetorical theory and pedagogy, Kenneth Burke, film, and literacy. He is presently completing work on the edited collection, The Terministic Screen: Rhetorical Perspectives on Film and Film Theory and is the editor of Rhetorical Philosophy and Theory, a new Series published by Southern Illinois University Press.
abstract: "Eviscerating David Cronenberg" is a hypertext essay examining the thematic insistence of evisceration in Cronenberg's films, with particluar emphasis on Crash. The body is enculturated (and thus diseased), with the imagery of evisceration symbolizing its ritual purification. From They Came from Within to Crash, Cronenberg has explored the ways in which ideology and its material productions cause generally grotesque physical (and nearly always psychological) evolution or regression. He has foreseen our dangerous desire to converge (in cyborg fashion) with this materiality. By examining the thematic insistence of evisceration throughout his films, we can see his own interpretation of our physical and psychological alienation in postmodern culture. Films like Dead Ringers and Crash are transformations on the this theme that has always animated his work: the monstrous is not in the Other or in the family, but in the unintended by-products of technology and social life that metastasize in the body.
Georges Bataille and the Visceral Cinema of Kathryn Bigelow
bio: Jeff Karnicky is a PhD student at Penn State writing a dissertation about postmodern American and British fiction and the literary theory of Maurice Blanchot and Deleuze and Guattari.
abstract: This essay finds similarities between George Bataille's philosophy of expenditure and Kathyrn Bigelow's films Strange Days, Near Dark and Point Break. More specifically, I argue that, among other things, Bigelow's films viscerally elicit, in the film specatator, many of the concepts Bataille discusses in his writings, so that the practice of "joy before death" becomes more than words on a page. Philosophy becomes visceral sensation, leaves the world of abstract thought and enters the domain of bodily sensations.
From Mouse to Mouse - Overcoming Information
bio: Patricia Pisters is assistant professor film- and television studies at the University of Amsterdam. She has just finished her PhD entitled: From Eye to Brain--Gilles Deleuze: Refiguring the Subject in Film Theory. Co-authored with Hannah Bosma, she wrote Madonna (forthcoming, Amsterdam, Prometheus 1998).
abstract: This paper argues that the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze as presented in The Movement-Image and The Time-Image offers the opportunity to theorize a continuity between analogue and digital cinema. By making a connection between Eisenstein's theory on animation and Deleuze's film philosophy a few concepts are highlightened that can be useful in respect to the future of cinema. Especially the distinction between the virtual and the actual, and the idea of 'the power of the false' seem to provide the opportunity to 'overcome information'.
Strange Visions: Kathryn Bigelow's Metafiction
bio: Laura Rascaroli is Toyota Lecturer in Media Studies at University College Cork, Ireland. She works on film theory, on contemporary American cinema, and on modern and contemporary European cinema.
abstract: The classical and often abused cinematic metaphor of the mirror is still useful inasmuch as it testifies to a paradox inherent to human perception, that of the reversibility of seeing and beeing seen. A recent film showing an interesting self-awareness when using the metalinguistic figure of the mirror is Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days (US, 1995). In particular, the second last macro-sequence of this film takes place in a real "room of mirrors", and is dominated by the theme of the breaking looking glass.
"Give me a body": Deleuze's Time Image and the Taxonomy of the Body in the Work of Gabriele Leidloff
bio: Nina Zimnik is Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at the University of Lüneburg, Germany, Dept. of German and Cultural Studies, where she teaches seminars in film and media studies and German literature. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, State University of New York at Buffalo. Dissertation: Thea von Harbou and Leni Riefenstahl: The Formation of Female Fascist Subjectivity. The dissertation examines films and texts by two fascist women film makers. Zimnik has written many articles, including translations of Zizek into German.
abstract: In The Movement Image and The Time Image, Gilles Deleuze develops a philosophy of the cinematic image. His cinema books present a radical break with the semiotic principles that have hitherto informed (Saussure-based) film theory. Deleuze argues that WWII precipitated a logic of difference. In the wake, thinking has looked for forms beyond unity and identity, (i.e., forms beyond Newtonian time). It found an expression in the "time image." Central to these images is the body. The "time image" heeds the body in its potentiality; the body becomes a figure of undecidability. The representation of the body is a central concern of the German Jewish artist Gabriele Leidloff. The article dicusses four of her works and situates them with reference to Deleuzian categories, e.g. the "optosign."
Cinematic Violations in Peter Greenaway's The Baby of Mācon
bio: Marsha Gordon is completing her Ph.D. in English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently working on a dissertation that considers cinema as a mythmaking device for American cultural figures from Wyatt Earp to Gertrude Stein.
abstract: Peter Greenaway's cinema is often concerned with the relationship between sexuality and violence. This paper investigates Greenaway's pairing of these terms in his 1993 film The Baby of Macon, a film particularly suited to an analysis of sexual representation because representation itself is one of the film's implicit subjects. This paper exposes the layers of fetishization and criticism that are simultaneously at work in this film through an analysis of the spectatorial terms that Greenaway sets for his viewers.
The Silence of the Limbs: Critiquing Culture from a Heideggerian Understanding of the Work of Art
bio: Iain Thomson is currently finishing a dissertation on Heidegger, "Dwelling in Metaphysics: Understanding the Method, Politics, and Ethics of the Later Heidegger" at UC San Diego. He was a Visiting Lecturer on Continental Philosophy at Rice University in 1998, and at UC San Diego in 1997. His "Martin Heidegger: A Philosophical Snapshot" appeared in The Philosophers' Magazine (and The Philosophers' Web Magazine), and his article, "Can I Die? Derrida on Heidegger on Death" is forthcoming in Philosophy Today.
abstract: For Heidegger, art works to focus and gather historical intelligibility. This theory helps us to formulate and address an important question emerging from the intersection of philosophy and cultural criticism: What do the artworks that most resonate with contemporary American culture reveal about our historical self-understanding? By deconstructing The Silence of the Lambs, I uncover a fundamental existential struggle being played out beneath the surface of the film. Reading the film's overt resolution of this struggle--whereby viewers are led unconsciously through a vicarious repression of death--as a dangerous contemporary symptom of reason's exile of the body from history, I draw some lessons from "the Silence" about the importance of learning to live with death.
Frames of Reference: Peter Greenaway, Derrida, and the Restitution of Film-Making
Thomas Deane Tucker
bio: Thomas Deane Tucker is an Assistant Professor of Humanities at Chadron State College in Nebraska where he teaches courses in philosophy, humanities, and literary theory. He is also a Ph. D. candidate at Florida State University, currently writing his dissertation on Derrida and film theory, arguing that Derrida's deconstruction of time offers new ways in which to explore questions of temporality in the cinema
abstract: The frame around the borders of a painting poses many theoretical problems for aesthetics. Is a frame inside or outside the work? Is it meant to control, stop, and contain the meaning of the work? Is it part of the painting as a supplementary ornament, a peripheral excess central to the work that actually functions as a non-border? Or, does it function to define and structure the absolute border of the work? Derrida, in his text The Truth in Painting draws on the writings of Kant and his notion of the frame as a parergon to deconstruct the problems surrounding framing a work of painting. I am interested in carrying this method over to the cinema to analyze the problems of the frame in a film. To accomplish this, I offer a deconstructive reading of Peter Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract, a film about painting, blindness, and the frames of reference through which the artist sees. I present my topic around the frame of reference that the filmmaker appropriates from outside cinema, particularly from painting, and places squarely around his work. My main concern is to question the function of this appropriation in Greenaway's work; to fix a "place" for his frame of reference and to ask what kind of restitution, if any, Greenaway owes to the other arts.
bio: Rick Doble has a Masters in Communications, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC, 1975. He has been a professional photographer and photography teacher for 30 years, and has 15 years experience with computers, including programming.
abstract: My small animations are NOT "mini-movies" but an art form that is quite different. Because they loop and repeat, because the timing is often different from frame to frame, and because pictures may have been taken at different intervals (not regular short intervals like film or video), they are more like music or a pulsing living being. (Animate means "having life" according to the dictionary.) Unlike still photography which deals in two dimensions (x and y axis), these photographic animations deal in four dimensions (x, y, z axis plus time). Little animations may achieve what the cubist and futurist painters at the beginning of the century were trying to achieve, that is the ability to see the whole object in space and time in one work of art. Four dimensions is not just a concept but a reality of physics. For example Einstein adapted the age-old Pythagorean formula for the hypotenuse of a triangle to accommodate time as another component.
A Logic of Sense: Stupidity and the Dumbing Up of America (?)
bio: Byron Hawk is a Ph.D. student in Humanities at the University of Texas at Arlington, preparing to take his comprehensive exams and working on his dissertation entitled Decomposition: On Living/Reading/Writing in Mediaspaces, which engages with/in a cross-fertilization of rhetorical theory, composition studies, cultural studies, and critical/post-structuralist theory. He has published review articles in Encultruation and Post Script, has an article forthcoming in an edited volume entitled The Terministic Screen: The Rhetoric of Film and Film Theory, and has four collaborative articles in various stages of development.
abstract: Both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Truman Show portray characters who struggle to make sense of their environment. While both environments are simulated, though in distinct ways, the main characters deal with the puzzling situation in different ways. Depp embraces chaos. Carrey tries to unmask it. Ultimately I argue in favor of Depp's open and nomadic affirmation over Carrey's resolution. The Truman Show implies that we can step out of the simulation; Fear and Loathing simply implies the eternal return of the same.