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The Island is a science-fiction movie directed by Michael Bay. Our hero, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) wakes up from a nightmare in which he sees himself drowning. What we, the spectators don’t know yet is that Lincoln has actually woken up to a sterile world which has nothing do with the real world. Lincoln wakes up from a nightmare to what appears to be an unreal reality. As Lincoln wakes up he sees a screen in front of him on which is written “Erratic REM Sleep Cycle Detected,” followed by “Please Report to Tranquility Center.” Lincoln gets out of his bed and goes to the toilet. As he urinates, another screen appears in front of him with the words “Sodium Excess Detected, Advising Nutritional Control.” On top of all these a speaker intervenes: “A healthy person is a happy person.”

Lincoln is living in an environment in which he is surveilled and controlled at all times. This environment is in fact an underground factory which produces human clones. Lincoln is nothing but a clone produced to be consumed when the time comes. We, the spectators, will later on learn that this environment was an institution used by the American Ministry of Defence for military research. Now it has been passed on to a medical corporation sponsored by extremely rich people to produce clones. These clones are the copies of those rich people who have various illnesses. Lincoln Six-Echo, for instance, is the clone of a Scottish man named Tom Lincoln who suffers from Hepatitis and who is expected to die in two years. This means that in two years time Lincoln Six-Echo will be killed and his organs will be transferred to his sponsor Tom Lincoln.

The DNA samples taken from the sponsors are used to produce clones. These clones are then grown in a womb-like environment until they reach the age of their sponsors. Some of the clones are grown for their hearts, some for their eyes, skins, and some for their internal organs. As they are grown they are almost injected a memory through audio-visual imagery, their consciousness is completely artificial just like themselves. Although they look no different from a normal human being they are in fact programmed to desire to go to The Island. They are continually told that they are the chosen ones, that they are the only survivors from a terrible epidemic which destroyed almost all life on earth, that they are lucky for being where they now are. Of course these clones need some kind of motive to be able to bear their monotonous existence. Their motive is waiting for the day on which they will win the lottery and go to the last piece of beauty left on earth after the epidemic; an exotic island, a heaven on earth. Through this lottery business the life in this institution is invested with a meaning. Educated to the level of fifteen year old children, the clones do not question their lives. They think that they really are chosen and they really want to go to the island. But Lincoln is unhappy and unsatisfied. He thinks there should be more to life than waiting for the departure towards the island. When he talks with his psychiatrist who is in fact the manager of the corporation, his psychiatrist tells him this: “You can’t see how lucky you are Lincoln. You have survived the epidemic, you are comfortable here, what else do you want?” Lincoln is not satisfied with this answer and goes to places he shouldn’t, sees things he better not. Following an insect Lincoln finds himself at a hidden section of the institute, a hospital, where he sees that those who are chosen to go to the island are in fact killed for their organs. Lincoln understands that there is no such thing as an epidemic, and no such place as the island, that all this island business is merely a fantasy to keep the clones operating efficiently as they wait.

On the night of the day that Lincoln learns the truth his lover Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlet Johansson) wins the lottery. Realising that the turn of death has come to Jordan, Lincoln goes to her room to warn her. After that the movie turns into a typical adventure movie in which many cars explode and many people die. At the end our hero and heroine destroy the corporation and save all the clones from their miserable existences.

The importance of this movie derives from the way in which it criticizes modern power structures which produces subjects in such a way as to serve the system which consumes them. The subjects are subjectified so as to feel happy and content with being locked in hopeful dreams. The Island shows that even what we call the unconscious is a construct, that the drives are not natural, but rather cultural products. 

What we see here is how the life drive turns out to be the death drive. As the clones wait for the day they will finally start living a real life full of pleasures, they are in fact waiting for the day they will die. As they die the system in which they are locked gains strength. Through the death of the subjects the system prolongs its own life.

Michel Foucault Hapishanenin Doğuşu: Gözetim ve Ceza (Discipline and Punish)adlı başyapıtında mimar ve düşünür Jeremy Bentham’ın yeni bir hapishane modeli olarak tasarladığı ve Panopticon adını verdiği, zamanına göre (Ondokuzuncu yüzyıl) devrimci sayılabilecek gözetim ve denetim mekanizmasını modern zamanlardaki iktidarın işleyiş biçimini gözler önüne seren bir metafor olarak lanse eder. Foucault’ya göre Panopticon mahkûmların hareketlerini, davranış biçimlerini ve hatta düşüncelerini kontrol altında tutan bir aygıt, bir makinedir adeta. Panopticon iç içe geçmiş halkalardan oluşan bir binadır ve tam ortasında bir gözlem kulesi bulunur. Mahkûmların hücreleri bu gözlem kulesinden rahatlıkla görülebilecek şekilde dizilmiştir. O kadar ki mahkûmun kendisi ne kadar saklanmaya çalışırsa çalışsın hapishanenin mimari yapısı vasıtasıyla oluşturulmuş ışıklandırma düzeneği öyle bir tasarlanmıştır ki mahkûmun gölgesi rahatlıkla görülebilir kuleden. Sürekli gözetim ve denetim altında tutulmakta olduğunu bilen mahkûm şahsiyet zaman içerisinde kendisini kuledeki gardiyanın gözüyle görmeye ve o gözün beklentileri doğrultusunda hareket etmeye başlar. O kadar ki artık kulede bir gardiyan olup olmadığı bile önemsizleşir, zira zaten artık mahkûm hapishanenin gözünü, otoritenin bakış açısını içselleştirmiş ve otomatikman mahkûmluk rolünü benimsemiştir. Dolayısıyla çoğu zaman kulede bir gardiyan tutmaya bile gerek yoktur artık, ne de olsa zaten mahkûmlar sürekli kulede bir gardiyan varmış gibi hareket etmeyi alışkanlık haline getirmişlerdir.

Çevrede halka halinde bir bina, merkezde bir kule; bu kulenin halkanın iç cephesine bakan geniş pencereleri vardır; çevre bina hücrelerle bölünmüştür, bunlardan her biri binanın tüm kalınlığını katetmektedir; bunların, biri içeri bakan ve kuleninkilere karşı gelen, diğeri de dışarı bakan ve ışığın hücreye girmesine olanak veren ikişer pencereleri vardır. Bu durumda merkezi kuleye tek bir gözetmen ve her bir hücreye tek bir deli, bir hasta, bir mahkûm, bir işçi veya bir okul çocuğu kapatmak yeterlidir. Geriden gelen ışık sayesinde, çevre binadaki hücrelerin içine kapatılmış küçük siluetleri olduğu gibi kavramak mümkündür. Ne kadar kafes varsa, o kadar küçük tiyatro vardır, bu tiyatrolarda her oyuncu tek başınadır, tamamen bireyselleşmiştir ve sürekli olarak görülebilir durunmdadır. Görülmeden gözetim altında tutmaya olanak veren düzenleme, sürekli görmeye ve hemen tanımaya olanak veren mekânsal birimler oluşturmaktadır. Sonuç olarak, hücre ilkesi tersine döndürülmekte veya daha doğrusu onun üç işlevi – kapatmak, ışıktan yoksun bırakmak ve saklamak— tersyüz edilmektedir; bunlardan yalnızca birincisi korunmakta, diğer ikisi kaldırılmaktadır. Tam ışık altında olma ve bir gözetmenin bakışı, aslında koruyucu olan karanlıktan daha fazla yakalayıcıdır. Görünürlük bir tuzaktır.[1]

Panopticon denilen bu hapishane modelinin önemi modern toplumlardaki iktidarın işleyiş biçimini temsil eden bir yapıya sahip olmasıdır. Biliyoruz ki modern toplumla birlikte merkezi iktidar çözülerek bireylerin içine işlemiştir. Ölüm ilanı vermeye hevesli pek çok kişi merkezi otoritenin bu çözülüşünü iktidarın ölümü olarak telakki etmiştir, ama bu son derece yanlış bir yorumdur, zira iktidar ölmemiş, sadece şekil değiştirmek ve kendisini görünmez kılmak suretiyle gücüne güç katmıştır sevgili okur. Artık iktidar toplumu oluşturan bireylerin dışında değil, içindedir. Yani toplumu oluşturan bireyler kendilerini içinde buldukları sistem tarafından öyle bir kurulmuştur ki artık onlara ne yapmaları, nasıl davranmaları gerektiğini söylemek bile gereksizleşmiştir, zira onlar zaten sistemin aksamadan çalışması için oynamaları gereken rolü oynamaya dünden razı bir hale getirilmişlerdir.

Bu durumu gözler önüne seren en güzel örneklerden biri Michael Bay’in yönetmenliğini yaptığı The Island, yani Ada filmi. Yirmibirinci yüzyılın ortalarında geçen bu bilim-kurgu filmi George Orwell’in 1984 adlı meşhur romanını çağrıştırmakla beraber, filmde Büyük Birader Panopticon’dakinden bile daha derinine nûfuz etmiş şu zavallı öznelerin. Film Ewan McGregor’un canlandırdığı Lincoln Six-Echo’nun bir kabustan uyanmasıyla başlar, ama ne seyircinin ne de kahramanımızın bildiği şey aslında kahramanımızın bir kabustan gerçek olduğunu sandığı ama aslında gerçekle hiç bir alâkası olmayan son derece steril bir dünyaya uyanmış olduğudur. Lincoln uyanır uyanmaz kendisine bir hoparlör vasıtasıyla akşam rahat uyumadığı, kabuslar gördüğü, dolayısıyla da derhal psikiyatristini görmeye gitmesi gerektiği söylenir. Yatağından kalkan Lincoln tuvalete işemeye gider. İşedikten sonra aynı hoparlör kendisine idrarının yeterince temiz olmadığını, içinde yabancı maddeler bulunduğunu, dolayısıyla da diyetine dikkat etmesi gerektiğini söyleyerek tüketmemesi gereken besinleri sıralar. Yani kısacası kahramanımız Lincoln Six-Echo rüyalarından sidiğine kadar denetim altında tutulduğu bir ortamda yaşamaktadır. Bu ortam aslında çölün ortasında, yerin yedi kat altına kadar inen dev bir mekanizma, klonlama yöntemiyle insan üreten bir fabrikadır sevgili okur. Lincoln ise tüketilmek için üretilmiş bir üründen başka bir şey değildir. Amerikan Savunma Bakanlığı’nın eskiden askeri araştırmalar yapmak ve silah üretmek için kullandığı yeraltındaki bu yapı çok büyük bir sağlık korporasyonuna devredilmiş ve bu sağlık korporasyonu da burada çok büyük paralar(kişi başı beş milyon dolar) karşılığında sağlık sorunları olan çok zengin kişilerin kopyalarını üreterek zamanı geldiğinde bu kopyaların organlarını bu kişilere satmaktadır. Lincoln Six-Echo aslında gerçek hayatta adı Tom Lincoln olan bir İskoç’un klonlanmış kopyasıdır. Tom Lincoln çok seks yaptığı için Hepatit virüsü taşıyıcısıdır ve hayatta kalmak için iki sene içerisinde Lincoln Six-Echo’nun bedenine ihtiyaç duyacaktır.

İnsan fabrikası diye nitelendirilebilecek yeraltındaki bu enstitü şöyle çalışmaktadır sevgili okur: Sponsorlarından alınan genlerden üretilen klonlar ana-rahmi ortamında bir müddet bekletildikten sonra yeterince olgunlaştıklarına kanaat getirilince ağaçtan meyve veya tarladan karpuz toplar gibi hasat edilerek kullanıma sokulmaktadırlar. Klonların kimisi kalbi için, kimisi gözleri için, kimisi de derisi için üretilmiştir. Aslında fiziksel olarak normal bir insandan hiç bir farkı olmayan bu klonlara öncelikle birer hafıza ve birer de bilinçaltı kaydedilmektedir. Klonların beynine son derece hızlı bir görüntü ve ses akışı bir ekran vasıtasıyla neredeyse enjekte edilmekte, programlama süreci tamamlandığında klonlar sanki bir geçmişleri varmış gibi hissederek işbaşı yapmkatadırlar. Kendilerine seçilmiş kişiler oldukları, tüm dünyayı felakete sürükleyip insanlığın neredeyse yok olmasına sebep olan amansız bir salgın hastalıktan kurtulan ender kişiler olarak ne denli şanslı oldukları söylenmektedir. Hayatları sistemin muhafazası yolunda sürekli çalışmaktan ibaret olan bu zavallı klonlara kurtuluş umudu da lâzımdır tabii. Aksi taktirde klonlar hayatın anlamını sorgulamaya meyledecek ve içinde bulundukları durumdan tatminsizlik duyup şikayet etmeye başlayacaklardır. Dolayısıyla klonlar haftada bir düzenlenen bir piyango çekilişi sayesinde varlıklarının bir amacı olduğu yanılsamasına hapsedilmektedirler. Bu amaç dünyada kalan son cennet olan egzotik bir adaya gidecekleri günün gelmesini beklemektir sevgili okur. Kendilerine sürekli “sen seçilmişsin, adaya gitmek istiyorsun” denmiş ve neticede klonlar kendi kendilerini hayatın adaya gitmekten başka bir anlamı olmadığına kâni kılmışlar, dolayısıyla da varlıklarının anlamını sorgulamaksızın, neye hizmet ettiklerini bilmeksizin sürekli çalışmakta, adaya gidecekleri günün hayaliyle yatıp kalkamaktadırlar. Onbeş yaşındaki bir gencin seviyesine kadar eğitilen klonlar birer çocuk olarak kalmaya mahkûm bireyler olarak yetiştirilmektedir. Ama kahramanımız Lincoln tatminsizdir, mutsuzdur. Lincoln çok geçmeden bu işte ters giden bir şeyler olduğunu hisseder ve varlığını sorgulamaya başlar. Aslında korporasyonun yöneticisinden başka bir şey olmayan psikiyatristine konuyu açıp hayatın piyangonun kendine çıkmasını ve adaya gitmeyi beklemekten daha başka bir amacı ve manası olması gerektiğini söylediğinde aldığı yanıt şudur: “Ne kadar şanslı olduğunu göremiyorsun Lincoln. Salgından kurtuldun, burada rahatın yerinde, daha ne istiyorsun?” Lincoln bu yanıtla ikna olmaz tabii ve merak içersinde girmemesi gereken yollara girer, gitmemesi gereken yerlere gider, ve görmemesi gereken şeyler görür. Kanatlı bir böceğin peşine takılan Lincoln kendisini yapının gizli bir bölmesindeki bir hastanede bulur ve orada görür ki adaya gitmek üzere seçilen kişiler aslında ameliyat masasına yatırılıp gereken organları alındıktan sonra öldürülmektedir. Yani aslında salgın malgın yoktur dış dünyada, ada denilen yer ise klonları motive edip verimlerini arttırmak için uydurulmuş bir fantaziden başka bir şey değildir.

Lincoln’un gerçeği öğrendiği günün gecesi o haftaki piyangonun çekileceği gecedir ve ne tesadüfütür ki o gece piyango Lincoln’un sevgilisi Jordan Two-Delta’ya (Scarlet Johansson) çıkar. Öldürülme sırasının sevgilisine geldiğini anlayan Lincoln derhal harekete geçer ve Jordan’ın odasına gidip ona gerçeği anlatır. Derhal kaçmaya başlarlar ve uzunca bir kovalamacadan sonra en nihayet yeryüzüne çıktıklarında kendilerini uçsuz bucaksız bir çölde bulurlar. Çölü koşarak aştıktan sonra küçük bir kasabadaki küçük bir bara varırlar. Burada Lincoln’un enstitüden tanıdığı bir kişiyle karşılaşırlar ve ondan gerçeği tüm çıplaklığıyla öğrenirler. Enstitünün çalışmalarını engellemek için Los Angeles’a gidip orjinallerini bularak onlara gerçeği anlatmaya karar verirler; belki böylece bu zulmü durdurabileceklerini düşünmektedirler.

Filmin bundan sonrası tipik bir aksiyon filmine dönüşüyor ve Los Angeles sokaklarında geçen amansız bir kovalamacada pek çok araba hasar görürken, ölü ve yaralı sayısı da gittikçe artıyor. Tabii en sonunda kahramanlarımız başarıya ulaşıp enstitüyü havaya uçuruyorlar. Gerçeği deşifre edemiyorlar belki ama en azından tıp etiğine sığmayan bir çalışmayı, yani bitki yetiştirir gibi insan yetiştirip organ satan bir firmayı yok ediyorlar.

Aksiyon kısmındaki pek çok saçmalığı saymazsak The Island son derece güzel bir film, en azından benim son dönemlerde gördüğüm en anlamlı bilim-kurgu filmlerinden birisi. Özellikle de Amerika’da daha şimdiden domuzları genetik mutasyona uğratıp kalbi bozulan insanlara nakledilmek üzere domuz kalbi üretilmesi yolundaki çalışmalar filmin gerçekçi bir yaklaşımla tasaralandığını gösteriyor. Ayrıca modern batı toplumlarındaki iktidarın yapısını da son derece etkileyici bir biçimde deşifre ediyor Ada filmi. Mesela insanların kendilerini bir hayal dünyasına hapsedip, sanal amaçlar uğruna bir ömür boyu sömüren sistemlere hizmet eder hale gelişlerini gayet anlaşılır bir dille gözler önüne seriyor. Emekli olup rahata kavuşacakları günün hayaliyle bir ömür boyu didinip duran insanlar emekli olduklarında bir de bakıyorlar ki ne para harcayacak sağlığa sahipler, ne de biriktirmiş oldukları paraların bir kıymeti var. Dolaşıma girmeyen para bankalarda dura dura değerini yitiriyor ve hayatı boyunca çalışıp sağlığından olan insanların sağlık masaraflarını karşılamaya bile ya zor yetiyor, ya da hiç yetmiyor. Böylelikle egemen sistem gücüne güç katarken insan ölüyor ve çark döndükçe bu kısır döngü işte böyle sürüp gidiyor sevgili okur. Bu durum ise kişiyi şu soruları sormaya sevkediyor: İnsanın kendisini yokeden siyasi ve ekonomik bir oluşuma hizmet eder hale gelmeden varolabilmesi nasıl sağlanabilir?  Kendini değil, insanı besleyen bir sevk ve idare modeli nasıl yaratılabilir? Sürekli dönüşüm ve değişimi temel ilke edinmiş bir mekanizma nasıl geliştirilebilir?

 


[1] Michel Foucault, Hapishanenin Doğuşu, çev. Mehmet Ali Kılıçbay (İstanbul: İmge, 2006), 295-96

Cover of "The Dead Zone (Special Collecto...

Cover via Amazon

It is early 1974, “in Washington, Richard Nixon was being pressed slowly into a corner, wrapped in a snarl of magnetic tapes. […] In Room 619 of the Eastern Maine Medical Center, Johnny Smith still slept. He had begun to pull into a fetal shape.”[1]

In Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone, adapted to cinema by David Cronenberg, the main character Johnny Smith stays in a coma for five years. He wakes up to a cold winter to find himself with a limp, and separated from his girlfriend. Johnny starts to see evil everywhere; he reads the consequences of the evil thoughts in people’s minds across time. A sense for evil, together with an ability to see the past, the present and the future, means it becomes impossible for Johnny to bear the burden of being in the world. He comes to realize that what he thought was an extraordinary psychic power is in fact an evil curse which makes life inordinately painful. Willing to escape from this unbearable situation that is turning him into the playground of good and evil, he falls deeper into the trap of a monstrous man, Gregg Stillson, the embodiment of evil in the world, who finds out Johnny’s secret and wants to abuse it. Johnny takes the wrong turn, because he didn’t know that “the dreadful had already happened.” Directed by the monstrous man he “wills nothingness rather than not will,” and dies a tragic death at the end.  

Little by little this brawny young dock-walloper had severed his connections with the world, wasting away, losing his hair, optic nerves degenerating into oatmeal behind his closed eyes, body gradually drawing up into a fetal position as his ligaments shortened. He had reversed time, had become a fetus again, swimming in the placental waters of coma as his brain degenerated. An autopsy following his death had shown that the folds and convolutions of his cerebrum had smoothed out, leaving the frontal and prefrontal lobes almost utterly smooth and blank.[2]       

Johnny’s rearrival, his return from the unconscious to the conscious state, from the land of the dead to the world of the living, with extraordinary psychic powers, a sense of omnipotence which turns out to be the source of death, is described by King in terms of a rebirth, a coming out of the womb after the second (nearer) death experience.

Johnny Smith is at first almost exactly the opposite of a clinical and criminal psychotic. Johnny does not identify, he refuses to believe in other worldly things, there is no struggle between good and evil in his world, in his world there is no evil, no third party. In Johnny’s world there is only him, Sarah, and their “eternal love.”  Living in an illusory heaven, Johnny is unaware of the dangers surrounding him, but in King’s world the evil shall surely show his multiple faces to scare the hell out of those people.

After the tragic and yet banal accident Johnny becomes a clinical but not a criminal psychotic. Johnny identifies himself with Jesus, he refuses to believe in the world as it is, there begins a constant struggle between good and evil in his mind. He has lost Sarah and their eternal love, and the evil forces surrounding their earlier happiness prevail. Johnny’s illusory heaven becomes an illusory hell. As usually happens in King’s world the evil shows his multiple faces and scares the hell out of the reader.

King’s novels are cathartic in a very Aristotelian sense of the word. And yet it’s precisely this cathartic effect disguised as subversive and critical of the established order that reproduces the order and produces psychotic replicas. King is a very unique example of how monstrous a unification of the therapeutic and the critical can be. There are two traumatic incidents leaving their traces on his life as Johnny goes along the way towards death. In this novel which is difficult to categorize as “horror” unless that is what horror actually is, Johnny Smith finds himself in an unbearable situation that sends him to an early grave. What seems to him to be a gift of life turns out to be a gift of death. Johnny is cursed by a “second sight” after two banal accidents, one in early childhood, one in adolescence, which submit him to the domination of the “power” of his wounds. And with the already there circumstances, that is, a society dying to believe in “the power of the wound,” “apocalypse,” “return of the living dead,” “transcendental experiences” and so on, Johnny becomes a tragic, Christ-like hero who feels compelled to sacrifice himself for the deliverance of salvation to the people. His mother sees it as an occasion for celebration that Johnny is mortally wounded when they tell her that he is in a coma: “God has put his mark on my Johnny and I rejoice.”[3]                  

Choose, something inside whispered. Choose or they’ll choose for you, they’ll rip you out of this place, whatever and wherever it is, like doctors ripping a baby out of its mother’s womb by cesarian section.[4]

And in accordance with the demands of his “inner voice,” Johnny Smith, in The Dead Zone, chooses resurrection. After five years of deep coma Johnny wakes up to a nightmare and finds himself as the one whose destiny it has become after two banal accidents of life to set things right and prevent heaven’s becoming hell. King knows that the reader’s assumption is that there is something inside to be protected from the external threats. The desire of the reader is the desire of the threat as external rather than internal to the self. King satisfies the reader’s desire by giving him/her the most beloved son Johnny as the gift: “the gift of death” as Derrida would have put it. Johnny fulfils the reader’s desire not only for an external threat but also for a saviour hero from within, one of “us.” Johnny emerges from his coma as the embodiment of the Christ-like figure, King’s son, whose mission it is to die and preserve the heaven-like qualities of this small American town in particular, and the universe in general.

 Upon his return to the symbolic order, from the unconscious state of coma, Johnny finds himself surrounded by people who are trying to exploit his extraordinary psychic powers, confronted with what Freud, in On Narcissism, calls “hallucinatory wishful psychosis” on a social level. It’s as though the whole society is in the grip of a paralysis and through their collective hallucination they cling to life. And Johnny becomes not only the thread tying them to their illusions, but also the one who preserves those illusions by sacrificing himself. Since this aspect of Johnny’s melodramatic story is more precisely expressed in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the novel, I now turn to Cronenberg’s film.

Cronenberg emphasizes that Greg Stillson is the man who is the manipulator, the one who creates and sells illusionary images of himself. In Cronenberg’s film Johnny’s visions are placed directly in opposition to Stillson’s fantastic images of self. Towards the end of the film, Johnny, no more able to stand the half-dead life he is living in isolation, decides to put his visions to a good use. He attends one of Stillson’s campaigns and shakes Stillson’s hand to see into him. What Johnny sees is Stillson as the evil president of the future, who has the fate of the whole world in his control. Johnny sees him pressing the button of a nuclear bomb behind closed doors. Finally Johnny makes up his mind and at a later Stillson campaign, this time in a church, attempts to assassinate Stillson. Sarah is there with her baby, and she notices Johnny just as he is about to pull the trigger. Distracted by Sarah’s cry, Johnny misses the target. Stillson takes Sarah’s baby and holds it up as a shield against Johnny’s bullets. Meanwhile Johnny is being shot by Stillson’s guards. A photographer takes Stillson’s picture while he is using the baby as a shield and this picture becomes the front cover of the Time magazine, not only ending Stillson’s career as a politician but also leading him to suicide.    

In the film the atmosphere is extremely melancholic. Johnny is portrayed as a much more repressed, melodramatic individual who at the same time has a romantic vision of life. The traumatic incident, the time he spends in the dead zone, magnifies his will to transcend his body which he sees as a source of agony. He pushes himself further towards isolation to escape from the increasingly sharpening visions. Remember that Johnny sees in the past, present, and future of other people through touching them. Touching another person is a cause of pain for Johnny. As his visions sharpen and turn into sources of pain he moves away from intersubjectivity and towards introversion. It is one of the characteristics of Romanticism to consider trauma, suffering, pain, disaster as possibilities of transcending the flesh. In Cronenberg’s “romanticism turned against itself” we see exactly the opposite. In Cronenberg after the traumatic incident it is a regressive process that starts taking its course, rather than a progressive movement towards eternal bliss. The problem with Cronenberg’s inversion of romanticism is that he still sees the movement towards eternal bliss, towards jouissance as progressive; the difference between the classical romanticism and Cronenberg’s inverted neo-romanticism is that Cronenberg considers that progress to be impossible.

It is at the sight of their condition, upon the realization of the situation they are caught in, that Cronenberg’s characters recoil in horror. And it is at the sight of this that Cronenberg expects the spectator to recoil in horror in a fashion similar to his characters.


 

[1] Stephen King, The Dead Zone, (London: TimeWarner, 1979),100

[2] King, 82

[3] King, The Dead Zone, 71

[4]King, 111

Cover of "Dead Ringers"

Cover of Dead Ringers

Dead Ringers

With Dead Ringers (1988) Cronenberg shows the consequences of an attempt to get rid of the space between the me and the not me. The illusory absence of difference between Mantle twins Beverly and Elliot is their own creation. They identify with one another so much that they think they are one split soul living one life in two different bodies. When they are discussing the deteriorating condition of Beverly, Claire says to Elliot that he shouldn’t identify with Beverly, distance himself from him, and live his own life separate from Beverly. In response to Claire’s suggestion Elliot says, “But the drugs he takes are running in my veins.” Beverly and Elliot are twice split. They are not only split from their mother by birth, but also from one another. They are divided within and against themselves. Let us start from the beginning to make more sense of what happens in Dead Ringers.

Right at the beginning of the film we see Beverly and Elliot, in childhood, talking about the difference between the copulation of fish and humans. One of them suggests that fish are able to reproduce without having sex, and that if humans were living under the water they wouldn’t need to have sex to copulate. They would simply internalise the water through which they would copulate. At the prospect of copulation without touching, the other twin responds by saying, “I like the idea.” The next scene shows Beverly and Elliot approaching a girl and asking her if she wanted to have sex with them in a bathtub as an experiment. They are aggressively rejected and accused of talking dirty.

 From the very beginning Beverly and Elliot see science as a means to attain sex objects and sex objects as means to carry out their scientific projects. A further hint at their tendency to see the female body as something to be experimented upon is given in the following scene where they are seen operating on a plastic doll pinned down on the table. This is their play. For them the object of desire is at the same time the object of science, and science is a form of play. Their diagnosis concerning the patient is intra ovular surgery.

From the year 1954 we shift to the year 1967. Beverly and Elliot are in the faculty of medicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We see them applying their surgical instrument, their own invention, on a cadaver in the autopsy room. In stark contrast to the professor’s negative attitude towards their radical new instrument, the next scene shows Elliot receiving a gold plate model of their instrument as a prize for their contribution to gynaecology. At home Beverly is working on their future contributions to the field.

The differences between Beverly and Elliot become more obvious with the entry of Claire to their life. Beverly comes to understand that he is different from his brother through his different way of being in relation to Claire. While Elliot sees Claire as merely an object of play (sex and science), rather than as another person, Beverly is more affectionate and wants to sincerely engage in a profound interaction with Claire. And yet Claire’s sexual identity, that is, her masochistic tendency to occupy a passive and submissive position in the relationship makes it impossible for Beverly to escape from the double bind situation he finds himself in. The whole film is a narrative of how one falls into a double bind situation and why it is impossible to escape from this double bind without having to die. 

In Dead Ringers the Mantle twins are locked in the mirror stage. Death emerges as the only way to escape from this entrapment in an endlessly self-perpetuating process of projective identification. Their minoritarian nature, having been born identical twins, leads them to study the womb as the monster that gave birth to them. The Mantle twins’ fascination with deformed wombs, and the instruments they invent to act upon those deformations reflect their deviant relation to birth, motherhood, and sexuality.    

At the culmination of the historical effort of a society to refuse to recognize that it has any function other than the utilitarian one, and in the anxiety of the individual confronting the ‘concentrational’ form of the social bond that seems to arise to crown this effort, existentialism must be judged by the explanations it gives of the subjective impasses that have indeed resulted from it; a freedom that is never more authentic than when it is within the walls of a prison; a demand for commitment, expressing the impotence of a pure consciousness to master any situation; a voyeuristic-sadistic idealization of the sexual relation; a personality that realizes itself only in suicide; a consciousness of the other than can be satisfied only by Hegelian murder.[1]

In the relationship between Beverly and Elliot, the other consciousness is at the same time the consciousness of the self. Beverly and Elliot think that they are the same and yet different from one another at the same time. An impossible situation is situated in the context of gynaecology and the psychic life of a male gynaecologist’s relation to a female patient is used to show what happens when art-sex-science become one. The “voyeuristic-sadistic idealization of sexual relation” Lacan is talking about is precisely the Mantle twins’ relation to the female body and sex. Because they see themselves as a deviation from the norm, they see their mother as the birth giver of an abnormality. Their fascination with the ill-formed female body thus gains a significance in terms of their relation to their mother and birth.

The very existence of imagination means that you can posit an existence different from the one you’re living. If you are trying to create a repressive society in which people will submit to whatever you give them, then the very fact of them being able to imagine something else—not necessarily better, just different—is a threat. So even on that very simple level, imagination is dangerous. If you accept, at least to some extent, the Freudian dictum that civilization is repression, then imagination—and an unrepressed creativity—is dangerous to civilization. But it’s a complex formula; imagination is also an innate part of civilization. If you destroy it, you might also destroy civilization.[2] 

Cronenberg is a much more Freudian director than he would dare to admit.

Writing was in its origin the voice of an absent person; and the dwelling-house was a substitute for the mother’s womb, the first lodging, for which in all likelihood man still longs, and in which he was safe and felt at ease.[3]

Freud says that reality and fantasy, external and internal, the self and the world, the psychic and the material are in conflict and that this conflict is always experienced as pain. To compensate for the pain of this fragmentary existence man writes and tries to form a unity which he believes to have once been present and after which he is destined to strive. In Freud’s vision the subject is always in pursuit of an unattainable sense of wholeness, what he calls the “oceanic feeling.” And yet, Freud says, the subject can turn this negative situation into a positive one by creating works of art and literature in the way of producing at-one-ment with the world, although for Freud, this at-one-ment is impossible to attain, and if literature has any therapeutic effect at all, it is only to the extent of turning indescribable misery into ordinary unhappiness. Freud says, “the substitutive satisfactions, as offered by art, are illusions in contrast with reality, but they are none the less psychically effective, thanks to the role which phantasy has assumed in mental life.”[4]

Freud’s idea that imagination in general and writing in particular is a desperate attempt to return to the womb, to the state of being before birth, is clearly manifest in Dead Ringers. In the womb Beverly/Elliot was one and their choice of profession is a sign of their striving for that long lost oneness within themselves, with each other, and with their mother. What Freud, in Civilization and Its Discontents, calls the “oceanic feeling,” that is, the security of existence within the womb, tied to the mother with the umbilical cord, and swimming in the placental waters in foetal shape without the danger of drowning, is what the Mantle twins are striving for. According to Cronenberg they wish they were fish. Cronenberg sees barbaric regress as an inevitable consequence of progress.

This gives us our indication for therapeutic procedure – to afford opportunity for formless experience, and for creative impulses, motor and sensory, which are the stuff of playing. And on the basis of playing is built the whole of man’s experiential existence. No longer are we either introvert or extrovert. We experience life in the area of transitional phenomena, in the exciting interweave of subjectivity and objective observation, and in an area that is intermediate between the inner reality of the individual and the shared reality of the world that is external to individuals.[5]

Freud’s and Winnicott’s methods of therapy are based on the pursuit of a lacking sense of unity of self and the world. This form of therapeutic procedure forces the subject to ego formation, normalization, and submissiveness to the existing order of meaning. Freud considers the state of being in harmony with the world as the sign of health and development of the capacity to repress the drives and making sharp distinctions between the internal and external worlds, and between the conscious and the unconscious mind as a sign of progress. Although Winnicott, like Freud, assumes that there is an originary split between the internal and the external worlds, he at the same time differs from Freud in that his therapeutic process involves some kind of a journey that the therapist takes with the patient. In this kind of therapeutic relationship the therapist engages in a spontaneous interaction through playing with the rules of the game itself. In this process the role of the therapist is to render the patient capable of learning to play. In turn the therapist himself learns to relate to the patient through a kind of unconscious communication. 

What we have both in the Mantle twins and Freud and Winnicott then, is a will to transcend the material world through material tools. Mantle twins’ aim is to go beyond the material world and unite with one another in a dimension where the psychic and the material, the self and the other become one. The surgical instruments Beverly invents after Claire goes away for two weeks, are parallel to his mental deterioration. As he turns against himself, so do the surgical instruments turn into weapons against the patients. The sharp and pointed instruments represent Beverly’s regressive movement towards aggressive barbarism. The Mantle Retractor is replaced by objects to dig into the body.  These instruments are a result of Beverly’s attempt to externalise the illusory space created by loss of the object of love. By digging holes he thinks he will have restored himself. The instruments he creates eventually turn against him and his brother, destroying both in the process.

 

Videodrome

It is a recurrent theme of Cronenberg films that what the subject himself created turns against the subject and becomes the very cause of the subject’s death. In Videodrome (1982) for instance we see Max, the victim of a video program which is inserted into the subject’s body and possessed, the subject acts unconsciously in the service of the monstrous forces behind the screen. All Videodrome tapes do is to bring out what’s already in the subject. That is, make the subject’s unconscious fantasies appear on the surface of the screen. In other words it turns the subject into a projection-introjection mechanism. At the end of the movie we see Max’s hand turning into the gun he was holding. He is seeing himself on the screen killing himself, and in the next scene he is killing himself in front of the screen onto which he had already projected the scenario of his own death. He introjects what he himself projects, and what he projects is already an effect of what he had introjected. What we have here is a deconstruction of the relationship between the screen and the mirror.  Not only the screen is a mirror, but also the mirror is a screen. The Videodrome tapes are the partial-objects which when united through the subject’s body, take over the body and manifest themselves in the actions of the subject. The subject becomes, in a way, an object of violence against itself and others.


[1] Jacques Lacan,  Écrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1977), 7

[2] David Cronenberg, Croneberg on Cronenberg, ed. Chris Rodley (London; Faber and Faber, 191992), 169

[3] Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, trans. James Strachey (London: Penguin, 1985), 279

[4] Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and Its Discontents, 262

[5] Donald Winnicott, Playing and Reality, (London: Tavistock, 1971), 64

Call for Papers
Edited by Richard Rushton and Philip Roberts

What is schizoanalysis and how might it be applied to the analysis of contemporary visual culture? This question is both daunting in its complexity and exciting in terms of the possibility for a whole new way of thinking about visual culture it offers. Answering it seems to require that we experiment with Deleuze and Guattari’s ideas and concepts to produce our own new syntheses adequate to the demands of the present creative, historical and theoretical conjuncture we find ourselves in today. That is the challenge we will take up by bringing together some of the most creative and exacting scholars working in the fields of Deleuze studies, film studies, visual culture and digital theory today.

We are now accepting submissions for a special issue of the Deleuze Studies journal, due to be published by Edinburgh University press in 2011.

We would be happy to receive submissions based on work presented at this conference, but are also interested in original contributions inspired by or written in response to some of the ideas developed throughout the event, as well as work from those who were unable to attend but are able to offer engaging scholarship on the meeting between Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis project and any aspect of the visual, the cinematic, or the database of images that forms our understanding of contemporary visual cultures.

The editors are particularly interested in work that addresses the following themes:

• Schizoanalysis of cinema
• Schizoanalysis and the visual
• Schizoanalysis and art
• Schizoanalysis and digital culture
• Schizoanalysis and the ‘image of thought’
• Intersections between schizoanalysis and the Cinema books

Submissions may be up to 10,000 words long and should follow the journal style.

Submissions should be sent as a Word document to RobertsPL@cardiff.ac.uk no later than October 1st 2010

 “In Examined Life, filmmaker Astra Taylor accompanies some of today’s most influential thinkers on a series of unique excursions through places and spaces that hold particular resonance for them and their ideas.

Peter Singer’s thoughts on the ethics of consumption are amplified against the backdrop of Fifth Avenue’s posh boutiques. Slavoj Zizek questions current beliefs about the environment while sifting through a garbage dump. Michael Hardt ponders the nature of revolution while surrounded by symbols of wealth and leisure.

Judith Butler and a friend stroll through San Francisco’s Mission District questioning our culture’s fixation on individualism. And while driving through Manhattan, Cornel West—perhaps America’s best-known public intellectual—compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating a life of the mind can be.

Offering privileged moments with great thinkers from fields ranging from moral philosophy to cultural theory, Examined Life reveals philosophy’s power to transform the way we see the world around us and imagine our place in it.”

 organ without a body

The Naked Lunch I am concerned with here is David Cronenberg’s film about William Burroughswriting process of Naked Lunch. The film, rather than being a direct adaptation of the novel, is a distillation of Burroughs’s life as he strives to write himself out of the past. We see Burroughs progressively deteriorating to the level of a dumb beast as he tries to make sense of his sufferings in and through writing. In the introduction he wrote for the 1985 edition of his earlier novel Queer, the writing of which dates back to 1953 following the two years period of depression, guilt, and anxiety ridden self-hatred after his accidental shooting of his wife Joan in September 1951, Burroughs, in an almost confessional manner, explicates the sources of his compulsion to write. Writing, for Burroughs, represents his lifelong pursuit of getting out of consciousness and reaching the area between fantasy and reality.

I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from Control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.[1]

The death of Joan creates a space within Burroughs into which he escapes, and attempts to fill with his writings. Cronenberg explicates what Burroughs had already implied in his introduction to Queer. In the film writing in particular and creativity in general is shown to be a response to a traumatic incident, that is, production of fantasies to compensate for the horrors of life. As the film proceeds so does the mental deterioration of Bill Lee who represents Burroughs in the movie. The first signs of Lee’s split come when he is arrested by two policemen for “the possession of dangerous substances.” What they are talking about is the bug-powder which, Lee, who has given up writing to become a bug exterminator, uses to kill insects. The two policemen ask him to demonstrate his profession. One of them puts an insect the size of a hand on a pile of bug powder to see if the insect will die. As the insect begins moving its wings, arms, and legs they leave the room and Lee with the insect. As soon as they leave the room the insect tells Lee through a mouth-anus at its back that it has instructions for him, that it comes from the Interzone, that his wife Joan is not actually human and that he has to kill her. The insect asks Lee if he could put some bug powder on its mouth-anus upon the application of which it starts to make noises and movements as if in an orgy. In the next scene we are in reality and Joan is asking Lee to put some bug powder on her lips. As wee see a few scenes later that the mouth-anus turns out to be the abyss, the bottomless depth, or the space in-between fantasy and reality in which Lee loses himself and shoots his wife.

This presentation of fantasy and reality side by side occurs throughout the film. It is when the gap between fantasy and reality disappears that the Unconscious manifests itself. In the case of Bill Lee the undesired event is pushed back into the unconscious in turn causing an accumulation of sadistic impulses in him. These sadistic impulses are then externalized in and through writing. For Burroughs writing was cathartic in that it liberated the untamed drives and prevented the manifestation of aggression in the external world. In Cronenberg what we see is almost the opposite of this attitude to writing. As we know from Dead Ringers, Videodrome, and eXistenZ, for Cronenberg writing and creativity have destructive rather than therapeutic effects on the writer. In the film Bill Lee emerges as the culmination of these two opposing views on not only the creative process but also the relationship between the creator and the creation, the subject and the object, mind and body. As the arena of this conflict Bill Lee’s world is that of the one in-between the internal and the external worlds, the Interzone, or in psychoanalytic terms the Unconscious, the Real, where there is no self or not self.

Interzone is Tangiers on the North African coast where Burroughs wrote Naked Lunch in 1953. In those days it was a place of escape for the self-exiled artists and artisans. At Interzone everyone has their own particular universality in one big universal cesspool and that cesspool is Lee’s fantasy world. The Real, or the Unconscious, is impossible to represent and all those monsters, bug-typewriters, and disgusting images are only the creations of Lee’s hallucinating mind. In it every universality is surrounded by many other universalities and each universality is a body without organs. Upon arrival at the Interzone Lee starts to see his typewriter as an insect resembling the one which he had first encountered in the interrogation room at the police station. The bug-typewriter becomes the mouth-anus mechanism, the partial object opening a gap through language in-between the body without organs and the organ without a body.

Orality is naturally prolonged in cannibalism and anality in the case of which partial objects are excreta, capable of exploding the mother’s body, as well as the body of the infant. The bits of one are always the persecutors of the other, and, in this abominable mixture which constitutes the Passion of the nursing infant, persecutor and persecuted are always the same. In this system of mouth-anus or aliment-excrement, bodies burst and cause other bodies to burst in a universal cesspool.[2]

Here Deleuze is referring to Melanie Klein’s Psychoanalysis of Children. The state of being which Deleuze summarizes is the paranoid-schizoid position of the child, the world of simulacra. At this stage, which preceeds Lacan’s mirror stage, the child is not yet capable of identification. There is an introjection-projection mechanism going on but the objects, internal and external, are experienced as bad objects. The conception of goodness has not yet developed in the child. Since there is no good object for the child to identify with there is no condition of possibility for the identificatory process with a good or a bad object, there is no self or not self.

The paranoid-schizoid position is followed by the manic-depressive position in which identification with a good object takes place. The passage from paranoid-schizoid introjection-projection to manic-depressive identification is the process of passing through the Interzone, or in Lacan’s words “traversing the fantasy.” In Deleuze’s terms this process is the hovering of an impersonal consciousness over the transcendental field of partial objects. The bug-typewriter is Lee’s impersonal consciousness manifesting itself in the form of a paranoid fantasy, a body without organs which is pretending to be an organ without a body. In fact it is neither a body without organs nor an organ without a body and yet it is both at the same time. It is a becoming in between being and non-being.

Cronenberg’s move is away from Burroughs’s Kafkaesque understanding of the body as metaphor and towards a Deleuzean narrative of the metamorphosis of the body in a literal sense. All those self-destructive creators are inverted into the spotlight in and through Croneberg’s films and this enables Cronenberg to contemplate on the creative process as an inversion of destructive process and fill the film with this contemplation. What we see in Naked Lunch is the death drive in conflict with the life drive.

In Deleuze the body without organs is the metaphor of the death drive. And since the death drive is a response to the fragmentation of the self, it can only take the form of a paranoid fantasy projected onto the Real. The body without organs is the partial objects brought together in a totalizing way, in a way that deprives them of their partialities.

What the schizoid position opposes to bad partial objects—introjected and projected, toxic and excremental, oral and anal—is not a good object, even if it were partial. What is opposed is rather an organism without parts, a body without organs, with neither mouth nor anus, having given up all introjection or projection, and being complete, at this price.[3]

The body without organs, then, is the absence of a connection between the subject’s inside and outside. The subject, in a state of total negation, neither eats nor excretes. It eats nothingness itself and becomes the catatonic (w)hole. It is not out of the body without organs that the subject is born but from the paranoid-schizoid position which consists of a not yet formed consciousness, an impersonal consciousness violently attacking the external world and splitting the given unities. As opposed to the body without organs it consists of projection and introjection of the partial objects surrounding the subject to create fantasies such as an illusionary ego, and learns to keep the body without organs, or the Real at bay. The paranoid-schizoid position is followed by the manic-depressive position which corresponds to the formation of the super-ego and the sustenance of a balance between id, ego, and super-ego.

Burroughs’s cut-up and fold-in techniques appear to be the two constituent parts of his defense mechanism against the spectre of Joan haunting him. To escape from the paralyzing state of being haunted by the spectre, that is, not to turn into a body without organs, he carries the projection-introjection mechanism to its furthest and literally and unconsciously puts words and sentences, partial objects, next to and within each other to make up discontinuities, cause ruptures and keep the Real at bay. Through giving a voice to the Real as it is before symbolization, Burroughs’s intends to prevent it from becoming real, from being actualized  hence submitting the governance of his actions to an external force. It is this mechanism of repression inherent in the cut-up technique that causes what it tries to cure. The cut-up technique involves literally cutting-up passages and putting them together as a new text which would be neither the one nor the other, hence deforming the syntax. The fold-in technique involves folding into each other the different parts of the same text, hence distorting the order of time. In both states what is at stake is a total negation of the external world as a result of its being considered as hostile. In Burroughs the paranoid fantasy projected on the real replaces reality with its inverted version, that is, Burroughs turns what he imagines the external world to be against itself by creating a paranoid fantasy involving a scenario in which the subject believes itself to be governed by an internally constituted external and evil force. Burroughs discovered cut-up and fold-in techniques as a defense mechanism against the paranoid fantasy he constructed around himself. To get out of this mad symbolic world, he decided to slash it into pieces and connect it with other texts that are themselves torn apart.

Burroughs’s cut-up technique is a result of his search for a way of desymbolizing the paranoid symbolic world he had constructed and projected onto the external world. Burroughs thought resymbolization was therapeutic in that it gave voice to the evil within in the way of expelling it. Cut-up technique aims at desymbolizing the totalitarian system surrounding the subject and was a defense against the totalitarian nature of this resymbolization. Burroughs himself admits in a letter written to Kerouac shortly after beginning to use the cut-up and fold-in techniques that “writing now causes me an almost unendurable pain.”[4] In Naked Lunch the movie, the theme of the materiality of language recurs through the encounters between the bug-typewriter and Bill Lee. Bill Lee creates an insect within, projects it onto his typewriter, and talks with it.  His creations have taken on lives of their own and are doing and saying things mostly against him.

  • (via silent-musings)In Nova Express, Burroughs’s 1964 text, The Invisible Man says, “These colourless sheets are what flesh is made from—Becomes flesh when it has colour and writing—That is Word and Image write the message that is you on colourless sheets determine all flesh.”[5] Burroughs had a strong sense of the materiality of language. When he has The Invisible Man say “becomes flesh when it has colour and writing” he is in a way referring to the Unconscious as the invisible man who is striving to become visible to himself and to others in and through language.

 Foucault’s interpretation of Bentham’s Panoptic mechanism becomes relevant here. In Discipline and Punish Michel Foucault presents the Panopticon as a metaphor of how power operates within modern western society. A revolutionary apparatus for its time (19th century), the Panopticon was more than just a model of prison for Foucault, it was a mechanism to keep an absent eye on the prisoner, to keep them under control at all times.

The Panopticon functions as a kind of laboratory of power. Thanks to its mechanisms of observation, it gains in efficiency and in the ability to penetrate into men’s behaviour; knowledge follows the advances of power, discovering new objects of knowledge over all the surfaces on which power is exercised.[6]

The formulation of the concept of the Panopticon involves not only seeing without being seen, but also a mechanism that imposes both their differences and their resemblances upon the subjects. So the subject’s difference from other subjects is itself externally constituted, but is also internal to the subject. The subject is the product of the mechanism in which the subject finds/loses itself, and participates in the setting of the trap. Some subjects are produced in such a way as to act on an illusory sense of consciousness, that they are in control of their lives and events surrounding them, that they are freely choosing their destiny, when in fact all the rules and possibilities of action are always already set. In a panoptic mechanism taking on passive and submissive roles brings wealth, love, health, and even happiness. In a panoptic mechanism everyone is a slave, but some are less so than the others. In a panoptic mechanism submissiveness brings power. The system is such that the subject, to feel secure, takes on a passive role. In return the subject is recognized as worthy of a higher step on the social ladder, which brings an illusionary sense of security. The efficiency of the panoptic mechanism depends on its ability to produce submissive/adaptive/rational subjects.

Panopticomania

Burroughs’s mind works exactly like a panoptic mechanism. And I think this has been one of the major concerns of Cronenberg throughout the shooting of the Naked Lunch. What we have in the movie is a man who has been caught up in a trap that he himself set. Bill Lee projects the construct of his psyche onto the external world and it is by doing this that he finds/loses himself in the trap, dismembered. The paranoid fantasy he constructs becomes so powerful that it engulfs him causing his detachment from the external world and leading to the eventual loss of the gap between fantasy and reality. It as this point that the Real slips through and tears him apart. He, in his mind, literally becomes a slashed monster, sees himself thus, as he is not, and becomes other than himself. His becoming-other, however, is in the wrong direction, or rather results in a confusion concerning the relationship between the subject and the object.

Burroughs believed that literature gives birth to action. He also saw writing itself as an action. At the end of the film we see Bill Lee at the border on his way back to Annexia from the Interzone. Two guards ask him what his occupation is. He says he is a writer. They want him to demonstrate. He takes out the gun from his pocket. Joan is at the back of the car. It’s time for their William Tell routine. Joan puts a glass on her head. Lee misses the glass and shoots Joan on the head. The guards are satisfied. The spectator witnesses this crime and remembers the person irrelevantly looking out of the window when they were slaughtering Kafka’s K. at the end of The Trial. Who was that person? Was it God? Was it a single man? Was it all of humanity?


[1] William Burroughs, Queer (New York: Penguin, 1985)

[2] Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester (London: Athlone, 1990), 187

[3] Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 188

[4] William Burroughs, Letters (New York: Penguin, 1994), 286

[5] William Burroughs, Nova Express, (London: Panther, 1982), 30

[6] Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books, 1977), 204

The Evil Spirit and The Spiritual Automaton

It is a recurrent theme in science-fiction-thriller movies that in time humanity turns into the slave of its own creation, namely of machines. It is precisely because of this fear of being replaced that humanity attempts to get out of time, out of the physical, and eventually falls on the side of what it was attempting to escape from; be that which they fall in the direction of metaphysics or pure-physics, in both cases their thought itself becomes machinic.

The Panopticon may even provide an apparatus for supervising its own mechanisms. In this central tower, the director may spy on all the employees that he has under his orders: nurses, doctors, foremen, teachers, warders […] and it will even be possible to observe the director himself. An inspector arriving unexpectedly at the center of the Panopticon will be able to judge at a glance, without anything concealed from him, how the entire establishment is functioning. And, in any case, enclosed as he is in the middle of this architectural mechanism, is not the director’s own fate entirely bound up with it?[1]

Panopticon, then, is a mechanism that disperses power as it produces submissive subjects. The transparency of the building makes it a model for the exercise of power by society as a whole. The subject becomes one with the mechanism surrounding it and so becomes the effect and the functionary at the same time. In short, the subject starts operating like and feeling itself as a machine. The body is not replaced by a machine but starts to work like the machine it is connected to. This is the contamination of the subject by the object.

Slavoj Zizek points out Deleuze’s emphasis on the passage from metaphor and towards metamorphosis in terms of the difference between “machines replacing humans” and the “becoming-machine” of a man.

The problem is not how to reduce mind to neuronal “material” processes (to replace the language of mind by the language of brain processes, to translate the first one into the second one) but, rather, to grasp how mind can emerge only by being embedded in the network of social relations and material supplements. In other words, the true problem is not “How, if at all, could machines imitate the human mind?” but “How does the very identity of human mind rely on external mechanical supplements? How does it incorporate machines?”[2]

In Cronenberg’s films we see the theme of machines replacing humans in the process of being replaced by the theme of humans connected to machines, or machines as extensions of humans providing them with another realm beyond and yet still within the material world; the psychic and the material horizontally situated next to each other. In eXistenZ, for instance, we have seen how the game-pod is plugged into the subject’s spine through a bio-port and becomes an extension of the body. In Naked Lunch the typewriter becomes Lee’s extension. In Burroughs’s the obsession was still with the machine taking over the body. In Cronenberg’s adaptation of Burroughs the obsession is with body and machine acting upon one another. What Burroughs experienced with his body but was unable to express becomes possible to express with the film. As we know from his writings on his routines Burroughs himself was becoming-machine internally, he was incorporating the dualistic and mechanical vision of the world surrounding him, but he thought his body was being attacked by external forces and the space he occupied was being invaded by forces that belonged to an altogether different realm, an external world. In Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch we see Bill Lee becoming a spiritual automaton to keep the Evil Spirit within at bay. The paradox is that the Evil Spirit is itself his own construction which in turn constructs him as a spiritual automaton constructing an external Evil Spirit.


In what follows I will attempt to show that Cronenberg’s films are caught in a vicious cycle, that they are self-deconstructive, and that if one thinks too much about them they not only turn back on themselves but also collapse in on themselves. This is because they are shut up in themselves in a highly solipsistic fashion and are the victims of the way they attack what they consider to be dangerous for humanity. In short I will try to show how Cronenberg’s films deconstruct themselves and invalidate their own stance before what they criticize, and this turns them into suicidal rituals before which the spectator is expected to recoil in horror.

One example of what I have said concerning the self-deconstruction inherent in Cronenberg’s films is in the middle of Naked Lunch where Tom Frost, also a writer, who appears to be Joan’s husband in Interzone, tells Bill Lee that he has been killing his wife everyday for years.

Author William Burroughs, an ex-dope addict, relaxing on a shabby bed in what is known as a Beat Hotel. Paris, 1959. Photograph: Life/ Loomis Dean.

Tom: There are no accidents. For example, I have been killing my own wife slowly, over a period of years.

Lee: What?

Tom: Well, not intentionally, of course. On the level of conscious intention, it’s insane, monstrous.

Lee: But you do consciously know it. You just said it. We’re discussing it.

Tom: Not consciously. This is all happening telephatically. Non-consciously.[close-up of Tom’s mouth, his lips moving in disharmony with what he is actually saying] If you look carefully at my lips, you’ll realize that I’m actually saying something else. I’m not actually telling you about the several ways I’m gradually murdering Joan. About the housekeeper Fadela whom I’ve hired to make Joan deathly ill by witchcraft. About the medicines and drugs I’ve given her. About the nibbling away at her self-esteem and sanity that I’ve managed, without being at all obvious about it. [the movement of his lips become harmonious with what he is saying] Whereas Joanie finds that she simply cannot be as obsessively precise as she wants to be unless she writes everything in longhand.

We have to keep in mind before engaging in analysis that all this is happening in Lee’s mind, that Interzone is a construct of his psyche, that he is actually in New York, that he is hallucinating all this Interzone business, and that the year is 1953. What we have here is the loss of the boundary between the conscious and the unconscious mind. However, this is not a real loss of the boundary because we, the spectators, are informed beforehand that all this is happening in Lee’s mind. There is only the inside of Lee’s mind, and if there is anything lost it is the reality of the external world. Lee only hears the echoes of his projections. The murder of Joan has had such an impact on Lee that he is hearing nothing that the other says and he is replacing this nothing with his own scenarios concerning what’s actually going on outside.

What does the disintegration between Tom’s words and actions signify? It signifies the double-bind situation in which Cronenberg’s films are caught. In other words he is unconsciously communicating that which he thinks he is not saying. He is unconsciously doing what he thinks he is arguing against; that creativity brings with it destruction, that progress and regress are complementary. In Naked Lunch writing is identified with killing one’s wife. To keep the actual killing of the wife at bay, Lee writes not to rationalize the murder but to irrationalize not-killing one’s wife, and we know this from the fact that Tom Frost’s words are only projections of Lee’s psyche.

This scene also explicates Cronenberg’s attitude towards the recurring theme of a psyche-soma split in his films. But more importantly, since Naked Lunch is mainly concerned with the activity of writing and what happens to someone who is in the process of creating something, this scene deals with the relationship between body and language. Here I will leave aside the exhausted subject of a mind-body split who cannot make a distinction between appearance and reality and move towards the more recent theme of the relationship between bodies and languages, with the hope of opening up a field across which one passes and in the process of this passage becomes the embodiment of a new possibility of signification, another sign, neither within nor without the old mode of signification. For this a third dualism is required, and that third dualism, being that of language and Event, has already been worked through by Deleuze.     William Burroughs at his writing machine, New York, fall 1953. One of numerous, rarely seen photographs taken by Allen Ginsberg that feature in a special Gallery section of Naked Lunch@50, here Ginsberg’s Kodak Retina records a crucial moment for Burroughs, as he worked on the manuscripts of “Queer” and “Yage” before heading off towards Tangier and the writing of Naked Lunch… (Courtesy of the Allen Ginsberg Trust and Stanford University Library.)


[1] Foucault, Discipline and Punish, 204

[2] Slavoj Zizek, Organs Without Bodies (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), 16

From Metaphor and Towards Metamorphosis 

With Deleuze the Cartesian mind-body dualism has been replaced by body-language dualism. Without being too insistent about it at this stage I would like to hint at where the relationship between these dualisms is heading. I propose, therefore, what Deleuze has already pointed out, namely a new possibility of analysing the nature of dialectics in the context of the relationship between language and its affective quality, what he calls the sense-event. As he puts it in his Time-Image, Deleuze thinks that neither the grounds of mind-body dualism nor those of body-language dualism are sufficient to theorize a progressive movement towards a new mode of signification. 

These are no longer grounds for talking about a real or possible extension capable of constituting an external world: we have ceased to believe in it, and the image is cut off from the external world. But the internalisation or integration in a whole as consciousness of self has no less disappeared.[1] 

Lothar Osterburg, Trailer Park, 2009

 There is no longer any movement of internalisation or externalization, integration or differentiation, but a confrontation of outside and an inside independent of distance, this thought outside itself and this un-thought within thought.[2] 

Deleuze invites exploration of a text in the way of explicating a progressive potential within the text which had hitherto been consciously or unconsciously ignored or neglected, or even repressed. This theme is linked to Deleuze’s life-long concern with Nietzsche’s thought of eternal recurrence and difference qua repetition. The emergence of the unthought within thought requires an encounter with the already thought in such a way as to expose its inner dynamics and hence show what’s inside it as its outside. That is, what the thought seems to be excluding as its other constitutes its subject as self-identical. It is through the exclusion of the other that the subject becomes itself. If we apply this to subject-object relations it becomes obvious that the split between the subject and the object is itself a construct, but nevertheless a necessary construct for the subject’s subsistence. In-between the subject and the object, then, there is an unfillable gap that is constitutive of both the subject and the object. 

[…]thought, as power which has not always existed, is born from an outside more distant than any external world, and, as power which does not yet exist, confronts an inside, an unthinkable or un-thought, deeper than any internal world […][3] 

For Deleuze new thought can only emerge as a curious absurdity, as in the Beckett case. That is because the new thought, although it comes from within the old thought, is beyond the interiority and the exteriority to a context in its primary emergence. This means that new thought always appears to be a non-sense, for no thought can be meaningful without a context. But non-sense is not the absence of sense. It is, rather, sense with its own particular context which it creates in the process of emergence from out of the old context. Being without the predominant context makes the thought seem absurd, non-sense, but not meaningless, for meaningless means absence of thought. 

What is a transcendental field? It can be distinguished from experience in that it doesn’t refer to an object or belong to a subject (empirical representation). It appears therefore as stream of a-subjective consciousness, a pre-reflexive impersonal consciousness, a qualitative duration of consciousness without a self. It may seem curious that the transcendental be defined by such immediate givens: we will speak of a transcendental empiricism in contrast to everything that makes up the world of the subject and the object.[4] 

Joe Bosquet must be called Stoic. He apprehends the wound that he bears deep within his body in its eternal truth as a pure event. To the extent that events are actualised in us, they wait for us and invite us in. They signal us: “My wound existed before me, I was born to embody it.” It is a question of attaining this will that the event creates in us; of becoming the quasi-cause of what is produced within us, the Operator: of producing surfaces and linings in which the event is reflected, finds itself again in incorporeal and manifests in us the neutral splendour which it possesses in itself in its impersonal and pre-individual nature, beyond the general and the particular, the collective and the private. It is a question of becoming a citizen of the world.[5] 

In this light we now see more clearly what Deleuze is aiming at with his disjunctive synthesis of transcendence and immanence leading to his transcendental empiricism. Empiricism starts from the material world rather than from the metaphysical world which it sees only as a product of the representations of experience through language. In fact, it knows no world other than the material world, and even if it does it prioritizes the physical world over the metaphysical world. Experience of the world before subjectivation is what Deleuze is trying to access. Since reaching the pre-subjective field of partial objects is possible only through language, and he knows that, he says that we have to produce that pre-subjective field which is called the transcendental field of immanence. 

The event considered as non-actualized (indefinite) is lacking in nothing. It suffices to put it in relation to its concomitants: a transcendental field, a plane of immanence, a life, singularities.[6] 

What we encounter with Deleuze is therefore a replacement not only of body-mind dualism with body-language dualism, but also a beyond of both, a triplicity; body-language-event. The event is the sense-event. It is the emergence of new sense not out of non-sense but out of the old sense, that is, a simultaneous explication of a new sense within the old sense. The new sense always appears in the form of an absurdity at first, but in time, through repetition and persistence this absurdity starts to appear in a new light and becomes new sense. Absurd is not the same as non-sense or absence of sense, but explicates the non-sense inherent in sense, and hence is in-between non-sense and sense. Through the absurd the unconscious manifests itself revealing another realm of consciousness which goes beyond the subject and the object and yet that is at the same time in-between them. This consciousness is the becoming of being. Being is a whole in process, that is, being is its own becoming whole, therefore it is always incomplete and yet whole. Being is an incomplete idea of wholeness which is in the process of becoming present. Since presence can only be at present, and since time is only at present, the pre-subjective impersonal consciousness is in between past and present, that is, in-between non-being and being. The event is the emergence of being out of becoming, what Deleuze calls a static genesis. This emergence, however, has neither a beginning nor an end, and therefore being is the becoming of an impersonal consciousness; “I am all the names in history,” says Nietzsche. 

This indefinite life does not itself have moments, close as they may be one to another, but only between-times, between-moments; it doesn’t just come about or come after but offers the immensity of an empty time where one sees the event yet to come and already happened, in the absolute of an immediate consciousness.[7] 

At this moment in time, and in this place all the wounds of humanity of the past are incarnated.  One has to feel the pain of all the past times, empathize with all those sufferings and learn from them for progress to take place. It is not the individual sufferings of a single person that Hegel, Nietzsche, or Deleuze talk about. Theory, cinema, and literature are not personal affairs. What is at stake is the “presence” of all the already dead bodies that have to be turned into fertilizers. How to make use of the already dead bodies in the service of progress as opposed to the ones who kill in the service of  progress? Suffering and pain indeed weaken the subject and yet there is no way other than turning this weakness, this impoverishment of thought into an affirmative will to power beyond the life/death drive. Perhaps a more than banal accident of life but just like Bosquet “my wound existed before me.” I am always already injured and if there are many more wounds awaiting to be embodied by me, well then, this indeed signifies that it has always been, still is, and will never cease becoming a time of passage from homo sapiens across homo historia and it appears to be towards homo tantum. 

The unconscious of the subject is a product of cultural products such as advertisements, films, and books. Since the unconscious is itself a cultural product, giving free rein to the unconscious to express itself serves the reproduction of the cultural context in which the unconscious is itself produced. To be able to create difference without having to die the subject has to turn the unconscious into a void within the symbolic out of which a new way of looking at the world can manifest itself. A subject is he/she who actively submits to the unknown in such a way as to create the condition of possibility out of a condition of impossibility for the creation of a new beginning. 

In a world which the subject loses itself surrounded by lies and illusions it is very difficult for one to become a subject since a subject is nothing but a void lost upon entry into the symbolic. Finding of itself of a subject means finding itself of a subject as a void, that is, a pre-symbolic hole, or a hole within the symbolic. This means that finding itself of a subject is its losing itself as a symbolic being. And this means that what is found by regressing to the pre-symbolic is nothing. So a subject is that which cannot be found, it can only be created in and through the destruction of its symbolic self. In this context becoming a subject refers to the process of creation of a self-conscious consciousness out of the void. 

We must keep in mind that the pre-symbolic void is not actually before the symbolic but beneath it. Opening a hole within the symbolic through cont(r)action creates the condition of possibility for the contact between the known and the unknown, between the subject and its a-subjective self, between the conscious desiring and the unconscious drives. 

  


 

[1] Gilles Deleuze, Time-Image, (London: Athlone Press, 1989),  277 

[2] Deleuze,, 363 

[3] Deleuze, 273 

[4] Gilles Deleuze, Pure Immanence: A Life, trans. Anne Boyman (New York: Zone Books, 2001), 25 

[5] Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester (London: Athlone, 1990), 148 

[6] Deleuze, 31-2 

[7] Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, 29

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Fantezi Makinesinde Hakikat Sızıntısı, ironinin doruklarında gezen teorik bir anlatı. Dünyadaki tüm televizyon ekranlarının yanı sıra daha başka ekran mekanizmalarının da bilinmeyen bir sebepten ötürü bir anda beyaza bürünmesi neticesinde gelişen düşündürücü ve bir o kadar da kaygı verici hadiseleri konu alıyor. Tekvin adındaki baş-karakter, yazılmış ama henüz yayımlanmamış kitabında tüm bu olanları öngörmüş bir bedbahttır. Televizyonsuz dünyadaki sistem hızlı bir biçimde çökerken, Tekvin de kitabıyla gerçek hayat arasındaki bu kaygı verici benzerliğin kaynağını araştırmak üzere Amsterdam şehrine doğru yola koyulur. Acaba Amsterdam’da neler olmuş, hangi doğaüstü güçler işin içine bit yenikleri serpiştirmiştir?

Yazar: Cengiz Erdem

Sayfa Sayısı: 137
Dili: Türkçe
Yayınevi: G Yayın Grubu

Idefix

D&R

Mephisto

NetKitap

KitapYurdu

Işık Kitabevi

ErenKitap

Pandora

Televizyonun olmadığı bir dünyada…

Kaya Genç

Kıbrıslı akademisyen Cengiz Erdem, Fantezi Makinesinde Hakikat
Sızıntısı romanında televizyonun olmadığı bir gelecek hayal ediyor…

“Her şey dünyada artık televizyon diye bir şey olmadığıyla ilgili,
daha doğrusu dünyadaki tüm televizyon ekranlarının bilinmeyen bir
sebepten ötürü beyaza büründüğünü duyuran o garip ve bir o kadar da
talihsiz haberin gazetelerde yayımlanmasıyla başladı…” Cengiz
Erdem’in romanı Fantezi Makinesinde Hakikat Sızıntısı bu cümleyle
açılıyor. Kitaptan, Yapı Kredi Yayınları’nda uzun süre editörlük ve
Cogito dergisinin yayın yönetmenliğini yaptıktan sonra ayrılıp kendi
yayınevini kuran Cem Akaş’ın tavsiyesiyle haberdar olduk: Yaratıcı,
yenilikçi yazarlara şans verilmesi için uğraşan Akaş, Erdem’in
kitabını çok önemsiyor.

Gerçekten de Türkiye edebiyatında benzerine çok rastlanmayan bir roman
bu. “İngiltere’de East Anglia Üniversitesi’nde yüksek lisans
yapıyordum. Bir araştırma bursu için Amsterdam Üniversitesi’ne
başvurdum,” diyerek romana başlangıç sürecini anlatıyor Erdem. “Modern
devletin denetleme mekanizmalarını inceleyecektim. Özellikle Foucault
üzerine çalışmaktı niyetim. Amsterdam’a gittiğim gün, şehrin
merkezinde, Red Light District’e çok yakın bir mahalledeki küçük bir
odada yaşıyordum. Fare yuvası gibi, ufacık bir yerdi. Bir yandan da
para kazanmak için aşağıdaki internet cafe’de çalışıyordum. Siyah bir
defterim vardı. İnternet cafe’de çalışırken bir yandan da romanımı
yazıyordum.”

Erdem, Amsterdam’ın bir ‘kameralar şehri’ olduğunu kısa sürede
keşfetmiş. Yalnızca sokaklarda, lokantalarda, büyük binalarda, metro
istasyonlarında değil, çalıştığı dükkânın içinde de kameralar varmış.
“Patron, internet cafe’ye pek takılmıyor, evinde oturuyordu; bir
televizyondan, dükkânda olup bitenleri izlerdi. Arada bana telefon
eder, ’seni ekranda göremiyorum, neredesin?’ derdi. Ben de hemen
kameranın gördüğü bir yere giderdim. Odamda ise televizyon yoktu.
Yazarken, böyle bir gerçekliğin içinde yaşıyordum.”

Kitapta Cengiz Erdem, ‘imgelerin’ ekranlara yansımadığı bir dünya
kuruyor. Zaten kitabı okuduktan sonra da, insanın aklında hiçbir
‘imge’ veya sahne kalmıyor. Fantezi Makinesinde Hakikat Sızıntısı,
‘imgelerinden’ arınmış bir dünyada bol bol konuşan, her tür retorik
numaraya başvuran bir sesle ilgili daha çok.

Kıbrıs’ta İngilizce konuşulan bir ortamda yaşadığını anlatıyor Erdem.
Edebiyat dünyasının pek de zengin olmadığı bu ortamda, Girne Amerikan
Üniversitesi’nde öğrencilerine İngiliz edebiyatı öğretiyor. Henüz 32
yaşındaki yazar, geçtiğimiz günlerde üniversitenin İngiliz Dili ve
Edebiyatı bölümünün başkanı olmuş.

Erdem’in kitaptaki kahramanının adı Tekvin; adını Tevrat’taki
‘Genesis’ yani Yaradılış bölümünden alan Tekvin’le birlikte okur da
‘artık yalnızca beyaz bir ışığı yansıtan’ ekranların olduğu bu dünyada
geziniyor. Televizyonların gidişiyle gazete satışları artıyor, herkes
yeniden gazetelere, kitaplara yöneliyor. Erdem’in derdi de, çok
etkilendiğini söylediği Jose Saramago’nun Körlük romanında yaptığına
benzer bir biçimde ‘çılgınca bir fikrin’ peşinden giderek
olabilecekleri anlatmak. Ama Erdem’in projesi bununla sınırlı değil.
“Bu roman, bir hikâye anlatmasının yanında akademik bir çalışmadan da
izler taşıyor. Yani sadece Saramagovari bir kabus değil, Foucault ve
Alain Badiou gibi Fransız düşünürlerin fikirlerinden izleri de okuyucu
bu kitapta bulacak.”

(c) Kaya Genç, Sabah Gazetesi Kitap Eki, Mart 2010. 

Jacques Derrida

Image via Wikipedia

 “Derrida” The Movie

différance “For Derrida, being is the oppositional conflict between binaries, but what is more real than even this duel of forces is the difference between them… But Derrida shows through his elaboration of différance that neither term in the binary truly conquers the other because both need the other in order to stand out, and that both are, in fact, constituted at their foundation by this continual supplementation of difference. Thus, no term is beyond the other, but both are equally inscribed within the more primordial differential space between, that “bottomless chessboard upon which being is put into play”… Derrida privileges the bottomlessness of the chessboard duel in order to call out the essential arbitrariness of privileging any one term over the other… So for Derrida, what is most real, then, is the abyss of différance, or the bottomless aspect of the chessboard, which is to say that it is an ultimate transcendental emptiness out of which everything impossibly, endlessly, and agonistically emerges and in relation to which nothing has a more or less significant relationship… For in relation to an ultimate indifferent emptiness, everything is classified at its base by an essential equivalence, with no thing expressing a greater degree of goodness or beauty or truth than the next thing, thereby ensuring that it is only through subjective imposition—that is, by way now of a thing’s commodified form and exchange value—that any worth whatsoever can be attributed to it. The market all too happily accepts its ontological construal as in line with its own justification and continued sprawl and thus renders the critical, liberative edge of Derrida’s deconstruction largely domesticated. For within this Derridean scheme, all we can do is arbitrarily hope that somehow a universal realization of this bottomless abyss will help in chastening our imperial ambitions, mitigating the still inevitable conflict of power. Yet all the while, the new imperial logic of the market spreads increasingly uninhabited over this bottomless frontier, aided by having the last remaining vestiges of any other obstructive metaphysical values removed from the sociopolitical chessboard.”  (Ben Suriano, “On What Could Quite Rightly Pass for a Fetish” in ‘God is Dead’ and I Don’t Feel so Good Myself, pp. 38-40) see Derrida, Margins of Philosophy; Of Grammatology; and Writing and Difference  différance « Indecent Bazaar

différance

“For Derrida, being is the oppositional conflict between binaries, but what is more real than even this duel of forces is the difference between them… But Derrida shows through his elaboration of différance that neither term in the binary truly conquers the other because both need the other in order to stand out, and that both are, in fact, constituted at their foundation by this continual supplementation of difference. Thus, no term is beyond the other, but both are equally inscribed within the more primordial differential space between, that “bottomless chessboard upon which being is put into play”… Derrida privileges the bottomlessness of the chessboard duel in order to call out the essential arbitrariness of privileging any one term over the other… So for Derrida, what is most real, then, is the abyss of différance, or the bottomless aspect of the chessboard, which is to say that it is an ultimate transcendental emptiness out of which everything impossibly, endlessly, and agonistically emerges and in relation to which nothing has a more or less significant relationship… For in relation to an ultimate indifferent emptiness, everything is classified at its base by an essential equivalence, with no thing expressing a greater degree of goodness or beauty or truth than the next thing, thereby ensuring that it is only through subjective imposition—that is, by way now of a thing’s commodified form and exchange value—that any worth whatsoever can be attributed to it. The market all too happily accepts its ontological construal as in line with its own justification and continued sprawl and thus renders the critical, liberative edge of Derrida’s deconstruction largely domesticated. For within this Derridean scheme, all we can do is arbitrarily hope that somehow a universal realization of this bottomless abyss will help in chastening our imperial ambitions, mitigating the still inevitable conflict of power. Yet all the while, the new imperial logic of the market spreads increasingly uninhabited over this bottomless frontier, aided by having the last remaining vestiges of any other obstructive metaphysical values removed from the sociopolitical chessboard.”

(Ben Suriano, “On What Could Quite Rightly Pass for a Fetish” in God is Dead’ and I Don’t Feel so Good Myself, pp. 38-40)

see Derrida, Margins of Philosophy; Of Grammatology; and Writing and Difference

différance « Indecent Bazaar

Michelangelo Antonioni’nin Hollywood için söylediği, “hiçbir yerde olup hiç kimseyle, hiçbir şey hakkında konuşmak gibi,” sözünü akılda tutarak içinde bulunduğum duruma bakacak olursam görürüm ki ben aslında içindeki boşluğu bir başka boşlukla doldurmaktan başka hiçbir şey yapmayan bir hiçim. O kadar ki benim kendimle olan ilişkim bir boşluk üzerine kurulmuştur. Böyle bir durumda her an bu temelsiz yapının altında kalma ihtimalimin had safhada olması sen de takdir edersin ki pek de öyle şaşılacak bir hakikat formunda zuhretmiyor sevgili okur. Başıma gelenlerin tek sorumlusu ben değilim ama tabii? İstesem de olamam zaten? Neden? Çünkü ben sosyal bir varlık ve siyasal bir hayvan olarak yaptığım her eylem ve dillendirdiğim her söylem üzerinde yüzde yüz kontrol sağlamaktan son derece aciz bir insanım. Pek çok şeyi oluruna bıraktığım için olsa gerek son tahlilde içimdeki boşluğu kat kat büyütmüş buluyorum kendimi hep.Arada karartı nöbetleri geçirdiğim oluyor. Uyandığımda gördüklerimin mi, yoksa karartı nöbetleri esnasında yaşadıklarımın mı hakikate daha yakın olduğuna karar veremiyorum bir türlü. Kurmaca olanla gerçek olan arasındaki boşluğun gün geçtikçe dolduğunu hissediyorum. Kurmaca ve gerçek arasındaki boşluk dolarken benim içimdeki boşluk daha da boşalıyor, boşaldıkça büyüyor. O kadar ki neredeyse beni içine alıyor. Ben öyle boşlukta sallanan adamı oluyorum Saul Bellow’un. Dolguları tekrar boşlukla doldurmaya vakfediyorum sonra kendimi. Ediyorum kendimi vakıf ki içimdeki bu sonsuz boşluk biraz olsun küçülsün.İşin içindeki bit yeniklerini saymaktan bitap düştüğüm zamanlar oluyor. O zamanlarda kendimi kaybetmeye meylediyorum, meylediyorum kendimi kaybetmeye ki kendime geri gelebileyim, kendime geri gelince kendimi bulmuş olayım. Sonra aslında kendimi bulmadığımı, aslında sadece alt-benliğimi yok edip hükümdarlığı tamamen üst-benliğime devrettiğimi idrak edeyim. Daha da sonra pek çok insanın gidip de gelemediğini göreyim.Daha dikkatli olmalıyım diyorum kendime bunun üzerine. Böylece kendimle aramdaki ilişkiye yeni bir boyut katmış oluyorum. Kendimle aramdaki ilişkiye kattığım bu yeni boyut çevremle ilişkilerimde yeni açılımlar sağlıyor. Çözümü sevgide buluyor, gene mutlu oluyorum, ta ki bir sonraki dehşetengiz hadiseler zincirine kadar, kendimi kendi içimde kaybedeceğim güne kadar, içimdeki boşluğu boşlukla boşlukta bir boşluk olarak yaşatmaktan kendimi alamıyorum.Hiç değilse sen söyle, ne ola ki benim aynı anda hem içimdeki, hem de dışımdaki boşlukları küçültmekten aciz oluşumun sebebi?Neyim var ki benim içimdeki boşluktan başka?İçimdeki boşluktan başka hiçbir şeyimin olmaması olabilir mi acaba benim aynı anda hem içimdeki, hem de dışımdaki boşlukları küçültmekten aciz oluşumun sebebi? Bu yüzden bir hiç olabilir miyim ki ben? Hiçbir kimse? Bir hiç kimse o işte!
  • iN-PUBLiC | Trent Parke

  • Hayatı kilitlenmiş bir adamın kendini içinde bulduğu ruhsal ve fiziksel durumlara karşı giriştiği amansız mücadeleyi anlatan ve Türkçe’ye Durağan Dünya diye çevirebileceğimiz Wereld Van Stilstand filmi Hollanda’lı yönetmen Elbert Van Strien’in yazıp yönettiği 2002 yapımı oldukça deneysel 30 dakikalık bir film. Siyah beyaz fotoğraflardan oluşan film kareleri üzerine hikâyeyi üçüncü tekil şahısta anlatan bir ses eklenmiş. Anlatıcı “O” diye hitap ediyor yani kahramanımıza. O gitti, bu geldi, vebugibi…Filmin Kafkaesk bir havası var aslında. Boğucu bir düşünme biçiminin girdaplarında boğulan bireyin kendi yarattığı labirentte kayboluşunun öyküsü… Kafka adamın kafasının içinde, adam Kafka’nın Dava romanının. Yani bir kısmı Amsterdam’da, bir kısmı da Brüksel’de geçen filmin ana-teması bireyin kendini içinde bulduğu acımasız sistem tarafından yokoluşa sürüklenişi. Van Strien öznenin kendi içinde bölünme sürecini durağanlık ve akışkanlık temalarını işleyerek yeniden ele almış film vasıtasıyla.Kendini içinde bulduğu anlamsız rutinin pençesinde kıvranan bir gazeteci olan kahramanımız kendisine bir komplo kurulduğundan emindir. Çevresinde gelişen her olayı kendi kafasında kurduğu komplo teorilerinin süzgecinden geçtikten sonra gören bu adsız kahraman, adeta hiçkimse, veya bir hiç olmuş kimse, yani işte bu biçare düşmüş gazeteci henüz hiç kitap yayınlamamış olduğu için, aşkta başarısız olduğu için, hayatta istediği noktadan çok uzakta olduğu için gittikçe nefretle dolmaya başlar çevresine karşı. Psikoz zuhur etmiş, kahramanımız paranoyak senaryolarla doldurmaya çalışmaktadır hayatındaki boşluğu. Bu senaryolar ona kendisini önemli hissetirmektedir. Aslında o kadar önemsiz hissetmektedir ki psikozdaki kişi kendisini, ölmek isteyecek noktaya gelmiştir artık. Ama filmde hiç beklenmedik bir biçimde yaşam dürtüsü devreye girmiş ve kişi kendini çok büyük bir komplonun kurbanı olarak görmek ve göstermeye çalışmak suretiyle önemli kılmıştır kendi gözünde. Kişi ölmemek için paranoyaya sürüklenmiştir bir başka deyişle. Yani depresyona karşı bir savunma mekanizması olarak paranoyaya meyletme durumudur burada söz konusu olan. Filmin siyah beyaz fotoğraflardan oluşuyor olması ve bu fotoğraflar arasındaki geçişlerin de genellikle alışılagelmiş mantık kurallarına uymaması da işte bu parnoyak-psikoz halini, yani çevreden kopmuşluğu ve hayatın birbirinden kopuk bir fotoğraflar serisine dönüşme sürecini ekrana taşıyor.
    ***
    Korkunç canavarların istilası altındaki paranoyak dünyaya has en ayırdedici özellik iç düşmanların dışa yansıtılarak benliğin sürekli tehdit altında olduğu saplantısıdır. Paranoyak şahsiyet korkunç canavarlar tarafından istila edilmiş olsa da kendi iç dünyasını çok daha korkunç olduğunu düşündüğü gerçek dünyaya tercih eder ve kendisini işte bu iç dünyasına hapsederek dış dünyaya karşı geliştirdiği bir savunma mekanizmasının kölesi olur. Yani iç dünyasında olup bitenleri dış dünyada oluyormuş gibi görür ve dolayısıyla da saldırganlaşır. İşin aslını farkederse şiddeti kendisine yöneltir. Paranoyak dünyada iç ve dış dünya arasındaki boşluk ortadan kalkmakla kalmamış, araya düşmanlık girmiştir. Paranoyak düşünce dış dünyada gerçekleşen her şeyi kendi kendisini besleyecek şekilde yorumlar. Dış dünyada ne olursa olsun paranoyak zihniyet bunu kendi düş aleminin küçük penceresinden görüp indirgemeci, volontarist ve hatta determinist tavırlar takınır düşman bellediği dış geçeklik karşısında.Paranoyak bir insan kendisini o kadar örselenmiş ve kırılgan hisseder ki kendi yarattığı ve normal bir insanın en korkunç kabuslarından bile daha korkunç olan bir iç dünyada acıya, eleme, ıstıraba mahkum bir yaşam sürdürür. İşte bu nedenledir ki ötekilerin mutluluğunu hasetle kıskanır ve şiddete yönelir. Ötekileri acıya mıhlamak suretiyle kendi rezil ve iğrenç dünyasından kaçabileceğini sanır. Ne var ki bu boş bir çabadır ve neticede pranoyak insan kendi dışkısında boğulur ölür. Ancak film bu döngüyü kırıyor ve psikozdan kurtulmanın imkânsız olmadığını söylüyor.Durağan Dünya depresyondan psikoza oradan da yeniden doğuşa geçiş sürecini anlattığı için doruk noktasına kahramanımızın sembolik intiharıyla ulaşıyor. Alter-ego’sunu yok eden kahramanımız eski benliğini geride bırakıp yeni bir benlikle yeniden doğmaya hazırdır artık.Film paranoyak dünyanın çöküşü nefret edilen şeyin aslında dışsal değil içsel olduğunun keşfini hem beraberinde getirir hem de bu keşfin neticesidir şeklinde özetlenebilecek bir tesbit yaptıktan sonra ise paranoya denen bu illet hastalıktan kurtulmanın ve bu berbat durumdan çıkmanın yolunu gösteriyor.
    ***
    Filme yakından bakıldığında sadece anlamsız bir fotoğraflar yığını görülüyor, ama ekrandan biraz uzaklaşılıp perspektif genişletilince anlaşılıyor ki tüm bu fotoğraflar anlamlı bir bütünlük oluşturacak şekilde sıralanmış aslında. Oluşturulan bu anlamlı bütünlükse son sahneyle birebir örtüşüyor, hatta zaten son sahnedir açığa çıkaran fotoğrafların oluşturduğu o anlamlı bütünlüğü. Zira son sahnede fotoğraf karesi çözülüyor, görüntü hareket etmeye başlıyor ve yatakta ying-yang şeklinde yatan bir adamla bir kadın birbirlerine sevgi dolu bakışlar fırlatıyor, şevkatli ve/fakat kaçamak dokunuşlar yapıyorlar. Çözümü sevgide bulan kahramanımızın yüzündeki mutluluk ifadesiyle ise seyirciye bu korkunç kördüğümün çözüldüğü, kilidin kırıldığı ve her şeyin tatlıya bağlandığı mesajı başarıyla verilmiş oluyor. Yani sevgili okur, monoton hayatın bir sonraki ruhsal çöküntüye kadar aksamadan süreceği su götürmez bir biçimde garanti altına alınmış oluyor bu son sahneyle. Böylece de işte insanın çelişkilerle dolu yapısına rağmen, hatta bu çelişkili yapıdan güç alınarak hayatın rastlantısallığı karşısındaki aczin üstesinden gelinebileceği son sahnenin tüm filme damgasını vuran motifi açığa çıkarmasıyla altını çizmeye bile gerek olmayacak derecede bariz bir gerçeklik halini alıyor.
    Sinir haplarıyla yaşayan dengesiz bir kızın hayatını anlatan Prozac Toplumu adlı pek popüler romanı artık hepimiz biliyoruz. Doksanlar’ın sonlarında yayınlandığında satış rekorları kırmış bu Elizabeth Wurtzel romanını sinemaya da adapte etmişler geçtiğimiz yıllarda. Genel kültür olsun diye söylüyorum, 1 €’ya satılıyor film şimdi Amsterdam sokaklarında. Romanın filmden daha derinlere nüfuz ettiğini söylemeye sanırım ki gerek bile yoktur. Ama bu filmin kötü olduğu anlamına gelmemeli, ki gelmiyor da zaten.Christina Ricci’nin canlandırdığı Elizabeth Wurtzel kendi hayatından esinlenerek yazmış romanı. Harvard’da yazar olmakla meşgulken geçirdiği acı, keder, elem ve ıstıtrap dolu yılları ve akabinde gelişen daha başka üzüntü verici ve düşündürücü olayları anlatmış kitabında.Filmin yönetmeni Erik Skjoldbj ise filmde yer yer melodrama kayıp olağan karşılanması gereken bazı hadiselere aşırı tepki vermiş film süresince. Tabii bunda bunalımlı karakterin dünyasının ne kadar parçalanmış ve paradokslarla dolu olduğunu anlatmak gayretinin de etkisi var. Ama soyadını bundan böyle anmamaya karar verdiğim yönetmen Bay Erik’in Elizabeth Wurtzel’in diline sadık kalma çabası kurguda aksaklıklar yaratarak bunalımdan histeriye oradan da nevroza ve psikoza(paranoid-şizofreniye) geçişin, daha doğrusu tüm bu ruhsal durumlar arasındaki düzensiz gidiş-gelişin akli dengesini yitirmiş kişinin hayatını nasıl içinden çıkılmaz bir kördüğüme dönüştürdüğünü gerçekçi ve dolayısıyla da etkili bir biçimde ekrana taşımakta yetersiz kalıyor.Hikâyemiz genç kızın ilkokul yıllarında başlıyor. Birinci tekil şahıstan öğreniyoruz ki Wurtzel’in annesi ve babası kendisi çok küçükken ayrılmış. Babası bir gece aniden çekip gitmiş ve bir daha da ne aramış, ne de sormuş.Wurtzel annesiyle birlikte yaşıyor ve annesinin istediği gibi bir insan olmakla kendi istediği gibi bir insan olmak arasında gidip geliyor sürekli. Bu gidiş-gelişler gün geçtikçe şiddetleniyor ve Wurtzel’in bir dediği bir diğerini tutmamaya başlıyor. Mesela Wurtzel annesine bağırıyor çağırıyor, sonra annesi ağlamaya başlıyor, kız tarifi imkânsız bir vicdan azabı duyup bu sefer de kendine yöneltiyor şiddeti. Zorla terapiye gidiyor, terapi biraz işe yarar gibi bir izlenim veriyor, sonra her şey tekrar tepetaklak oluyor. Genç kız intihara teşebbüs ediyor ama akliye ve asabiye mütehassısı olaya zamanında müdahale edip kızın bir çılgınlık yapmasını engelliyor.Görüyoruz ki kişi çevresine karşı düşmanca tavırlar sergilemeye başlayınca kaçınılmaz olarak çevresi de kişiye karşı düşmanca bir tavır takınıyor. Bu düşmanca tavır karşısında daha da saldırganlaşan kişi bu sefer daha da şiddetli tepkiler vermeye başlıyor çevresine. İşte bu kısır döngü böyle sürüp gittikçe kişi koptukça kopuyor çevreden ve tüm olaylar bir kördüğüme, hayat bir çıkmaz sokağa dönüşüyor kişi için.Ama Wurtzel çıkış yolunu buluyor. Tüm bu yaşananlar acısıyla tatlısıyla anlamlı bir romana dönüşüp Elizabeth Wurtzel’i harika bir romanın yazarı kılarak hem annesinin hem de kendisinin istediği gibi bir insan yapıyor. Zira artık onun da anlatacak bir hikâyesi, söyleyecek bir sözü vardır. Hem de bu sözler tıpkı bir Şaman’ı andırırcasına “ben yaşadım, okuyun bunları ve siz de yaşamayın,” diye fısıldamaktadır okura.
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