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TitlePoetics of Cinema 2
PublisherDis Voir
ISBN 139782914563253
CategoryArts - Film
LanguageEnglish
File Size14.2 MB
Total Pages58
Table of Contents
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Document Text Contents
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Page 2

cover:

by Alban Barre - inspired from the posterTime Regainedby Raul Ruiz (1999).

thanks to:
Solal Guyon-Barre; Magali Guyon; William jehannin& Gemini films;
Grant McDonald; Stephan May; Valeria Sarmiento, Nina Zissermann.

Editeavec le concoursdu MinistereFrancaischarge
de la Culture- Centre National du Livre (aideala
traduction).

This translation was published with the aid of the
Ministere Francaischarge de la Culture Centre
National duLivre.

© DIS VOIR, 2007
1 CITE RIVERIN

F - 75010 PARIS

http ://www .disvoir.com

ISBN 2-914-563-25-6

EAN 9782914563253

PRINTED IN EUROPE

All rights reseved.No part of this publication may be reproduced, adapted or
translated in any country.
Intellectual property laws forbid making copies or reproductions destined for
collective use. Any reproduction in whole or in part by any means whatsoever,
without the express consent of the author or his agents is unauthorized and
constitutes an infringement of Articles425 and following of the Code.

POETICS OF CINEMA, 2

Page 29

sight, as being reticent to penetration. That will only tolerate its being overflown.
That condemns us to having a satellite's point of view.If that's so, then let's use
numerous satellites and a few probes. And we shall have a spectral portrait of such
an elusive phenomenon as cinema.

For the attentive or inattentive reader, in our case, overflying or
penetrating are almost the same thing; and the 'structure/construction' dichotomy
may seem weak, rambling and simplistic. I would like that one see in it the two
poles proper to planet cinema, orbiting around other planets, these are also called
cinema. Our art, doing, reflecting and the multiple resulting heuristics-heuristics,
in the double sense of the word, as both 'mirror of the creative process' and as
'theatre of the theatre of the world' -that which the ancient dramatists of the
Commedia dell'arte,who limiting themselves to enouncing the structure and
leaving the construction to the actors, referred to ascommedia in commedia in
commedia in commedia.

Such is cinema: it fabricates Big Bangs at every instant.

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VICINITY AND RESONANCE

Some of the themes that I will try to recall, to reawaken, are
announced in the reflections of the preceding chapter concerning structure and
construction. Problems that, as we shall see, will be superimposed on those that
have already been presented-an indispensable operation in a book such as this one,
wishing to be holistic and self-referential.

We ought to begin with the silence of ghosts: 'what can be seen cannot be
heard'. I am referring to phantom cinema: silent film. For a long time film theorists
reflected on its muteness. They affirmed without any fear of equivocation that
"what is proper to film is its muteness, its silence". Koulechov quotes a few: "An
art lacking the vice of words", says one, "The Grand Silence", proclaims another.
But another, a rather more perspicacious observer, dared to say that "Film was the
noisiest spectacle he had ever known'. Noisy, in what way?

Let's see. I endured my first feasts of silent cinema-fourto six hours in
one go-a touch later in life, at the age of twenty. The first thing that I noticed was
that the noises coming from the street, the shouting of people in the nearby offices
and the coughing of some spectator, were immediately assimilated by the film. The
cough would head directlyto a door that was being shut, a woman's scream in the
distance would support the act of lighting a spy's cigarette (in a Fritz Lang film), the
dog's barking would mark the shift from one take to another and/or the winking of
a mischievous child. As regards those indeterminate noises, these would install
themselves comfortably and would suggest an, at times, unsettling off-screen: the
noise coming from the streets of Santiago de Chile would become the off-screen for
a placid island or for the Sahara desert, suggesting that the placid island or the
Sahara desert were in fact near a noisy city. Yet sometimes, silence, true silence,
sonorous obscurity, would come down on the theatre, overwhelming us. This must
be one of the most moving experiences I have ever had with cinema. Dissolved
images, swallowed images, becoming abstract due to the simple and overwhelming
experience of silence.It was due to experiences such as these that I cameto realise
that there were different types of silence. From the outset, two at least: the uniform
silence behind the undulating noises of the street and the silence that emerges here
and there between noises. Many silences. Many shadows.

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Page 30

During the first years of my encroaching deafness, I discovered a curious
form of destabilising my surrounding world. I would exchange a few banal phrases
with someone, I would then leave, taking a few steps, suddenly realising that I had
forgotten to say something, I would return, but the person had already disappeared.
After many similar experiences, my perception of immediate space was modified.It
decomposed into separate visual planes. As is known, deafness is not always constant,
it comes and goes, occasionally separated by a whistling sound. One is walking in a
room, suddenly one turns around, seeing someone that one hadn't heard enter the
room. We turn our back on him (we don't know him), and as we turn around again,
we notice someone elsewhom we hadn't seen,who is talking to us, yet again,someone
whom we hadn't heard enter the room. Little by little, we get the impression that in
each new and peaceful back and forth, there are slips of time. Or place.

We are suffering a modification in the perception of our surroundings, or
vicinity, which will inevitably modify the resonance of ensuing events.

'Vicinity' is not a notion that requires many explanations." We all know
that certain things are closer and others farther. Yet, in cinema, vicinity becomes a
fragile notion. There are things that exist as long as we see them, and cease to exist as
soon as we stop looking at them. Like those that are irrelevant to the sequence that
we are following; we should understand the sequence as a series of events, linked by
a narrative thread: things that follow each other according to the order that has been
proposed by the narration. And there are irrelevant elements. Faded, vague.

The irrelevant props: a half-torn propaganda poster in the blind alley in
which the delinquent being chased by the police has just entered. These things
disappear as soon as we stop looking at them, but we can still follow the chased
delinquent in the expression of a boy who watches from a second floor.

But what happens to those things that disappear once we ceaseseeingthem?
We forget them, impatient thinkers may say.They dwell in the unconscious, awaiting
better days, psychologists might say. They form the film behind the film, says the
mischievous spectator. In any case, I believe that we see it all, that we don't forget any
of it; those events or things that seem to disappear when the camera has abandoned
them, are merely provisionally outside, they do notinsist,but they are there.

Unless ...
There are two fictions that speculate upon the idea of vicinity, which is

itself closely linked to the'absence/presence' dichotomy. Do we remember
Whitehead's joke? A present elephant is distinguishable from an absent elephant
insofar as the present elephant 'makes itself noticed'. Of the two fictions that I wish
to present, the first one comes from the television seriesThe Twilight Zone,the
other is a nightmare I had many years ago.
32 Rufz avails himself of the Spanish termvecindad.One should read in its English rendering, 'vicinity',
the idea of a shared and defining neighbourhood rather than simple physical proximity -TN.

58

The first fiction would have us believe that the part of the world on
which we turn our backs would disappear if it weren't for the little blue men, who
are there rebuilding it, so that it may be 'there'-visible and 'freshly made'-when
we turn around and look at it again. Without the little men, the world that we are
no longer looking at would disappear indefinitely. We may find an extreme variant
of this very same phenomenon in an example taken from quantum physics: the
electron will behave as a particle as long as we are looking at it, but as soon as we
look elsewhere, it takes offence, and becomes a wave (I am grateful to Michael
Talbot'sThe Holographic Universe,for thisreductio ad absurdumof Bohr's terror-
instilling hypothesis."), The other fiction, my nightmare, consisted of a series of
pleasing conversations with the Invisible Man.

When I met him in my dreams, he introduced himself-and lowering his
eyes as a sign of modesty-he said: "I am the Invisible Man". I asked, why, if he was
indeed the Invisible Man, could I see him? His reply was that everyone could see
him, but that as soon as someone looked elsewhere, turning their back on him, he
disappeared. He was then capable of walking through walls, drifting through to
other worlds. He was a real misanthrope, and told me that unfortunately his
condition did not allow him to attend halls or large events where many people
gathered. Given that there were always too many people, there would always be
somebody looking at him, thus preventing him from becoming invisible.

- "Other than drifting or travelling, I also use invisibility for sustenance.
I take nourishment from waves and absences," he said, blushing, for he knew
himself to be a poet and was a modest man.

- "I would love to be invisible," I said, "I have always disliked the idea of
having to go through doors or windows. I would rather leave through walls!"

The Invisible Man who had, as indeed I do, a culture that blends
immortal monuments and scoria, said to me:

- "We have all, at some time or another, had the temptation to follow
Prisciliano de Avila who believed that natural laws were sinful, and who sought to
rebel against them by walking into walls so as to denigrate doors."

- "That's true," I replied, "I have always dreamed about being invisible,
but invisible like you."

- "There's nothing to it," he said. "All you have to do is use the
techniques of fascination, which others have referred to as the 'evil eye'. Look
straight at me and wish me the worst. I shall do the same."

- "Will it work?"
- "Professor Sheldrake believes that it will. And he's not the only one.

The eye being but an extension of the brain, mediates between the external mind
33 Michael Talbot,The Holographic Universe(London: Harper Collins, 1996).

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January 2007

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