Overflowing the Real

At the risk of stepping on anyone’s toes who might have posted about the topic (I haven’t looked at the blog for the past few days), I wanted to share some of my thoughts on Cinema 2.

I think one of the aspects Deleuze finds most important about cinema is its ability to deterritorialize subjectivity. Ultimately, over the course of our reading over the semester, the deterritorialization of subjectivity seems to be one of Deleuze’s biggest concerns, as only when one moves beyond him or herself, opens him or herself to new possibilities can one experience a true becoming, a true change. A deterritorialized subjectivity would entail an opening, an engagement with multiple subjectivities – from a striated space of a single subjectivity to a smooth space of inter-subjectivity, engaging with the possibilities of all existence.

Discussing neo-realism in Cinema 2, Deleuze places a lot of importance on the deterritorialization of the banal. He writes, “if everyday banality is so important, it is because, being subject to sensory-motor schemata which are automatic and reestablished, it is all the more liable on the least disturbance of equilibrium between stimulus and response … suddenly to free itself from the laws of this schema and reveal itself in a visual and sound nakedness, crudeness and brutality which make it unbearable, giving it the pace of a dream or nightmare” (C2 3). In other words, our own thought processes – our subjectivity – tends towards an expected outcome of an experience when we encounter the banal/ the everyday aspects of life; however, once freed  (deterritorialized), the banal becomes something quite different: dream-like, imaginary, a state that “[reveals] connections of a new type, which are no longer sensory-motor and which bring the emancipated sense into direct relation with time and thought” (C2 17).

Going back to our discussion of the virtual/actual vs. possible/real, it seems as though Deleuze is saying that cinema has the power to turn the banal (the everyday, what we expect, the real) into a completely virtual experience, where the banality and insignificant details of life can open into new actualities through time and movement images. Of Fellini, Deleuze says that he “tends to overflow the real” (C2 5) – he goes beyond the real; he deterritorializes it. The quote in the same passage from Barthelemy Amengual continues this line of thinking: “The everyday is identified with the spectacular… Fellini achieves the deliberate confusion of the real and the spectacle by denying the heterogeneity of the two worlds, by effacing not only distance, but the distinction between the spectator and the spectacle” (C2 5) [italics my own].  By deterritorializing the real, Fellini manages to deterritorialize subjectivity – uniting the spectator with the spectacle to create something like an assemblage of multiple subjectivities, or perhaps a new subjectivity all together. Through images in movement and time, successful cinema challenges our subjective expectations and opens us up to the unexpected and a new subjectivity; cinema becomes “no longer an undertaking of recognition, but of knowledge, ‘a science of visual impressions, forcing us to forget our own logic and retinal habits'” (C2 18).

– Chris P.


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