19 Jan 2010

Adrian Ivakhiv on Deleuze, Cinema, Time, and Ecophilosophy

posting by Corry Shores
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Adrian Ivakhiv on Deleuze, Cinema, Time, and Ecophilosophy

In his entry ecology, Deleuze/Tarkovsky, & the time-image at immanence, Adrian Ivakhiv has an original and exciting idea for applying Deleuze's cinema theories to ecophilosophy. [Adrian Ivakhiv is an Associate Professor of Environmental Thought and Culture at the University of Vermont, with a joint appointment in the Environmental Program and the Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources. He is the author of Claiming Sacred Ground: Pilgrims and Politics at Glastonbury and Sedona, and his other publications are listed here.]

He gives three reasons for why Deleuze's cinema ideas should be interesting to ecophilosophy. His third reason regards time, and if I may, I would like to quote some passages. Ivakhiv writes:

The third reason has to do with time and our perception and understanding of it. One of the key insights of ecology is that everything comes from somewhere and goes somewhere -- everything is in motion between one state of matter/energy and another -- and when we treat something as a mere resource bank or waste disposal site, as a source or a sink, a "from" or an "away to," we relegate a subset of the circular or systemically interrelated processes that make up the self/world system to a shadowy "outside," hoping to forestall its return by a kind of freezing of time. We make a cut in time, but this cut is artificial, conceptual, and ultimately unsustainable; the "real" will return in one form or another.
Time, then, does not stand still, and as our society induces progressively quicker rates of change on and in the world, it also intensifies its efforts to stave off the changes that it sets into motion. We want to freeze property lines, national boundaries, and personal and group identities, to stop the aging of our bodies, to squeeze out as much productivity as we can from a dwindling resource base, and we want to do all that without facing the inevitable repercussions -- collapsing ecosystems, population movements, and the like -- that these all set into motion.
As an art form of time, cinema can help us arrive at a more adequate understanding of the nature of time. If Deleuze is correct and the production and dissemination of a "direct" image of time within cinema expands our capacity to conceive of our own and the world's temporality -- or, rather, expands our capacities for ethically inhabiting time, for thinking, feeling, and affectively being with others, for generating productive syntheses in the differential fabric of the world, for becoming -- then moving-image media hold great potential for our ability to understand and visualize the relationship between the world and ourselves in our common nature as time, duration, becoming, and change.
Understanding identity/subjectivity and its vicissitudes -- how subjectivity congeals under pressure, how it opens and escapes its own frames -- is part of the project whereby seven billion humans can come to a more workable accommodation with each other and with the other life forms we share the Earth with. To the extent that moving image media can generate viscerally felt images of the times of things -- things in production and in decay, in differentiation and in synthesis, things making up the unfolding materiality of the world, of identity and of relationality (in all their narratively spun forms), and the swift, dark flow of their vanishing -- to that extent cinema is a powerful tool for eco/geophilosophy. [Ivakhiv]

I have been wondering about how to apply Deleuze's ideas to environmental philosophy, and I never would have thought to start here. Ivakhiv has much more to say on this topic, and his entry is rich with links and video illustrations.

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