20 Nov 2012

Deleuze Cinema, Bk1 Ch1 Pt1 Pr2. Second Enunciation of the First Thesis of Movement

by Corry Shores
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[The following is summary; original text is given below. My own comments are in brackets.]

[Citation format:
(C1: [1983 French]; [1986 English]; [2005 English])
(C2: [1985 French]; [1989 English]; [2005 English])
Page break: ‘//’ for first English translation edition, otherwise ‘|’

In the displayed English translation below, single brackets enclosing a French term are original; ones in double brackets are our own.]

Gilles Deleuze

Cinema 1
Cinéma 1

Theses on Movement: First Commentary on Bergson
Thèses sur le mouvement: premier commentaire de bergson

Première thèse: le mouvement et l’instant
First thesis: movement and instant

Pr2 [§2]
Second Enunciation of the First Thesis of Movement

Editorial notes:
In the French original text (see below) there is an arrow, where in the English translation it changes to a dash. Compare:
« mouvement réel → durée concrète »
'real movement – concrete duration'

Previously we introduced what Deleuze considers to be Bergson’s first thesis on movement, which is that movement is distinct from the space covered. We might normally think of movement as something like displacement in space. However, in this Bergsonian sense, movement is more like the ‘motion’ of change, which is distinguishable from the space that is covered by a moving object. Our heartbeat is in motion, but it does not move around our body, we might note; but with each beat of the heart we find ourselves in a new unique moment. During each moment, the state of affairs in the world is different, because they have changed from the previous moment. So each moment is unique and original. Movement is the transitioning from one unique state of affairs to the next.

Summary of Paragraph 2

The first thesis on movement has another enunciation. Movement cannot be reconstituted by merely combining the positions in space or the instants in time. Each of these is is an ‘immobile cut’, and their sum is not equal to motion. Were we to perform such an addition of immobile cuts in our effort to reconstitute the motion, we need to add to the cuts an abstract idea of succession in a mechanical homogenous and universal time that is traced from space and that is the same for all movements. [For, it is as though we are placing the homogeneous time-space instants-points along a two dimensional time line.] When doing this, we miss the movement in two ways.

The Two Ways a Simple Addition of Immobile Cuts Misses the Motion that is Under Reconstitution:

(1) We might think that if we cut the motion up into infinitely small parts that we would have enough time/space partitions [instants/points] that nothing is slipping through our fingers. [This would be like filming the motion at an infinity frames per second]. But this still misses the motion, because movement is found not in any instant/point no matter how close the cuts are, but rather movement is found in the transition between such cuts. [See the discussion on Spinoza’s and Bergson’s duration in Deleuze’s cours 1981/01/20.]

(2) Suppose again we have done well to divide and subdivide the time of the motion. Movement always occurs in concrete duration, [which means it is qualitatively heterogeneous. So each cut does not give you two halves of the same motion, but rather two new motions. Thus putting them together is no longer going to give you the whole motion, but rather just a sequence of two completely distinguishable movements.]

Thus we may oppose two formulas:

(1) real movement → concrete duration
[If you have real movement, then it happens in concrete duration, and in fact is concrete duration, since duration is the same as the movement of change]

(2) immobile sections +abstract time
[To reconstitute a spatialized and thus not real motion, like the sort placed under calculation in physics, you would combine immobile sections together and add to that the concept of an abstract time that is like a container which holds those immobile cuts.]

Quotation of the summarized text:


Mais, avant de se développer, la première thèse a un autre énoncé : vous ne pouvez pas reconstituer le mouvement avec des positions dans l'espace ou des instants dans le temps, c'est-à-dire avec des « coupes » immobiles ... Cette reconstitution, vous ne la faites qu'en joignant aux positions ou aux instants l'idée abstraite d'une succession, d'un temps mécanique, homogène, universel et décalqué de l'espace, le même pour tous les mouvements. Et de deux manières alors, vous ratez le mouvement. D'une part, vous aurez beau rapprocher à l'infini deux instants ou deux positions, le mouvement se fera toujours dans l'intervalle entre les deux, donc derrière votre dos. D'autre part, vous aurez beau diviser et subdiviser | le temps, le mouvement se fera toujours dans une durée concrète, chaque mouvement aura donc sa propre durée qualitative. On oppose dès lors deux formules irréductibles : « mouvement réel → durée concrète », et « coupes immobiles + temps abstrait ». [C1 9-10]

But, before being developed, the first thesis contains another proposition:  you cannot reconstitute movement with positions In space or instants in time: that is, with immobile sections [coupes]. You can only achieve this reconstitution by adding to the positions, or to the instants, the abstract idea of a succession, of a time which is mechanical, homogeneous, universal and copied [décalqué] from space, identical for all movements. And thus you miss the movement in two ways. On the one hand, you can bring two instants or two positions together to infinity; but movement will always occur in the interval between the two, in other words behind your back. On the other hand, however much you divide and subdivide time, movement will always occur in a concrete duration [duree]; thus each movement will have its own qualitative duration. Hence we oppose two irreducible formulas: 'real movement – concrete duration', [« mouvement réel → durée concrète »] and 'immobile sections + abstract time'. [C1: 1; 1]

Deleuze, Gilles (1986) Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press/Athlone.

Deleuze, Gilles (2005 [1986]) Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London / New York: Continuum / Athlone.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinéma 1: L'image-mouvement. Paris: Les éditions de minuit, 1983.

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