I once wrote a paper for a professor whose work on the anthropology of the imagination I found both inspiring but also compromised by its uncritical use of the Cartesian subject. Although I hate having lost every paper I wrote in grad school to hard drive failure and indifference, this one is probably better off forgotten. For I’m sure that my insolent – no one can teach me a thing – attitude shone forth like a beacon of arrogant, post-bourgeois freedom. However, of all the papers I wrote back then, it is the one to which my mind most often returns. This is because it was on Deleuze’s “time-image” as a tool that can move us beyond the structure and functioning of bourgeois aesthetics, as well as the very ground of representational thought.
Time-image can be called a cinematic concept, in that it was developed to explain how thought might become estranged from historical (chronological) time through exposure to non-narratively-based cinematic images and the cuts that link them. Deleuze understood that these images could force a recollection of the normally unthought links between image, sign, and narrative. When combined with both the Deleuzian “subject as constitution of heterogeneous elements/folds/processes of subjectification” and the Deleuzian/Nietzschean insistence upon the value of falsehood as corrective to the affects of truth (stupidity, as Deleuze would say; comfort, as Nietzsche said), the time-image is a good way to begin thinking about how modernity conditions our expectations.
I’m sure my professor loved getting a 20-page paper on a subject and author that had nothing to do with the topic of the seminar he taught and that used a concept created for visual artistic affects seemingly far removed from the literary approach he took to imagination. But here’s the kicker:
I did it all in the context of a paper about one song by Venetian Snares. I was kind, I included the song on a CD, and for that alone he gave me an A (the grad school equivalent to a C+ in undergrad courses). But the paper was indicative of the radical insubordination I always felt towards any attempts to discipline my critiques of modernity.
The song I used to demonstrate time-image was “This Jar is the Baby Man,” which, alas, I cannot upload, but that one may enjoy here. I would have only done so, anyhow, to show how its destruction of time, movement, flow, and expectation of narrative has been surpassed by another Venetian Snares song:
Today I’d probably write about Integraation as it relates to transvaluation and the destructive beauty inherent in the final negation of negation. If you choose to give it a listen, allow yourself to be affected and moved. Only then should you try to think/make sense of the song: pure affect, aggression, violence, destruction, beauty, pathos of distance, texture, variance, disjunction, war machine. If you like what you hear (sweet sweet aesthetics, how lazily even I return to your comforting embrace) do your instincts a favor and get My Downfall, either by supporting a radical artist with cash flow or by validating my appreciation of Venetian Snares by asking for a free download. The latter option will at least be a big F You to capitalism, which cares not for what you buy, as long as you buy.
Because I have no time write further about the song, I have presented it above as a tool that others might use to explain Nietzsche and Deleuze and Guattari to their curious, oh so curious, friends and family.