Beyond Percept and Affect: Beckett's Film and Non-Human Becoming

Deleuze Studies 6 (4):589-600 (2012)
Film, Samuel Beckett's 1964 short starring Buster Keaton, dubbed by Deleuze as ‘The Greatest Irish Film’, is a seminal text in the latter's cinematic canon as it helps us to extrapolate the transition from the Bergson-based movement-image of Cinema 1 to the Nietzschean time-image of Cinema 2. Film is unique insofar as its narrative traverses and progressively destroys the action-, perception- and affection-images that constitute the movement-image as a whole, using Keaton's body, and more importantly his face, as a means of attaining a pure intensity or Entity abstracted from all spatio-temporal coordinates, a condition of exhaustion/saturation that Deleuze and Guattari call, ‘non-human becoming’. Beckett's film is predicated on Bishop Berkeley's fundamental philosophical principle, esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived) and, using Keaton as its protagonist, raises the question of whether it is possible to escape perception, not only by a third party, but also by oneself. The latter is ‘played’ by the camera itself, which ‘stalks’ Keaton from behind, taking great pains not to exceed a 45-degree ‘angle of immunity’ (lest Buster experience percipi or the anguish of perceivedness) until the film's final close-up when he comes face to face with his own self-perception and affective annihilation. Film's denouement thus deconstructs the very nature of conventional cinematic language, whereby filmic suture – the enfolding of character, camera and spectatorial ‘viewing-views’ into a unified field of vision – gives way to a perspective where, at the very moment that the perceptive/affective body dies, the work of filmic art gives birth to itself as a being of pure sensation, exceeding lived experience
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DOI 10.3366/dls.2012.0085
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References found in this work BETA
What is Philosophy?Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari - 1991 - Columbia University Press.
Essays Critical and Clinical.Gilles Deleuze - 1997 - Univ of Minnesota Press.
Cinema 1: The Movement Image.Gilles Deleuze, Hugh Tomlinson & Barbara Habberjam - 1988 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46 (3):436-437.
The Film Event: From Interval to Interstice.Tom Conley - 2000 - In Gregory Flaxman (ed.), The Brain is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 303--325.

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