Archive for January, 2012

Draft Conference Paper Abstract

Direct” “Action” or A disquisition on the Cinematic Projection of Power and the Problem of Realization with Constant reverence to La Commune (Paris 1871) (2000) & Et la guerre est à peine commencée (2001)

I propose a presentation examining the relationships between movies and direct revolutionary action. In Cinema II, Gilles Deleuze writes that films intended to organically move their audiences to political action faded away in the wake of World War II when the cinema took on the task of restoring human faith in the world. Deleuze focuses on a series of movies leading from Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein’s movement-images to the time-images flowing from Citizen Kane (1941) and neorealism; I will concentrate on films the very production of which can be understood as actions and which move their audiences by means of separations at screenings. The history of such movies can traced back at least as far as Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s Un Chien Andalou (1929,) but I will focus on two examples from the turn of the last century, Peter Watkins’ La Commune (Paris 1871,) and Tiqqun’s Et la guerre est à peine commencée (2001.)

The first phase of my argument will sketch a short genealogy of the English terms “action,” “director” and the French “realisateur.” Relying in part on Giorgio Agamben’s “Notes On Gesture.” The genealogy will produce a different concept of “action” than that articulated by Deleuze in Cinema I, one tied to free indirect perception of separations rather than immediate perception of continuities.

The second phase of my argument will develop aspects the historical-material context stretching from the 2000 to the present were produced and circulated in order to understand their effects. Both films established free indirect relations with audiences in the United States and became factors in the growth of the ongoing insurrectionary occupation movement that began in late 2008. In the case of La Commune, various people involved in the production were themselves activists and the cast did their own research into the Paris commune of 1871. The production itself documents the way in which making the film the film brought together a proto-revolutionary community. Watkins’ movie connects the collective subjectivity of its makers to audiences elsewhere through free indirect images. Et la guerre est à peine commencée was also made by activists whose movements are currently restricted by the French government. The misery generated by the video can cause audiences to reject not only the movie itself, but also the state of the world within which they live. Both films articulate the groups that made they films and potentially active audiences as separated from the societies in which they find themselves.


Typewriter: Free Indirect Discourse in Deleuze’s Cinema (From SubStance #108, Vol..34, no. 3, 2005. Pages107-135)

January 19, 2012 1 comment


The figure of speech variously called free indirect discourse, quasi- direct discourse, or represented speech, dominates Gilles Deleuze’s two-volume study Cinema, a work also containing a theory of cinematic free indirect images. Deleuze develops a concept of free indirect images, which, he argues, articulate the social in modern cinema, opening political and ethical dimensions of the time-image. Although Deleuze does not present his conceptualization of cinematic free indirect images as a theory of his own writing practice, if we link it to the figure as it appears in Cinema, we cannot but wonder how Deleuze’s writing relates to his thought. Cinema’s reflection on free indirect images exposes a major literary device used by Deleuze since his first books, but the theory mirrors the practice in an interested way, presenting it in a glamorous light that makes it hard to see the position from which Deleuze writes. By ignoring class critique in his theoretical sources, Deleuze makes his own practice seem unquestionably righteous, yet despite its triumphal air and limited, unconscious cosmopolitanism, Deleuze’s theory of free indirect images revitalizes the study of cinematic subjectivity. Beyond the boundaries of film studies, Deleuze’s theory prepares us to think the ethical and political aspects in an implicit, unelaborated concept that informs contemporary modes of social control the concept of life.’

In literature, free indirect discourse presents the speech, writing or thought of a character in the character’s own language, but without using quotation marks, as in the following example from Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend. The italicized phrase below is clearly in the language of the four rough fellows attending Riderhood’s death, and whose thoughts the narrator reports:

See! A token of life! An indubitable token of life! The spark may smoulder and go out, or it may glow and expand, but see! The four rough fellows, seeing, shed tears. Neither Riderhood in this world, nor Riderhood in the other, could draw tears from them; but a striving human soul between the two can do so easily. (440).

Although the most famous theories of free indirect discourse take their examples from literary fiction, philosophical examples can be found throughout Deleuze’s oeuvre.1 The literary character of Deleuze’s philosophical writing has provoked many scholarly remarks, including Deleuze’s own. In the introduction to Difference and Repetition, he writes, a book of philosophy should be in part a very particular species of detective novel, in part a kind of science fiction(xx). At the 1995 International Filmology Colloquium, the first major conference devoted to Deleuze’s Cinema, Raymond Bellour described Deleuze’s books as a kind of novel.

Deleuze uses the figure of free indirect discourse even while he elaborates his concept of free indirect cinema; for example:

As Pasolini aptly comments, Godard also uses characters who are undoubtedly ill, seriously affected, but who are not undergoing treatment, and who have lost nothing of their material degrees of freedom, who are full of life and who rather represent the birth of a new anthropological type. (Cinema I, 75).

The phrase a new anthropological type comes directly from Pier Paulo Pasolini’s essay on The Cinema of Poetry, one of the sources of Deleuze’s theory of free indirect images. Since the association of a cinematic style with an anthropological type is unusual, the expression grafts Pasolini’s language onto Deleuze’s text. Examples such as this one are often closely associated with paraphrases including words from the author’s lexicon, for example, but if [for Pasolini] Antonioni’s vision of poetic consciousness is essentially aesthetic, Godard’s is rather technicist’ (but no less poetic)(75). Pasolini names Antonioni’s style one of aesthetic consciousness, and the word appears here in Deleuze’s text as Pasolini’s. In part, Deleuze uses the related figures of free indirect discourse and paraphrase to isolate phrases and words from other authors in order to appropriate these for his own discourse, as in, for example, What characterizes Pasolini’s cinema is a poetic consciousness, which is not strictly aestheticist or technicist, but rather mystical or sacred’(75).

Such sentences often dispense with any explicit reference to the author’s discourse, although here he describes Pasolini’s cinema using terms from the latter’s theoretical writings. This mode of appropriation allows Deleuze to speak in his own voice and another’s simultaneously, reminding his reader of the arguments he has drawn from the works of his intercessor. Deleuze weaves the words of other authors into his sentences in a way that allows another author some autonomy within Deleuze’s statements, but simultaneously makes that other say something Deleuzean.

Despite differences between the two theorists Deleuze relies on in developing his concept of free indirect discourse, V. N. Volosinov and Pasolini, Deleuze selects passages that make Pasolini and Volosinov seem to agree with each other in their definitions of free indirect discourse, while ignoring each author’s critique of the figure. Deleuze radicalizes their definitions until free indirect discourse becomes the motor for the development of language, the wellspring of cinematic subjectivity and a fundamental resource for ethical and political invention.

Deleuze first mentions free indirect images in chapter five of The Movement Image, in a passage that begins by setting up two categories of images, subjective and objective, and goes on to argue that cinema’s degree zero, its defining possibility, consists in a passage between the two. In a movement typical of his thought, Deleuze constructs a continuum between the poles of subjective and objective images, allowing a strange new category called free indirect images to emerge between them. Ordinarily, according to the limits of our natural perception and the law of the excluded middle, we think of subjective and objective as exclusive categories, calling something either one or the other, but not both. Deleuze, of course, rejects this simple scheme, pointing out that in cinema, a single shot can begin objectively and end subjectively.

Mitry’s Semi-Subjective Image

Before invoking Volosinov and Pasolini’s work on literary free indirect discourse, Deleuze refers to Jean Mitry’s writing about the semi- subjective image(Mitry, 214-219), as a source for his concept of free indirect images. In reading Mitry’s The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema (a book that anticipates his own two volumes, insofar as both attempt to categorize cinema’s images in the course of a narrative about cinema’s development), Deleuze pays particular attention to Mitry’s account of camera movements that anticipate the arrival of a character in the frame or follow someone from behind. Such shots imply a perceiver not quite equivalent to the character and not quite objective, so that the camera seems to become a consciousness accompanying the character. Initially, Mitry, like Deleuze, makes a distinction between subjective shots, taken from a character’s optical point of view, and objective shots, taken from a point of view that is objective relative to the represented drama(207). Very quickly, he becomes dissatisfied with these terms and produces a flurry of synonyms. First, he suggests replacing subjective with personal and objective with impersonal’(207). Mitry does not follow through with this change in vocabulary, reasoning that objective and subjective were already widely used in early 1963 when he published The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema. Nevertheless, seven pages later Mitry suggests a further refinement, this time replacing objective with descriptive and subjective with analytical in order to reserve the term subjective image for an image from the memory or mental life of one of the film’s characters. Even after he introduces the terms descriptive and analytical, Mitry keeps using subjective and objective, as in semi-subjective image, the term Deleuze uses to introduce free indirect images. Mitry’s vacillating nomenclature suggests the difficulty of pinning down the status of cinematic subjectivity, as if the instability of the category prevented him from finding a satisfactory term.

By semi-subjective image (214), Mitry means an image in which the camera sees the character and what the character sees at the same time, so that the subjective reaction is always given in the objective image. According to Mitry, the semi-subjective shot arose in order to surpass a limit in the ordinary point-of-view shot, which, without shots of a character looking, cannot communicate to an audience her feelings about the events presented from her optical point of view. Mitry cites The Lady in the Lake (Montgomery, 1947), shot almost entirely from the detective’s point of view and without reaction shots, as an extreme example. The audience never identifies with the subjectivity of the detective, since every visual perception offered by the film reminds the audience that they see someone else’s experience, and nothing invites spectators to project themselves into Marlow’s character.

Mitry notes that in the mid 1930s,

It became abundantly clear that, though this method of eliminating one of the characters throughout enabled things to be considered from his point of view, it did preclude the perception of any potential reaction that character may have had at the same time … In order to experiencethe feelings of a given character, all the audience had to do is to be with the character, along side him. (215, italics in original)

According to Mitry the semi-subjective image found its mature form in the mid-1930s, finding its true expression(215) in Jezebel (Wyler, 1938), a film in which semi-subjective images give rise to what Mitry calls a shared point of view(216).

Mitry’s semi-subjective image implies an anonymous point of view accompanying the characterone that audiences can take up. Because the camera shows what the character sees and the character seeing it, the spectators become aware of the character’s reaction at the same time as the character, so that their empathy is strongly solicited. As Mitry says about Jezebel,

We are able to associate with her [Julie, played by Bette Davis] and project onto her feeling which might have been ours in similar circumstances [because] without losing any of Julie’s reactions, we can see with the same intensity as she, the object with symbolic prominence in the frame. (216)

According to Mitry, the semi-subjective image implies two perceivers who exist independently of the image itself. One of those perceivers is the character, but the other is sometimes the filmmaker and sometimes the audience. It is as if the impersonal consciousness accompanying the character in the semi-subjective image takes the form of a point of entry for either the filmmaker or the spectators. The camera reports the perception of the character and determines the organization of the film, so that for Mitry, semi-subjective images function hierarchically, subordinating the consciousness of the character to the artistic will of the film.

Mitry ignores the ethical and political implications of the concept of the semi-subjective image developed in these passages. In his analysis of Jezebel, he concentrates on a scene between Julie and Preston (Henry Fonda) alone, and chooses to mention, but not analyze the Olympus Ball sequence where the couple moves through a social space. Julie has insisted on wearing an inappropriate red gown to the ball, and Preston responds by insisting on dancing with her. As they take their place on the floor, the other couples move away from them, their faces disapproving. The camera accompanies Preston and Julie as they move, traveling fluidly in and out of their point of view, showing the behavior of the other couples and Preston and Julie’s reactions in a single take. If, as Mitry argues, the semi-subjective camera invites the audience to imagine itself in the position of the characters it accompanies, the camera in this sequence invites the audience to imagine itself in the position of perceiving, being perceived, and being judged by another. The ballroom sequence uses the semi-subjective image to render cinematically the self-conscious moment of an encounter with others. The disapproval of their peers acts as a force on Julie, Preston, and the camera, determining the image’s movement.

While Mitry’s semi-subjective image goes a long way in describing subjectivity in cinema, his commitment to sketching out the process of audience identification with the camera-eye prevents him from accounting for what interests Deleuze most how cinema produces subjects and the relationships between them. In Mitry’s account, cinema refers to preexisting subjectivities and binds them to predetermined positions with respect to one another. In order to complicate this scheme in which the semi-subjective image corresponds to consciousnesses already given and constrained by one another, Deleuze turns to the third part of Volosinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Although Deleuze mainly filters Volosinov through Pasolini, a close look at the original text will show that Volosinov’s work on what he calls quasi-direct discourse allows Deleuze to conceptualize free indirect images as a means of producing subjects.

Quasi-Direct Discourse and Speaking Personalities

Marxism And The Philosophy Of Language attempts to read the political and ethical traces inscribed in forms of reported speech. Volosinov develops his theory of free indirect discourse2 as part of an analysis of reported speech, which he classifies in three categories: direct discourse, enclosing a character’s speech within quotation marks or using another device to mark it off from the author’s utterance; indirect discourse, paraphrasing a character’s utterance in the author’s language; and free indirect discourse, bringing the character’s language into direct contact with the author’s. Each of these figures entails the expression of social judgments and relations. Volosinov calls reported speech a document of the reception of another’s speech. A document not about the accidental and mercurial subjective psychological processes in the soul of the recipient, but the social relations available in the author’s culture that have crystallized into language forms (Volosinov, 117).

Volosinov organizes his chapter as a critical review of theories of free indirect discourse, elaborating his own account of the figure in the course of his readings. From the beginning, the chapter insists on the creative novelty of free indirect discourse. While free indirect discourse can be thought of as combining the tenses and persons of indirect discourse with the tone and word order of direct discourse, Volosinov argues that free indirect discourse is not a mixture of the other two forms of reported speech, but is a completely new, positive tendency in reception of another person’s utterance(142). Inventive nineteenth- century authors did not bring about the development of free indirect discourse; it emerged along with new socioeconomic factors that caused a shift within verbal intercourse producing an essentially new manner of receiving another person’s words(143).

Volosinov understands the emergence of free indirect discourse as a bourgeois rhetoric that expresses social relations in an age of mystification. Understanding the passage from feudalism to early twentieth-century capitalism as the triumph of the bourgeoisie, Volosinov finds in free indirect discourse the main road of development

of modern European languages to be explained in terms of a general, far-reaching subjectification of the ideological word utterance(158).

Reported speech, and especially quasi-direct discourse, crystallizes social relations because they figure an active reception of another’s speech. For Volosinov, the manner in which one receives another’s speech is a social relation determined by class. The speaker and receiver embody social classes functioning as social types, rather than as individuals. The act of reception instantiates the relationship between the groups they belong to.

Free indirect discourse expresses class relations more clearly than the other forms of reported speech, because it preserves both the language of the speaker and the language of the listener so that the reported language takes on accents of the reporting language. Volosinov calls this its specificum, describing free indirect discourse as a single linguistic construction within which the accents of two differently oriented voices are maintained(144). Thus the figure always involves at least two consciousnesses that of the speaker and that of the reporter. Indeed, for Volosinov, free indirect discourse always expresses a social judgment through the interruption of the author’s language by the words of the character, and the author’s subsequent re-inflection of the character’s speech. Without interruption, the author’s words would naturalize his judgments, but once another speaks through him, the two sets of valuations contest one another, and in so doing each reveals the other’s existence.

For Volosinov, encounters between different consciousnesses give life to language; interaction produces changes in a language and drives its history. Language has little autonomy with regard to infrastructure. Material conditions determine social differentiation and sociopolitical order which in turn determine the place, time, conditions, forms and means of verbal communication [Ö] and [Ö] the vicissitudes of the individual utterance(153). Changes in the figures for reporting speech express the mutual orientation of two utterances changing on the basis of a change in the active perception by the linguistic consciousness of the speaking personality,’ of its ideational, ideological autonomy, or its verbal individuality(146). Changes in the active perception of others form the substance of social, political, and ethical life.

For Volosinov, the subject cannot be found in some psychic interior, nor can it function as the cause or explanation of any other phenomena; instead, he calls it an ideologeme that is vague and fluid in character until it achieves definition in the more stable and more elaborated parts of ideological creativity(152-53). Language use produces the speaking personality, its subjectivity, intentions, and stylistic tendencies. A word does not express a personality; instead, the impression left by a word forms the personality, and words express the social intercourse of their producers.

Speaking and writing give rise to determined subjectivities. Unlike the traditional philosophical conception of consciousness as light shining into an otherwise dark world, in Volosinov, language illuminates what is thought to be within consciousness: language lights up the inner personality(153).3 Before uttering anything, the speaking personality remains dark and amorphous, only constituting itself by using words.

Despite Volosinov’s seeming enthusiasm for the production of different subjectivities by means of free indirect discourse, he argues that its spread eroded the declamatory word and replaced the assertion of fact with the reporting of opinion. If free indirect discourse produces subjectivities, it also allows authors to evade responsibility for statements by attributing them to another. The generalization of the figure everywhere other than in scientific texts’(159) prevents a rational analysis of real conditions of existence, producing atomized, alienated subjects, as opposed to the collective subjects of the declamatory, responsible word. Free indirect discourse functions as a linguistic ideology of the bourgeois subject.

Free Indirect Point-of-View Shots

Pasolini’s theory of free indirect discourse varies in three significant ways from Volosinov’s, adding flexibility and strength to his account of the figure. First, Pasolini’s free indirect discourse is capable of calling forth new forms of collectivity as well as producing subjects and expressing their relations. Second, instead of analyzing free indirect discourse as an expression of bourgeois capitalism, Pasolini allows for different ethico-political interpretations of at least two distinct types of free indirect discourse. Third, Pasolini conceptualizes free indirect discourse more abstractly than Volosinov, loosening its ties to language and allowing a consideration of whether cinema is capable of articulating the figure.

Pasolini develops his theory of free indirect discourse in the form of notes on a book by Giulio Herczeg and in an essay on The Cinema of Poetry(1972). Like Volosinov, Pasolini insists on the social character of free indirect discourse, but for him the figure doesn’t express just the social relations between the author and the character  it can also imply a collective audience for the free indirect speech. He makes this point with a citation from Leporello’s aria in the first act of Don Giovanni, where he complains of his servitude using infinitive phrases rather than the first person:

To labor night and day
For someone who doesn’t know how to appreciate; To bear the rain or wind,
To eat badly and to sleep badly.
I want to act the gentleman
And I don’t want to serve any longer.

(cited in Pasolini, 79)

This example differs from those offered by Volosinov in that the speech is that of a character in an opera rather than a character in poetry or prose, and the other subjectivity is not that of the author, but of an unnamed collective. According to Pasolini, Leporello’s use of infinitives not only suggests repeated activity, it suggests a continuous activity shared by a group or class, and also solicits a chorus of addressees. Leporello speaks for the chorus, whose members recognize these social conditions as their own. In such uses of free indirect discourse, the author’s sympathy does not go to the character, but to all those like him(80). For both Pasolini and Volosinov, free indirect discourse involves the linguistic expression of a social type. Hence, every time one has free indirect discourse this implies a sociological consciousness, clear or otherwise, in the author(82).

Like Volosinov, Pasolini argues that true free indirect discourse involves two distinct verbal tendencies, and that a distinction between verbal tendencies can only be the result of different social positions and the different experiences they produce. Unlike Volosinov, Pasolini writes about a false free indirect discourse used by authors to report the speech or thought of characters of their own social type. An author can also fail to recognize differences in life experience(87) and produce a colonizing free indirect discourse that renders the character’s speech in the author’s language. In both cases, an interior monologue passes itself off as free indirect discourse. An author who uses his own language to report the speech of a character only gives voice to her own thoughts; she only reanimates the thoughts and ideology of the character when the words of a character and the words of the author are not the same(87, original italics). Only different language can express the character’s thoughts insofar as they are not those of the author, because words are the only access we have to the thoughts of others. As Pasolini puts it,

The character lives. in another linguistic or psychological, or cultural, or historical world. He belongs to another social class. And the author therefore knows the world of that social class only through the character and his language. (87, original italics)

An author who cannot recognize this

doesn’t know how to recognize the extreme characteristics of psychological diversity of a man whose life experiences differ from his, and who on the contrary believes that he make them his by seeking substantial analogies  almost as if experiences other than his weren’t conceivable. (ibid.)

Pasolini argues that authors naturalize their own subjectivities, each positing his as the norm for all subjectivity, serving the ideological interest of the status quo and performing an act that is the first step toward certain manifestations of the defense of his privileges and even toward racism’(87). For Pasolini, the recognition of difference makes possible an author’s freedom with respect to his socio-economic conditions and the norms of his social type by permitting a radical critique of the author’s speaking position. When an author fails to recognize different life experiences, he belongs to his class deterministically; there is no discontinuity between him and a police chief or an executioner in a concentration camp(ibid.).

Pasolini’s connection between false free indirect discourse and coercive state violence might strike a reader as hyperbolic, but the very possibility of alterity in literature hangs in the balance; the otherness of the character and her world can only be preserved through the alterity and opacity of her language. The assumption that language is transparent and can immediately be translated into thought implies that a particular psychology functions as a norm. Any deviation from that norm can then be construed as a lapse or degradation.

Pasolini sees free indirect discourse as an evolving figure, even as he notes its disappearance from literature. In the rise of modern writing beyond style,Pasolini sees a synthesis of pure plurality and contemporaneity of possible techniques(89). The density of figures in mid-twentieth century writing, and the rapidity with which its language changes register, make it more difficult to identify free indirect discourse, since the difference between the two conflicting utterances in free indirect discourse assumes that each utterance can be differentiated and recog- nized. Since modern writing collapses various consciousnesses into the same flow of text, all that remains of free indirect discourse are stumps’(89). While Volosinov saw a generalization of free indirect discourse as an evasion of responsible utterance and the triumph of bourgeois consciousness, Pasolini argues that as free indirect discourse spreads, it becomes less and less possible, since its use tends to dissolve any stable enunciative position in the text.

Despite the difficulties Pasolini recognized in using free indirect discourse in the literature of his time, he finds it in twentieth-century visual arts. In these passages, free indirect discourse seems to drive the development of modern painting. Avant-garde painters started incorporating separate objects such as newspapers into their canvases. Such objects, previously unknown in painterly tradition, constitute another language, or another mode of expression. The use of a different material opens the work to history, turning the artist and user from makers of history into products of history, by making them work with historically determined expressive material. In pop painting, the preexisting object often comes between the painter’s vision and the world, becoming something cited, like the image of a soup can. The painter mixes something already seen into his expression of a world he has seen, and in the process, it becomes something seen from another point of view.

The section on free indirect images in pop painting allows Pasolini to start thinking about a visual form of free indirect discourse. The use of a found object, of an object heterogeneous to the rest of the canvas, suggests to Pasolini a different source of enunciation and a different reading position. Because the heterogeneous object brings with it its own rules of seeing (often a clichè), that object makes palpable the historicity of images and the history of regimes of painting.

For Pasolini, class conditions reception as much as it conditions production. The intellectual, bourgeois critic can only understand the reported material according to old standards, unable to account for it except as a naked syntagma, the unequivocal and terrible pop-object(92), very different from the ‘innocent’ masses’(92) who are able to read the pop element in its affective complexity, since it comes from a set of objects that make up their daily lives.

True free indirect discourse must bear the inscription of the socio- economic difference between speakers in their language and conscious- ness. As the above example shows, one could also say that free indirect discourse exposes socio-economic differences between audiences. What is important is the existence of different languages, and hence of different social groups. Pasolini interprets the existence of languages other than the dominant one as concrete forms of social resistance.

We can now see why Pasolini ties the freedom of the author to the use of two distinct languages in free indirect discourse. To the extent that an author uses language that makes any experience other than his own seem inconceivable, that author colonizes everything according to the will of his class-consciousness. In so doing, he gives up his own freedom, because it depends on the ability to experience something other than class-based consciousness, and hence on a language different from that of his social class.

At the end of his Notes on Free Indirect Discourse(1972), Pasolini analyzes Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) as an articulation of two socio- economically different discourses. Pasolini moves between literary and cinematic ideas easily here, by treating the character’s attitudes as discourses, despite the fact that the film is silent. Modern Times depends on two registers: the industrial and the human. So long as the vocabulary of the factory is different from the vocabulary of the worker’s life, Chaplin’s character can play at making the machines into a linguistic-expressive world, staging a critique of the inexpressiveness of technology. When the language of the technocrat can no longer be distinguished from the language of the worker, the linguistic phenomena specific to factories will dominate all language, entailing the subsequent suppression of the margin of freedom assured by the various linguistic levels(100, original italics).

Pasolini articulates the possibility of a cinematic equivalent of free indirect discourse more explicitly and at greater length in “The Cinema of Poetry,” an essay where he draws correspondences between types of reported speech in literature and cinematic forms. According to Pasolini, the cinema’s point-of-view shot corresponds to literature’s direct discourse (176). Just as he wrote of Modern Times’s images as linguistic expressions, he links point of view to a character’s language. Pasolini’s translation of the figure from one medium into another seems simple: both figures bring into play something marked as having another source than the rest of the work in which they appear, but what they bring into play differs in each case. Direct discourse reports the speech of a character, while the point-of-view shot presents a character’s auditory and visual perceptions. The figures concern different elements: one concerns speech, the other concerns the senses of hearing and vision; and surprisingly, Pasolini’s application of a figure of speech to the cinema emphasizes the visual aspect of film at the expense of the sound track.

Instead of translating direct discourse with a cinematic figure for reporting speech (the use of synchronized sound in depicting a conversation, the alternation of shot and counter-shot in editing a conversation, or the written speech of silent film’s inter-titles), Pasolini identifies direct discourse with cinematic point of view. It is as if Pasolini had abstracted the problem of reported speech, construing it as the appearance of signs of the same type that dominate the text in which they appear, but that are marked as having been produced by a subject other than the authorof that textan abstraction already implicit in his notes on the indirect images in pop art. In literature, a character’s speech or thought reported by direct discourse consists of words, linguistic signs  like the rest of the novel in which they appear, but the reader understands those words as enunciated by someone other than the author. In cinema, the point-of-view shot presents acoustic and visual images, cinematic signs  like the rest of the film in which they appear, but the audience understands those images as having been perceived by someone other than the auteur.’

Establishing that single cinematic constructions can traffic in materials associated with two subjects opens the possibility of a cinematic free indirect, the interaction of expressive materials from both of the subjects. In order to evaluate the cinematic free indirect, Pasolini searches for inscriptions of class in point-of-view shots. Social difference inscribes itself on language, because language is a totality of socially differentiating and differentiated languages(176)  in other words, a social relation in and of itself. Variations from the institutionalized forms of language both mark and change social differences. A speaker identifies herself as belonging to a class, and can contest the linguistic norms of her culture, since those norms are produced by language use. In The Cinema of Poetry, Pasolini imagines the inscription of social difference in the cinema only with difficulty. Writing about the cinema as primarily visual art, he observes that while people speak differently according to their cultural and historical circumstances, our eyes are the same the world over’(176). This creates the first difficulty: in literature, free indirect discourse depends on differentiating the character’s language from that of the author, but if seeing is universal, how can a visual art formally register social difference? Pasolini attempts to solve this problem by imagining conditioned, socio-economically differentiated modes of vision, such as those of the peasant and the bourgeois who see different sets of things, but even a single thing in itself appears different through the two different gazes’(ibid.). However, as soon as he presents that solution, Pasolini mitigates it by noting that such differences between gazes cannot be institutionalized.

Given the difficulty of correlating modes of vision with the socio- economic conditions of spectators, all of Pasolini’s examples of free indirect cinema come in the form of films shot entirely in free indirect point of view. Pasolini calls this pre-textual free indirect, a phrase one might understand as meaning both that the logic of the text implies a free indirect view already underway when the film starts, and that a free indirect point of view is used as a pretext for something else. His three major examples of free indirect subjectivity come from films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, and Bernardo Bertolucci, two of whom (Antonioni and Godard) become major figures in Deleuze’s Cinema 2: The Time-Image. In Antonioni’s Red Desert (1964), the world is perceived by Monica Vitti’s neurotic character Giuliana. With the exception of the sequence depicting her son’s dream, the film looks and sounds as if it were seen and heard through her subjectivity, because it differs from cinematic convention. Those differences, most famously the film’s emphasis on framing, mark Giuliana’s neurotic perception, which in turn becomes the pretext for Antonioni’s radical pictorialism, granting him the freedom from cinematic norms required for his aesthetic project. As Pasolini writes, instead of being the instrument that analyzes alienation Antonioni’s vision becomes alienated in the character’s(179-180).

In films that use pre-textual free indirect point of view, the character with whom the auteur establishes a free indirect relation is irrational, whereas the norms of cinema are based on rational subjectivity. Free indirect images serve to speak indirectly  through any narrative alibi  in the first person singular’(185), but surprisingly, Pasolini claims that this first-person singular never takes the form of an interior monologue, since cinema lacks a means of interiorization  of passing from images to thoughts and conceptual words(176). The cinema contains expressive material that can be associated with both the auteur and a character, but the vision of the auteur and the vision of the character are differentiated according to psychological rather than socio-economic factors.5 For Pasolini, free indirect point of view expresses psychological types.

Although the psychology expressed in free indirect point of view motivates the use of outlandish expressive devices, the filmmaker must use characters of the same socio-economic milieu as himself, analogous to him in culture, language, and psychology  they [must be] exquisite flowers of the bourgeoisie in short, the bourgeoisie, also in film, identifies itself with all of humanity, in an irrational interclassism(185). The cinematic version of literature’s free indirect discourse does not involve the same margin of freedom, since the director cannot mime the vision of someone from outside his social sphere without positing it as a lapse of bourgeois psychology. Modes of vision at variance with the institutionalized way of seeing are understood as expressing the

psychological flaws of the spectators, characterizing them as abnormal, neurotic, or hyper-sensitive(185). For Pasolini, the function of free indirect images in the cinema is the coming into consciousness of contemporaneous capitalism neo-capitalism that discusses and modifies its own structures and that, in the case in point once again, ascribes to poets a late humanistic function: the myth and the technical consciousness of form(185).


Deleuze constructs a new theory of free indirect discourse from references to Mitry, Volosinov and Pasolini. He assembles some of their thoughts into the new idea of free indirect images. In the course of constructing his idea, Deleuze emphasizes some aspects of his sources while ignoring others in short, he reads. From his sources, Deleuze constructs a concept of free indirect discourse and images that opens new insights into the textual politics of films, and to a certain extent, links them to the material conditions of their production, but the concept stops analyzing cinematic production as such. Deleuze could have used free indirect discourse to think about the films he analyzes as being the result of a production process involving multiple authors, but instead he writes of free indirect images as figures used by traditionally invoked and singular auteurs. Nonetheless, Deleuze produces a more flexible, finely articulated notion of free indirect discourse than any of his sources, one directly linked to the ethics and politics of cinema. However, the reading practice required to develop the new concept ignores everything in Pasolini and Volosinov that would force Deleuze to question the ethics of his own utterances.

As we have seen in Cinema 1, Deleuze develops the idea of free indirect images in the course of an attempt to define subjective and objective images through a reading of Mitry. In the course of defining objective and subjective images, Deleuze focuses on objective images that become subjective, and vice-versa. He begins by defining subjective images as things seen from inside the set of things to which they belong, and objective images as things seen from outside the set to which they belong. The camera’s ability to pass from a position within a set to a position outside of it complicates Deleuze’s nominal definitions of subjective and objective images, since any given shot can conceivably be re-determined as subjective or objective by being re-framed by a camera movement. The chapter begins with three cinematic examples, La Roue (Gance, 1923), The White Sheik (Fellini, 1952) and Pandora and The Flying Dutchman (Lewin, 1951). Of these, only La Roue is silent, but Deleuze deals only with the films’ visual aspects. He then turns to Mitry’s analysis of the shot-reverse shot to illustrate the fluidity with which the cinema passes from objective to subjective.

If Volosinov and Pasolini emphasize the sociological aspect of free indirect discourse, Deleuze emphasizes its ethical and political aspects. Before Deleuze introduces the term free indirect, he cues the reader to attend to its ethico-political importance. Deleuze introduces Mitry’s term semi-subjective image as a way of starting to describe the camera’s passage between objectivity and subjectivity, emphasizing its ability to be withthe characters. The phrase being-with comes from Mitry and appears in quotation marks in Deleuze’s text, but in the very sentence after Deleuze introduces this phrase, he translates it with the word Mitsein. Mitsein, a term from Martin Heidegger’s lexicon, alerts us that ethical relations are at stake here. 6 Deleuze goes on to associate this with John Dos Passos’s camera eye,which Deleuze describes as the anonymous viewpoint of someone unidentified among the characters,’7 who implicitly judges their actions.

Deleuze’s description of this anonymous viewpoint casts the semi- subjective image as a primal cinematic substance, from which the objective and subjective images differentiate themselves. According to Deleuze, Pasolini thought that free indirect images expressed the essence of cinema. Pasolini’s essay on The Cinema of Poetry, which Deleuze refers to here, argues that cinema only manifests pre-textual forms of free indirect images, infinitely less articulated and complex than the figure in literature (Pasolini, 176). By making Pasolini identify free indirect images with the essence of cinema, Deleuze forges an ontological link between cinema and subjectivity.

Deleuze equates the perception-imagethe zero degree of cinematic images in his taxonomy with the semi-subjective, arguing that cinematic perception differs from natural perception, since natural perception does not have a semi-subjective form. As we move through the world, our perceptions are either objective or subjective, but never both. This makes it difficult to find a status for this semi-subjectivity, and Deleuze writes, this is why Pasolini used a linguistic analogy,(72)10 namely, that of free indirect discourse. The claim that Pasolini uses a linguistic analogy in order to overcome the difficulties of defining an unnatural mode of perception is not quite accurate. My own reading of the “The Cinema of Poetry” shows that Pasolini turns to free indirect images because they enable a linguistic analogy to be made; he does not turn to language in order to explain something in the cinema. Pasolini

looks for a cinema of poetry in order to analyze the social function of the film artist according to the model of the poet. As he argued in his earlier text Notes on Free Indirect Discourse, reading the figure allows him to analyze texts as the products of socio-economic types. Deleuze only invokes the parts of Pasolini’s essays concerning the figure’s potential to express different subjectivities and solicit responses from new audiences, and hence create new social groupings. He reads Pasolini’s essay as an attempt to explain an emerging style of cinema rather than as a call to transform cinema.

After having introduced Pasolini, Deleuze’s text uses free indirect discourse to combine Pasolini’s argument with his vocabulary:

It might be said that a subjective perception-image is a direct discourse and, in a more complex way, that the objective perception- image is like an indirect discourse (the spectator sees the character in such a way as to be able, sooner or later to state what the character is supposed to be able to be seeing). (72)

Here Deleuze retains Pasolini’s comparison between the cinema’s visual elements and figures for reporting speech, as well as some of Pasolini’s words: direct discourse and free indirect discourse. Deleuze also makes significant changes in Pasolini’s language and makes explicit a possible implication of his argument. Deleuze substitutes perception- image for point-of-view shot in Pasolini’s argument, and adds the comparison between the objective image and indirect discourse. The perception image is not quite a point-of-view shot, since there is an objective perception image but no objective point-of-view shot, and also because Deleuze uses the word image sometimes to mean a single shot and other times a concatenation of shots. Although Pasolini makes the comparison between the point-of-view shot and direct discourse, he does not write about a cinematic equivalent of indirect discourse.

These alterations transform Pasolini’s article from an aesthetic consideration of cinema into a consideration of how cinema produces subjectivity. By making the comparison between indirect discourse and objective images, Deleuze changes indirect discourse from a means of reporting speech to an arrangement of subjectivity. He describes free indirect discourse as an enunciation taken within an utterance which itself depends on another enunciation(73). Such a description is to be found neither in Volosinov nor in Pasolini. The word enunciation and the argument here echo Deleuze’s collaborative work with Felix Guattari on assemblages of enunciation a term Deleuze will soon invoke.

Deleuze’s example of free indirect discourse in literature, taken from Volosinov, is: She summons up her strength: she will rather endure torture than loose her virginity(73). Volosinov finds this passage in an example from an argument by one G. Lerch, who contends that free indirect discourse can be found in medieval French literature. As Ann Banfield points out in Unspeakable Sentences, Lerch’s argument is unconvincing because the passage lacks any of free indirect discourse’s linguistic markers, and Volosinov only endorses Lerch’s argument conditionally, writing in a footnote that Lerch’s reading is only the most probable interpretation of the lines(cited in Banfield, 229). Banfield traces a complex history of interpretation in which analysts disagree about whether the passage cited in Deleuze is free indirect discourse. Deleuze’s use of such a questionable example illustrates his tendency to understand all enunciation as an assemblage, hearing very subtle distinctions among lexicons, then figuring those differences as voices that produce speaking subjectivities, all the while never doubting the alterity of the languages involved.

Following this example, Deleuze paraphrases Volosinov’s argument about free indirect discourse as the production of two subjects in language, one of which constitutes a character in the first person, the other of which is present at his birth and brings him onto the scene(73). Deleuze gives voice to Volosinov’s theories of the speaking self as an ideologeme, only realized in speech, and of free indirect discourse as a single linguistic construction that maintains two voices within itself. However, he changes the emphasis from free indirect discourse as the crystallization of social tendency to free indirect images as the production of subjectivity. To play on Deleuze’s vocabulary, one might say that Deleuze’s work on free indirect images transforms a literary device determined by socio-economic conditions into a machine for producing subjectivities.

This shift in stress anticipates Deleuze’s observations on free indirect images in Cinema 2, where the figure makes it possible to call a people into being. Instead of writing about free indirect images as a product of bourgeois culture, Deleuze writes about the figure as a possible means of creating a collective of the oppressed and marginalized. By combining Volosinov’s argument that the speaking personality is created in the act of speaking, with Pasolini’s contention that certain uses of free indirect discourse imply a choral listener, Deleuze forges the figure into a political instrument. However, by ignoring either argument about free indirect discourse as a figure produced by a given class in a specific set of economic relations, he forecloses the political and ethical critique of free indirect discourse and images.

Deleuze establishes free indirect images as a technique of dual subjectification, as if this had been Volosinov’s claim, and then asserts that Pasolini took up this model. Deleuze explains that for Pasolini and Volosinov, free indirect discourse rather than metaphor drives the development of languages, because metaphor homogenizes language while free indirect discourse keeps the system heterogeneous, far from equilibrium(73). Although both Pasolini and Volosinov attribute the development of European languages to free indirect discourse, they do so for a very different reason. Both writers argue that free indirect discourse is the essential bourgeois figure. Thus, the primacy of free indirect discourse comes from socio-economic causes, rather than linguistic or aesthetic ones. Deleuze goes even further from his sources, arguing that free indirect discourse cannot be analyzed according to linguistic categories, which are always homogenous, but which are, as Pasolini says, a matter of style. Here, he makes the opposite claim about language from Pasolini, for whom the figure depends on linguistic categories, even when understood as a stylistic device. Rather than understanding the use of words from one dialect in a text written primarily in another dialect (the high and low versions of a language, for example) as an act of imitation or mimesis, Deleuze understands it as a correlation between two asymmetrical proceedings within language, so that the correlation matters and not the language itself, because that correlation is the simultaneous production of two subjects.

Deleuze’s differentiation of subjects can be found in thought and art as well as language. Deleuze identifies it with the cogito that can only be born by being reflected in a transcendental subject that thinks it. In the cinema, a subject cannot be born without another subject who watches it and assumes the first subject’s freedom for itself. Although this model of the split self has been a philosophical commonplace since Descartes, Deleuze appends a long quotation from Bergson’s Mind-Energy by way of elaboration. Bergson describes two egos as constantly in the process of differentiation, in an oscillation of the person between two points of view on himself, a hither and thither of the spirit’(cited in Cinema I, 74); an oscillation that Deleuze reminds us is a sort of being with.

In the cinema a character acts on the screen, and is assumed to see the world in a certain way. But simultaneously, the camera sees him, and sees his world, from another point of view that thinks, reflects and transforms the viewpoint of the character(74). For Deleuze then, free indirect discourse has an equivalent in the cinema to the extent that free indirect discourse is a model of the cogito or subject always differentiating itself from itself, always becoming another. This first formulation of free indirect images in Cinema is specular, as Deleuze has not yet broached film sound.

If for Pasolini, in Red Desert Antonioni is able to transform Giuliana’s neurosis into delirious aestheticism, for Deleuze, this ability comes from the camera’s rethinking of Giuliana’s point of view, and the character’s neurosis marks the subject’s difficult birth into the world. This correlation between a perception-image and camera-consciousness goes beyond subjective and objective to a pure form of an autonomous vision. Deleuze defines the cinema of poetry as a perception image whose content is reflected in an autonomous camera consciousness a reflection that grants the perception image its status as free indirect subjectivity.

Although Deleuze recasts Pasolini’s arguments about free indirect point of view in Antonioni and Godard in the language of the reflected cogito, in Cinema the universal cogito is much less important than the subjectivity of character types. For both Volosinov and Pasolini, free indirect discourse allows the expression of subjectivities conditioned by class differences; Deleuze values free indirect images because they allow subjectivities of different types, such as the neurotic. Here, the noun neurotic names a category of subjects in the same way that the common noun bourgeois does in Pasolini. As the man losing his identity(75), or a subject becoming less differentiated, the neurotic exposes the conditions of normative subjectivity while providing an alternative to it, or to borrow Deleuze’s words, a line of flight from it. The director affirms himself in him while distinguishing himself from him(75), an image that repeats not only Bergson’s two cogitos but also the key image of differentiation in Deleuze, that of the lightning in the night sky in Difference and Repetition.10

Deleuze’s displacement of Volosinov and Pasolini’s socio-economic classes with character types supports the usually overlooked sociological or anthropological tendency in the Cinema books. Throughout the two books, Deleuze argues that various groups of films construct images of different kinds of social relations, and think them through different categories and kinds of reasoning. Deleuze’s use of common nouns allows him to write about films as social organizations of character types: for example, in his comparison of W. D. Griffith and S. M. Eisenstein in Cinema I’s first chapter. These arguments depend on a rhetoric that calls characters not by their proper names, but with common nouns that name different types with varying degrees of specificity: the young girl(30), a Negro(30), the Chinese opium addict(31), the people(34), the Boyars(34). The variation in the specificity of the nouns corresponds to variations in the ways films conceptualize social categories. Free indirect images are like undifferentiated plasma of subjectivity that generate types. Ultimately, it becomes possible for cinema to reflect on its own production of types, for instance in Godard, who, according to Deleuze’s free indirect account of Pasolini’s essay, uses characters representing the birth of a new anthropological type(75). Deleuze goes on to write that Eric Rohmer’s films have a truly ethical

consciousness, formally transforming the cinema to make it capable of bearing the free indirect discourse of the modern neurotic world. He claims that Rohmer creates an image that is an exact equivalent of an indirect discourse, as in Percival (1978) or the Marquise of O (1976). Both directors work on the relationship of the image and the text, i.e., in Percival, the chorus reports what the characters say indirectly. While all free indirect relations are ethical encounters, Rohmer’s films are the most self-aware of this.

Deleuze concludes the first section of chapter 4 by emphasizing free indirect’s oscillation between objective and subjective, and its status as a higher aesthetic form(76). He writes that in Pasolini’s films the free indirect subjective is like a reflection of the image in a camera-self- consciousness.(76). This gives camera-consciousness an extremely formal dimension(ibid.) It is precisely this self-consciousness about subject production that constitutes the ethical and political hope of the cinema.

Cinema 2

In Cinema 2, Deleuze returns to free indirect images, introducing them to address subject-object relationships and their development, a relationship that is the concern of the rècit ,or tale. Deleuze writes, According to convention, what the camera sees’ is called objective, and what the character sees is called subjective(148), and the rècit is the development of these two series of images and the relations between them. In classical or organic cinema, what the camera sees is the truth, but what a character sees might not be. Narratives tend to involve a character learning to see as the camera sees; but in the cinema of poetry, the distinction between what the character saw and what the camera saw objectively vanished because the camera entered into a relation of simulation (mimesis’) with the character’s way of seeing(148). With the emergence of this sort of free indirect subjectivity, the story no longer refers to the truth but becomes a pseudo-story’11 that decomposes and recomposes subjective and objective images. Thus the cinema of poetry becomes capable of composing directly with the medium’s mode of subjectification: in other words, of attaining self-consciousness about its production of types.

As if in an aside, Deleuze notes that free indirect images emerge in non-fiction films as well as in art cinema. As the argument develops, it becomes clear that various post-war documentaries provide the strongest examples of free indirect images in modern cinema, a free indirect connected to the world beyond the film so intimately that such a film can call a people into being. Deleuze analyzes these films as if they were machines for producing new collectivities and new social relations.

Deleuze argues that despite the obvious opposition between documentary and fiction films, both traditionally address their spectators as if they told the truth, and for both modes, the truth means an accord between what the camera sees and what the character sees. Like fiction films, documentaries often take the form of double systems, where the camera sees objectively and the characters see subjectively. In this passage Deleuze calls this adequation between two series of images a cinematographic fiction(149) even in documentaries. He suggests that in moving away from such an articulation of perception, cinema undergoes its own version of Nietzsche’s critique of truth.

Here, Deleuze contests a traditional opposition of film criticism, just as he earlier claims that film history is better divided into pre- and post- World War II periods than into pre- and post-sound periods. Presently he claims that the distinction between cinemas of fiction and documentary is less important than the distinction between films that ground truth in an accord between the subjective and the objective, and films that don’t. For Deleuze, free indirect images emerge in certain documentaries of the 1960s and undo the ideal of truth based on cinematographic fiction.

Deleuze assembles a band of cinematic Nietzscheans to perform the critique of truth: John Cassavettes, Sheryl Clarke, Pierre Perrault, and Jean Rouch. All of these filmmakers abandon a pre-constituted model of truth to become creators of truth, a feat they are able to accomplish by virtue of free indirect figuration. Deleuze uses the term less frequently here than in the sustained consideration of the figure in Cinema 1. When it comes up, it is often at the conclusion of an argument, and points to a general trait of the modern cinema. Just as Pasolini argues that free indirect discourse saturates modern writing, Deleuze claims that it saturates modern cinema. Deleuze describes the way his band of filmmakers produce multiple subjectivities in their work through a figurative process of differentiation.

The analysis starts with Perrault, and Deleuze’s larger claims about Perrault apply to the other filmmakers as well. For example, Deleuze writes that Perrault criticizes fiction insofar as it forms a model of pre- established truth, which necessarily expresses the dominant ideas or the point of view of the colonizer(150); the critique of pre-established truth politically validates the practice of all the filmmakers at the end of chapter 7. If pre-established truth expresses the point of view of the colonizer, legend and memory exemplify the story-telling function of the poor(ibid.). The filmmakers Deleuze assembles here all present real characters in the act of making fiction, an act that Deleuze argues contests dominant ideas and established models of truth by presenting the character in the process of changing, or as Deleuze puts it, of becoming. Images of characters telling stories constitute an enunciation given in an utterance, which in turn depends on another enunciation. We see and hear the character narrating in a film assembled by someone else. Such images correspond exactly to Deleuze’s definition of free indirect discourse in literature.

Instead of presenting characters as identities, these filmmakers present real characters playing characters from the past, or legendary characters; in this literal sense, they give us characters becoming another (character) or differentiating themselves from themselves. In these films, the storytelling function is given over to the characters; the filmmaker’s fictions are replaced by his real characters’ rÈcits. In that sense, the filmmaker, or the source of the film’s enunciation, also becomes another.12 The stories told by the characters in these films are stories representing groups or types whom Deleuze calls peoples, and the characters relinquish the role of the storyteller to characters of other types. It is thus, Deleuze claims, that the films in question call a people into being, rearticulating in a different register Pasolini’s claim about the choral address of the infinitives in Don Giovanni.

In Deleuze’s analysis of Perrault, he argues that direct cinema, cinèma- vèritè, and cinema of the lived consist of a free indirect figure who articulates two different points of view and produces two different subjectivities. Concluding his analysis of Perrault, Deleuze calls this figure the free indirect discourse of Quebec, imaging the story-telling function passing from one to another, until it passes through a multitude and becomes a discourse with a thousand heads(151). This account of free indirect images ignores the problem of whether the films present a story- telling function of the poor that comes from outside the filmmaker’s realm. Because the characters come from our world, Deleuze assumes that the film depicts their stories from their point of view. Clearly these films attempt to accomplish this, but whether they succeed is another matter.

Rouch articulates free indirect images through characters who are defined by a passage from one state to another: through trance in Le Matre fou (1955), and through role-play in Moi un Noir (1959), for example. In these films the character becomes both real and fiction, because he is real as he invents his fictional character. In order to show this change in the character, the camera constantly links him to images from before and after the process of self-differentiation. Rouch’s characters are constantly becoming another and [are] no longer separable from this becoming that merges with a people(152). Rouch and the characters both make a free indirect discourse. Since free indirect images and discourse produce subjects, Deleuze can link them with the possibility of producing an image of subjects yet to come, and to forge out of it a cinema of absolute non-self identity.

The argument goes on to identify Rouch’s free indirect with a cannonical French formulation for the self in differentiation Rimbaud’s famous phrase Je est un autre. Having just differentiated Rouch from Perrault on the grounds that Perrault makes films that attempt to rediscover the lost identity of a repressed people, while Rouch escapes his civilization to find a different identity, Deleuze’s citation of Rimbaud is apposite, since the poet left France for Africa in order to become something other than a poet. Here, free indirect images have become a generalized possibility for subjective becoming in the cinema. Deleuze calls this the very poetry that Pasolini looked for in fiction films.

Perault and Rouch return to a similar argument at the end of chapter 8, Cinema, Body and Brain, but this reprise considers the story-telling function of free indirect discourse in terms of literal telling or speech. This speech act creates itself as a foreign language in a dominant language(223).13 This becomes the goal of Third-World cinema, which seeks through trance or crisis, to constitute an assemblage that brings together, in order to produce collective utterances, as the prefiguration of the people who are missing(188).


In his consideration of Shirley Clarke and John Cassavettes, Deleuze writes free, direct discourse’(153) with a comma between free and direct to indicate the way the figure supposedly allows both filmmaker and character to express and set free the becoming of a minority. At the end of the chapter, the whole cinema becomes a free, indirect discourse operating in reality(155). In both sentences, the comma after free implies that the figure is on the side of liberty.14 The politico-ethical aspiration of freeing the expression of a minority collectivity is thus associated with all the time-images that Deleuze links to free indirect cinema. Deleuze writes that the time-image erases internal monologue in favor of a free indirect discourse and vision(155).

Deleuze’s analysis of the figure in Jean Rouch’s films is extraordinarily rich. By connecting free indirect discourse with the depiction of characters in the act of story-telling, he reveals the purest example of the figure in cinema. By choosing films with real characters playing themselves, Deleuze convinces us that free indirect discourse has some relation to actual ethical and political problems. By choosing to focus on two ethnographic filmmakers, he is able to show how free indirect discourse works to construct collectivities by allowing multiple voices to address multiple spectators who themselves become potential speakers.

Yet Deleuze’s analysis of Rouch and Perault does not mention the names of their collaborators, only the names of the auteurs. Even in this account of the most radical examples of free indirect discourse in cinema, the other voices lose their identity, while the name of the auteur remains. This rhetoric functions as an erasure of the very oppressed minoritygroups that cinema’s free indirect is supposed to call into being. The names of the members of those groups never appearan absence that contradicts an important aspect of Rouch’s project.15 For Rouch not only made films; he trained collaborators like Damoure Zeka in both filmmaking and anthropology. He wanted to de-institutionalize both practices. If Volosinov and Pasolini’s critiques of free indirect discourse had been maintained in Deleuze’s reading, along with the valorizing aspects of their theories, Deleuze might have been able to rethink this erasure, or at least to make explicit a theory of authorship that might mitigate it.

The erasure of other names might have been avoided through a simple consideration of who did what on a particular film. But although Deleuze defines free indirect discourse as an assemblage of enunciation and here he uses films produced under very specific circumstances (in the midst of ongoing life, with real characters, without scripts) and with very specific equipment (portable 16-mm cameras, crystal-synch tape- recorders)he never develops a sustained consideration of free indirect discourse in terms of material circumstances of production.16 Since Deleuze calls free indirect discourse an assemblage of enunciation, it is all the more surprising that he does not address the collective nature of film production.

If Deleuze ignores production history, he also avoids formal analysis of his examples of cinematic free indirect discourse, although such an analysis would be required by Pasolini’s critique of the figure. The only way to assess whether a filmmaker has allowed another subject to emerge in a film or has disguised his own position as that of another is to analyze the form of the example of free indirect subjectivity in question. In Dialogues, Deleuze tells Clair Parnet that he often had to do a lot of work to make the authors he reads, say what he wanted them to say. This suggests that Deleuze consciously uses the figure to re-accentuate others’ writings, so that they say something else. Without a formal analysis of the films of Rouch and Perault, it is uncertain whether their use of free indirect subjectivity does the same thing. If so, another argument would be needed to show that it could nonetheless still call a people into being. For if the filmmaker’s control of the cinematic medium ends up determining the speech of other subjects in the film, can the voices in the film be thought of as multiple?

The triumph of free indirect images in modern cinema reflects Deleuze’s use of the figure in an alluring light. Deleuze’s selective reading of Pasolini and Volosinov is an interested reading. He ignores the parts of their arguments that would challenge his own writing, and thus allows the figure to function as a utopian lure, promising a politics and ethics within modern cinema, but he never shows us how new modes of social organization inform the screening room.

Despite the limits of Deleuze’s ethical and political argument for free indirect discourse, Cinema articulates one of the most suggestive accounts of the production of subjectivity in the cinema. Furthermore, the theory of free indirect images and discourse in Cinema prepares us to think the unthought in thought, or the question of life. In chapter 7 of Volume 2, Thought and Cinema, Deleuze writes that the task of the cinema is to make us believe, not in a different world, but in a link between man and the world, in love or life, to believe in this as in the impossible, the unthinkable, which nonetheless cannot but be thought(171). Part of this project of discovering the identity of thought and life must involve the analysis of the concept of life in contemporary social and biological sciences, and a resistance to the use of the word life within contemporary social control systems; otherwise, lifeis taken to be already thought.’17

According to Giorgio Agamben, Deleuze concentrated his efforts on producing a thought of life that does not consist only in its confrontation with death and an immanence that does not once again produce transcendence(238). That thought will require us to discern the matrix of desubjectification itself in every principle that allows the attribution of a subjectivity(ibid.). Such a matrix appears in free indirect discourse and images, insofar as they express subjectivities at the moment of their differentiation rather than as always already differentiated.

Agamben further points out that the task of thinking the concept of life requires
a genealogical inquiry into the term life. This inquiry will demonstrate that life is not a medical and scientific notion but a philosophical, and theological concept, and that many categories of our philosophical tradition will have to be rethought accordingly. (239) Deleuze’s theory of free indirect images gives us to understand that the figures through which the notion of life are rendered into text must also be accorded their place in the genealogy Agamben proposes.

The remainder of chapters 7 and 8 consider the cinema as a mechanism for thinking life and believing in the body as the germ of life. These passages write about cinema in order to create concepts for a coming philosophy of life. Deleuze’s taxonomy of the cinema prepares for the philosophy of life by associating a set of character types with each category of cinematic image. The cinema allows Deleuze to think about images in terms of life and particularly in terms of social life. The free indirect necessarily figures the social since it always involves relations between multiple consciousnesses, 18 and the character types define the categories of social life that allow it to be conceptualized. In this scheme, free indirect images provide a model for the production of new social subjects in the cinema. Whether these new subjects are authentically other or are disguised versions of the filmmaker, Deleuze’s cinema sets them to work thinking life and imagining new forms of social relations. A task for some readers will be to imagine how such forms might be thought and imagined in light of the limits of free indirect discourse and the historical circumstances of film production.

Works Cited

Agamben, Giorgio. Absolute Immanence.Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy. Ed. Daniel Heller-Roazen. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1999.
Bally, Charles. Le Langage et la Vie. Series Linguistica. Zurich: Max Niehans, 1935.

Banfield, Ann. Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.
Bellour, Raymond. Penser, Raconterin Fahle and Engell, 22-40.

BensmaÔa, Rèda. L’ Espace Quelconque’ comme Personnage Concpetuel,’in Fahle and Engell, 140-52.

Gilles. Cinema 1: L’image-Mouvement. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1983.

Deleuze, Gilles. Cinema 1: The Movement Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara

Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986. . Cinema 2: L’image-Temps. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1985.

Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Claire Parnet. Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson, Barbara Habberjam and Eliot Albert. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

Fahle, Oliver, and Lorenz Engell, eds. Der Film Bei Deleuze. Le CinÈma selon Deleuze. Weimar Paris: Verlag der Bauhaus-Universit‰t Weimar Presse de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 1997.

Hirschkop, Ken. Bakhtin Myths, or, Why We All Need Alibis. South Atlantic Quarterly 97.3/4 (1998): 579-89.

Dickens, Charles. Our Mutual Friend. New York: Penguin Classics, 1998.

Eliaz, Ofer. The Absent Corpse: Vision and the Institution Free Indirect. Unpublished paper, 2001.

Guattari, Felix. Institutional Practices and Politics. The Guattari Reader. Ed. Gary

Genosko. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.
Johnston, John. Machinic Vision.Critical Inquiry 26.1 (1999): 27-48.
Mitry, Jean. The Aesthetics and Psychology of the Cinema. Trans. Christopher King.Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1997.

Pasolini, Pier Paolo. The Cinema of Poetry, in Heretical Empiricism, trans. Ben Lawton and Louise K. Barnett. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.

Comments on Free Indirect Discourse, in Heretical Empiricism.

Tihanov, Galin. Volosinov, Ideology, and Language: The Birth of Marxist Sociology from the Spirit of Lebensphilophie.South Atlantic Quarterly 97.3/4 (1998): 599-621.

Ungar, Steven. The Cutting Edge: Subjective Voice and Colonial Culture in Rouch’sMoi, un Noir.Society For Cinema And Media Studies. London, 2005.

Volosinov, V.N. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Trans. Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik. New York: Seminar Press, 1973.

1. Deleuze is not the only philosopher to use the trope; Levinas and Derrida rely on it,

to name two French theorists contemporaneous with Deleuze.
2. Although Volosinov refers to the figure as quasi-direct discourse rather than free indirect discourse, I will follow Deleuze’s terminology. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language mentions free indirect discourse in citations of Bally, but a reading of the differences implied by the two terms, while potentially creative in another context,

falls outside the scope of this inquiry.
3. Volosinov’s description of language as illuminating and giving form to the personal-

ity resembles Bergson’s account of consciousness as a photographic plate exposed to the light of perceptionan account Deleuze gives a careful reading of in the first volume of Cinema.

4. In fact, there are more than three important differences between Volosinov’s and Pasolini’s accounts of the free indirect. For Pasolini, the subject seems to exist before language use, whereas for Volosinov, language use produces the subject. How- ever, these differences do not matter in Deleuze’s appropriation of their work.

5. While this implies that the free indirect point of view articulates a psychological consciousness rather than a sociological one, things become more complex when Pasolini writes about the free indirect in Godard. He seems to associate Godard’s free indirect with institutional or technical vision rather than character perception. Hence Godard is capable of expressing the average of a new anthropological type(182) by analyzing the habits and gestures of his characters.

6. Given Deleuze’s antipathy toward Heidegger, this invocation of him at the very moment when Deleuze elaborates the ethical structure of the free indirect deserves attention in a properly philosophical study.

7. Note the importance of anonymity here. In Deleuze, the anonymous, preceded by the definite article, can represent a type; here, one pole of the semi-subjective is defined in terms of such anonymity.

8. Deleuze seems to feel that he must justify Pasolini’s comparison of film to language since he devotes several of Cinema’s key passages to a critique of the application of linguistic categories to film. In order to validate his reference to Pasolini, Deleuze must excuse the essay’s attempt to understand film in terms of literature.

9. According to Felix Guattari, the assemblage of enunciation provided the ulterior problematic of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, which sought to relate prepersonal subjectivity  prior to the totalities of the person and the individual  and supra personal, that is, concerning phenomena of the group, social phenomena(112).

10. Dorothea Olkowski analyzes Deleuze’s fascination with difference between things that cannot be separated in Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

11. Deleuze takes the term pseudo-storydirectly from Pasolini’s Cinema of Poetryessay.

12. Hence the contested authorship of Rouch’s films. See Damoure Zeka’s claims in Jean Rouch and his Camera in the Heart of Africa, as well as Manthia Diawara’s meditation on the authorship of Moi un Noir (Rouch 1958) in his own film, Rouch in Reverse. Steven Ungar has also pointed out Oumarou Ganda’s collaboration in the authorship of Moi un Noir with special attention to Ganda’s own statements, and Cascabo (1969), a later film directed by Ganda.

13. This formulation resonates with the definition of minor literature in Deleuze and Guattari’s Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature.

14. In a passage on Godard, Deleuze writes, characters express themselves freely in the author’s discourse-vision, and the author, indirectly, in that of the characters(187).

15. Some of Rouch’s collaborators have asserted their role in the authorship of some of his films. Damoure Zeka makes many comments of this kind in Jean Rouch and his Camera in the Heart of Africa. This erasure is also noted by Manthia Diawara in Rouch in Reverse, where he argues that the New Wave originates not with Rouch but with his collaborators, and is thus is African in origin.

16. Dudley Andrew is one of the few scholars to attempt such an approach. See his Nomadic Cinemain The Brain is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema, ed. Gregory Flaxman. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

17. In addition to Agamben’s writing on the importance of Deleuze’s interest in the concept of life,Galin Tihanov has pointed out important connections between Volosinov and Lebensphilophie in his Volosinov, Ideology, and Language: The Birth of Marxist Sociology from the Spirit of Lebensphilophie.’

18. I am indebted to Joshua Clover for this observation.

fading aesthetics will be inactive during the SOPA blackout 1/18/2012.
C U on the flip side.

Categories: Uncategorized

Notes on Comizi d’amore for possible paragraph in Trilogia Della Vita chapter in Cinema And The Meaning [strikethrough] Of “Life”

Pasolini had already begun to historicize sexuality through cinematic means in Comizi d’amore (1963,) a film of interviews with Italians from various classes and regions about erotic mores. If a genealogy seeks to mobilize values by historicizing them, thereby dispelling the glamor of seemingly natural self-evidence, the genealogist must identify the values in order to put into in question. Comizi d’amore establishes the values that dominate the sex lives of Italians in 1963 by considering the silences of Pasolini’s interview subjects as well as their answers.

Pasolini’s decision to interview people grouped according to class and region allows him to begin denaturalizing the values pertaining to sexuality in the very act of documenting them. The values expressed by the interviewees vary with the region and class of the subjects and cannot appear as self-evident universals to the audience of Comizi d’amore. The film’s ethnographic categories make it clear that social relations determine values related to sex. Sexual mores appear as the effects of economics and physical surroundings, not for example, as the commandments of a god. Pasolini emphasizes differences based on income and location can be found throughout the film, though they might be clearest for some audiences in a segment which contrasts responses to the Legge Merlin, a 1958 law that made bordellos illegal, among Neapolitans and Sicilians.

Pasolini’s presentation of sexual values as a series of antagonisms reflects his understanding of ideology in general as the result of class conflict and his long standing commitment to regionalism.  Comizi d’amore articulates tensions, making the existence of an “Italian people” seem dubious. Audiences should hear a complex irony in Pasolini’s voice when, near the end of the film Pasolini, asks Alberto Moravia whether the novelist thinks he had captured the “real Italy.” Any notion of the real Italy dissolves in the variation between the values, the differences among the settings for the interviews, as well as the audible distinctions among regional dialects and accents. The film could serve as an illustration of Gilles Deleuze’s by now cliché  formulation “the people are missing.” If one were to continue to understand Comizi d’amore through the lens of Deleuze’s Cinema II: The Time Image, the film might even be said to call an Italian people into being through the more or less falsifying fabulations of the interview subjects. More plainly, a collective image of Italians emerges only from the contradictions among the all of the responses harvested by Pasolini.

When Pasolini asks Moravia whether Comizi d’amore captures the real Italy, Moravia responds that only bourgeoisie remained silent out of fear that of the possible social damage incurred by their answers. The capitalist class resists genealogical procedures because their ideology and habitus rely on the naturalization of values and the practices they justify. An obvious seeming national and linguistic unity linked to a coherent system of sexual values support the economic interests of the bourgeoisie.

Another silence structures the film in addition to the capitalist class’s: when Pasolini inquires about attitudes towards homosexuality, no one says, “I’m gay.” That silence unifies Italians more strongly than anything else in the film. Regional dialects, class and attendant differences in attitudes about sex divide the Italians Pasolini encounters, but not a single one professes queerness. In a film signed by a gay man who lived as openly as possible, that form of national unity can only be understood takes on a strong critical power.  Although Pasolini himself was out and his homosexuality was well known, he does not avow it in the film, probably in order to avoid conflict with his subjects and to encourage them to speak. Today, pathos saturates the film when we listen to the interview subjects moralize about homosexuality in response to Pasolini’s questions and realize that the interviewer has no voice in his own film and cannot be included in “the real Italy” except at the price of his silence. The section on homosexuality bares the title “”Disgust or Pity,” indicating the two poles of Italian response to gays.  If Comizi  d’amore calls an Italian people into being, it is a homophobic one.

The poles of disgust and pity are not those of the Trilogia Della Vita (1971-1974), in which various forms of homosexuality are practiced more or less openly. Even if such practices are judged by characters or religious systems within the films, the narrative agency of the Trilogia does not judge them.

Between Comizi D’amore and the Trilogia Della Vita Pasolini passes from contemporaneous to historical sexualities. Comizi d’amore  investigates sexualities, or attitudes towards sexualities which were actual in Pasolini’s lifetime. The Trilogia imagined past sexualities as potentials for the present. The Trilogia adapts three texts from pre-capitalist periods, seeking an alternative to commodified sexuality. This does not mean that Pasolini considered pre-capitalist sexualities to not involve economic exchange, but that it participated in a different form of economic exchange.

At the time when he shot the Trilogia,  the aim of Pasolini’s genealogical method was to understand the past as a means for changing the present as well as a means of explaining the present.

 Pasolini only used the technique of the potentialized past for a short period. In the mid 1970s, around the time of the neoliberalism’s onset, an “anthropological mutation” occurred. He came to believe that if sexuality has become intolerably degraded in the present it must have already been capable of such degradation in the past. The genetic tendency toward what Pasolini would call “racism,” “anthropological mutation” and “anthropological genocide” can already be found in the films of the early 1960s, especially Comizi D’amore and Mama Roma.

“La grandezza di Pasolini: sapeva vedere più lontano” by Franco Berardi AKA Bifo

Liberazione 15 ottobre 2005 (via

Negli anni dell’adolescenza avevo visto “Il Vangelo secondo Matteo” e “Teorema”, ma Pier Paolo Pasolini irruppe nel mio immaginario di diciottenne solo nel 1968, quando L’Espresso pubblicò la famosa poesia sulla battaglia di Valle Giulia, quella in cui prende le difese del poliziotto contro lo studente contestatore figlio di papà.

Con le categorie di cui disponevo allora etichettai spregiativamente Pasolini come populista, pur subendo il fascino del suo coraggio intellettuale, e del suo anticonformismo. Nel 1974 leggevo le lettere a Gennariello che Pasolini pubblicava sul Corriere della sera. Erano lettere a un mitico ragazzino dell’Italia autentica che stava scomparendo, lettere con cui il poeta voleva salvare l’autenticità di un’anima popolare immaginaria. Lo leggevo e mi era antipatico. Quell’uomo taciturno e schivo mi affascinava, però lo sentivo lontano, giudice arcigno di una realtà che a me appariva invece carica di possibilità.

C’era nei suoi scritti l’asprezza di chi si sente tradito dall’incedere caotico di fenomeni innovativi nel costume, nella tecnologia, nell’immaginario. E c’era la nostalgia di un tempo mitologico, di un passato di immaginaria integrità. La modernità lo irritava. E soprattutto (questo era ciò che più gli rimproveravo in cuor mio) non voleva vedere come dentro i comportamenti giovanili era all’opera una mutazione eterogenea, differenziata, aperta ad esiti molteplici e imprevedibili.

Pasolini vedeva emergere un nuovo fascismo dal mutamento tecnologico, dalla mutazione antropologica che si delineava con la diffusione della televisione e dei consumi di massa.

«Il fascismo – scriveva Pasolini in un articolo uscito sul Corriere nel dicembre del 1973 – non è stato sostanzialmente in grado nemmeno di scalfire l’anima del popolo italiano: il nuovo fascismo, attraverso i nuovi mezzi di comunicazione e di informazione (specie la televisione) non solo l’ha scalfita, ma l’ha lacerata, violata, bruttata per sempre».

La nostalgia umanistica di Pasolini aveva molti elementi in comune con lo stile di pensiero che proveniva dalla Scuola di Francoforte (soprattutto da Herbert Marcuse che in quegli anni era molto letto). La prospettiva dei francofortesi mostrava una società integrata, dominata dai modelli di consumo omologati, incapace di reazione politica e culturale. 

Ma la mia generazione stava vivendo un’esperienza molto diversa da quella che i teorici dell’integrazione neocapitalista andavano descrivendo: l’esperienza di una rottura del conformismo consumista, lo sgretolamento dell’omogeneità sociale, l’emergere di lotte autonome dei giovani operai. Laddove i francofortesi vedevano l’affermarsi di un materialismo omologante, Tronti vedeva formarsi «una rude razza pagana senza fede senza ideali senza illusioni» che avrebbe condotto l’attacco contro lo sfruttamento e in questo modo svelato il carattere disumano della mercificazione. 

Tronti contro Marcuse: queste erano le coordinate del mio orientarmi nel pensiero politico di allora. 

Una questione simile ritrovavo nel dibattito letterario italiano di quegli anni che opponeva a Pasolini gli scrittori della neoavanguardia sperimentale. Balestrini, Eco, Pagliarani, Barilli cercavano di cogliere nell’innovazione sociale ed estetica del neocapitalismo una potenzialità, una biforcazione possibile. 

Si stava riproponendo per certi aspetti la discussione che qualche decennio prima aveva opposto Benjamin ad Adorno, dove il primo cercava nelle nuove tecnologie di comunicazione potenzialità e risorse che il secondo considerava cancellate dalla massificazione, dalla perdita di aura. Perciò in quei primi anni Settanta vedevo Pasolini come il nostalgico di un’epoca passata, un coraggioso stimolante affascinante reazionario. 

Non mi pento, sia ben chiaro, di quella mia lettura giovanile. Avevo capito qualcosa, ma non avevo capito l’essenziale. Ho cominciato a capire l’essenziale di Pasolini dopo il ’77, dopo l’esplosione del movimento di quello che noi chiamavamo allora proletariato giovanile. Quel movimento aveva in un certo senso cercato di rovesciare la sua visione. Noi partivamo proprio da quelle forme di vita che Pasolini considerava “fasciste”, omologanti, partivamo da forme di vita che altri condannavano come barbariche, perché in quella barbarie cercavamo di introdurre l’ironia e l’autonomia e la critica pratica. Volevamo collegare l’energia barbarica di quello che il movimento operaio etichettava come sottoproletariato alle lotte autonome degli operai. Volevamo fare della letteratura un gioco selvaggio di liberazione della creatività. 

Al consumismo avevamo reagito con l’idea di una riappropriazione felice ed ironica delle merci, piuttosto che condannarlo in nome di qualche passatista integrità. In questo senso eravamo sullo stesso terreno di Pasolini, ma al suo Gennariello non dicevamo: rimani antico se vuoi essere umano. Dicevamo piuttosto: sfida la modernità per tirarne fuori nuovi orizzonti di umanità. 

Poi le cose sono andate come sono andate. Non tutte nel verso che avevamo pensato noi. E dopo il ’77 la mia prospettiva si è poco alla volta modificata. Ho cominciato a capire una cosa che prima mi era sfuggita, e invece era fondamentale: lo sguardo di Pasolini non era quello del critico politico, ma era lo sguardo lungo dell’antropologo. Quella che lui intravedeva era una mutazione più lunga e più profonda di quella su cui avevamo posto lo sguardo noi. Non voglio dire che lui avesse ragione e noi torto, avevamo visto facce diverse dello stesso processo. Pasolini aveva capito con anticipo che la potenza della mutazione tecnologica era destinata a prevalere sulle culture libertarie ed egualitarie che effettivamente costituivano il punto di arrivo dell’intera tradizione umanistica. 

Pasolini si era messo in questo modo fuori tempo, ma purtroppo quel suo fuori tempo significava un anzitempo. Aveva capito che di fronte all’incedere della mediatizzazione accade qualcosa che concerne il sensorio umano, il rapporto tra immaginario e immaginazione, e che in questa mutazione la politica non c’entra molto, l’azione volontaria può non essere efficace, e aveva presentito l’emarginazione di cui l’intellettuale era destinato a diventare vittima. Aveva presentito molto dell’epoca presente. 

Nel 2000, in occasione del venticinquennale della morte di Pasolini, il regista Guido Chiesa realizzò un filmato che andò in onda su Telepiù, intitolato “Provini per un massacro”. Un certo numero di ragazzi si presentavano davanti alla telecamera per un provino per un film su Pier Paolo Pasolini, e a ciascuno di loro veniva chiesto se avrebbero accettato di fare scene disgustose, come mangiare merda e mostrarsi in atteggiamenti non proprio dignitosi. Le risposte dei ragazzi erano la migliore (la più disperante) conferma immaginabile alla previsione dello scrittore. Conformismo, perbenismo, insicurezza si mescolavano con il servilismo nei confronti del potere (rappresentato dalla telecamera), con l’ipocrita disponibilità a fare qualsiasi cosa se si tratta di lavoro, se si tratta di televisione, se si tratta di guadagnare un po’ di denaro e di apparire un po’. Il film di Guido Chiesa (che purtroppo è passato un po’ sotto silenzio e meriterebbe di essere rivisto) vien fuori come un discorso lucido e senza molte speranze sulla prima generazione postumana. Ma chi siamo noi, uomini del ventesimo secolo, uomini del passato, per giudicare l’imprevedibile che dal postumano è destinato a venire?

An Incomplete Annotated Anglophone Pasolini Bibliography (Part :1 Books)

January 7, 2012 2 comments

Works By Pier Paolo Pasolini in English Translation in book form

Heretical Empiricism. Ben Lawton and Louise K. Barnett Trans. New Academia Publishing. Washington, DC. 2005. Translations from Empirismo eretico. Aldo Garsanti Editore. 1972.

Linguistics, Literary Criticism, Film Theory. Revised (2005 edition includes “Repudiation of Trilogy of Life” written as an introduction to the publication of the screenplays in 1975.)

In Danger. Jack Hirschman Ed. City Lights Press. San Francisco. 2010

Anthology. Poetry, Literary Criticism, Political Essays, Interviews. Translators include Jonathan Richmond, formerly of the modern lovers.

Petrolio. Anna Goldstein, Trans. Pantheon Books. New York. 1997. “Unfinished” Novel.

Pier Paolo Pasolini: Poems. Norman MacAfee, Trans. Ed. Far, Strauss Giroux. New York. 1982. Selections from Le ceneri di Gramsci, including the eponymous poem; La religione del mio tempo; Poesia in forma di rosa; Trasumanar e organizzar (from all of Pasolini’s non-self published  poetry books from 1957-1971 except L’usignolo della chiesa cattolica.)

Roman Nights And Other Stories. John Shepley. The Marlboro Press. Marlboro Vermont. 1986. Stories from Alì Dagli Occhi Azzuri (1965)

Roman Poems. Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Francesca Valente, Trans. City Lights Books. San Francisco. 1986. Preface by Alberto Moravia. Includes poems from of Le ceneri di Gramsci.

Theorem. Stuart Hood, Trans. Quartet Books. London 1992. Translation of Teorema (1968 novel.)

A Violent Life. William Weaver, trans. Carcanet. Manchester, UK. 2007. Translation of  Una Vita Violenta. Aldo Garsanti Editore. 1972. Novel.

Books on Pier Paolo Pasolini in English:

Acker, Kathy. My Death My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini. In Literal Maddness. Grove Press. New York. 1987. “Experimental” “fiction” very useful. Develops a queer and poetic context for Pasolini. Focuses on his death.

Friedrich, Pia. Pier Paolo Pasolini. Twayne Publishers. Boston. 1982. Two chapters of intellectual biography. Chapters on the posthumous works, Le meglio ginoventù (1954 edition of the complete Friulian poems;) Ragazzi di vita; Le ceneri di Gramsci; Teorema; Manifesto per un nuovo teatro” and  Orgia (play staged in 1968;) and Pasolini’s last poems. Special attention paid to style and ideology.

Gordon, Robert C. Pasolini: Forms of Subjectivity. Clarendon Press. 1966. Sections on Pasolini’s journalism, poems, cinema, and Petrolio (unfinished novel.). Each section takes its object as an expression of a fragment of Pasolini’s subjectivity.

Greene. Naomi. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Cinema As Heresy. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1990. Chapters on Pasolini in Casara, his move to Rome and his relationship to the cinema; Accattone, Mamma Romai and the neo-realist inheritance; the “end of ideology” in Le cenri di Gramsci, Uccellacci e Ucellini, La Religione del mio tempo, La ricotta and Comizi d’amore and Il Vangelo secondo Matteo; Pasolini’s film theory; myth in Pasolini’s films after Uccellacci e Ucellini; the Trilogia della vita, Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma.  eros and the rise of the ultra left in 70s Italy.

Maggi, Armando. The Resurrection Of The Body: Pier Paolo Pasolini From Saint Paul to Sade. University Of Chicago Press. Chicago. 2009. Pasolini as ambassador from Sodom, the “land of total destruction,” with attention to “the internal logic of his artistic expression.” Chapters on Saint Paul (unfilmed screenplay;)Porno-Theo-Colossal (unfilmed screenplay;) Petrolio, (unfinished novel;) and Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma.

Peterson, Thomas Earling. The Paraphrase Of An Imaginary Dialogue: The Poetics and Poetry of  Pier Paolo Pasolini. Peter Lang. New York. 1994.   Chapters on Paolini’s dialect poetry (Del dairio, “La scperta di Marx,” Roma 1950 — un diario, Il canto poulare, Le ceneri di Gramsci;) Pasolini’s use of Giovanni Pascoli’s poemetto (a “deviant” mode of the cyclical tercet) “Il pianto della scavatrice,” La riligione del mio tempo; and Pasolini’s essay on Pascoli “Passione e idologia;” Pasolini’s thoughts on dialect poetry in the eraly 1960s, Paolini’s essay on Andrea Zanzotto entitles “La belta (Apunti;)” Clemente Robora, Poesia in forma di rosa and its predecessors; La divina mimesis; “Manifesto per un nuovo teatro,” Calderòn, Trasumanar e organizzar. Features (Peterson’s ?) translation of “Il pianto della scavatrice” under the title “The Steam Shovel’s City.” Partial translations of Pasolini and poems from his contemporaneous and historical context, analyses of the critical reception of various Pasolini works, close readings of poems, attention to the poetic and overall literary context as well as the Italian Marxist context.

Rhodes, John David. Stupendous Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome. University Of Minnesota Press.  Minneapolis. 2007. Chapters on 20th century the urban history of Rome with special attention to development and the roots of Italian urbanism; Pasolini’s arrival in Rome, his work as a screenwriter and its cinematic context, his poetry, and Raggazi di vita; Accattone as an urbanist critique of neorealism; “Il pianto della scavatrice” (poem from Le cendri di Gramsci) and the construction of Roman housing projects in the 1950s; Mamma Roma, the Tuscolano II housing project and contemporaneous INA Casa development; Pasolini’s later films as allegories with emphasis on Uccellacci e Ucellini. This book is the best reading on Pasolini’s political potential in English. Clearly written, through, precise and engaged with various styles of Marxism. It is also the book that convinced me that Pasolini’s expressive production should be understood as a movement away from aesthetic production, despite the fact that the author does not make the argument.

Rohdie, Sam. The Passion Of Pier Paolo Pasolini. British Film Institute / Indiana University Press. Bloomington, IA. 1995 Experimental theoretical text on Pasolini and contemporaneous would culture with a focus on cinema and film theory. Contains fragments of writing from Pasolini and others. Emphasizes mythopoeic approach to Pasolini. Attempts “free-indirect” or “dialogical” composition.

Rumble, Patrick and Bart Testa. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Contemporary Perspectives. University of Toronto Press. Toronto. 1994. Articles on Nico Naldini’s (Pasolini’s cousin) recollections of Pasolini (Naldini;) the Roman Novels and the Italian Communist Party, 1956 (Joseph Francese;) Pasolini, Andrea Zanzotta (linguist and school teacher who worked on language acquisition in children) and pedagogy (Jennifer Stone;) Paoslini’s writings of the 1970s (Walter Siti;) Free indirect discourse (oratio obliqua , but confused with “reported speech” as such. Reported speech also includes direct and indirect discourse.)  Argues that Pasolini uses “free indirect” to mean any device that produces ambiguity (Paolo Fabbri;) Pasolini’s film semiotics as interpretation and not ontology (Giuliana Bruno;) Pasolini and materialist linguistics (Silverstra Mariniello;) Pasolini, the long take, editing and knowledge (David Ward;) “The Manifesto for a new Theater” (translated and introduced by David Ward;) Accattone, Mamma Roma, Dante and the way of the cross (P. Adams Sitney;) Deindividuation in Il sangelo secondo Matteo and Teorema (Bart Testa;)  Social and economic analogies in the Trilogia della vita (Patrick Rumble;) S Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma. and the refusal of cinematic consumption (Naomi Greene;) “Tetis” a short text on the Trilogia della vita Pasolini wrote in 1973 (Translated by Patrick Rumble.) Some of the articles are considered standards (Greene, Rumble, Testa, Ward,) some are filled with ad hoc psychoanalytic theory and shallow research (Stone, Fabri.) Schwartz, Bath David. Pasolini Requiem. Pantheon Books. New York. Biography of Pasolini with a somewhat conservative liberal humanist bent. Stylistically messy. The author feels free to judge Pasolini and as a correspondent writes, seems to have published every note he has ever taken. Worth consulting as it contains some useful data.

Schwenk, Bernard and Michael Semff eds. Pier Paolo Pasolini and Death. Hatje Cantz. Munich. 2006. Texts on “Pasolini and death” (Giusepe Zigaina;) Pasolini’s aesthetic of the “drawn out moment” (Schwenk;) the influence of Roberto Longhi on Pasolini’s use of art (Marc Weis;) The theme of motif in Pasolini (Roberto Chiesi;) “Transmediality” and pastiche in Pasolini (Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer;) Pasolini’s drawings (Smeff;) Pasolini’s 1969 poem Patmos (in Italian, not translated;) a conversation between Peter Kammerer and Zigaina; the “new fascism” ( Loris Lepri;) Paoslini’s last television interview (with Philippe Bouvard.) Also a photographic timeline and plates, plates, plates (including some Pasolini drawings and paintings … )

Siciliano, Enzo. Pasolini A Biography. John Shepley, Trans. Random House. New York. 1982. Biography of Pasolini by a friend and collaborator of Pasolini’s who also worked with Moravia and was at one time head of RAI, Italian state television. Original version published in 1978. Bent on proving that Pasolini’s murder was a right wing conspiracy. Very vague Marxism. As a correspondent writes “a whiff of homophobia.”

Viano, Maurizio.  A Certain Realism: Making Use of Pasolini’s Film Theory and Practice. University of California Press. Los Angeles. 1993. Chapters on Accattone; Mamma Roma; La Ricotta (contribution to collective film RoGoPaG😉 La Rabbia; Comizi d’amore; Sopraluoghi in Palestina; Il Vangelo secundo Matteo; La Terra vista dalla luna (contribution to Le streghe) and Che cosa sono le nuvole? (contribution to Capriccio all’italiana;) Edipo Re; La sequenza del foire di carta (segment of Amore e rabbia,; Apunti per un film sull’India; Toerema; Porcile; Medea; Apunti per un’Orestiade Africana; Le Mura di Sana’a (documentary short / appeal on Yemen;) La trilogia della vita; Salò o le 120 gionate di Sodoma; as well as Pasolini’s film and literary theory and its intellectual context. The introduction compares Pasolini to Nietzsche. Though it reads a bit like a post modern chestnut, Viano almost works enough to establish the genealogical dimension in Pasolini. Throughout the book, Viano shows that Pasolini constantly questioned dominant values without necessarily pointing to the role history and philology play in Pasolini’s films. Perhaps if he had included poems …

Ward, David. A Poetics Of Resistance: Narrative and the writings of Pier Paolo Pasolini. Associated University Presses. Ontario. 1995. Chapters on the Friulian Novels (Atti Impuri, Amado mio, Il sogno di una cosa;) the Roman Novels (Ragazzi di vita, Una vita violenta;) Empirismo eretico; Pasolini’s journalism, six verse tragedies and “Il Manifesto per un nuovo teatro.” “The Manifesto for a New Theater” translated as an appendix. Considers Pasolini’s revolutionary ,or resistant, aspects in light of his “poetic” historiography. Comes close to presenting Pasolini and a genealogist. Introduced with a useful short survey of Italian, British and US critical reception.  

 Watson, William Van . Pier Paolo Pasolini and the Theater of the World. University Microfilms Inc. 1989. Chapters on psychoanalysis (death drive) in Pasolini’s work, life and critical reception; the contemporary (contemporaneous) Italian theater; “The Manifesto for a New Theater;” Calderòn; Affabulation; Pylades; Porcile (play;) Orgia;, Bestia da Stile; productions of Pasolini’s plays; and Pasolini’s plays and post-modernism. Useful for information on Pasolini’s theater.

A Pier Paolo Pasolini Syllabus

Film Authors Pier Paolo Pasolini

FILM 571 (course # 3141)

Winter Term 2012

Ohio University

Assistant Professor Louis-Georges Schwartz

Monday & Wednesday 9:10 AM – 1:00 PM

321 Lindley



Office Hours: Thursdays 1 PM – 4 PM

382 Lindley Hall




Since the local bookstores failed to fill my book order the first two texts should be bought from Amazon® or another online source. The third is available online via Alden Library at no cost. That third book, Stupendous, Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome is the best “secondary source” on Pasolini and I recommend obtaining a bound copy. It’s currently in print and can be purchased from Amazon® and other online vendors.


Pasolini, Pier Paolo. In Danger. City Lights Press. San Francisco. 2010.


Pasolini, Pier Paolo. Heretical Empiricism. New Academia Publishing. Washington. DC. 2005. (Only use the 2005 edition)


Rhodes, John David. Stupendous, Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis. 2007. Available online through Alden Library (


Reading practice:

Start reading the Rhodes book during the first week of classes and finish it by Monday, January 23. Also read all the material in the two Pasolini anthologies from the period of the films we are seeing each week. Keep doing so after completing the Rhodes. Both anthologies cite the publication date of each text at the end of the essay, interview or poem. I will hold the class accountable for all of these texts, regardless of whether they are film theory essays, literary essays, poems, newspaper articles, etc. Pasolini was engaged in a variety of expressive practices and they are all crucial to understanding his thought and contribution.


I will also be recommending various suggested books and articles and putting them on reserve at Alden library throughout the term.


Class Practice:

Most Mondays and, in order to account for holidays, two Wednesdays, will be devoted to rather long screenings. Break time will be minimal, so be prepared to take care of any needs you may have in 5 to 10 minutes. The selection of films I have made represents only the easily available portion of Pasolini’s output and it’s crucial that we watch them all. I also consider it of utmost importance that we do so together.

I will permit class members 1 unexcused absence during the quarter. If that absence falls on a screening day, I will hold the class member responsible for seeing the film.


I intend to run the class sessions as a rresearch seminar. That means I will keep any lecturing I may do minimal. Instead of student presentations I expect class members to discuss the films and readings at length each week. If you do not understand a text, come prepared with specific questions. Everyone should come to every seminar session with notes from which to speak and be prepared for me to call on her or him to address the class with detailed thoughts or questions. Class participation will count for 40% of your grade and I will be evaluating your effort seriously. The ability of participate in seminar discussions is a central scholarly skill and vital to the creation of academic communities.


Written work:

Class members will hand in a 12-20 page publishable scholarly paper based on research (in other words, your bibliography will include and articles other than the ones I have assigned as well as those I have. The filmography might also include films not assigned for this class.) I will distribute a paper assignment in week 3. Class members should be thinking about and working on their paper from the first week of class. The specific topic is open, though Pasolini’s poems, novels, films essays, etc. must be central to your thesis. Class members must meet with me during my office hours or by appointment by Friday February 3. Failure to do so will result in a ½ grade penalty on you final evaluation. (If you would have gotten am B, you will get a B-, etc.)


Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for any reason.



Class participation (with 1 excused absence) including screenings and intervening in the seminar sessions: 40%

Final paper 60%

Failure to meet with me about your paper by February 3: ½ grade deducted from final grade.

Each unexcused absence after your first: ½ grade deducted from your final grade.


January 4

Accattone (1961)


January 9

Mamma Roma (1962)

“La ricotta” (segment of Ro.Go.Pa.G.) (1963)

Comizi d’amore (1964)


January 11



January 16

No class. MLK Holiday.



Il vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to St. Matthew) (1964)

Uccellacci e uccellini (The Hawks and the Sparrows) (1966)


January 23

Edipo re (Oedipus Rex) (1967)


January 25

Finish Rhodes Stupendous, Miserable City



January 30

Teorema (1968)

Appunti per un film sull’India (Notes For A Film On India) (1969)


February 1:



February 6

Porcile (Pigpen) (1969)

Medea (1969)


February 3

Last day to meet with me about your paper.


February 13

Appunti per un’Orestiade Africana (Notes Towards an African Oreste) (1970)

Il Decameron The Decameron (1971)


February 15

Finish Pasolini, Heretical Empiricism, except for “Repudiation of the Trilogy of Life.”




February 20

I racconti di Canterbury (The Canterbury Tales) (1972)


February 22





February 27

Il fiore delle mille e una note (Arabian Nights) (1974)


February 29



March 5

Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom) (1975)


March 7

Finish Pasolini, In Danger.

Finish “Repudiation of the Trilogy of Life” in Pasolini, Heretical Empiricism.



March 16

Final Paper Due via email to


Academic Dishonesty

The Ohio University Student Code of Conduct prohibits all forms

of academic dishonesty.  These include cheating, plagiarism and

forgery.  If a student engages in course-related academic

dishonesty, his or her grade on the work in question or in the course may

be lowered by the instructor.  Any student wishing to protest the

instructor’s action has recourse to the established grievance procedures,

starting at the department level.  (See the Student Handbook or

contact University Judiciaries for further information.)


Instructors may also report cases of academic dishonesty to the Director

of University Judiciaries for further action; however, by so doing, an

instructor does not in any way relinquish the right to assign a grade in

a course.  The student my appeal the grade through the

appeal-of-grade procedure of Section IV.C.3.  Any student

accused of academic dishonesty by University Judiciaries is entitled to

notice of charges being made against him or her and to a full

hearing.  If suspension or dismissal is recommended, the student is

further entitled to appeals procedures and will not be suspended or

dismissed from the University while appeals are in process.




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