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The Subsumption of Everyday Labor: A Tiqqun / Harry Braverman Cut Up

I found myself in a slightly curved street, in the city outskirts where I live. And something was there, strangely, instead of something else that wouldn’t have caught my memories — this thing that shouldn’t have been there. There was a large window above an immaculately shined, far-too-new placard, affixed to the wall; on that placard, in rigid letters, the word “BAKERY” was written. Through the window you could see a few display shelves resembled those that are often used to display pastries or some sickening cake or another, display shelves doubtless placed there to perfect its confusion with familiar places; but I wasn’t duped. I was all the less fooled since their enthusiasm had gone beyond the believable. There, planted behind those phantom display shelves, perfectly immobile, standing in a expectant position, was the baker! The baker… in her white apron.

“Ms., We know full well, don’t we, that all this is nothing but an absurd practical joke. Continuous mixing, reduction of brew fermentation time, dough which is metered, extruded, divided and panned to the accuracy of a centegram in the pound, conveyorized baking an automatic depanning, and cooling long ago replaced the baker with engineers on the one hand and  factory operatives on the other. You’re not really a baker, this isn’t a bakery, and how absurd it would be for me to play the customer. The speed with which the operation is conducted is a marvel of efficiency, and apart from its effects on the worker, if it were not necessary for people to consume the “product,” the whole thing would be considered a resounding success. The age of playing commodity has passed; let’s speak frankly and forget all this frightful decor, which fools no one… I don’t know how you found yourself in this strange situation – so tell me, what’s all this about?”

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.