Beyond good and evil: whe will to jouissance in cult and avant-garde cinema

Lockwood, Dean and Wilczek, Emily (2008) Beyond good and evil: whe will to jouissance in cult and avant-garde cinema. In: Cine-Excess II: The 2nd Annual International Film festival and Conference on Global Cult Film Traditions, 1-3 May 2008, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and University of Brunel.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive

Abstract

Film and video artists toying with cult status have self-consciously identified with the notion of transgression. In a manifesto of sorts, ‘Theory of Xenomorphosis’, Nick Zedd, argues for the collision in cinema of ‘diametrically opposing variables; i.e. libido excitation versus mutilation revulsion’ which heroically and subversively fosters a dissonant experience of jouissance or ‘self-abandonment’ in its audience. This, Zedd says, is akin to Nietzsche’s ‘beyond good and evil’ and the formulation is also redolent of Steven Shaviro’s Bataillean-Deleuzian variety of film theory in The Cinematic Body (1993), which claims that, above all, film should be ‘praised as a technology for intensifying and renewing experiences of passivity and abjection’. The problem, we suggest, is that these supposedly xenomorphic films are all too often safely play to an audience of the converted. As Barthes pointed out, heroic jouissance is prone to recuperation (‘…love me, keep me, defend me, since I conform to the theory you call for; do I not do what Artaud, Cage, etc., have done?’). Barthes proposed a sort of ‘transgression of transgression’ which would steer jouissance away from the violence of heroic countercultural avant-gardism. Jouissance is not simply to be aligned with the violence of an assault on culture, but rather with the space between avant-garde and mainstream. This, potentially, is the space of a ‘minoritarian’ (Deleuze and Guattari) anti-heroic cult cinema which sets out to cross-fertilize mainstream linearity with avant-garde techniques of estrangement.

Additional Information:Film and video artists toying with cult status have self-consciously identified with the notion of transgression. In a manifesto of sorts, ‘Theory of Xenomorphosis’, Nick Zedd, argues for the collision in cinema of ‘diametrically opposing variables; i.e. libido excitation versus mutilation revulsion’ which heroically and subversively fosters a dissonant experience of jouissance or ‘self-abandonment’ in its audience. This, Zedd says, is akin to Nietzsche’s ‘beyond good and evil’ and the formulation is also redolent of Steven Shaviro’s Bataillean-Deleuzian variety of film theory in The Cinematic Body (1993), which claims that, above all, film should be ‘praised as a technology for intensifying and renewing experiences of passivity and abjection’. The problem, we suggest, is that these supposedly xenomorphic films are all too often safely play to an audience of the converted. As Barthes pointed out, heroic jouissance is prone to recuperation (‘…love me, keep me, defend me, since I conform to the theory you call for; do I not do what Artaud, Cage, etc., have done?’). Barthes proposed a sort of ‘transgression of transgression’ which would steer jouissance away from the violence of heroic countercultural avant-gardism. Jouissance is not simply to be aligned with the violence of an assault on culture, but rather with the space between avant-garde and mainstream. This, potentially, is the space of a ‘minoritarian’ (Deleuze and Guattari) anti-heroic cult cinema which sets out to cross-fertilize mainstream linearity with avant-garde techniques of estrangement.
Keywords:film and video, cinema of transgression, jouissance, avant-gardism, Deleuze and Guattari, minoritarian
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
ID Code:7892
Deposited On:08 Mar 2013 22:27

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