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  • Porous Boundaries: Texts and Images in Twentieth-Century French Culture
  • Christophe Wall-Romana
Jérôme Game , ed. Porous Boundaries: Texts and Images in Twentieth-Century French Culture. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007. 164 pp.

In this collection, editor Jérôme Game (who is both a scholar and a poet) gathers an impressive array of thinkers aiming to reconsider "the text/images dialectic" (12) roughly in the postmodern period ("after Surrealism" 20), and within the specific purview of not privileging the linguistic pole as is too often the case. While this agenda is not new (as Game himself recalls, citing W. J. T. Mitchell and Marie-Claire Ropars, 10), the collection purports to develop specific "conceptual tools and methods" so as "to further the establishment of an interdisciplinary field of study" (20). The two approaches Game favors are "interpenetration (hybridization)" and "mutual destructuring (heterogenization)." Both are inspired by a proposed shift away from Barthesian textuality toward a Deleuzean matrix of virtuality and becoming in which writing is but one flux of intensity among others. Game's introduction illustrates these notions by analyzing a single long take in a film by Jean Eustache in which language and image deterritorialize each other. The demonstration is perhaps less convincing here than that which Game provided in an excellent essay for a recent collection on Denis Roche, L'Un écrit, l'autre photographie (ENS, 2007).

The first part of Porous Boundaries, focusing on heterogeneity, contains contributions by Hervé Castanet on Klossowski's Le Bain de Diane, by Jacques Rancière on Broodthaers' visual reworking of Mallarmé's Un Coup de dés, and by the late Marie-Claire Ropars on the mutual destructuring of writing and cinema, illustrated with the work of Duras. Although Rancière's essay reprises the central thesis of Le Partage du sensible on modernism's esthetic regime of the arts, it usefully complements his book on Mallarmé (Politique de la sirène), and can serve also as pendant to Rosalyn Krauss' A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition (1999) which takes Broodthaers' work to be enacting the self-differentiation of mediums. Ropars' essay segues with this problematic by limning out an alternative to the model of adaptation as "contamination and transfers" (63) among the arts. Invoking Adorno and Blanchot, she shows separate arts to be dialectically engaged with one another to the point of unraveling their presumed originary autonomy, particularly [End Page 109] in literature. Duras' Aurélia Steiner is Ropars' case study, as a work written in the "scarce reality of an imaginary vision" of a film (78), while a film Duras shot (India Song) appears to "unwrite" writing. Both works thus inhabit a heterogeneous in-between: writing haunted by film, film haunted by writing.

In the second part on hybridization, Raymond Bellour comments on Jean-Louis Boissier's DVD Moments de Rousseau, a compilation of instances of the word "moment" in Rousseau's oeuvre mixed with footage by Boissier. For Bellour, Boissier's DVD picks up on Rousseau's visual attention to staging representation, while constructing a hypertextual and interactive promenade that re-montages his books into original film-like works that echo the history of cinema from Méliès to Bresson and Marker. Nathalie Wourm's illuminating essay addresses recent French poetry's turn to digital media, in particular Pierre Alferi's Cinépoèmes & films parlants (2003) that remix movie footage and create moving-word poems on screen, and Anne-James Chaton's more straightforward videos with superimposed words, Autoportraits (2003). Wourm also examines several works from the website Poézie 2000. For Wourm, such works alter poetry's centeredness on linguistic operations (she indicates their overt anti-Jakobsonian poetics, 118) but also on the conceit of consubstantiality with a single person, since most of these works involve technical collaborators. Jean-Marie Gleize's essay (in the third part devoted to "Meta-Narratives of the Textimage,") dovetails nicely with Wourm's contribution, since Gleize explicates some of the processes at play in his "post-poetry" (152). Post-poetry is the undoing of poetry's reliance on prosodic phenomena and on the poem as artifact...


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