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  • The Clamor of the VisibleAn Introduction
  • Emily O’Rourke (bio)

There is no link that could move from the visible to the statement, or from the statement to the visible. But there is a continual relinking, which takes place over the irrational break or crack.

Gilles Deleuze, Foucault

It is in vain that we say what we see; what we see never resides in what we say.

Michel Foucault, The Order of Things

The following dossier comprises five essays.1 A cursory glance at the essays and titles collected herein might suggest that the matter on which the dossier informs is that of the cinematic image from the 1960s forward. Four of the five essays offer extended analyses of cinematic images of a particular contemporary filmmaker: Rei Terada on repletion and totality in Masao Adachi’s landscape films, Damon R. Young on Catherine Breillat’s “vaginal vision,” Eugenie Brinkema on the violence of the diagram and Tom Six’s The Human Centipede series, and Martin Crowley on the time-image and the void in two of Marguerite Duras’s films from the 1970s. The fifth, a short essay by Georges Didi-Huberman translated by Jordan Lev Greenwald, theorizes the medium of the revolutionary tract or leaflet (papillon) and [End Page 1] takes its bearings to trace the flight of the papillons in two cinematic images from Mikhail Kalatozov’s Soy Cuba (1964). To consider these images and these writings in a contemporary historical constellation that converges on the present would be, and is, one viable way to group the commentaries; moreover, doing so might help to make sense of the essays’ unexpected resonances.

However, to say that this dossier is “about” the cinematic image and the contemporary historical moment would not be quite right. Rather, it is better to say that the statements of Terada, Young, Brinkema, Crowley, and Didi-Huberman are occasioned by the cinematic images of Adachi, Breillat, Six, Duras, and Kalatozov. What appears in image in the latter gives rise to sentence-statements in the former. In turn, what is articulated in the written sentences on the page invades, disturbs, and infiltrates the film images cited, stilled, and displayed. Moreover, the force of insight in each essay depends upon the shuttle between text and image—both moving and still. (I suspect many readers will want more than the stills captured and reproduced here when they begin to read and will search for clips, desiring to see Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bosè posed on a couch, staring indifferently at Gérard Depardieu as he pitches the sale of a washing machine in Duras’s Nathalie Granger, or to understand how the camera tracks the landscapes of Japan in Adachi’s A.K.A. Serial Killer—to know not only how these images are framed but how they are edited, at what speeds, distances, and juxtapositions, to hear when and where a voice or a saxophone plays over the images.) Indeed, the shuttle between text and image—the circuit that is charted in the move between the graphic and the plastic, between the articulable and the visible by the reader and writer alike—is what is being in-formed, what is being instructed to take shape and impressed in/on the mind/body herein. As such, each essay takes part in what Gilles Deleuze calls the “continual relinking” of the irreducible orders of the visible and the articulable.

To explain what I mean, allow me to linger with the Deleuze epigraph for a moment. “There is no link [enchaînement],” Deleuze writes in Foucault, “that could move from the visible to the statement, or from the statement to the visible.”2 Deleuze is making an epistemic claim here—one that he locates in Foucault’s thought to bring to bear on his own. It is a claim of division: there are two “strata” [End Page 2] or orders of knowing, the visible and the articulable, and they are irreducible to one another. What can appear in a field of vision and what can be said in any given place and time are subject to different rules. Deleuze goes on to evolve and contradict the apparent finality of this...


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