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Reviewed by:
  • Jolted Images (Unbound Analytic) by Pavle Levi
  • Alex Brannan
Levi, Pavle. Jolted Images (Unbound Analytic). Amsterdam University Press, 2018. 213 pages.

The cover of Pavle Levi’s Jolted Images (Unbound Analytic) displays a panel from the comic “Survival” (Spunk no. 1, 1979). A man, his chest exposed to reveal an electrical socket imbedded in his left breast, lifts a cord that is dangling in front of him. He plugs the cord into his chest socket, and his eyes illuminate. His sense of sight becomes both a receiver and a projector of light. For Levi, the panel is a representation of the “syntotics of the future” (16)—syntotics being a therapeutic procedure utilizing colored lights to alleviate a variety of mental and physical ailments (13). Levi’s personal experience with syntotics as a child was, in a sense, his initiation into the space of cinematic exhibition. The “syntotics of the future,” he says, is an “adjust[ing] of the physiological basis of sight … that will enable the gaze to directly, immediately, affect its environment” (16). In this way, the cover image encapsulates the “jolted image” to which Levi refers. “Jolted image” is a term coined by Serbian filmmaker Dušan Makavejev. To jolt an image is to make the spectator an active participant in a world not of their creation; they become lucid dreamers in the space of the art they are spectating (23). Jolted Images provides exposure to a variety of these jolted images, and in doing so casts a wide net over different artists, media, scholastic approaches, and national identities. This wide net divides the book into a series of disparate essays—Levi refers to them as “brisk and lively critical-theoretical reflections” (20)—which grapple with the effects of “jolting” art while also attempting to create jolted images of their own.

Levi moves elusively through the works of several artists. He begins with Roman Polanski, of whom Levi once dreamed. In his dream state, Levi is convinced he has learned the “secret” to Polanski’s art, a secret that takes Levi much longer to discover in his waking life. This oneiric battle between wakefulness and dream states as it relates to artistic interpretation is to be Levi’s driving motif. He goes on to observe the encapsulation of Ingmar Bergman’s oneiric sequences as collaged by Makavejev; Miodrag Milošević’s re-framing of Bernardo Bertolucci Last Tango in Paris; and the “objective chance” intersections in the works of poet Vujica Rešin Tucić, artist Michael Snow, and filmmaker Slobodan Šijan. Levi’s chapters take on an oneiric form of their own, and this form manifests itself in one of two ways. In the first, the chapter will, as dreams often do, end abruptly without the usual conclusionary statement. “In lieu of a conclusion” at the end of the chapter on Milošević’s Last Tango in Paris, Levi presents a series of images that attempts to reconstruct Last Tango in Paris using both Bertolucci’s original and Milošević’s grainy alterations— Levi calls it a “cardiogram” (53). The conclusion of a later chapter states, against an otherwise blank page, “[s]o, can we orgasm” (71), indicating a relationship between the human body and the mechanical act of montage, between reality and cinema. The second form sees Levi’s printed thoughts taking on a visual quality not common to the literary form. Occasionally, Levi will interrupt the flow of words with “cuts” as they would be written into a shooting script, or he will insert parenthetical phrases and images in blue type. One chapter concludes with an emphatic image of the words “FADE OUT” followed by an erratic series of inter-connecting lines (109). Another presents the claim that



Through these two oneiric forms of expression, which bend normative conceptions of both academic and literary writing, it seems Levi is using his analysis of jolted images in order to create jolted images of his own.

In one sense, the dream logic that guides Levi’s jolted images, by leaving lines of analysis unresolved, creates a barrier between the reader and the works of art Levi...


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pp. 90-91
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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