Monday, November 27, 2017
Slavoj Žižek on the univocity undergirding Soviet cinema.
Which, then, is the dimension of Heidegger’s thought that is worth fighting for and preserving? Perhaps the best way to discern this dimension is to render problematic the notion of the “univocity of being” whose main proponent in our times was Deleuze. The assertion of the univocity of being can play a positive role in enabling us to dismiss all notions of ontological hierarchy, from the theological vision of the universe as a hierarchical Whole, with God as the only full Being at the top, up to the vulgar Marxist hierarchy of social spheres (economic infrastructure as the only full reality, ideology as somehow “less real,” part of an illusory superstructure). Along the same lines, one could interpret Dziga Vertov’s (Eisenstein’s great opponent) Man with a Movie Camera as an exemplary case of cinematic communism: the affirmation of life in its multiplicity enacted through a kind of cinematic parataxis, a setting side by side of a series of daily activities—washing one’s hair, wrapping packages, playing piano, connecting phone wires, dancing ballet—that reverberate in each other at a purely formal level, through the echoing of visual and other patterns. What makes this cinematic practice communist is the underlying assertion of the radical “univocity of being”: all the displayed phenomena are equalized, all the usual hierarchies and oppositions among them, inclusive of the official communist opposition between the Old and the New, are magically suspended (recall that the alternate title of Eisenstein’s The General Line, shot at the same time, was precisely The Old and the New). Communism is here presented not so much as the hard struggle for a goal (the new society to come), with all the pragmatic paradoxes this involves (the struggle for the new society of universal freedom should obey the harshest discipline, etc.), but as a fact, a present collective experience.
From Heidegger's Black Notebooks.
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