November 25th, 2010

The Absent One

The process of reading a film goes in stages, the first of which is a moment of sheer jubilation in the image. . . a moment, as it were, untroubled by screen and frame, prior to the articulation of cinema. Awareness of the frame then breaks this initial relation, the image now seen in its limits; the space which, just before, was the pure extent of the spectator's pleasure becomes a problem of representation, of being-there-for -- there for an absent field, outside of the image ('the fourth wall'), for the phantom character that the spectator's imagination poses in response to the problem: 'the Absent One'.

A Deathly Hallow

Crucially, what this realization of absence from the image at once achieves is the definition of the image as discontinuous, its production as signifier: the move from cinema to cinematic, cinema as discourse: 'The revelation of this absence is the key-moment in the fate of the image, since it introduces the image into the order of the signifier and cinema into the order of discourse.' What then operates, classically, is the effacement (or filling in) of the absence, the suturing of the discourse -- its movement as in a continuity of articulation -- by the reappropriation of the absence within the film, a character in the film coming to take the place of the Absent One posed by the spectator; suture as 'the abolition of the Absent One and its resurrection in some one': 'the pure field of absence becomes the imaginary field of the film and the field of its imaginary'.