‘Ichikawa’s An Actor’s Revenge: subjectivity or assemblage?’

The Third International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities – The Humanities in a ‘Knowledge Society’ (2005).
Panel presentation.
Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, 2-5 August 2005.

In his second book on the cinema, Deleuze concentrates upon exploring modernist film. He does this by dividing modernist cinema into a number of experiences: ‘crystals of time’; ‘sheets of the past / peaks of the present’; ‘powers of the false’ … amongst others. Each of these experiences is further divided into specific (though not exhaustive) figures, which characterise the visual and auditory work of certain authors of the cinema. This taxonomy, far from being over-determined, is constructed in order to confront other critical and theoretical approaches to film.

Of these, one of the most fascinating is the ‘mirror-image’, one of the figures of the crystals of time. Though not explicitly stated, with the mirror-image Deleuze is confronting the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan, confronting the Lacanian concepts of the imaginary and the real with his own concepts of the actual and the virtual. Taking Ichikawa Kon’s 1963 film An Actor’s Revenge (referred to very briefly by Deleuze) I will confront the Lacanian subject with the Deleuzian assemblage, bodies which think. And, if Foucault was right and the 21st century belongs to Deleuze, which of these readings of Ichikawa’s film is more productive for cinema? And which more productive for the humanities in general?

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