‘Ozu and Signs: Deleuze after Nietzsche’

Deleuze & Guattari Studies Conference – From Sense to Machinic Becoming 2019
‘The Deleuze-Ozu Encounter’: special panel with screening of Ozu’s Late Spring (1949)
Royal Holloway, University of London, 8-10 July 2019

Host: Thomas Waterton (Royal Holloway)
With Laurence Kent (King’s College London), Niall Kennedy (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland), Joff P.N. Bradley (Tekiyo University, Japan), Stéphane Symons (KU Leuven), and Tyler Parks (St. Andrews)

Empty chair. Ancient tree. Magazines slip from atop a pile of books. Nori and her father’s assistant on pushbikes. Numb legs. Father points, ‘sea’, ‘shrine’, ‘city’; a ‘labyrinth’ laughs Uncle. The vase. A betrothed. Lies. Peeling an apple. These images – shots, sequences, absences – come from Ozu’s Late Spring (1949). For Deleuze, each is a sign, an assemblage of signs in a series of signs, a sign enfolding or enfolded by signs, composing the sign of the film, which is one of many signs within Ozu’s cinema. What is a sign?

In his Cinema books (1983/1985), Deleuze educes a panoply of signs (a cineosis) to explore the question. ‘What led me to start writing on film was that I had been wrestling with a problem of signs for some time’ (TRM: 219). In Proust and Signs (1964), Deleuze writes: signs are ‘force: impressions that forces us to look, encounters that forces us to interpret, expressions that forces us to think’; yet ‘in opposition to logos’, knowledge, logic, order (61;71). I will argue that Deleuze’s perspective on signs is above all Nietzschean. Nietzsche writes in and of a ‘style’ that creates a ‘mosaic’ of ‘signs’, creating a ‘force’ which ‘flows out… achieving a maximal semiotic energy’ (TI, ‘Ancients’: 1).

Ozu is central to Deleuze’s Cinema books, a director who ungrounds temporal, spatial, and human co-ordinates creating maximal cineotic energy. And for Nietzsche, such forces affirm ‘multiplicity’, ‘change’, and ‘becoming’ (TI, ‘Reason’: 1). These are the three essential signs of Ozu’s Late Spring.

Conference website | No transcript available as yet