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詹明信:马克思和蒙太奇(中英文)

詹明信:马克思和蒙太奇(中英文)

来自古典意识形态的新闻:马克思-爱森斯坦-资本论

New Left Review 58 July Aug 2009; 译文来自mtime,人文與社會略校
看到克鲁格的新作品总是好的,假如你知道他为你准备了什么。克鲁格的最新电影作品--《来自古典意识形态的新闻》,时长约9个小时,分成三个部分:1、同一个屋里的马克思和爱森斯坦;2、被蛊惑的人民;3、社会交换的悖论。
标题

[方括號]內為人文與社會校改文字

看到克鲁格的新作品总是好的,假如你知道他为你准备了什么。克鲁格的最新电影作品--《来自古典意识形态的新闻》,时长约9个小时,分成三个部分:1、同一个屋里的马克思和爱森斯坦;2、被蛊惑的人民;3、社会交换的悖论。有舆论说,克鲁格实现了爱森斯坦在1927-1928年的计划:把马克思的《资本论》搬上银幕。然而,实际上克鲁格只用了第一部分来处理这个诱人的主题。这种舆论被那些相信爱森斯坦真的为拍摄《资本论》写了草稿的人广为传播。实际上,爱森斯坦花了半年时间为此只写了约20页的笔记而已。他们还知道,几乎在同一时期,爱森斯坦还痴迷于乔伊斯的《尤利西斯》并"计划"拍摄一部基于小说的电影,这一事实也扭曲着他们关于《资本论》电影的想象。如果爱森斯坦的笔记真的是以这样的方式被拍成"真正"的--当然是虚构或叙事性的--电影,那么真应该警告观众:克鲁格的"真正"电影看起来确实更像爱森斯坦的笔记。

很多重要的知识分子已经--也许可以说是,死后--赞同了马克思主义:伴随着大量世界性危机的显现,人们想起了德里达的《马克思的幽灵》、德勒兹[未完成]的《马克思[之偉大]》("现在我们都是社会主义者"等等)。克鲁格的新电影是同类思想的重复吗?他仍旧是一个马克思主义者吗?他曾经是吗?或者,如今"成为一个马克思主义者"意味着什么?听说在左派政党学生组织的支持下德国冒出了数以百计的资本论阅读小组,盎格鲁-撒克逊读者可能会好奇:如今德国人究竟是如何对待他们的民族经典的呢?在[隨影片發行的文章]中,克鲁格说:"发生一场欧洲革命的可能似乎已经消失,随之[一起消失的]是这样的信念:历史进程能被我们的意识直接塑造。"克鲁格相信集体教育,相信通过积极因素能重新主导消极的学习过程,相信通过"感受"(他的一个重要的技术术语)的重构能实现所谓的经验重生。这一点不仅体现在他对自己的电影和故事的直接评论阐释中,也反映在他的大部头理论著作中,比如他和奥斯卡·内格特合写的《历史与固执》。

他的所有著作都基于历史;只有很少的几个国家像德国一样经历过如此多样的历史。巴尔扎克的小说是不可出现的,如果没有法国所遭遇的如此多样的历史经验:从革命到世界帝国,从被占领到经济重建,更不用说战争暴行带来的无法形容的痛苦和失败。克鲁格的故事、轶事或社会新闻记录了几千页,他占有的历史原材料达到了可与巴尔扎克相提并论的规模。

但历史是那种挖出来但还需要重新埋好的东西:就像克鲁格在《等待审核》中塑造女主人公迦比,她拿着锹疯狂地挖掘着,在遗骨和陶瓷碎片中寻找着关于过去的线索。这未必是徒劳的:在另一部电影中,一位德国士兵的膝盖骨见证并"述说"一些有价值的战争故事。当然,《来自古典意识形态的新闻》有他自己的滑稽天真的段落:一对演员对着彼此大声朗读着马克思的令人费解的散文,一位教师向一个固执的小学生解释着"流动性",甚至在一个类似羊人剧的场景中,(相当乏味的)喜剧演员赫尔基·施楚奈德依靠着假发、假胡子和其他的马戏团道具,扮演了多个源于马克思著作的角色。就像克鲁格告诉我们的:"为了创造出一种紊乱,好让我们的认识和情绪以新的方式重新联系起来,我们必须让梯尔·欧伦施皮格尔 同时穿越马克思和爱森斯坦。"

与此同时,不那么诙谐的是,我们还看到了有时略显冗长的一系列意见领袖的采访:恩岑斯贝格,斯劳特戴克,迪特马·达特,内格特和其他权威。当然,他们也遭遇了典型的克鲁格式采访,充满提示、引导性问题、对自己的思考的交叉验证。我们看到了沃纳·施罗特表演的奇特一幕:瓦格纳的《特里斯坦与伊索尔德》通过《战舰波将金》中的桥上之战被再现("特里斯坦以波将金的精神再生了")。此外,还有来自路易·吉诺诺和马克斯·布兰德的歌剧作品的摘引,更不用说其他经典了。我们还看到了汤姆·蒂克威用拟人物体拍摄的短片,和刺杀罗莎·卢森堡,相对轻松一点的马克思和威廉·李卜克内西的一夜剪辑在一块。很多电影片段和剧照被穿插,它们多数来自默片;此外,引自马克思和爱森斯坦的文本的大量戏剧化文字被运用,它们清楚地显示:如果配以大胆的用色和编排,默片时代的转场文字完全能重新焕发活力。这就是克鲁格自己对爱森斯坦的"杂耍蒙太奇"的理解(电影界可能称之为"情绪蒙太奇")。不习惯这种实践的观众会觉得这不过是一种难以置信的大杂烩。但他们最终能学会适应、驾驭这个巨大的考古发掘现场:那里还不是一个成熟的、组织专业的博物馆,这是一场巨大的挖掘,涉及各种各样的人,有业余者,也有专家,都沉浸在各自的行为状态中,有人在做鬼脸,有人在吃三明治,有人为弄干净一小块文物而全身躺在地上,还有人在帐篷里分门别类地清理杂物--如果不是在打盹或训斥新手的话,走路必须蹑手蹑脚以免踩到古迹。这是我们第一次触及古典意识形态。

爱森斯坦的版本

在这些可辨认的笔记片段中,"卡尔·马克思关于歌剧的新作","电影论文"无疑被视为爱森斯坦在拍完《十月》之后的下一部作品,也就是传说中的《资本论》。爱森斯坦的笔记一如既往地深入反思了自己的实践、过去和未来;笔记把他的作品描述为一种形式的进化,就像科学实验中取得的进步。其中没有一点要掩饰这种自我陶醉的意思--这大概正是他的很多文字中热衷说教的激情之源。当然,我们不必接受他对职业生涯的这种自我评定,何况这种评价在他的一生中也充满了巨大的变化。

比如,他以抽象的方式看待自己的工作:从《战舰波将金》经过《十月》再到《资本论》,他就视这个过程为抽象的逐步征服。(我们更希望他这样描述:这是一个从具体到包含抽象的逐步扩大的征服过程,但不包括头脑)于是,我们必然地从《战舰波将金》中的醒狮过渡到了《十月》中名为"论神性"的影像系列。这一影像系列被视为水平叙事中插入的散文类垂直干扰物,这也是为什么爱森斯坦和乔伊斯的讨论在此是不相干的。

评论者们--不只是克鲁格--总是盯着"一个人一生中的一天"这段笔记,把它视为爱森斯坦确实设想过乔伊斯的"布鲁姆日"之类情节的证据。此后,他们注意到了导演增加另一条"情节线"--关于社会再生产和"一位德国工人妻子的'家妻美德'",其中两点是醒目的:妻子为回家的丈夫煮汤的场景贯穿了整个段落;原先没有特指的"人"在此合理地成为了一名工人。通过这种交叉剪辑,也许有人想到增加的会是一个资本家或商人的生活中的一天。这种交叉剪辑在当时还被另外一个人思考着,他就是拍了《持摄像机的人》的导演吉加·维尔托夫。

爱森斯坦确实在笔记中写道:"乔伊斯对我而言或许是有用的。"但接下来却完全不同于"一生中的一天"这类模式。爱森斯坦写道:"从汤碗到英格兰附近的船只沉没"。我们或许忘了在《尤利西斯》中其实存在着一些不同于放大生活细节之类风格的章节。但爱森斯坦没有忽视,他写道:"在乔伊斯的《尤利西斯》中有此类特殊章节,以一种经院问答的形式写成,有人提出问题然后给出答案。"但在他说"此类"时,他究竟指什么呢?

显然,克鲁格是知道答案的。在他的电影中,汤锅变成了水壶,壶里的水沸腾着、咆哮着。这个意象在电影中多次出现(爱森斯坦的笔记内容被投射在转场文字说明中),通过这种方式原本简单的事物被"抽象"成关于能量的象征。开水剧烈地翻腾着,仿佛焦急地等待着自己上场发挥能量,这或者是关于号召工作或罢工的响亮信号,或者象征着整个工厂的发动机、生产未来的机器......而这正是默片电影语言的本质:通过强调和重复,把拍摄对象变成超越生活的象征;这是一个要依靠特写来实现的过程。这也是乔伊斯在问答章节所做的;《尤利西斯》的第一个伟大肯定--第一个洪亮的"是"就在于此,而不是出现在最后一章莫利的掺杂着很多"是"的独白中。这是水从水库流进都柏林并最终从布鲁姆家的水龙头中流出的那种原始力量。(在《总路线》中,爱森斯坦类似地运用了奶油分离机这个意象。)

德国工人的妻子

现在我们必须要弄清楚爱森斯坦到底想的是什么:他提出的是一种马克思主义版本的弗洛伊德式的自由联想--这种隐秘的关系链能带领我们从日常生活和经验的表层进入生产的根源。在弗洛伊德那里,这就是深入存在论深渊的垂直跳跃,他称之为"梦之脐带";它打破常规的水平叙事,推出具有冲击力的联想集群。在这一点上爱森斯坦的笔记是这样说的:

妻子为回家的丈夫煮汤的场景贯穿了整个段落。两个主题通过交叉剪辑连成一体:煮汤的妻子和回家的丈夫。这极其天真(作为初步假设的第一阶段没问题):在第三部分(比如),联想运动从她用来调味的胡椒粉开始,胡椒粉,辣椒,恶魔岛,德莱弗斯,法国沙文主义,克虏伯手中的费加罗,战争,港口沉没的船只。(当然,数量上不必如此)重要的是这种超常的转换:胡椒粉-德莱弗斯-费加罗。沉没的英国船只(根据库什纳的《海外103天》)的场面用平底锅盖的意象来剪接,效果会非常好。转换的起点甚至可以不是胡椒粉,而是煤油炉,然后转换到油。

爱森斯坦想做的正是布莱希特在《库勒·旺贝》中通过咖啡馆争论所尝试的:从可见的表面症状追溯到不可见的(或不可整体化的)原因。但由于我们往往关注人物之间的争论,剧作家的目的因而被忽视或扭曲。而爱森斯坦试图做的--无论多么粗浅("极其天真",只是草稿第一稿而已)--是通过意象蒙太奇让这个复杂的层次能为观众所注意。(更好的相互参照是,本雅明在《巴黎拱廊街》中对注释的运用,以及庞德诗中的表意文字--它们都试图同步再现当时的历史境况。)在爱森斯坦对所谓"散文电影"的理论化描述中,他把"去-轶事化"作为这个过程的核心,并在"'泛音'原理"中发现了相似之处--一年后他在文章《电影第四维》中引申了这一发现:他提出了"生理刺激"的概念,以试图取代被广为接受的俄国形式主义理论家提出的"知觉更新"及美学上的"陌生化"理论。其中不仅存在着电影(蒙太奇)的历时性和因果联系或联想的共时性之间的冲突,而且还存在着感情和认知之间的紧张关系。对此,爱森斯坦在关于《总路线》的文章中写道:

蒙太奇并没有自身特别的优势,它只是关注所有的不同刺激在整体上的效果。在电影镜头中个别的影像刺激之间相互冲撞与联合,从中才能产生蒙太奇自身复杂特性。

"泛音"理论不仅突出纯粹感受的身体属性--"德彪西和斯克里亚宾的生理属性"--而且,通过类似于"第五音"和"对位法"之类的技术音乐手段,并配以"视觉的"泛音和低音,实现整个"第四维"的复杂效果--这也受到了当代行为影响理论的有力激励。"视觉持留"的古老神话--在被一个新的知觉覆盖并取代之前,前一个影像会在视网膜上持留,这和音乐上的持续低音是类似的--似乎意味着:电影的历时性与个别的影像内容构成一个整体是可能的。但这依旧没有解决电影高度发达的情绪影响模式和要表达的复杂的认知内容之间的紧张关系--这些内容包括马克思主义者所关注的日常生活和经验的现象表层之下起到暗中支配作用的生产、分配和消费,就像马克思在《资本论》中所描述的。说教艺术的老问题在此并没有解决,除非我们认为对资本主义的认识止于愤怒(《战舰波将金》)就行了,对社会主义的构建止于崇高的喜悦就行了,就像《总路线》中奶油分离机的超验视野。

克鲁格并不打算重复胡椒粉那串联想;但他运用了爱森斯坦的另一个主题:

布满窟窿的女子长袜和报刊广告上的丝绸长袜。镜头开始晃悠着移动,出现50双腿--滑稽剧、丝绸、艺术。为了丝袜的尺寸而战。美学家支持,但主教们和道德反对。

但是,克鲁格对此类多维度的社会客体的展示是相当装饰性的--他也许包含了克拉考尔的巴斯比·柏克莱式的"大众装饰"--也就很难实现爱森斯坦最终看重的复杂的多重寓意:

在这个层面上,你能看到:
一双丝袜--艺术。
一双丝袜--道德。
一双丝袜--贸易和竞争。
一双丝袜--印度妇女为了孵化蚕茧不得不把它们放在腋窝里。

最后一个细节把我们带回到了轶事的层面,但它在新的"散文电影"的语言中已经被中性化了:但它无疑能给"垂直蒙太奇"带来辛辣之味,就像恶魔岛和德莱弗斯带给胡椒粉的那个蒙太奇系列的效果。实际上,爱森斯坦的笔记中充满了轶事的细节,"可信可不信"的社会新闻,这些却带我们深入资本的核心。我喜欢这一段:"西方某地。一个也许是生产零件和工具的工厂。工人没有被搜身,取而代之的是,出口的大门居然是一个磁铁做成的检查点。"也许卓别林会喜欢这种场景:螺钉和螺母,锤子和扳手纷纷从工作的口袋中飞奔而出。

古典

选择性亲和:克鲁格自己的工作也是相当轶事性的,叙事的出其不意,在看似平庸的事件核心处安置一个意外的亮点,在处理宏大理念时处处透露对非协调性的偏爱。德勒兹的生动公式--"刮干净脸的马克思,满脸胡子的黑格尔"--对克鲁格而言肯定不陌生,他孜孜不倦地尝试以自己的概念重组陈腐的遗产:经验的未来重构,定向影响和知识的重新组合。

每一个未来都会要求构建一个适合自己的过去。所谓"古典意识形态"难道不只是简单地宣称马克思及其马克思主义已经过时了吗?我们之所以会这样认为,或许是因为克鲁格这部电影中的一个喜剧桥段:在历史上的多个重要时刻都出现了一对年轻夫妇像背诵可兰经一样用马克思的理论折磨彼此。爱森斯坦和他的那套老掉牙的通俗剧、默片和蒙太奇,其实无所谓过时。列宁和换场文字同样如此。它们相对于数字化的后现代性有的只是表面的沉闷......

你也许还模糊地记得马克思本人对古典的感受:普罗米修斯和亚里斯多德的德性理论,伊壁鸠鲁和黑格尔对荷马的思考。在此要插一个批判大纲1857年草稿提出的问题:"困难并不在于认识到希腊艺术和史诗总是受到社会发展的特定形式的限制,困难在于理解它们为何至今仍给我们以审美享受,以及在某些方面至今仍被视为标准的和难以企及的模范。"马克思绝不是怀旧,他当然明白城邦只是一种有限的也充满矛盾的社会形式,我们不可能回归这种社会;将来的社会主义形态也必将比资本主义更加复杂,就像雷蒙德·威廉姆斯曾觉察到的那样。

古典这个概念也许有这样的功能:把我们置于和马克思主义传统和马克思本人的某种新的关系之中,也包括和爱森斯坦的新关系。马克思既不是现实的也不是过时的:他是经典的,整个马克思主义和共产主义传统(和雅典黄金时代持续时间差不多)确实是欧洲左派的黄金时代。我们需要反复回归这一传统,带着最令人困惑和沉迷、最具生产性和矛盾的既有成就。但是,如果我们刻意美化那个发生了诸如斯大林清洗和无数农民饿死事件的时代,这是令人厌恶的。我们应该注意到,希腊始终是有序,尽管它的历史充满血腥--麦加拉的永恒之耻,更不用说奴隶社会的惨绝人寰了。希腊是斯巴达也是雅典,是西西里也是马拉松;苏联在另一方面也敲响了纳粹的丧钟,发射了第一颗人造卫星,同样中华人民共和国唤醒了无数新的历史主体。古典范畴也许还不是那个最低限度的生产性框架,全球左派能在其中为自己重造一个充满活力的过去。


zerone 译于2010.5

 

MARX AND MONTAGE

It is always good to have a new Kluge, provided you know what lies in store for you. His latest film, News from Ideological Antiquity-some nine hours long-is divided into three parts: I. Marx and Eisenstein in the Same House; II. All Things are Bewitched People; III. Paradoxes of Exchange Society. [1] Rumour has it that Kluge has here filmed Eisenstein's 1927-28 project for a film version of Marx's Capital, whereas in fact only Kluge's first part deals with this tantalizing matter. The rumour has been spread by the same people who believe Eisenstein actually wrote a sketch for a film on Capital, whereas he only jotted down some twenty pages of notes over a half-year period. [2] And at least some of these people know that he was enthusiastic about Joyce'sUlysses during much the same time and 'planned' a film on it, a fact that distorts their fantasies about the Capital project as well. Yet if Eisenstein's notes for film projects all looked like this until some of them were turned into 'real'-that is to say, fiction or narrative-films, it is only fair to warn viewers that Kluge's 'real' films look more like Eisenstein's notes.

Many important intellectuals have-as it were, posthumously-endorsed Marxism: one thinks of Derrida's Spectres of Marx and of Deleuze's unrealized Grandeur de Marx, along with any number of more contemporary witnesses to the world crisis ('we are all socialists now', etc.). Is Kluge's new film a recommitment of that kind? Is he still a Marxist? Was he ever one? And what would 'being a Marxist' mean today? The Anglo-American reader may even wonder how the Germans in general now relate to their great national classic, with rumours of hundreds of Capital reading groups springing up under the auspices of the student wing of the Linkspartei. Kluge says this in the accompanying printed matter: 'The possibility of a European revolution seems to have vanished; and along with it the belief in a historical process that can be directly shaped by human consciousness'. [3] That Kluge believes in collective pedagogy, however, and in the reappropriation of negative learning processes by positive ones, in what one might call a reorientation of experience by way of a reconstruction of 'feelings' (a key or technical term for him): this is evident not only in his interpretive comments on his various films and stories, but also in such massive theoretical volumes as his Geschichte und Eigensinn-History and Obstinacy-written in collaboration with Oskar Negt.

All of these works bear on history; and of few countries can one say that they have lived so much varied history as Germany. Balzac's work would have been impossible without the extraordinary variety of historical experience encountered by the French, from revolution to world empire, from foreign occupation to economic reconstruction, and not excluding unspeakable suffering and failure along with war crimes and atrocities. Kluge's stories, or anecdotes, or faits divers-some thousands of pages of them-draw on a comparable mass of historical raw material.

But history is something you have to dig up and to dig in: like Kluge's heroine Gabi Teichert in Die Patriotin, who literally gets out her spade and frantically excavates, scrabbling for clues to the past in bones and potsherds. And not necessarily in vain: in another film, the knee of a German soldier's skeleton testifies and tells some 'useful' war stories. Indeed, News from Ideological Antiquity has its own share of zany or even idiotic moments-a pair of actors reading Marx's incomprehensible prose aloud and in unison to one another, a DDR instructor explaining 'liquidity' to a recalcitrant pupil, and even a kind of concluding satyr play in which the (rather tiresome) comedian Helge Schneider plays a variety of Marx-inspired roles, complete with wigs, false beards and other circus paraphernalia. For as Kluge tells us, 'we must let Till Eulenspiegel pass across Marx and Eisenstein both, in order to create a confusion allowing knowledge and emotions to be combined together in new ways'. [4]

Meanwhile, on a less jocular level, we confront a sometimes interminable series of talking heads-Enzensberger, Sloterdijk, Dietmar Dath, Negt and other authorities-as they confront the typical Kluge interview, part prompting, part leading questions, part cross-examining his own witnesses. We glimpse a weird project of Werner Schroeter, in which Wagner's Tristan and Isolde is acted out through the conflict on the bridge in Battleship Potemkin ('the rebirth of Tristan out of the spirit of Potemkin'); along with excerpts from operas by Luigi Nono and Max Brand, not to speak of the classics. We see a short by Tom Tykwer on the humanization of objects, sequences on the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg and, on a lighter note, an evening with Marx and Wilhelm Liebknecht. Many film clips and stills are interpolated, mostly from the silent period, and dramatic graphics from both Marxian and Eisensteinian texts make it clear that the intertitles of the silent period could be electrifying indeed, if resurrected in bold colour and dramatic typography. It is Kluge's own version of the Eisensteinian 'montage of attractions' (this filmmaker might say 'of feelings'). Viewers unaccustomed to his practices may well find this an unbelievable hodge-podge. But they too can eventually learn to navigate this prodigious site of excavation: not yet a full-fledged and professionally organized museum, this is an immense dig, with all kinds of people, amateur and specialist alike, milling around in various states of activity, some mopping their brows or eating a sandwich, others lying full-length on the ground in order to brush dirt from a jawbone, still others sorting various items into the appropriate boxes on tables sheltered by a tent, if not taking a nap or lecturing a novice, treading a narrow path so as not to step on the evidence. It is our first contact with ideological antiquity.

Eisenstein's version

Among the more recognizable fragments is, to be sure, that 'new work on a libretto by Karl Marx', the 'film treatise' which was supposedly Eisenstein's next project after October, the alleged film ofCapital. As always, Eisenstein's notes are so many reflexions on his own practice, past and future; characteristically, they re-read his own work as a progression of forms, like progress in scientific experimentation. There is no point leaving this narcissism unacknowledged-it is the source of much of the pedagogical and didactic excitement and enthusiasm of his writings; but we do not necessarily have to accept his own assessments of his career, especially since they varied greatly throughout his life.

Here, for example, he will read his work in terms of abstraction: as the progressive conquest of abstraction from Potemkin through October to the current project. (We might have preferred him to characterize it as the enlargement of his filmic conquest of the concrete to include abstraction, but never mind.) Predictably, we move from the rising lions in Potemkin to that 'treatise on deity' which is the icons/idols sequence in October. [5] These moments are then to be seen as essay-like vertical interruptions in a horizontal narrative; and this is precisely why the Eisenstein-Joyce discussion is irrelevant here.

Commentators-and not only Kluge himself-have fastened on the jotting, 'a day in a man's life' as the evidence for believing Eisenstein to have imagined a plot sequence like that of Joyce's Bloomsday. [6] Later on, they note the addition of a second 'plot line', that of social reproduction and 'the "house-wifely virtues" of a German worker's wife', along with the reminder: 'throughout the entire picture the wife cooks soup for her returning husband', the unspecified 'man' of the earlier sequence having logically enough become a worker. This alleged routine cross-cutting-to which one should probably add the day in the life of a capitalist or a merchant-is being ruminated at the very same historical moment when, as Annette Michelson points out, Dziga Vertov is filmingMan with a Movie Camera. [7]

It is true: 'Joyce may be helpful for my purpose', notes Eisenstein. But what follows is utterly different from the 'day in the life of' formula. For Eisenstein adds: 'from a bowl of soup to the British vessels sunk by England'. [8] What has happened is that we have forgotten the presence, in Ulysses, of chapters stylistically quite different from the day's routine format. But Eisenstein has not: 'In Joyce's Ulysses there is a remarkable chapter of this kind, written in the manner of a scholastic catechism. Questions are asked and answers given'. [9] But what is he referring to when he says, 'of this kind'?

It is clear that Kluge already knows the answer, for in his filmic discussion of the notes, the pot of soup has become a water kettle, boiling away and whistling: the image recurs at several moments in the exposition (Eisenstein's notes projected in graphics on the intertitles), in such a way that this plain object is 'abstracted' into the very symbol of energy. It boils impatiently, vehemently it demands to be used, to be harnessed, it is either the whistling signal for work, for work stoppage, for strikes, or else the motor-power of a whole factory, a machine for future production . . . Meanwhile, this is the very essence of the language of silent film, by insistence and repetition to transform their objects into larger-than-life symbols; a procedure intimately related to the close-up. But this is also what Joyce does in the catechism chapter; and Ulysses's first great affirmation, the first thunderous 'yes', comes here and not in Molly's closing words: it is the primal force of water streaming from the reservoir into Dublin and eventually finding its way indomitably to Bloom's faucet. [10] (In Eisenstein the equivalent would be the milk separator ofThe General Line.)

The German worker's wife

It is at this point that we glimpse what Eisenstein really has in mind here: something like a Marxian version of Freudian free association-the chain of hidden links that leads us from the surface of everyday life and experience to the very sources of production itself. As in Freud, this is a vertical plunge downward into the ontological abyss, what he called 'the navel of the dream'; it interrupts the banal horizontal narrative and stages an associative cluster charged with affect. It is worth quoting Eisenstein's full notation at this point:

Throughout the entire picture the wife cooks soup for her returning husband. NB Could be two themes intercut for association: the soup-cooking wife and the home-returning husband. Completely idiotic (all right in the first stages of a working hypothesis): in the third part (for instance), association moves from the pepper with which she seasons food. Pepper. Cayenne. Devil's Island. Dreyfus. French chauvinism. Figaro in Krupp's hands. War. Ships sunk in the port. (Obviously, not in such quantity!!) NB Good in its non-banality-transition: pepper-Dreyfus-Figaro. It would be good to cover the sunken English ships (according to Kushner, 103 DAYS ABROAD) with the lid of a saucepan. It could even be not pepper-but kerosene for a stove and transition into oil. [11]

Eisenstein proposes to do here what Brecht tried for in the coffee debate on the subway in Kuhle Wampe: to trace the visible symptoms back to their absent (or untotalizable) causes. But the dramatist's attempt is hijacked by our inevitable attention to the characters arguing, whereas Eisenstein aims, however crudely ('completely idiotic', but just a first draft), to draw the whole dripping complex up into the light as a montage of images. (The more appropriate cross-references were always Benjamin's omission of commentary in the Arcades constellations, and even Pound's ideograms-both of them also projects of a kind of synchronic historical representation.) Eisenstein's inevitable theorization of what he calls 'discursive film' centres on 'de-anecdotalization' as the central process here, and then finds its analogy in 'the working theory of "overtones"' [12] which he was to develop a year later in his essay, 'The Filmic Fourth Dimension', in which a formulation in terms of 'physiological stimuli' will seek to displace the widely accepted Russian Formalist doctrine of the renewal of perception, of aesthetics' ostranenie, 'making strange'. Here there would be not only a conflict between the temporality of film (montage) and the simultaneity of the causal links or associations, but also a tension between the affective and the cognitive. Thus he writes of The General Line:

This montage is built, not on particular dominants, but takes as its guide the total stimulation through all stimuli. That is the original montage complex within the shot, arising from the collision and combination of the individual stimuli inherent in it. [13]

The theory of 'overtones' tended not only to foreground the bodily nature of sheer feeling-'thephysiological quality of Debussy and Scriabin'-but also, by way of technical musical terms like 'dominant' and the contrapuntal, along with 'visual' overtones and undertones, to stake out the complexity of this whole 'fourth dimension' itself, which has inspired so much contemporary activity in so-called affect theory. It seems probable that the old myth of the 'persistence of vision'-the previous image subsisting briefly on the retina as the new perception comes to overlay and then replace it, a conception which has its musical analogue in pedal points-suggests a possible synthesis between the temporal succession of cinema and the contents of the individual images. But it does not resolve the tension that the most highly developed models of affect entertain with the cognitive content of these complexes; or in other words the Marxian attention to the production, distribution and consumption at work behind the phenomenological surface of everyday life and experience-going behind the scenes, as Marx describes it in Capital. The old problem of didactic art is not solved here, unless we are to think that knowledge of capitalism is at one with rage (Potemkin) or that the construction of socialism is at one with a sublime joy, as in the transcendental vision of the milk separator in The General Line.

Kluge does not try to reproduce the pepper sequence; but he does do something with another Eisensteinian motif:

woman's stocking full of holes and a silk one in a newspaper advertisement. It starts with a jerky movement, to multiply into 50 pairs of legs-Revue, Silk, Art. The fight for the centimetre of silk stocking. The aesthetes are for it. The Bishops and morality are against.[14]

But Kluge's rather decorative rehearsal of this multi-dimensional social object-he might also have included Kracauer's Busby Berkeley-like 'mass ornament'-scarcely reaches the allegorical complexities Eisenstein himself ultimately glimpsed:

On this level, one could solve:
Ein Paar seidene Strumpfe-art.
Ein Paar seidene Strumpfe-morality.
Ein Paar seidene Strumpfe-commerce and competition.
Ein Paar seidene Strumpfe-Indian women forced to incubate the silk cocoon by carrying them in their armpits! [15]

This final detail leads us back to the anecdotal level, which was supposed to have been neutralized in the new 'discursive' film language: yet it is surely what gives its piquancy to this vertical montage, just as Devil's Island and Dreyfus lend the pepper sequence its bite. And in fact, the notes are already full of anecdotal detail, of 'believe-it-or-not' faits divers that lead us to the very heart of capital. I like this one: 'Somewhere in the West. A factory where it is possible to pinch parts and tools. No search of workers made. Instead, the exit gate is amagnetic check point.' [16] Chaplin would have liked the spectacle of nuts and bolts, hammers and wrenches, flying out of the workers' pockets.

Antiquities

Elective affinities: Kluge's own work is very much anecdotal in this sense, the narrative double-take, the unexpected punctum at the heart of what looked at first like a banal occurrence, a taste for the incongruity that is abstracted into his dealings with the great ideas. Deleuze's magnificent formula-'a clean-shaven Marx, a bearded Hegel'-would not be alien to him, as he tirelessly suggests new recodings of the stereotypical heritage on his own terms: the future reconstruction of experience, binding affects and knowledge together in new ways.

It is a future which demands the constitution of an antiquity appropriate to it. Yet is this 'ideological antiquity' not simply another way of saying that Marx, and with him Marxism, is outmoded? The comic sequences of Kluge's film, the young couple at various moments in history tormenting each other with a koranic recital of Marx's abstractions, might lead us to think so. Nor is Eisenstein non-outmoded either, with his baggage of old-fashioned melodrama, old-fashioned silent film, old-fashioned montage. Lenin and intertitles! Itself a seemingly dreary prospect for a digital postmodernity . . .

Yet one dimly remembers Marx's own feelings for antiquity: Prometheus and Aristotle's theory of value, Epicurus and Hegel's thoughts on Homer. And then there is the question with which the great 1857 draft introduction to the Grundrisse breaks off: 'the difficulty lies not in understanding that Greek art and epic poetry are bound up with certain forms of social development. The difficulty is that they still give us aesthetic pleasure and are in certain respects regarded as a standard and unattainable model.' [17] Marx was anything but nostalgic, and he understood that the polis was a limited and thereby contradictory social formation to which one could scarcely return; and also that any future socialism would be far more complex than capitalism itself, as Raymond Williams once observed.

For the concept of antiquity may have the function of placing us in some new relationship with the Marxian tradition and with Marx himself-as well as Eisenstein. Marx is neither actual nor outmoded: he is classical, and the whole Marxist and Communist tradition, more or less equal in duration to Athens's golden age, is precisely that golden age of the European left, to be returned to again and again with the most bewildering and fanatical, productive and contradictory results.[18] And if it is objected that it would be an abomination to glamorize an era that included Stalinist executions and the starvation of millions of peasants, a reminder of the bloodiness of Greek history might also be in order-the eternal shame of Megara, let alone the no less abominable miseries of slave society as such. Greece was Sparta as much as Athens, Sicily as much as Marathon; and the Soviet Union was also the deathknell of Nazism and the first sputnik, the People's Republic of China the awakening of countless millions of new historical subjects. The category of classical antiquity may not be the least productive framework in which a global left reinvents an energizing past for itself.

 


 

[1] Alexander Kluge, Nachrichten aus der ideologischen Antike (News from Ideological Antiquity), 3 DVDs, Frankfurt 2008.

[2] These are published as Eisenstein's 'Notes for a Film of Capital', translated by Maciej Sliwowski, Jay Leyda and Annette Michelson, in October: The First Decade, Cambridge, MA1987, pp. 115-38; they first appeared in October 2, 1976; hereafter NFC.

[3] Kluge, Nachrichten, p. 4.

[4] Kluge, Nachrichten, p. 16.

[5] NFC, p. 116.

[6] NFC, p. 127.

[7] NFC, p. 127, fn 19.

[8] NFC, p. 127. This enigmatic reference is itself referenced in the longer quote from p. 129 given below.

[9] NFC, p. 119.

[10] See 'Ulysses in History', in The Modernist Papers, London and New York 2007.

[11] NFC, p. 129. Of the soup-cooking, Eisenstein has noted: 'the "house-wifely virtues" of a German worker's wife constitute the greatest evil, the strongest obstacle to a revolutionary uprising. A German worker's wife will always have something warm for her husband, will never let him go completely hungry. And there is the root of her negative role which slows the pace of social development. In the plot, this could take the form of "hot slop", and the meaning of this on "a world scale"': NFC, p. 128.

[12] NFC, pp. 116-7.

[13] Eisenstein, 'The Filmic Fourth Dimension', in Film Form, New York 1949, p. 67.

[14] NFC, p. 129

[15] NFC, p. 137.

[16] NFC, p. 121.

[17] Marx and Engels, Collected Works, vol. 28, New York 1986, p. 47.

[18] Something like this is what Peter Weiss's Aesthetics of Resistance can be said to be attempting.

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