Marcel Swiboda - In Search of Lost Time-Images: Anomalous Bergsonism and the Rhythms of Bachelardian Discontinuity in Chris Marker’s La Jetée @ Rhythm & Event - London Graduate School, Uk 29 October 2011

Marcel Swiboda (University of Leeds)

Abstract: In Search of Lost Time-Images: Anomalous Bergsonism and the Rhythms of Bachelardian Discontinuity in Chris Marker’s La Jetée

A genealogical consideration of twentieth-century Continental philosophical conceptions of time – even a cursory one – would doubtless serve to problematize some the assumed intellectual affinities between numerous of the century’s key philosophical figures, affinities that so often get taken for granted, for example between the work of Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze, among others. One aspect of this relatively unexplored area of consideration is the potential antagonism between Bergson and Deleuze, symptomatized by an anomalous omission from the near-comprehensive filmography of Cinema books: the work of Chris Marker – in particular his 1962 cine-photographic time-travel experiment La Jetée.
While there is a growing body of secondary commentary on the undeniable correspondences between Deleuze’s and Marker’s respective considerations of time, little has yet been written regarding how the omission of this film from Deleuze’s explorations of cinematic time – in particular in Cinema 2: Time-Image – raises questions regarding the remit of Deleuze’s adaptation of Bergson’s work with regard to film, not least given that La Jetée is a ‘film’ primarily comprised of ‘still’ photographic images and thus potentially problematizes Deleuze’s privileging of the ‘mobile section’ and claims he makes for the liberation of ‘continuous’ time in post- Second World War cinema.
As has recently been demonstrated by Steve Goodman, among other thinkers and writers, the current re-emergence of Bachelardian conceptions of time – not in place of but alongside those of Bergson and Deleuze – evidently offers a lot of potential for conceptually and pragmatically nuancing contemporary debates in this area, as well unearthing some of the problems inherent in unequivocally affirming Deleuze’s ‘Bergsonian’ approach, as warned against by Alain Badiou. This paper proposes to explore these transversal links between Deleuze, Bergson and Bachelard through a case-based consideration of Chris Marker’s La Jetée, with a primary emphasis on the role of Bachelard’s ‘rhythmanalysis’ might play in deepening the exploration of time with regard to Marker’s cinematic experiment and to philosophical and theoretical considerations of the temporal event in cinema and media culture more broadly. 

Read more on Rhythm & Event in London
Listen the audio podcast