The Paradox of a Gesture, Enlarged by the Distension of Time: Merleau-Ponty and Lacan on a Slow-Motion Picture of Henri Matisse Painting

Authors

  • Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky Ruhr University Bochum

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.31164

Keywords:

phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty, Matisse, Campaux,

Abstract

In his lecture series The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1964), Lacan refers to a “delightful example” that Merleau-Ponty gives in his Book Signes (1960). Lacan describes it as a “strange slow-motion film in which one sees Matisse painting.” This is a scene from the documentary entitled A Great French Painter, Henri Matisse, by director François Campaux, a 16mm black and white film shot in 1946. Merleau-Ponty points, as Lacan puts it, to “the paradox of that gesture which, enlarged by the distension of time, enables us to imagine the most perfect deliberation on each of these strokes.” In fact, Merleau-Ponty underscores that this is an illusion, due only to the technique of the slow motion picture. In this paper I will present the different ways in which Lacan and Merleau-Ponty refer to the slow motion picture of Matisse painting. I will do so in order to consider, comparatively, the ways in which Merleau-Ponty and Lacan define the gesture in reference to film technologies and to the process of subjectification. Both of them refer to the gesture in order to find a new balance in the relationship between subject, rationality and media technology. And it is exactly at this site where the question of an ethics of gesture appears.

Author Biography

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky, Ruhr University Bochum

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky is Professor of Media Studies and Gender Studies at the Ruhr University Bochum. She has published extensively on feminist and queer theory, representation and mediality, media theory and philosophy as well as religion and modernism. She was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley (2007), visiting professor at the Centre d'études du vivant, Université Paris VII - Diderot (2010), Max Kade Professor at Columbia University (2012), and Senior Fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) Weimar (2013). She is also an associate member of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry Berlin (ICI Berlin).

References

Benjamin, Walter. 1985. Gesammelte Schriften. Vol. VI. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Benjamin, Walter. 1985. Gesammelte Schriften. Vol. VII. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Benjamin, Walter. 1995. Gesammelte Briefe. Vol. VI. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Benjamin, Walter. 1998. “What is Epic Theatre?”. In Understanding Brecht, edited by Anna Bostock and Stanley Mitchell, 1–15. London: Verso.

Benjamin, Walter. 2008. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media. Edited by Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty, and Thomas Y. Levin. Translated by Edmund Jephcott, Rodney Livingstone, and Howard Eiland. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bois, Yves-Alain. 1990. Painting as Model. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Lacan, Jacques. 1981. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Alan Sheridan. Vol. XI. New York: Norton.

Lacan, Jacques. 1990. Le séminaire, livre XI: Les quatres concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil.

Lacan, Jacques. 1991. Le séminaire, livre VIII: Le transfert: 1960–1961. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1964. “Eye and Mind.” In The Primacy of Perception: And Other Essays on Phenomenological Psychology, the Philosophy of Art, History and Politics, edited by James M. Edie, translated by Carleton Dallery, 159–92. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1964. L’Oeil et l’Esprit. Paris: Edition Gallimard.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1964.Signs. Translated by Richard McCleary. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1964. “The Film and the New Psychology.” In Sense and Non-Sense, translated by Hubert L. Dreyfus and Patricia Allen Dreyfus, 48–62. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1968. The Visible and the Invisible. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Roudinesco, Elisabeth. 1997. Jacques Lacan: Outline of a Life, History of a System of Thought. Translated by Barbara Bray. New York: Columbia University Press.

Waldenfels, Bernhard. 1993. “Interrogative Thinking: Reflections on Merleau-Ponty’s Later Philosophy.” In Merleau-Ponty in Contemporary Perspective, edited by Patrick V. Burke and Jan Van der Veken, 129:3–12. Phaenomenologica. Dordrecht: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-1751-7_1

Wiesing, Lambert. 2000. “Merleau-Pontys Phänomenologie des Bildes.” In Maurice Merleau-Ponty und die Humanwissenschaften, edited by Regula Giuliani, 263–80. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.

Downloads

Published

25-06-2017

How to Cite

Deuber-Mankowsky, A. (2017). The Paradox of a Gesture, Enlarged by the Distension of Time: Merleau-Ponty and Lacan on a Slow-Motion Picture of Henri Matisse Painting. Performance Philosophy, 3(1), 54-66. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.31164

Issue

Section

Special Section: Towards an Ethics of Gesture