Beyond language and the subject: machinic enslavement in contemporary European cinema

O'Shaughnessy, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1167-3214, 2019. Beyond language and the subject: machinic enslavement in contemporary European cinema. Studies in European Cinema, 16 (3), pp. 197-217. ISSN 1741-1548

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Contemporary subjection, notes Maurizio Lazzarato, has two very different dimensions, subjectivation (our production as subjects) and machinic enslavement (the way in which sub- and supra-individual human elements are put to work as cogs in complex machineries that are never simply technical machines). Although the latter form of subjection is increasingly dominant, critical theory almost always focuses on the former. With its intrinsically machinic functioning, cinema seems ideally placed to open up our machinic subjection to scrutiny. Can it become the Vertovian self-consciousness of a collective, machinic subject, or is it simply condemned to anticipate and embody the way in which consumer capitalism puts the human psyche and affectivity to work? Suggesting that such a polarised set of alternatives is too schematic, this article probes four contemporary, and very dissimilar, European films, sounding out their capacity to bring the machinic into view and make it available for self-reflexive engagement. The article draws its main theoretical inspiration from the work of contemporary social theorist, Maurizio Lazzarato, but also draws on other thinkers where relevant. The films discussed are Ma part du gâteau (Klapisch, 2011), Abenland (Geyrhalter, 2011), Lucy (Besson, 2014) and Vers Madrid: the Burning Bright (George, 2012).

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Studies in European Cinema
Creators: O'Shaughnessy, M.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Date: 2019
Volume: 16
Number: 3
ISSN: 1741-1548
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 03 May 2019 10:26
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:13

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