The Institute for Creative and Digital Cultures (ICDC) are pleased to invited you to the following lecture delivered by Dr. David Fleming:
Jumpers: Deleuze and the ethics of documenting suicide in (and off) The Bridge
Date: Monday, 5th November, 2012
About the lecture
The final suicidal act of Gilles Deleuze could not escape an inevitable encounter with the Deleuzian philosophical personae, nor being (re)evaluated in light of his ethical philosophy of Life. That is, as an event, Deleuze’s mentally willed or corporeally compelled bodily actions of November 4th 1995 were always-already destined to become sublated by the preponderant force of Deleuze’s life-affirming philosophy. For André Pierre Colobat, Paul Veyne, Alphonso Lingis and Eric Alliez, amongst others, Deleuze’s philosophy proved capable of transforming (qua enriching) his final actions, and endowing them with a positive life-affirming attitude. For Deleuze, philosophy and art share in certain abilities, with each being creative disciplines capable of forcing an encounter with the unknown or creating new thoughts. Following Deleuze, we may ask, if art and philosophy are able to re-think suicide in their own positive ways, what of a documentary film (which is arguably cinemas least artistic and abstracting mode)? In this paper I explore different aspects of Eric Steel’s documentary 'The Bridge' (2006), a haunting film that documents 23 images of real suicide. I ultimately argue that the film functions as an ethico-aesthetic documentary-artwork that invites viewers to think ‘philosophically’ about this social taboo. Arguing for a need to separate the thoughts and desires of the filmmaker and film in a way that Deleuze did not, I argue that while the filmmaker himself may be considered as acting immorally in the making of his film, his praxis, or ‘ethics with dirty hands,’ should not sully the thinking film itself, which surfaces as a positive and life-affirming event that forces viewers to confront death, think about and (re)evaluate the act of suicide, and problematise notions of pathological mental illness with a gradually unfolding concept of death from ‘the outside.’
About the speaker
David H. Fleming is Assistant Professor in Film, Media and Communications at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. His main area of interest surrounds the interface between film and philosophy, particularly in relation to issues of digital ontology and affect, ethics and the work of Deleuze and Guattari. He has published in journals such as Deleuze Studies, Film-Philosophy, and Screen as well as edited collections like Deleuze and Film (2012) and Cinema, Identities and Beyond (2009). He is currently completing a monograph that explores ‘extreme’ and ‘event’ cinemas through a Deleuzo-Guattarian lens and is cultivating various side projects that includes a special edition of the Chinese Cinema Journal which will engineer an encounter between Deleuze’s film philosophy and different Chinese cinemas.