Maria Walsh


The trajectorv of this thesis is set out like a journey upon which encounters are staged between two films. film theor), and philosophers. such as Slavoj Zizek. Gilles Deletize, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. An encounter with a moment of image suspension. a cut to the blank screen- in Tacita Dean's film, Disappearance atSea (1996). motivates the beginning of this journey's narrative. My reading of this moment counters the way that suspended film moments have been discussed in terms of non-narrative in 1970s film theory and in the contemporary psychoanalýlic filin theory of Slavoj Zizek. Using Gilles Deleuze's notion of narrativization as a process of serialization. I argue that the supposedly non-narrative moment is coextensive with the spectator's dis/continuity in time as opposed to Slavoj Zizek's static suspension or film theory's distanciation. A performative text based on Disappearance at Sea, which I refer to as a 'montage text' and for which precedence is found in Roland Barthes' writing, acts as an interlude that runs in tandem to the main theoretical trajectory. The generativity of absence that emerges from these encounters, both theoretical and poetic. is heightened in the second half of the thesis by the appearance of another 'montage text' based on Chantal Akerrnan's News From Home (1976). In this text. I reconfigure the negativity of historical readings of absence in Neus From Home where it was related to the impossible question of a woman's desire. In my reconfiguration, absence. rather than suspending time. generates a temporalized space and a spatialized time in which the spectator performs the dis/continuity of narrative duration. In the theoretical trajectory of this movement, Gilles Deleuze is hybridized with aspects of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, my argument being that the sublime infinity of Deleuzian serialization requires a relation to embodiment in order for it to be useftil in considering the spectator's relation to the two film encounters with absence. I read this hybridization in terms of a feminine mode of the sublime, which suggests the possibility of the real rather than its negation in representation and contributes to current thinking in feminist philosophy, particularly the work of Elizabeth Grosz.

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