Louis Malle’s Kleistian War Machine:
Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Woman, Becoming-Imperceptible in Black Moon
Thurs, June 4th | 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM |126 Voorhies
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Reading the battle of the sexes in Louis Malle’s Black Moon (1975) through the paradigm of Kleist’s Penthesilea, this essay explores Deleuze and Guattari’s assertion in A Thousand Plateaus that, “If becoming-woman is the first quantum, or molecular segment, with the becomings-animal that link up with it coming next, what are they all rushing toward? Without a doubt, toward becoming-imperceptible. The imperceptible is the immanent end of becoming, its cosmic formula” (279). More importantly, this molecular assemblage is connected directly to the Kleistian war machine, that pure form of exteriority or deterritorialization, a “climate of infection” where one multiplicity of bodies is invaded by another, producing a series of affective encounters and lines of flight. It is in this sense that, “All of Kleist’s work is traversed by a war machine invoked against the state” (268). In Black Moon, Malle’s battle of the sexes is now superseded through the catalytic intervention of animal becoming, producing a deterritorialized velocity of affect, a form of waking dream that releases the utopian promise of an uncoded, intensive love: the fulfillment of what Mathieu Carrière calls "Kleist’s great desire–to live as two in madness."
Colin Gardner is Professor of Critical Theory and Integrative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he teaches in the departments of Art, Film & Media Studies, Comparative Literature, and the History of Art and Architecture.Gardner has published two books in Manchester University Press’s “British Film Makers” series: Joseph Losey (2004), and Karel Reisz (2006). His latest book is Beckett, Deleuze and the Televisual Event: Peephole Art, a critical analysis of Samuel Beckett’s experimental work for film and television and its relation to the philosophical writings of Deleuze and Guattari.