The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture

The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture

The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture

The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Film-Philosophy of Digital Screen Culture

Synopsis

Arguing that today's viewers move through a character's brain instead of looking through his or her eyes or mental landscape, this book approaches twenty-first-century globalized cinema through the concept of the "neuro-image." Pisters explains why this concept has emerged now, and she elaborates its threefold nature through research from three domains- Deleuzian (schizoanalytic) philosophy, digital networked screen culture, and neuroscientific research. These domains return in the book's tripartite structure. Part One, on the brain as "neuroscreen," suggests rich connections between film theory, mental illness, and cognitive neuroscience. Part Two explores neuro-images from a philosophical perspective, paying close attention to their ontological, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions. Political and ethical aspects of the neuro-image are discussed in Part Three. Topics covered along the way include the omnipresence of surveillance, the blurring of the false and the real and the affective powers of the neo-baroque, and the use of neuro-images in politics, historical memory, and war.

Excerpt

The film Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) opens with a delirious monologue. We see first the lights, windows, and screens of New York City by night; then the camera moves slowly to an inside view of one of many office buildings, as a voice, later identified as Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), speaks of a moment of clarity he experienced while exiting the “vast and powerful law firm” for which he works. “The time is now,” he stutters, signaling his having “been reborn” away from his career at the firm, which “excrete[s] poison” into humanity. He has been defending a company called U/North from a three billion dollar class action lawsuit for biopollution. During a meeting with the victims of U/North, Edens snaps. His encounter with one particular young female victim, Anna (Merritt Wever), who lost her parents to U/North soil pollution, flicks a kind of synaptic switch in his mind. His ordinary way of thinking—in support of the multinationals he is supposed to defend—abruptly changes, and he begins to see things anew. He stops taking his medication for manic depression, and his own mad revolution against his habituated behavior is finally enabled to foment. As a protest on behalf of the victims whose claims he is supposed to ignore, he undresses in the middle of a U/ North hearing, embarrassing both his own firm and U/North. His friend Michael Clayton (George Clooney), who is the law firm’s fixer, is called in . . .

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