Shane Carruth’s Whiteheadian Metaphysics of Post-Cinema #SLSA14

SLSA-2014-Stengers-Carruth-Upstream-Color.001

Above, the final slide from my presentation on “Metabolic Media,” which I delivered today at the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts conference in Dallas. I post it here because it includes one of my favorite recent discoveries: a quotation from Isabelle Stengers’s book Thinking with Whitehead that, in a discussion of Whitehead’s attempts to avoid the “bifurcation of nature” into primary and secondary qualities (as the early moderns put it) or into scientific and manifest images (in Wilfrid Sellars’s terms from the 1960s), comes surprisingly close to naming independent filmmaker Shane Carruth’s 2013 film Upstream Color — thereby unexpectedly helping us to understand the strange, post-cinematic experience of this film, which in its own way seems to reject the clear separation of subjective viewing positions and perceptual objects. Who knows? Maybe Carruth even took the title for his film from Stengers’s book. I have no evidence for this whatsoever, of course, but the resonance between the Whiteheadian project and what I call the “metabolic images” of Carruth’s film is so compelling, in my opinion, that the discovery of this quote makes it fun to speculate (idly) about the possibility…

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