Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All Divided Selves (2011)

Last night I attended a screening of Luke Fowler's All Divided Selves (2011) at the Pacific Cinémathèque. As one might infer, the film's title is derived from its subject's best known book, The Divided Self (1960), whose author, the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing, was required reading in R.B.J. Walker's 1985 Political Theory 300 course at the University of Victoria, along with Enlightenment critic Frederich Nietzsche and French post-structuralist Michel Foucault, among others.

If I remember correctly, it was in Walker's course that I first heard the name Frederic Jameson, whose article, "Postmodernism, or, The Culture of Late-Capitalism", had just been published in the New Left Review (July/August, 1984), an article that spoke of the capitalist mode of production's power to spatialize the culture; divide it up, as it were.

Fowler's film behaves similarly, for it is less a linear documentary of the man and his medicine than an epic portrait based on recurrence and scenic mitosis; not quite the equivalent of Stein's literary Cubism, but enough to remind us that "composition as explanation" can occasionally result in a work of art whose content suggests its form. Which is something the Glaswegian artist achieves in his too-long collagist film, drawing on what feels like 500 miles of documentary footage grouted together with his own brand of cinematic cement.

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