Memories of the Unlived Body: Jean-Louis Schefer, Georges Bataille and Gilles Deleuze

Jean-Louis Schefer's newly translated The Ordinary Man of Cinema (2016), originally published in 1980, proposes a singular account of the experience of cinema which departs from the principal tendencies of film theory. It has nevertheless had a profound if somewhat invisible influence in film philosophy and theory since its publication, notably in the work of Gilles Deleuze. This essay proposes a synthetic discussion of Schefer's work on film up to The Ordinary Man, arguing that Schefer's work, which draws on his earlier work on painting, construes film as radically non-representational, and as bringing into being, in the spectator, a virtual affectivity corresponding to the distorted and disproportionate bodies and aberrant movements that it presents. I argue that in its recurrent emphasis on the “inchoate” elements in film, and on the “inceptions” of movements that it provokes, Schefer's thought draws implicitly on the Bataillean notion of the informe (formlessness). This return to an impossibility of thought at the heart of thought is among the fundamental insights which Deleuze draws from Schefer in Cinema 2: The Time-image.

Author Name: 
ffrench, Patrick
Journal: 
Film-Philosophy
Citation: 
Patrick ffrench, Memories of the Unlived Body: Jean-Louis Schefer, Georges Bataille and Gilles Deleuze, Film-Philosophy, Volume 21 Issue 2, Page 161-187. Available Online Jun 2017