Unparaphraseable Life – Notes on Third Cinema

“Cinema is magic in the service of dreams”
– Djibril Diop Mambéty

When, back in the 1990s, Félix Guattari coined the phrase Post-Media Era, this was of interest to me in that it seemed to imply a kind of bypassing of the mainstream mass media, or as filmmaker Peter Watkins calls it, the Monoform – a generalized communications format.1
In some ways my musings upon Guattari’s phrase were nothing other than a re-articulation, during the winter years of the mid ‘90s, of the spirit of the underground culture that had arisen in the ‘60s and, to some degree, petered out as the post-punk moment (that had educated many people into a ‘desire to know’) reached a kind of apogee in pop: ‘selling out’ as an ironic pose. This was, in some ways, concomitant to the rise of cultural studies through which even the infiltrative intents of pop subversion were rendered into abstract signs of cultural kudos rather than into propellants of a cultural combativeness. In these depoliticized years of the ‘90s, then, there was, amidst the wider movement of the rave and techno culture, an opening towards a rearticulation of counter culture and, for me, post-media signaled once more the benefits of an independent approach that could not simply become a vehicle for the usual forms of politicization but, as a shared practice and as a mode of relation, could make ‘labour in culture’ the meeting ground for a re-imagining of a politics based upon the reappropriation of both the means of production and the means of expression.
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