April 5, 2009

The Mosaic Film: Nomadic Style and Politics in Transnational Media Culture (4)

Filed under: film,new media politics (k3),patricia pisters — ABRAXAS @ 3:40 pm

Becoming-Minoritarian as an affaire of every one

The nomadic nature of the mosaic film relates to a politics of becoming-minoritarian. Again this is a concept to be used with caution. Just like the nomadic should not (automatically) be equated to the migrant or the nomad as a category, becoming-minoritarian does not necessarily mean becoming a member of a minority group. This is, in the first place, because becomings in general are not representational. In fact, “any becoming is a movement of de-identification” (Marrati 2001, 211). The notion of becoming has also stirred many debates, but here I would like to refer to just the political aspect of becoming-minoritarian as it is explained by Paola Marrati. Marrati compares becoming-minoritarian to the concept of the majority. The majority is usually related to its representational value in politics. However, Deleuze has argued that the majority can never have genuine representative value:

First and foremost, the majority is a constant, a model determining what is, independent of relative qualities, what is majoritarian and what is minoritarian… The representation cannot but confirm the relationship between existing forces… The majority represents literally no one. It is a model of the construction and attribution of identities; as such, it is necessarily an empty model. (Marrati 2002: 207, 208)

The majority is thus the normative, but in fact empty, model of measurement. According to Deleuze (and Guattari), the face relates to Nobody (Ulysses) because it functions as an “abstract machine.” (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 167-191) The normative face provides a model of identity and normality in relation to which deviations can be detected. Becoming-minoritarian, on the other hand, is always a process of deidentification and defiguration. It needs an encounter that “allow[s] for new relations to be established and new experiments in life to take place.” (Marrati 2001, 212). It is a flight from the face, which in its final stage will reach a becoming-imperceptible. As Marrati explains, the “man of becoming” must go unnoticed; there must be nothing special to be perceived from the outside. Becoming involves a becoming-everybody,

but “becoming-everybody” (devenir tout le monde) is not just a matter of being unrecognisable, of being like “everybody else”. Deleuze and Guattari are playing here with the different possible meanings allowed by the French expression “tout le monde”. Thus devenir tout le monde also entails a becoming of everybody, a becoming-everything and a becoming of the world itself. (…) Deleuze and Guattari oppose the figure of a universal minoritarian consciousness that in principle concerns everybody to the majoritarian “fact” that itself is the product of a state of domination, but is the analytical fact of nobody. (Marrati 2001, 214).

Becoming-minoritarian is what Deleuze and Guattari call micropolitics, which is not related to any form of representation either of majorities or of minorities. Its aim is to resist, to resist power, resist the intolerable, resist fear and to shame, resist the injustices of the present. Contemporary mosaic films function precisely as such micropolitical acts of resistance, first and foremost by proposing for the spectator an intensive, affective encounter that can provide a slightly new perception of the world.

A final point that should be noted in this respect is that this act of resistance does not entail a pure moral judgement as to who is good and who is bad. On the contrary, micropolitical acts of resistance reveal the complexity of all emotions; they do not express any judgemental value. In Babel, Kicks, and What a Wonderful World none of the characters are judged, precisely because they are shown in the context of their multiple relations. In Kicks, the Moroccan boy who seems to be a burglar is actually innocent; the police officer who shoots him seems to be terribly racist, but the film also presents him as a stranger in his own country (especially when he visits the wedding of his Moroccan colleague) who simply does not know very well how to deal with this new situation. Richard, in Babel, seems to be a jerk at first, not allowing his Mexican nanny to go to her son’s wedding, until we find out why he does so. In What a Wonderful World, nobody (murderer, hacker, prostitute, drunkard, police officer) is judged either. This nonjudgemental quality of the mosaic film is part of its nonnormative strategy to provoke a universal minoritarian consciousness.

It is through nomadic aesthetics and its political implications as described above that these films relate a becoming of the world as a “possibility of inventing new forms of life, different modes of existence” (Marrati 2001, 214). As Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal (who plays Santiago) says in The Making of Babel: “We still haven’t realized we are sharing the same planet, building fences where there are none; things have to change, one day will change.” In any case, the contemporary mosaic film clearly addresses a micropolitics of becoming-minoritarian and makes us feel and experience that this is everyone’s affair, transversing minorities and majorities by affecting and addressing us as “participant observers” of the same world beyond the screen.


Anderson, Benedict
1991 Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, revised ed. London and New York: Verso.

Bensaidi, Faouzi
2007 “Fakeglobalisering en fundamentalisme”. De Filmkrant 286. (July 2007)

Blassnigg, Martha
2007 The Cinema and its Spectatorship: The Spiritual Dimension of the “Human Apparatus”. PhD-Thesis, University of Wales.

Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson
1985 The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia University Press.

Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari
1987 A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Deleuze, Gilles
1992 Cinema 1: The Movement-Image. Transl. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London: The Athlone Press.

Deleuze, Gilles
2004 “Nomadic Thought”. Desert Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974, ed. David Lapoujade, 252-261. Transl. Michael Taormina. Los Angeles and New York: Semiotext(e).

Hallward, Peter
2006 Out of this World: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Creation. London and New York: Verso.

Marrati, Paola
2001 “Against the Doxa: Politics of Immanence and Becoming-Minoritarian.” Mircopolitics of Media Culture: Reading the Rhizomes of Deleuze and Guattari, ed. Patricia Pisters, 205-220. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Ockhuysen, Ronald
2006 “Mozaïek over Paniek en Angst”. Review Babel (July 2007)
Pisters, Patricia
2007 “La Ville Frontiere: Filmer Tanger”. Theoreme 10 Villes cinématographiques : ciné-lieux, eds. Laurent Creton and Kristian Feigelson, 191-197. Paris : Presse Sorbonne Nouvelle.

Pisters, Patricia
2009 (in press) “Violence and Laughter: Paradoxes of Nomadic Thought in Postcolonial Cinema” in Paul Patton and Simone Bignal (eds.), Deleuze and the Postcolonial. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Wuthnow, Julie
2002 “Deleuze in the Postcolonial: On Nomads and Indigenous Politics”. Feminist Theory 3 (2): 183-200.

Comments are closed.