Monday, 16 February 2009

Abstract. The heterogeneity of the sound image in David Lynch's neuracinema.

A recent irony in the on-going amorous non-rapport between art and science concerns cinema and neurology. Even as Gilles Deleuze announces that rather than linguistics or psychoanalysis the cinema should look to the micro-biology of the brain to develop cinematic concepts, so neuroscience is using the cinema as a means of understanding the images generated and edited by neural patterns. As the new neuroscience acknowledges (Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, V.S. Ramachandran and Francisco Varela), the internal world of the brain is not a sealed-off hard-wired automatism; the external world is inseparable from the structure of neuro processes of self-modification. Circuits in language, art and music create and modify circuits in the brain. Furthermore, these dimensions, while interconnected are also functionally heterogeneous, occupying and connecting-up different parts of the brain in a variety of networks. However, it is for Damasio through assembling a ‘movie-in-the-brain’ with 'as many sensory tracks as the nervous system has sensory portals', that neurones generate subjectivity.

This essay takes up these suggestions in relation to the cinema of David Lynch not in order to make a contribution to neuroscience but in order to attempt to understand unconscious processes through the heterogeneity of sound images rather than through the paradigm of language. It is well-known that the power of Lynch's films resides not so much in narrative, not even the narrative of dreams, but in the arresting and disturbing force of sound images. These sound images are heterogeneous in a variety of ways, not least in the composition of sound and image itself where the affective force resides in their disjunctive (non)relation. Nevertheless they provide points of connection, like the many 'phones (telephones, microphones, gramophones) that provide portals between different domains and parallel worlds throughout Lynch's oeuvre. Discrete sound images articulate disjunctive series of sounds and images whose heterogeneity provides the locus of unconscious desire that proceeds along networks that are cultural and technical as well as neural. Lynch directs a 'neuracinema' where the 'a' denotes the undefinable, mobile points of cultural anxiety, discordance and desire that articulates inner and outer worlds.

For David Lynch edited by Francois-Xavier Gleyzon, Literaria Pragensia