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McKenzie Wark on Lazzarato and Pasolini


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At Public Seminar, McKenzie Wark discusses Maurizio Lazzarato’s recently translated book Signs and Machines: Capitalism and the Production of Subjectivity (Semiotext(e), 2014), paying particular attention to Lazzarato’s take on Pier Paolo Pasolini:

Cinema can show a pre-signifying semiotics in a post-signifying world. Lazzarato’s example is Pier Paolo Pasolini, who perhaps shares with Guattari a kind of “fanatical Marxism” Pasolini worked in Italy, a country to which national language came very late, and until the seventies many subaltern and regional people did not speak a recognizable version of the dominant Italian. Many ended up as speaking their ‘subaltern’ and ‘indigenous’ language even in the cities to which they migrated for work.

Cinema functions like group psychoanalysis, normalizing intensities, making a hierarchy between language and the rest. The effects of classic Hollywood are not ideological and don’t work primarily through language, even if it is a controlling level. Cinema is a mixed regime of signs, (which Alex Galloway – to give another alternative example – figures as Hermes, Iris and the Furies.) For Pasolini, cinema was also a mixed semiotics that starts with the image, with a kind of vision in which the machinic eye is embedded in objects.

Image: Pasolini, via mubi.com.