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The rhizome and the image: The genealogy of the film Letter to Eros

Petkovic, Josko (1997) The rhizome and the image: The genealogy of the film Letter to Eros. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF (Vol. 1) - Whole Thesis
Available Upon Request

Video (MP4) (Vol 2. Letter to Eros)
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This thesis concerns itself with the nature of the visual medium and its growing importance to the contemporary world. It consists of two parts, one visual and the other written. The visual component consists of a 56 min. film entitled Letter to Eros. It is introduced in the written thesis as an example of a theoretical "rhizome" - a research paradigm based on what I have termed a "constructivist" research technique. This technique, as the label suggests, constructs the theoretical object, rather than deconstructing it textually through an analysis.

The written thesis also describes the genealogical elements of Letter to Eros and indicates how it relates to the content of the film and its rhizome-like structure. The main element of this genealogy is the influential work of Deleuze and Guattari, whose writing, in the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus, describes, in some detail, the social relevance of rhizome-type logic to postmodern culture as a whole. In A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guattari find support for this kind of logic in Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson's ethnographic work in Bali, where a similar logical arrangement is apparent in a range of Balinese drama and cultural practices, including trance dancing. The thesis argues that the formative elements of this "plateau" type logic are probably due to Margaret Mead and specifically her work on the mother-infant relationship. In this perspective, the schizological prescription which Deleuze and Guattari give us for the postmodern world may well be consistent with the ocular mother-child relationship theorized by Jacques Lacan in his Order of the Imaginary. This conclusion seems consistent with the ever increasing presence of images in the world today.

The last part of the written thesis seeks support for this ocular hypothesis by examining our changing relationship with visual exteriority since the invention of photography. It argues that as a consequence of the nexus between images and the flow of capital, more and more of what used to be the interiority of our thoughts is to be found in exteriority. So much so, that it is possible to proclaim that we are entering the Order of the Visual.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Supervisor(s): O'Toole, Michael and Hodge, Bob
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