[SydPhil] Simone Bignall at Philosophy Seminars

Dimitris Vardoulakis D.Vardoulakis at uws.edu.au
Fri Sep 28 09:38:02 AEST 2012

Philosophy Seminars 2012
Research Centre for Writing and Society and Philosophy @ UWS

Simone Bignall
Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Philosophy
University of New South Wales

TITLE: Black Swan: Cracked Porcelain and Becoming-Animal
TIME: October 10, 2-4pm
PLACE: UWS Bankstown Campus, 3.G.55

ABSTRACT: The 2010 film Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, provides a fruitful context for thinking about Deleuze's conceptualisation of structural transformation as a 'presubjective' process involving a critical and creative politics of engagement. Nina is a young dancer who has just secured the lead role in the New York Ballet's new production of Swan Lake. This role not only requires her to dance the pure and innocent character of the 'white swan' - a role that mirrors Nina's character in real life, and for which she is well suited - but also as the seductive and darkly erotic character of the 'black swan', a role quite alien to Nina. The film traces Nina's desperate efforts to meet the demands of this doubled characterisation. Through new forms of engagement with her peers, she enters into a 'becoming-swan' that frees her from the restraints and constraints imposed by her existing self. While this transformative process enables her to realise aesthetic perfection in her art, this comes at a heavy price: Nina not only is creatively destabilised, but ultimately is destroyed by the transformation she endures. By considering this work of cinema in light of Deleuze's writings on 'becoming-animal' and 'Porcelain and Volcano', this paper reflects on a crucial question underlying much of Deleuze's political thought: how is it possible to privilege radical subjective and social transformation, without these structures of necessary coherence also 'cracking up' and being destroyed in the process?

BIO: Simone Bignall is Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Philosophy at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is the author of Postcolonial Agency: Critique and Constructivism (2010), which conceptualises postcolonial transformations in terms of Deleuze's philosophy of difference and desire. She is co-editor of Deleuze and the Postcolonial (with Paul Patton, 2010) and of Agamben and Colonialism (with Marcelo Svirsky, 2012), all published by Edinburgh University Press.

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