PhD Oral Exam - Ronald Rose-Antoinette, Humanities
When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
With this dissertation, I want to offer an alternative image of the roundness of the earth. I want to create an experience that registers the fugitive aesthetic of the many, sometimes simultaneous, worlds that we inhabit and build overnight. Roundness as a vector of socialization that can’t be measured against the subjectivist presuppositions of capital times. A roundness or capaciousness that undoes the very suture that appears in the havoc of its arrangements. This is what I mean by earth: a movement that both anticipates and exceeds the proprietary views of individualism and human relationalism. Whereas is an ode to the elemental virtuosity of the earth.
Traversing the works of Claire Denis, Lars von Trier and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, I tend to the modalities of both their refusal and assent of already given ontologies and epistemologies. Alongside these filmmakers I want to offer an aesthetic proposition of non-egoistic experience, that is of collective or cooperative praxis, in order to unsettle dominant theories of the Subject as the owner (proper) of experience. I propose that as moving images resist the organization and definition of the present by focusing on indeterminacy rather than clear separability they can foster alternate ways of living with the earth. Two questions reanimate my study: What does it mean to not have an experience, in the most impious and improprietary sense? And how do moving images create ways of life that inspire us to imagine, think and feel such nothingness both materially and immaterially? I suggest that we begin to address these questions with the notion of duration.
In this dissertation, I draw on film theory, affect theory as well as black studies to explore contemporary cinemas through what I call trans-apparition. By trans-apparition I mean the ongoing irruption and interruption of images carrying both pragmatic and speculative potential for change. I take my conceptual cues from Bergson, Moten, Massumi, Tarkovski, Thain, da Silva and Deleuze in order to generate a concept of the image as emergent and processual. For example, in chapter three, I analyze the work of Apichaptong Weerasethakul in terms of the clamor that agitates his images without any goal but to dissolve the beating of time. Weerasethakul creates an atmosphere that cuts through his particularistic tendencies. He does so by unsettling our habits of perception and by using a cut-up technique that foregrounds the nonlocality, that is the entanglement, of differences. I use the word nonlocality, lurking in the failures of quantum physics, as a synonym for duration. The filmmakers I examine in Whereas use different approaches to duration, no matter what the determinations of time and space, to announce and make felt other ways of living, thinking and doing.