Talk title: "The Insight-Image: Illuminating the Reality of Deleuze's Time-Image"
In Zen Buddhism, the notion of here and now is the key to attain––or return to–– paññā/prajñā (insight). On a day-to-day basis, we live each moment with a preoccupation of the past and an anticipation for the future. Our retrospection and expectation produce afflictions such as avarice, anger and frustration, as well as delusion. Our penchant for living every moment as a recollection of the past and an anticipation for the future is also propelled by our belief that our existence endures in time; that such afflictions and suffering are both inevitable; and that our self and all the other sentient beings and objects arise out of their self-natures. But as Nāgārjuna (150–250 CE) argues, the past does not exist, as its existence has already perished; the future does not exist, as its existence has yet to arise. If the present is an extension of the past, and if it extends itself to become the future, the present does not exist either. Rather, it is a lived point-instant that instantiates an assemblage of interdependent conditions. But how does the cinema, as an image-consciousness, disconceal insight?
In Cinema Illuminating Reality , I conduct a comparative reading of here and now with Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Henri Bergson’s notion of time. I do so in order to reconfigure Deleuze’s notion of the time-image into the insight-image. For Deleuze, the time-image is characterized as a pure optical and sound situation, which draws the consciousness’s attention to the present of the present as a sense-formation and a thought-formation. In other words, Deleuze’s time-image is capable of generating a mindfulness of the here and now: that each moment is an instantiation of an ecology of interdependent conditions that affect, and are affected by, one another. In my presentation, I will demonstrate how insight can be attained or returned to via the formational process of the image-consciousness. I will also conduct a close reading of Pema Tseden’s Tharlo  to examine how mindfulness is mobilized as a technology that gives the consciousness an agency over its own becoming.
Victor Fan is Reader in Film and Media Philosophy, King’s College London and a film festival consultant. He is the author of Cinema Approaching Reality: Locating Chinese Film Theory (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), Extraterritoriality: Locating Hong Kong Cinema and Media (Edinburg University Press, 2019), and Cinema Illuminating Reality: Media Philosophy through Buddhism (University of Minnesota Press, 2022). His articles appeared in journals including Camera Obscura, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Screen, and Film History.
This event is sponsored by the Committee on the Study of Religion, the Mahindra Humanities Center, and the Department of the History of Art and Architecture.