Dany Nobus – Syncope and Fractal Liminality: Angelopoulos’ Voyage to Cythera and the Representation of Borders as Littorals

Syncope and Fractal Liminality:

Angelopoulos’ Voyage to Cythera and the Representation of Borders as Littorals

Abstract

Between 1970 and 2009, the Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos made thirteen full-length feature films. In this extensive body of work, Voyage to Cythera (1984) inaugurated a new ‘anthropocentric turn’ in Angelopoulos’ own itinerary, because in this film he exchanged critical representations of Greek collective history for a narrower focus on inter-personal conflicts and subjective dilemmas. In this paper, I will argue that Voyage to Cythera condenses Angelopoulos’ pervasive theme of the ‘border phenomenon’ into an endlessly self-duplicating, ‘fractal’ liminality, which captures the distinction between different strands of human socio-political and mental experience, not in the least within the realm of fantasy versus reality. This fractal liminality is associated with an affective experience of ‘syncope’, both in the sense of characters living outside a self-transparent, lucid consciousness, and of their constantly ‘missing the beat’ and being ‘out of step’. Contrary to scholars who have claimed that Angelopoulos consistently represented borders as a negative presence, I will argue that within the dynamic space between fractal liminality and syncope Angelopoulos is not campaigning for the abolition of liminalities, but rather for their becoming a Lacanian ‘littoral’—a fluctuating zone of interaction between constitutive components of an organic body of experience. When liminalities become flexible, the associated syncope stops being a protracted time of passive hesitation, and acquires new potential as a creative source of revolutionary power. The most important tool for facilitating this transformation of borders into flexible liminalities is none other than the cinematic imagination, although psychoanalysis may be a good alternative…

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