Godard’s 1965 sci-fi noir film, Alphaville, tells the story of secret agent Lemmy Caution, a resident of the ‘Outlands’ whose journey into the town of Alphaville (officially, he is on a government organized trip with the objective of tracking down a certain Dr. von Braun) and his encounter with the cities seemingly mindless and one-dimensional inhabitants. The citizens of Alphaville are individuals who have been made to feel contented in indulging their drug habits, who have been assigned the social task of providing ‘escort’ services (predominantly women) for business persons and citizens alike (who are predominantly men); or those who, and they appear to be relatively few in the film, were former secret agents (like Lemmy himself) but have succumbed to the demands of life in the city. It is a place where even something as trivial as the conventions surrounding everyday language accord to the following maxim: “No one ever says ‘why;’ one says ‘because’” (00:50:06-00:50:10). And as Lemmy’s former colleague (now ex-secret agent) Henri Dickinson, remarks: “Their ideal here, in Alphaville, is a technocracy, like that of termites and ants” (00:23:23-00:23:32). In Alphaville, the citizens are governed such that they are treated as parts of an organic whole, who require attention and support only to the extent that all individuals can fulfill their social function, much like a worker ant relative to its queen.”

The Tragic Community


(Incredibly rough draft of part II of an article for Carte Semiotiche Annali 4, IMAGES OF CONTROL. Visibility and the Government of Bodies. Part I can be found here).

Given our critique of the affirmationist interpretation, and while Godard’s Sauve Qui Peut (La Vie) is Patton’s exemplar of something that approximates a Deleuzean ethico-political program, we should turn our attention to Godard’s 1965 sci-fi noir film Alphaville as the measure (and critique) of this affirmationist reading. Turning to Alphaville is crucial since it is the film where Godard achieves in cinema what Deleuze himself would only put down to paper towards the end of his life: the problem of how one makes revolution from within the contemporary paradigm of control societies. Not only were societies of control emerging as the latest form of capitalism’s ongoing globalization in Deleuze’s own life time; specific for our purposes here, what…

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