CINEMA OF IMMANENCE: MYSTICAL PHILOSOPHY IN EXPERIMENTAL MEDIA
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This research-creation discovers the connection between what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari termed as the Univocity of Being, and the Sufi and pantheistic concept of Unity of Being (wahdat al-wujud) founded by the Islamic philosopher/mystic Ibn al-‘Arabī (A.H. 560- 638/A.D. 1165-1240). I use the decolonizing historiography of the concept of univocity of being carried out by the scholar of Media Art, and Islamic Thoughts Laura U. Marks. According to Marks’ historiography, it was the Persian Muslim Polymath Abu ‘Ali al-Husayn ibn Sînâ (980-1037) who first initiated the concept of haecceity (thisness)--the basis of the univocity of being. The thesis examines transformative experimental cinema and video art from a mystical philosophical perspective (Sufism), and by defying binaries of East/West, it moves beyond naïve cosmopolitanism, to nuanced understanding of themes such as presence, proximity, self, transcendence, immanence, and becoming, in media arts. The thesis tackles the problem of Islamic aniconism, nonrepresentability, and inexpressibility of the ineffable; as it is reflected in the mystical/paradoxical concept of the mystical Third Script (or the Unreadable Script) suggested by Shams-i-Tabrīzī (1185- 1248), the spiritual master of Mawlana Jalal ad-Dīn Muhhammad Rūmī (1207-1273). I argue that the Third Script provides a platform for the investigation of the implications of the language, silence, unsayable, and non-representation. This perspective sheds a fresh light on Deleuze’s secular philosophy of immanence and its obsession with creation, becoming, and expression as opposed to representation. By connecting Persian mysticism to contemporary immanentism, I argue that what Deleuze and Guattari proposed as the unthought or the thought without image, is enriched by the comparison to the inexpressibility of imageless Muslim God. For the purpose of contextualization, the thesis also engages with contemporary scholarships on global film/media such as accented, diasporic and intercultural cinema and video art. The creative component of the thesis was the production of five experimental videos that address the mystical philosophical ideas discussed in the thesis such as time, language, cine- thinking and visual thinking. The films and the theoretical component were developed in tandem, enriching and transforming each other.
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