The images of film and the categories of signs:
Peirce and Deleuze on media.

(Guest Seminar paper, School of Media and Communications,
University of New South Wales, Australia May 2003)

By Geoffrey Sykes


Two accomplishments can be credited to the two Cinema books written by Gilles Deleuze in the last decade of his life. Both accomplishments relate to his reception and use of Peirce, and hence to any appraisal of possible relationship between these two authors.

a) First, in a prolific, neologistic process, Deleuze updates his lifelong philosophical inquiry using semiotic terminology, which explicitly draws on concepts of Peirce. In a direction that is arguably of utmost significance for contemporary semiotics and media studies, Deleuze upgrades his lifelong interest in philosophy and psychoanalysis using a pragmatic semiotics that involves major claims for the non linguistic status of semiotics, as suitable for his subject matter, film, and for a fundamental distinction between semiotic and logical or linguistic based semiology:.

Deleuze disputes the dominance of "theories of signification in both contemporary philosophy and film theory", and semiology, seeking to replace or supplement these with a semiotic based phenomenology, that will explain the experience and perception of film imagery, as well as the relationship of director, actor and audience.

b) Secondly, philosophy as theory, and semiotic theory at that, becomes grounded in innumerable case studies, of individual films. In the same way Peirce drew on case studies in science, mathematics and logic, synthesising these in proposals for existential graphs that could assist practical reasoning, so the Cinema books are quite distinct writings by a conceptual philosopher such as Deleuze, in their sustained attention to enumerated subject matter. Stylistically, however novel in itself, theory is written in a secondary or fragmentary way, much in manner of marginalia or occasional publication style of semiotic theory by Peirce.

It can further be said that Deleuze, as Peirce, accomplishes these two aims simultaneously, fore- the tools that mediate reasoning and communicative behaviour. His Cinema books should be regarded as an inspired, albeit intuitive, translation of Peirce for media studies, and, through extrapolation, new media or digital studies. The non verbal themes, especially about faciality, I argue elsewhere, remain absolutely pertinent for semiotic model of communication media.

Nevertheless, Deleuze's claims of synchrony between his multi dimensioned semiotic and the categories of Peirce are open to question, and the penultimate position his philosophy takes in the Cinema volumes open to evaluation from a Peircean perspective.

1) Semiotic and Semiology

Deleuze's Cinema books represent a radical departure in concepts, subject matters and style, from anything he wrote before. Part of their radical content and form lies in a re-appropriation of key concepts of Peirce. I call his use appropriation because he acknowledges it as such, and it seems a little unfair of Jensen to criticise Deleuze's neologistic adaptation, of "cinema graphic concepts" (1986: ix), of key terms such as 'qualisign', 'icon', 'dicisign' and 'synsign'. (Jensen: 35);(Deleuze 1986: 59); (Douglas: 28). Deleuze's reading of the Collected Papers, which he references (1986: 227 note 33), seems limited, and he mentions only one additional, secondary source about Peirce. This was "Gerard Deledalle's commentaries" (Deleuze 1986: 231 note 14). (1990); yet it appears even this source was used over selectively. To say this is not to point any finger at Deleuze, but rather to point to the selective and inventive use Deleuze made of any knowledge he had of Peirce, primary or secondary. Nevertheless, Peirce along with Bergson, remains a secondary source for an explicit, intuitive and creative semiotic transformation of Deleuze's previous philosophical writings. The business of philosophy, he previously said, is to examine and explain the formation of concepts and make new ones, or as Peirce said it, "pragmatism does not undertake to say in what the meanings of all signs consist but merely to lay down a method of determining the meanings of intellectual concepts, that is, of those upon which reasons may turn."(5.8)

Instead of an inquiry about verbal philosophical concepts, his terminology focuses on non linguistic types and subtypes of images. The key term "image" substitutes for that of sign, with its linguistic connotations. Deleuze distinguishes between semiology and semiotics - the former, of verbal and logical nature, he considers has dominated film studies for too long. The result is conscious attention to non verbal aspects of behaviour and thought, "that includes all kinds of modulation features, sensory (visual and sound), kinetic, intensive, affective, rhythmic, tonal," which are often excluded from traditions of logic and linguistics, but whose micro analysis is possible on film. (1989: 29)." (5.8).

Having declared a manifesto for semiotics, as distinct from semiology, Deleuze proceeds to elaborate a dyadic model of "two semiotics" - the movement and time image (books 1 and 2 respectively), each with subtypes of images (affect, percept, dicisign etc). We should note parallels of his neologistic style with that of Peirce: both authors consciously create a semiotic domain that appropriates and transforms existing concepts and disciplines, whether of idealist or empirical philosophy, or film or scientific logic. Deleuze uses various alternative terminologies, including "noosigns", "image-components", "signaletic material" or "ideograms" (1989 29), for non linguistic signs and "images that gives rise to signs". Like Peirce, he adopts pseudo scientific terms, of the machine, geometrical and geographical concepts like "crystalline regime", "deterritorialisation" and his famous, "rhizome", as well as a subjective lexia (the "affect image") to clarify a dimension of the material semiosis of film often overlooked by studies of culture and signification.

2) Phenomology and Theories of Signification.

Deleuze's approach to cinema, reinforced by Peirce, is two edged sword, cutting against phenomenology and film theory. When Gilles Deleuze prefaces two main type of images, and corresponding signs, to be used in his study of a "pure semiotics" of twentieth century cinema (1986: ix), his aim is not to include or comprehend structural or code approaches to film studies within some wider perspective, but to supply an "emphasis on categories of movement and temporality in relation to visualization or imaging", that is, as Rodowick expresses it, a "critique of theories of signification in both contemporary philosophy and film theory." (Rodowick 1997). Deleuze saw linguistically inspired semiology (as distinct from semiotics) as reducing the image, and indeed dispensing with the sign. Deleuze acknowledges that any phenomenological account of media, such as that derived from Peirce, must be regarded as unusual compared with the main hermeneutic and cultural traditions of media.

Deleuze outlines the problems that phenomenology has always had with cinema: how infrequently Husserl, Merleau Ponty or Sartre refer to the graphic cinema image, which, he concludes, must have been regarded as a secondary form of immediate experience and sensible perception. Film seems to set boundaries and challenges for a phenomenological or pragmatic semiotic. Equally, however fulsome recent evaluation of Peirce might seem, his schemas would remain incomplete if they had little to contribute to analysis of burgeoning electronic media. Phenomenological accounts of film have become more common in recent years (Sobchack 1992), and it is interesting that a foremost proponent vouches for the foundational status of Peirce in a contemporary phenomenology (Sobchack 2000). Yet it remains for Deleuze to make published and seminal links between film, Peirce, pragmatism and phenomenology. Deleuze helps complete the picture of Peirce's inquiry into the "precise, necessary" steps of everyday behaviour and "unnoticed and hidden" behavioural relations of "practical reasoning", in terms of media representation and mediation.

3. Two Semiotics and the Revised List of Categories.

Deleuze goes further than adopting particular concepts of Peirce- he claims synchrony of his own semiotic models with the categories of Peirce. He compares his "classifications of images and signs ... with Peirce's great classifications", and asks, rhetorically, if and "why do they not coincide?" (1986: 59); (Douglas: 28). In view of the significant use Deleuze makes of Peirce, any lack of synchrony on this point of the main schemas of Peirce, can be used as a point of clarification between these two prominent and similar thinkers, and can be used to critique Deleuze's classification or taxonomy of signs and films, and create an opportunity for a fuller exposition of the contemporary relevance of Peirce.

i) Movement and Secondness

One of Deleuze's two main types of image is the movement-image. ). Deleuze commences his outline of "certain cinema graphic concepts" (1986: ix) by discussing features such as immediacy, proprioception, force, conflict, determination, linearity, representation, chronology and deictics. There are three subtypes of movement images: perception-image, action-image, and affect-image. Deleuze further relates the movement images to Peircean seconds. To what extent is this true?

It needs be clarified that movement is not a technique or aspect of generalised patterns of narrative or structures of meaning. Neither does a rhetoric of prioprection and immediacy of perception represent a return to realism; yet how is realism avoided when it is argued that film essentially and "immediately gives us a movement-image" (1986: 2. Surely the theories of filmic narration and signification have arisen to correct overly realistic interpretation of the dramatic illusion of moving images? Is Deleuze simply or naively seeking to turn back the clock on the problematics of representation that has been responsible for so much film studies? In what sense is a concept of movement image provide a supplement or even substitute for the analysis of cultural codes and signification that is being sought?

Deleuze commences a classification of film images much as Peirce does a general theory of signs, commencing in1867 with his "New List of Categories", through the study of causal and instrumental indices, and demonstrative and sensori-motor actions. As Peirce discusses his well known examples from of a windvane or a knock on the door, Deleuze discusses the force, energy and action-reaction of "action-->reaction schemas" of actions, especially as they are focused and interpreted through the camera, in particular through the perspectives of long, medium and close up camera shots (Douglas: 28)? Yet such study is not, for either author, one of naïve real world of objects or bodies, or what Peirce in 1867 would call "icons"; the objects of detailed empirical study, are not the referents of indicative or gestural signs, but the sign objects and events themselves, the gestures, kinesics, directions, verbal utterances and pictures that mediate our mental concepts or "symbols" (as Peirce used the term in 1867) and perceptions of the world.

The result is empirical, yes, but in the words of Gerard Deledalle, a "radical empiricism", whereby the objects or movement images of semiotic study become the material signs of communicative behaviour and phenomenological perception - the "altercations, oppositions, conflicts, and resolutions" (Rodowick) that constitute the sequences of action and perception in dramatic sequences. The "movement", I believe, is very much a quality of the sign itself, how the orientation of a windvane or a hand gestures orientates and sets forth the possibility of meaning in a communicative exchange. It is this vision, of phenomenological action, of embodied and empowering acts, understood semiotically as image or sign types, that Deleuze would argue has been overlooked from accounts of film as generalised patterns of narrative or cultural signification. The notion of power is crucial in understanding of indexes, for Peirce and Deleuze. Peirce generalised discussion of the power of a wind in determining meaning in a way, to human agency giving moved or directional pointers. The sign is created and its meaning sustained through an act of force. In a similar way a camera focuses and empowers its user to compel and force attention.

Analysis of movement images does not involve a direct, realist perception of physical movement or force, but the detailed and persuasive responses and reaction by actors and indirectly the audience in the "action and reaction" and altercation of patterns of social discourse as actualised and constructed in a particular filmic sequence. In much the same way Speech Act theory analysed discursive and conversational events utterance, Deleuze regards as a film as an assemblage of speech and movement images, that function communicatively between the director, actors and audience. Of course, Deleuze would argue, film enables a more radical analysis of interaction than was ever possible in the linguistically based methods of conversational studies. However, the relationship of his semiotic method, and traditions of American speech act and pragmatic methods, that arguably commenced with Peirce, can be clearly noted. Film is semiotic and pragmatic by nature; by seeking filmic analysis of "the seam between movements and actions" that comprise our everyday behaviour, we are involving ourselves in analysis that is fundamental to its production and reception, by director, actor and audience." Thus, Deleuze argues, somewhat enigmatically, in film study he is not doing a philosophy or meta analyis of film, or a generalised history, but is participating direct in its creation, which is inherently analytic and semiotic by nature.

The theoretical correspondence of movement images and Seconds can taken further a step further. Deleuze seems, in elaborating his semiotic of movement images, to follow Peirce distinction, within Seconds, in his mature schema of 1892 ("The Revised List of Categories"), when he distinquished between type and token or symbol and index, and in particular icon/index/symbol. Deleuze calls the generalised patterns of action, that Peirce would call habits, "sets of possible and inferential sequences", or the milieu or situational units of analysis (S). Elsewhere, in A Thousand Plateaus, he used the term "assemblages of indexes", and shares Foucault's post-structural behavioural account of the embodiment of codes or discourse. Deleuze's interest is in an immediacy of effect or situation, created through "material, actualised images", or actions (A), but admits what is innovative in any film is understood in sequence and co-jointly with what is already known, intertexually, as assemblages of S units.

Through use of S and A nomenclature, Deleuze achieves at least two things. First, as Peirce did before him, he comprehends notion of generalised symbolic codes and narration within a generalised account of deictic signs. Second, the permutation of sequences of S and A units, along with other subtypes of movement images, provide fertile tools or grammar for analysis of a considerable range of works, especially before 1950, that make his first volume appear like a history of film rather than a presentation of cinema graphic concepts. Analysis of that process involves directors as varied and international as Bunuel, Renoir, Wilder, Fassbinder, Visconti, Roussel, Stroheim, Hitchcock and Rohmer. As he says of Rohmer's gentle inquiries into French conversational manners, "the whole story (histoire) of modes of existence, of choices, of false choices and of the consciousness of choice, dominates the series of Moral Tales (notably My Night at Maud's)."(1986: 116). It is the "Pascalian consciousness" of Rohmer's work that relates phenomenology (or "philosophy") and film.

iii) "A Pascalian consciousness"

The problem I have with Deleuze's claim about Peircean Seconds lies not mainly in its theory but in its application in film analysis. Here he maintain an interest in auteur studies in the face of their criticism by cultural and structural approaches (Frampton section XV ): that retake might explain some of the resistance Deleuze's books have met from some film scholars. Yet auteur studies however is not my problem. The problem is that Deleuze stresses the dynamic interrelated nature of actualised cinematic. Yet Peirce saw the indexical signs of seconds as being knowns, regulated by symbolic habits or codes. When we command someone to close a door, to a large extent the command is effective because the situation is familiar: we are repeating a sequences of action of which the speaker and hearer are already familiar. In his mature categories, Peirce displaced in lifelong interest the existential or dynamic quality of intepretant signs to the category of the category of Thirdness, where a dynamic dialogism or argument was seen to mediate and transforms existing knowledge and habits. The themes of community, ethics and discourse, emphasised in mature writing of Peirce, have been found to have so much in common with dialogic studies of Bakhtin, Habermas and Dewey (Kevelson 1990: 59-78); (Apel 1981).

The problem is that Deleuze does not validate Thirdness, or his film analysis, in this way. Deleuze misconstrues or misses the delineations in Peirce's "The List of Categories: A Second Essay" (1.300), and in many other formulations of his mature categories, and finally ignores the serious inquiry about ethics, values and social intelligence that Peirce maintains. In Peircean terms, the result is to confuse Thirdness with Secondnesss.

On the other hand, in Cinema II, Deleuze regards Thirdness as an inquiry into "mental" signs. His study maintains an idealist and cognitive dimension, that draws on Bergson and is arguably not consistent with Peirce's post Kantian thought, or indeed Perice's own antipathy to Bergson. As a result the "unified" whole of film, indeed the future of film to which movement-images contribute, is different to the "genuine" signs of Thirdness, in which the wholeness of Peircean sign experiences converge.

Thus, although there are indeed three sign or image categories in Deleuze, and although he claims synchrony of his own semiotic types with those of Peirce, it can be argued that only two are phenomenological or pragmatic, and correspond with those of Peirce. In terms of Peirce's triadic categories, Deleuze's semiotics can be regarded as dyadic.

One further problem results, indirectly, from Deleuze's consummate study of the movement image and filmic discourse. By misconstruing Seconds, or we could say by overinterpreting indexicality, Deleuze understates the potential of pragmatic images or signs of action to interpret the reception of popular genres, action narrative, panoramic docu-dramas, and popular documentaries. Audiences do not pay to see what they already know: the actuality and immediacy of effects, that are often high fidelity, seem to invite an explicit action/movement rhetoric or classification that is more sophisticated that promotional blurbs or populist explanations of filmic experience, yet equally retain ethnographic and commonsense fidelity to the qualities of action and experience that populist tags of action indicate. Critically, it seem a lack for the author who spoke of how "camera always works as an equivalent to other forms of physical or mechanical movement, whether by foot, car, bicycle, plane, etc." (Frampton : 6), that Deleuze provided no commentary on a swathe of populist works that go under the rubric of 'action' films. If, as Edward O'Neill says, "Deleuze doesn't have to bad-mouth anyone; he just leaves them out" (O'Neill: Section IIA), how are we to explain the omission of so many of the directors of contemporary action works? Why cannot movement-images, of one type or other, or the types of peircean Seconds, be applied to forceful and causative perception of natural disasters, man-machine escapades, armed conflict and crime adventures that comprise a major diet of commercial media. Why can they not be applied to the stylised yet immediate interactions of electronic games, and interactive media (even in the early digital versions available when Deleuze wrote)? Why not, rhetorically, by current analysts, to the image making of high fidelity, Imax mega screens? Surely the action tracking of action events, in iconic landscape representations, by Imax camera, qualifies for some comment in terms of assemblages of movement-images? However passive the appearance of the seated audience in a darkened theatre, it is true that such response involve micro interpretive propriocentric and interpretive movements. Never unmediated, neither are these responses merely physiological, but in part surely part of a field of gestural and pre linguistic behaviour.

iii) Time and Firstness

Deleuze complements his account of the indexical nature of film, with an account of reasoning and abstract thought, that continues the interest in cognition and psychoanalysis of his earlier philosophy. There is, I have suggested, an explicit account of consciousness and cognition, termed a third semiotic, in Cinema II book, yet it not one that seems to correspond to anything in Peirce, neither is it one I wish to pursue here. Deleuze's second book, Cinema II, has much affinity to Bergson's inquiry into consciousness than Peirce's into pragmatism. Yet the Cinema II book also presents another category of semiotic image, termed a "time-image", which Deleuze names the first of his semiotics, thus arguing for a correspondence between his time image and Peirce category of Firstness. In making this correspondence, I wish to argue that Deleuze was substantially correct, that indeed there is remarkable similarity between time image and the mature theory of iconicity or abstract signs that Peirce, after 1885, called Firstness.

We can briefly explain what Peirce had to say about firsts or diagrammatic signs by looking at what he had to say about photographs. Peirce sought several dimensions, that he called "indirect" or "degenerate" factors, to explain the meaning of a photograph, that made it more than a "mere print" or dicent, or "section of rays projected from an object", which "does not, in itself, convey any information." I have been reminded that the latter phrase seems to echo something Roland Barthes could or did write about photographs, and if it does, then of course there is only one way such derivation could occur. Enough to say that the echoes of American, and especially Peircean, thought, in continental thought, might be demonstrated while misconstrued in Deleuze, but just as equally overlooked in other authors, such as Foucault, or even Sartre.

About photographs. Meaning, Peirce argues, involves a "further determination of an already known sign of the same object".(2.320). He anticipates several radical direction away from the dicent or literal empirical quality of a particular photograph; one was toward a study of social significance or habits implied by a particular photograph, another was the indexical nature of its creation, that a photograph indicates or tells as much about its taker as its subject; and thirdly, that disguised in the apparent static quality of an "instantaneous photograph" was a micro continuum of conscious movements and time intervals, out of which intended or conscious meaning is selected, by means of which a still photo is also "a composite of the effects of intervals of exposure more numerous by far than the sands of the sea." (2.321). Understood as a continuum, and not only a mere or literal print, the photographic image or icon became, for Peirce, a diagram, a product or function of infinite flow of spatial/temporal, and phenomenological, possibilities that precede and follow it. Such discussion is part of Peirce's move beyond Kant, to an account of the temporal and spatial dimensions of conscious reasoning, understood as semiosis.

Deleuze says much the same. He is intrigued with the relation of the still and moving image, and the pragmatic function of both, and hence differs from Metz's effort to argue for generic boundaries, that would differentiate film studies from still photographics. Deleuze is intrigued with the sense of temporal and spatial intervals that surround the photograph, that allow a relational and phenomenological structure of a "moving" film to emerge. Our attention is turned from the objects of perception, and products of knowledge, from the "represented object" (1989: xii) that is the subject of description or mimetic necessity, not only towards symbolic or situational milieu, but to the processes of knowing, reasoning and communication that is "more numerous by far than the sands of the sea." Film, Deleuze could say, makes the "composite of effects of intervals of exposure" that underlie out everyday practical reasoning, entirely explicit and evident; it invites, indeed demands a level of attention and inference from audience that a "rarely apparent to quotidian perception; rather they are rendered as visible and legible in the images that create." (1986). That is, film not only makes evident or "visible" patterns and features of communicative events, but makes "seen" the flux of possible, hypothetical and inferential movements from which the actual patterns of behaviour are selected and composed. (1989: xii). That is, film permits a close scrutiny not only of the meaning, or the effects, but of the creation of everyday experience, creation that is often unexamined and unseen. The intervals or continuum of possible actions (which micro kinesic gesture of which hand will occur in this conversational sequence) are bounds to sequences of communicative or movement effects. The "Time Image" is not really about chronological time at all, but the liberation of time from space, regulated according to intended, indicative acts. The image is "no longer motivated by action, space changes." (Roderick: 8).

Deleuze gives innumerable example of how editing and montage does not only reproduce or tell narrative, nor demonstrate or actualise narrative in particular situations, but also manipulates fundamental sense of chronology, which is concatenated, elided, stretched, in order to endlessly release and re-create possibilities of action that might be otherwise imperceptible to everyday experience. The contra punctual movement of montage and chronology, transforms the chronological and relational image of movement. Narrative is continually recreated from possibilities that supplement movement. Such a doubling or play of the signs of mimesis or indexicality is inevitable with the technology; the editor, especially the digital editor, present unlimited manipulation of source footage. The editor demonstrates the problematic that Peirce saw at the basis of representation; that any indexicual, singular act of naming, paradoxically involved a contrasting sense of complexity and change. As Peirce says, there is "image in the imagination, and of observing the result so as to discover unnoticed and hidden relations among the parts." (3.363). The transformation of movement images is along the line of Peirce's consideration of time, mathematically, as a continuum, not as an even or regular chronology. "The modern logic-mathematical conception, is that our image of the flow of events receives, in a strictly continuous time, strictly continual accessions on the side of the future, while fading in a gradual manner on the side of the past ..." (8.124). Like a graph, the continuum of discourse represented by film can be endlessly divided and changed (the two principles, of continuity and change, Peirce called synechism and tychism) - editing divides and disassembles, mechanically and especially electronically, along a continuum of infinite possibilities, which it also discovers and observes as present in everyday life. Any sense of movements, or communicative realism, achieved by a film is thus a reassemblage from an infinite and arbitrary field or flow of movement. As Peirce would say, "Thus the absolutely immediate present is gradually transformed, even slowed down, by an immediately given change into a continuum of the reality of which we are thus assured. ... The argument is that in this way, and apparently in this way only, our having the idea of a true continuum can be accounted for." (8.124)

In silent film Deleuze sees characterisation doubling its corporeal signing self and intention, stepping into and through a continuum of chronology, to subordinate movement to a new sense of non chronological time. Yet the dream sequence of Keatonesque mime is not autonomous, or aesthetic, or mentalist, but an doubling within material and everyday movement movement, an external narrative of mind, that turns in and muses on itself, playfully and regressively teasing out intervals. Semiotically, the interdependence of two sign categories or image types can be argued: Peircean Firsts and Seconds, and Deleuzian Time and Movement Images.

Whatever his familiar or expressed self, or whatever situation narrative that introduces him, however actualised or familiar his movement first appears, a clown character like Buster Keaton replicates and reinvents himself, displacing and deferring narrative in and out of space defined chronologically. In Sherlock, Jr., Keaton, as a self parodying young projectionist, divides his own self using lap dissolve, and, anticipating Woody Allen in Cairo, enters the rectangle of a screen within the screen as if in a dream. A Brechtian alienation effect is evident, in a paradoxical logic that would come to characterise much later film-making, including recent digital image-making. The possible sense of a complex infinity and divisibility of time intervals involved in everyday experience and narration is exploited in comic milieu of an explicit film effect, not only to delay chronology but sometimes to digress and suspend it altogether. There is a realist or experiential logic to the comedy: it is not only a fantasy escapism created by the medium; nevertheless, film explores, as digital media has come to do so well, a gap in any analogic or indexical relation of film and life, or sign, intention and object. As one commentator has put it, "Thought becomes agitated and turbulent, thrown ever closer to its bifurcation points as it is tossed along the incommensurable relations defined by the time-image."(Rodowick:12)

As Peirce says, "A double sign has double intention of sign, and a double intention that can allow consciousness. That step of thought, which consists in interpreting an image ... is one of which logic neither need nor can give any account ..." (7.311) This is a very important conclusion for Peirce to make: consciousness and reasoning correspond to paradoxical relations between sign events and processes. For Deleuze film demonstrates the material conditions for human thought, features of which so preoccupied him in his earlier philosophy. He seems to have discovered a model case study and exemplar, by which meaning "is never a principle or origin; it is produced.... It is to be produced by new machineries."(Deleuze in Rodowick: 12). Deleuze does not seek a philosophy of film, but he does conduct a philosophy of mind-as-film, and an explicit inquiry of artificial intelligence and film that seems to correspond closely to Peirce's inquiry about tools of reasoning and logic.

It is a theme, like most in Deleuze's writing, that begs and needs more attention than can be given immediately. For example, micro pragmatic analysis gazes in wonder and speculation, and sometimes with fictive abduction, on phenomenon that might otherwise be taken for granted. For example, in his Cinema books Deleuze continues his discourse on facial representation, or faciality, that he commenced in A Thousand Plateaus. His uses his main types, of movement or power, and time or affect images, is used incisively to interrogate close-ups of the face. Far from being instrumental to discourse, or even expressive of character, the apparent stillness or composure of the face paradoxically discloses infinitesimal, fast movements - immobility is composed of imperceptible movements, that are made visible through montage of camera work and editing. The face be exactly conceived as a "black hole" or "a different kind of element" of corporeality, of "n-carrying plate planes of nerves" whose physical existence is "divided and divided again in space of infinitesimal representation" (1986: 14), an expressive plane that embodies thought, "gathers or expresses in a free way all kinds of tiny actions." (Frampton : section 4).

Yet even within the significant correspondences that can be found between Peirce and Deleuze, equally significant gaps remain. Deleuze's enthusiastic issue of appropriation of the concepts of Peirce, seems to presume to novel application he is making of them in film studies. Yet such enthusiasm seems to overlook the nascent media project already undertaken by Peirce. This does not only include occasional references to photographics, but recurrent discussion of a set of tools or media of reasoning. The explicit scientific applifcation of tools as maps, chemical tables, mathematical diagrams, and telescopes, were generalised as models for everyday, social reasoning. This was particularly true of the map. Peirce generalised the notion of diagrammatic and mediated reasoning in terms of a concept of "existential graphs". Indeed, it can be argued, somewhat controversially, that Peirce's semiotic is necessarily involved a theory of media, a theory more suited perhaps to digitally based media than the focus Deleuze's gives to narrative film.

Of course, Deleuze is more forgiven for avoiding digital media than he is for not commenting on popular film - regardless of Peirce's relative perspicacity on mediation, writing some eighty years before perhaps his most famous student, Deleuze. Regardless of such evaluation, the re-application of Deleuze's discourse and image classification, towards digital media, awaits, and indeed comprises my own next project.


The most famous philosopher of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Perhaps. It is true, and significant, that there appear to be significant parallels between their work. Both seek a grammar or classification of sign types, that is applicable to the practical production and analysis of events and reasoning. Both see forms of media that will provide an opportunity for a semiotic analysis of social discourse.

Yet gaps result from his selected use of Peirce: Deleuze ignores the proto media potential of ideas like "existential graphs", of diagrammatic tools of reasoning, that could directly comprise a theory of audio visual and digital media. Further, any parallels of concepts of these authors do not extend to synchrony of his semiotic types and categories of Peirce.

This paper has barely introduced the eloquent argument or detailed case studies put forward by Deleuze, in his two Cinema books, or his vast philosophical enterprise before that - indeed, it has deliberately, and conveniently, chosen to highlight the latter by means of his latter day, slim two volume publication on film. For I conclude that to give any more detailed attention to Deleuze's ideas, or to the analysis and history of film they entail, or general philosophy, risks losing the benefits of a Peircean approach to Deleuze, an approach enabled through the revision of semiotic/semiology distinction his appropriation of Peirce invites. That is, the aim is not an elaboration of Deleuze, that integrates Peirce within it, but a containment, integration and interpretation of Deleuze within a characteristically Peircean perspective on communication media.

Apel, K-O.1981. From Pragmatism to Pragmaticism. NJ: Humanities Press.

Deleuze, Gilles. 1986. Cinema 1. The Movement-Image. trans. H. Tomlinson & B. Habberjam Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press
____________ 1989. Cinema 2. The Time-Image. trans. H. Tomlinson and R. Galeta. London: Athlone Press

Douglass, P. 1998. "Deleuze, Cinema, bergson." In Social Semiotics. 8/1: 25-35.

Jensen, K. 1995. The Social Semiotics of Mass Communication. London: Sage.

Kevelson, R. 1990 Peirce, Paradox, Praxis. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

O'Neill, Edward. "Apprehending Deleuze Apprehending Cinema. Introduction to Le cinema salon Deleuze." At http://www. mailbase.ac.uk/ lists/film-philosophy/files/paper.oneill.html

Peirce, Charles S. 1931-58. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Eight volumes. (ed. by A. Burks, C. Hartshorne and P. Weiss.) Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Rodowick, D. 1996. "A Short History of Cinema." At http://www.rochester.edu/College/ FS/Publications /TimeMachine/ShortHistory.html

Sobchack, V. 1992. The Address of the Eye. A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton: Princeton U.P.

__________ 2000. Private conversation with Vivian Sobchack, March 2000.

END OF:  Sykes, "The images of film and the categories of signs: Peirce and Deleuze on media"


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