When intellectual montage means a refusal of cutting to or from
The Guardian, with this caption and photo coupling/rift, becomes, for a brief moment, something like Eisenstein with his sharpest of idiosyncratic cuttings. The screenplay:
[Intertitle: The country postponed national parliamentary elections after voting materials failed to arrive in many areas]
Shot: An explosion of oil gushes like a black milk separator. The plenitude is not gathered. A figure in red stands beneath a stormy sky. It is unclear whether or not the small circular ripples in the pool are from rain or from the crude.
That link - failed projects of "democratization" and oil sprouting and falling - is on the order of that elusive intellectual montage of which Eisenstein wrote, because it routes its sense not just between any two at hand (shot 1/shot 2, or shot 1/evoked concept) or even through the gathered energy of the preceding sequence, but through a world order as such. Through the historically particular situation in which one can not only make sense of that linkage between elections delayed-oil bubbling in place, but in which one cannot choose otherwise, as it is not a link of speculation. It is the order of our day, it does not arrive in time yet it does not close. It's the growing dread that despite the talk of the unmappable tangle of capital's totality, what montage may mean now is simply a camera that rests in place, at most turning slowly on its tripod, and that needs no cuts to bring together the incompatible, just a stare long enough to watch the contradictions bubble and belch and fall before it, senseless.
And whether or not this will be intelligible is a problem addressed to another order of montage, one called lower, one called earlier in the progression, one known in the guts. For like all industries, the development of cinema was never a one-way street, and a shock to thought and sensation, if real, will not be registered in either the mind or the body alone, not in the spurring to reflection or in the palpation of the heart. It's in the faulty wiring between the two, the lost microseconds of transition, that seasickness. A film that can bind together voting materials and the gusher will hit us between the spirit and the gray matter, and it will get us in the neck. A dull whiplash, we've grown accustomed. But still...