“Biopolitics of gesture: cinema and the neurological body”, Pasi Väliaho in:
[…] the gaze that Charcot cultivated and trained in his clinic was influential in establishing modernity’s epistemological practice: obsessed with moving, doing. breathing, sensuous individual in terms of the complex dynamics of mental and physiological forces meticulously scrutinized in the body’s outward appearance.
Emerging as a new kind of epistemic object in the late nineteenth century (roughly, 1850-1870), this was not just a body composed of organs and tissues but one distinguished as having functions, performances and behavior.
Perhaps the two, the neurological body and the cinematic apparatus, were mutually constitutive.
In cinema, the unity between gesture and intention was rather broken down.
[Citing Wilhelm and Eduard Weber]
“Man binds his movements to certain rules even if he cannot express these rules in words. These rules are based totally on the structure of his body and on the given external conditions.”
So-called normal, healthy men can walk – that is to say, their gait has a style, which is expressive of personality and culture, of values, intentions and beliefs – whereas the diseased body merely produces “steps”. Deprived of style and rhythm, the diseased body is deprived of signification and thus appears as excluded from the realms of history and politics.
In at least one of its dimensions, producing and maintaining this decomposed image of the human is the function of the biopolitics of gesture in cinema.