Ma, Mu and the Interstice: Meditative Form in the Cinema of Jim Jarmusch
Abstract: This article focuses on the centrality of the interstice to the underlying form of three of Jim Jarmusch’s films, namely, Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Dead Man (1995) and The Limits of Control (2009). It posits that the specificity of this form can be better understood by underlining its relation to aspects of Far Eastern form. The analysis focuses on the aforementioned films as they represent the most fully-fledged examples of this overriding aesthetic and its focus on interstitial space. The article asserts that a consistent aesthetic sensibility pervades the work of Jarmusch and that, by exploring the significance of the Japanese concepts of mu and ma, the atmospheric and formal qualities of this filmmaker’s work can be elucidated. Particular emphasis is paid to the specific articulation of time and space and it is argued that the films achieve a meditative form due to the manner in which they foreground the interstice, transience, temporality and subjectivity.