chapter  14
The (becoming-wo)Man Who Fell to Earth
ByDENE OCTOBER
Pages 18

David Bowie’s single ‘Space Oddity’ (1969) depicts the character Major Tom as cut adrift from Earth on a perilous mission into inner space.1 Seven years later, Bowie plays another Tom, this one surrendering to gravity and arguably in greater need of rescue. This chapter focuses on the Thomas Jerome Newton figure, in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), as reporting a creative substrate to identity and promotes a promethean reading of the protagonist in opposition to the film’s presumption of his linear evolution (see also Chapter 13 by Julie Lobalzo Wright in this volume). Since this comparison can be conceptualised as the being/becoming dilemma of the film, this chapter considers Deleuze’s notion of “becoming”, as formulated from his early works to later collaborations with Guattari.2 The aim in so doing is twofold: firstly, to highlight a correspondence between Deleuzean becomings and the feminine figuration of the film’s (and Bowie’s) alien; secondly, to encounter with Deleuze by speculating upon the becoming-man, a notion Deleuze rejects since man is already and always the subject. The argument that the language of the film appropriates oppressive figurations is something a Deleuzian reading is only able to respond to by first addressing its own androcentric metaphors3 of becoming and its paralysis of the subject.4 It is my argument that the Newtonian figure cannot help but be fallen, a character in someone else’s story, one made to signify and who therefore presents a blank account of agency. I offer in his place a post-Newtonian figure, one with the opportunity to become-quantum and, upsetting the film’s narrative, timeliness and grammar, become not the man who fell, but the man who falls … and who keeps falling.