Monday, August 07, 2006

The Philosopher & The Film-Maker

... In the world of image semiotics, which beyond mere representations brings along a heavy political burden it is quite impossible to separate the world of the philosopher from that of the film-maker. That reminds of Marcuse's remarks on the rise of analytical philosophy and the struggle of the continental schools to overwrite it; it wasn't a mere struggle of philosophical schools and tendences but rather a struggle for philosophy itself, for the making of philosophy.

Having very little to inherit from traditions in my day, I affiliated to continental philosophy not only out of existential concerns (not existentialist) but as a part of a legacy which I bestowed upon myself being a guest in continental culture; for as a Jew living in the age of postmodern criticism it was the only resource available in order to save myself from the completion of the Heideggerian prophecy of "De-struction or De-structuration, to which I've returned to and fro endless times.

Being a little bit of a modernist in the Arendtian fashion I can but ponder on whether this holds any significance for me personally and for the world. Wisely Mary McCarthy phrased the struggle of continental philosophy in America already in the 70's: The philosopher in his activity realizes that he has a common world with the rest of humanity, the common world being in itself the thinking space in which he performs experiments just like the scientist in the laboratory.

If the common world isn't all that common to the philosopher as much as it is to the beggar and to the businessman then philosophy in itself is a dead enterprise with but little to offer other than scholasticism, which we've well worn out and even off from the skin of our de-traditions as they stand today. Karl Jaspers phrased it in a tantamount paradox: Philosophy must become practical and concrete without ever forgetting its origins.

And from my experience I could as well say the European film maker does share this world of the philosopher in which the metaphysical truths even when shattered (just like kitsch and romance) must be kept alive and rather less adrift in order to make space for the world of appearances to exist bodily. Yet the philosopher can't become the film maker or viceversa and that leads us to question what's become of mimesis for both.

In a sorry world like ours at times films carry a weight of reality that has been wiped out from the world, since no possible representation carries a human message if it's not actually an outward drive of an inward need that does exist down there in the world of men's affairs. Does something exist out there in the world of men that has not even a name?- Words of Hannah Arendt. The same applies to continental philosophy, it's an historically conditioned response to human needs. In the Platonic sense (which was also Lessing's) things could only be become in Athens when they would enter human discourse. Things that couldn't be discussed undoubtedly did exist, but they did not become humanized in a sense that they could elevate themselves from the world of "Ideas" and wander somewhere in between.

Contemporary film as a part of the entertainment world isn't only a form of postmodern spirituality but also a philosophical undertaking in a way that philosophy isn't, because its mimesis doesn't find an earthly place among the laymen. Film is perhaps the form of artistic expression I want to devote the most thought to. Film is that which remains untold in between the lines of the poem and the ecstasis of the philosopher. Film isn't only about politics, it is about being slightly more human.

There're only two safe ways to achieve this which are cultural, therefore artificial (we've seen how history and nature have failed us at that): The paradox and the semblance. Philosophy being the first and Film the second.

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