"If the previous chapters by Cabrera, Reid and Craig, and Cerbone all accentuate the paradox of existence, that our being-in-the-world is simultaneously beautiful and ugly, good and evil, joyous and painful, Jussi Backman's "Not One Power, But Two: Dark Grounds and Twilit Paradises in Malick" investigates this fundamental ambivalence in terms of Schelling's doctrine of evil, a view that assigns evil (and hence melancholy) a fundamental place as a basic principle of reality. Backman's suggestion at once deepens and complexifies the (...) way in which Malick's films can be seen as exercises in "aesthetic theodicy," as Sinnerbrink has said." (Steven DeLay, Introduction). (shrink)
This essay sets out reflections on happiness that, it is argued, can be drawn from the 2013 film Blue Jasmine. In doing so, it seeks to demonstrate a certain epistemic potential of sound film, specifically, in the present case, a philosophical and psychological potential. It is argued that this kind of potential resides in a filmmaker’s ability to realistically represent aspects of the world that can otherwise rarely, if ever, be experienced so reflectively.
This article examines Ian McEwan's script for director Richard Eyre's film, The Ploughman's Lunch, the title of which alludes to a deceptive, post-World War II advertising campaign that promulgated a false narrative about British tradition. McEwan's script, and Eyre's film adaptation of it, offer a prescient exposé of Britain's culture of mendacity in the 1980s in ways that draw on rule-consequentialist ethics to maintain that lying on the personal, professional, and political level has a pernicious effect on society. McEwan's work (...) on the film also marks a crucial turning point in the author's career, one in which he first begins to explore complex ethical and moral conundrums that would figure prominently in his major fiction. (shrink)
When we think of diegesis and diegetic in film studies, we know what the words refer to within the confines of the traditional scholarly definition of film in the 20th and 21st centuries. This understanding comes from a certain ontological common sense that narratologically film has a dual nature that consists of mimesis and diegesis. Thinking about narration through images and sound, as opposed to the live-acted or read drama or epos in the times of Plato and Aristotle, has given (...) birth to a synthetic view of the poet’s voice and the characters. In fiction films, mimesis and diegesis are so symbiotic that it is often difficult to distinguish between them. However, is it possible to think of films that are non-mimetic? In other words: is it possible for a film to be completely diegetic in the sense of Plato’s understanding of the word diegesis? Plato was against mimetic arts because they were so far removed from the eidos of what they were that there was no explicable use in presenting them. On the other hand, he very much approved or at least perhaps tolerated and recognized the importance of non-mimetic art forms such as music with specific modes of harmony or poetry that only contained the poet’s words where no characters were represented. With this view in mind, two steps will be taken in this paper: the first is questioning the possibility of a purely diegetic film, and the second is the significance of inquiring about such a work. (shrink)
This article uses Carl Plantinga’s and Noël Carroll’s theorizations regarding cinematic disgust to analyze Carl Franklin’s 1995 film noir, Devil in a Blue Dress. Plantinga argues for a link between disgust and ideology that helps to reveal deeper cultural significance in film, which Carroll’s work likewise supports. Plantinga further argues that disgust in art may be strangely attractive as well as repulsive, thereby eliciting reflection. I argue that combining these elements with philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah’s explanation of how moral revolutions (...) happen by means of honor codes helps to clarify not only viewer sympathy and solidarity for this film’s African-American protagonist, but also viewer moral disgust at another important white character’s racism. In particular, the film encourages its more thoughtful white viewers to reconsider as well as potentially change their affective responses, ideological predispositions, and habits of perception and attention regarding race, thereby facilitating fundamental moral change and even the possibility of moral revolution. (shrink)
Despite being a prevalent theme in popular cinema, revenge has received little dedicated attention within film studies. The majority of research concerning the concept of revenge is located within moral philosophy, but that body of literature has been overlooked by film studies scholars. Philosophers routinely draw on filmic examples to illustrate their discussions of revenge, but those interpretations are commonly hindered by their authors’ inexperience with film studies’ analytical methods. This article seeks to bridge those gaps. The 2010 remake of (...) I Spit on Your Grave is used as a case study to illustrate the benefits of an interdisciplinary engagement with revenge. Philosophical literature on the topic has routinely posited that revenge is either appealing or appalling, and that impasse has stifled conceptual understanding. The interdisciplinary approach employed here elucidates that revenge is simultaneously appealing and appalling; this dualistic nature is evident in I Spit on Your Grave since it is built into the narrative design. I conclude that an interdisciplinary approach to revenge has the potential to advance understanding of revenge-qua-concept both within films studies and philosophy. (shrink)
Modern television is awash in programs that focus on the rough hero, a protagonist that is explicitly depicted as immoral. In this paper I examine why audiences find these characters so compelling, focusing on archetypal rough heroes in two programs: The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. I argue that the ability of rough-hero programs to engender a certain degree of empathy for morally deviant characters despite viewers' resistance to empathizing with these characters' moral views is an aesthetic achievement. In addition, I (...) argue that empathy for the rough hero has cognitive value in that it enables us to reflect on the nuances of the psychology underlying moral deviance. In defending these claims, I offer my view as an alternative to A.W. Eaton's robust immoralist view that the aesthetic value of rough-hero programs lies in their ability to make audiences empathize with immoral perspectives; my claim is that empathy for rough heroes does not extend to their moral outlooks. My view also provides an alternative to Matthew Kieran's cognitive immoralist view that a work's depiction of immorality has cognitive value insofar as it imparts a normative lesson; my claim is that rough-hero programs are cognitively valuable not because they teach us about the perils of acting immorally, but because they help us understand the moral psychology that underlies immoral behavior. I defend an interpretation of rough-hero programs that incorporates insights from Eaton's and Kieran's immoralist views but does not support immoralism. (shrink)
This paper has three goals. The first is to defend Tristan Taromino and Erika Lust (or some of their films) from criticisms that Rebecca Whisnant and Hans Maes make of them. Toward that end, I will be arguing against the narrow conceptions that Whisnant and Maes have of what `feminist' pornography must be like. More generally, I hope to show by example why it is important to take pornographic films seriously as films if we're to understand their potential to shape, (...) or mis-shape, socio-sexual norms. (shrink)
This chapter explores the relationship between ‘hardcore’ horror films, and the discursive context in which mainstream horror releases are being dubbed ‘extreme’. This chapter compares ‘mainstream’ and ‘hardcore’ horror with the aim of investigating what ‘extremity’ means. I will begin by outlining what ‘hardcore’ horror is, and how it differs from mainstream horror (both in terms of content and distribution). I will then dissect what ‘extremity’ means in this context, delineating problems with established critical discourses about ‘extreme’ horror. Print press (...) reviewers focus on theatrically released horror films, ignoring microbudget direct-to-video horror. As such, their adjudications about ‘extremity’ in horror begin from a limited base that misrepresents the genre. Moreover, ‘extremity’ is not a universally shared value, yet it is predominantly presented as if referring to an objective, universally agreed-upon standard. Such judgements change over time. Moreover, in contrast to marketers’ uses of ‘extreme’, press critics predominantly use the term as a pejorative. Although academics have sought to defend and contextualise particular maligned films and directors, scholars have focused on a handful of infamous examples. As I will explain, academic publishers implicitly support that narrow focus. As such, the cumulative body of scholarly work on ‘extreme’ horror inadvertently replicates print press critics’ mischaracterisation of the genre. These discursive factors limit our collective understandings of ‘horror’, its ostensible ‘extremity’. and of ‘extremity’ qua concept. Given that the discourse of ‘extremity’ is so commonly employed when censuring representations that challenge established genre conventions, it is imperative that horror studies academics attend to peripheral hardcore horror texts, and seek to develop more robust conceptual understandings of extremity. (shrink)
Many pornographic works seem to count as works of fiction. This apparent fact has been thought to have important implications for ongoing controversies about whether some pornography carries problematic messages and so influences the attitudes (and perhaps even the behaviour) of its audience. In this paper, I explore the claim that pornographic works are fictional and the significance that this claim has for these issues, with a particular focus on pornographic films. Two related morals will emerge. First, we need to (...) pay attention not merely to whether entire pornographic works should be classified as fictional, but to the way that pornographic fictions (like fictional works more generally) have both fictional and non-fictional elements. Second, we have to understand the ways that pornographic works can blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction, misleading their audiences into taking their fictional elements to be revealing truths about non-fictional reality. In the case of pornographic films, we will examine how a pornographic fiction can be portrayed by people having sex on camera, and the ways in which this portrayal can mislead viewers about sex in the non-fictional world. (shrink)
The film The Survivalist portrays a dystopic world, wherein the most valuable asset is seeds. The 'seeds' metaphor applies both in the context of agriculture and in that of fecundity. The Survivalist's hostile hospitality toward a pair of nomads -- a mother and her daughter -- results in the pregnancy of the latter. In the last raid on his compound, the Survivalist allows the daughter to escape at the expense of his own life. This sacrifice manifests a severe critique against (...) the preference given today to the well-being of the individual at the expense of the survival of the species. (shrink)
Mike Shur’s Netflix-aired The Good Place has been a focus of philosophical attention by both popular-culture (written by pop-philosophers) and professional philosophers. This attention is merited. The Good Place is a philosophically rich TV show. The Good Place is based in three places: The Good Place, The Medium Place and The Bad Place. Every human being ends up in one of these places after they die based on their good points (points received for doing good actions e.g., chewing with your (...) mouth closed) and bad points (points received for doing bad actions e.g., virtue-signaling). Spoiler alert: by Season 4 of The Good Place (the fourth and final season), the main characters of the show – Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani – eventually reach the real Good Place (not the fake “Good Place” they had been tortured in by the human-formed, architect demon Michael in Season 1). However, when they reach the real Good Place after much struggle with ethical dilemmas, recognition of their moral flaws and moral development, they find themselves wanting to leave: they were unsatisfied with what The Good Place had to offer and wanted to be freed from it. This paper is concerned with the following questions: What accounts for their desire to be freed from The Good Place? What kind of freedom were they trying to achieve, and how did The Good Place represent it? Reflecting on these (and similar) questions, I argue that St. Thomas (who made it into The Good Place!) gives an ingenious and plausible answer: it was not merely that The Good Place was characterized by pure hedonism (a core deficit of The Good Place, identified by its creators), but more specifically that they had a positive desire for a freedom from temporal goods/experiences which do not satisfy the longings of the human heart and a freedom for the enjoyment of perfect freedom. While The Good Place ends in much perplexity, I argue that the freedom they desired was a rudimentary articulation of the freedom that St. Thomas identifies in heaven. (shrink)
Are people with flawed faces regarded as having flawed moral characters? An “anomalous-is-bad” stereotype is hypothesized to facilitate negative biases against people with facial anomalies (e.g., scars), but whether and how these biases affect behavior and brain functioning remain open questions. We examined responses to anomalous faces in the brain (using a visual oddball paradigm), behavior (in economic games), and attitudes. At the level of the brain, the amygdala demonstrated a specific neural response to anomalous faces—sensitive to disgust and a (...) lack of beauty but independent of responses to salience or arousal. At the level of behavior, people with anomalous faces were subjected to less prosociality from participants highest in socioeconomic status. At the level of attitudes, we replicated previously reported negative character evaluations made about individuals with facial anomalies, and further identified explicit biases directed against them as a group. Across these levels of organization, the specific amygdala response to facial anomalies correlated with stronger just-world beliefs (i.e., people get what they deserve), less dispositional empathic concern, and less prosociality toward people with facial anomalies. Characterizing the “anomalous-is-bad” stereotype at multiple levels of organization can reveal underappreciated psychological burdens shouldered by people who look different. (shrink)
This chapter explores the anti-colonial narrative potential of certain works of cinema taking Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Caché as a case in point. To do so, this chapter first and mainly draws upon the theoretical and normative lens put forward by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on the representation of the colonized other and her resulting political and intellectual call for self-reflection on one's privileged Western intellectual positioning. This lens has many normative implications for the ways in which the colonized (...) subject and colonial history are discussed and represented. The partial lack of representation of the colonized other in Aguirre, the Wrath of God leaves the subjectivity of the colonizer in crisis and madness. Second, the narrative of Caché is explored and it is suggested that it resembles the rhetoric of Foucauldian disciplinary power of surveillance turned upside-down thus enforcing the complicit of colonialism to question her privilege. (shrink)
This paper explores the potential of realist cinema to portray resistance to oppression and restrictions on people’s lives. Wadjda presents a special case in world cinema in being made in Saudi Arabia, which until recently had no film industry or distribution system. The director, Hafaa Al Mansour, has been praised for making the film there at all. Yet this ignores the film’s power in taking a slice of time in the life of a young Riyadh girl, Wadjda, and focussing on (...) her desire to own a bicycle. The film’s realism depicts restrictions on women’s lives in Saudi Arabia and at the same time affirms hope in gradual change through the natality, in Hannah Arendt’s sense, of a child who does not see these constraints as insurmountable obstacles. I argue that realist films can demonstrate the importance of gradual political progress and can anticipate those advances. (shrink)
This handbook brings together essays in the philosophy of film and motion pictures from authorities across the spectrum. It boasts contributions from philosophers and film theorists alike, with many essays employing pluralist approaches to this interdisciplinary subject. Core areas treated include film ontology, film structure, psychology, authorship, narrative, and viewer emotion. Emerging areas of interest, including virtual reality, video games, and nonfictional and autobiographical film also have dedicated chapters. Other areas of focus include the film medium’s intersection with contemporary social (...) issues, film’s kinship to other art forms, and the influence of historically seminal schools of thought in the philosophy of film. Of emphasis in many of the essays is the relationship and overlap of analytic and continental perspectives in this subject. (shrink)
This chapter examines race in film through exploring what the author calls “cinema beyond the veil.” This involves addressing several themes. The first is historical—namely, the story of racial portraits in film. The second is hermeneutical—that is, interpreting the portrayal of race in film. The third is philosophical—pertaining particularly to the aesthetic quality of film where race emerges. And the fifth is political—whether race can be in film without subordinating aesthetic aims to political imperatives. Conceptual tools rallied in the service (...) of this analysis include audiovisuality, allegory, monstrosity, political aesthetics, and potentiated double consciousness. (shrink)
In this chapter, I interpret Vladimir Jankélévitch’s work on the bad conscience and on forgiveness in relation to the film Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016). This film is a striking meditation on remorse and the difficulty of self-forgiveness for Lee Chandler, a man who lives a monastic life as a janitor in Boston after the tragic death of his three children in a house fire. Many discussions of the film so far have focused on its depictions of despair (...) and grief (with brief references to guilt), aspects of it that are certainly important. (Lane, 2016; Scott, 2016; Fleming, 2017) However, a focus on grief neglects the ethical dimensions of the film that Jankélévitch’s intense articulations of the solitary character of remorse and what a genuine offering of forgiveness really concerns can illuminate and engage with. His accounts demonstrate the immense complexity of remorse, self-forgiveness and the difficulty of accepting the generous forgiveness of others, even in situations where the calamity that has occurred is not a result of a deliberate, intentional action. Lee’s remorse dwells in the irreversibility of time and the irrevocability of our acts that Jankélévitch explains, and goes further in being a remorse that cannot be overcome. The film also enables us to question features of Jankélévitch’s view: that we can undo the consequences of our act or deed, in contrast to the action, and that self-forgiveness is a conceptual impossibility, because forgiveness must be a relation to another, rather than sometimes an existential one. (shrink)
Science fiction has served the film industry like a dreamy stepchild. It gets only scant accolades from its master but must do heavy lifting: that is, make money. While science-fiction films often emphasize spectacle and action, they also inspire philosophical contemplation. Why? Science fiction, dating back to Shelley and Verne, came into existence speculating about humanity's social and physical worlds. Many books and articles over the past several years discuss the philosophical issues that films raise. One fairly new school of (...) thought, "posthumanism," explicitly deriving from postmodernism, with touches of critical theory, has seized on science-fiction movies as support for its theorizing. This volume and its 42 authors from film theory, science and technology studies, literary criticism, media studies, and philosophy, offer an array of posthumanist scholarship. (shrink)
The moral importance of films to viewers is a dimension of the cinematic experience that has long been neglected. By describing the moral education powers of film, this book aims to encourage philosophers to practice the ethical reading of film works. This exercise helps to make intelligible important features of our lives, which academic forms of discourse tend to overlook. Taking our experience of films seriously should even reorient our conception of the tasks of ethics and the ways of doing (...) philosophy. Hugo Clémot thus intends to contribute to a conversation whose interlocutors are Ludwig Wittgenstein, Stanley Cavell, William Rothman, Victor Perkins, Cora Diamond, Andrew Klevan and Sandra Laugier. Because it allows us to understand films such as "The Awful Truth", "Bringing Up Baby", "The Aviator's Wife", "The Green Ray", "Winter Tale", "Spring Tale", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Detachment" or "Happy-Go-Lucky" and directors such as Leo McCarey in a different way, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, Éric Rohmer, Terrence Malick or Arnaud Desplechin, this tradition also concerns researchers in film studies, since the value of an aesthetic research is a function of its capacity to enrich the experience of singular works. (shrink)
This important new book provides an original and compelling argument for a new theory of aesthetic education. Rafe McGregor proposes a model of interdisciplinary inquiry, applying a combined philosophical and critical approach to illuminate issues in a social science. The book makes an original contribution to the field of narrative criminology.
Band 13 der psycho-logik widmet sich aus fächerübergreifendem Blickwinkel dem Thema Identität, das in den Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften zu einem Schlagwort des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts geworden ist. Gerade die moderne und liberale Gesellschaftsordnung, die uns ungeahnt viel Freiheit ermöglicht hat, charakterisiert ein Patchwork aus Identifikationsangeboten, das zugleich die kollektive und personale Identitätsfindung problematisch macht. Aktuell hat die narrative Theorie die erinnerte und erzählte Lebensgeschichte zum Gründungsort des Selbst erhoben. Sie spielt auch in den Beiträgen dieses Bandes eine prominente Rolle. (...) Es zeigt sich, dass die Identitätskonstruktion ein Prozess ist, in dem sich Identität als etwas Fragiles und Plurales offenbart. Identität ist ein tragisches Spiel zwischen Einheit und Mannigfaltigkeit: Identität(en). Forscher*innen aus Deutschland, Irland und den USA mit ihren Beiträgen aus Literaturwissenschaft, Theologie, Philosophie und Psychologie diskutieren u. a. das Band zwischen Identität und Erinnerung bei Marcel Proust, transsexuelle Identitätskonstruktionen in US-amerikanischen Biopics, den Film als Identitätsbildungsmedium des Publikums, Identitätspolitik(en) am Beispiel des Zugangs zu US-amerikanischen Hochschulen, die Identitätsfindung in Lebensgeschichten und den psychotherapeutischen Umgang mit gebrochenen Identitäten. Fotoarbeiten des Künstlers Hermann Recknagel runden den Band ab. Mit Beiträgen von Michaela I. Abdelhamid, Carsten Albers, Paul Clogher, Katherine Duval, Winfried Eckel, Fiona Ennis, Annette Hilt, Christopher A. Nixon, Paul Nnodim, Hermann Recknagel, Patricia Rehm-Grätzel, Martin Reker, Annika Schlitte und Hartwig Wiedebach. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with whether there is a moral difference between simulating wrongdoing and consuming non-simulatory representations of wrongdoing. I argue that simulating wrongdoing is (as such) a pro tanto wrong whose wrongness does not tarnish other cases of consuming representations of wrongdoing. While simulating wrongdoing (as such) constitutes a disrespectful act, consuming representations of wrongdoing (as such) does not. I aim to motivate this view in part by bringing a number of intuitive moral judgements into reflective equilibrium, and (...) in part by describing the case of a character that I call The Devious Super Geek who simulates wrong to particular people that he knows personally. I build bridging cases from the case of the Devious Super Geek to capture games in which one simulates wrong to imaginary members of extant, morally salient categories. The surprising conclusions that we are led to include not just that simulated wrongdoing is pro tanto wrong, but that simulated Just killing is pro tanto wrong, and also that the simulated killing of zombies and aliens is also pro tanto wrong. Finally, I describe how I propose to handle some potential objections and attempt to weigh the pro tanto wrong identified in the paper against some countervailing considerations in some all things considered judgements. (shrink)
Статтю присвячено розгляду пропаганди у сучасному російському кінематографі. Зроблено спробу оглянути і порівняти обмежену вибірку фільмів 2009–2014 рр., показати прийоми пропаганди і їх зв’язок між внутрішньою та зовнішньою політикою Російської Федерації.
The purpose of this paper is to defend a deflationary account of the ethical value of narrative representation. In sections 1 and 2 I demonstrate that there is a necessary relation between narrative representation and ethical value, but not between narrative representation and moral value. Ethical is conceived in terms of moral as opposed to amoral and moral in terms of moral as opposed to immoral and the essential value of narrative representation is restricted to the former. Recently, both theorists (...) involved in the ethical turn in criticism and analytic philosophers have erred in conflating these two distinct kinds of value. In sections 3 to 5 I defend my deflationary view against three attempts to elevate the ethical value of narrative representation to moral value: Martha Nussbaum’s theory of realist novels, Noël Carroll’s virtue wheels, and Geoffrey Galt Harpham’s closural moral order. (shrink)
Resumen: En este trabajo se aborda lo que en los debates recientes de filosofía del cine se ha denominado la paradoja del suspenso. Esta paradoja radica en el problema de que algunos espectadores sienten suspenso frente a una narración que ya conocían, partiendo del presupuesto de que la incertidumbre es un estado cognitivo necesario para sentir esta emoción. Se analizan varias propuestas recientes y se ofrece una alternativa a la mismas en la que se recupera la simpatía y la anticipación (...) como elementos que permiten explicar esta paradoja de la reincidencia. -/- Abstract: This paper discusses what recent discussions in philosophy of film have called the paradox of suspense. This paradox lies on the fact that it is problematic that some audiences feel suspense when they watch a narration they already knew, based on the assumption that uncertainty is a necessary cognitive state for this emotion. This work presents recent proposals analyzing the paradox and it provides an alternative explanation based on the role sympathy and anticipation play in this paradox of recidivism. (shrink)
Art often is the subject of philosophy; it is more rare that a work of art becomes philosophy, pursued by means other than language. In its cinematic way, Son of Saul, a Hungarian film by László Nemes about the Holocaust, engages with the same set of problems that the nineteenth century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote about.
This paper analyzes the ethical themes and theory portrayals by particular characters in Star Trek: Into Darkness. It is concluded that the film can be understood as explicating the pros and cons of both "male" and "female" ethical perspectives, and that a comprehensive understanding of morality requires some synthesis of both perspectives.
Despite the notable lack of Chaplinesque romantic flourishes, Buster Keaton has a sophisticated approach to romantic love in his films. Love in Keaton’s films is a mutual recognition and admiration for the physical and mental competence necessary to deal with an absurd, cruel, or indifferent social and physical environment and an agreement to face the world together. There are two ways in which this claim might seem surprising to someone familiar with Keaton’s films. Keaton’s famously stoic persona seems to be (...) at odds with the very idea that there is an expression of romantic love in the films. How could someone so un-expressive express romantic love? There is simply not enough there to be interpreted. Additionally, the topic of love seems to be the wrong approach to take toward Keaton, the master of the gag. His films are original and interesting and funny because of their visual wit, not because of their thematic value. Watching his films for themes is to miss what is valuable about them. In answering these objections, I will set the stage for my argument that Keaton’s narratives assume the viewer recognizes the Buster character is in love while withholding many of the traditional emotional signifiers of that love. The narrative cannot proceed without this assumption and many of the gags don’t work without recognizing Buster’s motivation. Through careful attention to the resolution of the stories within the films, we can begin to recognize the surprising, sophisticated approach to romantic love that the films contain. (shrink)
What is so striking about Breaking Bad is how centrally impairment and disability feature in the lives of the characters of this series. It is unusual for a television series to cast characters with visible or invisible impairments. On the rare occasions that television shows do have characters with impairments, these characters serve no purpose other than to contribute to their ‘Otherness.’ Breaking Bad not only centralizes impairment, but impairment drives and sustains the story lines. I use three interrelated themes (...) from Disability Scholarship to analyze Breaking Bad. The first theme, Bodily Control, is that good bodies are controlled bodies and that uncontrolled, messy bodies are frightening, bad bodies. Indeed, the messiness of impairment and disability is so bad, that impaired and disabled individuals are excluded or shut out or excluded from many areas of public life. The second theme, Normalcy, is that the effect of hiding away impairment, of attempting to conceal disability, is that society becomes defined by, and structured around, the concept of normalcy. Normalcy, being normal, attaining and maintaining normalcy, is the preoccupation of most in society. To fail to be normal, or to fall from what is considered to be normal, is a source of tremendous anxiety for most people. These two themes, Bodily Control and Normalcy are conceptually connected: impairment, disease and dying are so feared because they are socially invisible and, therefore unknown and unknowable. They are the undiscussable taboos. The third theme, Bodily Realism, is that having a realistic view of the body, which would at minimum require accepting the fact that human bodies are fragile things, prone to disease and accident and are ultimately destined to die, makes one more at ease in the world, and able to live better lives and live as a better person. Indeed, so the argument goes, our lives would be richer, more rewarding—emotionally and morally—if we cared less about normalcy because of a dread of abnormalcy, but instead learned to accept if not positively value the physical variability of human existence. (shrink)
Body, Soul and Cyberspace explores how recent science-fiction cinema addresses questions about the connections between body and soul, virtuality, and the ways in which we engage with spirituality in the digital age. The book investigates notions of love, life and death, taking an interdisciplinary approach by combining cinematic themes with religious, philosophical and ethical ideas. Magerstädt argues how even the most spectacle-driven mainstream films such as Avatar, The Matrix and Terminator can raise interesting and important questions about the human self (...) and our interaction with the world. Apart from these well-known science fiction epics, her analysis also draws on recent works, such as Inception, The Thirteenth Floor, eXistenZ, Aeon Flux, Total Recall (2012), Transcendence and TRON: Legacy. These films stimulate an engaging discussion on what makes us human, the role memory plays in understanding ourselves, and how virtual realities challenge the moral concepts that govern human relationships. (shrink)
Friedrich Nietzsche delineates three stages of sacrificial behavior. The first stage consists of the sacrifice of particular human beings to a god. The second stage involves the sacrifice of one’s own instincts to a god, and the third stage culminates in the sacrifice of God himself. This last stage describes the death of God and signals the “final cruelty” of our present times. Our age is the age of nihilism, the point in history during which humans “sacrifice God for the (...) nothing,” fulfilling a kind of nihilistic sacrifice. -/- In this paper I examine three different cinematic depictions of sacrifice, two of which clearly illustrate Nietzsche’s first two stages and the last of which suggests the possibility of the third, nihilistic stage. The films I have selected all share a common thread insofar as they all take place in Scotland. The first two films, The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973) and Breaking the Waves (Lars Von Trier, 1996), take place in rural, northern Scotland, capitalizing on what scholars have called the myths of Tartantry and the Kailyard in order to depict sacrifice as something disengaged from the modern world. The third film, NEDs (Peter Mullan, 2010), takes place in modern Glasgow and draws on a myth that scholars call Clydesideism. This myth highlights the postindustrial, gritty, urban face of Scotland. In NEDs, the sacrifice made by the main character is of a sort thinkable only in modern times and in an urban setting, and it comes very close to what may be a kind of nihilistic sacrifice. (shrink)
The Deleuzian model and the masochistic contract -- Masochism, feminine "goodness" and sacrifice -- Self-mutilation and (a)signification -- Transgressive reconfigurations -- Heterocosms, spectres and the world remade -- Postscrip.
A unique and interdisciplinary collection in which scholars from Philosophy join those from Film Studies, English, and Comparative Literature to explore the nature and limits of love through in-depth reflection on particular works of literature and film.
Political responsibilities for systemic mass violence have been subordinated to the moral guilt and legal liability of perpetrators and collaborators, while the role of the bystander has been narrowly construed in terms of charitable rescue or negligence. This dominant victim–perpetrator framework ignores the complex political dimensions of bystander responsibilities for systemic mass violence, especially those responsibilities that stem from the benefits that bystanders receive. The films of Claude Lanzmann, Rithy Panh, and Yael Hersonski contain elements of an alternative framework of (...) bystander responsibility and also can serve as catalysts for the political education of bystander beneficiaries and those from whom they have benefited. (shrink)
In this essay I argue that Ridley Scott's first feature film, The Duelists, which is an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad novella, contains his deepest meditation on honor in his entire career. The film may be said to answer the following question about honor: is being bound to do something by honor, when it is contrary to one's self-interest, a good thing, or a bad thing? It may be said to give the answer that it may be either good or (...) bad. It is bad that D'Hubert is bound by honor to duel with Feraud; it is good that, in the end, Feraud is bound by honor to cease dueling with D'Hubert. In this way, Kant was correct that "the inclination to honor" may light "upon that which is in fact in the common interest and in conformity with duty," or it may light upon what is contrary to duty. (shrink)
In this essay I argue that Machiavelli does not hold that all deception is permissible in war. While Machiavelli claims that "deceit... in the conduct of war is laudable and honorable," he insists that such deceit, or ruses of war, is not to be confounded with perfidy. Any Lee's U.S. Civil War film, "Ride With the Devil," illustrates this difference. The film also illustrates the difference between lying as part of romance, which is permitted, and lying at the moment of (...) truth in a relationship, when admitting one's feelings, which is not. (shrink)