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Cinema

Overview

For Alain Badiou, films think, and it is the task of the philosopher to transcribe that thinking. What is the subject to which the film gives expressive form? This is the question that lies at the heart of Badiou’s account of cinema.

He contends that cinema is an art form that bears witness to the Other and renders human presence visible, thus testifying to the universal value of human existence and human freedom. Through the experience of viewing, the movement of thought that ...

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Overview

For Alain Badiou, films think, and it is the task of the philosopher to transcribe that thinking. What is the subject to which the film gives expressive form? This is the question that lies at the heart of Badiou’s account of cinema.

He contends that cinema is an art form that bears witness to the Other and renders human presence visible, thus testifying to the universal value of human existence and human freedom. Through the experience of viewing, the movement of thought that constitutes the film is passed on to the viewer, who thereby encounters an aspect of the world and its exaltation and vitality as well as its difficulty and complexity. Cinema is an impure art cannibalizing its times, the other arts, and people – a major art precisely because it is the locus of the indiscernibility between art and non-art. It is this, argues Badiou, that makes cinema the social and political art par excellence, the best indicator of our civilization, in the way that Greek tragedy, the coming-of-age novel and the operetta were in their respective eras.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The best of French philosopher Badiou's over 50 years' worth of writing on cinema is collected in this intriguing volume. It begins with an interview conducted by editor de Baecque in which Badiou considers the role of film in culture as a "school for everyone", his evolving relationship with the cinema, and the radical politics that often inform his work. His 1977 essay "Revisionist Cinema" lays out these politics, decrying the ideals of "new bourgeoisie" directors like Bergman and Kubrick. Badiou posits an "axiomatic" approach to film discussion in which we eschew judgment in favor of asking "how a particular film lets us travel with a particular idea in such a way that we might discover what nothing else could lead us to discover." Badiou describes film as "the seventh art", explaining how it interacts with other media, and provides brilliant, in-depth analyses on the techniques, styles, and themes of several films. His crucial essay is "Cinema as Philosophical Experimentation" in which he explores film as both a "mass art" and a subject worthy of serious philosophical thought. Badiou's writing style may be difficult to those unaccustomed to French philosophy, but the material is worth the effort. (June)
From the Publisher
"Fascinating ... every word of Badiou's writing radiates with a pronounced sense of exuberance for cinema, and presents the convincing case that it is the liveliest of the seven arts."
Film International

"Provides brilliant, in-depth analyses on the techniques, styles, and themes of several films."
Publishers Weekly

"The chance to truly and fully understand the nature of cinema through the eyes of someone who is clearly one of its most passionate advocates."
Morning Star

"Badiou’s unfashionable militancy is sure to continue to generate a degree of mock not-this-again head-scratching from the guardians of sober academic scholarship in the humanities, as well as from whoever might be assigned to review Badiou in say, The New York Review of Books."
Los Angeles Review of Books

"While a thorough reading of this book is an intellectual investment, I would highly recommend it, particularly to those interested in the pursuit of cultural renewal by artistic means."
Englewood Review of Books

"There is an aphoristic concision to Badiou's thinking that is capable of producing moments of true enlightenment."
Review 31

"These rich and diverse pieces are all ostensibly concerned with cinema, but are ultimately far more profound than often their occasion would demand. Providing an important exploration of politics, esthetics, the visible, and cinema's relation to thinking and procedures of decision, this volume gives the reader of Badiou a sense of this major thinker's intellectual development. Spitzer's translation of this volume is a careful and meticulous rendering of Badiou's thought."
Claire Colebrook, Penn State University

"Since the 1950s Badiou has written in excess of thirty essays on cinema. It is clear that film has been a constant companion in his articulation of art as a form of truth-making event, the creation of unworldly truths. This collection brings these writings together in English for the first time, allowing us to see just how important film is for Badiou’s philosophy of the event."
John Mullarkey, Kingston University, London

"These rich and diverse pieces are all ostensibly concerned with cinema, but are ultimately far more profound than often their occasion would demand. Providing an important exploration of politics, esthetics, the visible, and cinema's relation to thinking and procedures of decision, this volume gives the reader of Badiou a sense of this major thinker's intellectual development. Spitzer's translation of this volume is a careful and meticulous rendering of Badiou's thought."
Claire Colebrook, Penn State University

"Since the 1950s Badiou has written in excess of thirty essays on cinema. It is clear that film has been a constant companion in his articulation of art as a form of truth-making event, the creation of unworldly truths. This collection brings these writings together in English for the first time, allowing us to see just how important film is for Badiou’s philosophy of the event."
John Mullarkey, Kingston University, London

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745655680
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/1/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 787,292
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Alain Badiou was Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and is one of the leading philosophers in France today. His many books include Being and Event and The Century.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Foreword ix

1 "Cinema Has Given Me So Much" 1

2 Cinematic Culture 21

3 Revisionist Cinema 34

4 Art and its Criticism 40

5 The Suicide of Grace: Le Diable probablement 48

6 A Man Who Never Gives In 50

7 Is the Orient an Object for the Western Conscience? 54

8 Reference Points for Cinema's Second Modernity 58

9 The Demy Affair 64

10 Switzerland: Cinema as Interpretation 67

11 Interrupted Notes on the French Comedy Film 72

12 Y a tellement de pays pour aller 77

13 Restoring Meaning to Death and Chance 82

14 A Private Industry, Cinema is also a Private Spectacle 86

15 The False Movements of Cinema 88

16 Can a Film Be Spoken About? 94

17 Notes on The Last Laugh 100

18 "Thinking the Emergence of the Event" 105

19 The Divine Comedy and The Convent 129

20 Surplus Seeing: Histoire(s) du cinéma 132

21 Considerations on the Current State of Cinema 138

22 The Cinematic Capture of the Sexes 151

23 An Unqualified Affirmation of Cinema's Enduring Power 162

24 Passion, Jean-Luc Godard 166

25 "Say Yes to Love, or Else be Lonely": Magnolia 176

26 Dialectics of the Fable: The Matrix 193

27 Cinema as Philosophical Experimentation 202

28 On Cinema as a Democratic Emblem 233

29 The End of a Beginning: Tout va bien 242

30 The Dimensions of Art: Forgiveness 252

31 The Perfection of the World, Improbable yet Possible 258

Notes 261

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