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(2012) Critical communities and aesthetic practices, Dordrecht, Springer.

From reflection to refraction

on Bordwell's cinema and the viewing event

John Mullarkey

pp. 63-72

"An increasingly popular claim amongst film-philosophers is that film is no mere handmaiden to philosophy, that it does more than simply illustrate philosophical texts: rather, film itself can also think. Film can philosophise. According to the Deleuzian version of this thesis, film has a form of mindedness all its own on account of its relationship with the world being non-representational: film-content does not reflect objects to us the viewer, rather film-content is an object for itself. Deleuze gets this idea from Bergson, who argued that cinema has the same refractive or material form (rather than reflective or representational form) as has consciousness. In this sense, film has a mind of its own. Following a short exposition of this thesis, this essay tests it out by applying it to that most philosopher-friendly of film-makers, Jean-Luc Godard. I choose this most obvious example, not only because Godard himself also tried to show that film had a refractive rather than reflective form, but also because it turns out that taking the view that his films are themselves forms of thought is far harder to establish than first appearances might lead us to believe. In fact, I will argue that we will only succeed in establishing this thesis through a radical, and perhaps vacuous, re-definition of what thought is as such.'

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-1509-7_6

Full citation:

Mullarkey, J. (2012)., From reflection to refraction: on Bordwell's cinema and the viewing event, in J. Jansen (ed.), Critical communities and aesthetic practices, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 63-72.

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