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Theories of filmic reality

In formulating a notion of filmic reality, this book offers a novel way of understanding our relationship with cinema. It argues that cinema need not be understood in terms of its capacities to refer to, reproduce or represent reality, but should be understood in terms of the kinds of realities it has the ability to create. The book investigates filmic reality by way of six key film theorists: André Bazin, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière. In doing so, it provides comprehensive introductions to each of these thinkers, while also debunking many myths and misconceptions about them. Along the way, a notion of filmic reality is formed that radically reconfigures our understanding of cinema.

Joshua Foa Dienstag in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

This book engages in a critical encounter with the work of Stanley Cavell on cinema, focusing skeptical attention on the claims made for the contribution of cinema to the ethical character of democratic life. In much of Cavell's writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms "remarriage comedies" live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. Films are often viewed on television, and television shows can have "filmlike" qualities. The book addresses the nature of viewing cinematic film as a mode of experience, arguing against Cavell that it is akin to dreaming rather than lived consciousness and, crucially, cannot be shared. It mirrors the celebrated dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean D'Alembert on theatre. The book articulates the implications of philosophical pessimism for addressing contemporary culture in its relationship to political life. It clarifies how The Americans resembles the remarriage films and can illuminate the issues they raise. The tragedy of remarriage, would be a better instructor of a democratic community, if such a community were prepared to listen. The book suggests that dreaming, both with and without films, is not merely a pleasurable distraction but a valuable pastime for democratic citizens. Finally, it concludes with a robust response from Dienstag to his critics.

A reply from Saturday Night to Mr. Dienstag

“Rousseau: Music, Language and Politics,” in Keith Chapin and Andrew Clark, eds . , Speaking of Music (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), pp. 86–100. 5 Stanley Cavell, “The Good of Film,” Cavell on Film , edited by William Rothman (Albany, NY: State

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

happiness that is the promise of an emancipated perfectionist democracy. 1 Stanley Cavell, Cavell on Film, edited by W. Rothman (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005) p. 11. 2 Jacques Rancière, “The

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
A cinematic response to pessimism

automatism, or a human something “unlike anything else we know.” 38 The godlike feature of cinema, and its aesthetic and political value, is its capacity to give us something unlike anything else we know . And that , to be sure, is a dangerous contention. 1 Stanley Cavell, Must We Mean

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Open Access (free)

Dear Joshua, There is little I can offer here in response to your letter to Stanley Cavell on film and what you are calling the tragedy of remarriage. (Since I am recently remarried, and find our marriage meet and happy, I have to say that I am not inclined to sympathize with your perspective on The Philadelphia Story .) This is not to say that I

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Letter to M. Cavell about cinema (a remake)

been endorsed by many but celebrated by one distinguished voice in particular, especially with reference to film, that of Stanley Cavell. It is therefore necessary, once again, to rehearse the opposing view, not out of any dislike for that medium, but out of a greater concern for its corrosive effects on our democracy. Not having found any way to improve on Rousseau’s style of

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
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Unsettling subjects of justice and ethics

sociological and political languages for communicating about Palestine–​Israel within specific contexts (Lambek 2010; Wittgenstein 1967). Then, by engaging with philosopher Stanley Cavell’s reflections on democratic life, I consider how these issues around the languages and truths of Palestine–​Israel crystallise on campus in relation to the question of ‘free speech’. Cavell’s work, I suggest, opens up the question of voice in relation to these campus conflicts: what does it mean for students engaged with this conflict to have a voice? And how can democratic relationships

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics

evaluation are sometimes less a priori, deterministic, and theoretical, than they appear. Bazin was an accomplished critic observing many films that he thought had substantial qualities; he then constructed a quasi-theoretical position based on the evidence. It is arguable that this way of proceeding is also true of later medium-based theories of evaluation: for example, those presented by V.F. Perkins in Film as Film (1972) and by Stanley Cavell in The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (1979). These books begin by presenting a theory of film and then work

in Aesthetic evaluation and film
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Conversation, friendship and democratic possibilities

practices of speaking and listening entailed risk-​taking, acknowledgement of the unknown, cultivating trust and care, reflexivity, speaking from experience, dialogism and the capacity for open-​ended relationships. Exploring this ethnographic material in relation to Foucault’s (2001) account of the ethics of ‘parrhesiastic’ speech and Stanley Cavell’s (1990) insights into the intersubjective, pedagogic dimensions of democratic relationships, I show how these students taught me ways of engaging with Palestine–​Israel politics as an ethical subject. Towards the end of the

in Tragic encounters and ordinary ethics