Badiou and Cinema

Badiou and Cinema

Alex Ling
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Badiou and Cinema
    Book Description:

    This book offers an in-depth examination of cinema and its philosophical significance. Alex Ling employs the philosophy of Alain Badiou to answer the question central to all serious film scholarship - namely, 'can cinema be thought?' - using films ranging from Hiroshima mon amour to Vertigo to The Matrix to illustrate Badiou's philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4448-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Texts
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Gorky’s Maxim
    (pp. 1-13)

    Almost two-and-a-half millennia have passed since the mythical prisoner of Plato’s Republic first stumbled bleary-eyed from the ancient screening room of the cave to gaze upon the brilliance of the sun. Yet it is today, in our so-called ‘postmodern’ world – a world in which Plato has supposedly been ‘overturned’, in which truth finds itself on equal footing with opinion – that we need more than ever to turn to those principles underlying Platonism: to the foundational role of mathematics, to the ‘supreme genera’ of Ideas, to the possibility of real thought (outside of the calculable machinations of constituted knowledges);...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Presenting Alain Badiou
    (pp. 14-31)

    French philosophy has often found itself playing the role of romantic object to Anglophone academia’s desiring subject. The frequent attempts of the latter to devour the concepts put forward by the former are evidenced as much by the ongoing influence exerted by those grand spectres of twentieth-century French thought – the Derridas, the Foucaults, the Lyotards, the Deleuzes – as by the omnipresence of what is, after a fashion, their most abiding legacy, namely, poststructural and postmodern theory. Given the weight we grant French thought it is remarkable how long it has taken for the work of Alain Badiou –...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Can Cinema be Thought?
    (pp. 32-54)

    If we focus solely on the smattering of Badiou’s ‘inaesthetic’ papers on cinema that have thus far made their way into English, then we would be forgiven for concluding that, at least at first glance, far from serving to condition his philosophy, cinema is of little consequence to Badiou. Indeed, on a superficial reading his best known musings on film – namely, the chapter in his Handbook of Inaesthetics on ‘The False Movements of Cinema’ (comprising two earlier papers first published in L’art du cinéma)³ and his essay on ‘Philosophy and Cinema’ found in the collection Infinite Thought (also orginally...

  8. CHAPTER 3 In the Kingdom of Shadows
    (pp. 55-84)

    Our first declaration must be that any understanding of cinema as an ontological art on the basis of some ‘essential’ relation it exhibits between its own intrinsic semblance and an objective reality which remains fundamentally exterior to it is a dead end. No matter how seductive André Bazin’s sentiments may be, we cannot today uphold any argument that maintains ‘there is ontological identity between the object and its photographic image’ (WC2, p. 98). This is not, however, to say that Bazin’s protestations regarding the inherent realism of cinema need be abandoned altogether. The terms of the relationship simply need to...

  9. CHAPTER 4 An Aesthetic of Truth
    (pp. 85-106)

    Badiou begins his paper on science fiction cinema, ‘Dialectiques de la fable’, by noting how it is imperative that we:

    always verify, against empiricism and with Platonism, that the visible, apparent face of what is certain (like Saint Thomas, we must see to believe), is in reality only a particular aleatory index of the real. And consequently, in the cinema: verify that this artifice – cinema – seriously tests philosophy by imposing a variation of the regime of the sensible. In sum, verify that cinema has at its disposal a certain aptitude for the concept, whence it has the power...

  10. CHAPTER 5 An Instant or an Eternity: Thinking Cinema After Deleuze
    (pp. 107-133)

    Clearly the status of the event is crucial to Badiou’s thought. As we have seen, Badiou designates the tension integral to his philosophy – the one which runs between being and event, between knowledge and truth – a materialist dialectic. So too have we seen how this dialectic constitutes Badiou’s philosophical maxim, within which we find the three principal strata comprising his thought, namely, the ontological (the thinking of being), the logical (the thinking of appearance) and the subjective (the thinking of truths). Yet these three terms alone are meaningless without a fourth, this being of course the ‘abolished flash’...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Alain Resnais and the Mise en Scène of Two
    (pp. 134-159)

    As is well known, any consideration of Alain Resnais’s cinema inevitably arrives at the question of time. Indeed, the relation of the former to the latter is now such a commonplace that ‘Resnais’ and ‘time’ have effectively come to function (at least in the discourse of film studies) as synonyms. As such, any invocation of the pair today carries with it the danger of sounding tired and clichéd. On top of this, the fi lms that I will be examining in this chapter – Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and Last Year in Marienbad (1961) – suffer from an interpretive...

  12. CHAPTER 7 The Castle of Impurity
    (pp. 160-189)

    We begin this final chapter with a difficult but fundamental thesis: cinema is an inessential art. Obviously this is not to say that cinema is unimportant artistically; rather, cinema is an art devoid of essence. We have seen something of this thesis already, in our assertion that cinema is at base a superficial art, an art of surfaces (it cuts from what appears, not what is). For if film is, as Badiou states, at its heart ‘nothing but takes and montage’, then it can by definition have no essential properties. Or again, there is no such thing as ‘quintessential’ or...

  13. Conclusion: The Future of an Illusion
    (pp. 190-192)

    Of all the arts cinema is without doubt the most universal, the most immediate, and the most paradoxical. As a mass art, cinema speaks to (generic) humanity in a way that no other art is capable of doing. So too cinema’s mechanical, reproductive basis means that it is available like no art before it. On top of all of this, cinema can be seen to simultaneously (re)define and confound the very notion of ‘art’, inasmuch as every film, in a single and same gesture, draws a border and erases the distinction between art and non-art. This is further compounded when...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-205)
  15. Filmography
    (pp. 206-208)
  16. Index
    (pp. 209-214)