Precious Bodily Fluids

Secondary Summary of Cavell

Summary of Stanley Cavell’s argument in The World Viewed, taken from Jeffrey Pence, “Cinema of the Sublime,” Poetics Today 25, Vol. 1 (2004), 61-62:

“Like [Walter] Benjamin, Cavell insists that to appreciate film’s potency requires acknowledging its technical capacity to frame an aspect of reality for our scrutiny. Unlike Benjamin, Cavell argues that this scientific or rational element of cinema does not necessarily define the medium in opposition to illusion, fantasy, or even magic. Rather, he writes, ‘movies arise out of magic, from below the world’ (Cavell, 1979 [1971]: 39). ‘The world’ here is inseparable from the templates of consciousness that frame this entity for comprehensible perception. As a medium generally, and within the genre of the spiritual film explicitly, movies reenact for our reflection the process of framing by which the infinite possibilities of sensory perception and interpretation come together in a pragmatically coherent entity (the world). By this reenactment, movies alert us to the prior and foundational existence of that which is not yet framed as a world. Furthermore, they remind us of the persistence of the as yet unknown, here figured as the ground of magic without which reason and representation would have no context or materials to work with.”

Cavell: “We do not so much look at the world as look out at it, from behind the self.”

Cavell: “A world complete without me which is present to me is the world of my immortality. This is an importance of film–and a danger. It takes my life as my haunting of the world…. So there is reason for me to want the camera to deny the coherence of the world, its coherence as past: to deny that the world is completely without me. But there is equal reason to want it affirmed that the world is coherent without me. That is essential to what I want of immortality: nature’s survival of me. It will mean that the present judgment upon me is not yet the last” (63)

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This entry was published on September 14, 2013 at 2:39 pm. It’s filed under Book Summaries and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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