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Reviews337 Filming andJudgment, Between Heidegger and Adorno, by Wilhelm S. Wurzer; xviii & 140 pp. AÜantic Highlands, NewJersey: Humanities Press International, 1990, $35.00. The author of this intense study philosophizes with a chain saw. For Wilhelm Wurzer filming does not denote technologies or labors diat mobilize the production of film. A gerund endowed with verbal force, comparable to writing (the English translation of Jacques Derrida's écriture), filming arches back to febnen andfeilen, Middle English and Teutonic words that denote what causes to fall, what chops down, as the force a forester uses to fell a tree. The author sets filming in a logical category high enough to cut a path between traditions of metaphysics and imagination. "Staging the scene of imagination's 'free play,' filming transgresses the cultural limitations of the cinema as well as the hermeneutic delimitations of interpretation" (p. 83). He construes filming to be a way of living with disinterest and freedom, that is, a mode ofjudgment. The term is politically charged insofar as a) it "fells" closed schemes of reason or dialectical patterns of expansion or progress, and b) calls in question received hierarchies of space, time or imagination. Thus a filmic agent can be anyone who decides to "reflect freely" (p. 67) and coextensively in abstract and sensible orders of the world. Wurzer suggests that, since Heidegger, contemporary philosophers essay the world and language through a filmic conscience. Wurzer gets to this free state in three movements. First, he takes up Nietzsche's reflection on the relation of reason to figure and ground in order to frame Heidegger's description of the concept of imagination. He then studies Foucault 's overture to Les Mots et les ^ses for the purpose ofdiscovering the rapport of visibility to the closure of metaphysics established at the beginning of the modern world. Second, in a reading that follows Marx's Critique of Political Economy, the author reads Adorno's Aesthetic Theory to dismantle authority conferred upon representation. Adorno's views on the industry of culture are juxtaposed to the sheer force of disinterestedness that Wurzer draws from Kant's study of reflectivejudgment in the Third Critique. Third, Wurzer shows how filming summons subjectivity. Judgment becomes a force that fractures mimesis (or that, as Beckett writes, leads us into a world in which we can live with pleasure, but only if we heed the declaration, imagination dead imagine). Filming avers to be at once a metaphor and a process. For this reader the focal point of the book is located in the dense and luminous pages on thefree purposiveness of distanced judgment in Kant (pp. 66-80). As a vanishing point of Filming andJudgment, this section shows how artworks are conceived not as objects but areas in whichjudgment is free to move and act continuously. Hence a "free purposiveness" takes hold in subjects for whom acts of cognition or decision arch toward a practical finality but do not yet let things fall into place. Moral or other orders are not decided. Aesthetics and judgment dissolve in a Philosophy and Literature reflective play of imagination likened to a "pure post-aesthetic relation" or a "pure filmic disinterestedness" (p. 77). Wurzer happens to be describing conditions of creative spectatorship. He endows the viewer with philosophical means to work free of agencies that produce subjectivity. If the book studied how a viewer gains such "purposiveness " in the crude work of cognition, it would probably take up deep focus and the dissolution of recessional planes in the frame; lap-dissolves or fades that loosen the grip ofnarrative; relations ofsynchrony used to produce illusions oforder; writing as a heterogenous form in die visual field; montage as a closed system of logical paradoxes. Students of film and philosophy would therefore welcome specific means—of the kind Mark Crispin MUler studies in Seeing Through the Movies—that can lead to Wurzer's end. The book only promises a mode of viewing in light of what it extracts from the philosophical canon. The strengths of the readings are sometimes diluted by velleities of analysis. Following Susan Sontag, one must argue that, despite Wurzer's wish to givejudgment strength such that "Auschwitz will not be filmed again" (p...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 337-338
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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