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HUMANITIES 207 Insufficiently analysed within her own text, these theoretical abstractions are more suggestive than meaningful. More specific is her discussion of the testimonial photograph in Blow Up. In this section.of her book, her analysis is amenable to empirical verification. Speaking of the central character, Gingras writes: 'Entraine malgre lui a elucider le drame, le photographe doit reduire la distance qu'impose toute prise de vue. Par cette recherche sur et dans }'image, le photographe se bute ala condition essentielle a la photographie: la distance. Si une photographie se prend adistance elle tient neanmoins le spectateur adistance.' While theoretically more provocative than demonstrably consistent and while arbitrary in its choice of films (where, for example, are the references to distinguished Quebecois features such as Michel Brault's Entre la mer et l'eau douce or Jean Pierre Lefebvre's Les Maudits Sauvages, both of which make significant use of the photographic image?), Les Images immobilisees is nevertheless full of insights concerning the individual films that Gingras chooses to deal with. It delineates a territory that merits a more extensive study. Furthermore, by combining short experimental films with established theatrical features and by interweaving European and American examples with those from Canada and Quebec, Les Images immobilisees suggests an approach to film analysis that is refreshingly original. Whatever its conceptual limitations, Les Images immobilisees repays an attentive perusal. (PETER HARCOURT) Richard Courtney. Drama and Intelligence: A Cognitive Theory McGill-Queen's University Press 1990. x, 190. $34.95 While most traditional theories of drama primarily deal with the concept of dramatic action, Richard Courtney on the very first page of his new book emphasizes that his subject is dramatic activity. This suggests that he is interested not only in the finished product but also in the process of its formation and its subsequent reception. In Courtney's own words, he studies 'the transformations created by dramatic action'; he analyses the borderline between the actual and the fictitious. Though this methodological shift is partly conditioned by the author's focus on the problem of developmental drama, it would be naive to assume that Courtney's study is nothing more than just another narrowly specialized work on a single aspect of drama. On the contrary, Drama and Intelligence is a full-grown, comprehensive, and original theoretical system that definitely exceeds self-imposed limitations and will undoubtedly prove valuable to a broad range of theatre scholars. The study is organized in twelve concise and well-structured chapters that each deal with a separate component of the ontology of dramatic activity. Each chapter is introduced and concluded with a brief yet useful 208 LETTERS IN CANADA 1991 summary that situates it within the context of the overall discourse and at the same time reinforces the developing argument. Courtney begins his cognitive theory with the hypothesis that by thinking and acting dramatically one creates a fiction. Still, he warns, 'this fiction is not false; it is not a lie. It has a cognitive purpose.' 'Being "as if"' - as Courtney calls this existential situation - has therefore the power to help us understand the actual world. In Courtney's opinion every dramatic activity, from child's play and spontaneous improvisation to religious ritual and theatrical production, directly improves both our cognition and our learning. By offering us 'a necessary fictional frame of reference against which we check our direct perception of reality,' dramatic action enables us to learn about our 'life and existence.' The basic cognitive means of dramatic activity is in Courtney's system defined as 're-play,' that is, as a concept which is probably closely related to the contemporary interpretation of the classical term mimesis. Courtney, however, does not rely on Aristotle, but rather examines the personal, the mediate, and the cultural characteristics of the dramatic world from a postmodern perspective. Thus he argues on the basis of Roman Jakobson 's theories that the main imaginative mechanism of dramatic action is metaphor. Only in a metaphoric clash of two levels of reality can a new, independent meaning emerge, and contribute to our knowledge of the world. For Courtney there are two equivalent paths that lead to 'cognitive sense' in the dramatic world: logic and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 207-209
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-25
Open Access
No
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