Flesh of Images, The: Merleau-Ponty between Painting and Cinema (SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy)
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Highlights Merleau-Ponty’s interest in film and connects it to his aesthetic theory.
In The Flesh of Images, Mauro Carbone begins with the point that Merleau-Ponty’s often misunderstood notion of “flesh” was another way to signify what he also called “Visibility.” Considering vision as creative voyance, in the visionary sense of creating as a particular presence something which, as such, had not been present before, Carbone proposes original connections between Merleau-Ponty and Paul Gauguin, and articulates his own further development of the “new idea of light” that the French philosopher was beginning to elaborate at the time of his sudden death. Carbone connects these ideas to Merleau-Ponty’s continuous interest in cinema—an interest that has been traditionally neglected or circumscribed. Focusing on Merleau-Ponty’s later writings, including unpublished course notes and documents not yet available in English, Carbone demonstrates both that Merleau-Ponty’s interest in film was sustained and philosophically crucial, and also that his thinking provides an important resource for illuminating our contemporary relationship to images, with profound implications for the future of philosophy and aesthetics. Building on his earlier work on Marcel Proust and considering ongoing developments in optical and media technologies, Carbone adds his own philosophical insight into understanding the visual today.
“The elegant style of Carbone’s prose—crafted with a certain cadence and phrasing, an inimitable world of language—nevertheless does not conceal the complexity of his scholarly research.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
“present/concealed and presentifying himself concealed,” then I believe it is possible to affirm first of all that, in Christian painting, complexion [incarnat] tends to present a withdrawing god. More precisely, it presents the god’s “retreat” [retrait].46 And I shall add that, precisely in his attempt to characterize Christian painting, Nancy, on the one hand, focuses his attention on the “exposure of the skin or the veil,”47 and, on the other hand, reminds us that, in the passage from the
say, in its unconceptualized form. As a consequence, the idea turns out being indiscernible from its sensible manifestation: “[it] emerges from the temporal structure of the film as it does from the coexistence of the parts of a painting. [. . .] [A] movie has meaning in the same way that a thing does: neither of them speaks to an isolated understanding; rather, both appeal to our power tacitly to decipher the world or men and to coexist with them.”42 Here reemerges Merleau-Ponty’s conviction
own—and, through it, to an attempt to express the “relationship between humanity and Being”21 at work in our time. Thus, it reveals a point of view whose exploration, comprehension and formulation are evidently not an individual’s matter: “Such are the extravagant consequences to which we are led when we take seriously, when we question, vision. [. . .] We are, to be sure, not finished ruminating over them. Our concern in this preliminary outline was only to catch sight of this strange domain to
goes down the throat of the singer.” We could say that “inventing” understood as “letting-be” consists, in other words, of a welcoming matching with a process of according oneself with the encounter of the world, in a triple manner that nonetheless has an intimately unitary meaning: to let the encounter with the world be by letting oneself be in the encounter, by the entry into resonance with it. This is in fact how the singer welcomes in his throat the melody that descends into it and is sung in
to live or Freud’s drive.”51 This is why, in his opinion, phenomenology should undergo a “reversal” of the presuppositions rooting it in that “Greek” way of thinking that remains incompatible with John’s announcement, and having shaped it so far as a “phenomenology of the world or of Being.” Then it could become the science of a revelation of Life in its absoluteness, of which the flesh and the Word are ways of expression.52 Henry’s book aims precisely at this project. Nancy, Flesh, and Stone