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 Focusing on Merleau-Ponty’s later writings, including unpublished course notes and documents not yet available in English, Carbone demonstrates both that Merleau-Ponty’s interest in film was sustained and philosophically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
way of inhabiting the world. 21 22 / The Flesh of Images Besides, we know that in On Touching—Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida blames Merleau-Ponty for the multiple aspects of a supposed fundamental infidelity to Husserl.5 Derrida, on the one hand, affirms that Husserl would have never shared the Merleau-Pontian notion of “flesh of the world,”6 and, on the other hand, judges as dangerous “the more or less systematic translation of Leib by ‘flesh,’ ” since to him it risks importing some
“unfathomable mystery” summarized in the three questions: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? Chapter Three “Making Visible” Merleau-Ponty and Paul Klee The Visibility of the Invisible Sichtbarmachen: “making visible.” The essential terms of the famous sentence with which in 1920 Paul Klee opened his Creative Credo—“Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible”1—are back six years later on the side of a drawing in which, in a vaguely anthropomorphic form,
Février 1986; trans. M. T. Guirgis, “The Brain Is the Screen: An Interview with Gilles Deleuze,” in ed. G. Flaxman, The Brain Is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema [Minneapolis: the University of Minnesota Press, 2000], p. 371, now available also in G. Deleuze, ed. D. Lapoujade, trans. A. Hodges and M. Taormina, Two regimes of Madness: Texts and Interviews 1975– 1995, rev. ed. [Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007]). 123. One could link the terms of this question also to the struggle of
presence MerleauPonty often notices in the Freudian language, as well as, on the one hand, from the “anthropological”61 limits assigned to psychoanalysis, and, on the other hand, from the idea of stratification,62 which we have seen MerleauPonty criticize with reference to Husserl. The urge not to make “an existential psychoanalysis, but an ontological psychoanalysis”63 is explicitly affirmed in a working note of the Visible and the Invisible, whose title significantly associates the conceptual
seen.”2 Moreover, by “Visibility” Merleau-Ponty does not simply designate the ensemble of visible things. In fact, to him the term also includes the lines of force and the dimensions suggested by visible things as their own interior and exterior horizon. Eventually, according to what he learned from de Saussure’s linguistics, he conceives what is visible in a diacritical way, that is, not as things or colors, but rather as a “difference between things and colors, a momentary crystallization of