In the early 1930s Jean-Paul Sartre exclaimed that philosophy would get nowhere until it stopped treating images as isolated postcards stored away somewhere inside the brain and occasionally brought out for view. His first phenomenological phase, as we know, aimed to restore to mental life an adequate description of images and of the imagination in all their complexity.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre also went to the movies. He had been going there with great relish ever since his youth. His first celebration of this secret pleasure, a pleasure he would describe so winsomely in The Words,1 came precisely in 1931 in the official commencement address he naughtily delivered at the end of his first year teaching at a lycée in Le Havre.2 In Sartre’s peculiar biography the movies would always stand as a field of wildflowers against the hothouse culture that stifled him from birth. And this is what he told his students and their bourgeois parents: get an education full of life and of your times, one that has the present and the future inscribed in its very medium. Go to the movies and don’t be ashamed of it.

The 1931 lecture offers several clusters of motifs Sartre elaborated thirty-three years later in The Words, and two in particular: he speaks of groping toward one’s seat in front of the screen in the dark and noting, once the lights went on, the complete lack of “social hierarchy” in the theatre into which one had inadvertently stumbled.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941)

Sartre would always hold this view. Perversely just after the war and after a visit to New York, he would attack Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) as a pretentious ersatz novel, concerned more with sorting out the past than with driving us into the future, concerned with itself as a serious cultural artefact, the kind of artefact that Sartre felt stuffed with every time he went to see a play or read an honoured work of literature.3 This essay originally appeared in L’Écran français on August 1, 1946. But it is the other side of his 1931 remarks that must concern us here. The cinema’s value lies not just in its naturalness and popularity, but in its straightforward trafficking in images. Though already opposed to André Breton’s surrealism, Sartre agreed with him in 1931 that cinema’s flow of images should be recruited as an ally for a kind of thinking they both felt must be treated by philosophy; in any event, cinema had taken its place in the minds of people as well as in the marketplace of culture.

But what kind of thinking do images make possible? This epistemological question triggered Sartre’s first books, and clarified issues that would within a decade have consequences in French ontology, aesthetics, and political philosophy. But we can’t just dive into Sartre’s formulations as if they were unprecedented, since, despite his often brash self-presentation, Sartre was a thoroughly reactive thinker, quite dependent on the arguments that he imbibed at school and, as we will see, in the air.

It was against Henri Bergson that he first took his stance, against the man who in 1932 was still turning out a best-seller like Two Sources of Morality and Religion; it was also against a waning “Bergsonism” that idealised and sometimes theologised the arguments of Creative Evolution. Sartre recognized that he must go back to the early Bergson, particularly to Matter and Memory (1893), to find both what attracted him and what he needed to surpass.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Henri Bergson

For reasons that have often been cited and are biographically apparent, Sartre was from the first obsessed with the notion of freedom. One might say he was determined to invent freedom at whatever cost. As we know, the cost would be great, requiring the utter isolation of the individual, for whom other humans are inevitably hostile, and the natural world is brutal and uncomprehending.

Now freedom is nearly a given in the Bergsonian view. The reflective, interior life interacts with encounters with the non-self (with nature, art, and others) so as to deepen and strengthen itself and at the same time bring out latent possibilities in what is outside the self. Bergson developed this view in a struggle similar to the one that Martin Heidegger would wage. Both philosophers instinctively diminished the hold that perception and space (or position) exercised over western metaphysics and in their place emphasised reflection and temporality. “Images” became for Bergson the appropriate elemental units in this transformation, for they could be treated in a manner to approximate perception, space, and position, while they could also aptly fit into mental or spiritual experience through memory and through acts of intuition. Indeed, as Matter and Memory succeeds in making clear, images are precisely the currency interchanged between the inner and the outer; their summation, or, rather, the summation of the intuitions by which we attend to and value them, is tantamount to our conscious life.

Bergson led to Bergsonism just as Freud led to ego-psychology, because he left enormous room for the elaboration not just of ideas in the discursive arenas of art, religion, and ethics, but because many of those ideas offered a practical edge. Bergson held man to be improvable, capable of enlarging life via the discipline of reflection. He argued that those humans who attend fastidiously to narrow perception can be characterised by a lack of imaginative scope in problem solving and by an often humorous attachment to routine in daily life. Philosophy might not only enlarge their sense of the world but should permit them to operate within it more successfully. At the other extreme, abstract individuals frequently attend to the conjurings of their imagination and less to incoming information, making for another kind of humour which unexpected changes in the environment may occasion. Bergson’s philosophy of perception ought to jar such individuals into a more sensuous interaction with the earth that sustains them and of which, as images themselves, they are a part.

One can readily imagine the extent of the Bergsonian industry that grew up from 1911 on, converting the master’s academic ruminations about duration into what was at best practical philosophy and at worst mere platitude. One can also imagine that by 1930 Bergson had become ridiculous to the advanced thinkers of the day, for World War I and its aftermath ought to have suspended all notions of human perfectibility, perhaps all positive notions of individual transcendence. Walter Benjamin saw in the philosopher’s white-gloved rejection of industrial modernism an instinctive retreat to romantic subjectivity, a retreat that signalled the overwhelming conquest of civilisation by statistical mechanism. Benjamin monitored this fall-back in his remarks on the prescient last romantic, Charles Baudelaire. 4 If by the 1840s Baudelaire could conclude that poetry no longer possessed the aura of spiritual experience in industrialised, democratic Europe, how could philosophy expect to? To Benjamin, and to his less charitable Marxist colleagues, Bergson was an unwitting servant of the bourgeoisie, expressly paid to shore up for them the spiritual balustrades of culture, the very balustrades that in fact their rise had undermined and left in shambles.

This would likewise be the implicit attack launched by the Hegelians who came to the fore with Alexandre Kojève and his unruly disciples who formed the Collège de Sociologie. Bergson’s undialectical philosophy of immanence was seen as a paltry bastion of humanism that history had already crushed in the Great War, and, if one paid attention, which history had always inevitably crushed. The individual’s consciousness was by no means the measure of life and reality, for it must define itself only in relation to what lies outside it, to “the other”. And the inevitable struggle that this dialectical notion of reality admitted was of a higher logical type than any truth of intuition or thought. Dialectical understanding believes that in the beginning exist relationships, not presences, and hence it does not give much room for “images” to make their impact.

Still, the very same cultural bankruptcy which produced Bergsonism as a reactionary solution goaded the Hegelians to respond with equal energy. Thus, one might find within Georges Bataille and Roger Caillois, not to mention Breton, a nostalgia for social religion (and secular rituals) that could be said to mark merely a modern twist on Bergson’s religion of private experience. Indeed Breton opens his first Manifesto of Surrealism in a manner Bergson would surely have approved of, with references to the mechanical dullness of modern perception. And like Bergson, Breton put his faith in the power of images and the imagination, although it must be quickly added that the surrealists, influenced as they were by the Hegel revolution, did not condone the contemplation of images but instead juxtaposed striking images so as to break through the ordinary. Their goal was to have images introduce “the other” into the heart of the self, rather than to “possess one’s experience” through intuition as the Bergsonians would have it.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Violette Nozière

In the 1930s, all were looking for a way out of the banality of life under capitalism and under weakened parliamentary democracies. In the area of ethnology, Leiris forced the Third Republic to confront the other of Africa; in Psychoanalysis, Lacan extolled the unconscious, even arguing for the diminished responsibility of the notorious patricide, Violette Nozière (and by implication the murderous Papin sisters) on the grounds of instincts, drives, and positions that are prior to reflection and morality. All such critics of Bergson and of the Republic for which he was the official philosopher scoffed at the stuffy notion of “responsibility” that derived from the self-image the Bergsonians had erected and projected out of proportion. The young, counter-cultural thinkers deemed the (spiritual) self to be constitutionally blind to the instincts of the species; the individual, as well as individual consciousness, are epiphenomena of such instincts. From such a perspective, one can recognize the temptation that collective, even totalitarian, states (the USSR for Breton, Germany for the Collège de Sociologie) must have exerted, since there the individual could indeed be (deliciously) consumed in a secular ritual of evident power.

This juvenile enthusiasm for the energy and the “irresponsibility” implied in the “anti-social” side of Hegel, caught intellectuals in a bind. Even the putative father of the Hegelian revolution, Kojève, failed to ratify the work of the Collège. Like Sartre he patronised it: no “secular” religion in their view could ever stand up to developments in modern civilisation.5 Furthermore, as Benjamin was quick to note, by searching for an aura in the underside of modern experience (even a secular aura) the Collège remained caught in an infatuation with the alluring phenomena of culture, rather than with its material workings. Benjamin’s reaction to “The College” was later on summarised by Pierre Klossowski.6 With “thoroughly Lukácsian” analyses, Benjamin insisted on a historical, critical comprehension of social movements, including not just the nationalisms swirling toward violent collectivities, but the surrealists and the Collège too, which he felt needed to take on more critical self-awareness so as to engender and direct “political” action. His views, Klossowski recalls, were roundly rejected by the Collège.

In short, there would be no quick solution to overcoming the debilitating malaise of modern civilization. For Kojève there would be instead only the cruel agon of bloody history; for Benjamin only day to day intelligent and critical acts in the political and cultural sphere; for Sartre there would be, at least until he found the Resistance, only the dubious freedoms of the imagination to annihilate the situations humans have been thrown into without their acquiescence. It was in the name of freedom and of the uncontaminated responsibility of subjectivity that Sartre needed to return to Bergson, who remained viable because he stressed the priority of consciousness over history and of the self in its adjustment to experience rather than history’s adjustment of human beings to suit itself. Freedom required this hierarchy, and Sartre was willing to ignore the “anthropological” insights of Kojève and the “political” call of Benjamin for the certainty, if not the intoxications, of freedom. He was already writing Nausea.

Sartre’s return to the Bergsonian paradigm nevertheless showed the impact of Hegel. Where Bergson had struggled to rope together inner and outer experience into a ceaseless flux of images and the temporary syntheses of “intuitions”, Sartre adamantly maintained the strict dissociation of outer and inner. Being for him, as for Hegel, was distinctly dual, in-itself vs. for-itself, although for Sartre this was not an historical drama but a permanent unalterable condition. Moreover, the private life of reflection that obsessed Bergson could define and maintain itself, according to Sartre, only through negation. This was the Hegelian legacy. Nevertheless, against the Collège de Sociologie, and against the surrealists, Sartre insisted on the inviolability of individual consciousness. At the very moment Bataille was proclaiming that man “without a doubt lacks unity of being,” and must struggle to regain unity in myth and ritual,7 Sartre was painstakingly formulating a philosophy for which biographical unity was the foundation. No recourse to ritual, to communicating vases, or even to the unconscious (collective or individual) could ever alter the permanently isolated mind. Not unlike Blaise Pascal, Sartre’s dualism went to the limit: the mind would be choked to extinction by the oozings of the body that it was its lot to haunt, but the mind could also have its own way, could understand itself, and could transcend its lot in the life and works of the imagination.

The enormous attention that just before World War II Sartre gave to the imagination and to emotion stems from his refusal to compromise freedom. All our other modes of consciousness set the subject in opposition to something that resists it (the hard natural objects of perception, the needs of others in social relations, and so on). Imagination is to perception as emotion is to action: both of them are fully private and spontaneous expressions that work for the “transcendence of the ego.”

Bergson is useful to Sartre because, by initiating his philosophical inquiry with “images” as the basic element, he lays a foundation for an order to experience that is not necessarily governed from without but may come from the imagination. Sartre and Bergson differ enormously in the transactions they permit and describe between inner and outer, between reflection and sensation, but both of them insist on the priority of the image over concept or, language or situation or anything else that might be termed “relational”. The image is elemental and indisputable. It predates the reflective cogito, whose cogitations must begin with and from it. Ultimately it sanctions a philosophy that will, in one form or another, come to completion with an ethics and/or aesthetics based on the satisfaction of the individual.

For the early Sartre satisfaction, whose name is objective freedom, will ever remain impossible, but holds itself out as an illusion that the imagination must strive for. Released from the determinations of what Sartre would soon call, in his more political phase, “situations”, the imagination tastes the spontaneity of images and feelings that well up from within it. But what is it that governs the imagination? What is the source of its alleged “spontaneity”? Moreover, how can images, or the imagination, be put to use without being locked into a determining system?

Sartre’s critique of Bergson, began when he belittled the philosopher for failing to come up with a source of images and for implying that they simply fill up the volume of consciousness, the way coins fill a coffer. He called on Husserl to provide a sophisticated alternative to Bergson, Husserl for whom consciousness was never a volume but always and only an intentional act, completely exhausted by the contents of that intention. Remember that for Sartre there is no state (or volume) we can identify as “hatred” or “jealousy”, only the hatred of Peter or the jealousy of a rival. Furthermore, we mustn’t describe subjectivity as the stage on which such experiences of hatred, envy, and so on, play out their scenes. For the stage would then be an object, not unlike the body. No doubt Sartre was particularly hostile to those passages in Bergson, so prescient to us, wherein he discusses brain functions, aphasia, and other psycho-physical determinants of consciousness.

In his petulant refusal of all support for consciousness, Sartre runs into numerous difficulties. First of all, what directs the sequence of separate moments of consciousness, as we turn in daily life from perception to daydream to art to jealousy to philosophic reflection, and so on? Who turns the switch that tunes in to one mode (and one intention) over another? After all, phenomenology (particularly in its French version) teaches that reflective consciousness is merely another mode, unprivileged with respect to what it reflects upon; so why should we accord it more authority than imagination or even jealousy? Sartre was at this time arguing strenuously against Husserl’s phenomenological reductions, whose object was to transcend ordinary experience. In place of such a reduction, Sartre proclaimed not only the centrality of the “natural attitude” but also that of “pre-reflective consciousness”, leaving us with the question of authority or agency. What governs pre-reflective life? Surely not instinct, tied as it is to bodily (objective) need. Then it must be desire, the subjective counterpart to need. So argues Judith Butler in her study of the Hegelian heritage in French philosophy.8 Desire, a surge to become oneself, is the primary and perpetual feeling that gives definition and independence to consciousness, grounding all the other particular emotions, and grounding the imagination in its private and public pursuits.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Gaston Bachelard

Desire would seem to be Sartre’s contribution, gratis Hegel, to the Bergsonian account of subjectivity, for it energises the otherwise inexplicable intuitions. Still, as the motor of spontaneity and of consciousness itself, desire suggests nothing of the mechanism, or operation, of imaginative consciousness. A micro-analysis is needed to formulate the rules by which one image passes to the next or calls up a feeling. Does each successive image comprise a separable consciousness? Does the attendant feeling brought on by a particular image take us away from that image and thrust us into an utterly new mode (fear, for example, caused by an image of an enemy or beast)? Sartre rejected Freud no doubt in large part because psychoanalysis was intent on writing the grammar rules for the flow of images and feelings that comprise the undercurrent of subjectivity. But how would Sartre describe subjectivity? His refusal to do so, in the name of the spontaneity and freedom he insisted were its fundamental characteristics, measures the full extent of his attachment to Hegelian negativity. Literally a reductio of consciousness ad absurdum.

I’m tempted to equate the effect of Sartre’s view of subjectivity with that of Gaston Bachelard, whose Psychanalysis of Fire appeared the same year as Nausea. Likewise looking for an alternative to the public, scientific description of the world, Bachelard called on the imagination to give us access to boundless thought. His conception of “reverie” offers a positivity to consciousness which expands and contracts in experience. Reverie, however, is static, linked less to the mind’s agenda than to the changeless elements of nature that feed it. Through reverie individual consciousness may take on striking and creative dimensions, but what are the consequences of such expansion or enlightenment? History does not thereby progress: the world is not changed for the next consciousness. Moreover, the individual is at the mercy of the unregulated flow of images. It can hardly direct them without subverting reverie itself; images can’t lead to formatted thought, much less to action. In reverie consciousness basks in the quietism of its well-being.

No one would accuse Sartre of basking in anything, let alone well-being. But doesn’t his adulation of freedom lead to precisely the same quietism as Bachelard, only seen from the negative side? How has he gone beyond Pascal’s conception of man as the thinking reed, except to devalue thought at the expense of spontaneous and transitory states of consciousness?

*          *          *

With this bare summary of interrelated issues, we may be in a position to understand why Sartre sought lightness and movement at the movies, and why he criticized Citizen Kane. For him cinema was a vacation from the constant march of culture, serving us best when it refuses the march of discursive reason altogether, as in the Marx Brothers. The surge of its images, their tempo and immediacy, should remind us of our own inner lives.

Certainly a naive view of a medium that has powerful semiotic laws and more powerful production constraints, Sartre’s appreciation of the cinema is nevertheless in tune with other meditations on “holiday time” that became so prominent a topic in 1930s France. 1937 is the year of the state-mandated holidays, the year a type of freedom became law during the Popular Front. For the members of the Collège de Sociologie, who thought about this a great deal,9 holidays were conceived of (and instituted as) private time, so that each separate worker could get a reprieve from the workplace and (usually with the family unit in tow) go off into the mountains, the woods, or simply the fantasy land of consumerism. In more organic societies, festivals and rituals redefining collective values would have taken place within the free zone of these brief but exceptional periods.

Sartre seems to have taken the movies to be as irresponsible as the imagination. Thanks to their lack of consequence, their nothingness, they are related to the notion of the holiday rather than to that of ritual and festival where theatre plays such a crucial cultural role.  Sartre attended the theatre and wrote plays, but this was separate from his movie life.  And so, like it or not, Sartre’s insistence on the privacy of images inevitably kept him from expecting or even wanting anything communal or consequential from the medium of images.

We know that Sartre’s thought took a dramatic turn toward engagement during and after the war; we know, for instance, that he put behind him the aesthetic bubble that his theory of imagination had blown up around him, puncturing it with the stylus of the engaged writer of prose. But even before What is Literature? appeared, two other French thinkers, both of whom were closely associated with Sartre, gave to the notion of the image (and specifically to the cinema) a type of social consideration that would complete the circle of possibilities implicit in Bergson: these were André Malraux and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Malraux’s 1940 “Sketch for a Psychology of the Cinema” and Merleau-Ponty’s 1945 address, “Film and the New Psychology,” hold a rapport with the very first essays by André Bazin, especially his 1945 “Ontology of the Photographic Image”. In this they help inaugurate a new era of thinking about cinema that would become dominant by the 1950s.10

Jean-Paul Sartre

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

It is Merleau-Ponty who provides the final permutation of the key terms controlling this historical sounding: those terms have been identified as individuality/collectivity, positivity/negativity, and freedom/history. Bergson stood for the individuality of consciousness and its essential positivity. Negation for him was an effect of language – that is of relations – and it was thereby posterior to intuitions and images. The critical thinkers following Hegel and Kojève (and I’ve discussed only the members of the Collège de Sociologie, Walter Benjamin, and as a mixed case, André Breton) proclaimed collectivity via negativity. Sartre, we have seen, returned to Bergson’s private individuality of consciousness, but he did so by defining that consciousness as a nothingness. In this way he de-spiritualised the individual. It was up to Merleau-Ponty to characterise experience in such a way as to preserve both collectivity and positivity.

Importantly, more than any of others we have looked at, Merleau-Ponty relished an historical understanding of consciousness, not the grand history of the Hegelians, but the smaller local histories of the development of thought in the child, of the impact of social relations and ideology on behaviour, and of the history of art on perception. He made philosophy bow before the human sciences, so much so that some philosophers thought he had given away his vocation.11 But this is exactly what he believed is required to retain a belief in the elemental impact of images while working toward an understanding of experience that is thoroughly social and everyday.

His call for the “primacy of perception” is reminiscent of Bergson’s insistence on the indisputable positive quality of all experience. But Merleau-Ponty refused Bergson’s (and Sartre’s) easy reliance on the biological separateness of human beings. Through the thick descriptions of the human condition given by historians, linguists, psychologists, and sociologists, Merleau-Ponty began to speak of the social or cultural basis of consciousness itself. Most often he sided with child psychologists, like Piaget, who were mapping the structures of thought exemplified by the developing human being. Wanting neither to suggest that consciousness is determined from the outside, nor that it transcends its situation, Merleau-Ponty sought a view of human beings that would be deliberately ambiguous.

“Ambiguity” is an especially important quality because it comes from a philosopher who constantly proclaimed “the primacy of perception,” and perception, as we have it from Bergson and Sartre, is the indisputable starting point of philosophy. Ambiguity inserts disputation into the supposedly unitary image. In fact, it is not the image which Merleau-Ponty interrogates, nor even its suitability as a basic element of experience; rather he replaces its priority with that of perspective.

While it is true that for Bergson “intuitions” rule the images that comprise them, and that for Sartre “synthetic acts of consciousness” totalise imagistic fragments, neither of these thinkers reflected on the conditions of consciousness that might lead to such an organisation of images. Merleau-Ponty repeatedly reflected on this. Experience, even in its most basic imagistic moments, is ambiguous for him because it can be reversed by a shift of perspective. From the Gestaltists he learned that every element (in this case, every image) expresses itself only within the structure that makes it appear as such. Shift the perspective, change the structure, and the self-presence of the image presents something quite different.

Jean-Paul Sartre

L’Espoir (Malraux, 1939)

Every filmmaker knows this. Malraux, who wrote his “Sketch for a Psychology of Cinema” in the wake of completing his own film, L’Espoir (1939), argued that the motion pictures can be said to have been invented not in 1895 but as soon as mechanically recorded images were given perspective through the structuring possibilities of editing. Taking a cue from such formulations, we might say that consciousness comes to exist not in relation to images but in relation to the perspectives by which images mean something.

Merleau-Ponty’s lone essay on the cinema focuses on the process of structuring images that every film not only goes through in production but expresses each time it is projected.12 The individual image appears self-generated and free only until we are led to take account of its place in the developing structure of the whole film. But this structure is not a finished “mosaic of sensations”. Rather, each image is contaminated by those surrounding it and by the direction of sense that develops over time. By trafficking in fragments of images that already have their pull on us, and by sequencing these in a rhythm that they themselves help establish, “the movies are peculiarly suited to make manifest the union of mind and body, mind and world, and the expression of one in the other.”13 This suitability stems from the fact that cinema is an art of perception, depending on the orientations (that is, the perspectives), by which we, following the filmmaker, grasp the moment by moment meaningfulness of an array of images.

Everything depends on one’s perspective. Merleau-Ponty is the only thinker we have considered willing to sacrifice a clear, unambiguous position, for the multiple possibilities proposed by images. He even refuses to allow an historian of ideas – my role in this essay – to circumspectly and knowingly chart the vicissitudes of an idea like that of the image, thinking to have captured its power, if not its truth. For this would simply be a crude Hegelianism. Merleau-Ponty wants the image to speak through those concerned with it. He feels certain that what it says will have general value, because private though the imagination may be, it is tied to a public body, public situations, and it orients itself in a mind structured by behaviour.

Every film, if our analogy holds, likewise offers itself to our intuition, but is open to an understanding of its coherence, an understanding that requires a knowledge of semiotics, psychoanalysis, history, and the like, but an understanding that begins with the thickness of perception as it takes place in the world. This makes explicit what phenomenology has always maintained: that perception delivers to us “a commerce with the world and a presence to the world which is older than intelligence.14 There is no easy way to understand even something so innocent as a movie. All of us know how much energy vacations take.


  1. Jean-Paul Sartre, The Words, trans. Bernard Fechtman (New York: Fawcett, 1964), pp. 75-77.
  2. Jean-Paul Sartre, “Motion Picture Art,” The Writings of Jean-Paul Sartre, vol. II (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1974), pp. 53-59.
  3. Jean-Paul Sartre, “Citizen Kane”, trans. Dana Polan, Postscripts 7:1 (Fall 1987): 60-65.
  4. Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism (London: NLB, 1973).
  5. See the prefatory remarks in Denis Hollier’s anthology The College of Sociology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), pp. xxvi, 12-13.
  6. Pierre Klossowski in Hollier, The College of Sociology, p. 389.
  7. Georges Bataille, “The College of Sociology” (1939), in Visions of Excess (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1985), p. 248.
  8. Judith Butler, Subjects of Desire (New York: Columbia, 1987), p. 120.
  9. See the “Introduction” to the anthology The College of Sociology, written by its editor Denis Hollier (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1987).
  10. For Malraux’ place in French film theory, see my chapters, “Malraux, Bazin, and the Gesture of Picasso,”  in Dudley Andrew and Hervé Joubert-Laurencin (eds.), Opening Bazin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011) and “Malraux, Bazin, Benjamin: a Triangle of Hope” in Angela Dalle-Vacche (ed.) Art, Film, New Media (London: Palgrave, 2012).
  11. See the discussion of his ideas contained in the title essay of The Primacy of Perception (Evanston, IL: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1964), especially the exchange between Merleau-Ponty and M. Béhier found on pp. 29-31. This collection also contains Merleau-Ponty’s summary of the impact of the human sciences on phenomenology, “Phenomenology and the Sciences of Man.”
  12. Merleau-Ponty’s continuing engagement with the cinema has recently been revealed by Mauro Carbone, among others.  See his book, The Flesh of Images: Merleau-Ponty between Painting and Cinema (Albany: SUNY Press, 2015) and his article “The Mutation of our Relations with Screens as a Mutation of our Relations with Being,” Studia Phænomenologica XVI (2016), pp. 325–342. Also, Chiasmi International vol. 12 (2010) is devoted to “Merleau-Ponty and Moving Pictures”.
  13. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Film and the New Psychology,” in Sense and Nonsense (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 52.
  14. Ibid.

About The Author

Dudley Andrew, biographer of Andre Bazin, has written Mists of Regret, Culture and Sensibility in Classic French Film, and co-authored Popular Front Paris and the Poetics of Culture. He is completing French Film: a Very Short Introduction for Oxford University Press.

Related Posts