For Alain Badiou, films think, and it is the task of the philosopher to transcribe that thinking. What is the subject to which the film gives expressive form? This is the question that lies at the heart of Badiou’s account of cinema.
He contends that cinema is an art form that bears witness to the Other and renders human presence visible, thus testifying to the universal value of human existence and human freedom. Through the experience of viewing, the movement of thought that constitutes the film is passed on to the viewer, who thereby encounters an aspect of the world and its exaltation and vitality as well as its difficulty and complexity. Cinema is an impure art cannibalizing its times, the other arts, and people – a major art precisely because it is the locus of the indiscernibility between art and non-art. It is this, argues Badiou, that makes cinema the social and political art par excellence, the best indicator of our civilization, in the way that Greek tragedy, the coming-of-age novel and the operetta were in their respective eras.
About the Author
Alain Badiou was Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and is one of the leading philosophers in France today. His many books include Being and Event and The Century.
"Fascinating ... every word of Badiou's writing radiates with a pronounced sense of exuberance for cinema, and presents the convincing case that it is the liveliest of the seven arts."
"Provides brilliant, in-depth analyses on the techniques, styles, and themes of several films."
"The chance to truly and fully understand the nature of cinema through the eyes of someone who is clearly one of its most passionate advocates."
"Badiou’s unfashionable militancy is sure to continue to generate a degree of mock not-this-again head-scratching from the guardians of sober academic scholarship in the humanities, as well as from whoever might be assigned to review Badiou in say, The New York Review of Books."
Los Angeles Review of Books
"While a thorough reading of this book is an intellectual investment, I would highly recommend it, particularly to those interested in the pursuit of cultural renewal by artistic means."
Englewood Review of Books
"There is an aphoristic concision to Badiou's thinking that is capable of producing moments of true enlightenment."
"These rich and diverse pieces are all ostensibly concerned with cinema, but are ultimately far more profound than often their occasion would demand. Providing an important exploration of politics, esthetics, the visible, and cinema's relation to thinking and procedures of decision, this volume gives the reader of Badiou a sense of this major thinker's intellectual development. Spitzer's translation of this volume is a careful and meticulous rendering of Badiou's thought."
Claire Colebrook, Penn State University
"Since the 1950s Badiou has written in excess of thirty essays on cinema. It is clear that film has been a constant companion in his articulation of art as a form of truth-making event, the creation of unworldly truths. This collection brings these writings together in English for the first time, allowing us to see just how important film is for Badiou’s philosophy of the event."
John Mullarkey, Kingston University, London