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Mandy-Suzanne Wong and Joanna Demers
Introduction (pp. 1-8)
Collision: Zineb Sedira’s “Saphir” and Hélène Cixous’ “landscape of the trans-, of the passage” (pp. 9-16)
In this essay I discuss Zineb Sedira’s two-screen video projection “Saphir” in relation to the landscape which Hélène Cixous has called the “the immense landscape of the trans-, of the passage.” My non-conclusive text explores the acts of transition taking place on the dual screen of Sedira’s video work. The work – filmed in the harbour area of Algiers – forms a multifaceted visual narrative of departures and arrivals. Within this narrative an intriguing choreography develops between two solitary characters, a man and woman, who never meet but nonetheless, step by step, mutually perform a ritualistic dance. “Saphir” – which borrows its name from a French colonial hotel – is filled with ambiguities that evoke the landscape described by Cixous. Contemplating its topography, I become involved in Cixous’s bodily word world. “Passage” is what she calls part of this landscape, but it is also a word. It is a password which when split in two in the French language becomes ill-behaved and unwise. But could the word, I ask, also lead to a wise step (un pas sage)? And where do the steps danced by Sedira’s man and woman lead?
Silence Being Thought: Badiou, Heidegger, Celan (pp. 17-48)
Taking its points of departure from Alain Badiou’s readings of Paul Celan, this paper explores Badiou’s philosophical departure from Heidegger and its consequences for the relationship between philosophy and poetry. For Badiou, Celan both takes part in and heralds the closure of a sequence in which, guided by “the question of Being,” poetry constructs “the space of thinking which defines philosophy.” More, in ending this sequence, Celan “completes Heidegger.” The theoretical knot comprised by Badiou, Heidegger and Celan invites us to explore the relationship between poetic language, thought and Being. This paper asserts the centrality of a radical nothingness to any poetic “thought of Being,” and approaches this ontologically efficacious “nothing” via the privilege afforded to “silence” in both Celan’s poetry and Badiou’s imperatives for “the modern poem.” It does this in order to sharpen our understanding of both Badiou’s movement away from Heidegger, and the privileged role Celan plays in this departure. Following an opening discussion concerning the role of silence in Badiou and Celan, this paper then clarifies the relationship between poetic language, silence and Being in Heidegger and Badiou.
Collision: Fakebook (pp. 49-55)
You meet someone new; you like them; you send them to your Facebook page. But how accurate is this representation of you? We all want to look our best, which is why we are drawn to the ability to fudge things a bit online. How does this projection of who we are distort us into who we want to be? Facebook allows us to hide our flaws that are all too visible in real life. We can embellish or correct what we said earlier, edit out what we don’t like about ourselves, and only show photos where our chin is down and the lighting is blown out just enough to hide the bump on our nose. Our prospective employers can even turn to Facebook to assess our desirability. So might the constructed aesthetic of Facebook affect our approach to ethics – to interacting with other people? Does the way we design ourselves on Facebook directly impact the other people in our lives? Is each of us really just a rough draft that needs immediate editing? What about Facebook makes it possible to achieve genuine beauty?
Becoming Spirit: Morality in Hegel’s Phenomenology and Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly (pp. 56-80)
The following essay brings together philosophy and film. On the one hand, it is a short study of Hegel’s chapter on morality in the Phenomenology of Spirit. On the other hand, it deals with some of the moral conflicts presented in Ingmar Bergman’s 1961 film, Through a Glass Darkly. Central to my discussion is the concept of God. I aim to show how God, manifest in absolute Spirit, should not be understood as a transcendental figure located in a beyond, but as a concrete entity found within the acts of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Isabel Sobral Campos
Collision: Grimonprez’s Chimera (pp. 81-87)
Johan Grimonprez’s dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y has been critically surveyed for its use of mass media: this film, a masterful feat of editing, appropriates found footage from television newscasts to examine the history of hijacking. My reading of this piece further analyzes Grimonprez’s use of appropriation, locating the image of the chimera featured in the film as a symbol of the method of montage that dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y uses, and of the links that this work makes between violence, homelessness and art making. The chimera stands for the artwork itself, for the latter’s rapid sequence of disparate images functions as a grafted body. As a figment of the imagination, the chimera also stands for the constructed nature of the news event, which the film assays. Furthermore, the eloquence of the chimera’s image bespeaks the body that has lost its home. In this film, hijackings are related to homelessness; Grimonprez implies that wellsprings of violence arise from radical histories of displacement. By way of the chimera, he also suggests that art can impact society only by hijacking the images of mass culture, thus relating art making to violence.