•  
  •  
 

Abstract

This essay is about the essay, a form (as Adorno called it) of thought alive that is partial in the two senses of the word: subjective and fragmented. Thinking as social, performative, and always un-finished; as dialogic. Through the mythical figure of Cassandra, who could foresee the future but was cursed to be never believed, I tried to “figure,” make a figural shape for the thoughts on the indifference of people towards the imminent ecological disaster of the world. At the invitation of Jakub Mikurda of the Łódź Film School to come and make an essay film, within one week, but with the participation of many great professionals, I was able to create, at least in the first draft, the essay film IT’S ABOUT TIME!

The ambiguity of the title suggests the bringing together of my thoughts about time, in relation to history in its interrelation with the present, and, as the exclamation mark intimates, the urgency to do something. The former is enacted by a tableau vivant of Cassandra’s lover Aeneas as Caravaggio’s John the Baptist, with a contemporary painting by David Reed shifting over it; and by interactions with two paintings by Ina van Zyl. The urgency is presented in many of the dialogues, quoted from various sources, especially Christa Wolf’s novel Cassandra. I argue that “thinking in film,” with film as a medium for thought, is what the essay film’s foremost vocation is. Through a reflection on “thought-images,” which I see as the result of “image-thinking,” I also argue for the intellectual gain to be had from “essaying” thought artistically.

Keywords

essay, figural, form, meandering, mutuality, partiality, trying

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities | Film and Media Studies

References

Adorno, Theodor W. Aesthetic Theory. Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor, London: Athlone, 1997. Print.

Adorno, Theodor W. “The Essay as Form.” Notes to Literature. Volume 1. Trans. Shierry Weber Nicholson. New York: Columbia UP, 1991. 3–23. Print.

Aeschylus. Agamemnon. Trans. Herbert Weir Smith. Loeb Classical Library. Volumes 145 and 146. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1926. Print.

Alphen, Ernst van. “Affective Operations of Art and Literature.” RES: Journal of Anthropology and Aesthetics 53/54 (Spring/Autumn 2008): 20–30. Print. https://doi.org/10.1086/RESvn1ms25608806

Alphen, Ernst van. Art in Mind: How Contemporary Images Shape Thought. Chicago, IL: The U of Chicago P, 2005. Print.

Alphen, Ernst van. Personal communication with the author. August 2019.

Alphen, Ernst van, and Tomáš Jirsa, eds. How to Do Things with Affects: Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices. Leiden: Brill, 2019. Print.

Altieri, Charles. The Particulars of Rapture: An Aesthetics of the Affects. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2003. Print.

Bal, Mieke. Death and Dissymmetry: The Politics of Coherence in the Book of Judges. Chicago, IL: The U of Chicago P, 1988. Print.

Bal, Mieke. Emma & Edvard Looking Sideways: Loneliness and the Cinematic. Oslo: Munch Museum/Brussels: Mercatorfonds; Yale UP, 2017. Print.

Bal, Mieke. In Medias Res: Inside Nalini Malani’s Shadow Plays. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2016. Print.

Bal, Mieke. “Phantom Sentences.” Phantom Sentences: Essays in Linguistics and Literature Presented to Ann Banfield. Ed. Robert S. Kawashima, Gilles Philippe and Thelma Sowley. Bern: Peter Lang, 2008. 17–42. Print.

Bal, Mieke. Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History. Chicago, IL: The U of Chicago P, 1999. Print.

Bal, Mieke. The Mottled Screen: Reading Proust Visually. Trans. Anna-Louise Milne. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1997. Print.

Bal, Mieke. Thinking in Film: The Politics of Video Installation According to Eija-Liisa Ahtila. London: Bloomsbury, 2003. Print.

Banfield, Ann. The Phantom Table: Woolf, Fry, Russell and the Epistemology of Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.

Banfield, Ann. Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction. Boston: Routledge, 1982. Print.

Benjamin, Walter. Illuminations. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken, 1968. Print.

Biasi, Pierre-Marc de. Gustave Flaubert. Une manière spéciale de vivre. Paris: Le Livre de Poche, 2009. Print.

Bollas, Christopher. The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known. New York: Columbia UP, 1987. Print.

Certeau, Michel de. The Practice of Everyday Life. Trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley: U of California P, 1984. Print.

Damisch, Hubert. The Origin of Perspective. Trans. John Goodman. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1994. Print.

Davoine, Françoise, and Jean-Max Gaudillière. A bon entendeur, salut! Face à la perversion, le retour de Don Quichotte. Paris: Stock, 2013. Print.

Eliot, T. S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot. Ed. Frank Kermode. London: Faber, 1975. 37–44. Print.

Fiorani, Federica, and Alessandro Nova, eds. Leonardo’s Optics: Theory and Pictorial Practice. Venice: Marsilio Editore, 2013. Print.

Freud, Sigmund. Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria [1905 as Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria]. Ed. Philip Rieff. New York: MacMillan, 1963. Print.

Girard, René. Deceit, Desire and the Novel: The Self and Other in Literary Structure. Trans. Ivonne Freccero. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1965. Print.

Gomulska, Maja, Wiktoria Kozioł, and Gabriela Sułkowska, eds. Tradycja Kartezjańska po zwrocie afektywnym. Mieke Bal: “Reasonable Doubt.” Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, 2019. Print.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Print.

Holly, Michael Ann. Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1984. Print.

Hui, Tingting. Melodramas of the Tongue: Accented Speech in Literature, Art, and Theory. Leiden: Faculty of Humanities, 2020. Print.

Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve. Between Men: Homosocial Desire and the English Novel. New York: Columbia UP, 1985. Print. https://doi.org/10.7312/sedg90478

Lavik, Erlend. “The Video Essay: The Future of Academic Film and Television Criticism?” Frames Cinema Journal # 1: Film and Moving Image Studies Reborn Digital? (2012): n.pag. PDF file.

Lutters, Jeroen. The Trade of the Teacher: Visual Thinking with Mieke Bal. Amsterdam: Valiz, 2018. Print.

Moulin, Olivier. “L’image comme fonction médiatrice chez Bergson.” L’image. Ed. Alexander Schnell. Paris: Vrin, 2007. 65–90. Print.

Mulvey, Laura. Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image. London: Reaktion, 2006. Print.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 16.3 (1975): 6–18. Print. https://doi.org/10.1093/screen/16.3.6

Pourciau, Sarah. “Ambiguity Intervenes: The Strategy of Equivocation in Adorno’s ‘Der Essay als Form.’” MLN 122.3 (2007): 623–46. Print. https://doi.org/10.1353/mln.2007.0066

Rascaroli, Laura. “The Essay Film: Problems, Definitions, Textual Commitments.” Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 49.2 (2008): 24–47. Print. https://doi.org/10.1353/frm.0.0019

Richter, Gerhard. Thought-Images: Frankfurt School Writers’ Reflections on Damaged Life. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2007. Print.

Rodowick, D. N. “Presenting the Figural.” Reading the Figural, or, Philosophy after the New Media. Ed. D. N. Rodowick. Durham/London: Duke UP, 2001. 1–44. Print.

Rodowick, D. N. What Philosophy Wants from Images. Chicago, IL: The U of Chicago P, 2017. Print. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226513225.001.0001

Silverman, Kaja. “All Things Shining.” Loss. Ed. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 2003. 323–42. Print.

Silverman, Kaja. World Spectators. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2000. Print.

Vellodi, Kamini. “Thought Beyond Research: A Deleuzian Critique of Artistic Research.” Aberrant Nuptials: Deleuze and Artistic Research 2. Ed. Paulo de Assis and Paolo Giudici. Leuven: Leuven UP, 2019. 215–33. Print. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvmd83nt.18

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Trans. David Francis Pears and Brian McGuinness. New York and London: Routledge, 2001. Print.

Wolf, Christa. Cassandra. Trans. Jan van Heurck. New York: Farrar-Straus-Giroux, 1984. Print.

First Page

27

Last Page

48

Language

eng

Share

COinS