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Joshua Foa Dienstag in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

This book engages in a critical encounter with the work of Stanley Cavell on cinema, focusing skeptical attention on the claims made for the contribution of cinema to the ethical character of democratic life. In much of Cavell's writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms "remarriage comedies" live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. Films are often viewed on television, and television shows can have "filmlike" qualities. The book addresses the nature of viewing cinematic film as a mode of experience, arguing against Cavell that it is akin to dreaming rather than lived consciousness and, crucially, cannot be shared. It mirrors the celebrated dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean D'Alembert on theatre. The book articulates the implications of philosophical pessimism for addressing contemporary culture in its relationship to political life. It clarifies how The Americans resembles the remarriage films and can illuminate the issues they raise. The tragedy of remarriage, would be a better instructor of a democratic community, if such a community were prepared to listen. The book suggests that dreaming, both with and without films, is not merely a pleasurable distraction but a valuable pastime for democratic citizens. Finally, it concludes with a robust response from Dienstag to his critics.

exemplarity to remind us that, for moral perfectionism, the act of interpreting is prioritized over the interpretation. By, then, reading this claim alongside the work of Jacques Rancière, I will emphasize his claim that spectators are always already engaged in such interpretation, but too often do not trust the legitimacy or authority of their own interpretation over that of others

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
Open Access (free)

, songs, memoirs, paintings, performances and other narratives in our united states of life. As you also know, I have been deeply influenced by Cavell’s understanding of film, and his understanding of skepticism and its relationship to moral perfectionism. I guess that this background is one reason I have been asked to be a respondent to your letter to Professor Cavell and your

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

lessons about marriage or moral perfectionism from The Americans , a show in which beautiful super-spies don disguises, fight villains, seduce informants and then return to their normal suburban home to nag their kids about homework and screen time. The premise seems so pulpy that I am sometimes embarrassed to publicly profess my love for the show. The Americans differs

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism
The ends of incompletion

either thy scar would have been seen or my art misliked.’ Whereby I gather that in all perfect works as well the fault as the face is to be shown. 42 Alexander is depicted constructing an image of bodily and moral perfection, given that physical appearance could be taken as an indicator of moral character in the early modern

in Making and unmaking in early modern English drama
International man of stories

with those of contemporary lived experience to give a sense of where one has come from and, hence, where one might be going. Mistry’s Zoroastrian background informs each of his texts, providing both the subject matter and the coordinates by which his protagonists understand their encounters with the outside world. The Zoroastrian principles that inform their lives also direct their responses to the moral dilemmas they face. They can also provide interesting interpretative clues for the reader prepared to take a little time to find out more about the Parsis and their

in Rohinton Mistry
A reply from Saturday Night to Mr. Dienstag

perfectionism, then we have a small laboratory for studying moral conversation not as the attempt to persuade someone to a course of action, or as the evaluation of a social institution, but of something I think of sometimes as prior and preparatory to these familiar goals of moral reasoning, sometimes as subsequent and supplementary, namely the

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

systematic forms of knowledge. 5 Empirical observation combined with Baconian induction had fostered a political arithmetic that was peculiarly suited to the operation and accountability of commerce. Attempts to justify this new moral economy by recourse to the anthem of progress, however, were replete with difficulty, most notably that associated with the unavailability of reliable data on past societies. To overcome this

in The other empire
Open Access (free)

connection between Emersonian perfectionism and the “remarriage comedies” of the 1930s and 1940s . Rather than demonstrating moral improvement, the film reveals the dangers and pleasures involved in the representation of the instability of erotic relations. It warns, I argue, against thinking that we can learn to democratize by watching a representation of democracy, however artful

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

60 Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis 4 Ethics and politics in the New Atlantis DAVID COLCLOUGH God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world; rather may he graciously grant to us to write an apocalypse or true vision of the footsteps of the Creator imprinted on his creatures.1 I The New Atlantis is a text about natural philosophy which seems to offer connections at almost every point with moral and political philosophy. The celebrated description of Salomon’s House raises the question of the place of the scientist in

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis