Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Psychology New Cinema

For this post I was rethinking the discussion last week about Godard, Delueze and the issue of cinema in relation to Eisenstein. This got me thinking about going back to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s chapter “The Film and the New Psychology.” Merleau-Ponty discusses the issue with modern psychology in regards to film. He calls for a new methodology for thinking about man’s place in the world. Merleau-Ponty writes, “The new psychology has…revealed man to us not as an understanding which constructs the world but as a being thrown into the world and attached to it by a natural bond” (53). Although his emphasizes on a new way of thinking about man, the world and his place in it, Merleau-Ponty is really concerned with an essence that predicates intelligence. Now, intelligence for Merleau-Ponty is linked closely with perception. His claim for something that predates or something that is more deeply rooted than perception seems to be that of presence—that which creates a biological bond between man and the world. This is quite a heavy topic in and of itself; however, what Merleau-Ponty is getting at is the notion of a new way of viewing the world that is interdisciplinary, combining psychology, philosophy and a technological advancement, cinema. He writes that psychology, philosophy and filmmaking share an essential link to the world. This link seems to lie in the realm of consciousness, but also the inseparable connection between the body and the mind. Merleau-Ponty’s last line writes,

“if philosophy is in harmony with cinema, if thought and technical effort are heading in the same direction, it is because the philosopher and the moviemaker share a certain way of being, a certain view of the world which belongs to a generation. It offers us yet another chance to confirm that modes of thought correspond to technical methods and that, to use Goethe’s phrase, ‘What is inside is also outside’” (59).    

The correspondence Merleau-Ponty writes about between philosophy and cinema becomes an interesting predicate to thinking about Godard and Delueze. He creates this connection between the possibilities of cinema to create a different way of, as he states, “…presenting consciousness thrown into the world…” (58).  The chapter begins with critiquing the methods of psychology and image, but ends up optimistic about the parallels between philosophy and cinema. However, he also recognizes the adolescence of this pairing, tying these disciplines to a unique generation of individuals who will develop with this ability to capture through the cinema what philosophers have been doing through written language. For Merleau-Ponty, the technology of cinema has enabled this new manner in thinking—a new manner to portray the unity of consciousness of body and mind. 



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