“Common words like “material,” “objects” or “form” take on specialized meanings within the context of aesthetic and philosophical discussions”
Yes, and this is why some people call for more clarity and careful use of language within critical theory. However, other people along the Plato – Descartes – Hegel – Lacan – Derrida type of approach point out that doing so makes us a slave to language and disallows us to fully communicate. In fact it may limit our thought itself to the reaches of our language.
The best bet is to recognize “play” in critical theory: the free use of language to be malleable to the concerns of individual contexts. An enforced intersubjectivity, if you will.
The best bet is to recognize “play” in critical theory: the free use of language to be malleable to the concerns of individual contexts.
Are you saying this position is at odds with seeking greater care and clarity? Personally, I don’t think so. By defining terms carefully, I’m referring to specific conversations like this one—not striving for arriving at the ultimate definitions. If we—the people having the discussion—are using words like “material,” “form,” “objects,” etc. in very different ways, then the chances of communicating and understanding each other won’t be very high.
Jazz, given Bell’s celebration of “primitive” art, I would suggest you are mistaken about Bell’s thoughts on artist intentions. He doesn’t concern himself with them in considering significant form since what the artist intended to express doesn’t have any bearing on experiencing aesthetic emotion. I would suggest that since one can’t simply decide to make art, or good or great art, whichever term you prefer, that discounting intention is reasonable in that way.
Regarding other emotions, yes, they are separate from considerations of whether something is art as the aesthetic emotion is what is of primary concern in that regard. One may, presumably, experience other emotions as well, as Bell says each work of art provokes a different aesthetic response, but any work that evokes or demands those other emotions too directly will almost assuredly be a descriptive work rather than art.
Bell did write about movies a little as did a few in his circle, but I can’t find those writings online to read, so I can’t say much about that. I can suggest that Bell likely would not have had any problem thinking of the structure of a film as being a part of what he refers as form since one can deduce as much from what he suggests about music, even as he admits to failing to grasp it most of the time. Just as Langer would later use expressive form to embrace more than the most basic elements I would suggest that Bell would allow significant form also can carry more than its meaning in the pictorial arts.
As such, when thinking of film it is worth noting that other parts of a movie have form beyond the image, so we can think of the way the dialogue and overarching narrative are shaped, the structure of the film basically, as well as the other elements in it as long as we remain focused on the formal aspects of those elements rather than trying to assign them more expressive functions.
I like Langer’s idea of apperception, something not directly covered in depth in the essays I’ve read, but I am less enthusiastic about her referencing dreams as that seems to miss the relationship somewhat eve as I can understand why it is so common a metaphor. Personally, I think she is skating around the issue somewhat, by my thinking on the subject anyway, but apperception does get closer to the relationship between the film and the viewer, so that’s all for the good, and I might think differently about the ideas if I read a more detailed explanation than I’ve been able to see so far.
Oh, and about the language used to discuss, over emphasis on precision can be problematic for reasons suggested by diB, but too much play renders the discussions less coherent and tends towards confusion rather than enlightenment. Clarity can bring ideas to more people than obfuscation generally, which is partly why critical theory has become the realm of such a select few, and mostly within the university settings rather than being more a part of normal critical conversations. Like so many things, it’s all about balance.
He doesn’t concern himself with them in considering significant form since what the artist intended to express doesn’t have any bearing on experiencing aesthetic emotion.
But what are Bell’s views on the intentions relative to SF? Does an artist actively and intentionally try to create SF? Is the artwork about SF—to the extent that we can say the heart of the artwork is SF; that an artwork strives to create this?
If not—if the presence or absence of SF is mainly coincidental—that really diminishes what artists do, imo. What is a great artist if not one who has the ability to create SF? If an artist has no control over this whatsoever or any intention of creating this, doesn’t this make a mockery of art?
Now, I believe Bell would say that SF is a primary objective and concern for great musicians and great visual artists (like painters). However, I’m not sure I can say the same for directors—not many of them anyway. Filmmakers may want to make films that look good, but my sense is that their primary concern is to do this in a way that enhances and works with the content—i.e., the story, the ideas and emotions. So they would be interested in the form—but not necessarily interested in creating SF and evoking aesthetic emotion. Just as some painters may have wanted to be more descriptive or expressive in terms of ideas and emotions—and not so concerned with evoking an aesthetic response.
Bell seems to view intentions as being completely irrelevant to the experience or appreciation of the work, what the artist is trying to do doesn’t matter in other words, simply what is there in front of you matters. It is the thing itself to which we respond aesthetically, and that is all that is of issue for someone concerned with art as art.
However, to say significant form is coincidental might be to go a little too far as, it seems somewhat obvious that there are some artists who “find” it more often then others, the issue though isn’t the artist themselves, but the work they produce, which is why he so strongly praises primitive art of which we know nothing about the artists.
The desire to create a work of art, presuming it exists which almost certainly isn’t precisely the case with much of what we consider art, doesn’t guarantee the success of the endeavor, and indeed may in some ways hinder it as forcing the issue could end up blocking it if one doesn’t have a more intuitive relationship with the materials with which one works and the possibilities of the medium of one’s choosing.
As I was trying to point out with the Ozu example, the story of Late Spring itself is nothing special, it is the shape Ozu gives it that makes it resonate. To Bell, one can see at a glance, even without knowing the whole story, that a work has significant form, so if we expand that, and I think we can, one can suggest that one can recognize a work of film art at a glance as well, even if the story itself isn’t known or clear. So, someone watching Late Spring could sees its likely significance even without seeing the whole film, or speaking Japanese and watching it without subtitles. It wouldn’t be fully possible to appreciate the work as a whole this way obviously, since either way would be omitting certain formal considerations of the film, but the point is that the story itself isn’t meaningful for significant form, its the way it is “told”, which is to say the way the film is constructed that will provide the aesthetic response. The rest may just go towards shaping the particular way that response will be felt in regards to a specific work.
@ Jazz Yes, aesthetic emotion is ineffable in a way, but the point of this passage is to show that extracting “human emotion” from an artwork, while nothing to be ashamed of, is clearly inferior to aesthetic emotion—and it’s not what art is all about.
Greg’s Bellian answer:
“Regarding other emotions, yes, they are separate from considerations of whether something is art as the aesthetic emotion is what is of primary concern in that regard. One may, presumably, experience other emotions as well, as Bell says each work of art provokes a different aesthetic response, but any work that evokes or demands those other emotions too directly will almost assuredly be a descriptive work rather than art.”
From a cognitive perspective, I’ll use the example below.
I’m watching Innocence and the youngest girl Iris is skipping as she walks hand-in-hand with the oldest girl Bianca. This is an expression and representation of joy. I recognize it as joy, but I don’t directly experience joy – I am not skipping – it is a conceptual joy that I realize; a thought, which may lead to a memory of joy.
From here, we will have to disagree about emotions re art, because for all I know some people may experience direct emotions from representation. In fact, this happens as evidenced when people become overwrought at the sight of an image. I would think this is a debilitating loss of control.
There’s a bit of Bell’s piece about Caligari quoted in Laura Marcus’s The Tenth Muse: Writing About Cinema in the Modernist Period, as well as Alison Lin’s Virginia Woolf and the European Avant-Garde, both of which can be found via Google Books (if anyone is interested).
He also seems to have seen, a few months prior, and written about René Clair’s Entr’acte:
According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry on the Council of the Film Society:
“Later that afternoon some members booed during the screening of René Clair’s Entr’acte, while others, led by the art critic Clive Bell, screamed and shook their fists. "
So was Bell shaking his fist and screaming at the film or those who were booing? The “while others” suggests to me it could be either.
About emotions and art, Bell, and some others have suggested that the emotion comes from the thing itself, not as a type of expression of the artists sensibilities, emotions or desires. Some have tried to finesse a difference between expression and evocation, whereas Bell suggested a sort of metaphysical response, the workings of which weren’t entirely clear to me, but he is certainly against the idea of expression as it is constructed by some.
Again though I would caution that Bell is both a product of his time, so there is the possibility that things have changed since then as what art is or how we respond may shift over time, and, like Greenberg, Bell is also, it seems to me, relying on his own expertise and knowledge in a way which may somewhat distort his thinking about art he is less familiar with and the responses of people who come from a different background or school of thinking from himself. He knows form as that is his area of expertise, so one can question whether that suggests his expertise has led him to a deeper understanding of art or somehow blinded him to other possibilities.
The main focus though, regardless of some less than satisfactory explanations of some aspects of his idea, is that we can know art by the aesthetic emotion we feel when we see it, this emotion isn’t able to be placed under the rubric of other emotional states, and it arises from some formal property of the work itself, not anything outside of that work.
“So was Bell shaking his fist and screaming at the film or those who were booing? The “while others” suggests to me it could be either.”
The whole assertion that there were two distinct groups, one booing, another shaking their fists and screaming, is sort of comical. Surely some particularly enterprising audience member was both booing and fist-shaking. Unfortunately I can’t find any trace of the review of the film he apparently wrote.
Briefly, the Caligari piece, though it indicates that Bell wasn’t fully prepared to accept film as high art, one can see the beginnings of the laying of a ground for its inclusion as such in formally connecting Post-Impressionist painting with German Expressionist cinema.
My position on this is difficult to articulate. I do agree that the artwork itself (“what is there in front of you”) matters most. I don’t think we need to know the conscious intentions of the artist. On the other hand, I do believe the artwork, itself, “has” intentions—or objectives; and it’s about something. There is a purpose behind it.
I should explain that the artist’s intentions aren’t important to me because a) I believe the artwork can say enough about intentions, objectives and what its about by itself; b) an artwork is often more than what an artist consciously intends.
However, the fact that an artwork is a human creation, an act of will is an important feature of art. My feeling is that it is one of the attributes that separate it from nature. A sunset can evoke aesthetic feelings, but it isn’t created by a person. When a person creates a work of art, there is always some purpose, intention or “aboutness” of the work, which I don’t think is the case with nature (at least the objectives aren’t artistic). So to ignore this aspect of art is a huge omission, imo.
Also, if you’re implying that Bell believes that artists don’t or shouldn’t attempt to create SF, I don’t know if I agree with that. He seems to suggest that they should be creating SF (or am I getting wrong?). At the very least, if an artist attempts to make something beautiful—and evoke the (aesthetic) feelings from experiencing great beauty—then we can say he wants to create SF—even if he is unaware of the concept. (Bell could say that if he succeeds then he created SF.) SF is just a little more specific way to talk about what beauty is in art.
However, some artists have other objectives besides creating beauty. Here I’m thinking of conceptual artists, novelists, playwrights and narrative-based or conceputally oriented filmmakers. They may want to evoke aesthetic emotions, but that’s not the only, or even, primary objective.
I understand what you mean by the form being the primary source of the film’s artistry, not the story. That’s certainly can happen, but, again, this isn’t the same way Bell is using the concept of form. Form, in the Ozu example, serves the story—and it’s not a means to achieve aesthetic emotion, imo.
If you’re attempting to make a leap from Bell’s concept of SF to the way form is generally used in film, then I’m OK with that. But I do think distinguishing SF from other forms is important—mainly because I think Bell’s ideas are very different and another viable way of assessing art. (My feeling right now, however, is that it’s more appropriate for instrumental music, visual art, maybe some forms of poetry and films—but not more narrative based novels, plays or films.)
I’m watching Innocence and the youngest girl Iris is skipping as she walks hand-in-hand with the oldest girl Bianca. This is an expression and representation of joy. I recognize it as joy, but I don’t directly experience joy – I am not skipping – it is a conceptual joy that I realize; a thought, which may lead to a memory of joy.
OK, but how does this relate to the difference between aesthetic emotion and other emotions?
I’m not suggesting that artists should or shouldn’t try to create significant form, just that the attempt doesn’t, in and of itself, guarantee anything as the creation of a successful work of art doesn’t lie in intent, otherwise creating one would be easy to do.
Significant form isn’t beauty in the more common sense of thinking of the term. Bell allows beauty as a substitute only if those referring to it are using the word in the same way he uses significant form. That is to say that beauty in that use of the word would mean an artwork that achieves significant form is beautiful in itself, the more common usage around sunsets or butterflies wouldn’t fit that definition when thinking of art, which is Bell’s goal.
Does form serve the story? I’m not sure why you would need to put it in those terms as it isn’t clear that is the case from simply looking at a film. The story could exist to give the form something to shape and there wouldn’t be much of any difference in the way it would appear to us. I would also remind you that auteurism has some relationship to ideas of form as derived from Bell and others, as the idea there is that the art of the film comes from the shaping of the story by the filmmaker, not the story itself, generally. That is, in essence, the argument made for the great directors of Hollywood who didn’t necessarily get to choose the stories they told, they made art by shaping the form in significant ways.
What I believe Robert is getting at is that the expressed emotion in a piece isn’t the same as the experienced emotion. In the same way, an artist need not either experience the emotions during the creation of a work that the audience member might feel nor are the “story” emotions necessarily the ones we feel when we think of a work being meaningful to us.
Mediation: aesthetic emotions are mediated
I should explain that the artist’s intentions aren’t important to me: However, some artists have other objectives besides creating beauty.
If it isn’t important, why mention it again as part of an argument?
“Does form serve the story? I’m not sure why you would need to put it in those terms as it isn’t clear that is the case from simply looking at a film. The story could exist to give the form something to shape and there wouldn’t be much of any difference in the way it would appear to us.”
Yeah, Greg is right about this, Jazz. As we’ve discussed before, the idea that film is “story-first” (for lack of a better term) is a product of particular viewing habits which might be worth trying to step out of a bit on occasion, especially if one is particularly interested in understanding/appreciating formalist criticism.
Speaking of that, there is an interesting essay by Edgar Allan Poe on writing which goes through his process of producing his famous poem The Raven as well as how he feels about some of the issues we have been talking about, although not using the same specific terms of course as he wrote this years before that term came about., although, coincidentally it appeared in The Oxford Book of American Essays in 1914 which is the same year Bell’s book Art came out which introduced some of his main ideas.
The Poe essay is called The Philosophy of Composition and it is an interesting read if nothing else and gives some idea of how one artist worked, which isn’t a universal of course, but still shows that the manner of approach to a work may be somewhat different than one would expect.
“I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect. Keeping originality always in view—for he is false to himself who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily attainable a source of interest—I say to myself, in the first place, “Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?” Having chosen a novel, first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can be best wrought by incident or tone—whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone—afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in the construction of the effect.”
heh good stuff….
originality = strangeness = Poe
Walter Pater, Appreciation, Postscript (1889): “It is the addition of strangeness to beauty that constitutes the romantic character in art.”
I remember once in my idealistic youth slaving away for hours upon days upon weeks trying desperately to write a thesis: “A Method of How to Create Original and Important Art”, when after much painful toil, the truth of it all ultimately hit me in my ignorant, naive and disrespectful face: it’s literally impossible for an artist to determine whether or not their work in progress is “original/innovative” or “important” without any kind of historical/cultural context – i.e. a multifaceted response over time and place – and yet the artist is condemned to create his/her work in the present moment… in other words, an artist cannot determine whether or not their creation will become original/innovative/unique; rather, only with the benefit of hindsight and context can an artist determine whether or not his/her creation was or is original/innovative/unique or important to some degree – and so this is not consciously achieved in their actual process of creation.
That is, creating original/innovative/unique art must surely be mysterious to some extent in its methods, otherwise we’d all be able to do it to some degree, as opposed to the relative few who we’ve witnessed doing it over the centuries. And so as far as I’m concerned, the ability to be a “unique” artist is largely concerned with creativity, genius and being in the right place at the right time – things which cannot be categorised; lovely, mysterious, ambiguous, beautiful and rare things indeed.
… oh, and how could I forget the importance of hard work, which is essential for developing the skills needed for masterful expression.
“We were born in the museum. We were the first directors to know that Griffith
exists. Even Carné, Delluc and René Clair, when they made their first films,
had no real critical or historical background. Even Renoir had very little.”
“Historical sense, involves a perception, not only of the pastness of
the past, but of its presence."
“The old has refuge only at the vanguard of the new: in the gaps, not in continuity. Schoenberg’s simple motto- If you do not seek, you will not find – is a watchword of the new; whatever fails to honor it in the context of the artwork becomes a deficiency.”
Regarding Ozu and his stories, I’ve read numerous times how the similarities between the stories of familial tension in many of Ozu’s films must suggest some deep and personal concern with the subject for him, and this indeed may be the case as I am not in a position to judge, but it is also possible that the frequent revisiting of the subject was as much a way to work on or refine the form of his filmmaking as it was anything more personal as sticking with a similar theme or subject matter can show variation more readily and can better serve as a way to focus more purely on technique. After all you don’t hear anyone say Monet must have had a deep concern about haystacks to paint them so frequently.
Then there’s Cezanne and his bathers:
I agree that even if an artist attempts to create SF, he/she could fail. So you weren’t saying that Bell’s position is that intentions or objectives of an artwork is irrelevant?
That is to say that beauty in that use of the word would mean an artwork that achieves significant form is beautiful in itself, the more common usage around sunsets or butterflies wouldn’t fit that definition when thinking of art, which is Bell’s goal.
Shoot, you’re right. I reread the portion where Bell says that aesthetic emotion is different from the feeling one gets from experiencing nature. If Bell means that there is NO connection between the beauty in nature with SF, then I have no idea what he’s talking about with SF. (Throwing my hands up in the air)
Does form serve the story?
Let me back up—and maybe this will change your (and Matt’s) response. I meant that form serves content. Content can be a story, or it can be ideas, feelings or a mood. That’s my general understanding of form and content. Bell’s concepts of SF and aesthetic emotion are different, imo. SF primary evokes aesthetic emotion—which is this wonderful, but incredibly nebulous feeling.
With Ozu, my feeling is that he uses form to support content—not evoke aesthetic emotion. Of course, I can’t be sure about the latter; he could indeed be seeking to create evoke aesthetic emotion via form. But emotions associated with families (father and daughter in the case of Late Spring) dealing with generational conflicts, etc. are all critical parts of the film—and the film works to serve those ideas, imo.
As for the comparison between Ozu and Cezanne, I think it’s a bit of stretch. I can see a painter striving for form—with little or no concern with the actual content (haystacks, bathers, etc.) of the paintings. But saying that Ozu really doesn’t care about human emotions and ideas regarding families, the drama that occurs between them, etc. seems going too far. But if you guys want to make a case for that, I’m all ears.
Jazz, yes, Bell would say that trying to perceive intent or purpose in an artwork is to go somewhat awry. Not that there may or may not have been intentions more or less successfully matched by the viewers perception of a work, but that those things have little to do with whether something is a work of art or not, which is the primary concern of a critic interested in art and aesthetics.
Pull those hands down Jazz! I don’t think you are necessarily as far away from aesthetic emotion, as Bell would have it, as you seem to think. For example, think of a film which you don’t “understand” in terms of what it is saying in story terms but which still compels your attention, making you return to it in your mind as you try to work it out as it seems like the film must have been communicating something of import as you were drawn to it so intently. Now the suggestion I’m making is that you are seeking to understand that film in a way that makes a sort of rational sense, that it is “saying something”, and aren’t convinced of the merits of the film or of your response until you figure what that something is, or until you can label a “meaning” in a way that provides some sort of answer to your inquiry. The initial response to the movie, the thing that gains your interest in the first place, the thing that commands your attention but is not able to be rationally delineated at first might be what we are speaking of as the aesthetic emotion, and perhaps it is only your desire for a more linear explication that is preventing you from appreciating that as letting that interest go and simply valuing the work as itself without demanding some clear “meaning” might be what is causing the problem with the idea rather than the idea itself being beyond your experience.
That is why i brought up David Lynch at first, since his films are rather notorious for eluding definitional certainty, but still creating a powerful response in viewers. Now, one can argue that there is generally a feeling of unease or something even more unsettling in many of Lynch’s films and that is an emotion, which is why I wanted to get away from arguing about him specifically to focus on the more clear instances of form, but once we get beyond thinking of form as being simply connected to imagery one might be able to deal with a wider variety of artworks. Now, I didn’t bring this up to say anything about Lynch’s films having significant form or not, but to reference the response often associated with his films which is a more purely work driven rather than story driven emotion, where some viewers feel something strongly about the film even if they aren’t able to explain it in concrete narrative terms or in terms of meaning or even clear emotions other than noting the unsettling aspects of the films. This sort of response is at least akin to the kind of response one might have in terms of aesthetic emotion over significant form. The very way the film is made is what causes the emotional response. We are drawn to the work for reasons that may not be clear and which we may try to explain by seeking a story related emotional answer, but that may not be what we are actually responding to, which can be seen by all the films with similar stories which we don’t have the same sort of response to.
This topic arose in part due to Robert talking about assassin films, and one of the things of interest to me about that sub-genre is how similar the stories and meanings are between many of them, but how differently we respond to some of them even with that being true. One has to look beyond the content to explain the difference in reaction then as the content between the films isn’t dramatically different in its most basic sense. The form of the films then is one way to approach this difference of response, and from that we can then expand the thought to encompass more than a single genre.
The issue with Ozu is that we obviously are going to see stories about people as being different than those about something inanimate, and that we will attach emotional meaning to those stories, and by extension speak of the filmmaker putting those emotions into the stories. Ozu is an interesting study in that by returning so often to the same basic sort of story set up but by varying the different trajectories of the components of that story, he creates works that can be seen as working along formal lines as much as emotional ones even though we may experience some emotions in regards to the stories each time due to them being about people, basically, and due to them being made so well. Ozu tends to favor, especially in his later films, a sort of minimal affect style of acting, which is to say acting without much emotional expression or indication from the actors, which means the audience will have to read an emotion into the scene that is not indicated clearly by the actors. We do this pretty naturally, but that doesn’t mean an emotion is “there” in a sense, even if it is felt by the viewer. Several of the discussions we’ve had on this site regarding Ozu have pointed out the difficulty some people have with this style of acting as they believe the emotions they think they should be reading aren’t being expressed by the actors. In the example of Late Spring, there is a sort of argument over whether the daughter and father were in fact too close and over how we should feel about the decision to have her marry and leave. Ozu doesn’t answer this, he only shows you the actions of the people in his own way, via a specific set of formal attributes with which he has built his film. We then can be said to be responding to the form of the film primarily in gaining the emotional response to the film even though we may well attribute our response to other emotions we feel which may seem to be the stronger as they are more easily recognized. The very notion that people who really like the movie and are experienced in watching films can differ over the interpretation of the emotional states of the characters suggests, although it doesn’t prove, that there may be something else at work since if the emotions aren’t clearly read then perhaps that isn’t the central component to which we respond.
Japanese culture, from what I know, also has had through its history a great deal of emphasis on formal concerns, and given the virtual but not exact repetitions in Ozu’s work and the obvious emphasis he places on formal arrangement and in construction of his films, not even to mention the naming strategy which suggests something of a relationship or nod to formal considerations present in other art forms from Japan with its consistent sort of rigor, all point to there being at least as strong a suggestion that it is the way Ozu constructs his films that are moving us as it is the stories they are made of. As I said earlier, many of the stories themselves are so common or slight as to not raise much emotion when confronted elsewhere, even in real life, so that we do respond so strongly to Ozu suggests it may not be the story that is the real element of importance in itself. None of that is to suggest that Ozu does or doesn’t care about human emotions or families, simply that such a thing isn’t at issue and doesn’t really have much to do with how we respond to a work of art as I’m sure there are all sorts of directors who care as much or more than Ozu about human emotions, but we don’t respond to their films at all or do so in far less intense ways. So we have to look elsewhere to explain our reaction to Ozu as what he may or may not feel personally won’t answer much of anything.
Remember, the point isn’t that Bell is claiming that art can’t or doesn’t have other emotional or, in his terms, descriptive, content, simply that isn’t what makes it art. It is the form which determines whether a work is art or not, and the rest is secondary and not of main concern to someone interested in aesthetics. A work can be art without having descriptive content, and a work with only descriptive content isn’t art, but many works will have both, and some neither.
I didn’t bring this up to say anything about Lynch’s films having significant form or not…
Well? does it (pick any one) have significant form?
Oh, jeez, I’m not a huge Lynch fan, but, sure, I’d say his films achieve something of that sort generally if one allows form to be used in a wider way than simply composition or visuals alone and allow for structural and sound work as being a part of the picture. I was hoping people would start going into some of those things more, but it is a difficult area to speculate in given the ambiguity around some of Bell’s definitions given his focus on painting. At the least I would say that I can certainly see people believing strongly that Lynch would fit the definitions I’ve been laying out so far, so that would allow for the films to be considered in that way even if they would have undoubtedly caused Bell to scream and shake his fist if he saw them.
…allows form to be used in a wider way…
Danto’s Entelechy: the way in which an object achieves the essence of its full embodiment.
His films achieve their potential by way of a Lynchian language. It is ineffable to those of us non-fans, but that is because the relationships are obscure. His films don’t exactly fill me with aesthetic emotion. The relationships in Cezanne and Ozu are immediately graspable, imo.
In Fincher’s Zodiac, our understanding of filmic relationships (narrative via character) is thwarted, but we come away with a totality. I don’t get that from Lynch – what I get is repetitions, inculcation of his language.
FWIW – Inland Empire threads:
It’s hard for me to talk too much about Lynch given my feeling about his films, which varies considerably over his body of work and even regarding specific films, so I’m not especially comfortable making any definitive statement about them other than to report what I observe others suggesting about them.
It is pretty clear to me that we are more or less at the end of Bell’s usefulness as his focus on painting leaves too many questions unanswered and doesn’t allow for more than some initial insight into ways to think about movies. I find some of his suggestions to be very valuable, in what they suggest and the light they show on certain questions about film, but there is clearly some issues regarding a medium where multiple forms converge and where content is experienced differently than in a painting. I think it may be time to move on to Langer and some others to try to get beyond these issues or to find some new paths to explore.