Søren Kierkegaard’s existential insight sometimes eclipses his literary achievement. His command of metaphor, in particular, is part of his overlooked literary gift: his writing style involving pseudonyms and fragmentary, inconsistent personal accounts has perhaps perplexed many, but one can hardly deny his genius in constructing vivid metaphors that serve an indispensable role throughout his authorship. In addition to initiating an existential mood, Kierkegaard’s metaphors help his readers imagine a profound, exquisite reality rich in personal details and feelings. In his early major work Either/Or, for example, metaphors play a predominant role.
In this essay, I contrast Gumbrecht’s insight with the cognitivist and Daniel Frampton’s phenomenological views on cinematic experiences. Borrowing scenes from Terrance Malik’s film The Tree of Life, I propose that cinematic expressions can create presence besides communicating stable, concrete meanings that mostly engage one’s mind. I side with Gumbrecht and argue that merely attributing or reconstructing the meaning of a film, cognitively or phenomenologically, limits the philosophising potential of the medium. After all, film intrinsically philosophises as a physical reality, or film-being.
The 2017 British independent film God's Own Country is about the Yorkshire countryside, two homosexual men, plenty of sheep and a sense of nostalgia. Filled with the ambition of timelessness, the story, or a dreamy fairytale, does not happen in a specified time. Characters speak with a strong regional accent, and I struggle to catch every word. But that turns out to be a minor concern: the film does not demand its audience to catch every word; instead, it invites them for a visually intimate experience with two blessed young men falling in love, alongside an earnest, affecting depiction of humanity.
10/10 Every great story is a stroy of pain, and The Tree of Life is no exception. It is a story of unbearable and chronic discomfort: the pain of life, growth and death, or to put them together, the pain of mortal existence. It is difficult to reivew this movie in one short blog post, but I think it is worth a try, for the movie deals with the most fundamental pain of human existence, or should I say the worst kind of pain among all.
I find Haught's book a worthy addition to the literature dealing with religious awakening and its conflict with modern sciences and meaning in a cosmic perspective. The ambitious, exciting book would have been clearer if Haught can explain in details why he makes certain associations, and why those associations are indeed true besides their psychological and religious appeal.