Thursday, May 21, 2015
Eugenie Brinkema on unconcealing mise‐en‐scène.
“Let us suppose,” goes an argument by Heidegger, “that someone with his back turned to the wall makes the true assertion that ‘the picture on the wall is hanging askew.’ This assertion demonstrates itself when the man who makes it, turns around and perceives the picture hanging askew on the wall. What gets demonstrated in this demonstration? What is the meaning of ‘confirming’ [Bewährung] such an assertion?” 1 The consequence of this wondering is that if truth is an accord between assertions and pictures on the wall, then accord or correspondence can only be determined from the point of view of already knowing the truth about whether the real thing is straight or askew. If, however, truth is, as Heidegger argues, about disclosure and not assertion or correspondence (in other words, is not propositional), this uncovering or presencing gesture is primary; it is foundational. Heidegger’s conclusion is that: “To say that an assertion ‘is true’ signifies that it uncovers the entity as it is in itself. Such an assertion asserts, points out, ‘lets’ the entity ‘be seen’ in its uncoveredness. The Being‐true (truth) of the assertion must be understood as Being‐uncovering. […] The most primordial phenomenon of truth is first shown by the existential‐ontological foundations of uncovering.” Heidegger’s well‐known formulation of truth is as aletheia: a‐lethia, the not‐hidden, that which is brought out of concealment and disclosed; this unconcealment carries with it other forms of concealment.
But for all its consequences for philosophy, I am at least as interested in the mise‐en‐scène and choreography of Heidegger’s thought experiment: For if we pause on that “Let us suppose,” if we slow down and emphasize the serious pronouncement – that “the picture on the wall is hanging askew” – if we can imagine the thickened body that would gradually rotate, in close‐up, eyes wide, perhaps in a sort of veiled horror, to perceive, ascertain, or confirm this true state of the world off‐kilter – and let us make the turning figure a woman, all kohl‐lined lids and furious irises – if we catch her visage doubled in a mirror that documents the dawning realization of the stakes of that perception, its complicated confirmation – Does this supposing not suggest everywhere the visual language of melodrama? Once again, then: “What gets demonstrated in this demonstration? What is the meaning of ‘confirming’ [Bewährung] such an assertion?” The visual form of Fassbinder’s Chinese Roulette (Chinesisches Roulette, 1976) is one continual posing of the question of demonstration, and what can be demonstrated in forms of demonstration. What is the meaning of confirming assertions that have been made about the world and its things, each hanging, in their own true way, awry and askew? What is unconcealed or disclosed, and what is unconcealable and disclosable? The film is quite explicit on the stakes of these questions: on the other side of confirming and exposure, what is hazarded in all manner of pronounced demonstration, is none other than the risk of death.
Pp. 142-3
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

Appropriation appropriates! Send your appropriations to enowning at gmail.com.

View mobile version