Quotes from W. R. Robinson
Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poetry of the Act "The Movies, Too, Will Make You Free" "2001 and the Literary Sensibility"
"If You Don't See You're Dead: The Immediate Encounter with the Image in Hiroshima Mon Amour and Juliet of the Spirits" "Making Sense of the Movies" "The Birth of Imaginative Man in Part III of 2001: A Space Odyssey"
"The Movies as a Revolutionary Moral Force"

Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poetry of the Act
"Time and space are but physiological colors the eye makes, but the soul is light" (Emerson epigraph to "The Light of Poetry" 27)

"Poetry in a poem resides primarily in the form, the tone, the style, those tangible elements that emcompass and permeate the specific words and hold them in suspension, thereby allowing poetry to tell us what cannot be said." (62)

"Freedom, to be plain, is nothing but THE INSIDE OF THE OUTSIDE." (Joyce Cary, quoted on 96)

"A poem does not mean but simply is; it does not represent but presents; it is not a symbol remotely standing for something beyond itself; nor is it a self-contained structure of words or a fiction." (123)

"Intellect provides the forms for existence and imagination provides the power" (131)

"Reality is a restless, aspiring energy [pressing relentlessly forward. Such a reality, needless to say, is a haven for the poet and poetry; everything that poetry is, everything that it can do, is not simply tolerated but encouraged and valued because reality is itself an artist, having a persistent urge to creat greater and higher forms of order, realization, and significance." (131)

"Descartes' skepticism had driven a wedge between spiritual and material substance, dissociating intellect from nature and giving the former priority over the latter. The consequent tyranny over life by the mind, and it amounted to nothing less than that, produced, over the course of several centuries, the commonly observed disproportionate progress between scientific and technological achievements and moral development. It also produced what is probably history's greatest irony--man, who had come to feel himself a stranger in the world, outdid nature, creating with his intelligence and supposedly in his own image, an even more strange and estranging environment. Given hegemony, the mind legislated a universe and created a social world compatible with itself--abstract, logical, and mechanical--but uncongenial to emotion, passion, and spirit. With man's interior life so alienated from the external world, the mind so abstracted from organic process, the head and the heart became bitter foes, with the head, the favored and the aggressor, refusing to sanction the heart's aspirations or provide it with a confirming environment. Impotent and passive, deeply imprisoned in a cold world, an inert body, and dull senses, the spirit . . . was forced to regard itself either contemptuously, as without nobility or meaning, or with melancholy, and then preciously nurse its sorrowful longing to return to its home in a remote heaven. Unable to get moral support from the mind and so be valued, there was nothing in this world for the spirit to live by or for; and with nothing to hope for but release and Christianity receding, so no place to be released to, it was impotent. Descartes' dualism, stopping up the springs of spiritual life with matter and mechanism, destroyed the spirit's freedom, and the mind, unwilling to believe in the spirit, even went so far as to demand its death." (146-47)

"Organic process, not reducible to any simpler element within or without itself, is the given, the starting point of experience and knowledge. If man's truth, as Stevens said, is the final resolution of everything, then reality is a vital tension between opposites. What is left when the accidental has been stripped away is change, process, striving, activity, creativity." (149)

"The Movies, Too, Will Make You Free"
"Most of what passes for film theory is not, strictly speaking film theory at all; or, rather, it is applied, not pure, theory, for in its the theorizing faculty is made to defend personal causes or taste" (112).

"Most theorizing stems from a hunger for substance or weightiness" and "serves to anchor an airy moral entity to solid intellectual earth" (113).

Underlying theoretical "hunger": "man's most adamant presupposition: that only what endures can be really valuable--only if our souls are immortal does life have meaning and therefore value; only if love is forever is it true and good." (113).

"The principle, 'the more transitory the less valuable,' probably is responsible for much of the resistance against recognition of the movies as serious art, since they reek of temporality. They come and go at the theaters with great frequency and in great haste, never to return, and they are not possessable like books or paintings or records. We cannot live or grow in their immediate company or display them as status symbols. Above all, they take the transient--from Plato on, the lowliest aspect of life--as their subjec." (114).

"Western culture has been predominantly intellective, and so its art and criticism, following the natural propensity of the intellect, have been heavily biased toward permanence. They have always proclaimed plenitude and imperishability the summum bonum. Thus it comes as no surprise that early movie directors, especially European ones, sought a cinematic means to give body to the universal truths underlying the appearance of things or to evolve a style by which to elevate human consciousness out of time" (114).

"The movies appear to be attached to the physical and particular much more than any other art and so seem to resist cooperating quietly with the old values and the old aesthetic. For this reason, they ought to be more at ease in the hands of Americans, for whom traditionally process is reality" (114-15).

"A movie as art is almost an incarnation of man, standing in relation to him as he has been conceived of standing in relation to his Maker. As such, it invites nearly every question that can be asked of life and even seems to promise an answer to most" (115-16).

man's tripartate nature:
Plato reason passion desire
Kierkegaard religious moral aesthetic
Freud id ego superego
Classical the True the Beautiful the Good
Robinson senses intellect imagination

 "Perfection will always elude the moviemaker" (116).

"A work will always be just a view, never the view" (116).

"The argument that good cinema can be produced by doing only what comes naturally with the camera makes a neat deduction but a poor observation. As the modern novel illustrates--in its case a descriptive, temporal genre gets sharply wrenched in order to render an essential, atemporal reality--the most exciting artistic achievements may be generated from a tension between the medium and a view of things unnatural for it" (117).

"When a movie is called 'escapist,' therefore, all that can be legitimately be meant is that it wins its battle too easily. . . . A good movie, like a good athletic contest, offers a true test against a worthy opponent. It wins its victory after genuine struggle, with honor and dignity. And this applies to the movie itself, not just to the characters in it: the movie as art, as the result of a battle between imagination and reality, persuades us that its escape, the victory of the human spirit over the material medium, has been duly earned. If the triumph for the protagonist or the artist comes too easily, if little wit or courage is expended by them, then the human spirit has not been tried to its depth and so is not profoundly entertained and refreshed. Winning is inevitable--the existence of the work bears witness to that--but what is defeated and how the victory is won is the heart of the aesthetic matter" (118).

"The desire to escape from heaviness is so fundamental and universal a passion that it pervades everything man does and may even be the major moving force behind his culture and history. Certainly, he has cultivated the various intellectual disciplines in order to transcend his necessity, in the hope that he could 'choose himself.' Religion has always been devoted to making man free through liberating the soul from spiritual ignorance or guilt. while science has been employed to equip man from with a powerful knowledge capable of freeing him from nature. The arts in general, the movies included, are a part of man's intellectual armament in this war to liberate himself form heaviness, but they serve in a distinctive capacity. Like religion and science, art frees man's consciousness from the pragmatic pressures of living for a moment's respite to meditate upon isolated qualities before he plunges again into the stream of life. But whereas religious dogma focuses upon the conceptual truths of the spirit and science upon those of nature, art, a conjunction of spirit and nature, takes moral truth as its province. In effect, its discovers or creates values; by incarnating the Good, a spiritual entity, in a concrete form, art frees it to be" (118-19).

"The movies simply stepped into the middle of a centuries-old row when, as soon as they appeared on the scene, censors and critics attacked them for distracting people from their proper moral development by stirring up their lower depths" ("The Movies, Too" 119).

"A 'pure' movie, like pure science, enhances awareness by bringing a hidden or vague quality out into the open" (120).

"With its vigorously impersonal method science cools us off emotionally and morally to receive a dispassionate truth about objective matters. its icy illuminations may be a great delight for the intellect, but they are not intended to bring joy to the heart or conscience. Perhaps the most evident thing about a movie is its power to excite; but like a church service it does so of necessity, for we can receive its insight, actually a state of being, only if it elevates us into exalted consciousness. Similarly, the demand that a movie be exciting, engaging, alive, that its moral truth be felt and feelable, springs from the intuition that a value is a vital existence, something worth living for and caring about" (120).

"The movie maker does not imitate, refer to, or symbolically represent a value but gives body to it there in the movie" (121).

"The moviemaker, as artist, it should now be clear, is a moral educator. Like every artist, he forges, in James Joyce's phrase, the conscience of his race" (122).

"The movies no less than science are devoted to the discovery and establishment of timeless truth. The movies, like the other art works created in the past and accumulated as our heritage, pass on moral knowledge from one generation to another; they thereby allow us to possess now the possibilities of good discovered by our forebears" (124).

"A movie as art objectively and vividly displays man's good. It brings moral truth into the world. Psychologically, by being out there, it confirms us, assuring us that our good is real. We go to a movie, certainly in our most serious moods, but probably on all occasions, in search of our moral truth; and when we find it, for the moment we dwell spiritually or meditatively in its, it is our fulfillment, our fulfillment of being. And if we don't like the movie, still, through the friction of an imperfect meeting of consciences, we become clearer about moral alternatives" (125).

"Movies are not utterances; they make no claim--nor does any art, as architecture and music illustrate glaringly--to propositional truth or falsity. Their province is taste; and taste, not truth, at least not truth independent of taste, is our preeminent concern as living creatures. To live is to act, and efficient action requires clear goals. By contributing to the enhancement of moral awareness, the movies as art help free man to know and pursue his true good. Whereas our scientific education equips us to use the world more effectively, the movies, assisting in our moral education, help prepare us to act more wisely" (126).

"But from another, a human, point of view, literature, originating within a worldly predicament, arises either from the longing of words to be themselves or from man's hunger to dwell in the realm of ideas or reason. Not inherently inclined to be denotative, words much prefer to consort among their own kind and, indeed, ardently long to return to their source. In any case, the literary imagination works from a fallen state and, nostalgically lamenting its paradise lost, aspires to regain verbal heaven" (127).

"Characters serve as the metaphorical vehicles by which the word is made manifest" (128).

"In contrast to literature, the movies and the cinematic imagination are literal. A visual medium in which the world is complementary and dispensable, the movies illuminate sensory reality or outer form. They are empirical revelations lighting the thing itself and revealing change as nothing more than its appears to be. In their world there is no becoming, only being, or pointless change, no innate potential to be realized in time, no essence to be released from original darkness, no law to be learned and obeyed" (128).

"Whatever a movie illuminates it has already celebrated, saying, in effect, 'So be it'" (129).

"Literature testifies, while the movies witness" (129).

"In seeking to commit the mind to what is not at once evident to the senses, literature demands belief; it insists that its report, always an interpretation, be trusted. The movies, on the other hand, a visual art, are immersed in the sensory, physical word, viewing it from within as a passing parade ceaselessly coming and going. They have no way, except for words, to gain a vantage point outside it. In this respect, they are the archetype for the contemporary intellectual predicament characterized by the twilight of absolutes--they have no revealed word or a priori ideas, nor any criterion within experience itself, by which to ascertain reality or value; they are face to face with what is in its full multiplicity and glory. They dwell in the present, in a world all surface. Lacking a second level of reality, they are without complexity--without irony, meaning, or necessity. On the face of things appear process, activity, energy, and behind this mask is nothingness. Whereas the word is mysterious, the image is evident; everything it has is showing. Thus for movies the created world is good, not fallen; they offer no salvation through belief, as Christianity and rationalism do, but instead regard the given world as redeemed. they are existentialist, valuing the concrete, existence, or what is (129).

"The tension generated between images and words in an impure movie and our ambivalent response to their interaction begat a truth that would otherwise be lost. As literature is enriched by the tension between word and image, so too are the movies" (130).

"The free camera, moreover, supports the free character" (133).

"Today there is not even a shadow of a doubt that the movies, instead of being by nature or moral precept enslaved to physical reality, are a technological vehicle by which the human spirit can escape material limitations once thought to be narrowly restrictive. Not too long ago regarded as man's nemesis, technology, in the movies as well as in the airplane, enlarges his power of flight" (133).

"This child of empiricism, repudiating its parents, has liberated form from the material world. Marilyn Monroe, never a physical actuality for moviegoers, lives on every time the camera projects her image on the screen, and so, although physically dead, she has gained immortality. She has been released, as has the moviemaker and the viewer, and, indeed, man's mind everywhere, to dance in the imagination's heaven. Actually physics is mainly responsible for destroying the idea of substance, but the movies have done more to set the imagination free to dream upon human moral possibilities within a substanceless universe" (133-34).

"By conclusively demonstrating that an image does not necessarily signify substance," movies "have destroyed the last vestige of our materialistic mental habits. Unburdening us of the hunger for an anxiety about meaning, the free movie teaches us that to be is enough; existence needs no justification. Ironically, in the new intimacy between the senses and the mind which the movie achieves, Plato's realm of forms is realized through physical vision" (134).

"The movies are now recognizable as an extension of the supreme power inherent in a universe of energy, chance, evolution, explosiveness, and creativity. In such a youthful, exuberant universe, the movies' kind of dreaming gives concrete probability and direction to the ongoing drive of energy, and as a consequence what at one time was thought to be a vitiating defect is now their greatest virtue. The new freedom they reflect and extend is freedom within the world, contingent and not absolute, a heightened vision of existence through concrete form beyond abstraction" (134).

"In a world of light and a light world--unanalyzable, uninterpretable, without substance or essence, meaning or direction--being and non-being magically breed existence. Out of the darkness and chaos of the theater beams a light; out of nothingness is generated brilliant form, existence suspended somewhere between the extremes of total darkness and total light. Performing its rhythmic dance to energy's tune, the movie of the imagination proves, should there be any doubt, that cinema, an art of light, contributes more than any other art today to fleshing out the possibilities for good within an imaginative universe" (134).

"2001 and the Literary Sensibility"
Quotes William Gilmore Simms concerning how fortunate it is that "the mouth and not the eyes, had been endowed with the faculty of eating. Had the eyes and not the mouth been employed for this purpose, there would soon be a famine in the land, for of all gluttons, the eyes are the greatest" (24).

"Over the course of three parts, then, a lethargic physical creature is sensuously aroused; that awakening begets the aspiration to stand up and to fly, but his flight, ironically, turns upon his inspiration to trace the slab back to its origins; then, in the end, his vital energy gets turned loose from the center of himself for creative transcendence--but, again ironically, that creative transcendence is a return to the 'physical' condition of finite existence. In shot, a motion arises that goes backward so that it may finally move forward in creative joy" (27).

"In each of these phases man transcends a limitation by releasing a potential within himself for growth toward the next higher level in his development. But the major limitation he must surmount is that of words, the foremost obstacle to his progress at this point in his history" (28).

"The eye has emerged from primeval darkness. Stirred by the sun at the apex of the vertical-oriented cobalt slab that uplifted them, the newly charged sun-drunk eyes leap free of their locked-in condition and limited range, escape the exhaustion of ceaseless caring for basic needs and of being a fearful prey to darkness, and aspire to a new image of man" (29-30).

"The effect of this everpresence of words, the instrument of stereoscopic depth perception, is separation. They make it possible for man to escape the huddled, dependent, tribal condition of the apes by putting space, or a third dimension, between men. That space allows them the heightened self-identity that a name makes possible at the same time that it endows them with the room to stretch out and be mobile. This new individuality comes, however, at the price of division and polarization both without and within man" (30-31)

"The eye escapes the prison of the physical body only to find itself imprisoned in reason" (31).

"Locked within the 'I' of reason. man appears irredeemably at odds with his world and within himself. He is 'spaced'--suspended in mind between his origins and his destiny" (32).

"[Hal] is not the main character of the movie, it hardly need be noted. It should already be clearly apparent that the eye is" (33).

"Reason's quest for its origin is inherently futile simply because reason, severed from the concrete world and so without vital energy or the vital principle active within it, contains no self-sustaining or ultimate ground within itself. The discovery mission, inevitably, cannot be successfully completed and must be aborted. There is no alternative to the consummation of rational hunger other than the disconnection of HAL's mind. For, were reason's mission successful, it would put a stop to motion. By getting back to its beginning, reason would reach the still point before time and history began" (35).

"2001' marks the inception of the third stage in human development, the new age of man's oneness, of unitive man, the birth of the new millennium. For this latest evolution to occur, man first had to evolve out of bestiality into rationality, which he does in the movie when the birth of reason incited by the cobalt slab transforms the foraging ape into Homo Faber, a tool-maker who develops a bone into a weapon and then that bone, the most rudimentary form of technology ("2001 and the Literary Sensibility" the skeleton machinery of the body used by that living spirit to carry out its acts of life) into space environments and space vehicles. But this story of the birth of rational man is an old story. The new story, and the difficult one, in 2001' is the further evolution of man beyond rationality. Reason plays only a small part in the overall movement toward the evolution of imaginative man, who sees and thereby synthesizes the world that words could only analytically polarize. For the bitter rational truth is that reason is merely a tool used to its limits by the eye and then, as with all tools, when its job is done it is disposed of" (36-37).

"If You Don't See You're Dead: The Immediate Encounter with the Image in Hiroshima Mon Amour and Juliet of the Spirits"
"The movies poses a fundamental threat to the orthodoxy and authority of the church--or rather, just to orthodoxy and authority; that they are, form the perspective of rational values, an eminent danger" (21)

"We have reached the stage in the development of our culture where the eyes and images are in a position to overthrow the rule of reason" (22).

"The movies are our moral frontier today" (22).

"She is disposed, not to remember, but to do as life does, to let go and go on, to be open and ready for growth, expansion, life now, the new" (11).

"Instead of opposing the flow of images, or more accurately for Juliet of the Spirits, the camera's movement and quest, the words quarrel among themselves" (12).

"Her [Juliet's] willingness to carry on the camera's quest for the light" (12).

"The quest is shown to be aimed at discovering the light of life" (12).

"Her imagination makes her life whole again by fusing her generative and inventive powers into the creative potency that enables her to surpass Lynx Eyes' example of external confirmation with a metamorphosis in consciousness" (19).

"For all she becomes is present as a possibility in those images--in their brilliant, luxuriant colors and their burgeoning forms: their luminous, highly defined individuality; an individuality that extends into the composition of the events in which they figure . . ." (19).

"Some time ago, John Crowe Ransom observed that image possess 'a primordial freshness, which idea can never claim. An idea is derivative and tame . . . the image with its character beaten out of it . . . The image, on the other hand, which is not remarkable in any property, is marvelous in its assemblage of many properties, a manifold of properties, like a mine or field . . . in its original state of freedom, in their panoply of circumstances and with their morning freshness upon them,' images are 'a plenum of qualities,' 'sharp of edges,' 'given and nonnegotiable,' 'pure exhibit,' 'so whole and clean that resist the catalyses of thought'. Never anything but an image, and so always a direct extension of the properties of images, Juliet exemplifies these qualities singled out by Ransom. But in her willing espousal of these qualities, she further allows what Ransom could not because of his verbal bias as a poet--that the image is alive, active, plastic, and one, that the image, in sum, passes the creation, including its creative potency, through it intact. It is with this realization that she steps across the threshold of the new human possibility into the new world and the spiritual adventure of our time. . . . Necessarily a creation herself and creatively intact to operate in that capacity, in performing as a vehicle of creative energy she is free, pure potential in a universe of possibility" (22).

"Making Sense of the Movies"
"Art does not, however, and cannot make propositional assertions; it cannot be false or true in any logical sense; thus it cannot "say" or "mean" anything in the normal sense of these words. As an end in itself it absorbs all attention in itself, at least when aesthetically beheld. It is its own subject, inviting its beholder to know it for what it is. And what it is when a narrative, if a subject must be attributed to it, is a study or measure or rendering of change, of creative change or transformation, to be exact. That is to say, it is a 'myth' of creation which identifies and pays tribute to its source, the power that makes it possible" (151).

"Historically, revelation gave way to a priori knowledge, first in reason then in conscience; and now art has succeeded the latter as the primary evidence of existence, including the divine or the life of the spirit" (151).

"the way of the artist is at odds with the way of the thinker, for the way of the imagination differs radically from the way of the intellect" (152-53).

"Where the philosopher studies change, the artist participates in it. He renders it from the inside. He escapes man's necessity by a creative act, that is, by bringing into the world what had previously not existed in time and space. He introduces a novel, unnatural form into nature. His eye is not on the material conditions but on the possibility; he is a prophet looking into the future. He lives in an through value, not the ideal--value occurs only in the concrete and as a particular, whereas the ideal is an abstraction, an idea of the good generalized from a value" (153).

"A movie is an ethical phenomenon, or, more accurately . . . . a value phenomenon. Art is value. The imagination dwells in a universe of qualities" (153).

most critics "don't look closely at movies because they distrust them" (158).

Thinking of Agee, Kael, Kaufman, Sontag: "all these 'sophisticated' reviewers are essentially doctors of society; using the movie as a symptom, their passion is to diagnose moral sickness in man, the culture, the times, a class, the artist. Whatever they attack they do so doctrinairely, praising or condemning in the name of a faction or ideal. Their criticism, correspondingly, is elitist and conservative; it discriminates against the present, viewed as 'fallen,' and against the movies, the living art of the present, as a medium" (159-60).

"Either art matters or it doesn't; either it contributes something unique to life or it is merely decorative; either it is a form of knowledge that a man of passionate and serious curiosity can inquire into or it is an irrelevancy" (162).

"What she [Reneta Adler] actually detected in the movies, but can't allow, is a new morality" (162).

"Everything a movies has to show exists out in the open, so no special concept or intellectual scheme or analytical tool is privy to what it is" (163).

"As the camera, setting the example, points toward and beholds what light illuminates, so movie criticism must follow its leads by opening the mind through opening the eyes, and that can happen only via specifying, or pointing to, what is there in fact" (163).

"the depthless universe of color" (165).

"A medium, by its inherent character, emphasizes one or a few sensations in the spectrum of human experience, and in "selecting' those qualities for the focus of attention establishes a norm or center with which to assess value and measure truth. The color movie occupies our consciousness with color: we distinguish things--things are characterized--by their color, and the worth of anything resides in its color . . ." (166).

"It is now commonly recognized that is a closer analogue to reality than logic, the imagination's method a closer imitation of nature than reason's. And among the arts, obviously the movies, an art of light, emanate from greater depths within the living center than any other art in a universe of light. The essence of words, the mass of sculpture, the harmonies of tones--these modes, for example, are aesthetic epigones in such a universe. The advantage of the movies places them on the frontier of moral history, and so to them we must go if we are to know ourselves and exist in our time" (168).

"For the revelation of the moving image, despite its overtness, will continue to elude us until we see the qualities of that specific action or that specific color, until our eyes are opened by an appropriate method to see what is there and going on morally in the movies as narrative art" (168).

"The Birth of Imaginative Man in Part III of 2001: A Space Odyssey"
"By never getting up so close to the slab that his vision is limited to knowing a part of it, Dave allows the slab to maintain its integrity. His distance from it and his gesture of pointing at it lets things happen in the space between them. He thereby welds physical and rational objectivity into an imaginative objectivity that relates his eye as a field of force tot he cobalt slab's field of force that combine as his eye does, all the powers of which the slab consists. In this relationship the eye and the cobalt slab connect center to center. This transfer of the individual entity's total force intact across a distance, comparable to the flow of gravity, magnetisim, and electricity, not only grants the object room to grow in but exchanges the individualizedd energy that fuels the perceiving individual for his development. In the course of that exchange the eye, like Emerson's transparent eyeball, passes the creative powers of Dave and those of the universe he inhabits through it from opposite directions, linking them in mutual complementarity. Adding nothing but itself, the eye mediate a hook up between the creative dimension of the universe and creative powers of the human imagination" (28).
"The Movies as a Revolutionary Moral Force"
The movies "too, are creations of the technological revolution and vehicles for bearing forward modern man's revolutionary intellectual energy" (15)

The movies contribute to the revolution by "putting wheels upon his eyes" (15)

"The stories told through them are not merely reflections of the human condition in our time but change in the making, the creative thrust and break-through of the present that is shaping our future" (15).

"The movies not only enable man to examine more closely the mechanisms of motion and growth but also equip him to peer more profoundly than hitherto into the springs and processes of human action" (15).

"For the movies are the most powerful visionary instrument at man's disposal today" (15).

"Movies have always had a penchant for employing themselves as their subject; only earlier, instead of scrutinizing the image, they focuses upon the star, their self-image being projected as the story of a rising young actor on the make or some grand old personality whose success embodied the glories of the industry" (15-16).

"In contrast to the word, which possesses the virtues of restraint and self-sacrifice, and exemplifies acceptance of limits and place, and therefore is humane and humanizing, the image's encouragement and facilitation of unbridled individuality is baldly vicious" (17).

In 2001: "the pre-personal, aroused, aspired to the personal; the personal worked toward self-transcendence or death, then the impersonal elected to become particularized. In the life spiral enacted in the movie, the image approaches and reaches the speed of light, then the light reverses the process and suffers its energy to be incarnated in an individual form" (18).

In 2001: "the pre-personal, aroused, aspired to the personal; the personal worked toward self-transcendence or death, then the impersonal elected to become particularized. In the life spiral enacted in the movie, the image approaches and reaches the speed of light, then the light reverses the process and suffers its energy to be incarnated in an individual form" (18).

"As art the movies cannot be either true or false. Their role consists not of making our decisions for us but of illuminating the possibility of good" (19).

"Beginning with Giotto and Galileo the image has irrepressibly and persistently been a subversive force undermining the foundations of doctrinal orthodoxies and the intellectual culture dependent upon them" (20).

"the movies, in the Elizabethan sense, 'move' their viewers toward a certain kind of virtue as man's good. Specifically, they move us to a knowledge of life--the Europeans call it existence--as individuated, contingent, pluralistic, egalitarian, relativistic, emmanentistic, dynamic, creative, pragmatic, unitive, and comic--among other things" (20).

"At their best the movies celebrate the divine during its moment of manifestation, loving Christ in and for his finite particularity, not his transcendent origins and promises. And the vocation of the movies is precisely that--to flesh out to the fullest extent in art the at present dimly sensed possibilities inherent in the image" (20).

"every movie unavoidably displays the image in its newness and assertiveness, its presentness and vitality. It affirms by existing the truth that

    At worst, one is in motion, and at best
    Reaching no absolute in which to rest,
    One is always nearer by not keeping still. (Thom Gunn, "On the Move") (20)
"[The movies'] burden is to show in its action where the action is" (20).

"Products of the age of the image, their special assignment as art is to urge us to espouse as man's good the will to go on going on, to remain eternally young and continually grow, to expand, create, and realize, to open up and move out in adventure and joy on the frontier of life" (20).

"The difference the movies make is that they equip our consciences with the models we needed in order to accept openly and fully temporal earthly growth, conversion and creation as the inciting and guiding light of our lives" (20).

"Stirring up dangerous unconventional erotic passions and abetting to crime via images of violence, even should the movies be guilty of them, rank at best as superficial moral effects. Movie censorship aimed at curbing pornography and violence is simply misformed and futile. The only possible way censorship can hold the moral status quo against movies is to ban them entirely" (26).

"Now 'character' specifies exactly what the term means etymologically, 'an engraved mark or brand.' It designates the rigid properties that a man bears indelibly, like the mark of cain, throughout his existence. That means that character is that part of him that has an enduring identifiability, a reliable stability, and predictability. For this reason, character is that part of him that can be named. And since it can be named, it dwells in names--in titles or functions and roles--and thrives on words--in belief and ideologies, or intellectual stances and philosophical positions" (27).

"This three-dimensional man of perspective, depth, substance, and contrary forces uses his intelligence, like a navigator uses geometrical coordinates, to locate himself at a fixed point in existence. He intends to know at all times who he is and where he is. That knowledge allows him to feel that he is rational master over the forces of change. Character, as the intellectual exemplifies, provides just such an absolute in man" (27).

"In sum, character is an abstraction, an inorganic fixation resulting from the conceptualizing powers of man's intelligence; it is a man's idea of himself" (27).

"[Character] enabled man to lift himself out of the slough of unself-consciousness, release his rational powers, and shape himself into a uniquely intellectual creature capable of standing above nature in his towers of thought and his self-created civilizations" (27).

"2001 . . . confronts its viewers with the most serious of challenges to their idea of themselves by quietly annihilating character or the ego and replacing it with the image of man--with, indeed, man the imager, a creature who is an eye, whose essential feature is his visual and envisioning power" (28).

"a genius--in the root meaning of the word, a 'spirit of generation and birth'" (30).


    "repudiates the old humanistic claim that . . . humanity resides in suffering . . ."
    "rejects the tragic sense of life and, beyond that, the notion that a valid human identity must be rooted in sin or guilt--that is moral memory" (30)
    possesses "the capability . . . to abstract vital energy from its encumbering circumstances, enabling it to let go and go on" (30)
    "seeks to grow continuously, to ever expand and enhance life" (31)
    "coordinates all . . . faculties, including . . . intelligence, toward performing life's quintessential task of creating greater life" (31)
    "know that evil is a place and that to do good they must elude being placed. Life is bad from the genius' point of view when it is at a standstill, when it has nothing going for it." (33)
    "submits to seizure by a power greater than ego or character that momentarily depersonalizes" (33)
    "is an artist of life" (33)
    "thrives on images" (33)
    "is superficial, shallow, changeable, ephemeral" (34)
    "Without a name genius antecedes and perpetually eludes the bondage of family, society, and culture, and without a past--no father and no institutional and ideological connections--. . . travels light" (34)
    "however unnamed or unnamable, . . . genius is not inhuman or a freak. For rather than being a weakness, his depthlessness is, instead, his strength. It is the condition of his radiance, versatility, plasticity, resiliency, and mobility, and makes it possible for him, since he doesn't have to keep looking back while dragging his historical tale behind him, to expand his energy in thrusting forward." (34)
    "always threatening to metamorphose into a strange new creature, to succumb to the temptation of any novel possibility that excites new dimensions of . . . existence" (34)
    "upsetting to the personal security of others and social order because he can't be stood in his niche and made to stay there" (34)
    "specializes in creating good" (34)
"Peel away layer after layer, still all is skin, the empirically witnessed exterior that happens to be charged with energy. Actually, like the electrons in an atom, the outer rings are energy charges and all human interactions . . . result from discharging them" (33).

Characters "have no existence in the world of the movie, as we have no existence in the world of movement, apart from appearances" (33).

Propositions for Reflection, Investigation, and Papers (a handout)
"Narration is the science of action; a narrative is a solution, or attempted solution, to the problem of action"

"The first fact of life in the 20th century is that change rules supreme."

"The first thing the eyes behold is color in motion or moving color."

"Western man's primary occupation since Galileo has been the study of motion, the realm of the eyes."

"The first fact of life in the 20th century is that change rules supreme."

"Western man . . . has been dedicated to narrating the truth about his world and himself for 500 years. Thus narrative has been his presiding interest, instrument, and discipline in the development of his culture and the individual's growth over the course of this period of time. In effect, Western man in his modern phase is a narrator caught up in the adventure of getting the story of motion right so that he can act out his life to its proper completeness."

"The ultimate motion in our universe is light, which is the source of vision. All narration today seeks to tell the story of the light, but the movies, a medium of light, are best equipped to do so."

The light

    "seeks to shine through." (
    "wants to be light and alive."
    "wants to be born."
    "loves to exist."
    "intends to break out of whatever would it in."
"Narration today, and especially in the movies, continues the Romantic traditions, attempts to tell the story of life; it bears, therefore, our drive, borne by anthropology, etc., to cast off the chains of rational civilization and become supremely mobile."

"The light exerts a pressure to expand or grow. It wants to generalize itself, but organically, not by conceptual abstractions."

"To move, to act, to grow, as a creature of the light, man must 'put it all together,' as athletes say."

"The story of the light enters the dynamic inner and resultant outer action of the living process. Its subjectivity or internalization, like science's attempt to uncover the secrets of nature, equips it to look into the secrets of human action."

"For we now live, the new narrative insists, in the culture of the imagination."

"The movies are the supreme imaginative act."

"The essential act the light seeks to perform is that of stripping down, sloughing it off, taking it off."

"The light loves skin--new, fresh, shiny skin."

"The image is nothing but surface; it is only what it appears to be; it is depthless, without substance, pure form."

"The image distinguishes the individual."

The image

    "lives out of its own"
    "is a model of form."
    "is radiant, not linear"
    "Full of light, it throws itself forward."
    "is an energy pellet, packaged light"
    "is self-contained and autonomous, the paradigm, in fact, of autonomy"
"Only the concrete can be seen and photographed."

"The human face is the ultimate image, the most individuated thing in creation."

The image

    "lives out of its own"
    "is a model of form."
    "is radiant, not linear"
    "Full of light, it throws itself forward."
    "is an energy pellet, packaged light"
    "is self-contained and autonomous, the paradigm, in fact, of autonomy"
"Only the concrete can be seen and photographed."

"The human face is the ultimate image, the most individuated thing in creation."

"If one thing drops from sight, another will immediately replace it; the eyes are never without wonders to behold; there is no deficiency in the eye or what it sees as long as it remains open."

"Character is a 19th century idea of what a man should be."

"[Character exhibits] three-dimensionality, a surface plane and a depth plane at right angles and so at odds or in tension with each other."

"Character suffers and it is irremedial."

"The new imaginative man is not a character but a genius."


    "lives for creation and joy."
    "transcends self by making something better than self."
    "saves and is saved by the inherent powers of light and life."
    "is the agent of light."
    "replaces debilitating intellectual self-consciousness with imaginative self-consciousness."
"The movies are a machine art, but then so is literature, whether it's made with pen, pencil, or typewriter."

"there is no action, movement, or creation without, or apart from, machine."

"The body serves as the light's, or the human spirit's, initial machine; the 'soul' cannot exist or act except in and through the body."

"Movement is objectification in and through a machine; thus objectivity is not the death but the life of the spirit."

"The machine, instead of diminishing or destroying the spirit, extends its power and range; the more machine the more "soul."

"[the more machine] the more 'humanity,' for affirmation of the machine eliminates expectations that owing to romantic excess are false to creation and creates greater living space for the individual."

"An anti-machine movie is a contradiction, a moral lie."

"The new narrative delights in the body."

"The story of the light continues, extends, and refines the strip tease; it is a voyeur adventure in peeling off the obscuring and obstincting garments and immediately behold the naked flesh.

"nothing is more natural to the movies than the skin flick."

"You can't get values from fact. To get value, you have to start with value."

"Either everything has value or nothing does."

"If the former is true, then everything that exists, everything that the light shines upon, is good."

"Every image or form, as value, is simultaneously engine and fuel, and energy system."

"The new narrative shows us a world that is nothing but value."

"The basic narrative problem in the story of the light is to relate vitally or functionally the light and the image, motion and the concrete, energy and form; each tends toward the other."