Chapter 5 – Corneal Denigration & Cortical Reconfiguration

‘The final confrontation with self becomes the ultimate “film” itself…The real privilege in Film belongs neither to E nor to O…but to the cinematographic eye…Film is thus a movie about the experience of our eyes watching other eyes watching us…Far from distancing us, Beckett has his eyes on us, carefully drawing us into the action and making us the protagonists.’

–          Enoch Brater[1]

Chapter 5 – Corneal Denigration & Cortical Reconfiguration: concluding Beckett’s philosophical history and clarifying his Film-ic philosophical intent.

Chapter 4 ended with an allusion to the technological. I have refrained from focusing on technology in this essay so that the connections between Film and contemporary-haptic-philosophy can be made but as this chapter’s epigraph makes clear, the technology of the camera – the cinematographic eye – is very important in both the life of the lens and the philosophy Beckett was working with.

In embracing and playing with the form of film, Beckett was opening up the cinematic eye’s history and self-knowledge. Achieved by using black and white and references to eyes, Beckett’s technological exploration is fitting for contemporary-haptic-philosophy as was noted in Chapter 2. I propose that Beckett understood the somatic nature of the technologies of film so much that he knew the questions raised in Film would not be done as well in any other medium.

This essay owes a great deal to Lance St. John Butler’s Samuel Beckett and the Meaning of Being, mentioned in Chapter 3, for his in-depth phenomenological exploration of Beckett’s oeuvre however Butler doesn’t ever fully analyze Film but instead gives a thorough look at the deep connections between phenomenology and Beckett. Due to this essay’s debt to Butler, I have reserved two quotes to use in conclusion and to further reinforce my argument’s strength in the last chapter. Butler writes, ‘Beckett’s characters may be said generally to ‘exist’ in the Heideggerian way,’[2] and ‘Being is Being-with, Beckett expresses the same thing…especially in Film where the Other is carried within.’[3] Here we see Butler connect Beckett to Heidegger and Sartre in two dense but simple sentences.

Much as Butler connects Heidegger, Sartre and Beckett, we have connected the contemporary, interdisciplinary work of 21st century phenomenologists to their forebears and to Beckett through our theoretical framework and cultural phenomenology. In doing so, our praxis has thoroughly felt out the haptic-phenomenology in Film. Though this essay has had to connect many new terms to old ones, its argument is clear and that Beckett’s musculature can be seen in Film.


[1] Enoch Brater, Beyond Minimalism. (p. 79)

 

[2] Lance St. John Butler’s Samuel Beckett and the Meaning of Being. (p. 13)

[3] Ibid. (p. 36)

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