Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Japanese Film Workshop at Meiji Gakuin University

Announcement from H-Japan:

Please join us for the next meeting of the Japanese Film Workshop on November 12 (Thursday), 7PM, at Meiji Gakuin University, Shirokane campus. The venue is called "Kyozai junbi shitsu" (教材準備室), a room next to the office of the Department of Art Studies (芸術学科) on the 6F of the main building. The Japanese Film Workshop is open to all, and directions to Meiji Gakuin can be found at:

The Alterity of Cinema: Subjectivity, Self-Negation, and Self-Realization in Yoshida Kijû’s Film Theory

Patrick Noonan--PhD Candidate at University of California, Berkeley.

In a number of articles written between the late 1950s and the early 1970s, filmmaker Yoshida Kijû sought to re-theorize the production and consumption of film in Japan. He called for a cinematic form in which filmmakers paradoxically disassociated themselves from the production of they very films they were creating. Renouncing control over a film, he believed, would prevent filmmakers from communicating a specific message to an audience and, thereby, provoke an audience to interpret and complete a film’s significance. Creating such a film, he contended, required a new understanding of the filmmaker’s self. The previous generation of filmmakers, Yoshida thought, saw themselves as entities distinctly separated from others, entities that used film to express a particular idea, often politically disengaged fantasies, to an audience of passive receivers. For Yoshida, by contrast, the filmmaker’s self always existed in relation to an other – the very film itself, an actor, or an audience. By “negating” the individuated self during production, a filmmaker could create a film that would cause audience members to analyze it and, in turn, incite them to scrutinize and engage in the social and political situation of the time.

Yoshida’s film theory, I argue, displays an ethics of self-realization in its formulation of the relationship between the self and other. In his theory, self-negation (jiko hitei) leads the self to know itself as other, as essentially unknowable to itself, through its interaction with others. At a time when devotion to a theory of self-negation ultimately led sects of student activists to violently attack one another with the intent to eradicate those that adhered to differing revolutionary ideologies and tactics, Yoshida’s use of the term led him to formulate a theory of ethical social life wherein self and other remain mutually exclusive yet bound to one another through a common activity: the creation of cinema. Within the context of the 1960s, Yoshida’s theory represents one among many attempts to conceptualize and practice a form of collective life outside of or in contrast to the dictates of dominant institutions and ideologies of the time.

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Always interesting to know what others in the field are doing...

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