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Jean-Luc Nancy is considered one of the leading philosophers of the contemporary age. He has published extensively on aesthetics and the arts and modern cinema in particular. Ayreen Canastas and Rene Gabri have been experimenting for several years now with a form of filmmaking they term “life” cinema or living cinema.

Interior / Arsenal Cinema 2 / Day

AYREEN, RENÉ and JEAN-LUC are preparing, testing for a life cinema, living cinema, event cinema, aktion cinema, a cinema of gestures, a cinema of pure means ...

Jean-Luc Shall we start there?

Ayreen Yes.

Jean-Luc Because I would say there are no philosophical films.

René There is no film philosophy?  

Jean-Luc No. No. There is film and there is philosophy, and they’re two distinct forms of thinking, you see? But with a philosophical film, there’s always the danger that we might think it’s a film that contains something, some kind of notion, and which puts across a certain message, a lesson.

Ayreen Because what he’s saying is that if there were a philosophical film, it could be misconstrued as being something philosophical, that it has to explain some ideas, or something about philosophy.

René Yes.

Jean-Luc Yes, that’s it, that’s it! That’s precisely what I don’t understand about the idea of a “philosophical film”– because what separates a philosophical film from one that isn’t philosophical? And so…

René Well, that’s what I mean, but this gets to the heart of Nietzsche, you know, in the sense of whether he was a philosopher or an anti-philosopher?

Jean-Luc Yes, exactly. Exactly.

René I mean what is an anti-philosophical film?

Jean-Luc (laughs) Ah, an anti-philosophical film.  

René No but in a sense, what is then philosophy?

Jean-Luc Ahhhh

René Is it an intensification?

Jean-Luc Now I understand, I understand; when you say “a philosophical film” it’s also a little bit like saying “a person who is a philosopher” and by that you understand that there’s a certain way of asking questions, of answering, of analysing, etc. And philosophy is neither religion, nor science, nor art, nor art! Philosophy is like – it’s a discourse, it’s a language which…

Ayreen picks up a brush for clearing energy and moves it through space

Jean-Luc It’s a language which tries to penetrate different meanings and disentangle them, to take them apart and perhaps to make other meanings possible.

Rene picks one of the stationary cameras and begins to move with it.

Jean-Luc But a film. A film is another matter. A film is a way of being present. Un mode de présence. Even if it’s us right now who are being filmed, that image there contains absolutely no meaning for me at this moment, except that it’s Ayreen who’s filming; as an image it becomes a kind of presence, a distinct, tactile presence. It’s as if I’m touching Ayreen.

Jean-Luc touches Ayreen

Jean-Luc So there. I can’t say anything about that. Yes, I could talk about touching, and I could also talk about, I don’t know, shamanism, or about belief.  But when I talk about it, it becomes something different than if I’m doing it. Because I can also take your… you see?

Jean-Luc takes the brush from Ayreen’s hand

Jean-Luc And what’s happening here? You see? We can start a fight over this.

Ayreen snatches the brush back from Jean-Luc

Jean-Luc Voilà. But what are we doing here? We’re playing, we’re play fighting. We’re acting out “property”, “appropriation,” anything you want. But by doing this, we’re already in the film. In fact, we’re not really doing this here with one another, we’re in the film; we’re acting. We’re playing. And part of what “Zarathustra” demands from us is what? That we play. “Der Wille zur Macht” is an affirmation of play. It’s completely serious and at the same time it’s play.

Ayreen begins to play with the brush to make a rhythmic sound

René But do you think?

Jean-Luc So there you have it, that’s why a philosophical film, if you want to call it that, it’s a – well, yes, it becomes philosophy only in that it becomes a game that plays with philosophy, and not a philosophy lesson.

Ayreen Play with philosophy. It’s not a philosophical film, its a play with philosophy.

Jean-Luc Voilà. And playing with philosophy is also what Nietzsche does. However, if it’s a film, we’re dealing with something other than meaning. It’s about a certain quality of presence. I consider film to be an art of movement. And not an art of movement as in displacing things, but rather an art of movement as in well…That’s it! It’s this camera filming there, it’s an art of movement as in approaching, moving towards.

Jean-Luc approaches and partially covers the camera lens with his hand

Jean-Luc The movie-goer, the spectator, is more or less close to something, to people’s skin, to material; the cinema is film made of matter after all.

René Okay maybe that’s a good place for us to stop.

Ayreen To break.

René Because they have to prepare tonight’s (super 8) film screening.

Jean-Luc Already?

Ayreen (laughs) Already

An Epilogue by Jean-Luc Nancy

A philosophical film? There’s no such thing. Any more than there are gastronomical films or literary films or biological films. A film is always a film. No attribute can be attached to it. The inverse is also true by the way: philosophy can’t be filmed (for it must be placed in a context), gastronomy can’t be filmed (for it must be eaten), love can’t be filmed (for it must be made). Each instance, each practice, each area and type of action carries its own irreducible singularity. Perhaps it’s impossible to formulate, but it exists. What is a film? It’s neither a discourse, nor a photo, nor music, nor written text, nor…nor… But it’s a film, it’s a camera which moves and records, which zooms in and zooms out; film is both images edited together and images pulled apart. It’s a gesture, to be more specific, the gesture of a man filming, or a woman filming, or a group of people filming together.  
So let us speak instead of filmosophy: just as philo-sophy is the discursive love of sophia, filmo-sophy is the love of sophia in the form of a film. What is sophia? It’s precisely that which (like many things) becomes what it is based on the love it receives. There is a sophia of discourse, a sophia of music, etc. And there is a sophia of film. This is the sophia which draws near and moves away again, ties together and breaks apart, appears and disappears, all according to the motion inherent to film – which is the motion and emotion of a surprise that suddenly emerges from the fluctuating glow of the projection, that is to say: of eruption, of transferral. The image erupts onto the screen and never ceases to erupt, it does so again and again in line with a particular rhythm – and we are carried along with it, in it, by it. We erupt and we erupt again, and we splash ourselves with these recurring waves. Dripping, immersed, submerged, we glimpse Sophia in the swell.  
It is not filmed philosophy, but rather a philosophy of film.

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