A new critical approach to cinema and media based on Buddhism as a philosophical discourse
How can a philosophical discourse generated in Asia help us reframe and renew cinema and media theory? Cinema Illuminating Reality provides a possible way to do this by using Buddhist ideas to examine the intricate relationship between technicity and consciousness in the cinema. The resulting dialogue between Buddhism and Euro-American philosophy is the first of its kind in film and media studies.
Victor Fan examines cinema’s ontology and ontogenetic formation and how such a formational process produces knowledge, political agency, and in-aesthetics. Buddhism allows Fan to deconstruct binary thinking and reimagine media as an ecology, rethinking cinema in relational terms between the human and the machine. Along the way, Fan considers a wide variety of case studies from around the globe, while paying special attention to how contemporary Tibeto-Sinophone filmmakers have adopted relational thinking to detail ways of rebuilding a world that appears to be beyond repair.
From Chinese queer cinema to a reexamination of Japanese master Ozu’s work and its historical reception to Christian Petzold’s 2018 existential thriller Transit, CinemaIlluminating Reality forges a remarkable path between Buddhist studies and cinema studies, casting vital new light on both of these important subjects.
Note on Languages
Introduction: Cinema: A Technicity-Consciousness
2. The Karma-Image
3. The Insight-Image
4. Cinema Ecology
Conclusion: Cinema and Nonviolence
Multilingual Glossary of Buddhist Terms, Names, and Titles
Victor Fan is reader in film and media philosophy in the Department of Film Studies, King’s College London. He is author of Cinema Approaching Reality: Locating Chinese Film Theory (Minnesota, 2015) and Extraterritoriality: Locating Hong Kong Cinema and Media.
"A stunning and provocative sequel to the invaluable Cinema Approaching Reality, this book is at once audacious and scrupulous, a Promethean leap of critical imagination as substantively grounded as Talmudic exegesis. Victor Fan deftly and relevantly engages thinkers from Nāgārjuna to Deleuze without reducing these inquiries to an Asian fusion buffet, maintaining lucid explications of Buddhist tenets while daring cross-cultural and interdisciplinary dialogues that will engage the philosopher and the cinephile. The readings of Marcel Carné’s Le jour se lève and Christian Petzhold’s Transit alone are worth the price of admission. A thrilling intellectual experience that demonstrates that inquiry can and should be an adventure."—Earl Jackson, Asia University
"What if Buddhism and not Bazin or Deleuze were made the foundation for film philosophy? What conceptual and geopolitical reorientations would this require of us, and what new kinds of film experience would this open onto? These are the questions that animate this astonishingly inventive work, whose nearest cousin may be either Deleuze’s Cinema books or Barthes’s Camera Lucida."—Marc Steinberg, author of The Platform Economy: How Japan Transformed the Consumer Internet