I distinctly remember how all of us dutiful grad students collectively scratched our heads when we realized this would be our primary text for a seminI distinctly remember how all of us dutiful grad students collectively scratched our heads when we realized this would be our primary text for a seminar on documentary films taught by Bill Nichols—we were in grad school to read Deleuze and Foucault and Silverman and "sophisticated" contemporary theory of all stripes (as well as his own writing on the topic), but... a Jewish theologian and mystic? Really?
Of course the emphasis on this text turned out to be nothing less than inspired, and perfectly suited to the material: for what else is documentary filmmaking than entering into "a world of relation" and initiating a kind of Ich-Du/I-You encounter? Our puzzling over Buber added a deeply ethical awareness to our discussions over the various films we watched that I've never forgotten; "relation is mutual" became the fundamental underlying principle guiding our analysis, forcing us to think about through the moral complications inherent of representing another person.
If the particularities of Buber's formulations have faded from my memory over time, the questions invoked through that initial encounter with I and Thou continues to actively shape my thinking to this day.
[Buber also turned out to dovetail ideally with the particular material we were considering in the course, some of which became Cinema's Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács, the first major English-language study of the great Hungarian media artist, crucial rememberer of personal traumas of history often lost and forgotten.] ...more
I found Deleuze's cinema books practically incomprehensible (gorgeously, beguilingly incomprehensible, but incomprehensible nonetheless) before this iI found Deleuze's cinema books practically incomprehensible (gorgeously, beguilingly incomprehensible, but incomprehensible nonetheless) before this invaluable study helped untangle some of the more difficult knots. Rodowick accomplishes this not so much as explaining as contextualizing and helping draw revealing connections to Deleuze's larger philosophical project. I only read the section immediately relevant to what I was studying at the time (cinema and "minor" literatures), but plan someday to return to take on the rest. ...more