Tagged: Week 2 Sem 1 2014

HOFT Jean Epstein, “On Certain Characteristics of Photogene”

Epstein, Jean. “On Certain Characteristics of Photogenie.” French Film Theory and Criticism 1907-1939. Vol. 1: 1907 – 1029. Ed Richard Abel. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988. 314-18

“The art of cinema has been called “photogenie” by Louis Delluc. The word is apt, and should be preserved. What is photogenie? I would describe as photogenie any aspect of things, beings or souls whose moral character is enchanced by filmic reproduction. And any aspect not enchanced by filmic reproduction is not photogenie, plays no part in the art of cinema.”314 – Figures given last weeks readings discussing Truffaut and the French New Wave, with Truffaut’s fascination with real people, I think it infers his fascination with capturing realistic moral character in his stories. “I now specify: only mobile aspects of the world, of things and souls, may see their moral value increased by filmic reproduction.”p 315

Epstein goes onto discuss Time as the fourth dimension, the fourth spatial dimension. “The mind travels in time, just as it does in space.” p315 “Photogenie mobility is a mobility in this space-time system, a moblity in both space and time. We can therefore say that photogenie aspect of an object is a consequence of its variations in space-time. ” p316 “To the elements of perspective employed in drawing, the cinema adds a new perspective in time.”p 316

“To things and beings in their most frigid semblance, the cinema thus grants the greatest gift unto death. Life. And it confers this life in its highest guise: personality.” 317

“Personality goes beyond intelligence. Personality is the spirit visible in things and people, their heredity made evident, their past become unforgettable, their future already present. Every aspect of the world, elected to life by the cinema, is so elected only on condition that it has a personality of its own. This is the second specification which we can now add to the rules of photogenie. I therefore suggest that we say: only mobile and personal aspects of things, beings, and souls may be photogenic: that is, acquire a higher moral value through filmic reproduction.” 317



Readings: The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article

Habermas, J 2009 ‘The Public Sphere: An Ancyclopedia Article’, in Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, pp. 73-78

Habermas’ conception of the Public Sphere requires the following: (Normative claim. “Should” does not equal actual conditions or what “is”)

– Access to citizens

– Freedom of association

– Freedom of assembly

-Reasoning public — — — (the bourgeois public sphere)

-Media of communication

-The general interest.


“Only when the exercise of political control is effectively subordinated to the democratic demand that information be accessible to the public, does the political public sphere win an institutionalised influence over the government through the instrument of law-making bodies.” pp. 73

“Through mere opinions (cultural assumptions, normative attitudes, collective prejudices and values) seem to persist unchanged in their natural form as a kind of sediment of history, public opinion can by definition come into existence only when a reasoning public is presupposed.” – pp74


The historical context of Habermas’ public sphere was the emergence of the concept in society. And the distinction between society and state where society represents the private individuals and state the governing bodies.


“… the link to devine authority which the Church represented, that is, religion, became a private matter. So-called religious freedom came to insure what was historically the first area of private autonomy.” pp74

“Continuous activity now corresponded to the permanence of the relationships, which with the stock exchange and the press had developed within the exchange of commodities and information.” pp75

The Liberal Model of the Public Sphere

The liberal model was the institution of the concept into public life. Driven by the bourgeois class.


“Newspapers changed from mere institutions for the publication of news into bearers and leaders of public opinion…” pp76

“the press remained an institution of the public itself, effective in the manner of a mediator and intensifier of public discussion, no longer a mere organ for the spreading of news but not yet the medium of a consumer culture.” pp76

Public Sphere in the Social Welfare State Madd Democracy

Where the Public Sphere sort of works and sort of doesn’t. It has worked in that there is a “normative claim that information be accessible to the public” however the state still plays a role in determining the conditions of society without respect to the public sphere model of collective decision making.


Laws which obviously have come about under the “pressure of the street” can scarecly still be understood as arising from the consensus of private individuals engaged in public discussion.” pp77

“The very words “public relations work” betray the fact that a public sphere must first be arduously constructed case by case, a public sphere which earlier grew out of the social structure.” pp77

“The demand that information be accessible to the public is extended from organs of the state to all organisations dealing with the state/ To the degree that this is realised, a public body of organised private individuals would take the place of the now-defunct public body of private individuals who relate individually to each other.” pp78