Tagged: week 2

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



Debates and Approaches Reading Log Week 2

Anna Curtis


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Week 2


According to Habermas, what role did newspapers play in the emergence of the public sphere?


Habermas speaks about the public sphere and public opinion. For public opinion to come into being, a reasoning public is presupposed Public opinion is a vital component of the public sphere as it is the representation within the public sphere of citizens positioning within the public environment they live.


Because reasoned opinion is the key to public opinion it follows that the press and circulation of information plays a huge role in the formulation of public opinion and the public sphere. Habermas states that “the bourgeois public sphere could be understood as the sphere of private individuals assembled into a public body, which almost immediately laid claim to the officially regulated “intellectual newspapers” for use against the public authority itself.” Habermas indicates that newspapers and therefore the circulation of information allow for the public sphere (collection of private individuals) to promote debate and criticism of public authorities and rules of social intercourse.


Bucher stated that “Newspapers changed from mere institutions for the publication of news into bearers and leaders of public opinion… that [the editor] changed from a vendor of recent news to a dealer in public opinion.” The press acted as a representation of the public both mediating and driving public discussion.


Basically reasoned opinion relies on information to be formed and for a public to form opinions collectively access to information is vital. Newspapers allowed for this and by enabling public opinion, a public sphere was able to present itself.