What Do we Know When We Know Where Something Is? World Cinema and the Question of Spatial Ordering

When the moon hits the eye
Like a big pizza pie –
That’s amore.
– Dean Martin

Everything is somewhere. Even Corsica is somewhere.
– Nurit (age six)

The concept of World Cinema emerges in a moment when cinema, as defined by film theory and as understood in film culture, appears to be in crisis. This crisis may be described as a problem of spatial ordering. The place of cinema, understood as a medium, a cultural institution and a canon of films, is in doubt – a problem which the concept of World Cinema appears to solve by proposing new modes of spatial ordering.

I Cinema as Index and Dispositif, List and Map
In the age of digital portable devices, global communication networks and intensified global trade, the moving image is on the move. Film has left the cinema and appears to be everywhere, creating new experiential spaces and new modes of experiencing film along the way – or rather, along its manifold new routes of circulation. For many film theorists, in today’s media culture with its intensified circulation of moving images, the very essence of cinema is at stake. While Francesco Casetti observes a shift from a culture of film “attendance” (a collective ritual of pubic moviegoing) to a culture of film “performance” (a more individualised practice of customised program choices), [1] for other theorists like Raymond Bellour, the moving image on the move calls the very essence of cinema into question: “Cinema is a body of memory”. [2] The experience of that body of memory, Bellour claims, is inextricably bound to the setting of film screening in a cinema. Once the moving image leaves the cinema, the body of memory is lost –  certainly not to be retrieved in viewings of films on digital portable and other devices. For Bellour, a  Kenji Mizoguchi film viewed in the movie theatre is cinema; the same film watched on a television or a mobile phone may be a film, but it is not cinema. [3] What is at stake, then, when the moving is on the move, is cinema itself.

In the 1990s, the emergence of digital photography provoked a crisis of the index: because the data stored by a CCD chip could easily be altered, and thus the image could be easily manipulated, the bond that connected reality to the photographic image by way of physical causation appeared to be weakened. In what may best be described as a fit of ontological anxiety, numerous film theorists concluded that that the very essence of cinema, its privileged access to physical reality as defined by the likes of Siegfried Kracauer and André Bazin, was under threat. Now the crisis of the index finds a successor and a supplement in the crisis of the classical dispositif of cinema. According to film scholar Malte Hagener, the crisis of the dispositif has shifted the focus of film theory from the old ontological question, ‘what is cinema?’, which gave way to the question ‘when is cinema?’ in the wake of the New Film History of the 1980s, to the topological question ‘where is cinema?’[4] However, if the crisis of the index revealed the extent to which film theory had long defined cinema by claiming a privileged bond between reality and the photographic image, the crisis of the dispositif (and the many elegies of the experiential space of cinema that it provoked) revealed how much cinema has always been a matter not just of space, but of place. The ontology of cinema has always already been, it seems, what German philosopher and literary scholar Peter Risthaus proposes to call an onto-topology. [5] If ‘mapping the boundaries of cinema’ (to quote the subtitle of a recent book co-edited by Gertrud Koch, Volker Pantenburg and Simon Rothöhler), is now, indeed, the work of film theory, then this is because theories of cinema have always defined their object as much through a specific, inalienable locality as through specific, conceptually salient properties.

But cinema is more than an index and a dispositif; it is also a canon of films. To a large extent, the study of cinema owes whatever academic legitimacy the field has to the fact that there are – and we can speak about – the ‘great works’ of cinema. Much like cinema according to film theory, cinema according to film culture rests on a definition in terms of space and locality. The cinema of film culture, the cinema of great works, consists of a list and a map: a list of major auteurs; and a map of their countries of origin, the countries and cultures of which their work could be considered an authentic artistic expression.  In the wake of the intensified circulation of the moving image, film culture – and with it cinema” according to film culture – undergo a topological transformation in their own right. The crisis of the classical dispositif of cinema goes hand in hand with a crisis of the list and the map, in two ways: a crisis of authority, and a crisis of provenance.

The work of selecting the films and directors who figure on the original list and map was carried out by a relatively limited network of institutions and actors: in particular, the cinémathèques or film museums, which first emerged in the late 1920s; [6] the film festivals, an innovation of the ‘30s; [7] and the film critics, who had been around for a long time but only emerged as a true force in film culture in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Film museums collected, archived and exhibited the work of canonical film directors; film festivals showcased the work of directors who had already made it onto the list or were about to do so by virtue of having been selected for one of the major festivals (i.e., Venice, Cannes, Berlin); while critics helped sort out the good films from the bad by providing public justifications for inclusion or exclusion of a body of work in the canons of cinema. Much of the work of the canonisation of film culture was done in France, by the Cinémathèque française, the Cannes film festival and the Parisian film critics – according to a logic which the philosopher Raymond Aron (speaking about philosophy rather than film culture in the mid-twentieth-century, but it is still pertinent) summed up like this: “The French discussed this in a typically French matter, giving themselves the illusion that their debates were about nothing less than universal values and the universe itself.” [8] One could call this the Catholic phase of film culture in which Paris is Rome, the director of the Cinémathèque is the Pope and the critics his Council of Cardinals.

In concert – but not without the highly sophisticated intellectual contre-temps and conflicts that we know from the history of Catholic dogma – they create the auteur/nation canon of films that the faithful across the globe, the latest issue of Cahiers du cinéma in hand for guidance, dutifully revere. Continuing the analogy, one could argue that, in the age of the moving image on the move, of the intensified global circulation of moving images, we have entered the Protestant phase of film culture in which new modes of access to films provide the means to everyone interested to create their own lists and maps. Much like the invention of printing and the translation into vernacular paved the way for multiple, divergent readings of Scripture – thus undermining the dogmatic authority of Rome – digital access and the seemingly endless extension of the list of available films encourage cinephile heresy, leading to the emergence of multiple divergent lists and maps. Rome is no more or, rather, has re-located, at least potentially, into the conscience and heart of every cinephile with digital access to films.

In addition to the crisis of authority, however, there is a crisis of provenance. Following Andrew Higson’s influential 1989 essay “The Concept of National Cinema“, national cinema may be described in terms of: the location of production; the film culture of a given nation state or territory; and a supposed essence of national culture as expressed in the films of significant directors with a given national origin. [9] Originally, the cinema of film culture was, in Jean-Michel Frodon’s apt phrase (which in turn he lifted from Régis Débray) predominantly a “national projection”: An expression of a given national culture in the works of its most important film directors. [10] The concept of the nation as a territorial, linguistic and cultural entity, first proposed by German philosophers such as Johann Georg Hamann and Johann Gottlieb Fichte, served as the conceptual cornerstone of 19th century nationalism. In his famous 1882 speech “What is a Nation?”, Ernest Renan offered a sharp critique of this concept and redefined the modern nation as a “daily plebiscit”, an expression of a will to collective political action by a group of people not necessarily tied by bonds of language, blood or accidents of geography. It may be a ruse of reason, or an irony of history, that the concept of nation to which Frodon subscribes in his book is much closer to Fichte’s than to Renan’s; but it may also be significant that the Netherlands and Switzerland – the two culturally diverse modern national states that Renan takes as his paradigms of the nation as daily plebiscit – have no strong traditions of national cinema, and very few entries in the list-and-map canon of classical cinephilia.

While Renan’s concept of the nation as a daily plebiscit may appear to be sounder politically in the light of the excesses of political violence in the twentieth-century (particularly the last great eruption of violence based on notions of cultural identity and the accidents of geography: the Balkan wars of the ‘90s), it is the more essentialist notion of the nation as a cultural entity based on language and territory that appears to be operative in cinema culture. This reading is certainly not contradicted by the fact that the institution of the film festival was pioneered in 1932 as an extension of the Venice Biennale, which may be described as the Olympic games of art  – where the great artists of the great nations compete for prizes – and that the invention of the film festival was part and parcel of the cultural policy of the Italian Fascist government. [11]

The increased global circulation of moving images has revealed both the essentialist nature and what (in the parlance of post-structuralist and post-colonial theory) must be called the inherent Eurocentrism of film culture’s concept of national cinema and the list-and-map film canon. Notions of cultural specificity in film studies work, as Paul Willemen and Valentina Vitali note, at the level of a “geo-temporal construction of the national.” [12] Any concept of national cinema that implies an understanding of the nation as a coherent entity composed of a territory, a political structure, a national language and a national culture cannot do justice – and may even do violence – to the multiplicity of cinemas in India and China (or rather in the People’s Republic of China CH, including Hong Kong, and Taiwan). [13] Hindi cinema may claim to be the national cinema of India, but despite the fact that there are more than four hundred million Hindi speakers in India, and that Hindi films produced in Bombay are distributed nationally as well as to a global audience (with a particular focus on Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia), Bollywood remains one among a multitude of regional film industries in India.

There is no reason, for instance, why the Tamil film industry, which caters to an audience of more than eighty million native Tamil speakers (roughly equivalent to the population of Germany), and finds an international audience in East Asia, should not be treated as a national film industry on its own terms, according to the established understanding of what constitutes a national cinema. To the extent that China has defined itself as a nation state in the modern, European sense rather than as an empire, the term zhonghua minzu – the concept of the Chinese nation which was introduced in the late nineteeth-century and is thus “a relatively recent creation of seasoned Chinese intellectuals” [14] – always referred to the Han Chinese and the four other nationalities or ‘races’ (the Man or Manchus, the Meng or Mongolians, the Hui, the Islamic Chinese in northwestern China, and the Zang, the Tibetans) that constituted the “Chinese People”. Even before the political differences between Taiwan, Hongkong and the People’s Republic come into play in any assessment of what Chinese national cinema could be there is the basic fact of the multi-lingual and multi-ethnic composition of the Chinese population. New aggregations of territories under rubrics such as “New Asian Cinema” cannot sufficiently address the cultural and territorial complexities at work here. [15]

Similarly, the concept of national cinema has been called into question by such cultural hybrids as Cinéma Beur, German-Turkish migrant cinema, Caribbean cinema, [16] or the fact that Canada’s most significant auteur may plausibly described, in terms of cultural identity, as an Armenian. [17]

What is more, much of what the festival circuit has been celebrating as authentic national cinema from Africa and Asia over the last thirty years has increasingly become the product of a national projection of a different kind. Many of the non-Western films shown in Western festival programs are now, and have long been, financed by European government sources – to the extent that political scientist and film scholar Teresa Hoefert de Turegano could justifiably coin the formula “European Money, African Films” a few years ago, to describe the system that produced many of the African films circulating on the international festival circuit. This tendency has only been exacerbated by film festivals such as Rotterdam assuming a new role as producers, providing financing in exchange for the world premiere rights of films. [18]

National cinemas based on a nineteenth-century European understanding of national culture, then, continue to flourish, at least in part thanks to an hors-sol production system – to borrow a metaphor from industrialised agriculture, referring to a technique that was pioneered (like the festival-as-producer) by the Dutch: namely, vegetables grown in beds of coconut fibres and stone wool stacked on top of each other in greenhouses, in order to control environmental factors such as rain and sunshine, save space, and generate a higher yield per square metre. Festivals-as-producers in league with European production and co-production companies, many of which are located in Paris and centered in the Eighth Arrondissement, [19] continue to project the concept of national cinema onto a world map of cinema that has many other layers and possible readings and is, moreover, rapidly changing.

Furthermore, at least in academic film study, the term “cinema” has been expanded in the last few years to include decidedly non-canonical films, such as industrial, science, educational and other utility films. [20] What cinema is can thus no longer be defined just by an enumeration of artistic achievements hailing from specific places of cultural origin. The list and the map are in crisis, both in terms of authority and provenance.

One could argue, then, that both on a level of theory and of discourse, i.e., on a level of cinema as the object of film studies and the object of film culture, we live in age of topological turmoil. I would like to argue that the concept of World Cinema may be read as a symptom of this topological turmoil. As far as I can see, there are three possible meanings to the term. The first meaning would be “all of cinema”, which is so broad as to be non-specific. More specific is the second meaning, “everything else”, that is “everything that we have so far neglected to put on the list and the map or failed to classify in other categories such as genre”. This is the concept of World Cinema employed, for instance, by Emirates airlines to classify their in-flight entertainment. The Gulf states have been investing in airlines based on a projection of rapid growth in air travel in the next decades, and on the fact that two-thirds of the earth’s population live within an eight-hour flight radius of Dubai, making the gulf city-states natural hubs in the new world order of global airline traffic. [21] The in-flight entertainment selections reflect Emirates’ purported audience. At least on a recent trip to Australia, the film program consisted of more than four hundred films which were classified according to the following categories: new Hollywood films, Oscar Winners, Disney Classics, Bollywood Films, Arabic language films, and “World Cinema” – a category which contained everything from Bengali films to Russian and Philippine action movies and, at the very top of the “World Cinema” list, French films. One can say many things about this understanding of World Cinema, but Eurocentric in the established sense of the term it is not.

The third meaning of  World Cinema, which is the probably the most theoretically sound, has a distinctly European pedigree and roots in the early nineteenth-century. World Cinema in this sense can mean an ensemble of films that may or may not be the product of a national culture but that transcend their parochial national origins and become part of something larger – a transnational communication through art. This meaning of World Cinema, proposed among others by Dudley Andrew, [22] is modeled on the notion of Weltliteratur which first appeared in an essay by Christoph Martin Wieland, but is generally attributed to the late work of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. [23] For Wieland, “world literature” described literature for the Weltmann – a cosmopolitan reader. Goethe’s reinterpretation of the term occurs in the context of the project of a “literature comparée” (comparative literature), which meant the study of national literatures in comparison, but also the production of a literature that transcended the boundaries of national cultures. [24] Considering that “literature” in the modern sense, and philology as the study of national languages and literature, only emerge in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century – in the period variously characterised as the Sattelzeit by Reinhart Koselleck, and as the period of the transition from the classical to the modern episteme by Michel Foucault – Weltliteratur may be said to be largely coeval with the emergence of the system of national literatures, related to it in a dialectical fashion.

Similarly World Cinema as the Weltliteratur of cinema – i.e., a body of films that contribute to a transnational communication through art – can both mean cinema as an object of study in a transnational comparative perspective (an approach proposed among others by Paul Willemen), [25] and cinema as an art form that both aims to transcend the system of national cinemas and continues to relate to it. Much like the classical canon of film culture, World Cinema as the world literature of cinema implies a canon of works that deserve to be preserved, studied and known beyond the culture of their origin. To the extent that it is not merely a new label for the classical canon of film culture, the difference between the cinema of classical cinephile film culture and World Cinema is a matter of accentuation. While the classical cinephile canon more or less adheres to a notion of great works of art as expressions of what is good and great about a national culture that can ultimately be traced back to Johann Gottfried Herder and German Romanticism, World Cinema, in the neo-Goethean sense, stresses commonality and universality rather than diversity and idiosyncrasy.

In the context of the topological turmoil of film theory and film culture, the category of World Cinema may be understood in terms of an attempt to retain, or regain, the lost unity of the object “cinema”. The concept of World Cinema contributes to the work of redrawing the maps of cinema, of cinema as an experiential space, of cinema as an object of affect and perception, and of cinema as a cultural object. Whether we discuss the crisis of the dispositif or the various topographies and topologies of cinema, we are engaged in what Gaston Bachelard in his 1934 book La formation de l’esprit scientifique calls “a task of geometrisation”, a task of ordering the phenomenon under analysis in a spatial representation, and thus in creating new taxonomies for our object of study, the cinema. But, as Gilles Deleuze once said, “Taxonomies are fun, but they are only the first step towards the actual work of thinking” and, as Bachelard wrote, the work of geometrisation or spatial ordering is only an intermediate stage, the “abstract-concrete stage”, on the way to the truly abstract stage, the stage of scientific thought which allows for a reframing of the problem at hand by asking productive questions. “We feel, more and more, an urge to work, so to speak, beneath the space, at the level of essential relations that sustain the space and phenomena.” [26] So, probably the real question is not so much “Where is cinema?” or “What is the place of cinema, and which places constitute ‘cinema’?”, but rather, “What comes next?”, i.e., “What do we know when we know where cinema is, and where do we go from there?”

In my following sections, I propose a kind of prolegomenon towards the question of what comes after the topological turmoil of cinema, by asking what we actually know when we know where cinema is. I would like to address this question by shifting the focus away from the travails of onto-topology, and the work of the institutions of canon-building, to spectators and audiences – while retaining an epistemological framework. More specifically, I will first discuss markets and cinema as an object of trade and choice; before moving on to cinema as an object of perception and affect. My point will be that what is at stake on both levels is the precarious unity of cinema as object, and that what we are witnessing right now – whether in film theory or in the debates about world cinema – is indeed a struggle for the unity of what has become known as, and what was formerly known as, cinema.

II On Becoming One with Everything
Some time in mid-2011, Australian television presenter Karl Stefanovic conducted an interview with the Dalai Lama. He took advantage of the opportunity to tell the Dalai Lama a joke. The joke went nowhere:

“The Dalai Lama goes into a pizza place and says: Make me one with everything.” When I tried this joke out on my friends and colleagues, the only one who got it right away was a German Professor of philosophy. Versed in the art of decoding multiple layers of meaning, and equipped with more than a fleeting acquaintance with the history of religion, he understood the joke, but did not think it was funny. My other informants, being of German extraction, were not sufficiently versed in Anglo-American pizza culture (where “one with everything” is a standard turn of phrase), and the Anglo vocabulary of post-hippie pop spirituality, to understand the mechanics of the joke. Or, to put it differently, “The Dalai Lama goes into a pizza place and says: Make me one with everything” is a joke involving two iconic elements of contemporary global culture, i.e., pizza and the Dalai Lama, that nonetheless remains a joke of limited geographical reach – a distinctly regional, parochial joke.

The logic of the joke, however, is not necessarily parochial. It is obviously based on a riotiously carnivalesque inversion of the interior and the exterior, of the spiritual and the pedestrian, of spiritual longing and plain hunger. To put it more technically: in the universe of the joke, there is a market substitute that allows the Dalai Lama to reframe his spiritual quest as a matter of choice. The joke is reminiscent of a Charles M. Schultz cartoon, an installment of the Peanuts series in which Lucy listens to Schroeder playing Beethoven, and then informs him that there is now an easy technological substitute for his travails: “Beethoven now comes in spray cans”. [27]

In Freudian terms, both the option of making oneself ‘one with everything’ and the availability of Beethoven in spray cans – the market substitute and the technological substitute for what are essentially spiritual endeavours – represent a major Aufwandersparnis, a saving in terms of psychic energy. According to Freud’s theory of the joke, the release of the surplus energy triggers laughter. Substituting a market solution for the long and hard work of the spiritual quest would certainly represent such an Aufwandersparnis. Assuming that he understands irony and is self-ironic enough to laugh about himself on occasion, it is hard to see (from a Freudian point of view) why the Dalai Lama is not laughing.

One could argue that both in its structure and in its failure to translate beyond the confines of Australia (or the realm of Anglo pizza culture), the Dalai Lama joke points to a deeper problem – one that would be worthy even of the attention of my German colleague from the philosophy department. Both in its structure and in its failure to communicate, the joke plays on a tension between unity and diversity, between ‘one’ and ‘everything’, framed in terms of choice. In his influential 1990 essay, ”Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy“, Arjun Appadurai wrote that the “central problem of today’s global interactions is the tension between cultural homogeniziation and cultural heterogenization“. [28] Similiarly, the American economist Tyler Cowen wrote in his 2002 book Creative Destruction: ”Trade, even when it supports choice and diverse achievement, homogenizes culture in the following sense: it gives individuals, regardless of their country, a similarly rich set of consumption opportunities.“ Globalised trade, particularly in the age of computerised container shipping, may have many downsides, but it does provide for more choice. To quote Cowen again: “Trade liberates difference from the constraints of space“.

Yet the trend towards homogeneity, which was at the centre of the Frankfurt School’s critique of commercialised culture, remains in place: more diversity often means the same kind of diversity everywhere we go. Back in the 1980s, when the Soviet Union was still alive and well, Andy Warhol said that the most beautiful thing about Paris, Florence, Rome and London was McDonald’s, while Moscow and Beijing did not have anything beautiful yet. Even before the advent of McDonald’s in Moscow and Beijing, most major cities in the world had their choice of Chinese, Italian, Greek and other ‘ethnic’ restaurants that served a similar menu of “typical” dishes everywhere. At the same time, as the critique of the cultural homogenisation wrought by global trade became commonplace, McDonald’s had to adapt and acquire some local flair in the process, adapting their menus to local preferences or dietary rules. “They got the same shit over there that we’ve got here, but it’s the little differences that matter”, says John Travolta as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction (1994); but the little differences now go beyond re-labelling a quarter-pounder with cheese as a Royale with Cheese to replacing the standard cheese with local cheese varieties, as in the Netherlands or Switzerland, or doing away with the main ingredient of the hamburger sandwich, i.e., beef, as in India.

Trade, then, not only liberates difference from the constraints of space but, through what we might call the dialectics of homogenisation and heterogenisation, reinforces and, to a certain extent, even produces local or regional specificity. Globalised markets, then, are indeed making us one with everything, through a multi-layered dialectics of homogenisation and differentiation. However, where the spiritual quest of becoming one with everything holds the promise of inner peace through a loss of self, the processes of homogenisation and differentiation of global cultural trade induce anxiety – not least through a perceived threat of loss of self. One way of defining identity, and cultural identity in particular, is in fact through the absence of choice: I am what I cannot not be; the residue or core of my identity is that which I cannot chose to be, but am. At the same time, that which I cannot chose to be may become an object of choice for others. Commodifying identity is, in fact, one of the keys to success in the trade in cultural goods: trade liberates difference from the constraints of space, but to a large extent difference becomes transferable and tradable to the extent that it is perceived as a desirable trait of cultural specificity, and thus a form of identity by others.

Why expressions of cultural identity become tradable forms of difference varies according to the situation, but one of the strongest motivators is probably that being acquainted and at ease with cultural difference signals sophistication – a quality with which many people outside of certain parts of the United States want to be associated. At least from a Western point of view, cultural products  have to be, or should be perceived to be, either new and original or authentic in order to be tradable. The idea of the art work – as distinguished by its novelty, originality and uniqueness – is dependent on the idea of the artist as its creator, an idea that first appears in late antiquity and reestablishes itself in Renaissance Europe. [29] According to the Western conception of art, the value of a painting in trade, for instance, is directly related to the novelty, originality and uniqueness of the work; and on the standing of the artist as acquired through a significant body of work, certified by critics, museums and other instances of critical discourse. In this system, copies – even well-executed ones – are relatively worthless, while forgery, i.e., the creation of supposedly original works by individuals who are not the artist to whom the work is publicly attributed, is a lucrative proposition, and has a history as long as the history of the modern idea of the original art work itself. [30] In its focus on novelty and originality, the Western system differs from the conception of art in other cultural areas, such as Japan, where honka dori or “taking up the melody”, i.e., the allusive variation and emulation of the work of great predecessors, ranks among the most prestigious techniques in painting and poetry. However, in areas where the Western conception of the artist and the original work appear to fall short, perceived authenticity can serve as a perfect substitute for artistic innovation. A piece of furniture or a hand-woven rug are considered to be valuable as a function of the artistry of the craftsmanship, but also as a function of the perceived authenticity of the work as an expression of a specific culture. Where the idea of the artist can be traced back to the Renaissance and late antiquity, the idea of culture and cultural specificity at work here is traceable to Giambattista Vico and (German) Romanticism, and is to a certain extent co-extensive with the substantialist idea of national culture discussed above. [31]

The tradability of cultural goods as a function of their perceived authenticity is, of course, far from limited to works of the visual art and craftsmanship. It extends to and includes cinema as well, on two levels: on the level of the films themselves as works of art; and on the level of the films’ representations of culture. French historian and film scholar Pierre Sorlin has pointed out that the Italian cinema of the 1950s and ‘60s is a model case for a cinema industry that excels in the commodification of cultural identity and the production of tradable difference – not so much with the critically acclaimed films of Roberto Rossellini and other neo-realist masters, as with Fellini and particularly the star-driven commercial vehicles featuring actors such as Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren. These films, we can argue following Sorlin, trade in a particular idea of Italianità, a recognisable set of cultural traits and elements of a lifestyle that, certainly in the ‘50s and ‘60s, appealed to a large audience beyond the confines of Italy. [32] This particular idea of Italianità, which involves a sense of voluptuousness in food and sex, can perhaps best by exemplified by the many photographs involving Sophia Loren and food – in particular, pictures of the star preparing and serving pizza.

The authenticity of these photographs is ‘guaranteed’ by the fact that the actress, although born in Rome, grew up in Pozzuoli in the outskirts of Naples, the birthplace of pizza. However, the iconography of Loren and Italian food covers almost the entire menu of a typical Italian restaurant, including spaghetti, gnocchi, salad and, of course, the inevitable Chianti wine.

“The confusion in men’s minds as to just what they want”, states chapter 14 of the US army manual Psychology of the Fighting Man which was distributed in large numbers to soldiers of the US armed forces in World War II (those who liberated Italy among them) “is due partly to the fact that the two great desires of the flesh – hunger for food and hunger for sex – become joined or mixed in curious ways and modified and extended through experience, so that hunger for one is frequently expressed as hunger for the other”. [33] While the manual uses the Freudian argument about the plasticity of carnal desire to explain oral substitutes such as smoking, the iconography of Loren and Italian food, which is coeval with this Freudian argument, may be read as a kind of Moebius strip of (male) desire, in which the “two great desires of the flesh” express themselves and each other in mutually exchangeable terms. Loren is certainly the quintessential idol of consumption of post-War Italy, [34] and it speaks to Loren’s status as the iconic incarnation of Italian voluptuousness (and the consistency of her iconography) that her official autobiography was published in 1972 as a cook book entitled Recipes & Memories.

As for pizza, a study remains to be written at the intersection of film and food history about Loren’s contribution to the rapid spread of pizza throughout Europe and the world in the years after 1945. More than just a side effect of the mass migration of workers from Italy who brought their own foods to the northern parts of Europe, the success of pizza may also be a case of trade that follows film. Without Loren’s ostentatious display of cultural identity as tradable difference, it would quite possibly have been even more unthinkable for the Dalai Lama to walk into a pizza shop and ask the man at the counter to make him one with everything than it already is outside of the world of Australian humour.

In any case, Italian cinema dominated the Italian domestic market and held a strong commercial and cultural presence in the other European countries and the United States from the early 1950s until the early ‘70s. Italian stars, especially Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, became headliners in Hollywood features films such as Trapeze (USA 1956, Carol Reed, with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis) or Houseboat (USA 1958, Melville Shavelson, with Cary Grant), Italian directors such as Michelangelo Antonio directed American studio films, and studios such as Twentieh Century-Fox produced films by Italian directors (e.g. Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard [1963]).  The “conspicuous presence in America” of Italian films at that time, write film and media historians David Waterman and Krishna Yayakar, “is  indicative of a competitive balance between the Italian and American feature film industries – especially within Italy itself – that was far more favorable to Italian products than that which prevails today.” [35] This competitive balance has long disappeared; Nanni Morretti is currently the only Italian director with a significant following outside his home country, and he is not known for his box office success.

But the success of Italian cinema from the ‘50s through the ‘70s may well be attributed to an aesthetic that was based on the commodification of cultural identity traits. In terms of plot, style and the representation of culture, Italian films were recognisable as distinct and culturally specific. They were an example of what Janet Staiger proposes to call “national cinema as genre”, and the culture that was typified and exemplified  just so happened to contain elements, i.e. Italian food, that became available for consumption for audiences worldwide more or less concurrently with the films – with mutually reinforcing effects. The success of these films, one can argue, is directly related to the way to which they corresponded to certain preconceived notions of cultural specificity. [36]

But cultural goods can also be tradable precisely to the extent that they downplay cultural identity, i.e., by eliminating, to the largest possible extent, any traits that could be perceived as culturally specific and as markers of identity. One of the key strategies of Hollywood cinema, for instance, has always been to make claims of universality rather than aiming for the lowest common cultural denominators – to eliminate such denominators as much as possible. Early feature film production, which laid the foundation for Hollywood’s global reach, is rife with claims from producers that film constitutes an universal language. Quite in tune with early film theorists such as Béla Balázs, Hollywood producers stressed the commonality and universality of their product. But where the idea of the film as a universal language in Balázs, for instance, goes hand in hand with a nascent conception of cinema as an expression of national culture – and thus with the system of national cinemas, as Mattias Frey has recently shown [37] – Hollywood cinema always addressed itself to a worldwide audience regardless of cultural specificity. Thus, a typical press release from producer Samuel Goldwyn in 1917 announced that the new marketing strategy of his studio was that of a “comprehensive campaign” with the goal of “placing information regarding [Goldwyn’s list of star players] in All Civilized Countries”:

This advertising and publicity campaign is not confined to America alone, or focused upon certain picture zones of the United States, but is under way in duplicate in every nation of importance at the same moment.

The Goldwyn idea has been to make its stars known simultaneously everywhere and be ready when its productions are released to have the public in all countries thoroughly familiar with its pictures at the time of their original release. [38]

A simultaneous star-driven presence in “all civilized countries” of the studio’s film output is the goal, and the films are designed in a way that will not stand in the way of achieving that goal: while this is a characteristic example of press agent hyperbole, it is also a programmatic statement that remains very much in tune with the strategic goals of contemporary Hollywood marketing campaigns, which operate with tens of thousands of simultaneous play-dates for big blockbuster films, and a marketing campaign that covers the entire globe. While it may have taken the Hollywood studios until the mid 1970s and the release of Steven Spielbergs Jaws (1975) to finally design marketing campaigns that were capable of achieving that goal, [39] the thought of what was to become known as the “wide release” and “saturation campaign” was obviously very much on the mind of producers and marketing executives in the 1910s, tied up with an idea of Hollywood cinema as a product that could travel well to “all civilized countries”.

But while, in 1917, the presence of stars may have seemed to be the obvious key to the global success of Hollywood cinema, the reduction of cultural specificity and markers of identity was certainly as important, if not more important, in the long run. This strategy of reducing difference and specificity is perhaps best exemplified by a short animation film from 1986 which contains the nucleus of what is probably Hollywood’s most successful line of products of the last three decades: the Pixar animation films.

When I show this film in class, students will always agree on the story line, and on the fact that the two lamps are capable of intentional action and feeling. No one has ever contested the suggestion that the little lamp is sad after the balloon is destroyed. There is always a discussion, however, about who these figures, these two lamps, are. Are they a father-and-son combo, or is it a mother and a daughter, or a grandfather-granddaughter or aunt-nephew pairing? Are they black, white, old, young? What this film offers – and this is what makes it into a model Hollywood film in the sense evoked in Goldwyn’s 1917 press release – is a structure of feeling almost free of markers of cultural or gender identity – or rather, a structure of feeling which contains a set of default values for cultural and gender identity which can be supplied by the viewers themselves, according to their preferences or based on their own markers of what they cannot chose to be.

Luxo Jr (1986) creates what appears to be an optimal balance of determinacy at the level narrative structure, with basic affect and indeterminacy at the level of identity. This first Pixar film is the paradigmatic case of a story that everyone understands in exactly the same way, but can understand each in their own way at the same time. The film exemplifies exactly the balance of transparency and indeterminacy that allowed Hollywood to become what the late Miriam Hansen so fortuitously called a “modernist vernacular”, or a global vernacular. [40] The secret of Hollywood’s success, then, is that it offers me the choice of becoming one or sharing a commonality with everyone else, while firmly and conveniently remaining who I am – and even bringing those qualities which I cannot chose to have – into play in my experience of a film. It is quite remarkable that, in twenty-five years of its existence, and in sixteen years of feature film production, Pixar has never produced a single flop. Considering that eight out of ten films are usually flops, this is a remarkable run of success; while Pixar has attracted the interest of management theorists and now serves as a case study in innovation in North American business schools, [41] the global success of the company’s product may well be traced to a basic strategy of eliminating, as far as possible, any marker of cultural specificity in the look, narrative and affective structure of their films – replacing them with the principles of classical animation, such as “squish and stretch”, ostentation, etc. [42]

Hollywood cinema, in that sense, is fundamentally a-Hegelian in nature: rather than overcoming cultural particularities and contingent perspectives in order to achieve the systematic unity of the Geist (spirit), Hollywood cinema offers a basic structure of feeling, while allowing the little differences to flourish. Rather than the grand synthesis of universal reason, Hollywood offers – if such a conflagration of Raymond Williams and post-structuralism is permitted – a heterotopic but comprehensive order of basic feelings, a structure of feeling that creates an experience that can take place everywhere and nowhere in particular – liberated not only from the constraints of space, but of place. Or, to put it differently, while Italian cinema of the 1950s and ‘60s engaged in the business of liberating difference from the constraints of space (i.e., the business of trading consumable difference), Hollywood has been able to dominate the global trade in cultural goods by liberating the experience of cinema and the basic structures of feeling attached to it from the constraints of identity, cultural difference and place.

By contrast, the concept of World Cinema in the sense discussed above – i.e. as a medium of transcultural communication – envisions cinema neither as a vehicle of tradable cultural specificity nor as a heterotopia of experience liberated from the constraints of place, but as a space for the representation and recognition of cultural difference. [43] While Hollywood makes one and the same film for everyone (one for everyone), World Cinema contains everything, a potentially complete set of differences, at least to the extent that these can become salient in an overarching process of transcultural communication. Like the pizza shop of the Dalai Lama joke, World Cinema carries the promise of making us one with everything, transforming what basically remains a commercial good into a vehicle for an intellectual transformation.

That ambition in itself is noble and good and shall not be disputed – even though much that fits into the World Cinema category on an Emirates flight will not be included in this understanding of the term. What matters here is the epistemological dimension, the non-heterotopian concept of cinema as a unity that underlies and contains all possible varieties of cultural difference. In a moment when the established tools for defining the cultural object of cinema seem to fail, in a moment when, in particular, the concept of national cinema has lost much of its force – and when recent substitutes like “transnational cinema” fail to provide the same coherence of vision once granted by thinking of films in terms of great auteurs and great nations – World Cinema promises to re-establish the unity of the object of cinema by making it one with everything. Rather than the unity of the Church of cinema, and the classic canons of the Catholic phase of cinephilia, the unity of the World Cinema phase lies in the heart of the cinephile and in her faithful recognition of cultural difference through cinema. Thus, cinephilia remains a spiritual quest, a quest for the unity of cinema through the pursuit of diversity and cultural difference.

To this quest for the unity of cinema in the outside world, the realm of concrete space, corresponds a quest for the university of cinema in the inner world, or for cinema as an object for perception and affect.

III Cinema and the Globe of the Crane
At the beginning of this essay, I suggested that the reigning epistemology of cinema is now the topology of the moving image. Meanwhile, in an apparently unrelated development, the neurosciences have become the reigning epistemology of everything, rivaling and sometimes supplanting the claims of philosophy as the ultimate repository of truth. While neuroeconomics are changing the rational agent-actor models of classical and neo-classical economic theory, [44] the answer to all the big questions of philosophy – what can I know? what should I do? what is beautiful? – can now, apparently, be given through the study of the workings of the human brain by perceptual neuroscience, neuroethics or neuroaesthetics.

One particularly vocal proponent of neuroesthetics, professor Samir Zeki of the University of London, likes to claim that all the insights of the philosophy of art (at least since the eighteenth century) are moot, now that we have the tools of neuroscience to understand what really happens when we perceive beauty (that the question of beauty ceased to be at the heart of philosophical aesthetics around the time of Hegel is something that does not enter the considerations of Professor Zeki). For neuroaesthetics, art is “an extension of the functions of the visual brain”. In neurological terms, writes Zeki in his field-defining book Inner Vision, art is defined as “that which comes closest to showing as many facets of the reality, rather than the appearance, as possible and thus satisfying the brain in its search for many essentials”. [45] Thus, the enormous diversity of works created in the course of the history of art, as well as all considerations about the mysteries of the creative process and the pleasures of aesthetic experience, can be summed up and coherently explained by studying the workings of the brain – in particular, the visual brain.

Particularly as film scholars, we would do well not to denigrate or dismiss the findings of cognitive neuroscience out of hand. Thus, for instance, in his work on mental imaging, cognitive psychologist Stephen Kosslyn has demonstrated that depictive representation is a mental process in its own right, working differently and independently from propositional representation. [46] Among other things, this means that not all knowledge is propositional in structure (to quote, a contre-sens, the opening sentence of Habermas’ magnum opus The Theory of Communicative Action), and that the visual aspects of a film (or a building, for that matter) can never be reduced to a question of textual structure and semantics – contrary to the assumptions that guide approaches to film inspired by semiotics, or follow in the footsteps of Ernest Gombrich and his dictum that “the innocent eye is blind”. [47]

What interests me here, however, is the work of spatial ordering in cognitive neuroscience. One of the key methods of neuroscientific research is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), popularly known as the brain scan. fMRI traces and measures cerebral blood flows, which are taken to be indicative of neuronal activity. The results of these measurements are presented as images which (technically speaking) are graphs in the shape of a brain – or the slice of the brain where the activity is supposedly located. These images create a sense of watching the brain at work, of “instant brainwatching”, as one Swedish neuro-scientist calls it.

With fMRI techniques, the neurosciences treat the brain as a spatial object, and brain activity as a phenomenon that can be mapped in spatial terms. The object of knowledge of the neurosciences emerges, in other words, from spatial ordering. The rewards of this work are undeniable. But, as images, the fMRI scans are suggestive in themselves – by creating the viewing position of instant brain watching, a position from which we can see what thoughts and emotions supposedly look like. By implication, brain scans suggest that we know what we need to know about mental processes, when we know where to locate them in the brain. If US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously defined pornography by saying ”I know it when I see it“, brain scans suggest that we know – or at least know much better – what thoughts and feelings are when we see them, and when we see where they are.

The brain that we are looking at, unless otherwise specified, is the so-called normal brain. It is unmarked, at least nominally, in terms of gender, race and other potential markers of cultural and other identity. But normal is also a medical term. The normal brain is the sane brain, undeformed and undamaged, the brain of someone who is neither crazy nor an alcoholic, drug addict or murderer. The brain as a spatial object that we look at is usually unmarked in terms of gender – unless, of course, the brain scans are supposed to show precisely a supposed gender difference in a given brain activity. [48] The unmarked brain scan, however, works much like a Hollywood movie in the way described above: it strikes a perfect balance between including everyone and allowing for their differences, their markers of personal identity, to be projected onto the visible object. For if we look at a brain scan, what we look at is ourselves: we see a picture of the generic brain, i.e., of what our individual brains would look like if we were able to watch our brain activity in a live stream, as it occurs. In other words, the fMRI scan shows the brain as a heterotopic space of experience, and visualises structures of feeling liberated from the constrictions of place.

Beyond the structural analogy of the brain scan and the Hollywood film, cinema and the neurosciences converge in two of the major strands of film theory of the last twenty years. Gilles Deleuze claimed that “the brain is the screen“, suggesting an analogy between the film image and the neuronal processes of the brain, thus setting off a flurry of studies into the neuronal aesthetics of the moving image. Cognitive film theory, meanwhile, argued that film may best be understood as a matrix for information processing, moving from the classical computer model of the brain as its frame of reference to the more up-to-date brain models of cognitive neuroscience over the last few years. So far, the convergence of film theory and the neurosciences has largely been a one-way street. Neuroscientific research into the mental processes involved in watching films is still in its incipient stages; film theorists and philosophers of film, on the other hand, have liberally drawn on neuroscientific research to understand the aesthetics of cinema. [49]

According to Deleuze, one key aspect of the relationship between brain and screen is that films can actually have a lasting impact on brain activity. Good films will provoke and cultivate good neuronal connections, bad films (which means, in this context, mostly bad Hollywood films) will create bad neuronal pathways, and can permanently affect the quality of your brain activity. [50] Cognitive films theorists, on the other hand, tend to view the brain as a hardwired entity, and the perceptual schemata activated in the brain are preconstituted, rather than being flexible and malleable. Rather than the film shaping the brain, the brain shapes the film. In fact, according to cognitive film theory, one of the reasons for the global success of Hollywood is that the narrative structure and stylistic patterns of Hollywood cinema are particularly well adapted to the way the brain processes information and models the outside world. Where Deleuze is convinced that bad Hollywood films degrade your brain, for cognitive film theory, Hollywood cinema is, in a way, the natural cinema, the one most in tune with the normal brain.

What interests me here is not so much who is right; it is the underlying conception of the brain as an epistemic object that allows us to map, or re-map, cinema. Potentially, the Deleuzian model of the film-brain relationships allows us to transform and transcend what Bachelard calls “the intellectual narcissism of the passionate defense of judgements of taste”, and reach a scientific, or quasi-scientific criterion for the classifying of films, and the differentiation of good from bad films.  [51] The cognitive film theory model, on the other hand, allows us to draw a map of normal and not quite normal films. Either way, it seems to me that the underlying idea is that mapping brain activity will reveal something about the essence of cinema, and that cinema can be apprehended through work of spatial ordering performed in neuroscientific research.

In a 1988 essay about classical and psychoanalytic film theory, Noël Carroll analysed the pitfalls of the “mind-film analogy”, and criticised attempts by theorists such as Hugo Münsterberg and even Christian Metz to learn something about the structure of the mind by studying the structure of film. [52] Here, it is the other way around: the study of the structure of the mind is supposed to teach us about film – cinema is a function of the brain, and what cinema is can be discovered through the study of the topology of cerebral functions.

Once again, albeit in a different manner, one might say that this is a quest for an underlying unity – a quest for the threatened or lost unity of the object cinema, from within an epistemological framework that is at least partially topological in nature, based on a “naïve realism of spatial properties” (to once again cite Bachelard). We know what cinema is when we know where in the brain the film experience happens, and what the brain looks like when it happens (although of course we never will, but potentially could – if only neuroscientists had enough time and money to find out).

It is perhaps more than a matter of coincidence, then, that parallel to, and – as far as the field of film scholarship is concerned – in conjunction with the emergence of the category of World Cinema, we are witnessing the emergence of two major strands of film theory that try to map cinema onto what can also be described as the globe of the human skull. In the age of the moving image on the move, of the intensified global circulation of moving images, the brain and the globe replace the list and the map as the primary models and metaphors for defining the essence of cinema.

IV On the Geo-Temporal Construction That is Cinema
So, what lies beneath the spaces of world cinema? What are the essential relations that sustain the phenomena and the space in which we locate them, fulfilling our task of geometrisation? What comes after what we know when we know where something is?

As I have argued, the geometrisations effected by the concept of world cinema and the mapping of the brain are sustained by a desire to maintain the unity of the object cinema, both at a level of cultural objects and of the film as an object of perception and affect. But where does this desire come from, and what does it tells us about its object?

Let me try and answer this concluding question, not from the point of view of an epistemology of film theory, but by reverting to my own cinephilia – taking as my point of departure one scene from a film that has not ceased to haunt me since I first saw it. It is from the opening sequence of Wang Bing’s monumental, nine hour documentary West of the Tracks (2003). This is a three-part film about the slow but irreversible de-industrialisation of Shenyang, a northeastern Chinese city, a centre of steel production since the 1930s. Part I shows a group of workers in a factory; Part II focuses on family life; Part III zooms in on a father-son relationship. I have thus far only watched the film on a TV and computer screen, so it is probably not cinema. But it is certainly a film. This shot is from the beginning of Part I:

In the terminology of early cinema, this is a five-minute ghost ride. Technically, it is a series of very long takes, a plan-séquence made up of several long takes. In an essay chapter on the long take in documentary, anthropologist and filmmaker David MacDougall argues that the long take constitutes, in a way, the essence of documentary. Long takes, MacDougall argues, have properties that are lost in the films that are based on them. ”The question of what to do with the qualities found in the long take but not found in the films derived from them, is perhaps the quintessential problem of the documentary.” [54] These properties, according to MacDoguall, include: a surplus of meaning; a space for interpretation;  a sense of encounter; and internal contextualisation, i.e., time enough for an event to explain itself. Together, these properties create an excitement, the “excitement that anything can happen”. The long take thus opens up the past as a space of possibility.

The first thing that I find fascinating about Wang’s film, and this sequence in particular, is that it does not sacrifice the properties of the long take to the finished film. In fact, this opening shot announces a poetics that refuses to concede this sacrifice.

Why is this fascinating? I need to clarify that my cinephilia is probably grounded less in love for the film object, as in what we might call an epistemic shock.

One of my earliest film memories is of a Swiss film, Der Erfinder (The Inventor, 1980), directed by Kurt Gloor, with Bruno Granz in the title role. Ganz is a farmer from the mountain regions of Switzerland; he puts all his money and health into the invention of a machine meant to facilitate work on the steep slopes of the Swiss mountains. Finally, at the point of exhaustion, he files his patent application, and then goes to the movies. It is 1918, and he sees a newsreel showing a British tank in action on the battlefield. He realises that someone has had the same idea before him, and he loses his mind. Seeing this film at age eleven taught me that one should go to the movies often to learn about the world, and that one should to the movies sooner rather than later – or you risk losing your mind.

So it is easy to understand why a documentary like West of the Tracks, that shows us a world entirely unknown to me, would appeal. But West of the Tracks is no ordinary documentary. Rather than merely depicting or representing the world in decay of Shenyang, Wang’s film creates a world – or rather, a projection of the world, to use Stanley Cavell’s term. The image as an aesthetic object, according to German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer, has a being in its own right (“das bild im ästhetischen Sinne des Wortes[hat] ein eigenes Sein”). [54] The image may be understood as an “emanation”, a surplus that adds to the world. Even the “mechanical technologies of the image” such as photography and film, writes Gadamer, can be understood in this way, as long as they get something more out of the depicted than what we see when we merely look at it (“als sie aus dem Abgebildeten etwas herausholen, das in seinem bloßen Anblick nicht liegt”). Gadamer’s idea of the image (including, particularly, the photographic image and the film image) as an emanation, a surplus that adds to the world, corresponds closely to André Bazin’s conception in “Ontology of the Photographic Image”.

A film like West of the Tracks gets more out of the depicted than what we see, through what we might call a combination of emanation and duration: by transforming what is depicted into an image of prolonged duration, a being in its own right, that adds a surplus world and creates a place liberated from the constraints of space and time. Or, in other words: through a geo-temporal construction that may provide a new point of departure from which to rethink what cinema, and world cinema, means.

This text has been expanded from a Keynote lecture for the World Cinema Now conference at Monash University, Melbourne, September 2011. 


[1] Francesco Casetti, “Back to the Motherland: The Film Theatre in the Postmedia Age”, Screen, Vol. 51 No. 1 (2011), pp. 1-12.

[2] Raymond Bellour, Le corps du cinéma. Hypnose, Emotions, Animalités (Paris: POL, 2009).

[3] Raymond Bellour (trans. A. Martin), “The Film Spectator. A Special Memory”, in Gertrud Koch, Volker Pantenburg & Simon Rothöhler (eds) Screen Dynamics: Mapping the Borders of Cinema (Vienna: Synema/Filmmuseum, 2012), pp. 9-21.

[4] Malte Hagener, “Wo ist Film (heute)? Film/Kino im Zeitalter der Medienimmanenz”, in Gudrun Sommer, Vinzenz Hediger & Oliver Fahle (eds) Orte filmischen Wissens. Filmkultur und Filmvermittlung im Zeitalter digitaler Netzwerke (Marburg: Schüren, 2011), pp. 43-57.

[5] Peter Risthaus, Onto-Toplogie. Zur Entäußerung des unverfügbaren Orts (Berlin: diaphanes, 2009).

[6] Cf. Haidee Wasson, Museum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); Caroline Frick, Saving Cinema (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

[7] Marla Stone, “Challenging Cultural Categories: The Transformation of the Venice Biennale Under Fascism”, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, Vol.  4 No. 2 (1999), pp. 184–208; Francesco Di Chiara, Valentina Re, “Film Festival/Film History: The Impact of Film Festivals on Cinema Historiography – Il cinema ritrovato and beyond”, Cinémas: Revue d’études cinématographiques | Cinémas: Journal of Film Studies, Vol.  21 Nos. 2/3 (2011), pp. 131–151.

[8] Raymond Aron, Le Spectateur engagé (Paris: Editions le Fallois, 2004), p. 245.

[9] Andrew Higson, The Concept of National Cinema”, Screen, Vol. 30 No. 4 (1989), pp. 36-47.

[10] Jean-Michel Frodon, La projection nationale: Cinéma et nation (Paris: Odile Jacob, 1998).

[11] See, in particular, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Fascist Modernities: Italy, 1922-1945 (Berkeley: California University Press, 2004), pp. 74 ff., 80 ff.

[12] Valentina Vitali and Paul Willemen, Theorising National Cinema (London: BFI, 2006), p. 33.

[13] On India see Ravi Vasudevan, “National Pasts and Futures: Indian Cinema”, Screen, Vol. 41 No. 1, (2000), pp. 119-125. On China see Chris Berry and Mary Farquhar, China on screen: cinema and nation (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).

[14] Suisheng Zhao, A Nation-State by Construction: Dynamics of Modern Chinese Nationalism (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), p. 45.

[15] Cf. Manas Gosh, “Theorizing New Asian Cinemas: Problems of the Historicist Approach”, Journal of the Moving Image, Vol. 7 (2008) http://www.jmionline.org/film_journal/jmi_07/article_06.php#article_text_01.

[16] Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation”, Framework, no. 36 (1989), pp. 68-81.

[17] See also Mette Hjort, “On the Plurality of Cinematic Transnationalisms”, in Natasa Durovicova (ed.) World Cinemas, Transnational Perspectives (London: Taylor & Francis, 2011), pp. 22 ff.

[18] See, for instance, Miriam Ross, “The Film Festival as Producer: Latin American Films and Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund”, Screen, Vol. 52 No. 2 (2011), pp. 261-267.

[19] Allan J. Scott, “French Cinema: Economy, Policy and Place in the Making of a Cultural Products Industry”, Theory, Culture & Society February, Vol. 17 No. 1 (2000), p. 19.

[20] See Devin Orgeron, Masha Orgeron and Dan Streible (eds), Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Cinema in the United States (Oxford, New York: Oxford Univerity Press, 2011); Charles Acland, Haidee Wasson & Lee Grieveson (eds) Useful Cinema (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); Vinzenz Hediger & Patrick Vonderau (eds), Films that Work: Industrial Film and the Productivity of Media (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2009).

[21] John F. O’Connell, “The Changing Dynamics of the Arab Gulf Based Airlines and an Investigation into the Strategies that are Making Emirates into a Global Challenger”, World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2006), pp. 94-114; Jan Vesperman, Andreas Wald & Roland Gleich, “Aviation Growth in the Middle East – Impacts on Incumbent Players and Potential Strategic Reactions”, Journal of Transport Geography, Vol. 16 No. 16 (2008), p. 388.

[22] Dudley Andrew, “An Atlas of World Cinema”, in Stephanie Dennison, Song Hwee Lim (eds), Remapping World Cinema: Identity, Culture and Politics in Film (London: Wallflower Press, 2006), pp. 19-29.

[23] Hans-J. Weitz, “’Weltliteratur’ zuerst bei Wieland“, Arcadia, no. 22 (1987), pp. 206-208.

[24] Hendrik Birus, “The Goethean Concept of World Literature and Comparative Literature”, CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture, Vol. 2 No. 4 (2000), http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1481-4374.1090. Last accessed 2 October 2013.

[25] Paul Willemen, “For a Comparative Cinema Studies”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Vol. 6 No. 1 (2005), pp. 98-112. See also the recent issue of this journal on Willemen’s approach and ensuing debate. M. Madhava Prasad, “Singular But Double-Entry: Paul Willemen’s Proposal for a Comparative Film Studies”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Vol. 14 No. 1 (2013), pp. 3-13.

[26] Gaston Bachelard, La formation de l’esprit scientifique (Paris: J. Vrin, 1934), Section 5, http://classiques.uqac.ca/classiques/bachelard_gaston/formation_esprit_scientifique/formation_esprit_scientifique.html

[27] See also the brillant dissection of Schultz’s play on Beethoven in an essay by Rembert Hüser, to whom I owe this example: “Adorno in Dosen”, Merkur, no. 768, Vol. 67 No. 5 (May 2013), pp. 412-428.

[28] Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”,
Theory, Culture & Society, Vol. 7 (1990), pp. 295-310.

[29] Ernst Kris, Otto Kruz, Die Legende vom Künstler. Ein geschichtlicher Versuch (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 1995).

[30] Cf. Thierry Lenain, Art Forgery: The History of a Modern Obsession (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012).

[31] Isaiah Berlin, Giambattista Vico and Cultural History, in: The Crooked Timber of Humanity. Chapters in the History of Ideas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997) pp. 49–69.

[32] Pierre Sorlin, Italian National Cinema, 1896-1996 (London: Routledge, 1996).

[33] National Research Council (ed.), Psychology for the Fighting Man: What You Should Know About Yourself and Others (Washington, New York: Penguin Books, 1943).

[34] Cf. Stephen Grundle, “Sophia Loren: Italian Icon”, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 15 No. 3 (1995), pp. 367-385; Stephen Grundle, “Hollywood Glamour and Mass Consumption in Postwar Italy”, Journal of Cold-War Studies, Vol. 4 No. 3 (2002), pp. 95-118.

[35] David Waterman and Krishna P. Yayakar, “The Competitive Balance of the Italian and American Film Industries”, European Journal of Communication, Vol. 15 No. 4 (2000), pp. 501-528.

[36] In Germany and German culture these preconceived notions included what is generally known as Italiensehnsucht or ’longing for Italy’, another innovation of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, attributable to Johann Joachim Winckelmann (one of the founding figures of modern art history) and to Goethe, who defined the parameters of the German variety of the Grand Tour with his Italienreise. Cf. Marino Freschi, “Die deutsche Italien-Sehnsucht von Winckelmann bis Heine”, Studia Germanica Posnaniensia, Vol. 32 (2011), pp. 5-19.

[37] Mattias Frey, “Cultural Problems of Classical Film Theory: Béla Balázs, ‘Universal Language’ and the Birth of National Cinema”, Screen, Vol. 51 No. 4 (2010), pp. 324-340.

[38] Moving Picture World, Vol. 31 No. 12, (24 March 1917), p. 1937.

[39] Cf. Vinzenz Hediger, “Blitz Exhibitionism. Der Massenstart von Kinofilmen und die verspätete Revolution der Filmvermarktung“, in Vinzenz Hediger and Patrick Vonderau (eds) Demnächst in Ihrem Kino. Grundlagen der Filmwerbung und der Filmvermarktung (Marburg: Schüren, 2009), pp. 140-160.

[40] Miriam Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism”, Modernism/Modernity, Vol. 6 No. 2 (April 1999),
pp. 59-77.

[41] Ed Catmull, “How Pixar Fosters Creativity”,  Harvard Business Review (September 2008), pp. 1-13. See also Mark Henne, Hal Hickel, Ewan Johnson & Sonoko Konishi, “The Making of Toy Story”, in Proceedings of Compcon 1996 (1996), pp. 463-468.

[42] For insight into the way John Lasseter and his colleagues at Pixar drew on the aesthetics of classical animation, see Lasseter, “Principles of Traditional Animation Applied to 3D Computer Animation”, Paper, SIGGRAPH 87 (1987).

[43] Incidentally, World Cinema in this sense is very much in tune with the now-current concept of cosmopolitanism.  See Nikos Papastergiades, Cosmopolitanism and Culture (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012).

[44] Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, “Neuroeconomics: How Neuroscience Can Inform Economics”, Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 43 No. 1 (March 2005), pp. 9-64.

[45] Semir Zeki, Inner Vision: An Exploration of Art and the Brain (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 22.

[46] Stephen Kosslyn, Image and Brain: The Resolution of the Imagery Debate (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996).

[47] Cf. Branko Mitrovic, “Visuality After Gombrich: The Innocence of the Eye and Modern Research in the Philosophy and Psychology of Perception”, Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, Vol. 76 (2013), pp. 71-89.

[48] Since the early 1990s, concurrently with the emergence of performance-based conceptions of gender in cultural theory, neuroscientists have consistently researched gender differences in brain activity in a variety of fields, often relating to emotional experiences such as childhood depression or sadness. One could argue, from a critical theory point of view, that the neurosciences thus reiterate and reinscribe the biological definition of gender that theorists such as Judith Butler critique.

[49] For a Deleuzian approach, see Patricia Pisters, The Neuro-Image: A Deleuzian Filmphilosophy of Digital Screen Culture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012).

[50] Gilles Deleuze (trans. Marie Therese Guirgis), “The Brain is the Screen”, in Gregory Flaxman (ed.), The Brain Is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), pp. 366-67.

[51] Bachelard, Formation de l’esprit scientifique, Section 18.

[52] Noël Carroll, “Film/Mind Analogies: The Case of Hugo Münsterberg”, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 46 No. 4 (Summer 1988), pp. 489-499.

[53] David MacDougall, “When Less Is Less: The Long Take in Documentary”, Film Quarterly, Vol. 46 No. 2 (Winter 1992-3), pp. 36-46.

[54] Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode. Grundzüge einer philosophischen Hermeneutik (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010 [1960]), p. 144.

About the Author

Vinzenz Hediger

About the Author

Vinzenz Hediger

Vinzenz Hediger is Professor of Film at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. He is a co-founder of NECS – European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (www.necs.org).View all posts by Vinzenz Hediger →