James Batcho, PhD | Film and Philosophy in Gothenburg
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Film and Philosophy in Gothenburg

KILLARNEY. I came to Europe for the Film Philosophy conference in Gothenburg, but the trip is being bookended on either side by Berlin (to reconnect with dear friends and colleagues) and Ireland (for holiday, a place that has called to me since I was very young).

The conference went well. My paper was too long, so I turned it into an ad lib presentation of its core ideas. Even after several years now of practice I still struggle to coincide the 8,000 word essay with the 4,000 word time limit. It’s quite difficult when offering new concepts of film simultaneity and coexistence through Bergson and Deleuze’s writings on time. Time is the limit.

It’s interesting to see how this still fairly new way of marrying cinema and philosophy is unfolding. I had a couple of conversations about the distinction between theory and philosophy with fellow attendees I met. Because what is this distinction? Film theory has been around a long time; film philosophy not so much. The latter is by most accounts extending post-Deleuze and/or post-Cavell approaches to cinematic thinking—indeed cinema as thinking. Two very different writers, both of whom I’ve read. If there is something that they share it’s to argue that film “does” the work of philosophy, or that philosophy can be done through film. My argument from this is that film philosophy should be inventive rather than analytical. Theory works through representations and readings; philosophy creates concepts. In other words, it isn’t just a report on what film is doing (the former) but writing that accounts for film’s unique means of unfolding ideas.

If this is the case, I think film philosophy still has a way to go. There were some excellent papers, but others were doing “readings,” explaining plots, uncovering aspects of representation, culture and identity. It was fantastic to see so many women at the conference (albeit not much color) but I wish there was more feminist philosophy and less feminist interpretations of films.

As for Gothenburg, I didn’t get to see much. But the meatballs were divine.