Heidegger on Poetic Thinking and the Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky
PublisherState University of New York at Binghamton
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The purpose of this study is to find traces of poetic or meditative thinking in cinema. Poetic thinking is engaged and interested in the world in which we live and does not treat the world as something objectively present that needs to be mastered and controlled by reducing it to separate, distinct and manageable components. Through poetic thinking we get glimpses of a "strange" world that exposes us to difference as such and forces us to encounter the stranger in us, a world, however, that is ultimately our own. What grounds this kind of thinking is first the acknowledgment that existence is open-meaning that human beings are finite and second, the recognition that truth''s nature is elusive-that it is a constant movement, or strife between concealment and unconcealment without any resolution. For thinking to become interested a specific comportment towards the world is presupposed, one that I call here "poetic" or "tragic". The type of comportment that great poet-thinkers share, who are in Heidegger''s words, "the mortals who, singing earnestly of the wine god, sense the trace of the fugitive gods'' tracks, and so trace for their kindred mortals the way toward the turning" (WPF, 94).i They re-cognize the danger of dangers for what it is, namely, the assault threatening "man''s nature in his relation to being itself and not in accidental perils," and they see and point this out by "reaching sooner into the abyss" (WPF, 117). The chosen site to re-think thinking, is a specific kind of cinema which comports itself toward the world in a poetic manner, one that is, in other words, interested. The "poetic cinema" of Fellini, Kubrick, Angelopoulos, but most of all Tarkovsky, discloses being temporally/differentially. Poetic cinema can be distinguished from "humanistic" (or metaphysical) cinema, in terms of its thoughtfulness, if thoughtfulness is to be determined here by the specific interpretation of being and truth that underpins each kind of cinema. Thinking of cinema in this way constitutes an examination of its metaphysical/ontological ground rather than an evaluation of its aesthetic merits.