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The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Enlarged Edition (Harvard Film Studies) Paperback – January 31, 1979


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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Film Studies
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Enlarged edition (January 31, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067496196X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674961968
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to think of Stanley Cavell's The World Viewed as simply a film book...Cavell's book is about films...at a thoroughly engaged level of reflection...It does not move one to rush to the nearest movie theater for a new immersion in films; rather, it prompts one to reexamine one's own past experiences of films...With Cavell the sense of the claims which movies make upon us is intense. He does not linger over any particular one, in a spirit of impatience roughly analogous to the one which prompted T. S. Eliot to say the `The poetry does not matter.' The poetry does not matter, poetry matters. The film does not matter, film matters. (College English)

Perhaps more than in any other country, film studies in the United States have been hampered by a tradition of casual reporting and a smuggish academic refusal to allow a mass entertainment art any serious intellectual status. Stanley Cavell's The World Viewed is an important a valuable counter to this tradition and its journalistic judgments...As a philosopher of art, Cavell is clearly not only a rigorous thinker but an imaginative one who can convincingly integrate phenomenological concepts into film studies or translate figures from Baudelaire's Painter of Modern Life into illuminating categories of film analysis. (Timothy Corrigan Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism)

About the Author

Stanley Cavell is Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Nicholas on September 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have to emphatically disagree with the reviewer who called this an "easy read." Sure, Cavell doesn't use the standard theory-speak; he uses plain English, but he uses it in strange ways. He also presumes that the reader possesses not only a thorough familiarity with classic Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood cinema, and the European "New Waves" of the 1960s, but also a solid grounding in the history of philosophy, Romantic poetry, early photographic history, and the history of modern art from Manet through color field painting. I thought I had a fairly firm grasp on most of those things, and still I found the book something to wrestle with. But wrestling with it is a rewarding experience. Cavell's way of looking at cinema seems wholly unique in the history of film theory or film philosophy - there's little I can even compare it to. My reading of the book is that he views philosophy and art as two sides of the same coin, two variations of historically conditioned responses to our epistemological and ontological condition. The changes we see throughout the history of art (and throughout the history of cinema, which is but a subset of that history and whose arrival itself signals a change) correspond with roughly contemporaneous developments in the history of philosophy - both are reflections of our faith in the world, or our isolation from it. The central concepts he circles around continuously all possess a dual meaning, both artistic and philosophical - "presence," "presentness," "acknowledgement," "conviction," "automatism" - I won't attempt to define them because I can't. I don't think that I've understood more than 10% of this book. I give it 4 stars because what I have understood is compelling, and because what I haven't yet understood I feel like is worthy of trying to understand.
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Stanley Cavell's "the World Viewed" is a timeless piece as an opus magnus to any study of film philosophy. But you won't find the 'stuffy philosophical terms of an elite array of name dropping philosophers of film in this book. Quite the contrary. It is a wonderfully easy read and very enlightening: a real joy. And Stanley Cavell brings his personal thoughts about the infancy of film studies to light in a style that has great continuity from beginning to end. He talks about the affect of film in one instance and the creative process in another. And just like the title suggests, it is exactly that: Stanley Cavell's 'world view' comprising the creative process of film and it's affect for the individual, both explicit and inherent to the creation of a continuing art form. It is a joy to read from cover to cover, and never tedious. And he wraps it all up with a fundamental statement about where he thought the art of film for creative individuals in the world was and is going. A timeless piece like this deserves a place in anyone's library.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Cavell relies on his own experience of cinema in such a way that the reader is invited to try to find himself with respect to his claims. There may or may not be a meeting of the minds. But this doesn't mean Cavell is biased. He's simply calling it as he sees it. He asks nothing more and nothing less of us. I don't see that a personal judgment might not be objective. And if it is very difficult to experience what Cavell is gesturing towards, that seems like all the more reason for being cautious when referring to what you might wrongly be calling "subjective prejudices." This book is worth the hard work.
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18 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Since Stanley Cavell was an esteemed philosophy professor at Harvard University, when he wrote this book, it was a boon for film theorists everywhere; the academic elite were finally taking film theory seriously. However, even though in the book there are great moments of insight into the spectatorship of films, Cavell is very biased towards his own cinematic experience and will often make broad claims to the superiority of the classic films with which he grew up over any recent film. His predilections are often purely personal and do not involve an objective understanding of the films. The book contains many wonderful moments that stem from a thought-provoking philosopher yet it is very difficult to experience them through the author's subjective prejudices.
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