Ray Carney Moment of the Day #18

July 30, 2011

Superstar - The Karen Carpenter Story

I want to pose some extremely basic quetions about the ways film criticism is done. One place to begin is to ask why American film criticism is devoted, almost without exception and certainly without ever reflecting on it as a special technique at all, to a “surface-depth” model of artistic expression. All of the scholarly commentators on Capra’s work (and on that of most other directors) assume, seemingly without question, that the function of criticism is to move from a relatively superficial and unimportant perceptual events (everything you actually hear and see on the screen) to a realm of profound, and invariably invisible or hidden, “deep” meanings. These commentators are critical Platonists. Their goal is to leave the phenomenal realm behind and move into a world of intellectual abstractions. As William James put it, they seek to dive behind the turbulent perceptual surfaces of experience and anchor themselves in unchanging conceptual depths.

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