Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 3

In Braveheart we see Men Willing to Die for Freedom: is Freedom more than just a Concept?

Territory: Braveheart the 1995 film by Mel Gibson. Focus: William Wallace: I *am* William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free men… and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight? Concept: Freedom / Free will. What I will do in this project: I intend to look at the concept of freedom and free will. In the film Braveheart we see William Wallace lead the Scottish people in an uprising against the rule of King Edward I. Edward took over Scotland when the Scottish king died without an heir giving Scottish lands to English lords: such behaviour led to an uprising in Scotland as lower class took on the English armies in a bid for freedom. Freedom is so important people will give their lives for it. I explore the Kantian notion of the transcendental self, he believed that our purpose was to be rational with intrinsic value because of our ability to reason. This ability to reason sets us apart from all other creatures. This ability to reason is only possible if we are autonomous, because how can we make rational decisions unless we have free will. I will then counterbalance this view with reference to Karl Marx. Marx believes our nature is shaped by a social structure that rests upon an economic base. This means we are therefore determined by economics, freedom is restricted by the means of production, and we can only have any semblance of freedom if we can afford freedom.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

How are Situationist Principles Portrayed in Modern Film?

The films ‘Pierot le Fou’ and ‘La Chinoise’, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, can be said to demonstrate ideas and principles associated with the situationists. These include the society of the spectacle, commodification, and an overall idea of spontaneity. The society of the spectacle is an idea that was developed by Guy Debord, the leader of the situationist movement. It means that our modern society (post-Second World War) governs the lives of its constituents. One can no longer live freely and directly, but is lived through by the mass media. This ties in with the idea of commodification, whereby everything we know has a monetary value set upon it. We cannot help but view everything in this way, and we constantly desire these commodities. The ideas of Guy Debord have origins in the ideas of Hegel and Marx. Firstly, Hegel’s idea of Mind had a particular impact on Debord, as it did on Marx. Hegel claimed our individual minds are connected to the universal Mind. His ‘Phenomenology of Mind’ traces the Mind from a state of consciousness (but unaware of its universal nature) to self-consciousness, or self-awareness. Similarly, when we come into the world, we have consciousness but not self-consciousness. We are given ideality for our consciousness to find meaning; we must “realise this ideality” in order to reach self consciousness (Hegel 1979).
Marx, and other Young Hegelians, converted Hegel’s universal and transcendental Mind to ‘Universal Mind’, meaning the collective of all human minds. Now the story of Mind becomes “path to human liberation” (Singer 1980). Marx also used Hegel’s critique of religion as alienation. The ideas of Feuerbach and his grounding of Hegel’s ideas also intrigued Marx. Feuerbach inverted Hegel’s philosophy, making the finite world the origin of philosophy, but keeping the idea of religion as a cause of alienation. Marx then applied the same inversion to Hegel’s political philosophy. In his publication ‘On the Jewish Question’ he states that it is not the fault of the Jews if they covet money, but of society. Society should be changed in order to eradicate such suffering. We now see the shift from religion to society and money as the chief causes of alienation. This had great impact on Debord and his idea of commodification. He claimed that only by living authentically, by taking one’s life back from the spectacle can one break the fetters of commodification and the alienation caused by money. These ideas are portrayed in Godard’s films, particularly Pierot le Fou, as Pierot and Marianne reject all material possessions such as clothing, cars and money, all things the spectacle seems to tell us we need on a regular basis. There is also spontaneity in the films, as the script does not flow as it would in a typically modern film, but changes between subjects and contexts, often making little sense at all. This is to awaken the audience to the idea that they do not have to adhere to conventions. By contrast, modern films such as ‘American Beauty’, directed by Sam Mendes, does adhere to such conventions, as it is a film that attempts to portray situationist ideas, but fails. It seems the ideas themselves have been made fashionable and swallowed by the spectacle.

Categories
2009 Abstracts Stage 2

“Kill Me and Save Yourself!” How Friendship Affects Morality

Aims
In my project I will discuss how the relationship between friends affects our ability to make objective moral decisions. In doing so I hope to clarify some of the philosophical positions on friendship and assess my own views philosophically in order to attain whether moral theories should devote specific attention to this idea.

Object
The object for my project is the documentary film “Touching the Void”. This film tells the story of two friends who set out to climb the previously un-summited west face of “Siula Grande” in the Peruvian mountains. In doing so both friends were plunged into a life and death struggle and one was forced to make an arduous decision to end his friend’s life.

Territory
The philosophers I will use in my project are;
• Aristotle, who writes explicitly on the conditions of complete friendship in his book
“Nicomachean Ethics”
• Hegel, most importantly his concept of recognition and how that is affected by
friendship and how this in turn affects his moral theory
• Hobbes, the idea of rational egoism and how friendship is affected by this

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Rationalizing and Comparing “Fight Club” through the Theories of Sigmund Freud and Thomas Hobbes

One of my main sources links Fight Club with an article by Omar Lizardo named ‘Fight Club, or the Cultural Contradictions of Late Capitalism’, which I found in the Journal for Cultural Research. I chose this because it places quite an original perspective in that it is a reaction to arguments that tend to emphasize Fight Clubs relevance for the study of contemporary representations of gender and masculinity. Lizardo argues ‘that Fight Club can be seen as an attempt to deal with the evacuation and exhaustion of the original form of value-rationality from the realm of production in service work. Basically it contemplates whether class-consciousness in the modern capitalist state has left man with a sense of lost virility, and whether or not Fight Club is a reaction to this. I have chosen to link this with Thomas Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’ which talks of the state of nature and how man gave up his freedom and violent, barbaric ways to conform to civil society under social contract. Sigmund Freud served more as a psychoanalyst and sociologist than a philosopher in this project as I used his work ‘Civilization and its Discontents’ to analyse the possible reasons for the narrator’s breakdown. Many of Freud’s ideas already appear quite blatant and self explanatory in the film, however Freud covers much more material that is not evident at all. I chose to use the film ‘Zeitgeist’ by Peter Joseph as I felt this would be both very interesting material and also would place a very original comparative to Fight Club. I was in complete awe, shock and amazement when I first watched this extremely powerful and scary film and am very passionate about spreading the word about it. It will prove highly relevant to some of the material in Fight Club, and is something that I feel everyone should know about.

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 2

The Contemporary Mass Culture of Escapism: the Individual and Society, a Study in Parallel to the Film Being John Malkovich

Territory: Escapism, our obsession, need for it. What I will use to do this: My mind, Psychology, Fromm, Sociology. We are the only species on this planet that routinely, and necessarily require some form of detachment from our existence. I want to explore this need of ours to escape from the perspective of the protagonist Craig Schwartz in the film ‘Being John Malkovich’. As well as using an individual’s perspective I hope to look at society as a whole, the way it is driven by a mainstream commercialist economy and how this affects our need to subvert our reality from time to time.

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 2

In Contemporary Film, what does Violence Represent?

My project will be based on the violence in films. During the course of my work I will be looking at three different films- “A Clockwork Orange” (written by Anthony Burgess and adapted to film by Stanley Kubrick), “The Football Factory” (written by John King and adapted to film by Nick Love) and the infamous “Fight Club” (written by Chuck Palahniuk and directed by David Fincher). Questions 1) Why do people take part in violent acts? 2) What do these acts represent? Are they pure needless violence or related to something, such as a sense of community, boredom or simply fulfilling a sensual need? 3) What can we take from the conclusions drawn? Can we somehow relate the violence in films to the violence we see in things like football hooliganism and the rise of violent sports? How does violence relate to my concepts? Concept 1: Religiosity. George Bataille and Emile Durkheim. The pair’s idea of religion as a unifying force means that they may feel that the characters in A Clockwork Orange are substituting conventional/organised religion for their own violence based religion. Concept 2: Alienation. Karl Marx. Alienation indicates the separation of things that genuinely belong together. In regards to humans, it refers to the alienation of people from features of “human nature”. People may argue that violence is part of the human nature, and so through the repression of this violent streak, we feel alienation.

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Philosophy in “Fight Club”

TERRITORY- FIGHT CLUB. 1999 film about an unnamed protagonist who struggles with his growing discomfort with consumerism and changes in the state of masculinity in American culture. In an attempt to overcome this, he creates an underground fighting club as a radical form of psychotherapy in order to change the way in which he lives his life. CONCEPTS- My main concept was the idea of EXISTENTIALISM and the way in which we live and our influence to live our lives The two philosophers I looked at with relation to the concept where • Jean-Paul Sartre • Friedrich Nietzsche The relationship between my territory and my concept is that fight club is a film based around how we should live and tells the story of one man’s struggle to achieve the existentialist ideal of discovering your own truth. It also challenges existentialist views on God and the question of whether or not we all have a “will to power”. Relevance : The idea of how we should live is particularly relevant today with people more equal than ever are we conforming to the way in which the government wants us to live. Why has violence become so prominent in modern day society- what can we do to stop it?

Categories
2008 Abstracts Stage 3

How Can we Account for Organised Crime in Western Society?

Territory – Pulp Fiction. Object – Jules Winnfield. 1994 Quentin Tarantino cult classic set in the glamorized gang culture of the Los Angeles underworld. Hitman Jules works alongside Vincent Vega for mob boss Marsellus Wallace. The film portrays Jules’ lifestyle as a double existence in which his brutal career disposing of those who have fallen out of favour with Mr. Wallace is contrasted by his integration into legitimate society. Aims. To uncover the drives and mentality behind Jules’ lifestyle I focussed the project around two main questions; • Why does Jules live this lifestyle of crime outside of the sphere of legitimate society? • Is he at any point truly disenchanted with the constraints of capitalist society? Philosophical Ideas I used Marx’s work to develop a foundation for a critique of modern western society. This theory displays the weaknesses and problems of a consumer-driven market that is based on profit and hierarchal discrimination of classes. The systematic manipulation of the consumer market by the predominant corporative sphere in contemporary society is then analysed using Adorno’s theory of the culture industry. This provides me with perspective for the use of the theme of Americana which is so prominent throughout the film. I then used Beck’s theory of individualization to examine Jules’ character and uncover how and why he has assumed his double role within society. Conclusions. The penetration of the American culture fits with Adorno’s notion of a culture industry; it demonstrates how invasive the extreme exposure of specified and manipulated creativity can be in the lives of the average person. Jules immerses himself in this element of western life while maintaining his role as a hitman, displaying the autonomy he exercises to work both within and outside of this framework of legitimate society. His existence within gang culture in its totality reflects the two-faced nature of capitalism; we see a prosperous exterior that hides the brutal capabilities of a paranoid core.

Categories
2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Fight Club: what effect has consumerism had on personal identity?

Insomnia/Society of the Spectacle. The narrator suffers from insomnia, he describes this feeling as being ‘never really asleep and never really awake…everything is a copy of a copy of a copy.‘ This, Guy Debord says, is caused by a veil that has emerged between us and society, where nothing is real. We have moved from Being into Having. What we ARE is no longer important; what we HAVE is. The expanse of mass corporations has created a society controlled and driven by consumerism. People have forgotten their aims and goals and have become obsessed with material possessions. Masculinity has hit a crisis point as the dynamics of society life have changed, namely by the increasingly common absence of the father figure. These men are in search of validation as men, something which they will not find in the consumerist society. Men have become servants to large corporations and through fighting each other they are able to feel something real, and therefore are able to catch a glimpse of the reality they seek. This has caused identity to be something elusive and missing, due to the subduing effect of consumerism. Nietzsche’s Herd/Nihilists/Free Spirits analogy. Modern society has become what Nietzsche would describe as the Herd, a majority of people who are preoccupied with their own ‘game’ and the never-ending pursuit of owning better objects. The narrator undergoes a journey from Herd to Nihilist when he splits his personality, to Free Spirit when he kills Tyler in the final scene of the film.

Categories
2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Fight Club

Fight club a bizarre fantasy about the “repressed self”. The main character, (who throughout the film is not named and in the credits referred only to as narrator) a depressed business man, had a vision. He doesn’t like his work and gets no satisfaction from it so he tries different ways of passing time. He creates the perfect apartment but still he is not fulfilled. He has trouble sleeping and he feels in no way part of the surrounding world, he has become so desperate to fit in and to relate to others that he has started attending therapy sessions for people with terminal diseases and pretends that he is ill to just so he can have someone to talk to. One day on a plane he meets the man that he wishes he was the one who he has envisioned. He envisioned he was the street-wise hard man who loved to fight and who wasn’t afraid of anything and who was respected by all. And then the streetwise tough guy became real, at least he did in the mind of the business man. Hence the creation of Tyler. Tyler holds the materialistic world in contempt and he believes people learn everything they need to know through pain, misfortune and chaos. Tyler challenges the narrator to a fight and our narrator finds his much sought after release in the brawl. The two create a group named fight club and as more men join it one rule becomes apparent. ‘Do not talk about fight club.’ The philosophy I intend to explore is automatism and drifting. The whole thing with Freud where we all have subconscious desires and it is thought that if we continue to talk to non- stop after a while they come out and we actually say what we think deep down. Breton said we should do that with writing stuff down, just write anything and not think about it, free association, that’s automatism. And doing it when you’re walking around was what he called drifting. Also Sartre because he believed that men cannot rely on society to control them. Mankind is radically free and responsible. In every moment we choose ourselves, with no assurance that we have a continuing identity or power. We set up determinisms to ease our minds, but in the face of the finality of death, only through our present consciousness do we establish our own authentic existence.

Categories
2007 Abstracts Stage 3

Capital Punishment, using ‘Ted Bundy’ and ‘The Life of David Gale’ to explore arguments for and against this form of punishment

Territory: Capital Punishment using ‘Ted Bundy’ and ‘The Life of David Gale’ to explore arguments for and against this form of punishment. Personalised Content: The discussion of these films is supported by information that has appeared in the media after the execution of Saddam Hussein, which has brought capital punishment back into the society’s consciousness. I have noticed a change in attitudes towards capital punishment and a trend in the reasons why it has gathered support. The threat of terrorist attacks and the increase in violent crime in society has brought about increased support for the death penalty. Prior to 2001 it was generally found that people opposed the death penalty on moral grounds, however it is now gained the greatest amount of support in recent history. The increase of support surrounding the death penalty has brought about further ethical implications, including discussion of methods used and debate over whether criminals should be allowed to die with dignity. Philosophical Content: I was interested in considering how certain ethical theories would link with capital punishment, in particular the theories put forward by Kant and Mill. I wished to link the films used to one of the theories in order to gauge whether they assisted in supporting or rejecting the particular standpoint. I linked ‘The Life of David Gale’ to Kant’s view outlined in his ‘Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals’ and found that the film just reinforced Kant’s view that it is acceptable to use capital punishment as a form of retribution. The argument in ‘David Gale’ is against capital punishment, but is so weakly constructed that it only assists in showing the strengths of Kant’s work. ‘Ted Bundy’ was linked to Utilitarianism as at the end of the film we see a celebration at the death of a serial killer, showing that at times capital punishment may produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number,

Categories
2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Censorship of Violent Films 1975 – 2006

Territory: Having watched the short surrealist film ‘Un Chien Andalou’ (1929) I began to consider how the explicit violence demonstrated in slicing a woman’s eye had affected its audience. How would the censors react to such a film today? With this in mind I began to watch a series of controversial violent films, which had been produced from the late 1970’s to present day that had caused the British Board of Film Classification to take swift censorship action. My territory therefore is the change in censorship of violent films between the years 1975 and 2006.
Aims and Objectives: In this project I will aim to show that the many incarnations of censorship over the years are entirely contradictory and do not achieve the aims the B.B.F.C. intends of them. In addition to this I aim to demonstrate that the notion of violence has been severely misunderstood and discredited through ignorant dogma and that it is in fact a necessary and active part of human consciousness. Having watched a short catalogue of films, such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1976) the Evil Dead (1981) and Fight Club (1999), I looked at how they had been viewed by the B.B.F.C. and what actions had been taken. From here I looked at how things such as the invention of the video cassette recorder and the internet had created an impact on the censorship of films.
Philosophical Ideas. The main philosophical concepts that were drawn upon come from Georges Bataille, while thinkers Bandura conducted experiments to see how television violence affected children’s behaviour. Bataille argues that eroticism, violence and transgression will ultimately defeat the taboos of society and that they are the key to changing bourgeois attitudes. This will be held in contrast to Moralist thinkers such as Mary Whitehouse and Margaret Thatcher!
Overview. A basic study of the relationship between film censorship and violence. How censorship justifies its position through psychological, sociological and philosophical means. How film censorship cannot achieve its aims. How violence is an important part of the human consciousness. By utilising violence we can transgress bourgeois attitudes as indicated by Bataille, thus removing unwarranted taboo and dogma in society.

Categories
2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Attacking the Spectacle: from the Situationists to Fight Club

The project will examine the problems that confronted the Situationist International from 1957 to 1968 and show how those same problems are addressed almost half a century later in the film, Fight OutlineClub. Aim: To argue that that the problems faced by the SI are still evident today and that the events presented in Fight Club are symptomatic of this. Method: The following aspects of both Situationist thought and the themes discussed in Fight Club will be used to support my argument: – Commodification and Consumerism: Both Guy Debord and Tyler Durden felt society had become ‘over-reliant’ on material possessions. – The Society of the Spectacle: The product of this over-reliance. Debord’s term for the vicarious nature of modern life. – Detournement: The process of defacing or editing already existing pieces of art, film, music, literature or architecture. Tyler’s assignments in Fight Club are deeply rooted in this idea. – The LA Riots, the Strasbourg Scandal, May 1968 and ‘Project Mayhem’: These events marked the culmination of both SI thought and Tyler’s desires in Fight Club. – Situationist Film and Fight Club Itself: Both looked to push the boundaries and confront traditional cinematic norms. – Terrorism: Could the Situationists be viewed as terrorists? The members of ‘Project Mayhem’ certainly could. Is terrorism in fact necessary for change? – Generation X: The events of May ’68 marked a culmination of social unrest, but as “the middle children of history” does our generation have anything left for which to fight? Sources include: ‘Fight Club’- David Fincher, ‘The Society of the Spectacle’- Guy Debord, ‘Guy Debord and the Situationist International’- Tom McDonough, and ‘The Culture Industry- Theodor Adorno. Information from the Internet, magazines and newspapers will also be used to illustrate my project.

Categories
2006 Abstracts Stage 3

To what Extent is the ‘Truth Content’ within Bukowski’s Work Preserved during its Transition to Film, with Reference to Theodor Adorno’s Culture Industry

Territory: For my project is the life and literary works of Charles Bukowski, a German born American writer who lived from 1920-1994. Aims: In my project I intend to look at the motivation of Charles Bukowski when he wrote and to compare this with the motivation of those who have decided to adapt Bukowski’s work into film in the modern era. This is the change I intend to look at in my project, whether or not Bukowski’s work has become a commodity under the modern day culture industry that Adorno talks about. In order to do this I will look at the three adaptations into film: Tales of Ordinary Madness, Barfly, and Factotum

Categories
2005 Abstracts Stage 2

An Investigation into Deleuzian Cinema Theory Entailing Analysis of Lost in Translation as a Paradigm of Modern Cinema

TERRITORY: Lost In Translation. Sofia Coppola’s beautifully written and emotively shot film Lost in Translation contains many themes that are very pertinent to philosophical discussion. The isolation of the leads Charlotte and Bob (Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray) is palpable, enhanced to moments of hystericization in the mise-en-scene. The film follows the tentative growth of the protagonist Charlotte and the unhappily married film star Bob. CONCEPTS: Deleuzian film theory Sartrean theory of the imagination Deleuze’s analysis of film views it as a consciousness. I aim to attempt to analyse my territory in such a way. I will also attempt to analyse Acts of Faith a film for the Short Film Society in this manner. I hope that this will lead to a more profound understanding of the philosophy of film. A new way of broaching the territory without recourse to classical analysis. PRIMARY SOURCES: Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema One, 1986; Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema Two, 1989; Sartre, Jean-Paul, The Psychology of Imagination, 1972

Categories
2005 Abstracts Stage 3

Philosophy, Art and Possibility: a study into Deleuze’s Bersonian Cinema Project

The transformation in our conception of art, time and identity has, according to Lyotard, represented a postmodern break from unity and identity; an opposition to totality. We now reject totalising theories, and seek localised theories that explain the difference of life. Grand theories uniting all disciplines are then impossible. Whereas modernism was concerned with what we could determine, Bergson and Deleuze are concerned with the indeterminacy, the contingency, of Life. To what extent do we trust our preconceived notions of the world? How might this obscure the true nature of time and space, and therefore life? If life does not run along a single line of time, but consists of durations that differ for every being, then how should we try to live life? How can the cinematic affect open our eyes to the true ‘multiplicity’ of the world? Gilles Deleuze questions the grand narratives and conventions of life more radically than many, calling perhaps for a ‘rethinking of philosophy’ in light of the most important artistic development of the century; the cinema. In Chapter 1, I wish to look at the main artistic movements in Cinema, from German expressionism and Soviet montage of the 20’s through to the New Wave in cinema following 1968. I will then explore the capabilities of the cinema to produce new and diverse styles of thought through the movement image that allow us to see time directly, not as we experience it through the ‘human eye’ that is interested and organises. In chapter 2, I wish to look at the writings of Bergson and his philosophy of dynamism and change based on the continuous experience of nature that is falsified with the imposed divisions we divide life with as a means of understanding some underlying reality. The image is instead a simulacra with no foundation in reality. Deleuze believes that, rather than reality being actuality, or based on an ideal model, it is a constant interaction between these two; the actual and the virtual, and this is how difference is created. The impossibility of founding knowledge on structures allows us ‘the opportunity to invent, create and experiment’ with life and its possibilities.

Categories
2004 Abstracts Stage 3

“The Office”: a philosophical analysis of the changing conditions power and resistance embrace in the corporate workplace

“Using the BBC sitcom the office as a stereotype; a philosophical analysis of the changing conditions power and resistance embrace in the corporate workplace.” Key Concepts/ Words: – Power, ethics, morality, will, resistance, autonomy, freedom, motivation, existence, capitalism, fordism, post-fordism, hybridisation, bureaucracy, red-tape, bio-power, hierarchy, top-down, bottom up, modernity, postmodernity, globalisation. Objectives: – Using the office as a model, I intend to investigate some of the pivotal questions of power, resistance and autonomy which arise when humans interface in the corporate environment. Sources: – Sourcing from books, library journals and internet journals. Original and secondary writings of Nietzsche, Foucault, Heidegger and Machiavelli. – the office first and second series, also related internet sites. – Background reading of business ethics and the condition of postmodernity. Change: – The paradigm shifts between modernity and postmodernity, Fordism and flexible accumulation. How factors such as technological advance, globalization and the drive for ‘the American dream’ affect human behaviour in the business environment. The gap between humans and things: – Man and technology. – The gap between man and the material world. – Man and globalization.

Categories
2003 Abstracts Stage 3

Redeeming Mozart: a philosophical exploration of “Amadeus”

The investigation is based on Peter Shaffer’s screenplay Amadeus, an elaborate story of the relationship between the legendary musician Wolfgang Mozart and his contemporary counterpart Antonio Salieri. Critics have interpreted the film in various ways, however its philosophical content had been left untouched. The project’s first concern is the identification of two philosophical trends within the characters of the play – Mozart being aligned to the baroque and Salieri portraying notions of traditional philosophy. The interaction of the characters in the plot in this context raises new philosophical issues such as creativity, genius, autonomy and the concept of God and also displays the philosophical influence over mans interaction with his surroundings. This discussion takes place alongside Walter Benjamin’s similar interpretation of Trauerspiel, The Origin of German Tragic Drama. The project’s second concern lies not in the content of the film but in its creation and subsequent afterlife. Shaffer constructed the play on fragments of truth regarding the real Mozart, which he then exaggerated and developed into a fictional story. This process of destruction and reconstruction is investigated in relation to Walter Benjamin’s theory of the mortification of art in which art is constantly reinterpreted to produce new meaning. Benjamin argues that through the creation of new meaning the original object is redeemed. It is the final concern of the project to investigate this theory and explore to what extent Mozart has been redeemed by Amadeus. The result is a project that not only investigates the baroque concepts of afterlife, mortification and redemption but also illustrates these notions in its method of exploration.