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Ontology and the Aesthetics of Cinematographic Bodies

  Jean-Yves Heurtebise

If it is true, as Bergson claimed, that the universe is the sum of images (less than “objective” things but more than “subjective” representations), and if it is correct, as Deleuze said, that this hypothesis bears direct consequences for our understanding of the cinematographic art, then the analysis of cinematographic images and, especially, of the cinematographic images of the body (this living part of matter, this incarnated form of consciousness) can provide not only interesting aesthetic comments about specific directors and films, but also a philosophical understanding of the diverse modes of the sensible incarnation of human bodies. Interestingly enough, the more we believe in the truth of aesthetic images,  the more we believe in the ontological reality of the body, that is, the more does ontological reality become, essentially, “imaginal.”

Key Words
Bergson, body, Corbin, Deleuze, image, imaginal, Realism, sensibility


1. Introduction:  the body of the image and the image of the body

In Matière et mémoire, Bergson defines the world as a sum of images: The world can neither be defined by the mere representation of subjects nor by the pure materiality of objects.[1]

In Proust et les signes, Deleuze says, almost in the same sense:  “Neither things nor minds exist, they are only bodies: astral bodies, vegetal bodies.”[2]

The relation between bodies and images is the main topic of this paper. Its metaphysical thesis is that the propositions “there is nothing but images” and “there is nothing but bodies” are ontologically similar. (This is, I think, a direct theoretical consequence of Deleuze’s books on cinema.[3]) In terms of aesthetics, the hypothesis is that the ontological link between image and body can allow us to establish a relation between the theory of sensibility developed by specific philosophers and the practice of cinema achieved by specific movie makers.

We will thus explore the relation between Plato’s definition of sensibility and Bresson’s movies, the relation between Descartes’ definition of the passion of the soul and the North American movies that have been influenced by the Actors Studio method, the relation between French phenomenology and eroticism in cinema, and the relation between Deleuze’s theory of the break-up of the sensor-motor schema and the emergence of memory as the main topic of narratives in contemporary films. I will conclude by affirming that the virtualization of corporality in recent action movies may be the ultimate testimony of the imaginal nature of aesthetic realities. But first, a brief presentation of Bergson’s concept of image will provide the metaphysical basis of this study of the representation of the body in films.

2. The metaphysic of the image and Bergson’s theory of knowledge

According to Bergson, the world is neither the sum of interacting things nor the sum of conscious representations but the totality of actual and virtual images. A world of pure objects would be a world defined by the sum of actions and reactions of particles, a world with an exact symmetry between the production and the annihilation of particles would turn it into non-existence by destroying itself each time it appears. The notion that the world could not be the pure sum of physical actions and reactions led Descartes to think that only God can sustain the stability of the world by creating it at each moment.[4] A world of pure subjects would be a world defined by the integral of individual representations. It would be a world where the peculiar world views of each subject would amount, for each subject, to the totality of the world and thus to a world where communication would be impossible. The notion that the world could not simply be the integral of individual representations led Leibniz to imagine a pre-established harmony that can relate and connect the monads insulated into their representations. I find that Bergson’s philosophy proposed the most original and convincing solution to these two distinct problems.

First, if the world is not the pure sum of actions and reactions of particles, it is because between action and reaction stands an interval of time whose concrete embodiment in the universe corresponds to the emergence of living bodies.[5] If the world cannot be reduced to the pure actuality of actions and reactions, this is because the universe does not only exist in the present but extends also into the past. There is not only matter but memory – and memory is not related simply to human beings but to life in general. It is virtually coextensive with the whole universe.[6] What we call “laws of nature” are neither an expression of the obedience of things to God’s rules nor the result of a universal construction of the human mind but the manifestation of the power of the past, of the force of universal memory by which the modalities of the connections between particles survive these particles.

Second, if there is no way to assimilate the world through the integral of all the individual representations, this is because of this dual nature, to be both actual and virtual in terms of images. This is also because among all these images  only one image is so highly specific that it makes all of the other images gravitate around it, namely the body. What is particular about the body is that it is neither a thing nor a representation. It is not a mere piece of matter because it is living; it is not a pure representation because it is acting. In this regard, the body perfectly embodies Bergson’s conception of the image, which is half actual and half virtual, half matter and half memory.

3. Categories of the cinematographic image of the body

If the body is itself an image and a central image—an image that organizes the distribution of spatial-images according to its practical needs and the stratification of time-images or memories according to its degree of attention to reality—this means that to analyze the image of the body in films is not simply dealing with aesthetics but also dealing with gnosiology. If the world is made by images, then there is no separation between phenomena and noumena. However, the fact that there is no separation between phenomena and noumena does not mean that an empirical knowledge of reality is sufficient. Empirical knowledge of reality can only grasp the actual dimension of the image and is otherwise unable to grasp its virtual dimension. If philosophy, art, and religion are still needed and not simply science, this is because their task is precisely to disclose this virtuality, that is, in general, to disclose the temporality of images and, in particular, of  body-images.

Bodies are neither objects nor ideas, and images are neither things nor representations. Bodies are spatial-temporal images produced by the cinema of the world while cinematographic images are actual-virtual bodies produced by the world of cinema.[7]

There is an ontological link between the way the body is affected in its engagement with “reality,” expressed by the different incarnations of sensibility, and the way the image of the body can be displayed in its involvement with “memory,” expressed by the different epiphanies of “imagination.” Reality and memory are nothing but the two faces, actual and virtual, of images. Moreover, it is only by convention that we name actual images “bodies” and virtual bodies “images,” since both of them have the same ontological status.

The different aspects of the representation of bodies in films can thus illustrate the different modalities of the expression of bodies in reality and also the different philosophical understandings of the notion of sensibility.[8] Interestingly, as we will see, the more we believe in the truth of aesthetic images, the more we believe in the ontological reality of the body. This ontological reality is essentially, as Henry Corbin says, “imaginal.”[9]

4. Plato and Bresson:  the refusal of sensibility and the hand of the devil

The question of the representation of the Sensible in Plato’s philosophy is a highly complicated issue because it involves two different problems at the same time, the aesthetic problem of the value of imitation and the metaphysical problem of the definition of the Sensible. Plato seems to have addressed these two problems in the same way. In Plato’s Phaedo, the body is seen as an obstacle from which the soul strives to be freed and in Gorgias, Plato defines the body as the grave in which the living soul is buried.[10],[11] In Plato’s Republic, art is banned from the city because it seems to arouse feelings that disturb public order, while in the Laws, Plato reintegrates art insofar as it contributes to the social order and provides the emotive basis of the sentiment of belonging to the City.[12]

This dual denegation of the Sensible and of art supports itself. The sensible is an imitation of reality; the artistic process of mimesis induces a deformation of what it represents. Since the Sensible is a corrupted copy of the Intelligible, the result of the aesthetic process of mimesis is the product of an artificial copy of distorted reality. Art is not only vain but also dangerous. The more perfect the imitation is, the more treacherous it becomes. By providing a beautiful representation of the external world, the artist lures us into believing that because the world outside is really attractive, it is also real.

In Plato’s philosophy, Art and Body both suffer from the denegation of sensibility. Sensibility is what chains us to reality, through bodily desires, and prevents us from escaping its illusory appearance, because of the seductions of art. Such a negative perception of sensibility comes from the fact that sensibility is associated with passivity. Pathos means both feeling and passivity. In Greek culture, as demonstrated by Foucault in his study on sexuality, passivity is associated with inferior social status while activity is valued as emblematic of masculine aristocracy.[13] Furthermore, Plato’s refusal to consider the artistic representation of the Sensible as a legitimate way to disclose truth originates from the absence of epistemic value associated with sense data.[14] The criterion for the validity of soul’s judgment is not sense data but intelligible ideas.[15]

In this Platonist perspective, the question of the mode of existence of cinematographic bodies seems paradoxical. What is a cinematographic representation of a body when it is based on the dual denegation of bodily sensibility and artistic imitation? Actually, the denouncing of world illusions and the despising of bodily sensibility can be a source of aesthetic inspiration. It can be said about Robert Bresson, for example, that he is the most Platonic of movie directors. Among his films, L’argent (1983) is the most representative of this Platonic stance.

The cinematographic expression of bodies in Bresson’s films, L’argent in particular, (see pictures 1 to 4), is clearly based on a Platonist opposition between the hand and the face. The hand is immoral, led only by greed and desire. Hands know only one thing: how to take and catch whatever they can, wherever they can, however they can, regardless of from where it comes and from how it has been picked up. In Bresson’s movie, human hands embody animal, preconscious knowledge, and are limited to two actions, grasping money or causing death. The face stands in opposition to the hand, in that the face means salvation, redemption from the immorality and sheer egoism of the hand. The hand is harmful while the face is harmless. The tactile sensibility of the hand is unable to reach a moral understanding of the world.[16] The same actions can be repeated over and over again without any conscionable awareness of what is going on.

Conversely, the visual awareness of the face restitutes a subjective control of the body’s implacable determinism. When the face arises, it sheds light on the negative spiral of deeds that trap us. It illuminates our life and changes it dramatically. The face that arises on our path is the face of another person, the face of a loved one. From the bars of the jail of the world, a face reconnects us to ourselves, to our true spiritual nature. However, such a redemptory face emerges only at the end of the film. The story of redemption is off-screen in the same way that Plato’s Ideas are beyond the sensible world.

5. Descartes and Actors-Studio movies:  functional bodies and theatrical emotions

In Descartes’ metaphysics, the body is nothing but a piece of the extensive substance, completely distinct from the thinking substance.[17] Being a part of the extensive substance, the body can be thoroughly analyzed as it relates to the scientific principles of classical mechanics, ruling the physical organization of the world. Consequently, the body is a machine.[18] The body machine remains external to the subject. It is a piece of space associated with the mind. The body machine has no clear perception of itself; therefore, perceptions and sensations are very often misleading.[19] Conversely, we have direct knowledge of our mind’s cognitive operations. The mind’s self-reflectiveness implies, not only that we think, but also that we know that we think and cannot think without knowing this.

However, if sensory perceptions induce judgmental mistakes, we cannot complain about the flawed nature of our body, since the union of our mind with our body has been established by God. The deficiency lies, rather, in our will. The body is a functional tool given to the mind to realize its will. Our moral education consists in domesticating body movements and emotional reactions to the will of our mind.[20] In this respect, Descartes’ theory of the passions of the soul should complement his theory of the body machine. Passions are the point of contact between the two substances of the thinking mind and the extensive body.[21]

Descartes’ Passions of the Soul has opened a new path for the scientific study of human characters defined by the emotive characteristics commanding bodily behaviors. In this respect, Descartes follows an old Aristotelian intuition. “It is possible,” Aristotle writes, “to infer character from features, if it is granted that the body and the soul are changed together by the natural affections: I say ‘natural,’ for though perhaps by learning music a man has made some change in his soul, this is not one of those affections which are natural to us; rather I refer to passions and desires when I speak of natural emotions.”[22] In Descartes’ time, the study of human passions through depictions of facial features was particularly endorsed by painters like Charles Le Brun (picture 5), who attempted to create a catalog of human facial expressions to realistically represent human emotions.[23] In his work, joy, hate, surprise, and fear express not only different states of being of the body but also different modes of expression of the soul. Nowadays, the scientific study of facial emotional expressions constitutes an important field of research for behavioral psychology (picture 6).[24]

Directors such as Kazan (in On the Waterfront, 1954; picture 7), Fuller (in Shock Corridor, 1963; picture 8), and Lumet have provided the cinematographic equivalent of such Cartesian behavioral representations of feelings. The cinematographic function of emotion is to stimulate empathy and induce emotional immersion. The actor’s faculty to express feelings rooted in his or her own experience is the condition for the emotional involvement of the spectator into the cinematographic narrative.

6. Phenomenology and the erotic of mysticism

Phenomenology seems to have provided the most fecund understanding of the mode of existence of bodies, overcoming its persistent denegation by classic continental philosophers, from Plato to Descartes. Because the body was viewed as the non-thinking part of a human being, there was no philosophical need to understand its inherently non-conceptual nature. The phenomenology of Husserl paved the way for a new understanding of the body as the subject of human individuation. The body (Leib) became the substance-subject (Subjekt-Leib) of the feeling faculty (empfindendes Dinge). The phenomenological experience, since it provides the capacity of feeling life itself (leiblicher Körper), hinges on the living body (Leibkörper). Phenomenological experience connects to the body mostly by an inward, internal feeling of the self.[25]

In Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, the relation of the subject to the world is mediated by the bodily connection to others through their bodies. “It is through their bodies that I perceived as a soul the soul of the other.”[26] Through his concept of chiasm, articulating the body of the spirit as the spirit of the body, Merleau-Ponty philosophically goes further than Husserl with his recognition of the body’s conceptual value.[27] Husserl emphasizes the primacy of visual perception and draws a distinction between visual and tactile sensations. Visual perception implies the possibility of seeing without being seen or, more exactly, the possibility to mediate and differ this interaction.[28] But Merleau-Ponty does not prioritize visual perception and bodily proprioception. In physical contact, the body becomes, at the same time, seeing and seen, touching and touched. Phenomenology is actually unique in giving the possibility to think the body erotically. For Merleau-Ponty, erotic feelings and sexual pleasure embody the paradigmatic understanding of the body as both source and receptacle of inner feelings where the self and the other fuse into each other:[29] “… The sexual is our way (since we are flesh, our carnal way) of living our relationship with others.”[30]

This is the difference between Michel Henry’s and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. Michel Henry’s phenomenology is derived from the medieval Christian mystical tradition (Master Eckhart); the glorification of sexuality stands in opposition to it. Michel Henry distinguishes clearly between his own concept of incarnation and sexual eroticism. Instead of being paradigmatic of an accomplished relationship, sexual intercourse reveals the limitations of empirical mundane bodies, along with their incapacity to go beyond their “objective” nature as things among things. Sexual bodies are not pure affective subjects but mere animal objects.[31] Michel Henry’s concept of incarnation denotes a body deprived of material/spatial features. Flesh means body minus extended materiality; auto-affection means proprioception minus physiology; incarnation means subjective body minus the world.[32],[33] “Not only is the body not an object amongst others, but it is not an object at all, i.e., it does not belong, in any way, to the order of exteriority.”[34]

Different again is Jean-Luc Marion’s conception of phenomenological sensibility, since it denotes a subjective form of experience that is “erotic” by definition. However, Marion’s eroticism differs from Merleau-Ponty’s account of sexual intercourse. His eroticism is the unconditioned gift of love, determining any meaningful subjective relationship to the world.[35] Marion’s eroticism differs equally from Michel Henry “mystical” auto-affection. While Michel Henry promotes an iconoclast understanding of sensibility deprived from any outward form of representation, for Jean-Luc Marion the icon or figural image mediates the passage from the visible to the invisible.[36] The icon  itself is not sacred but  points to a transcendental reality, the radical remoteness of which comes closer through its visual mediation.[37]

These two interpretations of the mystic and erotic aspects of the phenomenological body are not contradictory. Indeed, Bataille famously advocated that the difference between sexual and mystical relationships only lies in the difference of their object. They share an identical subjective mode of affection.[38] Actually, in the descriptions of the mystic-ecstatic state by Christian writers like Saint Teresa of Ávila, sexual metaphors abound.[39] Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, (1647-1652,  picture 9) is also an eloquent example of such a contamination of mysticism by sexuality in that the facial expression of orgasm provides the most adequate metaphor to convey the disruptive feeling of the manifestation of a transcendent power in the body.

A cinematographic equivalent of the mode of existence of phenomenological bodies will focus on displaying subjectively intense feelings. The event of a body confronted with a corporal affect exceeding its mundane possibility of incarnation constitutes the most important part of the visual narrative of films affected by a phenomenological understanding of sensibility.[40] Films such as The passion of Joan of Arc (1928), by Carl Theodor Dreyer (picture 10), The Silence (1963), by Ingmar Bergman (picture 11), and In the Realm of Senses (1978), by Nagisa Oshima (picture 12) all participate in a phenomenological mode of presentation of bodies. Death, transcendence, and sexuality are united through the single thread of pure affection and culminate in the “ravishment of the face.” [41]


7. Non-acting bodies and non-bodily actions:  the break of “sensory-motor links”

Deleuze built his philosophy of cinema around an historical distinction between two periods and two styles of cinema. Classic cinema explores the diverse aspects of moving images (Movement-Image). Modern cinema explores the different potentialities of memorial images (Time-Image).[42] The conceptual articulation between these two kinds of images comes from the pivotal notion of a “sensory-motor” action scheme derived from Bergson and adapted to the study of cinema. “Bergson distinguishes two kinds of ‘recognition.Automatic or habitual recognition (the cow recognizes grass, I recognize my friend Peter) works by extension …. The second mode of recognition, attentive recognition, is very different. Here, I abandon the extending of my perception, I cannot extend it ….  In the first case, we had, we perceived, a sensory-motor image from the thing. In the other case, we constitute a pure optical (and sound) image of the thing, we make a description.”[43] Cinematographic representations conducted inside the Movement-Image framework rest on the depiction of actions and the emotions they excite. Cinematographic representations conducted inside the Time-Image framework go with the elegiac or tragic contemplation of events.

The mode of presentation of the body in the Time-Image framework overcomes the dilemma between the (Cartesian) behavioral and mechanistic representation of bodies and its (phenomenological) erotic epochal sublimation. The body is neither an actual given thing defined by reflexes and habits nor a transcendent flesh. It is a surface where memories come to be reflected. In this context, from Alain Resnais’ Je t’aimeje t’aime (1968; picture 13) to Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000; picture 14), and from Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey (1968;  picture 15) to Terence Malik’s The Tree of Life (2011), the cinematographic expression of the body is devoted to the expression of the links between body and time:  memories or amnesia, elegy of time past or anticipation of coming times. Cinematographic art actualizes the potentialities of Malraux’s “virtual museum;”[44] it stands as the Noah’s Ark of sound-images where spaces and times overlap and interact in a non-chronological and non-causal way. Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma (1998) perfectly embodies this idea that history finds its home in Cinema (picture 16).

8. Conclusion: the image-action in the age of the virtual and the reality of the imaginal

According to Deleuze, because of the rupture of the sensory-motor scheme of action we have lost our faculty to react, emotionally or physically, to the external events affecting us. The only connection between us and the world is faith.[45] The body becomes the living testimony of an act of faith. Its mode of existence is less a phenomenological incarnation in the flesh than a gnostic resurrection in a figure of light. Unable to act, it contemplates events affecting the world by trying to convince itself that it is concerned directly with what is happening.

However, this destruction of the sensory-motor scheme of action does not put an end to action movies. On the contrary, it provides action movies with a new opportunity to go beyond the limits of the actual physical limits of empiric bodies. In contemporary action movies, the body seems to be less and less in touch with reality: invincible and unbreakable (Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, 2000) or totally affranchised from gravity (Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000). In The Matrix (1999), the body accomplishes the program of the Marxist digital revolution by becoming the real owner of the means of post-production. It organizes the “special effects” affecting the world for its own gain. Exemplary of this trend is Cameron’s Avatar (2009), where the “actual” human body of the main hero suffers from the inability to walk, leading him to choose to migrate into a “virtual,” superiorly apt and vigorous, non-human body.

This mode of representation of the body in contemporary actions movies provides the final clue to our understanding of the nature of the ontological relation between image and body. From a Platonist perspective, the body is a tomb or a trap we need to move beyond. From a Cartesian perspective, the body is a functional tool, a machine to which passions come from the outside to tell us what is happening in any specific situation. For Plato, the body is a symptom. For Descartes it is a sign. But, for French phenomenology, it is proof of our incarnation, our presence in this world, a presence that might exceed our capacity to express it (existential ecstasy). For Deleuze, the body is the surface onto which floats the fragments of both individual and collective memories. If the body is deprived of its faculty to act; as a purely reflective entity, it becomes the passive vector of time. These different conceptions of the body have different cinematographic expressions that are not mere illustrations of a philosophical thesis but literal translations into an imaginal reality.

Henry Corbin, a French historian of Sufism, has developed the concept of the “imaginal world,” a world that stands between the sensible world and the intelligible world.[46] The imaginal world is the place where ideas come down to be incarnated and where sensations rise up to be universalized. This median place between ideas and sensations stands at the same ontological level as does Bergson’s images that exist between things and representations. In this respect, we shall say that cinema is nothing but an exploration of this imaginal world. Moreover, if we want to give to this proposition the highest philosophical significance, it should be said that this imaginal world is actually the only true world. The empirical world that we call “real” is simply a degradation of this imaginal reality, while the intelligible world is mainly an abstraction and a schematization of this vivid and fluctuant realm of dancing images.  

Thus, one should not, perhaps, consider the introduction of virtual reality in cinematographic productions as the “death of cinema” in its Godardian sense (“the cinema is truth twenty-four times per second”). In my view, the realism of cinema does not come from what it films but from how it films it. The aesthetic experience delivered by movies depends on the credibility of the narrative and not on the reality of the object. What is real is, in the end, a matter of belief.


Jean-Yves Heurtebise

Assistant Professor, French Department, FuJen Catholic University (Taiwan). Associate Member CEPERC (UMR 7304), Philosophy Department, Aix-Marseille University (France).

Published on June 30, 2016.


[1] Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory (Matière et Mémoire), trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (London: Georges Allen & Unwin, 1929), p. vi-vii: “Matter, in our view, is an aggregate of images. And by image we mean a certain existence which is more than that which the idealist calls a representation, but less than that which the realist calls a thing, an existence placed half-way between the thing and the representation.

[2] Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs, translated by Richard Howard (Minneapolis: University à Minnesota Press, 2000), p. 92.

[3] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, tr. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam, Preface to the French edition: “Bergson was writing Matter and Memory in 1896: it was the diagnosis of a crisis in psychology. Movement, as physical reality in the external world, and the image, as psychic reality in consciousness, could no longer be opposed. The Bergsonian discovery of a movement-image, and more profoundly, of a time-image, still retains such richness today that it is not certain that all its consequences have been drawn. Despite the rather overhasty critique of the cinema that Bergson produced shortly afterwards, nothing can prevent an encounter between the movement-image, as he considers it, and the cinematographic image.”

[4] Descartes, Meditations of First Philosophy, translated by Elizabeth S. Haldane (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2003),
p. 90.

[5] Bergson, Matter and Memory (Matière et Mémoire), trans. Nancy Margaret Paul and W. Scott Palmer (London: Georges Allen & Unwin, 1929), pp. 1-2: “Here I am in the presence of images, in the vaguest sense of the word, images perceived when my senses are opened to them, unperceived when they are closed. All these images act and react upon one another in all their elementary parts according to constant laws […] Yet there is one of them which is distinct from all the others, in that I do not know it only from without by perceptions, but from within by affections: it is my body.”

[6] Bergson, pp. 183-184: “Our perceptions, in actual and virtual, extend along two lines, the one horizontal, AB, which contains all simultaneous objects in space, the other vertical, CI, on which are ranged our successive recollections set out in time.”

[7] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, tr. Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta (London: The Athlone Press, 2000), p. 196: “The body is sound as well as visible; all the components of the image come together on the body.”

[8] Ibid., p. 182: “The body is no longer the obstacle that separates thought from itself, that which it has to overcome to reach thinking. It is on the contrary that which it plunges into or must plunge into in order to reach the unthought, that is life. Not that the body thinks, but, obstinate and stubborn, it forces us to think, and forces us to think what is concealed from thought, life. Life will no longer be made to appear before the categories of thought; thought will be thrown into the categories of life. The categories of life are precisely the attitudes of the body, its postures.”

[9] Henri Corbin, L’Imagination créatrice dans le soufisme d’Ibn’ Arabî (Paris: Flammarion, 1977), p. 7: « Le mundus imaginalis de la théosophie mystique visionnaire est un monde qui n’est plus le monde empirique de la perception sensible, tout en n’étant pas encore le monde de l’intuition intellective des purs intelligibles. »

[10] Plato, Phaedo, 66e-67a, translated by Harold North Fowler (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 231.

[11] Plato, Gorgias, 493a, translated by Harold North Fowler (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967): “and we really, it may be, are dead; in fact I once heard one of our sages say that we are now dead, and the body is our tomb, and the part of the soul in which we have desires is liable to be over-persuaded and to vacillate to and fro.”

[12] Plato, Republic, 10, 605a – 605d, translated by Paul Shorey (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), p. 457.

[13] Paul Veyne, “The Final Foucault and His Ethics,” Critical Inquiry, 20:1, (Autumn, 1993),1-9.

[14] Plato, Theaetetus, 186b, translated by Harold North Fowler (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1921), p. 165: “Does it not perceive the hardness of the hard through touch, and likewise the softness of the soft? But their essential nature and the fact that they exist, and their opposition to one another, and, in turn, the essential nature of this opposition, the soul itself tries to determine for us by reverting to them and comparing them with one another.”

[15] Plato, Phaedo, 74b-75b, translated by Harold North Fowler (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 261: “Then before we began to see or hear or use the other senses we must somewhere have gained a knowledge of abstract or absolute equality, if we were to compare with it the equals which we perceive by the senses, and see that all such things yearn to be like abstract equality but fall short of it.”

[16] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1 The Movement-Image, tr. Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta (London: The Athlone Press, 1986), p. 109: “Space itself has left behind its own co-ordinates and its metric relations. It is a tactile space.”

[17] Descartes, Meditations of First Philosophy, translated by Elizabeth S. Haldane (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2003),
p. 87.

[18] Descartes, Passions of the Soul, § 6, in Philosophical Essays and Correspondence, edited by Roger Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing), p. 299: “In order, then, to avoid this error, let us consider that death never comes to pass through the fault of the soul, but only because one of the principal parts of the body decays; and let us judge that the body of a living man differs from that of a dead man just as does a watch or other automaton  (that is, a machine which moves of itself), when it is wound up and contains in itself the corporeal principle for which it is designed along with all that is requisite for its action, from the same watch or other machine when it is broken and when the principle of its movement ceases to act.”

[19] Descartes, Meditations of First Philosophy, translated by Elizabeth S. Haldane (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2003),
p. 110.

[20] Descartes, Passions of the Soul, § 46, in Philosophical Essays and Correspondence, edited by Roger Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing), p. 312: “For example, if anger causes us to lift our hand to strike, the will can usually hold it back; if fear incites our legs to flee, the will can arrest them, and so on in other cases.”

[21] Descartes, Passions of the Soul, § 2, in Philosophical Essays and Correspondence, edited by Roger Ariew (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing), p. 298: “I consider that we do not observe the existence of any subject that acts more immediately upon our soul than the body to which it is attached, and that we must consequently believe that what is a passion in the soul is usually an action in the body.

[22] Aristotle, Prior Analytics, 70b, in Works translated into English under the editorship of W. D. Ross vol. 1, (London: Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 205.

[23] B. R. Tilghman, “Charles Le Brun: Theory, Philosophy and Irony,” British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 32, No. 2 (April 1992).

[24] E.M. Seidel, U. Habel, M. Kirschner, R. C. Gur, & B. Derntl, “The Impact of Facial Emotional Expressions on Behavioral Tendencies in Women and Men,” Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Human Perception and Performance, 36(2), (2010), 500-7.

[25] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, In Praise of Philosophy and Other Essays, translated by John O’Neill (Evanston: Northwestern Illinois Press, 1963), p. 7: “There is thus no transitive relation between me and my body, me and the world, and it is ‘towards the within’ that the self can overflow.”

[26] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Signs, translated by Richard C. McCleary (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 172: “it is through his body that the other person’s soul is soul in my eyes.”

[27] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible, trans. by Alphonso Lingis (Evanston: Northwestern Illinois Press, 1968), p. 259: “There is a body of the mind and a mind of the body and a chiasm between them.”

[28] Edmund Husserl, Idées directrices pour une phénoménologie et une philosophie phénoménologique pures, traduction Eliane Escoubas (Paris: puf, 1982), p. 211: «  ce que je nomme chair vue n’est pas un voyant-vu, comme ma chair en tant que touchée est un touchant-touché ». 

[29] Patrick Leconte, « L’entrexpression charnelle: Pour une lecture du Visible et l’invisible », Bulletin d’analyse phénoménologique, 5 (4), 2009.

[30] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Signs, translated by Richard C. McCleary (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1964), p. 230.

[31] Michel Henry, L’Incarnation (Paris, Seuil, 2000), p. 301: « dans la nuit des amants, l’acte sexuel accouple deux mouvements pulsionnels venant buter chacun sur le continu résistant de son propre corps chosique invisible. »

[32] Ibid., p. 9: « L’incarnation ne consiste pas à avoir un corps, à se proposer de la sorte comme un ‘être corporel’ et à ce titre matériel, partie intégrante de l’univers auquel on décerne le même qualificatif. L’incarnation consiste dans le fait d’avoir une chair – davantage peut-être: d’être chair. »

[33] Ibid., p. 29.

[34] Stella Zita de Azevedo, “Passivity and Fundamental Life’s Experience in Michel Henry’s Thought,” Phenomenology of Life from the Animal Soul to the Human Mind Book II The Human Soul in the Creative Transformation of the Mind, ed. Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka (Springer, 2007).

[35] Jean-Luc Marion, Le phénomène érotique (Paris: Grasset, 2003).

[36] Robyn Horner, Jean-Luc Marion: a Theo-logical Introduction (London: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2005).

[37] Jean-Luc Marion, L’idole et la distance. Cinq études (Paris: Grasset, 1977).

[38] Jacques Lacan, The Seminar Book XX: Encore: On Feminine Sexuality, the Limits of Love and Knowledge (London: Norton, 1999), p. 76: “It is like for Saint Teresa – you need but go to Rome and see the statue by Bernini to immediately understand that she’s coming. There’s no doubt about it. What is she getting off on? It is clear that the essential testimony of the mystics consists in saying that they experience it, but know nothing of it.”

[39] Saint Teresa of Ávila, The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila, translated by David Lewis (New York: Cosimo Classics, 2008), p. 226: “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.”

[40] Georges Bataille, Erotism, Death and Sexuality (New York: Walker, 1962), p. 17: “The whole business of eroticism is to strike to the inmost core of the living being, so that the heart stands still […] The whole business of eroticism is to destroy the self-contained character of the participators as they are in their normal lives.”

[41] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, tr. Hugh Tomlinson & Barbara Habberjam, Chapter 6, p. 87: “The affection-image is the close-up and the close-up is the face,” p. 100: “Bergman has pushed the nihilism of the face the furthest, that is its relationship in fear to the void or the absence, the fear of the face confronted with its nothingness.”

[42] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, tr. Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta, “Preface to the English Edition” (London: The Athlone Press, 2000), p. xi: “The movement-image of the so-called classical cinema gave way, in the post-war period, to a direct time-image. Such a general idea must of course be qualified, corrected, adapted to concrete examples. Why is the Second World War taken as a break? The fact is that, in Europe, the post-war period has greatly increased the situations which we no longer know how to react to, in spaces which we no longer know how to describe.”

[43] Ibid., p. 44-45.

[44] André Malraux, The Voices of Silencei, trans. Stuart Gilbert (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 112. Derek Allan, “André Malraux and the Challenge to Aesthetics,” Journal of European Studies, 33 (1), (2003), 23-40: “‘Art’ now is as much the frescos at Nara and Ajanta, or the mosaics at Ravenna, as it is Botticelli, Titian or Chagall. It is a New Guinean mask, the head of a Khmer Buddha, or the tympanum at Moissac, as much as it is Michelangelo's Night or Rodin’s Balzac. Here is the first challenge implicit in Malraux’s account.”

[45] Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2:The Time-Image, tr. Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta (London: The Athlone Press, 2000), p. 171-2: “The link between Man and the world is broken. Henceforth, this link must become an object of belief: it is the impossible which can only be restored within a faith. […] Restoring our belief in the world – this is the power of modern cinema (when it stops being bad).”

[46] Henri Corbin, Corps spirituel et Terre céleste, de l’Iran mazdéen à l'Iran shî’ite (Paris: Buchet-Castel, 1979), p. 10: « La fonction du mundus imaginalis et des Formes imaginales se définit par leur situation médiane et médiatrice entre le monde intelligible et le monde sensible. D’une part, elle immatérialise les Formes sensibles, d’autre part, elle ‘imaginalise’ les formes intelligibles auxquelles elle donne figure et dimension. »