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Democratic corporealities of love : the architectural cinema and eroticized publics of Pauline Kael

journal contribution
posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Patrick WestPatrick West
The American film critic Pauline Kael’s career interestingly parallels the Cold War period but nobody has explored this yet. Filling that gap, this essay constructs Kael’s writings and critic’s persona as a contribution to a discourse of international democracy. Kael was part of a generation of American critics who took seriously the importance of art to politics. However, she goes further than her contemporaries by energizing this relationship through her emphasis on corporeality—both on screen and off screen—and on the eroticized body. A discernible philosophical lineage runs from Plato’s version of love as described by Socrates in The Symposium to Kael’s writings and bodily habits. In this lineage, love is figured as relational and desiring. A second line of relationship between Plato and Kael is in the way they each connected erotic discourses to the very similar architectures of the andrôn (men’s quarters), for Plato, and the modern American cinema or screening room, for Kael. Plato and Kael draw out the inherent spatial energy of these places (which is most evident at the borders of andrôn and cinema) through the interactions they construct of images and talk with the erotic, love-based relationality of bodies. They thereby maximize the bodily powers of these architectures as places where a public of differences and (inevitably) “loose” democracy might form. Kael’s advocacy doesn’t suggest a formal political program so much as a more feminine democracy of erotic discourses allied to an energizing architecture suitable to the accumulation of plural, participatory corporealities.

History

Journal

Post Script

Volume

35

Season

Fall

Article number

4

Pagination

47-55

Location

Jacksonville, Fla.

ISSN

0277-9897

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article, C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Post Script

Issue

1

Publisher

Post Script, Inc.