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Chiasmi International

Volume 21, 2019

Merleau-Ponty, Literature, and Literary Language

Mauro Carbone
Pages 103-115

La surface obscure
La littérature et la philosophie en tant que dispositifs de vision selon Merleau-Ponty

The whole path of Merleau-Ponty’s thought is crossed – some times more evidently than others – by what I propose to qualify as the idea of literature and philosophy as visual apparatuses (dispositifs), to use an expression that was born – and not by chance – in the field of Film Studies. More precisely, I aim at asserting that Merleau-Ponty sees literature and philosophy working in his epoch as convergent apparatuses of vision, in turn understood as a bodily and not merely ocular practice. Immediately after that, I should specify that such convergent visual apparatuses peculiarly function by words, and that Merleau-Ponty stresses their different efficiency in expressing his epoch. Moreover, I think that the implicit idea of philosophy as a visual apparatus working by words “like all literature” has a particularly relevant but so far not consequently developed place in in the last period of Merleau-Ponty’s thought. Also, I would like to stress that such a perspective is crucial in our own time too, even though I consider it to be different from Merleau-Ponty’s. Indeed, I think that both our time and Merleau-Ponty’s are characterized by a tension between the increasing importance of images and the traditional centrality of the concept in our culture.

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