Volume 16, 2016
Film and Phenomenology
Jennifer M. Barker
Haunted Phenomenology and Synesthetic Cinema
By now it goes without saying that cinema is and has always been a synesthetic experience. But what exactly do we mean when we say that? The paper develops a phenomenology of “cinematic synesthesia” that draws upon three recent developments: first, the neuroscientific “neonatal synesthesia hypothesis”; second, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s lectures on child psychology and translator Talia Welsh’s contextualization of that work within recent developmental psychology; and third, Dylan Trigg’s concept of a “darkened phenomenology” that accounts for the radically “unhuman.” These conceptual lenses are trained on Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), whose legendary impact stems from its perplexing tangle of the sensory with the cognitive, the unconscious with the conscious, the individual with the collective, and the past with the present.