Nouvelle Vague (dir.

Jean-Luc Godard, Switzerland and France, 1990)

The Dream of the Nineteenth Century
Kaja Silverman

What is cinema? Nothing. What does cinema want? Everything. What can cinema do? Something. — Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinéma

In Histoire(s) du cinéma (France, 1988 – 98), Godard explores the “nothing” that cinema now is, and the “something” that it could do.1 Cinema is nothing in its present form because in the early years of the 1940s the “great directors of fiction” turned their cameras away from Auschwitz. Although some narrative filmmakers, like Steven Spielberg, later made films dramatizing life and death in the camps, these dramatizations only magnified the original betrayal, since they took place within the parameters of the Hollywood star system. “Suffering is not a star,” Godard says in part 1A of Histoire(s) du cinéma, “nor is it a burned church, nor a devastated landscape.” Only the documentary camera worked to “save the honor of reality.”2 The notion that cinema might be capable of saving the honor of reality contravenes one of the founding assumptions of
Copyright © 2002 by Kaja Silverman Camera Obscura 51, Volume 17, Number 3 Published by Duke University Press 1


Camera Obscura

poststructuralist thought — the assumption that representation alienates us from the phenomenal world. It is also at odds with many accounts of the Holocaust. For a number of historians and theorists of World War II, what happened in the camps was so traumatic and extended so far beyond the cultural pale as to be utterly unrepresentable.3 But from the very beginning of his filmmaking career, Godard has stubbornly gone his own way on this issue — as on every other. In early interviews, he speaks both of the constant “coming” and “going” between representation and reality and of the support that his fictions find in the actuality of those who enact them.4 In Histoire(s) du cinéma, Godard changes the metaphor, but not his theoretical position. The relation between a film and what it depicts should be fraternal — a kind of brotherly “give” and “take.”5 The filmmaker makes this relation possible when he puts reality into his work and then uses the work itself to realize the real (4B). This last formulation has radical implications for our understanding of art, since it implies that actuality can only become “itself” by means of a representational intervention. Godard’s clarification of the “something” that cinema can do is a considerably more protracted affair. It requires the full length of Histoire(s) du cinéma and an exploration of the nature of history itself — not just the history of cinema, but also of what Godard at one point calls “the big history.” The French word histoire(s) conventionally signifies two different things: “story” and “history”— or, in the plural form in which Godard uses it, “stories” and “histories.” The title Histoire(s) du cinéma thus seems to promise to the uninitiated viewer either stories about or histories of cinema. But when Serge Daney, with whom Godard conducts a lengthy conversation at the beginning of part 2A, voices this view by distinguishing between the histories of cinema and the big history, Godard immediately takes exception. The big history, he maintains, does not remain external to cinema; it is, rather, cinema itself, or at least what cinema could be if it were to confront the “nothing” that it now is. “To me,” he says, “big history is the history of cinema.” The rest of Histoire(s) du cinéma comes as a clarification of this astonishing claim. From it we learn that cinema is not just the primary place of historical representation, but also the primary place where history happens.6

The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 3 On three different occasions in Histoire(s) du cinéma. Their “reflections. “Every epoch dreams the one to follow. all the histories that might have been. Morisot.” Therefore. and the Lumière brothers (1B).” Benjamin writes in the first of these works. “The past is never dead — it hasn’t even passed.” he tells us through a female voice-over.”8 But although cinema has the capacity to actualize the nineteenth century. that there have been” (1A). and — in so doing — to confer on the past a “higher degree of actuality than it had in the moment of . it has not yet done so.7 The second time.” Benjamin develops the theoretical model of history on which Godard implicitly (and probably unconsciously) draws. he seems merely to be invoking cinema’s capacity to provide “a delayed reflection” of the past. although he is never acknowledged as such. “There’s always a time lapse. he again links cinema to the nineteenth century. their sensations.” Godard tells Serge Daney. he equates the “before” about which he is speaking with the nineteenth century by invoking a number of its talismanic names: Zola. with an s. This complication of our usual understanding of cinema’s temporality helps to explain Godard’s odd hesitation in assigning a tense to it at the beginning of Histoire(s) du cinéma: “Histories of the cinema. are from before. Godard suggests that those who inhabit the domain of cinema derive from an anterior world. Walter Benjamin is clearly the resident spirit of Histoire(s) du cinéma. the nineteenth century has still not taken place. but rather the nineteenth century that derives from cinema. It will “occur” only when film does what it is capable of doing. though. where Godard advances the same argument in different terms. Manet. that were or might have been.9 In The Arcades Project and “Theses on the Philosophy of History. “The cinema is a nineteenth-century matter that was resolved in the twentieth century. The first time he makes this claim (1A). It is no longer cinema that derives from the nineteenth century. In part 2A of Histoire(s) du cinéma. Now he also inverts the relation between these two terms.10 It is the political responsibility of the subsequent century to awaken from this dream. As Godard says in part 3A.

but also to “redeem” it (254). dioramas. Like every generation that preceded us.” “The past carries with it a temporal index by which it is referred to redemption.4 • Camera Obscura existing” (392). a power to which the past has a claim” (254. The remnants of the nineteenth century within which he discovers the present are almost all the stuff of which flânerie is made: department stores.11 Such figurations permit us to see that we are on the verge of repeating the mistakes of the past. We experience a moment of the past in the guise of the “now” through what Benjamin calls the “dialectical image. As he puts it in “Theses on the Philosophy of History. and resolution. they therefore bring “dialectics” to a “standstill” (462).” This process is synchronic rather than diachronic. Benjamin does not hesitate to give the metaphor of redemption a distinctly theological inflection. development. Finally. Benjamin underscores the dialectical image’s appeal to the look both by consistently linking it to light12 and by filling The Arcades Project with visual examples of it. antithesis. but rather by “blast[ing]” those moments of the past that metaphorically anticipate the present out of the “continuum” of history. It consists not of a thesis. As Benjamin himself acknowledges in an important passage from The Arcades Project. They consequently put us in a position not only to actualize what came before.” These similarities render null and void concepts like progress. emphasis in original).” The dialectical image is not well served by the name Benjamin gives it. world exhibitions. the Paris arcades. We awaken from the dream of the century that preceded our own by relating our “now” to its “then. and cause and effect. permitting them to “communicate. but rather of something more closely approximating a Baudelairean “correspondence. we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power. the dialectical image blurs the distinction between word and image. Our coming was expected on earth. and photography. . There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one.” It makes manifest the resemblances linking temporally divergent moments to each other. we set it in motion not by creating a continuous narrative leading from the previous century to our own.

”13 At the same time. and the place where one encounters them is language” (462). “what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a [signifying] constellation. . the dialectical image undoes the opposition separating representation from the real. It consequently exists only retroactively: “No matter how artful the photographer. to find the inconspicuous spot where in the immediacy of that long-forgotten moment the future nests so eloquently that we. Benjamin even goes so far at one point in The Arcades Project as to suggest that it always does: “Only dialectical images are genuine images . We are able to “open the book of what happened” (464). It is also riven through and through by language and can even take a linguistic form.”14 In it. .The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 5 In “A Short History of Photography. Finally. the redemptive image represents a constellation of images. But it is also because this kind of image can assume a verbal form. to place still photographs side by side with moving images. looking back. Histoire(s) du cinéma constitutes a compendium of dialectical images. Godard creates them by using the technology of video to combine footage drawn from newsreels or documentary films with footage taken from fiction films. seared the subject. may rediscover it. . Godard shares not only Benjamin’s view of history.” and the real becomes “read[able]” (463). with which reality has . however. Benjamin insists on the dialectical image’s “legibility. The past embeds itself in a photograph in a way that can be recognized only by those who come later. Finally. rather than a single one. but also his belief in the capacity of the image to awaken us from the dream of the nineteenth century. Once again. as is clearly indicated by the passages I have just quoted. This is in part because the relationship that a dialectical image establishes between our moment and an earlier one is figural in nature. the beholder feels an irresistible urge to search such a picture for the tiny spark of contingency. like The Arcades Project. he writes. and to juxtapose material drawn from one historical . .” Benjamin also locates the temporal logic of the dialectical image at the heart of the last of these representational forms. of the here and now. no matter how carefully posed his subject.

They also point outward toward a range of other texts.” he shows the latter saying. This sequence begins with a montage of train images.6 • Camera Obscura period or geographical region with material drawn from another. he puts what this speaker says in dialogue with what comes earlier or later. He often half drowns out a piece of music or a speaking voice with another piece of music or another speaking voice. That’s where the ideas come from — one picture comes . A sequence from part 1B of Histoire(s) du cinéma renders unusually explicit the Benjaminian imperative driving such formal experimentation. And even when he allows someone to speak without such interference. and the nineteenth century. The same holds true for this work’s musical score. they generally add yet another layer of textuality to what we see. in addition to deriving from another time and space. Whereas the former seeks to bring “dialectics” to a “standstill. Godard mixes up different kinds of sounds in a similar way. He also frequently places one video image on top of another. He then relates the nineteenth century and the whole of cinematic history to Auschwitz through a chilling shot of a deportee looking out of a partially open door in a German train en route to one of the camps. it is stitched together out of elements drawn from a multitude of sources. and he uses Hitchcock to underscore the temporal nature of this technique: “We have a rectangular screen in a movie house. which created public transportation. by many accounts. in every sense of the word. Virtually every word spoken in Histoire(s) du cinéma is a quotation. Godard frequently inscribes the words “montage. drawn from a range of films. or superimposes a word on an image or a palimpsest of images. “and this rectangular screen has got to be filled with a succession of images. begun.” the latter is clearly committed to movement. and often a quotation of a quotation. We might seem to have reached the limit of the possible parallels between Benjamin and Godard.15 Almost all of the voices in this work also speak “over” the images. my beautiful worry] over the images of Histoire(s) du cinéma. Godard invokes both the birth of cinema. with the Lumière Brothers’ The Train Leaving the Station. mon beau souci” [montage. With it.

Godard is far from establishing a one-to-one relation between montage and movement.” However. The subject exists. and subsequently as an embodiment of the state.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 7 after another. Godard sketches the portraits of Thalberg and Hughes in part 1A. It might seem odd that Godard would associate the will to power with the nineteenth century.” Later it was instantiated by the monarch. and that is still very much with us. Hegel tells us. however. The Arcades Project also constitutes a montage of quotations. initially as a representative of God. on the other hand. founding. Hitler stands as its most egregious manifestation in parts 1.16 We require as much time to read it as to view Histoire(s) du cinéma. since it is as old as humanity itself. but also as one who is independent and self-made. The most important of all of the elements that he conjoins — the I and the you — arrest rather than dynamize. But what is the dream of the nineteenth century? Benjamin and Godard offer different answers to this question. it is clearly commodification in all its phantasmogorical forms.” and Howard Hughes. however. 2. and only son. and 3. is that elaborated by Hegel in Phenomenology of Spirit: the autonomous and self-constituting subject. who simultaneously built a filmic and an aviational empire. prior to his meditation on Hitler.17 He finds this dependency intolerable. define sovereignty in varying ways. and Hitler and Stalin are jointly manifest in part 4. who disposed of fifty-five films a day and who represented himself as cinema’s “foundation. Finally. Different periods and cultures. For an extended period of Western history. making evident the connection that he sees between Hollywood and National Socialism. And what they arrest is the dialectic itself. only by being recognized by another subject. The notion of sovereignty that emerged in the nineteenth century. the dream that extends uninterruptedly from the nineteenth to the twentieth century is sovereignty. as Youssef Isaghpour has noted. For the author of The Arcades Project. since he seeks to be acknowledged not merely as a subject. He attempts to . But sovereignty assumes the more quotidian form of the movie moguls Irving Thalberg. sovereignty meant “God. For the author of Histoire(s) du cinéma.

thereby resolving it. He goes on to argue that the slave’s defeat provides the condition for his ultimate victory. he has rendered null and void the homage that the latter has conferred on him. since the work that he performs at the behest of the master permits him to negate and reshape the exterior world in such a way that what is external to him ceases to be other (118). thereby achieving the sovereignty denied to the master. he therefore rules over “nothing. this figure is someone who not only set out to conquer the world. he provides a kind of Guide Bleu to history as it is represented within Phenomenology of Spirit. The latter then acknowledges the other as “master” and steps into the position of “slave. given the rest of the narrative recounted by Hegel. But history does not come to a complete end until a subject emerges who is able to stand outside it and view it in its totality. The slave only achieves the mastery that eludes his oppo- . Far from laying the concept of mastery to rest. In the second chapter of Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Ultimately a figure emerges who is capable of straddling both sides of the dialectic. In so doing. a murderous struggle ensues. Since this other subject is driven by the same desire. then. which ends only when one of the two decides that life is more important than recognition. Phenomenology of Spirit reconceives it on a grander scale. the driving force behind it.8 • Camera Obscura rid himself of his “self-externality” (114) by refusing to recognize the subject whose recognition he demands. By refusing to acknowledge his opponent as a subject. the slave’s apparent defeat keeps turning into an actual victory. Alexandre Kojève is prepared to shine a flashlight into some of its darkest corners.”18 But this does not invalidate the notion of mastery for Hegel. And although the master/slave dialectic keeps reasserting itself through history and is.” Hegel is quick to point out the impossibility of the position in which the master now finds himself. he remakes himself. Not surprisingly. This subject is Hegel himself. Although even more deeply inside the dream of the nineteenth century than Hegel. indeed. but also succeeded to a significant degree in doing so: Napoleon. bringing into sharp relief the violence through which it unfolds.

which places at its center the colonized subject. he forces the Slave to work. but rather on the first-person pronoun. and becomes a human being. We are also at a loss to understand what it would mean to bring the dialectic to a halt. even history itself. . . Godard suggests. . Then. he can become other. finally. as universal history and. Kojève writes.” and “Rwanda. but without it we cannot account for the capacity of an oppressed subject to resist her oppression. and this pronoun is available to all comers. But what is always ultimately denied is the slave’s own “given”: interrelationality. Hence he too raises himself above Nature. hence they are not yet truly human. One can depersonalize another subject either by assimilating her. however. . I may seem to be splitting linguistic hairs by insisting on this distinction.” As Frantz Fanon helps us to see through his revisionary account of the master/slave dialectic.” “Stalin. a being that creates itself in and by its conscious negating Action. the Master raises himself above given Nature . And this is what actually took place. the French Revolution and Napoleon show. the material world. natural World independent of them. the future Master and the future Slave are both determined by a given. . to deny another’s subjectivity. The latter changes the real given World. or by relegating her to the category of the third person.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 9 nent by negating the “given. the psychic damage that we inflict on another when we refuse to recognize her is devastating. It was Fanon’s misfortune to fall victim to both kinds of deperson- .20 It is not in our power. . above his (animal) “nature. At the start. .” This “given” can assume an infinity of forms — biology.19 And if Hegel’s claim that Napoleon resolved the master/ slave dialectic is not sufficient in and of itself to dispel the illusion that we are now outside the dialectic. What we do when we fail to acknowledge another is to depersonalize her. historical beings. . Thanks to his work.” since he succeeds in making it other than it was. Then. by risking his life. The latter depends not on us.” “Bosnia. we need only consider the abominations of the twentieth century: those represented by the names “Hitler.

Although shamelessly promoting the cult of his own personality. a Negro!” spoken about him by one passerby to another (111).and second-person pronouns are interdependent and reversible. The violence enacted by Thalberg and Hughes might seem to pale by comparison with that exercised by Hitler and Stalin. the Führer assimilated vast numbers of people to himself. Stalin was ultimately less gifted at assimilation than his German counterpart. over and against which the speaker constitutes himself. depersonalization took both of these forms. in his mind.” but also because they induced in him what he calls a “third-person consciousness” (110 –11).22 Whereas the first. those who initially appeared as faithful followers kept turning.”23 It designates someone or something external to the discursive situation. the mentally ill. They exiled actors and directors from work — not the nation or the human species. He consequently established his sovereignty more through the second than the first kind of depersonalization. Growing up in Martinique when it was still a colony. homosexuals. the third is the “word of separation. Through mass rallies and rituals.21 This belief was shattered when he moved to Paris. Depersonalization can also take the seemingly benign form of the third-person pronoun. into enemies of the state.10 • Camera Obscura alization. And many of those to whom they denied personhood enjoyed luxuries unimaginable for those in confined in the German or Soviet camps. This is because he and she differ radically from you and I. Fanon cites as one of the sources of his depersonalization the words “Look. and so a kind of “Stalinification” of those over whom he presided. not only because most of its inhabitants refused to recognize him as “French. he was fed such a steady diet of French values that he came to see himself as French. communists. and the whole of European Jewry. But he also relegated millions of other people to the category of the nonperson: gypsies. But we do not need to resort to a substantializing and potentially abusive term like Negro in order to induce a thirdperson consciousness in another subject. But Godard looks at the . In the case of Hitler. as well as the larger promulgation of a German essence or Volk.

and imprisoning vast numbers of other men. not “merely” the members of another nation or race. maiming. However. Ort was able to calculate the mass of our galaxy. Pointing to the regularity with which male characters suffer injury and impairment in Soviet literature and cinema. and Hitler all imposed an emphatically masculine identity on their versions of the autonomous and selfconstituting subject. This newly articulated account of sovereignty depended on depersonalization every bit as much as National Socialism or the Soviet Union did. one scholar has recently suggested that Stalin’s triumph must also have been psychically damaging for millions of men. moreover. both through an important monologue and the montage of female faces that accompanies it: In 1932. For him. gravity pulls them back. Soon. It assumed the more modest guise of the “self-made man”26 and became an automatic effect of certain filmic conventions. inducing in them the third-person consciousness described by Fanon. Godard makes this point indirectly in part 4. the Dutchman Jan Ort was studying the stars moving away from the milky way. Thalberg and Hughes represent a cinema that is as negatory of other cinemas as Hitler and Stalin were of other subjects. But this popularization necessitated an equally all-encompassing depersonalization of the female viewer. By measuring the positions and speeds of these repatriated stars.25 Within Hollywood. Imagine his surprise on discovering that visible matter represented fifty percent of the mass needed to exert the . One of his primary projects in Histoire(s) du cinéma is to critique the world domination that the United States has effected through film and television — its extinction of one form of alternative cinema after another. each of these figures laid claim to sovereignty by killing. as predicted. the dream of the nineteenth century underwent a democratization. Thalberg and Hughes also presided over one of the primary “factories”24 within which the dream of the nineteenth century was reminted for the twentieth. Those to whom it denied personhood were.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 11 matter differently. Napoleon. at least within the darkened hall of the movie theater. Stalin. but half of humanity: the feminine half. It was thereby placed within the reach of every male viewer.

“Albertine gone. some are drawn from the lexicon of modernism. Proust’s narrator attempts to deny his dependence upon her by possessing her in an ever more absolute sense. However. dies. Godard dedicates the “Fatal Beauty” section of part 2B to the “other sex. These include not only montage itself. whether vocally or in the form of graphic inscription.27 lives his life in the mode of a dream — the dream. speaking for Marcel. that’s what I’m saying. Many others work to interrupt our sleep and summon us to consciousness. of the nineteenth century. “In Search of Lost Time”). (4B) Godard does not specify the agency whereby half of the human race becomes invisible at this point in Histoire(s) du cinéma.28 He also intimates that it is because Marcel is more asleep than awake that Albertine. Histoire(s) du cinéma contains a much more extended meditation on pronominal depersonalization.12 • Camera Obscura necessary gravitational force. and that’s the time that is found again. not all of Histoire(s) du cinéma’s words and images emerge from the dream factory. And all of a sudden. So where has the other half of the universe gone? Phantom matter was born. He flashes the words Temps Perdu [time lost] and Temps Retrouvé [time found] on the screen. many of these representations of women are indicative of the nothing that cinema now is. Taken in isolation from each other. Although this quest fails. A few minutes later. but also the jarring staccato .” Godard says in voice-over. in part 2B he draws attention to a striking example of depersonalization-through-assimilation. which constitutes such a vital component of Godard’s magnum opus.” along with large sections of every other part. and one that again bears primarily on the female subject. it is nevertheless fatal to her.” As we will see. it’s Albertine who dies. in an obvious reference to Proust. the narrator of A la recherche du temps perdu (literally. his mistress. Godard’s strategies of disruption are numerous and varied. “For a long time. precisely. he suggests that Marcel. However. The same is true of much of the text. Histoire(s) du cinéma is full to bursting with images of women. and it takes an emphatically gendered form. I used to go to bed early. omnipresent but invisible.

these voices are disembodied. often entrusting them with important monologues. he reverses the depersonalization effected by a formulation like “a film is a girl and a gun” by enumerating a series of female names. He also sug- . Jane. Ginger. again in synchronized sound.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 13 sound of his computer printing out the text he has just written into it and the whirring noise of celluloid moving through the bobbins of his editing table. he adds the words in our relation to each other we are both [cinema’s] subjects. a grown woman (Sabine Azéma) delivers a crucial monologue on the topic of beauty. as well as its embodiment. A few minutes later.” Godard also includes many female voices in Histoire(s) du cinéma. Virginia. Faith. Godard uses a related device in part 1A of Histoire(s) du cinéma. Adele. The first of these lists occurs in part 1A of Histoire(s) du cinéma. In part 2A. Twice. Jane. for instance. Here a woman constitutes beauty’s epicure. he confronts the issue of gender more frontally. It reads. These two sounds challenge sleep at the conceptual as well as the auditory level since they expose the machinery behind the cinematic dream. since beauty is an attribute traditionally incarnated by the female subject but “addressed” to the male. Joan. Godard raises this project to a metacritical level. Rita. a girl ( Julie Delpy) reads a lengthy text about the intoxication of travel. but on two occasions a woman presents herself as a speaking subject at the level of the image as well as the sound. he writes the words dream and one must dream over a montage of film clips in which women are traditionally displayed. each one of which evokes a particular human being. On other occasions. Terry. “Billie. over a montage that ends with another close-up of the same face. thereby laying a more emphatic claim to the first-person pronoun. Godard once again makes the firstperson pronoun available to the women in his film. He then cuts to a radiant close-up of a woman’s face. And in part 2B. Ann. With this little montage. In part 1A of Histoire(s) du cinéma. immediately after the story about Howard Hughes and his RKO starlets. For the most part. The second of these speeches is especially remarkable. in part from a position in front of the camera. He inscribes the words to the object of cinema in white titles against a black backdrop.

according to my idea or my desire. I shut off the television. .14 • Camera Obscura gests that we are all subordinate to and dependent on cinema. first of all. solitude of history. “is that it was the only way to go. that I have a history in myself. to take account myself. “The thing about cinema. mine. Is it the wind. but the whispering goes on. he clearly distinguishes his story from that of the French New Wave. However. all that clarity. . “But for me. as Godard reminds us here.” With the word solitude Godard situates himself fully within the dialectic. .” he adds. He asks. and my unconscious. “sometimes in the evening someone whispers in my bedroom. which now can be consciously expressed. just as the inhabitants of a monarchy are on the monarch. He thereby divests the word subject of values like mastery and autonomy. Finally. and Hughes on himself. 1967) and Le mépris [Contempt] (France and Italy. providing an unpalatable dramatization of the will to power and linking it once to the author of Histoire(s) du cinéma. If there were no cinema. Thalberg. dedicated to the topic of the Nouvelle Vague. In part 1B of Histoire(s) du cinéma. He also suggests that his story cannot be separated from the dream he is critiquing. in his conversation with Daney at the beginning of part 2A. but rather with a series of references to himself. In response to the suggestion that his generation was ideally positioned to take account of the history of cinema. Godard turns the magnifying glass that he earlier focused on Hitler. all that obscurity?” Part 3B. might seem to provide the answer to this question. he was one of the chief innovators of postwar French cinema. Godard responds not with a discussion of the Nouvelle Vague. or my ancestors? History of solitude. A series of excerpts from Godard’s Le weekend (France and Italy. I wouldn’t know that I had a history. he brings into sharp focus what will increasingly emerge as the primary concern of this work: his own subjectivity. to recount. After asking what he has to do with “all that obscurity. and what have I got to do with all of that — all that clarity.” he tells Daney. . 1963) follows. my story.” Godard forges an even closer link between his subjectivity and the dream of the nineteenth century at the beginning of part 1B.

He boasts that he could create a film out of something as humble as a piece of string. 1985). and Soft and Hard (A Soft Conversation between two Friends on a Hard Subject) (United Kingdom.29 That gender constitutes a central concern in Soft and Hard is already evident from its title. Godard steals the show. but the primary referent for soft is clearly femininity in general. 1986). it is Miéville who has the last word in this exchange. He does so through another series of references to his own work — this time Nouvelle Vague (Switzerland and France.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 15 But Godard does even more in this work than implicate himself in the dream of the nineteenth century. in a vivid display both of his overweening self-confidence and his belief in his power to create ex nihilo. The conversation in which they engage in the second half of Soft and Hard provides a striking instantiation of this binary. Significantly. however. He then holds forth at length on the topic of projection and the role that it plays in cinematic spectatorship. his account of heterosexuality at the end of the twentieth century. She tells him that he lacks courage when it comes to depicting the relations between men and women. Although the references to Nouvelle Vague and JLG/JLG are much more explicit and numerous in Histoire(s) du cinéma than those to Soft and Hard. 1990). Prior to being silenced. It is equally clear that hard designates masculinity in general. he also tells the story of his awakening. his autumnal self-portrait. The visual game with which Soft and Hard concludes works to dramatize Godard’s thesis about projection and to force Miéville into the role of the lowly assistant. After listening for a while with apparent patience and sympathy to Miéville’s anguished account of the doubts that assail her whenever she tries to produce art. Godard and Miéville ring many changes on the words soft and hard in this text. she makes a trenchant critique of Godard’s filmmaking practice. and that he keeps falling back on the same cine- . and Miéville in particular. the representation of sexual difference offered in the latter text constitutes the point of origin for all of the other three. JLG/JLG (France. his and AnneMarie Miéville’s video account of their very different attitudes toward creative production. and Godard in particular.

The balance of power keeps shifting.30 Godard addresses the first of these limitations in Nouvelle Vague itself by developing a powerful new thematic: the thematic of the gift. Elena dominates Lennox. he shows the central characters in this film rising above the psychodynamic of power to which they are generally in thrall and engaging in an exchange representative of the purest love. As Soft and Hard shows. This film represents a fresh start in every sense of the word: in the quality of its images. since Miéville will always respond to his hardness with softness. it depicts a relationship between two people who both seek to occupy the position of the autonomous and self-constituting subject and who therefore cannot help but enact over and over again some version of the battle to the death. In the first half of the film. so volatile. and Godard prevents us from recovering the former through the latter by making the relationship between the two central characters. it neither bank- . On two separate occasions. Godard also provides a less-than-adequate response to Miéville’s criticism in Nouvelle Vague because he does not put his own subjectivity on the line. Elena Torlasco and Roger/Richard Lennox. Since this gift cannot be possessed. But Godard’s reconceptualization of heterosexuality in Nouvelle Vague constitutes only a partial response to Miéville’s critique. this film confronts hardness with hardness.16 • Camera Obscura matic constructions. and last — but not least — in its account of heterosexuality. This is because. he stands outside the struggle that his film dramatizes. rather than deconstructing the opposition of soft and hard so manifestly at work in her and Godard’s video conversation. he rises dramatically to Miéville’s challenge in Nouvelle Vague. The roles traditionally designated by the terms man and woman give way to those of master and slave. maintaining that he is incapable of doing anything else. and with it the roles each character plays. its editing strategies. the second half reverses this paradigm. Although Godard seems resigned in Soft and Hard to recycling in future films the same forms and ideas that he has used in the past. the composition of its sound track. One of them gives the other the gift of life.

he struggles to divest himself of himself. saying big things. these concepts correlate with gender in predictable ways. . important. he defines existence as the giver. he has a female voice sweetly utter the following words over a montage of female faces: In an undertone. In JLG/JLG. and the receiver gladly receives. It is the governing trope both of JLG/JLG and Histoire(s) du cinéma. It is through the concept of the gift that Godard effects his rapprochement with softness in Histoire(s) du cinéma. . the world as the gift. There are images of hands everywhere in this work. including two taken from Nouvelle Vague. Godard acknowledges not only the deeply problematic nature of hardness. in a voice gentle and soft. the threat of thunder. He also breaks definitively with the notion of the “given” as something to be “overcome” by the human subject by attempting to become the blank surface on which the world inscribes itself. Therefore the giver gladly gives. however.31 During the twelve years since the making of Nouvelle Vague.32 In Histoire(s) du cinéma. In this work. Once again. and the author as the receiver. profound and apposite things. and once again its primary emblem is the hand. Godard metaphorizes this exchange through the image of one hand reaching out to another. Warm sunshine suggested through a half smile or undertone. that voice hardly rippling the air. the giver is not archetypal man or woman. To this end. and a sort of murmur of infinitely pure French .The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 17 rupts the one who gives nor indebts the one who receives. and the delicacy of pure sound. He restages the battle of softness and hardness in his and Miéville’s video. important things. a voice gentle and soft. astonishing. At the outset of part 4. Godard has remained obsessed with the notion of the gift. Godard goes one step further. and in both of these works he elaborates it in ways that encroach on his own subjectivity. but also the authority and strength that can find refuge within softness. in the grace notes of a flute. but with a radical and saving difference: this time it is softness that wins. that whispering power. or even . however. the presence of absolutes in a robin’s song. Here.

Each part anticipates many important elements whose full elaboration only comes later. After asking. near the beginning of that section of Histoire(s) du cinéma.33 He thereby announces his determination to find the you so notably absent both from the last part of Soft and Hard and from the history he recounts in Histoire(s) du cinéma. he cuts to a lengthy montage of cinematic and other images. while at the same time situating it within the context of the heterosexual couple. He dissects the graphic sign for the French word histoires into his and toi. repeatedly intercut with a freeze frame of a man and a woman at a projector. Godard takes time to announce the goal at which he will arrive only much later. The image of the couple at the projector is suggestive of a collaborative investigation of cinema — of one which. Histoire(s) du cinéma proceeds through a series of prefigurations.18 • Camera Obscura existence. what “all of this” has to do with him. Godard repeats this image or a variant of it so often in part 1B that it emerges as the primary principle of structuration. What he gives is also not life or the world. Although this might seem a meager gift. A clip of Gene Kelly dancing with Leslie Caron provides another proleptic inscription of the you. again in order to link it to a masculine me. although he is primarily concerned in part 1A with the will to power. He then repeats the second of these particles. Consequently. it is in fact the greatest that one subject can confer on another. the male and female subject perform together. but rather Godard himself.34 Godard returns to the subject of a feminine you in part 1B. apparently watching a film together. Part 1B also abounds with musical and other references to Nouvelle Vague. There are many other inscriptions of a feminine you in Histoire(s) du cinéma. and it concludes with a moving series of images of heterosexual couples. which forms the objective form of the second-person pronoun in French. because it concerns both partners equally. but simply the second-person pronoun. It thus constitutes an implicit critique of the many images of Godard at work alone. which provide the visual dramatization of solitude. sometimes in isolation from a masculine I .

which help us to make sense of the linguistic nature of the dialectical image. he must therefore do more than overcome the other.35 But the same thing can be said about the second-person pronoun. and into the third. The subject who demands to be acknowledged by the other does so from the place of an I. I does not refer to an already existing subject.37 In order to affirm the second-person pronoun. we must put something of our own “essence” into it (4A). The most visually compelling example of the latter is the shot of Elena’s hand reaching out to Lennox’s against the green and blue of a country field and sky from Nouvelle Vague. It is consequently only by affirming the you that we can exit the dream of the nineteenth century. This depersonalizing imperative constitutes the driving force behind the dialectic. and the latter neither precedes nor postdates the former. The only way he can do this is by coercing his opponent out of the category of the first-person pronoun. You is the one to whom it is addressed. rather. The first-person pronoun is also completely dependent on the second.38 we must give ourselves away. As has often been noted. and who also defines the lat- . In order to achieve even an illusory sovereignty.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 19 and at other times in tandem with it. With these word-images. he must also negate the second-person pronoun. whose I and Thou also constitutes an extended meditation on the second-person pronoun. The most striking examples of the former are the montages of women extending from one end of this text to the other.”36 All of this is another way of suggesting that Hegel’s account of the dialectic is missing a crucial component. he seems to be thinking in concert with Martin Buber. But far more important than any of these images are the many devoted to the grapheme you. but also from the listener or group of listeners to whom it is directed. Both here and elsewhere in Histoires(s) du cinéma. Godard creates what he could otherwise only depict: a genuine hetero-sexuality. it creates the subject. Godard tells us. and every I is shot through and through with the you. I derives its meaning not just from the one speaking. It would therefore be as accurate to define the subject as the one who says “you” as the one who says “I.

But as Histoire(s) du cinéma helps us understand. Although we generally treat the you and the I as separate and even opposed words. It is also imperative that we acknowledge as much. and skin of our skin — and allow her to define what you means to us. Every time we address someone in the mode of the “I-You. Buber argues. but usually in a suppressed form. In Buber’s account.”39 This word inhabits both the first. it remains completely abstract. moreover. and pure sound. there is no limit on the number of subjects who can occupy this position. or “you” in a way that locates its meaning at the site of the I. since only then does our dependence on this other become “real” for us. as “giving” and “receiving” the “you” (57). However.20 • Camera Obscura ter as the precondition for a nondialectical relation to the other. not a dressed-up sentiment. they in fact constitute a single word: the “ I-You. Buber refers at an important point in I and Thou to what he calls “my You” (58). warm sunshine. Godard attributes to “femininity” the same power that Buber does to the “my You. Part 4A also includes the most grotesquely depersonalizing sequence in the whole of Histoire(s) du cinéma. We summon it forth whenever we say “I” in a way that locates its meaning at the site of the you. each of us arrives at the possibility of saying “I-You” to the world of others only through the medium of a particular other. The phrase “my You” represents the speech act through which we do so. an ideal passing on the road to Jericho” (4A). the second-person pronoun occupies a very marginal position in this account of softness. When it does appear. the notes of a flute. In the monologue with which he begins part 4A.” we say “my You” to her or him.” The “soft” and “gentle” voice in whose guise he celebrates “the other sex” opens on to a robin’s song. He also attributes to this you the power to light up the world — to make it available to us as something other than a set of “givens” to be expunged. Godard also attempts to move from this voice to a new kind of sociality — one that would be “a hand held out.and secondperson pronouns. Through it. which is constitutive of personhood. Buber describes this kind of speech. we both claim the other — recognize her as flesh of our flesh. A male speaker .

“X is an individual. therefore I am. moreover. he moves quickly to rectify this situation. but which metamorphoses at a certain point into a generalizing discourse about the “other sex. or us.’ ” he says. either to her.’ the I of ‘I am’ is no longer the same as the I of ‘I think. leaving the solitary subject once again in possession of the stage. leaning from the window with her unknowing eyes and a pearl between her breasts. Hitler. but without me.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 21 (Alain Cuny) delivers a long monologue. about that undifferentiated nonperson.” He speaks to and on behalf of all men.” Not only are both the speaker and his interlocutor explicitly male. It’s there when we’ve undressed her. It’s born with me. “The believers in a collective ‘we’ were mistaken about the individual.” Godard tells us. an incalculable freedom. Although it prompts him to stress the importance of “love for one’s neighbor. but this dyad is effectively rendered a monad by the speaker’s recourse to a sovereign and all-inclusive “we. a creative element. “In ‘I think. both vanish.”40 Godard also fails in his attempt to extrapolate a nondialectical sociality from this generalized femininity. Before long.” . It’s there when the woman parts her thighs for us. it’s there when the girl appears to us. World domination consequently represents a realizable goal. when her firm body trembles to the beat of our lust. Julius Caesar. whose larger topic is cinema. She is still confined to the category of the third-person pronoun. He also abandons all claims to mastery. it’s an unconsidered feeling. with the same maternal emotion she feels in opening her arms to the child.” love and neighbor remain empty categories. Man as a man is a creator. and Napoleon all failed in their attempt to “control the universe. He acknowledges his dependency on the first-person pronoun and foregrounds the alterity that haunts it.” Hitchcock succeeded. sovereignty also makes a big comeback.” In the lengthy homage to Hitchcock that follows. himself. In the closing minutes of part 4A. woman: “[Cinema is] there when the cradle comes to life. Although Alexander. but a created creator. What begins as a celebration of softness mutates so quickly into a revalorization of hardness because Godard has not yet named his particular you. “The feeling of existence that I have is not yet a self.

Godard also identifies his you by dedicating part 4B of Histoire(s) du cinéma to Anne-Marie Miéville. the second with Good Friday.22 • Camera Obscura A moment later. that it is not capable of reviving anything. however complete it may be. a male voice-over recites two of Dylan Thomas’s most famous lines: “Do not go gentle / Into that good night. shining like a beacon in the night.41 The dialogue that failed to materialize in Soft and Hard finally takes place. After writing that it is “for” her. most of the other images in the nocturnal montage are devoted to the horrors of the twen- . This montage begins with the shot from Nouvelle Vague in which the camera slowly tracks the entire length of Elena’s glass-walled house.” Later in part 4B. However. Godard signs his signature under them by cutting back and forth between a photo of the face of Lauren Bacall and a photo of the face of Robert Le Vigan. The first associates night with torture and death. Godard reconstitutes it as a signifier for that state of somnolence that Benjamin associates with the nineteenth century by embedding it in a lengthy nocturnal montage. But it appears that Godard has not yet brought the dialectic to a “standstill. However.” The speaker does not identify the man to whom she imputes these words. has no effect on the march of time. on which he inscribes the word love. thereby completing the “basic I-You word. and continues with a meditation on a more radical kind of obscurity — that suffered by that half of the subjective universe which we call “women.” In the original text.” Immediately afterward. Miéville’s voice utters the following words: “He was saying that fidelity. he adds that it is also for himself. and the third with the “nothing” that can be seen when one rises from bed in the dark and looks out the window. the phrase good night provides a synonym for death. and that nevertheless there is no other solution than fidelity. The last of these speeches marks the site for the emergence of a “faint light.” It also includes three other important monologues.” Since Godard accompanies his reference to it with the by-now-familiar image of a man and woman standing behind a projector. or anyone. it seems to attest to the redemptive potential of the heterosexual couple.

After a harrowing sequence of shots from newsreels and fiction films dramatizing the crimes of Hitler and Stalin. that gleams under the curtain when an orchestra tunes its violins. obliging us to begin all over again our journey toward her. As we look at the image of a living soldier’s decomposing face. .” “If a man . . into the light each of us carries about him invisible dreams. But in the final moments of Histoire(s) du cinéma. And once fully conscious. darkness will soon return. He has liberated his you from the category of the third-person pronoun only to swallow her up in that of the first-person plural. which isn’t day. he once again rouses himself from the nightmare of history in order to affirm softness.” With this little story. The dance begins. what can I say? I was that man. . . Godard returns to the metaphor of night. . It may consequently only be during the brief interval between sleeping and consciousness that we are capable of uttering the words “my You. Only at the moment of awakening do we have access to both states of mind. . curtain up do we despoil ourselves of our dreams? How do we dare on waking to bring them into the light? Oh. The music draws us all to that line of light . he also explains why the storm clouds of the nineteenth century have been regathering so ominously. . He also offers one last tribute to his particular you. not to send him back into the dark — to rid the night of night. . and after the extraordinary colporteur montage. then our hands slide and separate. We lose ourselves in one another’s gaze . “and then upon waking found that flower in his hand . and apprehended the world in the radiance of her light. whose fragrance now permeates the real: Anne-Marie Miéville. wandered through paradise.” Godard says. . . This monologue is Godard’s way of telling us that there are no final solutions. Godard suggests that this may not be an unmitigated disaster. and kept a flower to remind him where he’d been. which warrants an essay of its own. we do not know that we are dreaming. each careful not to disturb the other’s dream. while we love each other. . the yellow rose of Rolles. Even after we have said “my You” to another. we have forgotten our dreams. He has been dreaming while ostensibly awake: For the love of what .The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 23 tieth century. When we are asleep.

” in Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World. André Bazin. produced by Manfred Eicher (Munich: ECM Records. Histoire(s) du cinéma gives us less “the history of cinema than history by cinema” (“Histoire(s) du cinéma. la vraie. “Jean-Luc Godard and Vivre sa vie. Although at this point in Histoire(s) du cinéma Godard seems to be referring to film in a general sense.” ed. 35. 1985–2000. 1992). Michael Temple and James S. 3. See. 1997). 1999). 63. Throughout this essay. 2. Editions de l’Etoile. Toby Mussman (New York: Dutton. 2000). ed. 7. 1985).” in Jean-Luc Godard par Jean-Luc Godard. for example. Literature. Alain Bergala (Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma.” in Jean-Luc Godard: A Critical Anthology. See. Ernst von Alphen offers an excellent account of the opposite position in Caught by History: Holocaust Effects in Contemporary Art.” CinémAction 52 [1989]: 79. 1968). 470. 82. vol. Williams (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. “Equality and fraternity between reality and fiction. ed. 5. 1991). 296 – 98. trans. Godard.” in What Is Cinema? vol. 4. it later becomes clear that it was documentary cinema that served this function.” As Jean-Luc Douin says in passing. As he puts it at one point in part 3A. into which I occasionally introduce slight changes. I rely on the English translation of the commentary from Histoire(s) du cinéma provided by the trilingual book version of Histoire(s) du cinéma: Introduction à une veritable historie du cinéma. IL: Northwestern University Press. 6. Friedlander (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Peter Hayes (Evanston.24 • Camera Obscura Notes 1. See also Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the “Final Solution. for instance. la seule. . Tom Milne. my translation). Saul Friedlander has been especially insistent on this point. ed. Hugh Gray (Berkeley: University of 2. ed. “Theatre and Cinema — Part Two. Jonathan Dronsfield also comments on the prevalence of these kinds of formulations in Godard’s work in “ ‘The Present Never Exists There’: The Temporality of Decision in Godard’s Later Film and Video Essays. and Theory (Stanford: Stanford University Press.” in The Cinema Alone: Essays on the Work of Jean-Luc Godard. 1. his “On the Unease in Historical Interpretation. “Propos Rompus” and “Ma demarche en quatre mouvements.

9. Benjamin. however. O. As Jean-Louis Leutrat elegantly puts it. brought into existence the twentieth. 4. For Bazin’s own use of the metaphor. a few individuals transform the old means of survival into new means — these are what we call art. . 9 –16. 462 – 63. trans. 1969). 14. Ishaghpour comments on the affinities between Benjamin’s Arcades Project and Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma (22 – 23).” Cinémathèque 5 [1994]: 34).1 (1972): 7. the cinema. 13. the art of the nineteenth century. 1999). 261. while at the same time making possible critical thought (162 – 74. 8.” in What Is Cinema?. The Arcades Project. Godard also says: “When one century is slowly dissolving into the next. Benjamin. trans. L. The Arcades Project.” Trafic 29 [1999]: 1). or [by others that are] in competition with them” (“Histoire(s) du cinéma. “A Short History of Photography. And in the same conversation. 15. film is able to access history better than any art form because it both embalms and transforms reality. This formulation comes from a related text. menaced either from the interior. Walter Benjamin. 12. For him. Howard Eilard and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1999). Walter Benjamin.. 11. 162. 10. “The first impression [of Histoire(s) du cinéma] is that of unstable images.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 25 California Press.” Screen 13. . Godard does invoke Benjamin’s account of the dialectical image (“Archéologie du cinéma et mémoire du siècle: Dialogue (1). . In part 4B. Jacques Aumont makes much of another of Bazin’s metaphors in the very different account he offers of Histoire(s) du cinéma’s “historiographic capacity” in his excellent Amnésies: Fictions du cinéma d’après Jean-Luc Godard (Paris: P. Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken. see his “The Ontology of the Photographic Image. Benjamin here is quoting Michelet. which on its own barely existed. 194). . 462. The Arcades Project. 97.” In his extraordinary conversation with Youssef Ishaghpour. 1967). In this way.” in Illuminations. or comment devenir maître d’un souvenir. The only thing that survives an era as such is the form of art it has created for itself.

Charles Lam Markmann (London: Pluto. 1977). 1969). Alexandre Kojève. Nichols Jr. (Ithaca. my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say to myself: ‘I’m falling asleep. Isaghpour. This is Godard’s metaphor. 18.D. 27. diss. 466. I refer here to chapter 10 of Lilya Kagonovsky’s dissertation. “Bodily Remains: The ‘Positive Hero’ in Stalinist Fiction” (Ph. 1986). Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Since the advent of films like Rambo (dir. 217 – 22. Ibid. Miller (New York: Oxford University Press. Benjamin also invokes Proust in the context of discussing the dream of the nineteenth century. trans. I and Thou. I and Thou. 21. White Masks. 1989]. Ted Kotcheff. 28. 26. 22. and Martin Buber. 75. Problems in General Linguistics. 24. See Frantz Fanon. Black Skin. especially 18 – 22.’ And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me. 52 – 53. V.” (Marcel Proust. I will be using the male pronoun when referring to those who aspire to mastery. given that Proust’s magnum opus begins. University of California. trans. when I had put out my candle. This film circulates in English as Remembrance of Things Past. 2000). 17. Phenomenology of Spirit. “Archéologie du cinéma. Swann’s Way. W. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Simon and Schuster. The basis for this pronominal bifurcation is history. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin [New York: Random House. trans. and the female pronoun when referring to those over and against whom this subject defines himself. trans. G. It is hardly surprising that either Godard or Benjamin would include this reference. 20. James H. Mary Elizabeth Meek (Coral Gables. Buber. See Emile Benveniste. A. Significantly. 25. Sometimes. 19. The word nothing is mine. trans.. however. 111. 3). “For a long time I used to go to bed early. C. Berkeley. 1982). not essence. trans.26 • Camera Obscura 16. Hegel. NY: Cornell University Press. 1971). 116 –17. the sovereign subjectivity available to the male viewer has assumed more and more grandiose forms. F. 23. FL: University of Miami Press.. K. See The Arcades Project.” 22 – 23. 1996). . US.

Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton. 197 – 227. Aumont. 1985 – 2000. and Jacques Lacan. 1998). but suggests that it is addressed by Godard to those whom he quotes (Amnésies. “Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis.” he writes in Problems in General Linguistics. 36. 134). For a fuller elaboration of this reading.” in Ecrits: A Selection. 32. Michael Temple and James S. Speaking about Godard (New York: New York University Press. Although I will not be following Benveniste’s account of the you in the following discussion.” in Temple and Williams. This is a brief summary of the reading I offer of JLG/JLG in “The Author As Receiver. for the most part.” They do so. see Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki. 34. Although the central female figures in Lou Didn’t Say No (1993). “I use I only when I am speaking to someone who will be a you in my address. Her own work offers a more equivocal account of gender. . they at times approximate something like “hardness. 14). which means both “of” in French and “you” in German. I am referring here to the Miéville of Soft and Hard. who is also the one evoked by Godard at the end of Histoire(s) du cinéma. too. 31. Williams also note the importance of Soft and Hard for any understanding of Histoire(s) du cinéma (“Introduction to the Mysteries of Cinema. We’re All Still Here (1997). trans. Problems in General Linguistics. remarks on the prevalence of this pronoun in Histoire(s) du cinéma. and Reaching an Understanding (2000) all seek to exit the history described by Godard in Histoire(s) du cinéma. because of the intractability of their male counterparts. 30. the latter in the nominative form. for instance. Godard also puns repeatedly on the word du in the title Histoire(s) du cinéma. 30 –113.The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 27 29. it would seem important to note that he also makes personhood dependent on the second-person pronoun: “Consciousness of self is only possible if it is experienced by contrast. for it implies that reciprocally I becomes you in the address of the one who in his turn designates himself as I” (224 – 25).” October 96(2001): 17 – 34. It is this condition of dialogue that is constitutive of person. 1977). 33. See. The Cinema Alone. Benveniste. 224 – 27. 35.

) Aumont also notes the objectifying nature of this monologue but sees it as consistent with the larger point of view adopted by Godard toward women in Histoire(s) du cinéma (Amnésies. The concept of thinking with one’s hands comes from Denis de Rougement’s Penser avec les mains (Paris: A. 79 – 80. 97 –109. 1936). . Bal searches for the second-person pronoun in the field of vision. I am indebted to Michael Temple for this attribution (“Big Rhythm and the Power of Metamorphosis: Some Models and Precursors for Histoire(s) du cinéma. She develops the notion of a “second-person narration” in “First Person.” and he equates this mental reality with creation. 88 – 90). 54. The Cinema Alone. and — by extension — montage. It has obvious reference to the shots of Godard at the editing table. “European Culture and Artistic Resistance in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Chapter 3A. Aumont also notes the objectifying nature of this monologue. Williams. Second Person. Activated within aesthetic experience. 1999). where he says: “Sometimes I hear men describing the pleasure they have taken with this woman or that. Godard offers an implicit critique of the words I have just quoted in part 4B. but sees it as consistent with the larger point of view adopted by Godard toward women in Histoire(s) du cinéma (Amnésies.” New Literary History 24.2 (1993): 293 – 320. In Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art. Elsewhere in the same monologue. The Cinema Alone.” in Temple and Williams. La monnaie de l’absolu. 39. . it is instantiated simultaneously by a work of art and the one who looks at it (204 – 5). The first part of this monologue comes from Elie Faure’s Histoire de l’art: L’art moderne (Paris: Denoël. Buber. Preposterous History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. it isn’t coarseness — the words at times very precise . I and Thou. look it was something else. 38. Michel. I want to tell them. . he suggests that “the mind is only real when it manifests its presence.28 • Camera Obscura 37. Same Person: Narrative as Epistemology. .” in Temple and Williams. Mieke Bal also attributes a transformative force to the second-person pronoun. but . 41. 1987). 40.’ ” . Godard elaborates this point in negative terms — by suggesting that the you is not a gift when it no longer involves something of the speaker’s essence. Oh. makes itself manifest or shows its hand. 115 –16). as does much of the monologue in which this concept in embedded ( James S. 88 – 90). ‘Look.

Her publications include James Coleman (2002). 12 –13).” Cahiers du cinéma. Male Subjectivity at the Margins (1992).” 35). and Marie-Anne Guerin writes that Godard insists in part 4B on “the necessity for a sexual duality” (“Les signes parmi nous. Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988 – 98) . Ishaghpour also comments on the importance of love in Histoire(s) du cinéma in the second installment of his conversation with Godard (“Archéologie du cinéma. Speaking About Godard (1998). May 2000. World Spectators: Cultural Memory in the Present (2002). Berkeley. Kaja Silverman is Class of 1940 Professor of Rhetoric and Film at the University of California. and The Subject of Semiotics (1983). The Threshold of the Visible World (1996).The Dream of the Nineteenth Centur y • 29 42. The Acoustic Mirror (1988).