Can the reality of complex moral situations be represented by means other than those of imaginative literature?If we could readily agree with Martha Nussbaum that "certain novels are, irreplaceably, works of moral philosophy" (148), then we might already have an answer to the question of whether or not literature matters. It would matter to us to the exact extent that it might help to make our lives richer, better and fuller. Nussbaum, though, refers only to "certain novels" and not to (...) literature in general. She readily admits that not all novels will suit her interests (45). For every novel that is a major work of moral philosophy, there may be more that are morally indifferent or even reprehensible and damaging. .. (shrink)
I argue, contra Frost, that when prime lexicality and target density are considered, it is not clear that there are fundamental differences between form priming effects in Semitic and European languages. Furthermore, identifying and naming printed words in these languages raises common theoretical problems. Solving these problems and developing a universal model of reading necessitates the orthographic input code.
Something is happening which tears morality from its secure mooring and projects us into uncharted territory. All rules are suspended. We are reminded that no examining magistrate is present; this has now escalated to become a greater metaphysical absence, as the film develops its earlier reference to the murder of God. If God is dead, if God has willed and commanded his own death, what moral nightmare awaits us?
Although Levinas showed relatively little interest in secular literature, and indeed he was sometimes distinctly hostile towards it, some of his essays sketch a phenomenological account of the reading experience which is applicable to non-sacred texts. This article compares Levinas’s phenomenology of reading to that of Wolfgang Iser, and argues that it may be susceptible to some of the same criticisms. It then examines Levinas’s 1947 essay “L’Autre dans Proust” in the light of Proust’s Un amour de Swann, suggesting that (...) Levinas’s reading is blind to aspects of Proust’s writing which contradict his ethics. This finally raises questions about the viability of a genuinely enlightening, ethical encounter between reader and text, or between self and other. (shrink)
The dead will remain with us, Sartre remarks at the end of Les Mots, for as long as humanity roams the earth. The dead are never quite dead; they survive in what Sartre, in L'Etre et le néant, calls 'la vie morte' (dead life). In Huis clos, Sartre envisages an afterlife in which, although they can no longer act, the dead continue to agonize over the meaning of their lives and their now irrevocable actions. Sartre's script of Les Jeux sont (...) faits, filmed by Jean Delannoy and shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1947, goes a step further. It depicts two dead people given the chance to return to earth in the pursuit of love and, at the same time, the opportunity to rectify their earlier mistakes, to change the meaning of their lives by intervening more effectively in their worlds. Despite its supernatural story line, the stakes of Les Jeux sont faits are recognizably Sartrean. The film serves as an opportunity to probe the themes of freedom, responsibility, choice, the role of the individual agent in history, the self's opacity to itself, the conflict endemic in the human condition and the ways in which external circumstances make a mockery of our endeavours. It asks the question, if we were given a second chance, could we revisit the scenes of our failures and transform them into successes? Could we learn from our mistakes and lucidly remodel the world in the form of our desires? Or are we condemned only to fail again, to make the same mistakes twice over? (shrink)