Ethics of Inscrutability: Ontologies of Emptiness in Buddhist Film

  • Author(s): Lina Verchery
  • When: 2014-03
  • Where: Contemporary Buddhism
  • This paper explores one of the unique features of the filmic medium, famous elaborated by Stanley Cavell: namely, that film allows us to see what is not there. Laying out a comparative study of ontologies of emptiness - that is, techniques whereby films show us what is not there - this paper develops a methodological and ethical position by bringing ontologies of emptiness into dialogue Buddhist notion of sunyata. I suggest that developing a hermeneutic of seeing what is not there moves us away from the reductionist tendencies that come with seeking totalizing knowledge. This forces us to rethink the modes of signification we assume to be operative in filmic language, and to consider the ethical implications of signification itself.

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