The NEW Philosoflicks 2: Death of a Hedgehog.

Poems about prickly non-human minded animals.
A prickly human minded animal who wrote a famous poem about a prickly non-human minded animal.

he OLD Philosoflicks was a series of seven experimental works in philosophy that were published online in the edgy, radical philosophy blog Against Professional Philosophy between July 2015 and May 2016:

Philosoflicks 1: You Are Not a Machine!

Philosoflicks 2, Installment 1: Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, Preface & Letters I-IV.

Philosoflicks 2, Installment 2: Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, Volume 1, Chapter 1.

Philosoflicks 3: On the Metaphysics of Puppets.

Philosoflicks 4: The Vienna Circle Meets The Hollow Men Meets Flitcraft Meets Us.

Philosoflicks 5: caesargodkantgoldman.

Philosoflicks 6: Thoughtless Images, aka Guns R Us.

OK. So what’s a “philosoflick”?

Here’s what the author of The OLD Philosoflicks said —

In “Let’s Make More Movies,” the epistemological anarchist Paul Feyerabend wrote this:

The separation of subjects that is such a pronounced characteristic of modern philosophy is … not altogether undesirable. It is a step on the way to a more satisfactory type of myth. What is needed to proceed further is not the return to harmony and stability as too many critics of the status quo, Marxists included, seem to think, but a form of life in which the constituents of older myths — theories, books, images, emotions, sounds, institutions — enter as interacting but antagonistic elements. Brecht’s theatre was an attempt to create such a form of life. He did not entirely succeed. I suggest we try movies instead. (P. Feyerabend, “Let’s Make more Movies,” in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, Ch. J. Bontempo and S. J. Odell (eds), McGraw-Hill: New York 1975, pp. 201–210.)

By cine-phenomenology, I mean the direct expression of philosophical ideas in cinematic, visual terms, from a first-person point of view.

Intertitles are printed texts inserted into (especially silent) films in order to convey dialogue, descriptions, or expository material directly relevant to but not necessarily covered by the filmed material, e.g.,

And montage is the cinematic technique, discovered by Sergei Eisenstein, of combining, juxtaposing, ordering, and sequencing (more generally, synthesizing) visual images for the production of various kinds of aesthetic and emotional effect.

A philosoflick is an experiment in visual philosophy, blending text and images–employing cine-phenomenology, intertitles, and montage–inspired by Feyerabend and Eisenstein, by Chris Marker’s La Jetée, and by W.G. Sebald’s pictorial novels.

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I think that The OLD Philosoflicks were very cool; but I also think that their author barely scratched the surface of what can done with this experiment in visual philosophy.

So that’s why I’ve undertaken a new series of philosoflicks here on Medium — hence The NEW Philosoflicks.

The first in that series was Nietzsche Does Hollywood.

And here’s the second, taking us all the way from Nietzsche and cinematographic reality, to unhappy poets and hedgehogs.

The philosophical link is the story that Nietzsche’s descent into madness was triggered by his intense empathic response to the suffering of a horse being flogged….

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The Next NEW Philosoflick

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INTRODUCTION

By a minded animal I mean any living organism with inherent capacities for:

(i) consciousness, i.e., a capacity for embodied subjective experience,

(ii) intentionality, i.e., a capacity for conscious mental representation and mental “directedness” to objects, events, processes, facts, acts, other animals, or the animal subject herself, and

(iii) caring, a capacity for conscious affect, desiring, and emotion, whether directed to objects, events, processes, facts, acts, other animals, or the animal subject herself.

Non-human minded animals are at once deeply familiar to us, yet, when presented to us, e.g., as bats, rats, lizards, snakes, spiders, sharks, lions, tigers, or grizzly bears, they become deeply strange and menacing, concrete manifestations of the horror mundi, our abyss-confronting terror in the face of the external or physical world — a horror also invoked by caves and precipices.

So non-human minded animals are the original “Other” in the existential sense, the snake meeting up face-to-face with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or the mesmerizing cobra that kills the innocent little boy Bogie in Jean Renoir’s brilliant 1951 film, The River.

In the 19th century, Herman Melville’s philosophico-literary masterpiece, Moby Dick, fully exploits this most amazing and deeply disturbing phenomenon of non-human animal Otherness.

The terrifying white whale, Moby Dick, is the Kantian Ding an sich or “thing in itself” that Ahab cannot either live with or live without.

And in Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” Gregor Samsa becomes his own terrifying non-human minded animal Other, a giant dung beetle.

The creators of The Wizard of Oz discovered the terrifying potential of crossing monkies with bats, and gave an entire generation of children, many of them now in their 80s, nightmares they still shiver to remember.

Hitchcock did the same thing with ordinary birds, for people now in their 50s and 60s.

Comparatively speaking, Spielberg had an easy time of it in Jaws, terrifying the child-versions of the millennials, people now in their 30s, drawing directly on Melville’s Moby Dick and Louis Malle’s The Silent World.

In Being and Nothingness, No Exit, and other works, Jean-Paul Sartre argued, with characteristic exaggeration, that “hell is other people.”

Sartre was far too Cartesian and dualistic in this respect, splitting the mind essentially away from the body, and failed, just like Descartes, to see that if our consciousness is essentially embodied, then the minds of other minded animals are directly present to us in their bodily expressions of feeling and emotion, via empathy.

Other people are not essentially hidden behind or inside their bodies, as a “nothingness” that is not only forever hidden from us, but also inevitably objectifies us, making us into mere lifeless objects of their gaze.

On the contrary, according to the essential embodiment view, we are always alongside and with other minded animals, whether in our own species or other species.

This is turn implies that the non-human minded animal Other needn’t always or necessarily be a concrete manifestation of our existential terror in the face of the world— it can also be a concrete manifestation of our existential solidarity with that world.

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Philip Larkin’s hedgehog, aka PLH.
Larkin, just before the mowing incident.
Larkin, a few hours later.
Larkin’s mower, never used again.
PLH, newborn. Notice Larkin’s badly chewed fingernails.
PLH and three siblings, abandoned by mother hedgehog. “They fuck you up, your Mum and your Dad.”
Yes.
PLH floruit: a portrait of the artist as a young hedgehog.
Larkin floruit, sort-of.

The Life With a Hole in It — Philip Larkin

When I throw back my head and howl
People (women mostly) say
But you’ve always done what you want,
You always get your own way

- A perfectly vile and foul
Inversion of all that’s been.
What the old ratbags mean
Is I’ve never done what I don’t.

So the shit in the shuttered chateau
Who does his five hundred words
Then parts out the rest of the day
Between bathing and booze and birds
Is far off as ever, but so
Is that spectacled schoolteaching sod
(Six kids, and the wife in pod,
And her parents coming to stay) . . .

Life is an immobile, locked,
Three-handed struggle between
Your wants, the world’s for you, and (worse)
The unbeatable slow machine
That brings what you’ll get. Blocked,
They strain round a hollow stasis
Of havings-to, fear, faces.
Days sift down it constantly. Years.

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” What is it?
Only connect.
Something that, sadly, Larkin was never able to do — until after he’d already accidentally mowed the Other to death. Larkin and his other “friend,” circa 1964.

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The Next NEW Philosoflick

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The NEW Philosoflicks is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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