Film and Media, History, Philosophy, Reviews

Philosophy on T.V.

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Philosophy is perhaps the least visual of all the disciplines, yet as Tamara Chaplin reveals in her new book Turning On the Mind: French Philosophers on Television, by the end of the twentieth century some of the most prominent postwar French philosophers of the day including Bachelard, Badiou, Foucault, Lyotard, and Lévy managed to appear on over 3500 televised programs. In the upcoming edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education Nina C. Ayoub describes one of the more memorable performances detailed in Chaplin’s book:

When the psychoanalyst and philosopher Jacques Lacan agreed to appear in 1974 on Un certain regard, he insisted in advance, outrageously, that he would not be addressing everyone, only the “nonidiots.” Despite what many viewed as incomprehensible talk—”Was this linguistically tortured charlatanism, or inspired brilliance?,” quips Ms. Chaplin—the show was highly entertaining. “You don’t really have to understand him to appreciate his satanic humor and to be fascinated by the insolent spectacle. …,” France Soir reported. “Lacan beats Jerry Lewis on his own ground,” offered Le Figaro. It was good television.

Read the rest of the Chronicle piece on their website.