cover of book

The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man
by Edgar Morin
translated by Lorraine Mortimer
University of Minnesota Press, 2005
Paper: 978-0-8166-4038-6 | Cloth: 978-0-8166-4037-9
Library of Congress Classification PN1995.M613 2005
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.43


When The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man first appeared in 1956, the movies and the moviegoing experience were generally not regarded as worthy of serious scholarly consideration. Yet, French critic and social theorist Edgar Morin perceived in the cinema a complex phenomenon capable of illuminating fundamental truths about thought, imagination, and human nature - which allowed him to connect the mythic universe of gods and spirits present within the most primitive societies to the hyperreality emanating from the images projected on the screen. Now making its English-language debut, this audacious, provocative work draws on insights from poets, filmmakers, anthropologists, and philosophers to restore to the cinema the sense of magic first enjoyed at the dawn of the medium. Morin's inquiry follows two veins of investigation. The first focuses on the cinematic image as the nexus between the real and the imaginary; the second examines the cinema's re-creation of the archaic universe of doubles and ghosts and its power to possess, to bewitch, to nourish dreams, desires, and aspirations. "We experience the cinema in a state of double consciousness," Morin writes, "an astonishing phenomenon where the illusion of reality is inseparable from the awareness that it is really an illusion."

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