Incarnation, Alienation, and Emancipation

A Sartrean Analysis of Filmic Violence

in Sartre Studies International
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  • 1 Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Arizona, USA
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In Critique of Dialectical Reason Vol. 2, Sartre analyzes a boxing match in light of a typology of violence. He suggests that individual conflicts incarnate broader forces of structural violence. He distinguishes between incidents of incarnating violence in terms of their broader social effects, as either alienated – commoditized or “mystified” and rendered illicit – or emancipatory – embedded in a collectively willed political project. This conceptualization is used to analyze two films, Aronofsky’s The Wrestler and McQueen’s Hunger. The Wrestler is an excellent meditation on the ways in which the violence of the oppressed is alienated in contemporary U.S. culture, whereas Hunger gestures toward the possibility of emancipatory violence. The article finally considers the act of watching these films as a Sartrean incarnation of violence.

Sartre Studies International

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Existentialism and Contemporary Culture

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