Picturing the Human (Body and Soul):  A Reading of Blade Runner



                             Stephen Mulhall





     1) Acknowledging Human Mortality



     It would seem advisable to begin this interpretation of the film

with an uncontroversial claim, so let us note at the outset that Blade

Runner is explicitly concerned with the question of what it is to be a

human being:  indeed, since it ignores many of the expectations usually

catered to by films in the genre of detective-thriller (eg complexities

of plotting or concealment of the identities and purposes of the

criminals) and of science fiction (eg focusing on technology rather than

people, or employing exotic and alien backdrops) in order to allow its

thematic questioning of humanity to dominate the sequence of events, it

might be more accurate to describe the film as being obsessed with the

matter   obsessed in the way the leader of the replicants is obsessed

with his quest for life, for a life which is on a par with that of human

beings.  To show that Roy Baty misconceives this quest as one for more

life   as if a replicant might become human by living longer   is the

goal of the film.

     In the course of this quest, many erroneous answers to the

original question are canvassed and rejected.  By endowing the

replicants with intelligence levels and physical strength at least equal

to that of any human being, it is made very clear from the beginning

that the possession of such capacities goes no way towards settling the

ontological status of their possessors;  in fact, rather than confirming

the replicants as candidates for humanity, the fine-honed perfection and

virtuosity of their physical and mental skills tends to cast doubt upon

their candidature   this, I take it, is why those scenes in which the

replicants manifest their invulnerability to extremes of heat and cold

(in the hygienic chill of the eye laboratory or the hot water in which

J. F. Sebastian boils his egg) tend to alienate the viewer from Leon and

Pris.

     In this way, the film leads us to ask whether what the replicants

lack is the frailty of human flesh and blood.  The question becomes most

insistent in the sequences dealing with J. F. Sebastian and his

replicant visitors in the abandoned Bradbury buildings: the superhuman

flawlessness of Roy and Pris stands out more strongly when contrasted

with the physical decrepitude inflicted on Sebastian by a genetic flaw

known as Methuselah Syndrome   accelerated aging.  (Roy asks why

Sebastian is staring at his visitors, and is told:  "Because you're so

different, you're so perfect.")  Sebastian's physical inadequacies evoke

sympathy   but not in Roy or Pris; the way in which they manipulate him

as a means towards their goal of confronting Tyrell simultaneously

confirms the humanity of their victim and the inhumanity of their

attitude towards him   perfection seems to signify difference, as

Sebastian implies.

     This is not, however, the conclusion that the film determines us

to draw; and to justify this claim we must turn to the thematic

relevance of the violence which is present throughout the narrative.  On

a first viewing, the relentless emphasis upon bloodied bodies and brutal

physical punishments which permeates the story and appears to encompass

the spectrum of such possibilities -quite apart from the "retirement" of

three replicants, we are forced to witness an attempted strangulation,

savage beatings, an attack with an iron bar, deliberately broken fingers

and a climax of concentrated physical suffering   can strike one as

sadistic and verging upon the obscene.  This impression can be altered,

however, if one notes that the characters to whom violence is seen to be

done are primarily Deckard and the replicants.  (Tyrell is murdered in a

context in which he has assumed divine rather than human status   of

which more later   and we never see Sebastian's execution or his

corpse.)  We shall return to the significance of Deckard's role as

victim later, when we examine the way in which Blade Runner might be

seen as an account of Deckard's education, of the way in which the

replicants (who alone are his victimizers) teach him a lesson; but if we

set this aside for a moment, then we are required to account for the

fact that the violence portrayed in the film is directed primarily

against non-human characters   against those supposedly incapable of

suffering and also lacking that human status which would make the

infliction of pain upon them a moral crime.

     What the scenes of violence succeed in eliciting is an instinctive

response to this treatment of the replicants which matches our response

to such treatment when directed against human beings; we see their

behavior as the expression of pain and suffering rather than as an empty

mechanical analogue of such things exhibited by an automaton.  The slow-

motion presentation of Zhora's final trajectory through the plate-glass

shop-windows is justified by its achievement in making us accept

Deckard's remorse at having to shoot a woman in the back rather than

retiring a replicant; and by the time Deckard shoots Pris a second time

in order to end the mechanical threshing of her limbs caused by his

first shot, we need no dialogue to tell us that he is in fact putting

someone out of her misery.  As Roy puts it:  "We're not computers,

Sebastian   we're physical;" the violence inflicted upon the replicants

drives home the fact that they are embodied, and thus capable of

manifesting the range and complexity of behavior open to any human

being.  The empathic claim exerted upon us by those scenes in which that

behavior becomes pain-behavior is what grounds the film's assumption

that it is this aspect of the replicant's embodiment which is pertinent

to their candidature for human status, and not the issue of whether

anything occupies their bodies.

     To put this last point more precisely:  the way in which the

embodied nature of the replicants is presented in Blade Runner reveals

that one misunderstands the relation between mind and body if one views

it from the Cartesian perspective of an immaterial substance contained

within a material one; this suggests that the domain of the mental is

hidden away behind, and entirely distinct from, that of the body.  This

film presents us with entities whose bodies resemble those of human

beings in their form and flexibility, entities who manifest behavior of

a complexity and range which matches that of a human being   and on this

basis alone, the viewer is brought to apply to those entities all the

psychological concepts which together constitute the logical space of

the mental.  Blade Runner thus makes explicit the fact that the criteria

which justify our application of psychological concepts (our attribution

of a mind) are to be found in behavior of a particular complexity   a

complexity capable of bearing the logical multiplicity of those

concepts.  In the context of a philosophical seminar, the Cartesian

might respond by claiming that such applications depend upon an argument

by analogy and that a grasp of the meaning of such words presupposes

direct acquaintance with the introspectible private entities and

processes which they name; someone impressed by Wittgenstein's work in

this area might attempt to go through the private language argument in

order to reveal the incoherences of private ostensive definition. 

Rather than argue towards the conclusions Wittgenstein draws, this film

dramatizes them:  it produces conviction in Wittgenstein's remark that

"The human body is the best picture of the human soul" by picturing a

body which resembles a human one in a form and flexibility and thereby

eliciting from the viewer the attitude one adopts towards a human soul.

     It is important to recognize that nothing said so far entails that

Blade Runner is committed to a behavioristic conception of psychological

phenomena:  in denying a specific interpretation of the inner world of

human beings, one need not collapse the inner into the outer or reduce

the one to the other.  The claim is rather that psychological concepts

cannot be distinguished from purely behavioral ones by arguing that they

relate only indirectly to human behavior and refer to hidden ethereal

processes; both sets of concepts relate to the same evidential base (as

it were)   namely, the behavior of human beings   but they organize that

base in significantly different ways and thereby alter what we see when

our perception of things is informed by either set.  The nature of that

difference is made clear by the contrast between Captain Bryant's view

of the replicants and the developing perceptions of Deckard as he

approaches his confrontation with Roy: entities perceived as "skinjobs"

can yet attain the status of human beings.

     A nagging question remains, however, which might be put in the

following way: which of the two, Deckard and Bryant, is right?  How can

we know whether any one of these entities can correctly be regarded as

human?  The misleading nature of such questioning is rooted in the way

it takes for granted the concepts of correctness and knowledge.  The

evidence of the film shows that it is "correct" to apply psychological

concepts to the replicants in the sense that their behavior satisfies

the criteria governing those concepts; to assume that some further

notion of correctness has yet to be settled presupposes that we might

apply those concepts in cases where our applications are completely

justified and yet still be wrong   as if someone could satisfy all our

criteria for personhood and yet not be one.  This worry is groundless

because incapable of giving any content to the notion of what it is that

this entity has failed to be, given that our criteria for personhood

exhaust what it is to be a person, and that this entity fulfills all

those criteria.  One might say that we know all that there is to know

about the replicants which is relevant to their claim for human status;

there is no further fact of the matter being kept from us.  Nothing

counts against their being treated as human.

     Nothing   except the unwillingness or refusal of other human

beings to do so.  No accumulation of facts or evidence can force someone

to acknowledge behavior which fulfills all the criteria of pain-behavior

as being the genuine expression of another human being's pain.  Captain

Bryant is not ignorant of "the truth" about the replicants   he can see

everything that we and Deckard can see; rather, he denies or fails to

acknowledge that truth.  Here, however, we should pause to register the

inaccuracies of our talk of truth, for truth relates to concepts of

evidence and fact; the truth is that replicant behavior fulfills all the

criteria for eg pain-behavior, anger-behavior, etc, but that truth does

not entail that someone who fails to acknowledge such behavior as

genuinely expressive of a heart and mind is denying any of those facts  

he is rather adopting one possible attitude towards the facts.  Bryant

and Deckard take up opposing attitudes to the facts with which they are

presented; and neither can be said to be right or wrong in the sense of

corresponding or failing to correspond to those facts.  What this

entails, however, is that the humanity of the replicants   or indeed of

all human beings   is in the hands of their fellows; their accession to

human status involves their being acknowledged as human by others.  They

can fulfill all the criteria, but they cannot force an acknowledgement

from those around them; and if their humanity is denied, it withers.  As

Stanley Cavell would put it, we do not know that any given entity is a

human being; rather, we acknowledge or deny their humanity in the

attitude we adopt towards them<1>.

     It is this theme which the film explores in more detail through

the relationship between Deckard and Rachel.  Their first meeting takes

place across a Voight-Kampff machine, the equipment used by blade

runners to assess a subject's capillary dilation, blush response,

fluctuation of the pupil and other physiological registers of emotional

response   the theory being that replicants lack any empathic attunement

with others and thereby betray their difference from human beings.  As

Tyrell points out to Deckard, however, this lack of empathy and the

correlative emotional immaturity evinced by the replicants is purely a

function of the decision by their human makers to restrict their life-

span and correspondingly constrain the range of their memories and

experience; Rachel has been "gifted with a past," a gift which it is

hoped will "create a cushion or pillow for the emotions" but which also

entails that Rachel does not "know" that she is a replicant.  For

Deckard, Rachel's failure to pass the V-K test is a simple proof of her

non-humanity; he fails to see that his difficulty in detecting the usual

emotional absence in her suggest that this lack is both contingent and a

matter of degree, ie that he might regard the replicants as being

children in an emotional sense through no fault of their own, and thus

as being capable of maturity.  He also fails to note that Captain Bryant

the sort of lawman who called black men "niggers"   offers standing

proof that human beings can lack empathic attunement with others whilst

retaining human status.

     We know that Deckard will deny Rachel's humanity   that his

relationship towards her will begin by being death-dealing   because of

the scene in his apartment block in which she startles him in the

elevator:  at the first indication of her presence, he turns his gun on

her instinctively.  It becomes clear that this gesture signifies more

than the reflexes of a trained blade runner when she follows him into

his apartment in search of comfort and reassurance against the shock of

discovering her status as a replicant; for Deckard proceeds to take up

an attitude towards her which is as deadly as any gun-shot.  He wrenches

away from her the pillow of her past, the experiences transmuted by

memory with which Tyrell has gifted her, by reciting intimate

recollections to her face (violating and expropriating her privacy, her

inner life) and informing her that they belong to Tyrell's niece

(alienating her from that which gives a person any sense of continuity

over time   a point Locke emphasizes); his clumsy attempt to back away

from the suffering he thereby causes only makes matters worse by

manifesting his inability to care about Rachel enough to perform this

task of reparation with tact and delicacy.  In the end, he wants her to

leave his apartment; and Rachel does as he desires.

     Their next encounter in the flesh comes after Zhora's death, when

Rachel saves Deckard from Leon's murderous attack.  Back in his

apartment, Deckard acknowledges his own feelings to the extent of

assuring Rachel   who is now on the run from the authorities   that he

would never hunt her down and kill her; but the reason he gives for this

decision   that he owes her one   reveals the limited nature of that

acknowledgement.  They are equals in the way a debtor and his creditor

are equals; saving lives is no more than a business deal, nothing

personal is permitted to intrude.  This mercenary implication, together

with Deckard's unthinking reference to nerves as part of the blade

runner business when his rescuer is herself not only part of the

business but its essence and victim (retirement is a little more

discomforting than "the shakes"), gives Rachel the anger necessary to

reject the interpretation of their relationship which Deckard is

offering; but her inquiry as to whether Deckard has ever taken the V-K

test himself falls on deaf ears.  For the viewer, however, this question

hangs together with the accumulating evidence that the blade runner

business and its barter of life-taking for a living wage is

dehumanizing; and we begin to see the way in which a refusal to

acknowledge another's humanity constitutes a denial of the humanity in

oneself.

     As this complex scene continues, we are offered some indication

that Deckard's failings are redeemable; for when he wakes to find Rachel

playing the piano and discovers that she did so in order to test the

legitimacy of a memory of piano lessons ("I remember lessons   I don't

know if it's me or Tyrell's niece"), his response ("You play

beautifully") manifests precisely the tact and delicacy needed to undo

the damage of his brutal mishandling of this topic earlier.  The

situation seems ripe for a full acknowledgement of their feelings for

one another, but Rachel takes fright and is only prevented from leaving

the apartment by Deckard slamming the door.  He pushes her against the

wall, and initiates the following dialogue as he advances on her:

                           

   Deckard:  "You kiss me."

   Rachel:  "I can't rely on -"

   Deckard:  "Say 'Kiss me'."

   Rachel:  "Kiss me."

   Deckard:  "I want you."

   Rachel:  "I want you."

   Deckard:  "Again."

   Rachel:  "I want you.  Put your arms around me..."

                                                                    

     This sequence, with its lushly romantic soundtrack, hits a very

false note: Deckard seems to be extracting an acknowledgement by force

and thus not extracting an acknowledgement at all, and the threatening

structure of the scene carries overtones of rape, of a male unable to

take no for an answer.  The reality is more complex.  We have some

grounds for thinking that at this stage Rachel is indeed denying her

true feelings for Deckard; her problem is not just that she cannot rely

on Deckard's feelings, but also that she feels incapable of staking her

life on her own emotions   the revelations about a transplanted

personality make her unsure of the reality of the emotions she feels in

a way which is precisely analogous to her doubts about her capacity to

play the piano.  To this degree, she needs help in surmounting this

anxiety, and Deckard is the appropriate person to provide this help;

indeed, this is clearly what he takes himself to be doing in the

dialogue quoted above   allowing her to acknowledge without fear the

reality of her feelings.  The difficulties arise because Deckard forces

the right words into her mouth and thereby violates her autonomy; Rachel

is given a lesson in how to express her inner life, and by the end of

the scene she does learn how to go on and find the appropriate words

unprompted ("Put your hands on me..."), but this learning process occurs

within an overall context of teacher and pupil ie of a power-

relationship which fails to allow for the equality of participants.  

The way in which Deckard and Rachel here acknowledge their feelings for

one another inevitably prevents a full acknowledgement of Rachel's

humanity; and since it was Deckard who set the terms of this encounter  

who failed to find a way of educating Rachel which acknowledged her

autonomy   the responsibility for Rachel's failure to be fully

respectful of her own humanity is his.

     What is needed is a further and fateful step in Deckard's own

education   a lesson which Roy Baty undertakes to deliver in the

Bradbury buildings.  We will return to this climactic sequence to trace

its contours in some detail, but for now we should complete our account

of the theme of acknowledgement by considering the alteration in

Deckard's relationship with Rachel which is manifest when he returns to

her after Roy's death.  His apartment is quiet, disturbed only by the

flicker of a video screen, and he finds Rachel on a couch completely

covered in a sheet; the identification of this sheet with a shroud is

immediate, and when Deckard removes it he seems to be revealing a

corpse.  At this point, however, Deckard discovers a way of addressing

Rachel which brings her fully (back) to life   one which contrasts with

their previous confrontation beside the closed door of the apartment. 

In that encounter they faced one another standing, thus forming a strong

vertical patterning on the screen which emphasized Deckard's superior

height and aggression and reinforced the sense of his domination; in

this scene, he leans over her face from the head of the couch, creating

an equally strong horizontal patterning to their encounter   one which

does away with his superiority of height and build and confers a sense

of their profiles being essentially complementary rather than

competitive.  The ensuing dialogue matches this sense of achieved

equality: 

                               

   Deckard:   "Do you love me?"

   Rachel:  "I love you."

   Deckard:  "Do you trust me?"

   Rachel:  "I trust you."

                                                                   

     Rather than forcing words into her mouth by rote, Deckard asks

questions and Rachel is free to choose her answers   more precisely, she

freely chooses to acknowledge her love for Deckard, and by creating a

conversation in which Rachel could do this in a way which respects her

own autonomy, Deckard comes to share in the responsibility for their

achievement of equality and the full mutual acknowledgement it permits. 

These two have earned their escape from the nightmarish city-scape in

which everyone's humanity is at risk.

     Acknowledgement has thus emerged as a central aspect of what might

be termed human flourishing; the possession of human form and behavior

of the requisite complexity can make an entity eligible for treatment as

a human (ie it is a necessary condition for being so treated), but such

entities can only develop in their personhood   can only become fully

human   if their humanity is acknowledged rather than denied.  Blade

Runner adds a further twist to this claim by revealing in Deckard the

crippling consequences for one's own humanity of the failure to

acknowledge the humanity of others; to deny it in others is to deny it

in oneself.  In tracing out this theme we have shown how several

alternative criteria for humanity   specific levels of intelligence,

physical virtuosity, emotional empathy   reveal their irrelevance; and

the problems which might have been raised by robots rather than by

replicants (by mechanical entities rather than organisms cloned from

genetic material) are simply by-passed.  There remains, however, one

other element of being human with which both the film and the leader of

the replicants are obsessed, an element which must be fitted into our

thinking about this film   that of mortality.  Part of being human is

being mortal; and Blade Runner attempts to explore the significance of

human mortality in complex ways.

     What does it mean to claim that human beings are mortal?  If we

were to answer this by means of a contrast with the notion of

immortality, then it would seem that mortality consists in the fact that

one does not live forever   that a mortal life must end at some point. 

This contrast encourages the view that human beings are mortal because

their lives occupy a finite quantity of time, because their days are

numbered and destined to run out soon after three-score years and ten. 

Such a view is clearly the one taken by the replicants in general and

Roy Baty in particular; their dangerous trip back to Earth is motivated

by the desire for more life   the desire to extend their allotted span

of days until it matches that of a human being and allows them to go on

prosecuting their projects, loves and interests.  Are we to accept the

assumption that the replicants are less than human because their death

comes more swiftly and with complete certainty?

     It is made very clear in Blade Runner that such an assumption

embodies crucial misunderstandings of the specifically human relation to

death; and these misunderstandings are disinterred and undermined with

dizzying speed in the course of one brief scene.  After Deckard has shot

Zhora and is wandering through crowded streets looking for Rachel, he is

accosted by Leon   who observed Deckard's execution of his lover   and

dragged into an alley, where Leon proceeds to administer a savage

beating to the blade runner.  It is, however, the dialogue in this scene

which is of most importance:

                         

   Leon:  "How old am I?"

   Deckard:  "I don't know."

          

     

   Leon:  "My birthday is April 10th, 2017.  How long do I live?"

   Deckard:  "Four years."

     

   Leon:  "More than you.  Painful to live in fear, isn't it?  Nothing

     is worse than having an itch you can't scratch."

   Deckard:  "I agree."

   Leon:  "Wake up   time to die."

                                                                 

     By this stage in the film, our sympathies have been directed

towards the replicants and their desire for a longer life-span; we feel

sorry for them because, unlike us, their genetically-engineered

constitution embodies an ineradicable four-year limit to their

existence, and they know from the moment of their inception the precise

date of their death. Barring accidents, we think, any human being can

rely on living far longer than any replicant.  It is precisely this

assumption which Leon puts into question in his interrogation of

Deckard, for Leon's ability to kill the blade runner negates any

illusion that a normal human life-span trumps one with replicant

limitations   death cannot be kept at a Biblical arms-length.  Indeed,

Leon begins to emerge as a figure of real power as he names the moment

of Deckard's death; it seems that the replicants' certainty about the

date of their own end allows them to master and dismiss any fears about

dying, since that fatal possibility is tied down to a specific day  

whereas frail human beings, as Deckard is discovering, can never be sure

when their end will come.  At this point, however, our impression of

replicant superiority is in turn shown to be an illusion, for Rachel

saves Deckard from execution by shooting Leon in the head   thus proving

that knowing the date at which one's death is inevitable is not the same

as knowing when one will die.



     The lesson of this scene is clear:  mortal finitude should not be

understood as the simple fact that human beings have a necessarily

finite life-span, that all human lives will come to an end at some

point.  Rather, to describe human beings as mortal is to point out that

every moment of human life contains the threat of the end of that life;

every mortal moment is necessarily riven with the possibility of its own

non-existence.  Death is not an abstract or distant limit to life, an

indeterminate but inevitable boundary to the succession of days, but

rather a presence in every present moment of our existence. This is an

interpretation of the human relationship to death which Heidegger

captures in his notion of human existence as Being-towards-death; and in

the context of this film, its emergence reveals the ultimate irrelevance

of any distinction between human beings and replicants which is couched

in terms of the length of their respective life spans or the degree of

certainty with which each can predict an end to their lives on a

particular date.  Both are alive, and both possess consciousness; it

follows that both will die, and that both are conscious of that fact. 

Whether either will attain a grasp of the full significance of their

mortality and be capable of responding authentically to that

significance is another matter; but it is an issue which is as pertinent

to replicants as it is to human beings   which is simply another way of

saying that replicants stand in a human relationship towards death.

     Thus, whilst Deckard explores the significance and reflexivity of

acknowledgement, Roy engages in a quest for a correct understanding of

mortality.  Since, as we have already noted, he interprets mortality as

the condition of having a finite life-span, and since he interprets that

finitude as a constraint (a very human reaction), he concludes that the

only way to master or transcend his mortality is to master or transcend

its limits by altering or extending the span of his life; and it is this

conclusion which leads him to Tyrell.  We can see in advance that such a

response to human mortality constitutes a denial rather than an

acknowledgement of it; for the logical conclusion to which Roy's

response points is the removal of any temporal limit to one's life-span

  ie the attainment of immortality   and that condition is precisely the

one in contrast to which this interpretation of mortality is initially

understood.  It is only through his encounter with Tyrell   with his

Maker   that Roy comes to see the inadequacy of his response, and to

glimpse the possibility of a more authentic attitude to his own

mortality.

     It becomes clear at once to Tyrell that Roy is misconceiving this

critical issue when his creation demands more life and asks if the Maker

can repair what he made   as if the finitude of his life-span

constituted essential damage to his life.  Tyrell engages in a brief

discussion of the bio-mechanical limitations on extending that life-span

  in just the way a doctor might discuss the everyday human aging

process   but then dismisses the whole topic ("All of this is

academic.") and introduces the two central notions this film will

advance as ingredients of an authentic attitude towards human mortality:

          

     

   Tyrell:  "He who burns twice as brightly burns half as long.  And

          you have burned so very very brightly, Roy... Revel in your

          time."

   Roy:  "I've done things   questionable things."

          

     

   Tyrell:  "Nothing the God of bio-mechanics would not let you in

          heaven for."

                                                                   

     The metaphor of burning, by emphasizing brightness rather than

duration, encapsulates the idea that it is not the length but the

quality of a life that determines its value or worth; and here, quality

of life relates not to creature comforts but to the intensity with which

one experiences each moment of life as it occurs.  This intensity is a

function of the way in which the relevant person recognizes the nature

of time   a recognition which Heidegger embedded in his concept of

authentic Being-towards-Death; the transitory nature of the present is

not taken to show its insignificance or to lead to a form of life in

which one ignores the present in favor of living in the future or

dwelling upon the past, for such attitudes ignore the point that all

experience is present experience and have the consequence that the

person involved fails entirely to engage with his life as he lives it. 

Rather, the present moment is to be acknowledged as a gift from the

future and as destined to fade into the past   facets of the structure

of time which serve to define the nature of the present, but which

should lead to a valuing of each present moment as it passes rather than

to its devaluation.  Authentic human existence involves living in the

present and for the present without forgetting the way in which the

present is related to past and future; to live one's life as it should

be lived is to let every moment burn brightly and yet still acknowledge

that each moment will pass.

      Tyrell goes on in the dialogue quoted above to advise Roy to

revel in his time.  The Nietzschean connotations of the concept of

revelry or play should be evident here, particularly with the ensuing

death of Roy's God:  Zarathustra speaks constantly of the overman as one

who dances through life, whose life is a dance and is invested with

lightness and grace.  I take this scene to be positing a connection here

between Nietzsche's vision and the Heideggerian concept of the authentic

Being-towards-Death:  the man who revels in life revels in each present

moment, living it to the full whilst respecting its essential nature as

one transitory element in the ineluctable stream of time.  It is a

notion which Roy is already dimly aware of:  in the immediately

preceding scene, with Pris in J. F. Sebastian's apartment, he responds

to Pris' recitation of the Cartesian dictum "I think therefore I am" by

saying:  "Very good, Pris   now show him why"   and Pris performs a

cartwheel, immediately followed by plucking an egg from boiling water

bare-handed.  Roy knows, in other words, that the mere fact of existence

is not enough; fully living one's life involves revelling in the

possibilities of act and performance that the fact of embodied existence

makes possible.

     Another way of expanding this claim about play or revelry in time

would be to say that the significance or meaning of the moments which go

to make one's life should be generated from within that life rather than

from a reliance upon external guarantors.  The life of the overman, for

Zarathustra, was to be authenticated by means of the doctrine of eternal

recurrence:  one had achieved a fully human life only if, when faced

with the chance to have one's life over again, one could sincerely

desire that not a single moment within it should be changed.  Such a

vision clearly presupposes that one's life be a wholly integral unity,

its parts hanging together in a self-sufficient pattern from which

nothing could be dislodged; and such a self-sufficient life could have

no need for sources of value or worth external to itself   it would be

self-authenticating.  To posit such a life as fully human is thus to

reject any necessity to refer to the Christian God in its usual and

essential role as guarantor of human values; indeed, insofar as the

presence of this God tempts and permits men to think that they may refer

the worth of their lives to Him, it becomes essential for the attainment

of a fully human life that God's presence be removed from the scene.  In

narrating this removal as the murder of God by men, Nietzsche is

emphasizing in as graphic a way as possible the need for men to accept

full responsibility for their lives and for the significance of those

lives; and by inscribing himself into this narrative   by enacting the

murder of his Creator in a way which brings an anguished "Oh, my God!"

from J. F. Sebastian   Roy is assuming the mantle of the overman.  He

has learnt his lesson, and he proves it by enacting the most central of

its corollaries   the murder of his teacher.

     Naturally enough, he wishes to pass on his discovery to the last

remaining replicant   his lover, Pris.  Deckard, however, gets there

first and thus (unwittingly) ensures that Roy will impart his good news

in the form of a final, practical lesson through which Deckard will

acquire the capacity to acknowledge the full humanity in Rachel and in

himself.  If, that is, he survives the lesson.

     On the one level, it seems that Roy's pursuit of Deckard through

the decaying building is motivated purely by revenge   revenge not only

for the execution of Pris but also for the death of the other

replicants: Deckard carries their memory with him during his agonized

feats of endurance in the pain of broken fingers.  Many other themes are

woven together in this climactic hunt, however; to begin with, Roy's

role as overman is repeatedly emphasized by the various ways in which he

is presented as having gone beyond good and evil   not in the sense of

having transcended all notions of morality, but in the Nietzschean sense

of having escaped from the specifically Christian ethical code which is

based upon a contrast of good with evil rather than with bad.  Roy draws

attention to this aspect of his role by characterizing Deckard as the

representative of good ("I thought you were supposed to be good   aren't

you the good man.") and then hunting him down until he has experienced

to the full "... what it is to be a slave," ie what Roy conceives to be

the essence of a life dominated by Christian slave-morality.  The

Christian imagery which gradually collects around Roy in this sequence  

the nail through the palm, the frieze of cruciform ventilation units on

the roof-top, the dove of peace   should thus be seen in part as a means

of revealing the distance Roy has moved beyond the morality expressed in

such symbols:  they are available for him to use or discard as he sees

fit, as tools for his own personal purposes (he crucifies himself with

the nail in order to delay the decay of his body), and his use of them

in the task of inculcating a very non-Christian set of values in his

pupil stakes a claim that his message is at least as important for

humanity as was Christ's.  The hubris of this last claim, the depths of

self-assurance it requires, place Roy firmly in the role of the noble,

self-reliant re-evaluator of all values. 

     The concept of slavery acquires a further level of significance in

this sense, however:  for   at the end of Deckard's ordeal, after Roy's

unexpected rescue of him   Roy offers his pupil the following

description of his experience:  "Quite an experience to live in fear,

isn't it?  That's what it is, to be a slave."  The deliberate echoing of

a phrase Leon chose to describe the state of mind he was attempting to

create in Deckard through a savage beating makes it clear that the

replicants have experienced their own existence as one of living in fear

  an existence they define as slavery.  If we remember that replicants

were specifically created to serve as expendable substitutes for human

beings in dangerous or dirty situations off-world, and recall the time-

honored view that slavery   by annihilating the autonomy of an

individual   destroys one's humanity, then it becomes obvious that the

human race as a whole is here indicted for the crime of denying the

humanity of its replicant servants.  Deckard's ordeal places him on the

edge of existence and reduces him to an animal desire to survive; but

this minutes-long experience is merely a sample of the texture of which

all replicant life consists   and the responsibility for that lies with

every human being.

     Nevertheless, it seems undeniable that the central theme of this

sequence is death   or, more precisely, the threat of death.  Roy

manipulates the situation in such a way that Deckard comes to feel that

every moment may be his last, and Deckard's response to this is to flee

from the threat.  Until the final confrontation with Roy, who assumes

the status of the Angel of Death for the blade runner, Deckard functions

at the level of an injured animal, incapable of anything more than an

unthinking attempt to avoid the threat of extinction by refusing to face

it, by running away from it.  In this respect, he differs completely

from his pursuer, who   it is important to remember   is equally close

to the edge of his own existence; Roy knows   and his malfunctioning

hand confirms   that his time is almost up, and he is also aware that

Deckard (when armed with gun or crowbar) is perfectly capable of killing

or seriously injuring him.   The replicant's response to this threat,

however, is not to run from it but to run towards it: in toying with

Deckard, he also toys with the threat of extinction which paralyzes

Deckard's own capacity to transcend animal fear.

     We are thus presented with two opposing ways of responding to a

threat of death; and, given the already-established Heideggerian and

Nietzschean background, we are justified in reading this sequence as a

contrast between authentic and unauthentic ways of living a human life  

for the defining feature of human mortality is that every moment of

existence is riven with the necessary possibility of its non-existence;

the threat these men symbolize to one another is one which all human

beings have woven into the fabric of their everyday lives, and which

they must acknowledge or deny in some particular way.  Deckard's

response is unauthentic because it is an attempt to deny the ubiquity of

this threat; his flight from Roy implies that if he can escape from this

avenging replicant he will be safe, he can escape from the threat of

death   an implication which constitutes a denial of his own mortality. 

Roy's response, on the other hand, is authentic, for he treats these

matters of death and the death of love (Pris) playfully.  His cry of

mourning over Pris is translated into a mock wolf-howl, an imitation of

the huntsman's pack which signals that the game (of life and death) is

afoot, and from that moment, his words and behavior are shot through

with the imagery of sport and play.  He points out that firing upon an

unarmed man is not very sporting, and chides Deckard for unsportsmanlike

attacks with an iron bar; his response to one such attack, indeed, is to

cry "That's the spirit!"   as if his protagonist is at last beginning to

play the game properly.  The most important stretch of dialogue,

however, is the following one:

     

     

   Roy:  "You'd better get it up, or I'm going to have to kill you.

     Unless you're alive, you can't play, and if you can't play..."



     This emphasis upon sport is not (only) a sign of mania or

psychological imbalance, but rather a conjuration of the Nietzschean

vision of revelry or play as the authentic mode of mortal existence: 

like Zarathustra's disciples, Roy is dancing on the edge of the abyss. 

It recalls Pris' demonstration to J. F. Sebastian of the point of being

alive by performing a cartwheel.  To play is to be fully alive, and part

of investing one's life with such lightness and grace is the capacity to

look at death, and the death of love, without fear or hysteria.  Roy's

way of conducting his life-and-death duel with Deckard confirms his

achievement of the status of overman.

     He wants to do more than achieve this status for himself, however

  he wants to teach Deckard how to achieve it as well.  If Deckard fails

to absorb the lesson, he loses his chance to flourish as a human being:

for if to play is to be fully alive, not to play is to fail to live

fully   one's humanity withers; and in such circumstances, with Deckard

remaining in his unauthentic form of life, Roy's threat to execute him

would function as little more than the public confirmation of a self-

inflicted extinction of what was human in him.  If you can't play, you

might as well be dead.

     Deckard allows his suddenly-heightened awareness of the

omnipresent possibility of death to paralyze his life and reduce that

life to animal instincts; this response is unauthentic because, in

effect, it transforms a possibility into an actuality   it permits that

possibility to extinguish life by voiding it of what is distinctively

human, of an active embodied existence which transcends the animal.  Roy

has the task of teaching Deckard the difference between possibility and

actuality; he does so by allowing him to spend long minutes on the edge

of his existence, by pushing him to the edge of the abyss, by making

death seem unavoidable   and then rescuing him.  Rather than permitting

death to swallow up and dominate one's life, an authentic

acknowledgement of one's Being-towards-death involves treating death

playfully   for that is a way of acknowledging its omnipresent threat,

of showing that since the possibility of death is a defining

characteristic of human mortality (of what it means to be human) it is

not something one can or should avoid or deny.

     Authenticity in this respect involves revelling or play in time,

ie revelling in each present moment, living it to the full whilst

respecting its essential nature as one transitory element in the

ineluctable stream of time.  This is the insight Roy bequeaths to

Deckard in the last moments of the replicant's life, as they sit at the

edge of their abyss:

     

                                                                    

     

   Roy:  "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe ... All those

     moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

       "Time to die."



                                                                     

     Roy expresses the most seductive reason for wishing to postpone,

avoid or deny one's death   the fact that rare and precious human

experiences are irrevocably lost with the death of the person who

experienced them.  The loss is undeniable: and the film is surely right

in the elegiac note it strives for at this point; but the irrevocability

of that loss is equally undeniable.  It would clearly count as a radical

failure of acknowledgement of the nature of human experience to avoid

the truth that every present moment will and must become a memory; the

present can only be lived to the full by respecting both its reality and

its transitory nature.  It would, however, count as a further and more

profound failure to wish to bequeath one's own experience and memories

to others   as if one could outlive oneself, as if one's moments of

consciousness were alienable or transferable, as if one's mortality

could be denied.  This point, too, achieves its clearest articulation

with respect to our relation to the moment of our death; as Heidegger

puts it, our death is inalienable   no one can experience another

person's death for him, just as no one can die our death for us. 

Authentic Being-towards-death thus involves a capacity to acknowledge

and accept the moment of our death, when it comes, as the own-most

possibility of our Being; Roy's calm and moving last words manifest just

this authenticity, and they cry our for acknowledgement as such.  

     It is Deckard   as Roy's only companion   upon whom that

responsibility falls, the obligation not merely to acknowledge the

significance of those last words but also to acknowledge them as last

words, ie as part of Roy's last moments.  Deckard blinks, as if to clear

his vision, and then provides Roy with an epitaph:

     

                                                                       

     

   Deckard:  "Maybe he loved life more than he ever had before.  All he

     wanted were the same answers any of us want ... All I could do was

     sit there and watch him die."

                                                                       

     As an expression of acknowledgement of Roy as a fully human being,

these words could not be bettered.  Deckard sees that his opponent's

nature is riven with precisely the same doubts and worries, loves and

mysteries, as his own; but in particular he sees that it is his task to

sit there and watch Roy die, ie that Roy is fully subject to the

constraints of human mortality, that his death is his own, and that the

only   and the best   way in which another human being can acknowledge

Roy's humanity in those moments is not to try hysterically to postpone

his death, or to try incoherently to take Roy's death upon himself, but

rather to watch that death and to watch it as the death of another human

being.  To acknowledge someone's death is to acknowledge them as an

entity whose essence is Being-towards-death, but to acknowledge it in a

way which recognizes that each person's death is his own reveals insight

and authenticity in the beholder:  Deckard has learned his lesson, about

acknowledging others and about mortality, by acknowledging another's

death.  As Inspector Gaff puts it, he has done a man's job, the task of

a human being, and Roy's bequest to Deckard culminates in the

resurrection of Rachel.  It's a pity she won't live   but then again,

who does?



     2) What Becomes of People On Film?



     The physical and spiritual landscape of Blade Runner is that of

the age of technology:  those remnants of humanity left behind by the

off-world pioneers and settlers find themselves in a world with no

sunlight, surrounded by mechanisms   huge, soulless buildings, police

vehicles observing their deeds from the air, flying advertisement

hoardings with probing searchlights, and obscurely purposeful but

aberrantly shaped monoliths dividing up the pavements and roadways.  In

every case, the scale of the machines dwarfs that of their human

creators, a diminution which is only restored by the numbers of human

beings who populate the city   the ebb and flow of crowds is alone

capable of making it seem that Los Angeles is inhabited by its people;

but even within those crowds, it seems clear that technology threatens

its human creators in some intimate way.

     This threat is bodied forth and stalks the streets in the form of

the replicants:  they are seen by the Tyrell Corporation as the pinnacle

of human scientific achievement, and presented in the film as

manifesting a self-reliance which requires none of the technological

crutches with which the "real" human beings surround themselves; and the

possibility that any of these slaves might be loose on Earth calls forth

an extremity of response from their masters that transforms the

replicants into the stuff of nightmare.  The police department, the

blade runner units, the cumbersome Voight-Kampff procedure   all are

brought into the campaign to keep the planet unpolluted, as if the real

but limited threat posed by malfunctioning machines were in reality the

first signs of a contagious disease, of a plague.  As figures in the

psychic life of the humans stranded in Los Angeles, the replicants are

not a threat solely because of their martial skills or physical

perfections; as emblems of the technological carapace with which human

life is protected and mummified, they signify a threat to the spiritual

integrity   the humanity   of these remnants of the human race.  The

future that they fear is evident in their offspring:  in the low hiss of

wheels as a swarm of children glide by on their bikes, in the jabbering

city-speak arguments they have over machinery stolen from stationary

vehicles, in the distorting layers of material wrapped around their

small heads and bodies, these gangs of street-urchins embody the

dehumanized future of mankind on its machine-ridden planet.

     The question of whether human flourishing is possible in such an

age is one which this film insistently poses, but it does so in a very

specific way.  To understand this, we need to remember that, of all art

forms, that of film-making is the most inherently dependent upon

technology.  The material basis of film is the recording capacity of the

camera, ie the automatic production of an image of the world which is

exhibited before the camera lens, and the consequent reproduction and

projection of that image onto a cinema screen.  One might say that the

camera seems to satisfy one of mankind's perennial fantasies   that of

recording the way the world is without the mediation or distortion

consequent upon the interposition of human subjectivity into the

recording process<2>.  One could then go on to say that the attempt to

make a film   to utilize the camera for artistic purposes   constitutes

an attempt to find a possibility of human flourishing within the heart

of the humanly threatening age of technology, to subvert that threat

from the inside. Certainly, Blade Runner takes the question of whether

human flourishing is possible in such an age to be answered by answering

the question of whether a film (more specifically the film Blade Runner)

can be a work of art.

     As it stands, however, this question is both unmotivated (why

should any open-minded person doubt that a film-maker can create a work

of art?) and excessively general (what criteria should we use to test

whether any given film is a work of art?).  We require a further pointer

concerning the nature of technology and of its era if we are to grasp

the reasons for this cinematic self-doubt (as it were); and once again

Heidegger can be of some use here.  In an essay entitled "The Age of

Technology,"<3> he identified the Zeitgeist of our age as the tendency

to treat the natural world as a store of resources and raw materials for

human purposes   to regard rivers as hydro-electric power sources,

forests as a standing reserve of paper, the winds as currents of

potential energy; this attitude he contrasted with that of acknowledging

and respecting nature as a field of objects, forces and living beings

each with their own specific essence or Being   a being which humans

alone were capable of coming to understand and thereby coming to fulfill

more fully their own Being (namely Dasein   that being for which an

understanding of Being is an issue).  This analysis might lead any

film-maker to doubt the purity of film as an art-form   a mode of human

flourishing   because Heidegger's chosen label for the fatefully

destructive attitude of treating nature as a standing reserve is

"enframing;" and this phraseology recalls that earlier description of

the process of automatically producing, reproducing and projecting an

image of the world which we have already utilized as a means of

characterizing the operations of the camera.  For Heidegger, the fate of

mankind and the essence of humanity hang on the task of transcending the

attitude of enframing; for a film-maker, confronted with the knowledge

that his role is precisely to take responsibility for enframing the

world, for meaning the composition and exclusion constituted by each

frame in his film, that task of transcendence is logically excluded  

and he is left with the awareness that the means he wishes to employ in

preserving humanity and human flourishing may be essentially self-

defeating.

     Once the possibility of the inherent dehumanizing potential of

film is raised, however, the subject-matter by means of which one might

most clearly test that possibility becomes clear; for if the camera's

enframing of the natural world constitutes a denial of the essence of

that world and thus a denial of the viewer's essentially human capacity

to acknowledge that essence, then this dehumanizing threat would surely

become most potent and most evident when the camera turns to frame human

beings on film.  In such circumstances, where humanity is precisely what

is being put before the camera, the possibility of framing that humanity

without loss and our capacity as viewers to perceive that humanity in

the frames of the film would receive their most fundamental test.  Of

course, the successful framing of humanity on film could not guarantee

that this humanity be acknowledged by the viewer, for in one respect our

position as viewers resembles that of Deckard in the specific film we

are discussing:  just as Deckard is able to see that in every relevant

way the replicants are suitable candidates for personhood but must still

make the leap of acknowledgement, so any film viewer is presented with a

world which may confirm in every possible way that the objects of his

vision include human beings but which cannot force him to acknowledge

their humanity.  The major difference from Deckard lies in the fact that

the blade runner cannot off-load any of his responsibility onto a

director whose enframing decisions create the world he sees.

     Success in filming such subject-matter (ie the creation of a

filmed world which was such that any failure to acknowledge the humanity

of the filmed characters would be the responsibility of the viewer)

would then constitute an artistic proof that the age of technology is

incapable of completely obliterating human flourishing   or, more

precisely, that it is humanly possible to produce a film that is a work

of art.  The question Blade Runner therefore takes it upon itself to

answer is:  what becomes of people on film?

     Let us now try to assemble some of the evidence suggesting that

Blade Runner is indeed a film about film (making).  The theme is

announced in its opening sequence, in which the gradual approach of the

camera towards the Tyrell building and the room in which Leon is being

interrogated is inter-cut with close-ups of an unblinking eye, one in

which the venting flames of the city-scape surrounding the Tyrell

buildings wash in reflection across the pupil and iris; this all-seeing,

unblinking eye seems to me to be an obvious image for the camera which

is directing and focusing our gaze as viewers.  The film never

identifies it as belonging to any of the characters in the story, and

the incident upon which this sequence eventually focuses   Leon's

interrogation by and execution of a blade runner   is presented to those

characters in the form of a video or film recording.  Since we are

presented with this incident at first hand (as it were), the later

representations of it in the form of a film serve only to emphasize

further the presence of the camera as mediator between the viewer and

the events viewed.

     The character who is presented as obsessively viewing and

reviewing this film-within-the-film is Deckard; and when this fact is

taken together with the early scene in which (alongside Bryant) he sits

in a darkened room or theater observing photographs of the replicants

projected on a screen before him   as if viewing the rushes of a film or

considering editing options   then the film's posited identification of

Deckard with a director (more specifically with the director of a film

about replicants) begins to emerge.  This identification is confirmed by

two central features of his job as a blade runner or detective:  first,

his use of the Voight-Kampff machine, a construction which involves his

looking at people through a view finder and controlling the focus of the

machine's gaze on their faces; and secondly, his use of the  televisual

unit in his apartment to unearth evidence of Zhora in Leon's life   this

feat of detection involves analysis of a photograph, but more precisely

it involves directing the focus of analysis within the photograph,

calling for close-ups and tracking shots within the photographed room as

if it were a film set.

     If this interpretative claim is correct, then it is already clear

that this film shows itself to be aware of the destructive potential

inherent in framing humanity on film, for the choice of a blade runner

as directorial surrogate brings into the foreground precisely this

dehumanizing potential   it is one aspect of Deckard's business to

elucidate signs of non-humanity from the people upon whom his attention

focuses, and if he performs his job correctly his attention focuses on

replicants and results in their execution.  This sense of the death  

dealing potential of film is further emphasized by the film's

identification of the camera with a gun: since Deckard fulfills the role

of director, his progress throughout the film behind an advancing gun  

and, in particular, his progress through the Bradbury building in search

of Pris and Roy, during which he rigidly holds his weapon in front of

him as if it were mediating his vision of the environment as a whole  

manifests a claim that the director's professional equipment is a

potentially lethal weapon.

     As we have already had cause to emphasize, however, potentiality

and actuality are two very different things, particularly when it is

death that is at stake; after all, Deckard doesn't actually execute

Rachel in the elevator when she surprises him there at the beginning of

the film.  To put this more precisely:  Blade Runner offers more than

one surrogate for the camera, since another piece of equipment which

plays a key role in Deckard's job and through which he tends to focus

upon people he encounters is the Voight-Kampff machine which we have

already mentioned.  This piece of technology can, of course, help to

issue a sentence of death, but its primary function is not to dehumanize

whatever is placed in front of it but rather to assess the humanity of

those subject to its gaze   its purpose is to bring out or elucidate any

humanity which might be there, as well as revealing inhumanity if it is

present.  If we identify the camera with such a machine, then we must

read the film as claiming that the camera's capacity to destroy the

human in what it captures is matched by a capacity to preserve that same

quality.

     If these remarks suffice to establish the claim that the question

of what becomes of (the humanity of) people on film is an explicit

concern of this film, then what answer can we regard it as returning to

its own question?  This answer is manifest in the scene after Roy's

death when Deckard returns to his apartment and to Rachel.  Once again,

Deckard's entrance involves viewing the world along the barrel of his

gun, and when the camera reveals Rachel under a sheet/shroud, it seems

clear that the death-dealing properties of the director's art have won

out.  Such is not the case, however: for Deckard removes the shroud with

his gun and Rachel comes back from the dead.  The point, I think, is

this: although the camera (like a gun) has an inherent death-dealing

capacity (guns are after all made for killing), its dehumanizing

tendency can be subverted and the life of its human subjects preserved,

but this possibility of subversion depends upon the manner in which the

camera is used.  As we noted earlier, the camera can be seen as a means

of recording the way the world is without the interposition of human

subjectivity into the recording process; but one of the central claims

of our particular film is that the flourishing of any person's humanity

requires its acknowledgement by those who observe (or otherwise interact

with) him   and this entails that human subjectivity must be interposed,

must play a role, if humanity is to be preserved on film.  The goal of

preserving this humanity thus involves working against the grain of the

process of filming, which is why the camera is in the end identified

with a gun rather than with the inherently neutral Voight-Kampff

machine; but the resurrection of Rachel also records this director's

conviction that the grain of film can indeed be opposed and worked

against.

     What this means is that it is not just the fact of enframing but

also the way that enframing is done which determines what becomes of the

human on film.  To put it another way:  the responsibility for

preserving or destroying the humanity of the camera's subjects rests

with the particular director; if he abdicates from his responsibility to

recognize and elicit the humanity of filmed people, then the camera will

transform those subjects into objects (into replicants), but if he

exercises that responsibility adequately, then he retains the power to

vivify their subjectivity (as Deckard learns to do with Rachel).  It

follows that, just as an individual's achievement of humanity in this

respect cannot be evaluated apart from the nature of his relationships

with particular people and their development over time, so how any

director exercises his responsibilities and what he achieves by means of

their exercise cannot be predicted in advance of an assessment of each

particular film he makes.  A gun can be used to kill or to remove a

shroud; the choice and the responsibility rest with the person holding

the gun, and are manifest in each particular thing he does with it.

     Blade Runner does, however, offer a certain set of suggestions

about how a director must exercise his responsibilities if he is to

preserve rather than destroy the humanity of his filmed subjects:  for

Deckard's capacity to use his gun/camera to resurrect Rachel is entirely

due to the lesson Roy teaches him.  This lesson begins with Deckard

losing his gun, his badge of director's rank   as if losing the symbol

of his distinction from the rest of humanity, as if part of his lesson

is that being a good director involves no more (and no less) than

permitting his definitively human capacities to flourish and be

expressed.  This interpretation is confirmed by the lesson Roy goes on

to teach, for   as we have seen   Deckard is taught to acknowledge the

humanity of others, understood as an acknowledgement of their mortality

and finitude; and he learns in addition that a failure to acknowledge

the humanity of others is a way of crippling one's own humanity, of

creating a spiritual blankness.  Blade Runner therefore claims two

things about the task of directing:  first, that to preserve the

humanity of the camera's subjects is an achievement of human flourishing

in itself; and secondly, that a failure to do so   a failure to make a

film which is a work of art   is a failure of humanity in the director.

     Film-making thus presents itself as no more (and no less) than a

specific way in which one human being can acknowledge or fail to

acknowledge the humanity of others   a challenge which faces us all in

every moment of our lives.  The camera's potential for dehumanizing its

subjects can be matched by its capacity to translate them into screened

images with their humanity preserved, and so it cannot provide the

director with a scapegoat upon which to load the responsibility for a

failure of acknowledgement or with a crutch which makes authentic

acknowledgement any easier to achieve.  This truth about the

responsibilities of the director does not, however, remove the

responsibilities of the viewer.  The camera   if responsibly utilized by

the director   may show us all the evidence, all the facts of the

matter, everything that is the case and that may be relevant to

evaluating the humanity of its subjects, but it cannot acknowledge their

humanity for us.  That remains the task of the viewer.







                                  Notes



            <1>   Cf the detailed treatment of these themes in his book The Claim of

            Reason (OUP, Oxford: 1979).



            <2>   For more detail on this issue, cf Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed

            (Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA: 1971).



            <3>   Collected in Poetry, Language, Thought (Harper and Row, New York:

            1971), trans. A. Hofstadter.


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