The Stars (1957) – Edgar Morin
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Who can tell me who the lovely lady on the cover is? Barabara Steele?
I discovered this book via the excellent Midnight Movies (1983) by Jeffrey Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum
Worshipped as heroes, treated as gods, movie stars are more than objects of admiration. A star’s influence touches on every aspect of ordinary life, dictating taste in fashion, lifestyle, and desire. Edgar Morin’s remarkable investigation into the cultural and social significance of the star system traces its evolution from the earliest days of the cinema – when stars like Chaplin, Garbo, and Valentino lived at a distance from their fans, far beyond all mortals, to the postwar era in which stars like Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe became familiar and familial, less unapproachable but more moving, and concludes with an analysis of the furious religious adulation surrounding the life and death of James Dean. Ultimately, Morin finds, stars are more than just creations of the movie studios; they serve as intermediaries between the real and the imaginary. Today, with the cult of fame more pervasive and influential than ever, The Stars remains a vibrant, vital, and surprising work.
About the Author
Edgar Morin is director of studies emeritus at France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and president of the Association pour la Pensee Complexe. He is the author of over thirty books and numerous articles on topics ranging from scientific method and anthropology to politics and popular culture.
Richard Howard, poet and critic, teaches at the School of Arts at Columbia University. He has translated many books of French criticism, including works by Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Tzvetan Todorov. His most recent translations include Absinthe: A Novel and The Charterhouse of Parma.
Edgar Morin is a French philosopher and sociologist who was born in Paris on July 8, 1921 under his original name Edgar Nahoum. He is of Judeo-Spanish origin (Sefardi). He is known for the transdisciplinarity of his works, in that he covers a wide range of interests and dismisses the conventional boundaries between academic disciplines. –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Morin [Nov 2006]
See also: 1957 – cult of personality – cult movie stars – movie stars – film – sociology
The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man (1956) – Edgar Morin
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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.”
See also: 1956 – illusion – imagination – fantasy – film – sociology