On the Dialectical Value of the Science of Mickey Mouse or the Return of the Negation of the Negation in Cinema Studies

Doru POP


Many authors have announced the death of theory or the end of criticism, while others tried in recent years to reinvigorate Critical Theory or Marxism, in an effort to adapt them to the realities of the XXI-st century. There are several lines of questioning here, the first is if the analytical principles developed during the XIX-th century are still practical. While a ‘second generation’ of critical theorists provided innovative reflections in the contemporary theoretical inquiry and advanced multiple solutions and conceptual renewals of the field, the most problematic issues about theory remain unsolved. This is visible in the intellectual conflict between the proponents of post-theory and the followers of Grand Theory. Using the framework of film studies, this paper raises some of the most difficult questions when it comes to ideological, social and political critique, and more importantly the problem is its methodological validity. Also, have the social sciences exhausted all the resources of critical thinking, is this a moment of utmost exhaustion the dialectical criticism? This study opens as an overview of the most important debates about Critical Theory and critical thinking today, and offers a final and personal response for how the critical method can still be practiced. By proposing a new dialectical approach for interpreting recent cinematic productions the author advances the concept of fluid dialectics. Recovering the mechanisms of dialectical approaches from Hegel to Marx and Lacan this paper is making a modest suggestion, that of the return to powers of the dialectical method and the magic of the negation of negation. To the announced “death of theory” the answer here is the revival of the debate about the force of dialectics. 

Keywords: Marxism, cinema studies, Critical Theory, post-theory, dialectical method, negation of negation

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.19.4