Posted by: cinemagodardcinema | December 14, 2010

The Anti-Semite Question II

After much consideration, I have decided not to write anything on this topic. There are many reasons, not the least of which is my dedication at present to two other Godard projects which are to be published in the near future. I also feel that the subject is out of my range of expertise – my focus is always on the films, and this topic seems to focus more on rumour, speculation, interview statements, etc. about the man himself, which, academically speaking, I have little interest in. There is already a great deal that has been written on the subject, including Bernard-Henri Lévy’s pieces translated in the Huffington Post. There is also a book coming out on the subject: Filmer après Auschwitz/La question juive de Jean-Luc Godard (Cognac, France: Éditions Le temps qu’il fait, 2011), by Maurice Darmon. I also refer those interested to Bill Krohn’s Kinbrody and the Ceejays, which points out the “ideological simplifications and biographical reductivism” in Richard Brody’s bio. Adrian Martin’s Contempt is also well worth reading.

I will, however, say this. The question brings up an old debate. Should one hate Chinatown because one finds Polanski morally reprehensible? Should one refuse to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona (to my mind one of the most enjoyable films of the last few years) because one finds some of Allen’s life choices morally bankrupt? I don’t think so. Of course, many would disagree. To my mind, moral judgments about the author blind us from truly seeing the work for itself. Debates about JLG the man should be left to the pundits, judgments to the historians. I am neither. For those like me interested in the films – their aesthetic and philosophical richness, their canonical importance, their phenomenological impact – such debates have only prurient interest. I do not believe, from the evidence I’ve read, that JLG is antisemitic. I have no doubt, however, that he is abrasive, insensitive, perhaps even solipsistic – in short, an asshole. But then again, I don’t really care.

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