Wide open spaces (and Hegelian secrets)

"Why the popularity of the Western? Because young people who sit cramped in buses and tied to assembly lines terribly wish they could be elsewhere.... Like all art, but more than most, the movies are not merely a reflection, but an extension of the actual -- an extension along the lines which people feel are lacking and possible in the actual. That, my dear, is the complete secret of Hegelian dialectic. The two, the actual and the potential, are always inseparably linked; one is always giving way to the other. At a certain stage a crisis takes place and a complete change is the result."

- C.L.R. James


Benjamin said...

Or Badiou:
'Perhaps the greatest contribution of the United States to the thematic of the century is to have placed at the heart of its cinema the question of the genealogy of courage and of the intimate struggle against cowardice. This is what makes the western - in which this struggle is paramount - a solid, modern genre, and what has enabled it to yield an inordinate number of masterpieces.'
The Century, p. 124

ECW said...

"The principle of the modern world-thought and the universal has given courage a higher form, because its display now seems to be more mechanical, the act not of this particular person, but of a member of a whole. Moreover, it seems to be turned not against single persons, but against a hostile group, and hence personal bravery appears impersonal. It is for this reason that thought has invented the gun, and the invention of this weapon, which has changed the purely personal form of bravery into a more abstract one, is no accident."

(Hegel, from Phil of Right)
I think this is way samurai films are the correct extension of the Western away from the eyeline match death to the heroic sound of the katana going whoooosh...