Harun Farocki: Empatia e conflitto

Clio Nicastro


The aim of this paper is to compare Aristotele's idea of pathos - according to the Book II of Rhetoric -  with Harun Farocki's multifold analysis of the Einfühlung}. It is possible to regard the two concepts of empathy and distance as having significant importance throughout Farocki's filmography and critical texts. From as early as his second film, "Nicht löschbares Feuer (1969), the german filmmaker seeks to prove how ambiguous and dangerous it could be to use empathic images in order to represent disasters and tragedies in human history, like the Napalm bombing in Vietnam. Showing the suffering of these victims may simply serve as an emotional hook for the audience and  could simultaneously overwhelm and scare away the spectator. In order to avoid the fleeting commiseration for the victim, Farocki chooses instead a metaphorical approach; to give the viewer an idea of what burning napalm is like, the filmmaker puts out a burning cigarette on his arm, giving the spectator only some technical information about the temperature of napalm. What are the features of the metaphor when it is a device to reveal, without reducing, the forces' links that are involved in the relation between power and language?

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ISSN: 2281-3209                DOI Prefix: 10.7408

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