Andrei Tarkovsky and Lev Shestov

This morning I discovered the following book online: Andreï Tarkovski, l’art et la pensée, by Luca Governatori, who is a film director himself.  Using the “Click to Look Inside!” feature at, or “Cliquez pour Feuilleter!” as it says in French, I searched for Shestov, or Chestov as he is called in France, and nine references were returned.  On page 13 is a quote from Shestov’s book, Athens and Jerusalem (located on pages 433-4 in the English translation from 1966 by Bernard Martin).  Here is the quote:

The philosophers seek to “explain” the world in such a way that everything becomes clear and transparent and that life no longer has in itself anything, or the least possible amount, of the problematic and mysterious.  Should they not, rather, concern themselves with showing that precisely what appears to men clear and comprehensible is strangely enigmatic and mysterious?  Should they not try to deliver themselves and others from the power of concepts whose definiteness destroys mystery?  The sources, the roots, of being lie, in fact, in that which is hidden and not in that which is revealed.

Here are Governatori’s comments about this quote (my translation):

This aphorism of Shestov appears to us, if it is not the key, at least one of the possible keys for entering the Tarkovskian universe.  Because cinematically, we will see in what manner, the Russian filmmaker carries out that essential philosophical act, of which Shestov, like Kierkegaard before him, was the spokesman: to lift the veil that reason has thrown over existence.

The works of Tarkovsky, more precisely, carry in them the double movement contained in the aphorism of the Russian philosopher: a bringing to light of the ontological mystery, and, as its necessary corollary, an insistence on the radical finitude of our capacity to know.  Tarkovsky will be the filmmaker of the exceeding [dépassement] of the logos.  Tarkovsky will be the filmmaker of the return to the original mystery.

But, from Shestov to Tarkovsky, in this sliding from the philosophical to the cinematic, something else is at play.  The Russian philosopher verges on suicide (philosophically, we mean).  To call conceptually for a rejection of the concept is a posture borne with difficulty.  Man is caught here by the liar’s paradox.  In cinema, because he accomplishes the act by standing outside the sphere of the conceptual, Tarkovsky escapes from the mesh of the net.  Where the philosopher searched somewhere in us to prove, a battle lost in advance, the nondistrainability of the world, the artist simply wants us to experience it.  Tarkovsky is not a liar.  (pp. 13-4)

This entry was posted in Russian religious philosophy, Shestov, Lev, Tarkovsky, Andrei. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Andrei Tarkovsky and Lev Shestov

  1. Pingback: A “basis” argument for Shestov’s interpretation of the Fall | Extravagant Creation

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