Camera Obscura: Of Ideology

Camera Obscura: Of Ideology


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, December 9


Marx, Freud, Nietzsche—in vastly different ways all three employed the metaphor of the camera obscura in their work. In this classic book—at last available in an English translation—the distinguished French philosopher Sarah Kofman offers an extended reflection on this metaphor. She contrasts the mechanical function of the camera obscura as a kind of copy machine, rendering a mirror-image of the work, with its use in the writings of master thinkers.

In her opening chapter on Marx, Kofman provides a reading of inversion as necessary to the ideological process. She then explores the metaphor of the camera obscura in Freud's description of the unconscious. For Nietzsche the camera obscura is a "metaphor for forgetting." Kofman asks here whether the "magical apparatus" of the camera obscura, rather than bringing about clarity, serves some thinkers as fetish. Camera Obscura is a powerful discussion of a metaphor that dominates contemporary theory from philosophy to film.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801485930
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/10/1998
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

SARAH KOFMAN held the Chair of Philosophy at the University of Paris I. Among her numerous books are Socrates: Fictions of a Philosopher and The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud's Writings, both published by Cornell. WILL STRAW is Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Communications at McGill University.

What People are Saying About This

Nicole Fermon

"Sarah Kofman's book is a focused and tightly argued discussion of the camera obscura-and the visual more generally-in learned and well-crafted essays that present a sustained critique of metaphor and ideologies. Her discussion of the omnipotent ocular is conducted in part to understand the role played by ideology and metaphor in warding off the horror of castration, in part to show that this same structure also functions as an ambiguous remedy."

November 1999 Choice

"The first English translation of Camera Obscura, de l'ideology (originally published in Paris in 1973), Kofman discusses the use of the image of the camera obscura in the work of Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche....Kofman provides an insightful look at Marx's use of the idea of inversion—as this is supposed to occur both in a camera obscura and in ideology. She interprets Marx to hold that religion is not only a form of ideology, but 'the form of every ideology.' Kofman draws useful connections among Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche, who all draw attention to something—ideology or the unconscious or perspective—as a powerful (but often unrecognized) part of human life."

Customer Reviews