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First SMRN Meeting of 2019: Two takes on Plato’s cave

After a short break during the winter, SMRN had another thrilling meeting on January 30, with members joining including Azadeh Emadi, Carol Bier, Farshid Kazemi, Kalpana Subramanian, Laura Marks, Siying Duan, Steve Baris, Mansoor Behnam, Narjis Mirza, Nina Czegledy, and Walid El Khachab.

Walid El Khachab and Farshid Kazemi each presented their work in progress. They share an interest in the relationship between cinematic experience and Plato’s cave metaphor, but from diametrical positions: Walid thinks of the cave as a most material and fleshy space for the origin of cinema, while Farshid treats the cave as a site of the imaginal realm.

Walid argued that the experience of movie theatres can be compared to the appreciation of the painting and other art forms in the cave. The metaphor of cave can inform the understanding of “screen”. Walid unfolded different aspects of cave experience by poetically making association with other metaphors including womb, train station, shadow theatre. He also pointed out the cave is a space for ritual, or a “home” out of our current space and time.

Farshid approached this issue with the concept of the world of Hurqālyā, or the imaginal realm, in Islamicate philosophy. He pointed out that the etymology of Hurqālyā links it to the fire in Plato’s allegory of the cave. The world of Hurqālyā, as the world of images between the world of forms and the material world, acts as the projector of images that brings about the movement and process of the existentiation of the world.

The presentations provoked fervent discussion and feedback as always.

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