The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman

The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman

The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman

The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman

Excerpt

When I asked a leading philosopher—one of the most influential and celebrated of the last half-century—if he would contribute to this volume on the work of Charlie Kaufman he politely replied: “Dear David, I have to be honest—I don’t know who Charlie Kaufman is, or what he has done, or why I should have views about him. I’m really sorry.” It’s easy enough to chalk up the scholar’s kind rebuke and gentle rejection to his own lapse: perhaps he is not a moviegoer; perhaps he has seen Kaufman’s films but did not recall the name; and so on. But the philosopher’s “who-what-why” remains apt for any fan of Kaufman’s work: Who is Charlie Kaufman, what has he done, and why should we have views about him? The present volume is an effort to provide clear, emphatic, and convincing replies to these questions. The thirteen contributors address the philosophical richness of Charlie Kaufman’s work—how it helps us understand better the enduring questions of human existence. Neither the individual essays nor the volume as a whole propose to offer a theory of Charlie Kaufman’s philosophy; rather, we present a series of elegant, cogent, and lively engagements with the philosophical and literary multiplicities of meaning and significance in his many celebrated films. As Kaufman says, “My movies don’t offer lessons.” He also says, “I try to be truthful in writing.” Our aim is no different.

The Philosophy of Charlie Kaufman marks the first collection of essays devoted exclusively to a rigorous philosophical exploration of Kaufman’s work by a team of capable and critical scholars from a wide range of disciplines. In fact, the contributors themselves give strong evidence for the diversity of interest in Kaufman—they include political theorists and philosophers, classicists and theologians, professors of literature and filmmakers, literary critics and poets. Some of the existing secondary literature . . .

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