At the 11 AM panel on the very last day of SCMS, attendees settled in to the Fairmont’s Bersimis room, luggage in hand, ready to dash off to the airport after catching a final panel or two. At the “Ethics After Cinema” panel, Concordia’s Adam Rosadiuk presented on “The Anti-human and the Inhumane: Reading Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) through the Image Theory and Eco-ethics of Hans Jonas” alongside Rebecca Sheehan from California State University, Fullerton, and Harvard’s Katherine Rennebohm. Nestled between two compelling Wittgensteinian considerations of ethics and cinema, Rosadiuk offered a complimentary working through of Hans Jonas’s environmentalist ethics. In particular, Rosadiuk’s investigation of Melancholia’s ambiguous final tableau provided rich territory for the Q&A session, which covered expansive ground.
Rosadiuk’s presentation raised many interesting questions about what may be a kind of default attitude in thinking about subjectivity and authorial narration in cinema. For instance, Rosadiuk used the shifting cinematographic techniques in Melancholia to query why we may tend assume that the camera is necessarily a coherent (or even a schizophrenic) single subjectivity. Indeed, in Melancholia, a film overtly concerned with the potentiality and experience of ethical subjectivities, a consideration of multiple apparatuses as competing narrators is intriguing to say the least. Rosadiuk brought Jonas’s insistence that metaphysics must underpin ethics in dialogue with Steven Shaviro’s work on Melancholia in a thought-provoking move towards a new ethics for the anthropocene, a hot topic at SCMS this year. Surely those in attendance are still mulling over thoughts of a “metaphysical image of man” and the importance of a theory of responsibility in confronting global catastrophe today. To end, Rodadiuk suggested that a fantasy of a ‘downloadable ethics’ ought to be let go in favour of a more mature form of eco-philosophy and criticism, a philosophy of reality as a multitude of consciousness and ongoing negotiation.