Foundations of Science

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 191–194 | Cite as

Dealing with the Ghost: Phantasmagorical Apparitions of Bertolt Brecht

  • Kurt Vanhoutte
  • Nele Wynants


Taken together, the commentaries by Sigrid Merx and Tom Paulus suggest a remarkable dialectical relationship with regard to our article “Performing Phenomenology: Negotiating Presence in Intermedial Theatre”. On the one side a lack of elaborated political consciousness is being detected, while on the other side an alleged surplus of political consciousness is being criticized. Although apparently contradictory, these reactions seem to originate in the same ideological stress: both are somehow haunted by the legacy of Bertolt Brecht and the ideology of the image implicit in critical theory. We argue that the tension between illusion and deconstruction indeed is crucial to the history of the mediatized image, but that it should be taken to a deeper level where it not only remains unsolved but where it forms the heart of the experience. The user knows very well that she is being fooled and, moreover, generously lets herself being fooled. We historicize this fundamental ambivalence with a short excursion in pre-cinematic, pre-Brechtian times. Throughout the nineteenth and the twentieth century, periodic shifts between illusion and its suspension indicates the emergence of what we, in the digital era, might refer to as a ‘meta-realism’, an imagery that incorporates its own critique inside itself. If this analysis holds true, we eventually have to reformulate the stakes of deconstruction and push critical theory beyond its own borders.


Immersion Illusion Critical theory Cognitive negotiation Meta-realism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Theatre, Film and Literature StudiesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Research Foundation–Flanders (FWO)University of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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