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(Re)Moving the heart: interiority and intrusion in María Zambrano, Jean Luc Nancy and Claire Denis

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This essay examines three works – María Zambrano's Persona y democracia (1958), Jean Luc Nancy's L'Intrus (2000) and Claire Denis's film The Intruder (2004) – in which the heart figures not just as an organ but as a concept that designates the dynamic nature and unstable limits of existence: individual, social and generically human. Rooted in different contexts and responding to unique concerns, these texts explore the notion of the heart as a marker of an interiority that is open and hollowed both from within and without. Jean Luc Nancy's autobiographical account of his heart transplant, which centers on the idea of intrusion and the figure of the intruder is juxtaposed with Zambrano's account of the human subject as a being that carries a void within. Further, I explore two fundamental tenets of Zambrano's philosophical anthropology – her account of the birth of philosophy and the establishment of the polis as a culmination of the process of humanization of the world, and her critique of the return of sacrifice – in relation to Clare Denis's filmic narrative of the protagonist's voyage from Europe to South Korea and Polynesia in search of a new heart. I argue that both Zambrano's book and Denis's film trace the curvature of the movement or travel through time in which the singularity of the person and its relation to others, becomes haunted by the possibility of crime, individual (murder to extract someone's heart) or historical (fascism in Zambrano, the iniquities of globalization in Denis).
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Keywords: Claire Denis; Jean-Luc Nancy; María Zambrano; crime; sacrifice; void

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2015

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