Intersubjectivity, to be extremely basic, is kinda like common sense. It refers to the meanings we as a collective society hold based on our interactions and mingling ideas, and how those meanings, when shared, become almost objective. Take, for example, the preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the part where it says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Now, as much as we’d all like to believe the contrary, pretty much none of that is true. Men aren’t created equal, just look at yourself and Donald Trump, he’s much worse. Furthermore, not all of us believe in a Creator, so then we can’t believe that he/she/it/they endowed us with anything. And lastly, the very concept of inalienable rights – rights we as people are owed just for the sake of being people – is simply false; you have an opportunity to acquire life, liberty and happiness, but not the right. Just look around the world, there are many unhappy people living in abject poverty or fear of their government who are pursuing things like clean water, food, wellness, and freedom long before happiness. The idea that only Americans are entitled to life’s sweetest fruits isn’t just false, it’s flat-out arrogant. But we believe it; in fact, it’s one of the biggest things we believe, and we don’t accept it as belief, we accept it as the bold-letter truth, because we all believe it. That, in a nutshell, is intersubjectivity.
In the world of film, intersubjectivity is a balancing act between what the filmmaker shows us and what we believe about it, or in short, his or her perception juxtaposed against our collective perception. This makes for some interesting intersections of truth and reality, and in the latest video essay from Luiza Liz’s and her Art Regard You Tube channel, she examines intersubjectivity in the context of one of its greatest cinematic purveyors: Roman Polanski. A polarizing filmmaker for more than one reason, Polanski is a particular master when it comes to blending perceptions and subjective viewpoints into objective truths and playing with the murky areas where they overlap.
It’s a heady concept to be sure, but there’s no one better to explain it to you than Ms. Liz, who over the last three months has produced five outstanding videos, each somehow better than the one before, and in the process has become one of the most intelligent voices in video essays. Dive head-first into this one.