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This chapter offers a close and unique reading of the media theory of Nakai Masakazu, a leftist theorist active from the 1930s with some connections to the Kyoto school. Drawing on German philosophy, the chapter creates a highly corporeal theory of cinematic spectatorship, a sophisticated communal model of how we make sense of filmic media that stands in productive tension with today’s phenomenological and embodied approaches to film. For reasons made apparent in this chapter, Nakai is often likened to Walter Benjamin. He was fascinated by the new medium of the cinema, and deeply involved in thinking through the kind of political potential this medium could have. The chapter outlines how Nakai both prefigures important developments in Euro-American media theory by decades, and can at the same time still function as an important stimulus for thinking about media today.

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