Every end is a beginning…there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Circles (1841)
Heroism cannot properly account for one of the most enigmatic scenes in modern cinema. Nearing the conclusion of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line (1998), its central protagonist Private Witt (Jim Caviezel) is surrounded by Japanese soldiers. Confronted with what appears to be a choice between capture or certain death, Witt raises his gun, seemingly inviting the latter. The way Witt confronts this moment is arresting, and his journey to this point inimitable. At the moment of his death Witt is gazing beyond the enemy. His eyes flushed still with a sense of acceptance and calm, the same calm that he sought at the very beginning of his journey when recounting his mother’s death:
I wondered how it’d be when I died. What it’d be like to know that this breath now was the last one you was gonna ever draw. I just hope I can meet it the same way she did, with the same…calm. Because that’s where it’s hidden, the immortality that I hadn’t seen.
The notion of calm in the face of one’s death is not idealistic play. James Jones (whose novel was the basis for Malick’s screenplay) was an infantryman in the South Pacific during WWII. Regardless of the extent of his exposure to combat, this gives Jones some licence to explore what may for some appear to be an armchair notion of ‘calm before death’. Recounting his recon missions during the Vietnam War, John Plaster also recalls experiencing a feeling of calm in the midst of battle when he thought he was about to die:
I finally accepted, I had only minutes to live…I accepted my imminent death and with that my fear evaporated. A calmness settled over me, I could think clearer than before. (1)
Plaster confronted what he believed to be his impending death to a point where, overcoming anxiety and fear, he accepted his fate and through this acceptance experienced a sense of calm. As we shall see, Witt’s calm is radically different, though no less involving an acceptance of fate.
As much has already been written about The Thin Red Line, this article focuses largely on Private Witt and, where relevant, his relationship with Sergeant Welsh (Sean Penn). A premise of this paper is that, as Simon Critchley puts it:
At the core of The Thin Red Line is this experience of calm in the face of death, of a kind of peace at the moment of one’s extinction that is the only place one may speak of immortality. (2)
Throughout The Thin Red Line, Witt appears to serenely navigate through events in the war, spiritually enchanted by the ‘glory’ of existence. In this article I examine what I believe to be suggestive in Witt’s journey, particularly with regard to the themes of death, calm and immortality. I will do so by exploring how a disclosure of the primordial dimensions of nature can transform and augment one’s relationship to others and existence.
The Thin Red Line opens with radiant images of nature – twining vines, a crocodile, flowing water, and of the Melanesian village where Witt is hiding while AWOL with another soldier, Private Hoke (Will Wallace). We see them spending time in this tranquil environment and interacting with the villagers. Upon capture, Witt is incarcerated in the belly of a US warship en route to Guadalcanal. There appears to be a serene intensity in Witt’s eyes. In the brig Witt and Welsh have their first exchange. Sergeant Welsh tells Witt: ‘In this world a man himself is nothing, and there ain’t no world but this one.’ Witt replies: ‘You’re wrong, I’ve seen another world.’
There are several possibilities as to what this ‘other world’ signifies. It has been said that the relationship between Witt and Welsh articulates the question of metaphysical truth: ‘is this the only world, or is there another world?’ (3) Reference to ‘another world’ can be misleading. Witt and Welsh’s relationship does not posit a question of metaphysical truth or of a transcendent world ‘beyond’ the physical realm. The ‘other’ world is always in this one. The issue is not of two worlds, but of two ways (epitomized by Witt and Welsh) of relating to others and existence. Before exploring this further we must take a step back.
Our constitution of the world is conditioned by the practical requirements of human experience. Humans deploy a variety of means to make their own unique sense of the world and in so doing dampen or neutralize their fear of the chaos and flux of phenomena. ‘Reality’ is rendered such that the horror and contingency of nature’s groundlessness are kept at bay. Various schemata (outside and inside, self and other) mediate our relationship with others and the world. The product of this categorization is the Self in whom the Ego reigns supreme – an individual who is (seemingly) separate from others and nature, and for whom the dilemma of mortality is, for the most part, anesthetized.
Generally, the fabric of the world that we construct holds firm. However, there are sublime experiences and moods that can rupture this fragile net, circumventing our egocentric and commonsensical modes of interpreting and constituting reality, and in the process disclosing the primordial dimensions of existence. For Nietzsche, it is the Dionysian arts that hold pride of place in providing an ecstatic transcendence of self whereby the individual tears ‘asunder the veil of Maya’ and sinks ‘back into the original oneness of nature.’ (4) Such encounters, while providing raw access to the elemental facets of existence, are always coloured by an individual’s subjective experience of the primal current of nature, i.e. by one’s experience of what is lost or gained as a consequence. There cannot be, at least for a sustained period of time, a purely unmediated connection with existence which is dislocated from our ordinary modes of interpreting reality, that is, not without significant risks. Approaching the precipice and glimpsing at the world with naked eyes can bring sheer illumination, but it can also leave cracks in one’s sanity.
In Inner Experience, Georges Bataille wrote of the ‘ecstasy’ of ‘communication’, a sublime experience by which an individual experiences the raw continuity of existence (or at least how Bataille renders it). For others such experiences are completely negative, involving an influx of nausea, meaninglessness, and a fixation on the ‘desolation’ of the world. Similarly, in The Thin Red Line several soldiers view the world (stripped naked by war) in a wholly nihilistic fashion: “we are just meat”. War is the most brutal means of destroying the safe sanctuaries of the everyday and amplifying the world’s contingency. War is reflective of the eternal struggle in nature and it is also an unveiler: all permanence and certainty wither away into panic, horror and death. For the men of Charlie-Company, life has been skinned of the artifice and constructs that ordinarily sustain one’s experience of the world. The randomness of violent death and mangled corpses usurp the self-serving presumption of a Deity. Ideologies that justify conflict are also quickly felled: ‘Property, the whole fucken thing’s about property’ – says Welsh. In war a soldier is slapped with the stark realisation that all is in peril and there are no certitudes.
How can one characterize Witt’s reference to ‘another world’? D.H. Lawrence refers to the ‘forever surging chaos’. (5) Nietzsche wrote of a Dionysian conception of the world as a ‘monster of energy’. (6) For Emerson it is the Oversoul: ‘that Unity, that Oversoul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other’. (7) And later the same theme points to the discontinuity inherent in everyday life:
We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One. (8)
Leaving aside the transcendentalism inherent in Emerson’s world-view, in characterizing Witt’s reference to ‘another world’ I prefer nature or a compound phrase from Bataille’s Eroticism: the primal continuity of existence. (9) These concepts are not intended to denote a metaphysical world. Rather, they signify the neutral, impersonal and incessant flow of existence of which we are a part, but in which our individual lives and actions cease to matter in the ways in which our Egos and beliefs ordinarily have us believe. It is the empirical world divested of the human schemata used to interpret and dilute the primordial dimensions of existence (i.e. those features which we project into the structure of nature).
On this reading, Witt’s ‘other world’ is not a private realm that he aesthetically created to guard against world collapse. Rather, it is the pre-individuated and destratified firmament of our material existence in which all things and beings are connected. In this important respect I eschew any subjectivism which would characterize the ‘other world’ Witt refers to as a product of his personal response to war-induced world collapse or as denoting a plane beyond the physical realm.
Central to this paper is the premise that, in a way, Witt acquires a sense of the primordial dimensions of existence, but not via self-enervation or a complete transcendence of subjectivity. Witt returns from the village with enough egoism to defiantly tell Welsh: ‘I can take anything you dish out, I am twice the man you are.’ Yet through his own contact with the primal and impersonal current of nature (‘another world’), Witt has changed. Witt has stared into the sun but rather than being annihilated or paralyzed with hopelessness he has been enlivened. He has undergone a displacement or de-centering of his individuality and Ego. As a consequence, Witt’s relationship to life and those around him are radically transformed. He glides like a benevolent ghost through the war; a believer, in Welsh’s (condescending) words, in ‘the beautiful light.’ Although there is an obvious element of idealization in the notions of ‘all things shining’ and ‘the glory’, they are equally reflective of a heightened affective and spiritual connection with nature that affirms ‘the Whole’ (i.e. the connectedness of all things) and the ineluctable power of existence.
‘Each like a coal drawn from the fire’
The presence of nature in The Thin Red Line is imperative to disclosing the primordiality of existence. What is important, as stated by Simon Critchley, is the ‘neverthelessness’ of nature which is ‘utterly indifferent to human purposes and intentions.’ (10)
The images of nature serve to dwarf and render insignificant – relative to the macrocosm of nature – individual human lives, intentions, actions and deaths. While war destructively intrudes upon the natural world (as in the image of the dying bird in the midst of battle), nature swallows the panic of the soldiers and bloody occurrences of war within the unceasing and depersonalized tide of existence, making them but tiny ripples in an ocean impervious to human needs and desires.
Witt’s time in the village provided a tangible reminder of nature’s enormity and eternality. The Melanesian village represents a wholly alien current of life to that experienced by the men of Charlie Company. Through the surrounding environment and the lives of the villagers Witt was able to affectively experience his openness and connection to everything that is. In Bataille’s terms, one’s life ‘streams to the outside as well and opens itself incessantly to what flows out or surges forth towards it.’ (11) What particular experiences and moods can vividly disclose is that in an important visceral sense our lives are ‘contagions of energy’ streaming to and from other beings and nature. (12) As Bataille states: ‘life is never situated at a particular point: it passes rapidly from one point to another…like a current or like a sort of streaming of electricity.’ (13) This is perhaps what Emerson would call an ‘original relation to the universe.’ Here nature takes on a sense of consisting in a sensuous and affective element, which before being taken as data for cognition, is savoured and assimilated, it nourishes and contents our lives. (14) In this vein, Bersani and Dutoit argue (rightly resisting transcendentalism) that Witt’s ‘other world’ is ‘this world…seen as a vast reservoir of correspondences.’ (15)
This conception of life as a plane of contagion in which there is a material bond between each being and with nature (and therefore a blurring of accepted boundaries) is evoked in different ways in the film. The use of voiceovers (a common technique in Malick’s films) de-subjectifies and disembodies the sentiments conveyed, giving them an ethereal presence. Moreover, at times there is some uncertainty as to who exactly is speaking in the voiceovers; is it Witt or Welsh who comments on the dying bird? This ambiguity further serves to render personal identities indistinguishable within the flow of nature. Critically, it does not matter who is speaking in the voiceovers. This is precisely the point. They are reflective of depersonalised sentiments that are cut adrift and trying to make sense of their perverse and sublime predicament.
We have a vivid and nihilistic identification with nature through Sgt McCron (John Savage). After loosing a dozen of his men during an attack on a fortified position, McCron retreats and tells the soldiers around him, frantically grasping a handful of grass, ‘this is what you are. That’s all there is for us. That’s us. That’s us.’ This materialism may be contrasted with a spiritualized and to an extent idealized view of nature inherent in the notions of ‘the glory’ and ‘all things shining.’ Echoing Emerson, this identification with nature is expressed by Witt: ‘maybe all men got one big soul who everybody’s a part of. All faces of the same man. One big self.’ Later Witt repeats the same theme: ‘Each like a coal drawn from the fire.’
Another illustration of the intermingling of self and other is the intensely intimate relationship between Private Bell (Ben Chaplin) and his wife Marty (Miranda Otto): ‘We together. One being. Flow together like water. Till I can’t tell you from me. I drink you.’ The images of them together are intensely erotic and evocative of our visceral bond with others, while their eventual separation equally testifies to the transitoriness and becoming of all things.
Notwithstanding the camaraderie between the men of Charlie Company, war divides and heightens individuation, as each man is concerned with his own looming fate. War is ‘this great evil’ that robs soldiers of ‘life and light.’ Private Train’s voiceover repeats this theme when he asks: ‘does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow or the sun to shine?’
War defiles our connection with others. One soldier, Private Dale (Arie Verveen), who has been dehumanized by battle, collects the crowned gold teeth from dead bodies. At one point he gruesomely tells a dying Japanese soldier: ‘I’m going to sink my teeth into your liver.’ This starkly vindicates Train’s sentiment that: ‘War don’t ennoble men. It turns ‘em into dogs. Poisons the soul.’ Later we see this soldier shivering in the rain and one can hear the words of the dead Japanese soldier, as if his spirit is tormenting the American. He embraces himself in the rain as he cries and trembles. He appears infected by the spirit of the dead soldier – a phantasmic reminder of our link with others.
Later in the film when Witt visits another village he tries to reach out to a boy but fails to make contact. Things have become unstuck. He sees people arguing, the joy and peace previously seen appear to have diminished from these images. Train’s voiceover gives expression to this dissociation and unravelling over images of the men of Charlie Company drinking and arguing:
We were a family. How did it break up and come apart? So that now we’re turned against each other. Each standing in the other’s light. How did we lose the good that was given us? Let it slip away. Scatter it careless? What’s keeping us from reaching out? Touching the glory.
An affective link with nature is imperative to Witt’s journey. Through nature Witt becomes enlivened with the current or ‘spark’ of life. Unlike Welsh, Witt is able to view his life and those of others within the broader continuum of existence. Like a child he becomes enchanted by the natural world. After a battle he spills water onto a leaf and delights in how it skims off it. When Welsh tells him that he should just look out for himself Witt says nothing and glances up to the moon with a slight hypnotized smile as if delighting in a secret.
We have little indication of the kind of person Witt was before his time AWOL. In the brig Welsh insinuates that Witt has been AWOL several times. Yet from shirking his duty Witt returns from his time in the village to wholeheartedly embrace his place: ‘I love Charlie company, they are my people’ (he may as well have said my tribe, as if searching for a similar affiliation with others to that which he had seen in the village). And later: ‘In case something bad happens, I want to be there.’ Witt returns to Charlie Company with an intense commitment and concern for his fellow soldiers. He is constantly reaching out for them, both physically and emotionally. As David Davies states, Witt is ‘partly defined in the film by his tactile gestures, his reaching out to touch others.’ (16)
Witt’s relatedness to and solidarity with others is in stark contrast to Welsh. Welsh embodies a thoroughly individuated relationship with others and the world:
We’re living in a world that’s blown itself to hell as fast as everybody can arrange it. In a situation like that all a man can do is shut his eyes and let nothing touch him. Look out for himself.
Welsh’s equations are simple and unequivocal, his world-view minimalist and reductive: ‘everything a lie…everything you hear and everything you see…You’re in a box. A moving box. They want you dead. Or in their lie.’ While there is a degree of (cynically expressed) truth in some of Welsh’s statements, they completely colour his world-view. There is no ballast to his negativity. Welsh doesn’t see anything beyond his individual life, ridiculing Witt’s notion of ‘another world.’ In contrast to Witt, Welsh survives through separation: ‘only one thing a man can do, find something that’s his, make an island for himself.’ In this way Welsh becomes untouchable. One could imagine that for Witt death equally lies in separation from others, whereas Welsh embodies the quintessential loner spirit. When Witt asks him ‘You ever get lonely?’ Welsh replies ‘Only around people.’ Unlike Witt, Welsh is not consecrated to a sense of ‘the Whole’ in which individual lives are indistinguishable and are a part of ‘one big soul.’
Later in the film, Train’s voiceover encapsulates the difference between Witt and Welsh:
One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there’s nothing but answered pain. But death’s got the final word. It’s laughing at him. Another man sees that same bird, feels the glory. Feels something smiling through it.
This passage enshrines two vastly different connections with others and existence. Welsh, thoroughly disgusted at the circumstances in which he finds himself, is a world-weary loner, for whom nature is merely a desert; whereas Witt can feel enlivened by nature in which all things are connected. Where Welsh would only see unanswered pain, Witt feels ‘the glory’ of existence and does not see death as the final word.
It is worth remembering though that Welsh’s world-view does not mean he is callous and indifferent to others. He risks his own life to provide morphine to a dying man (Private Tella) and in the process exposes himself to intense gunfire. There is a sense that Welsh is not always convinced of his isolationist stance. Later in the film he tells Sgt Storm that he has not attained the ‘bliss’ of feeling nothing (‘numbness’). The contradiction between Welsh’s world-view and his actions are merely reflective of a battle within, of a concern for others that he cannot easily jettison. Although Welsh doesn’t want to care, he is not yet at the point where he can readily resist the needs of others.
Calm, Indifference & Death
What animates Witt to wholeheartedly embrace his place in Charlie Company? Why, in the face of nature’s indifference is Witt’s experience one of tranquillity and attraction to the ‘glory’ of nature rather than paralysing anxiety?
Cosmically, our lives, actions and deaths are wholly insignificant, being swallowed in the impersonal flow of existence. As Critchley states: ‘human death is absorbed into the restlessness of nature, the eternal war in nature into which the death of a soldier is indifferently ingested.’ (17) This underscores the insignificance of individuals and personal identities relative to the continuity of existence. Nature confers equivalence on all actions and lives, while war amplifies nature’s contingency and our mortal vulnerability. After a battle Sgt Storm tells Welsh:
It’s a matter of luck whether or not you get killed. Makes no difference who you are, or tough a guy you might be, if you’re in the wrong spot at the wrong time you are going to get it.
Consequently, it makes little difference how virtuous you are, as phantasmically expressed by a dead Japanese soldier: ‘Do you imagine that your sufferings will be less because you loved goodness?’
This may lead one to succumb to the view that, in the scheme of things, an individual is ‘nothing’. Hence Welsh feels sorry for Witt because he risks his life for others:
If you were smart, you’d take care of yourself. There’s nothing you can do for anybody else…What difference do you think you can make? If you die, it’s going to be for nothing.
Relative to the macrocosm of existence, we are nowhere as important as our Ego and beliefs would have us believe. There is a degree of artificiality and vanity in the significance we attach to our lives in the world. This much is uncontroversial. In this respect there is some truth in Welsh’s statement that: ‘In this world a man himself is nothing, and there ain’t no world but this one’. However, where Witt differs from Welsh is that he does not view the world purely from an individual’s perspective. Welsh is mired in the nihilism that follows when the order of the world and its accompanying discourses are unravelled. Welsh’s view of life is terminal, hence his bitter fixation on one’s insignificance. In contrast, Witt sees an individual life as part of the cycle of nature. There is much more to this world beyond any single individual’s life or death.
However, at the same time, Witt also recognizes the potential importance of an individual’s life. Although within the broader current of existence ‘a man himself is nothing’, being a manifestation of nature he is equally a part of ‘the Whole’ and is a unique creature in his capacity for free action and individuality. Consequently, while our lives and actions are quite inconsequential, in a local sense they can matter a great deal, particularly in terms of our connection with others and the world. While we are ephemerally ‘drawn from the fire’ and before we are extinguished, one has great potential to be ‘a living, self-directed, self-conscious piece of fate.’ (18) Witt’s actions throughout the film testify to this. He volunteers to storm a fortified hilltop with a small group of soldiers. Witt comforts Sgt Keck (Woody Harrelson) before he dies, whilst the other soldiers recede, not wanting to touch the dying man’s final moments. Later he comforts a captured Japanese soldier who is trembling with fear after a battle. Lastly, Witt draws his compatriots away from the Japanese, ultimately leading to his death. Stacy Power writes that Witt’s final action ‘both asserts his own individuality and affirms his connection to humanity.’ (19)
Witt’s recognition of an individual’s place within nature is not just perspectival but visceral, as it is through a physical and spiritual link that he becomes enlivened and animated (in the sense of willing to act). It is this connection with life as ‘a current…a sort of streaming of electricity’ (20) which is conceived as a collective (one big self or soul), that enables Witt to act as a conduit for the ‘spark’ of existence.
Witt’s actions reflect a disregard for his own life. The calm Witt feels when confronting his fate flows from an indifference to death. This is underscored by a passage from James Jones’ From Here to Eternity, which mirrors Witt’s thoughts about his mother’s confrontation with death:
He only hoped that he would meet it [death] with the same magnificent indifference with which…his mother met it. Because it was there, he felt, that the immortality he had not seen was hidden. (21)
An indifference to death is a stoic and rare attitude in this space. It arises from the realisation that while nature indifferently absorbs our lives, strivings and deaths, existence goes on. As Blanchot states: ‘Nothing ends, everything begins again.’ (22)
Welsh only sees death as placing a final and absolute seal on existence. But there is another ‘relation’ to death or another ‘side’ to death. It is the very impersonality of the event of death. (23) As Blanchot puts it: ‘I’ never die, but ‘one dies’. (24) The impersonality of dying is part of the ‘neverthelessness’ of nature. Hence, while for Welsh death is only ever the end of life, Witt accepts that it is a necessary part of it. While this idea borders on the pedestrian, actually confronting one’s death in a way that embraces this fact is another matter. This is what makes Witt’s calm at the instant of his death so inimitable and inspiring.
There is solace in the recognition that, although nature is indifferent to our lives and deaths, one is equally a part of nature. The allure of the endurance and splendour of nature can be powerful, and it is especially heightened by one’s sense of connection with all things (‘all faces of the same man. One big self’).
The blurring of the boundary between self and other can give rise to the solace that ‘life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes in appearance, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable.’ (25) Our lives and deaths may be impersonally swallowed in the current, yet we are fleetingly a part of the continuity of life. In The Thin Red Line this is reflected via evocative and spiritualised notions of ‘all things shining’ and ‘the glory’ of existence. Witt recognises ‘the Whole’ and affirms, despite one’s cosmic insignificance, an individual’s place and freedom in nature. We are conduits for the ‘spark’ of existence, as well as creatures with the potential for free action that can impact on the world and the lives of others. It is the difference between Welsh’s attitude that ‘if you die, it’s gonna be for nothing’ and ‘there’s nothing you can do for anybody else’, and Witt’s insistence to Sgt Keck, who acts to save others, that: ‘even if you die, you didn’t let your brother down.’
Immortality – ‘a supreme moment’
Witt does not suffer at the thought of not existing in the world, at least not in any way that paralyses his capacity to act. It is from a connection with nature and recognition of an individual’s place within the stream of existence that Witt draws his almost Spartan attitude and strength. This connection and perspective provide a tonic to Welsh’s nihilism. It underlies Witt’s tendency to reach out for others and his cool acceptance of his fate.
Investigating the affinities between Nietzsche and Emerson, George Stack writes that Nietzsche’s ‘experiential attainment of “immortality” in a supreme “moment” involves a state of being in which an individual feels liberated from the circle of time and becoming.’ (26) This instant, involving an almost supra-sensible perspective through which one briefly transcends their discontinuous existence, can be liberating and empowering. For Witt, it appears that he was able to gain something of a perspective above ‘time and becoming’ during his time in the village. In so doing he was able to grasp and appreciate a sense of ‘the Whole.’ However, a feeling of immortality is concentrated at the instant of his death – a ‘supreme moment’ – when Witt accepts his death with a calm and serene indifference. Being the moment of his death, there is a sense of liberation which, together with Witt’s recognition of the connectedness of all things, can evoke a feeling of immortality. Although the fate of an individual confronting certain death is irrevocable, being a part of nature, spiritually one can feel oneself as being somewhat indestructible and even eternal. The recognition that nature is unceasing, coupled with an affective connection with all things, underlie Witt’s calm. These elements, which are paramount to Witt’s unique and brave perspective on life, provide for a feeling of immortality at the instant of his death.
It would be wrong to view Witt’s death as inevitable. It is quite clear just before Witt is shot that he begins to raise his gun. Having already drawn the enemy away from his compatriots, his self-sacrifice was unnecessary. Rather, in lifting his gun to the Japanese, Witt was affirming his fate and attitude to life to the point of inviting his death. At this instant, Witt appears to be gazing far beyond the Japanese soldiers, seemingly on a plane liberated from space and time. And following his death we see Witt swimming underwater with the Melanesian children. Both reflect a physical and spiritual link with the glorious continuum of nature in which individuals are at once insignificant and indistinguishable, yet for a very short time are capable of embracing and affirming their place and potential through an openness to others.
As the warship steams away from Guadalcanal, a voiceover again evokes the unity and material connectedness of all things within the continuity of nature. It may be Doll or it may be Witt from beyond the grave, rising to a spiritual crescendo and vivified by the spark of existence:
Darkness from light. Strife from love. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul, let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made. All things shining.
1.Plaster, John (2004) Secret Commandos – Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 109.
2.Critchley, Simon (2002) ‘Calm: On Terrance Malick’s The Thin Red Line’. Film-Philosophy, vol. 6, no. 48. [http://www.film-philosophy.com/vol6-2002/n48critchely] Accessed 18 August 2009.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich (1956) The Birth of Tragedy / On the Genealogy of Morals. Trans. Francis Golffing. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday, p. 27.
- Lawrence, D.H. (1992) ‘Chaos in Poetry’ in D.H. Lawrence – Selected Poems. Mara Kalnins, ed. London: Everyman, p. 271.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich (1968) The Will to Power. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Random House, §1067.
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1993) Self-Reliance and Other Essays. New York: Dover Publications, p. 52.
- Bataille, Georges (2001) Eroticism. Trans. Mary Dalwood. London: Penguin Books.
- Critchley, op cit.
- Bataille, Georges (1988) Inner Experience. Trans. Leslie Anne Boldt. New York: State University of New York Press, p. 94.
- Lingis, Alphonso (1988) ‘Translators Introduction’ in Levinas, Emmanuel, Existence and Existents. Trans Alphonso Lingis. London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, p. 9.
- Bersani, L., and U. Dutoit (2004) Forms of Being: Cinema, Aesthetics, Subjectivity. London: British Film Institute Publishing, p. 169.
- Davies, David (2009) ‘Vision, Touch and Embodiment in The Thin Red Line’ in The Thin Red Line. David Davies, ed. New York: Routledge, p. 51.
- Critchley, op cit.
- Stack, George J (1992) Nietzsche and Emerson – An Elective Affinity. Athens: Ohio University Press, p.201.
- Power, Stacy Peebles (2003) ‘The Other World of War: Terrence Malick’s Adaptation of The Thin Red Line’ in The Cinema of Terrence Malick: Poetic Visions of America. H Patterson, ed. London: Wallflower Press, 154.
- Bataille (1988), p. 94.
- Jones, James (1998) From Here to Eternity. New York: Delta Publishing, p. 19.
- Blanchot, Maurice (1992) The Infinite Conversation. Trans. Susan Hanson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 149.
- Blanchot, Maurice (1995) The Work of Fire. Trans. Charlotte Mandell. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, p. 340.
- Blanchot, Maurice (1989) The Space of Literature. Trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, p. 241.
- Nietzsche (1956), p. 50.
- Stack, p. 207.