What does "philoso-fugal" mean in the following sentence?

It seems to me that a consideration of Malick’s art demands that we take seriously the idea that film is less an illustration of philosophical ideas and theories—let’s call that a philoso-fugal reading—and more a form of philosophizing, of reflection, reasoning, and argument.
Simon Critchley, 'Calm — On Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line'

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    Seems to be a mix of philosophical and centrifugal. No idea what that mixture is supposed to mean, though. Perhaps something that revolves around philosophy? Or maybe something about putting philosophy in the washing machine on the spin cycle? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 18 '19 at 10:04
  • A fugue is a strictly-organised contrapuntal composition. Critchley here is suggesting 'philoso-fugal' as a term to describe a mistaken, in Critchley's view, way of understanding Malik's approach and intent (overly categorical; insufficiently free and rhapsodic). – Dan Apr 29 '19 at 22:53

The text is difficult to understand fully, but it appears to be a portmanteau of philosophical and fugal


: of, relating to, or being in the style of a musical fugue



1 a : a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts

b : something that resembles a fugue especially in interweaving repetitive elements

2 : a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed


That leaves us with two possibilities: either this kind of film analysis is repetitive and contrapuntal and interwoven, or else it resembles a fugue state. Neither meaning obviously fits, but either one seems possible.

In case anyone else wants to take a stab at a broader analysis, the quotation comes from here: "Calm - On Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line"

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