The Phantom of the Cinema New Frames of Psychoanalytic Film Theory by Zoltán Dragon University of Szeged, Hungary
New frames? <ul><li>Sans Lacan… for a moment </li></ul><ul><li>Return to the beginning of the history of the cinema… for a...
Trauma: visual & textual <ul><li>Arrival of the train </li></ul><ul><li>Whirl of imagery </li></ul><ul><li>Cinema of attra...
Trauma theory & screen theory <ul><li>Susannah Radstone: 1.  is there a relation bw screen media and trauma?  </li></ul><u...
What is not shown or told <ul><li>Contents that are not obviously traumatic </li></ul><ul><li>Silenced parts </li></ul><ul...
Nicolas Abraham <ul><li>Phantom theory </li></ul><ul><li>transgenerational  sense: it is an entity that carries unspeakabl...
Phantom theory <ul><li>While passing from one generation to the next,  the phantom  carries secrets that are the results o...
Filmic medium: phantom mechanism
Phantom theory & film <ul><li>Phantom: language (+ image) </li></ul><ul><li>Redefinition:  φάντασμα     “vision,” “spectr...
Phantomatic example <ul><li>Joseph L. Mankiewicz:  Suddenly, Last Summer  (1959) </li></ul><ul><li>Surface structure: happ...
Interrogative film/text <ul><li>Catherine Belsey </li></ul><ul><li>Emile Benveniste :   declarative, imperative and interr...
What is at stake? Obvious traumatic content Undisclosed traumatic content Declarative or imperative interrogative Traumati...
Spectator as witness <ul><li>Contrary to what trauma studies suggests (listener/spectator to traumatic content becomes a w...
A new frame for psychoanalytic film theory <ul><li>With the shift of focus to trauma    another shift to undisclosed trau...
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The Phantom Of The Cinema

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The slides used for the presentation "The Phantom of the Cinema" @ the 2nd NECS Conference, Budapest, Hungary, June 19-22, 2008.

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Transcript of "The Phantom Of The Cinema"

  1. 1. The Phantom of the Cinema New Frames of Psychoanalytic Film Theory by Zoltán Dragon University of Szeged, Hungary
  2. 2. New frames? <ul><li>Sans Lacan… for a moment </li></ul><ul><li>Return to the beginning of the history of the cinema… for a moment </li></ul><ul><li>Shifting the focus of our attention… for a moment </li></ul><ul><li>Trauma instead of entertainment </li></ul><ul><li>Aim: provide pragmatic perspective to tackle issues of traumatic content in film </li></ul>
  3. 3. Trauma: visual & textual <ul><li>Arrival of the train </li></ul><ul><li>Whirl of imagery </li></ul><ul><li>Cinema of attractions </li></ul><ul><li>CGI </li></ul><ul><li>Visual traumatization </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative of a trauma </li></ul><ul><li>Testimonies </li></ul><ul><li>Stories which openly tackle traumatic events </li></ul><ul><li>Textual traumatization </li></ul>Both approaches  trauma theory  `obvious trauma´
  4. 4. Trauma theory & screen theory <ul><li>Susannah Radstone: 1. is there a relation bw screen media and trauma? </li></ul><ul><li>2. if so, where should Screen Studies scholarship begin its analysis of this relation? </li></ul><ul><li>3. should the focus fall primarily on narration, </li></ul><ul><li>4. or on mise-en-scéne , editing and so on? </li></ul><ul><li>5. Or does trauma make itself felt in these media in the relation bw their texts and their spectators – and if so, then how? </li></ul>
  5. 5. What is not shown or told <ul><li>Contents that are not obviously traumatic </li></ul><ul><li>Silenced parts </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative &/or visual blocks that leave gaps without apparent reference, solution, explanation within their own contexts </li></ul><ul><li>“ Threat” for the spectator </li></ul><ul><li>Not within the purview of either trauma studies or psychoanalytic film theories </li></ul>
  6. 6. Nicolas Abraham <ul><li>Phantom theory </li></ul><ul><li>transgenerational sense: it is an entity that carries unspeakable and undisclosed secrets from generation to generation. “The phantom is a formation of the unconscious that has never been conscious – for good reason. It passes … from the parent’s unconscious into the child’s.” </li></ul>
  7. 7. Phantom theory <ul><li>While passing from one generation to the next, the phantom carries secrets that are the results of repressions from previous generations. Thus, in certain cases, the unspeakable secrets of a generation dwell in the unconscious of another generation without the latter’s knowing about it. </li></ul><ul><li>Becoming a witness without witnessing </li></ul>
  8. 8. Filmic medium: phantom mechanism
  9. 9. Phantom theory & film <ul><li>Phantom: language (+ image) </li></ul><ul><li>Redefinition: φάντασμα  “vision,” “spectre,”  synonym of “phantom” </li></ul><ul><li>φαυτάζετυ  “to display” </li></ul><ul><li>Phantomatic film: narrative and visual – in the sense of not showing and not telling the traumatic content – transmits it with the help of “ displaying” something in order to hide sg. else </li></ul>
  10. 10. Phantomatic example <ul><li>Joseph L. Mankiewicz: Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) </li></ul><ul><li>Surface structure: happinness attained following “ confession” & “ working through” </li></ul><ul><li>“ mistakes”: verbal & visual – left unexplored </li></ul><ul><li>Happy end: pacifies spectator, thus transmitting the traumatic content under its protection </li></ul>
  11. 11. Interrogative film/text <ul><li>Catherine Belsey </li></ul><ul><li>Emile Benveniste : declarative, imperative and interrogative discourses </li></ul><ul><li>declarative text : gives information to the reader; </li></ul><ul><li>imperative text: gives orders. </li></ul><ul><li>interrogative text : disrupts the unity of the reader by discouraging identification with a unified subject of the enunciation. </li></ul><ul><li>This opens a gap  invite s the reader to produce answers to the questions it implicitly raises </li></ul>
  12. 12. What is at stake? Obvious traumatic content Undisclosed traumatic content Declarative or imperative interrogative Traumatic content is tied to personal or historical context; symbolized; contained Access to / Way to symbolize traumatic content to contain and tackle it is blocked Trauma remains diegetic Trauma travels via diegetic (narrative/visual) gaps to the spectator Working-through not required Working-through (answering the interrogation of the text; filling the gap) is pivotal spectator witness
  13. 13. Spectator as witness <ul><li>Contrary to what trauma studies suggests (listener/spectator to traumatic content becomes a witness)  spactator becomes witness only if the traumatic content is concealed  otherwise it is already contained and worked through </li></ul><ul><li>Spectator’s chance: reveal NOT the trauma BUT the phantom that makes the representation work </li></ul>
  14. 14. A new frame for psychoanalytic film theory <ul><li>With the shift of focus to trauma  another shift to undisclosed trauma  combined approach involving film narratology and representation through psychoanalytic thinking  flexible frame/approach to a specific problem </li></ul><ul><li>Pragmatic, instead of analogic model </li></ul>

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