This interview investigates the personal views from podcaster and lecturer Mary Wild, and filmmaker Jasper Vrancken on how they make possible a dialogue between the field of film theory and psychoanalytic theory, about their singular interpretation of psychoanalysis “outside the realm of the clinical” and about their views and shared (psychoanalytic) interest in the body in the genre of horror films.
Summary: This paper investigates the significance of filmic analysis in the contemporary theoretical paradigm inspired by Slavoj Žižek, which we term ‘Transcendental Materialism’. After characterising its distinct peculiarities within the history of psychoanalysis and film theory, we demonstrate the limitations of previous (possible) answers, arguing they are partly formulated in response to confrontations with other paradigms. Our own approach is then informed by a study of another popular object of analysis in Transcendental Materialism – the joke. We show how Freud’s understanding of the joke was adapted by the paradigm and supported further by certain philosophical insights by (among others) G.W.F. Hegel. Finally, we demonstrate how parallels can be drawn between this adaptation and the significance of the filmic form within Transcendental Materialism, inspired in part by Alain Badiou’s reading of Hegel.
Samenvatting: In ‘Van Freuds Bubikopf naar Lynch’ Eraserhead’ onderzoekt Geldhof hoe Freud zich verhield tot de cinema als kunstvorm. Freud was uitgesproken negatief, getuige zijn vernietigende kritiek op het project van Pabst om een gevalstudie te verfilmen. Volgens Geldhof geeft Freud enkele terechte kritieken op deze specifieke toepassing van psychoanalyse binnen een artistiek medium, maar rechtvaardigt dit niet zijn veralgemeende negatieve kritiek op film als dusdanig. Om dit te illustreren neemt Geldhof Lynch bij de hand, die als geen ander net Freuds stelling bevestigt dat de kunstenaars psychoanalytici iets te leren hebben.
Summary: In her study The Desire to Desire, the feminist film scholar Mary Ann Doane examines how a potential excess of female desire in 1940s melodramas is neutralized with the help of either a male ‘medical gaze’ or a male musician and his ear. The philosopher Stanley Cavell, however, criticizes Doane for adopting a patriarchal perspective. According to Cavell, the women in these films are not self-sacrificing victims whose bodily symptoms are adequately read by a doctor; rather, the female protagonists are intriguing because they exceed conventional labeling – notwithstanding their often unfortunate situations. By taking as a lead Cavell’s idea that these films stage the idiosyncrasies of the ‘unknown woman’, this article analyzes Joachim Trier’s supernatural thriller Thelma (2017) in tandem with the earlier melodramas. Raised in a strictly religious environment, Thelma struggles with desire, with a sense of guilt, and with the superego. The best alternative to escape this deadlock is for Thelma to develop her ‘personal eccentricity’, as a woman in between categories, in the vein of Charlotte Vale, the protagonist of Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942), one of the melodramas favored by Cavell.
Summary: Many theorists have championed absence within and without the filmic image as a site of cinematic radicality, but it is possible for absence to hide an obscure authority. When this occurs, filmic absence functions as a support for the development of paranoia. This essay explores how what’s missing in the filmic image can become the vehicle for advancing a paranoid outlook and thereby countering the emancipatory potential inherent in cinematic absence.
Full text: PP 39 2 (2021) Todd McGowan