Lacan and Contemporary Film

Author:   Todd McGowan ,  Sheila Kunkle ,  Frances Restuccia
Publisher:   Other Press LLC
ISBN:  

9781590510841


Pages:   300
Publication Date:   31 March 2004
Format:   Paperback
Availability:   Awaiting stock   Availability explained
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Lacan and Contemporary Film


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Overview

This unique volume collects a series of essays that link new developments in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and recent trends in contemporary cinema. Though Lacanian theory has long had a privileged place in the analysis of film, film theory has tended to ignore some of Lacan's most important ideas. As a result, Lacanian film theory has never properly integrated the disruptive and troubling aspects of the filmic experience that result from the encounter with the Real that this experience makes possible. Many contemporary theorists emphasize the importance of the encounter with the Real in Lacan's thought, but rarely in discussions of film. By bringing the encounter with the Real into the dialogue of film theory, the contributors to this volume present a new version of Lacan to the world of film studies. These essays bring this rediscovered Lacan to bear on contemporary cinema through analysis of a wide variety of films, including Memento, Eyes Wide Shut, Breaking the Waves, and Fight Club. The films discussed here demand a turn to Lacanian theory because they emphasize the disruptive role of the Real and of jouissance in the experience of the human subject.

Full Product Details

Author:   Todd McGowan ,  Sheila Kunkle ,  Frances Restuccia
Publisher:   Other Press LLC
Imprint:   Other Press LLC
Dimensions:   Width: 15.20cm , Height: 2.50cm , Length: 22.90cm
Weight:   0.408kg
ISBN:  

9781590510841


ISBN 10:   1590510844
Pages:   300
Publication Date:   31 March 2004
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Tertiary & Higher Education ,  Professional & Vocational
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Availability:   Awaiting stock   Availability explained
The supplier is currently out of stock of this item. It will be ordered for you and placed on backorder. Once it does come back in stock, we will ship it out for you.

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Reviews

Salon.com 2004Writing in the Margins, Scott Thill <br>Speaking of unhealthy delusions, the 9/11 hearings were a bracing primer on the ways reality can rear its ugly head and disrupt the best-laid plans of postmodern America, a place where sound bites, confusion and capitalism casually trump material evidence on a sometimes daily basis. That mechanism of delusion, whatever its form, has continually fascinated thinkers and doers everywhere, although the French seem particularly taken with it. Shortly after the first Gulf War, the notorious Jean Baudrillard -- a guy who takes particular glee in pushing buttons and punching holes in reality -- wrote an audacious book called The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, which categorized Bush 41's cowboy excursion to save Kuwait as a bloodless media event. That piece of Swiftian scholarship cost him dearly, but his penetrating insights about media and war (and media war, to be specific) seem like prophecy today, as the American military wades through a similar quagmire in the same damn country. <br>While Baudrillard's work often touched every base in the stadium, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's output seemed to stick most capably to film studies. For a time there in the '60s and '70s, if you were studying film, most likely you were doing it through Lacan's prism, because his theories of the self involved a subject struggling to distinguish its own desires from the real world. What made Lacan cool was the fact that he realized that human beings constructed fantasies they convinced themselves were reality, while the material world they occupied resided far outside of their constructions. He might have partially agreed with the popular advertising slogan -- Perception is reality -- because so much of his work is built upon misrecognition. <br>Or maybe it's that way because, as author Todd McGowan explains, Lacan fully understood how tangled the knot of desire and confusion can become, especially in cinema. The foc


<b><i>Salon.com</i> 2004</b> <b>Writing in the Margins</b>, Scott Thill Speaking of unhealthy delusions, the 9/11 hearings were a bracing primer on the ways reality can rear its ugly head and disrupt the best-laid plans of postmodern America, a place where sound bites, confusion and capitalism casually trump material evidence on a sometimes daily basis. That mechanism of delusion, whatever its form, has continually fascinated thinkers and doers everywhere, although the French seem particularly taken with it. Shortly after the first Gulf War, the notorious Jean Baudrillard -- a guy who takes particular glee in pushing buttons and punching holes in reality -- wrote an audacious book called The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, which categorized Bush 41's cowboy excursion to save Kuwait as a bloodless media event. That piece of Swiftian scholarship cost him dearly, but his penetrating insights about media and war (and media war, to be specific) seem like prophecy today, as the American military wades through a similar quagmire in the same damn country. While Baudrillard's work often touched every base in the stadium, French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan's output seemed to stick most capably to film studies. For a time there in the '60s and '70s, if you were studying film, most likely you were doing it through Lacan's prism, because his theories of the self involved a subject struggling to distinguish its own desires from the real world. What made Lacan cool was the fact that he realized that human beings constructed fantasies they convinced themselves were reality, while the material world they occupied resided far outside of their constructions. He might have partially agreed with the popular advertising slogan -- Perception is reality -- because so much of his work is built upon misrecognition. Or maybe it's that way because, as author Todd McGowan explains, Lacan fully understood how tangled the knot of desire and confusion can become, especially in cinema. The focus of Lacanian theory on the operations of desire and fantasy make it invaluable for film criticism, McGowan says. Lacan orients psychoanalysis around the desire of the subject, and he relates all questions -- ethical, religious, aesthetic -- back to this desire. Cinema is also organized around the desire of the subject. As spectators, we choose the films we see because of the way that they promise to mobilize our desire. Lacan understands that this desire is always unconscious -- so that we don't know why we desire what we desire. So Lacanian theory allows us to interpret films in a way that uncovers their unconscious appeal, not just their conscious appeal. McGowan and Kunkle's book is doing its best to reclaim film studies for Lacaniacs, and that is a good thing, because film culture is filled to the breaking point with characters continually misrecognizing their personal fantasies for reality. Almost everything Kubrick and Hitchcock made comes to mind (although the latter was partial to Freud), as well as most of film noir and the cinema of Charlie Chaplin. But Lacan and Contemporary Film, as its title suggests, slaps scores of more recent films -- Pi, Memento, Holy Smoke, Breaking the Waves, Eyes Wide Shut and many more -- beneath Lacan's microscope to see what pops up. Even better, these essays keep the jargon to a minimum; the excellent Slavoj Zizek (who helped explode Lacanian film study with Enjoy Your Symptom: Jacques Lacan in Hollywood and Out ) dives right into his critique with barely any setup at all. Lacan's theories are notoriously -- and even intentionally -- difficult, McGowan added. All of our contributors, however, are fully committed to presenting Lacan's thought in an accessible manner. This is one reason why each of them has been drawn to the analysis of film. Film allows us to see Lacan's theories in action, to transcend the difficulties of terminology that haunt many readers. The result is a collection of brainy film essays that make Michael Medved look like a hack (well, like the hack he is).


Author Information

Todd McGowan teaches film and critical theory in the English Department at the University of Vermont. He is the author of The Feminine No! and The End of Dissatisfaction: Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment. Sheila Kunkle is Professor of Social Sciences at Vermont College of the Union Institute and University. She is the author of numerous articles on Lacanian psychoanalysis and culture. They both currently reside in Vermont.

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