Friday, 02 February 2007

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The Intellectual Shortcomings of Other People's Fields; or, See this Gauntlet? Consider it Dropped (But Politely, in Case I'm Mistaken) I have a quick question regarding the status of Laura Mulvey’s concept of the gaze in film studies. (At this point, the hastily crafted “blog-work” cedes pride of place to something I wrote this afternoon. Now you can account for the ungainly tonal shift you’re about to experience. Were I not genuinely interested in hearing what you think of the following account of Lacanian influence in film studies, I would take this opportunity to wax free-association about the difference between this here parenthetical prose and what you see beyond its elliptical fortifications. Now, where was I?) The first sentence of her most frequently cited article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” clearly states its purview: “This paper intends to use psychoanalysis to discover where and how the fascination of film is reinforced by pre-existing patterns of fascination already at work within the individual subject and the social formations that have moulded him.” Twenty years later, David Roberts summarizes her initial exposition of the male gaze in this essays as having two functions: The first is narcissistic: male spectators gaze at the male subject they aspire to resemble. The second is voyeuristic: the same spectators gaze at the female performers they desire to possess and subject. In the thirty years between Mulvey’s article and Roberts’, the psychoanalytic framework has become invisible, so much so that Roberts can claim that “however [her] ideas are challenged or inflected, they say something important.” The means by which they do so—the authority of psychoanalytic accounts of human consciousness and social interaction—exist now only subterraneously. What had been a decidedly Lacanian argument in which film, abetted by the gaze and its imagined mastery, functions like the mirror stage, deceiving the viewer into believing there is no underlying symbolic structure, becomes a truism whose assumptions need not be addressed so long as the results of its application “say something important.” Such a subsumption has consequences both for the theory being subsumed and the work to which it is applied. As Todd McGowan [JSTOR] notes, the emphasis on the gaze in film studies has pushed the third element of the Lacanian triad, the Real, past the vanishing point, a “crucial omission, because the Real provides the key to understanding the radical role that the gaze plays within filmic experience.” Doing justice neither to the art object under examination nor the examining theory, the routinization of “the gaze” in film studies speaks to the intellectual deficit caused by professional isolation. Am I wrong?
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Live Super Bowl XLI Blogging Welcome to the show. Weeks of anticipation have led to this. Hearts will be broken. Dreams crushed. This will be one for the ages, folks. It looks like we're underway. Fair catch called for. We'll be right back. They want to pass. Man in the slot. The defense will have to tighten up. They bring pressure from the corners. He has all day back there. What poise. He scrambles. Has a man open. Launches a frozen rope. That'll move the chains. Here's the snap. He feels pressure on his left. He telegraphed that one. There's a flag. Some extracurricular activity after the whistle. Choice words were exchanged. The zebras try to sort it out. We'll be right back. That'll cost them. First and a mile. Hike. They need to look deep. A man is open. He has a step. Right in the numbers. That is pocket presence. Here's the snap. Mishandled the exchange. No fun on the bottom of the pile. He's up with it. Differential is so important now. Their ratio is good. They strip with the arms. We'll be right back. They want to establish the ground game. He's had a great year. Here's the snap. He tries to turn the corner. He hits the hole. Great blocking at the point of attack. He was overdue. Now they want to pound it on the ground. They won't have much success if they play one-dimensional. Pump fake. Looks like he's short. Three and out. He sends out the kicking team. Fair catch is called for. We'll be right back. It is all about controlling the tempo. They want smash-mouth. Look how he grinds it out. Great second effort. He runs downhill. They need to dominate the line. There is some confusion in the secondary. Safety calls time. We'll be right back. Here's the snap. Cuts back against the grain. Punches through. You could have driven a truck though it. I like the way he hits the hole. This thing will be won or lost in the trenches. There's 1,000 lbs. of beef down there. They want to pound it on the ground. Big things happen when you keep your legs moving. The front four have to tighten up. They need to make a stand here. They show blitz. Audible. They're going to air it out. Looks to his left. Great coverage. He hears footsteps. Tries to run. Has daylight. Wow! They put the lumber on him. Really rang his bell. He's slow getting up. I hate to speculate but . . . we'll be right back.

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