Friday, September 4, 2009

Larry Rickels, Day 2

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Larry Rickels taught a course entitled SCHAUER SCENES IN PSYCHOANALYSIS AND FILM. This course explored the genealogy of the "psycho" (and Psycho effect) in mediatic-analytic sessions.

We began class with a discussion of Ulmer's evening lecture.

Back to Psycho

Norman as TV: he switches between stations (personalities), he's not able to cross over except on the audio track.

A genealogical digression: the train as conveyor belt of neurosis
  • the first case of male hysteria was at the time of the use of trains and this symbolizes something
  • the term "psycho" became slang after WWI; Freud, et al. called it war neurosis or shell shock - wherein the soldier endures an uncanny doubling of the ego
  • psychoanalysis became famous because it was the only treatment at that time that could get the soldiers back out on the frontlines
  • Freud was first included into the U.S. military after they saw that the Nazis were also employing psychoanalytic ideas
  • now we call it Post-Traumatic Disorder
The "slasher" genre develops the "splatter" phase which is more oral and features cannibalism, etc.

Night of the Living Dead 1968, Romero:

  • A reference to "The Shower Scene" is made in this film
  • there is this need to show what ghouls eat in this film (when the daughter eats the father in the basement, 83 minutes in)
  • this is a critical moment in the development of the horror genre as it is the removal of the invisibility of violence in the genre
Interesting to note the role of the TV in this film: they refuse to go into the basement because they believe their relationship to media will keep them alive

The zombie attack is called an epidemic of mass murder, their told not to pay their respects to the dead

It must be remembered that this film is released in the wake of the murder of MLK, and perhaps this film suggests to us today that everyone is implicated in his murder as society functioning as itself had created these conditions
  • we are those posses, wandering around taking pleasure in the wanton killing
Romero introduces the terror of survival - those that die in the film do so because they are not worthy of the future.

The Psycho effect: the murderer and the victim redefine life as surviving, the status of surviving is altered in various films

"The survivor is mankind's worst character," Canetti stated in his Crowds and Power.
  • The command is a suspended death sentence
  • commands are older than speech and originate in flight
  • the herd in fleeing a predator is the first crowd formation
  • and it is the origin of the sacrifice
  • Judge Schreber is the ultimate survivor because he has absorbed all the energy of those that have died
Cannibal Killers
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974, Hooper
"The film you are about to see is true," as the trailer informs us, was a direct response to the Watergate as well as Vietnam War lies of the contemporary moment. Hooper was in many ways responding to the brutality of his times:

Some college kids - loosely liberal, returning to the sticks, from which they came

Taxidermy (a nod to Psycho?) gone wild.

The "Shower Scene" is alluded to here with the extreme close-up of the eye, she seems to be literally vivisected by the camera

Follow this link to view the ending

She is rescued by a truck, named Black Maria, which is the same name as Thomas Edison (the father of film)'s theater and lab.

What we are exposed to here is the economy of the recording of destruction.

The inspiration for Psycho was the true story of Ed Gein, he was also the inspiration for Buffalo Bill of The Silence of the Lambs, as well as the inspiration for the Leatherface character in this film.
We were fully inside Ed Gein's home with this film.

This machine of destruction and recording (the whirring of the chainsaw as an allusion to the camera recording) is finally interrupted.

Her survival begs the question, this was alluded to in the trailer: Must we be chained to what we have seen?
What kind of work must we do to shake-off that impact?

The problem of the slaughterhouse is the problem of food and death.


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