Sunday, September 20, 2009

Larry Rickels Day 6

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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.

NOTE: As with all my notes from the EGS, there will likely be mistakes because I did not record the lectures, I made notes as they spoke, so I am perhaps interpreting what they are saying as I am writing.

Romero says that the Tales of Hoffmann was a primary influence on Night of the Living Dead.

The Winnicott psychology of adolescence is one that is always passing; it seems we can relate. This transience is related to the barrier of psychosis, this is perhaps how we can understand the Freddie Krueger experiment.

Lacan changed his views, but they were within the field of Freud's. Winnicott refers to the maternal phallus, thus one gets around the gap of loss.

Freud wrote about the fetish after the War, thus his second phase. He brings two examples that don't have anything to do with sexuality:
  • the two sons, they both know and did not know that their father was dead - an oscillation between knowing and not knowing the loss of the object of desire.
  • An oscillation between neurosis and psychosis; for the first time locating neurosis within psychosis itself.
  • This disassociation can also be seen in Benjamin's notion of "gadget love"
An imaginative way of living and an ambivalent relationship to the mother can be seen in Winnicott's patient who continues saying she can't feel sorry for the dead. It turns out her mother left her jewelery that she won't wear because she as a rule doesn't wear jewelery.

Both Michael Myers and Freddie Krueger have this moment after killing where they cock their heads to the side and look at the dead as if in that animal startle response
  • With Myers we are in the early field of hunting where he doesn't know what to do with the bodies. He experiments with one body but hides the others so that another predator can't track him
  • Winnicott refers to this as room for absence, this shift between mourning and melancholia. Freud, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, writes about his grandson playing fort/da: it's a game that teaches a child to deal with the absence of the mother, it's about control. This is how the death wish first arises, the child wants the mother to be gone, a goner.
  • Until the child can collect memories, there is no room for the mother, thus room for absence. The break in continuity for the child, when the mother is not there, is an impingement such that the child, in reaction, develops a false self, a masked, compliant self.
Winnicott works with regression analysis to relive these moments. A lot of what he has to say deals with timing.
  • Out of the gap emerges the impossibility of the absence.
  • Playing is an interweaving which prepares us for the socius.
  • Sublimation is placed at the heart of creative and scientific activity because it brackets-out sexuality and so is an alternative to repression in Freud's terms.
  • The avoidance of repression is an ongoing race against loss of "energy" that gets devoted to repression.
Freud, in his essay on Leonardo DaVinci sees that at the end, his journal is more and more a record of how much he pays his assistant.

Dressed to Kill Brian DiPalma's contribution to the "Psycho Effect"

Freud says that what Schreber loses in his recovery phase is his wealth of sublimations. Whereas our melancholia might lead to our withdrawal such that we don't leave the bed, in Schreber the withdrawal is extreme.

Winnicottian reading of the end of Halloween
"The individual exists by not being found"

The drive to know: seemingly instant desire within humans. How this is afforded, according to Freud, is directly related to sublimation. This cataloging activity is like a foreign body ... this is an attempt to delay the impingement.
  • The intellect seeks to protect the psyche, it may even go out and meet offenses so as to collect them and prepare the psyche
  • How does not knowing emerge? Winnicott calls it the gap of consciousness, a form of not knowing that Winnicott wants to re-emerge in the course of regression therapy
In Halloween we had to hear Laurie's breathing, like Winnicott's patient that talks about watching the still bird breathing. It is an affirmation of vital life from which the psyche can develop anew.
  • Thus the breathing and staring at the houses might be read as not a threat of violence from Myers but the survivor is still breathing! An affirmation of the vital life and while we might have a future encounter, we also can trust that survival is not contingent upon killing and that survival is possible.
  • Something changed in the genre of slasher films with the closing sequence of Halloween and this is what motivates Rickels' reading.
The Sandman E.T.A. Hoffmann (1816)

  • Freud reads the problem of Nathaniel as being the witness to the primal scene and thus brings the Sandman into being.
  • Lacan says it is his failure to incorporate his father into the world of objects.
  • At three different times Nathaniel tries to realize romance and each time the Sandman arrives, a threat of castration.
Another read would focus on the details of the comparison between the father and the Devilish work he does (working on the human body)
  • Here we see this story as exemplary of the serial killer
  • It builds with the reception of the Sandman early on
  • The story of the Sandman isn't traumatic but rather the mother's "melancholic face"

On such evenings as these my mother was very melancholy, and immediately the clock struck nine she would say: 'Now, children, to bed - to bed! The Sandman's coming, I can see.' And indeed on each occasion I used to hear something with a heavy, slow step come thudding up the stairs. That I thought must be the Sandman. (1)

From my father's silence and my mother's melancholy face I perceived one evening that the Sandman was coming. I, therefore, feigned great weariness, left the room before nine o'clock, and hid myself in a corner close to the door.(2)
  • She is unable to contain what she feels when the Sandman comes and this is what Nathaniel is reading on her face.
Like so many serial killers, we have the sense that the body that is killed is the body that is controlled, contained, and for sexual reasons.
  • The mangling of Olympia leads to him revisiting that primal scene between the two fathers working on that alchemical project.
  • Nathaniel is someone that has failed to transition from the Oedipal phase and cannot deal with the castration (the replacing of one object for another)
  • Unheimlich is that which cannot be contained, unhousedness. Uncanny works on aesthetic registers, but here it is misleading in a wider view.
Derrida's problem of autoimmunity seems to be relevant to understanding Nightmare on Elm Street.

It's interesting to think reflect on the Freddie genesis story: the film is set in the early 1980s and we are told that the parents of the children being terrorized had actually murdered Freddie. It's noteworthy that the children are being punished for their parents' transgressions against the State during the 60s and 70s. That is, the parents, in becoming vigilantes, had transgressed the sovereignty of the State. During the climate of the Reagan and Bush 80s we can see that the State would not be tolerating these outbreaks of autonomous political action.
  • We see in Freddie vs. Jason that drugs have been developed so that children can sleep without dreaming, which drains Freddie's life force
  • So, Freddie hires Jason to remind children to be afraid of Freddie
  • Thus Freddie is defined as a trauma that has to be recharged every once in a while in order to be successful
  • Nancy is the only one that can drain Freddie of this, she can protect against this impingement
  • In the absence of the "Psycho Effect" Freddie is only demonic - a quality perhaps shared by The Ring and Saw today
With the advent of Scream we have the possibility of mourning as seen in the third installment.

The door literally opens to suggest the possibility of another installation in the series, but we are not afraid because the possibility of overcoming what we've seen has been achieved.

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