The Impossible David Lynch (Film and Culture)

The Impossible David Lynch (Film and Culture). Does fantasy have an ethical dimension This is the question Todd McGowan explores in The impossible David Lynch, a psychoanalytic study of David Lynch and his film oeuvre In The impossible David Lynch, McGowan challenges his reader to reconsider the ways identification functions in film McGowan writes, The great achievement of his Lynch films lies in their ability to break down the distance between spectator and screen Rather than permitting the imaginary proximity that dominates in mainstream cinema, Lynch s films implicate the spectator in their very structure The structure of a Lynch film alters the cinematic viewing situation itself and deprives the spectator of the underlying sense of remaining at a safe distance from what takes place on the screen 2 Here, McGowan challenges conventional interpretations of film, especially those interpretations that prize an over investment in an incorrect understanding of identification Despite what we might think, the latest Avengers movie, for example, fails to cultivate the sense of identification or proximity a Lynch film does even if it attempts to convince us otherwise According to McGowan, most Hollywood films disavow what a Lynch film avows Conventional cinematic fantasy isn t fantasy at all If anything, it s an ideological supplement that hides the trauma of the symbolic order By contrast, Lynch s films force audiences to confront the trauma of the symbolic order According to McGowan, If we escape at all in Lynch s cinema, we escape into the trauma that remains hidden but nonetheless structures the outside world 24 We, therefore, escape into the trauma that defines us as subjects Therefore, instead of obscuring either our desire or the Other s desire, fantasy in Lynch s films lays bare those desires This, I would argue, is one way to comprehend the ethical dimensions of fantasy in The impossible David Lynch Fantasy constructs the conditions for desire to emerge, or as McGowan argues, Desire does not exist prior to fantasy but emerges out of it 18 This relationship is pertinent when thinking about Lynch because He uses filmic fantasy to present desire in its immediacy and thereby allows us to see precisely how desire and fantasy interrelate 18 But it is also worth contemplating what is impossible about Lynch s films McGowan pivots from something Lacan says in Seminar XVII regarding the symbolic order and its inability to totalize our existence McGowan writes, Within every symbolic order, the real occupies the place of what cannot be thought or imagined the position of the impossible The real is not reality but the failure of the symbolic order to explain everything 25 Thus, to watch a David Lynch film is to expose oneself to the failures of ideology, or as McGowan writes, They Lynch s films thus provide a fundamental challenge to the ruling symbolic structure, forcing us to see possibilities where we are used to see impossibilities 25 The dominant symbolic order fights to persuade us of the impossibility of the impossible, but this is precisely what Lynch s cinematic fantasy reveals By creating the conditions for the possibility of the impossible i.e., the disruption of the symbolic order , fantasy asserts the totality of its ethical dimension McGowan writes, Fantasy allows us to discover our freedom only when we cease regarding it as an escape from our reality and begin to see it as real than our reality 223 The relationship between fantasy and desire is clearly visible once we take fantasy at its word, once we see the power of the fantastic beyond, once we play fantasy out.Like all of McGowan s books, The impossible David Lynch is lucid and readable He expounds upon complex terminology in ways that teach readers about psychoanalysis while also developing an argument that pivot from psychoanalysis Reading the entire book is not necessary, especially for readers unfamiliar with or disinterested in Lynch With that said, the introduction and conclusion are worth reading and returning to From what I gather, The impossible David Lynch is one of the few book length, academic treatments of Lynch, and to see it done from a psychoanalytical persuasion was extremely satisfying. If you re a fan of David Lynch, then you must read this book in a word it is a stunning piece of erudition and theoretical thinking The best academic book on Lynch yet to published. I ve read parts of this book in another form an article from a film journal and was extremely impressed with the author s interpretation of Mulholland Dr I can t wait to read further into it. preemptive review as of page 100 or so a great exploration of lynch s work from a particular psychological philosophical perspective chief observation desire vs fantasy desire for the impossible and fantasy achieving the impossible interesting reading thus far i ll probably edit this when i ve completed the book.done this was an immensely enjoyable read for me it s not for everyone, that s for sure if you like in depth analysis and don t mind spoilers for the films being dissected this MIGHT be for you there is a stress on the differences and prioritizations of desire and fantasy as to how it structures one s reality it is informed by freud, lacan, hegel, heidegger, kant, and I would recommend that you watch all of david lynch s films prior to reading this book as it will make the reading that much enlightening interesting this is recommended reading for the die hard david lynch aficionado and or the film theorist with a psychoanalytical bent. This is quite a tough journey at times, the author prefers to write in an abstruse academic style that conceals meaning, and this is a great shame because there are some potentially great insights here Even in relation to those most analysed of modern films, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive, there was plenty of penetrating and original material.The insistence on a Lacanian psychoanalytic approach straitjackets some of the analyses, unfortunately, it did not lend itself to a deconstruction of Fire walk with me for example, though a fundamental misunderstanding of some plot points might have been equally at fault It is also entirely possible that my own fairly limited grasp of Lacan has hampered my understanding of the material.Definitely a worthwhile read and on a par with Martha Nochimson s The Passion Of David Lynch I would certainly be interested to read an updated version to include Inland Empire as that fits the desire versus fantasy polarity characteristic of Lynch s work as closely as all of the films discussed here.It even made me want to give Dune another try This fulfilled the fun critical theory about auteur slot in my reading schedule nicely. Todd McGowan Launches A Provocative Exploration Of Weirdness And Fantasy In David Lynch S Groundbreaking Oeuvre He Studies Lynch S Talent For Blending The Bizarre And The Normal To Emphasize The Odd Nature Of Normality Itself Hollywood Is Often Criticized For Distorting Reality And Providing Escapist Fantasies, But In Lynch S Movies, Fantasy Becomes A Means Through Which The Viewer Is Encouraged To Build A Revolutionary Relationship With The WorldConsidering The Filmmaker S Entire Career, McGowan Examines Lynch S Play With Fantasy And Traces The Political, Cultural, And Existential Impact Of His Unique Style Each Chapter Discusses The Idea Of Impossibility In One Of Lynch S Films, Including The Critically Acclaimed Blue Velvet And The Elephant Man The Densely Plotted Lost Highway And Mulholland Drive The Cult Favorite Eraserhead And The Commercially Unsuccessful Dune McGowan Engages With Theorists From The Golden Age Of Film Studies Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, And Jean Louis Baudry And With The Thought Of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, And Hegel By Using Lynch S Weirdness As A Point Of Departure, McGowan Adds A New Dimension To The Field Of Auteur Studies And Reveals Lynch To Be The Source Of A New And Radical Conception Of Fantasy

Todd McGowan is Associate Professor of Film at the University of Vermont, US He is the author of The Fictional Christopher Nolan 2012 , Out of Time Desire in Atemporal Cinema 2011 , The Impossible David Lynch 2007 , The Real Gaze Film Theory After Lacan 2007 , and other books.

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  • Paperback
  • 265 pages
  • The Impossible David Lynch (Film and Culture)
  • Todd McGowan
  • English
  • 18 September 2017
  • 9780231139557

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