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The Mind Screen

Identification Desire and Its Cinematic Arena

Georg Schmid

For well over a century cinema has exerted enormous influence, yet many questions regarding its fascination remain unanswered. Films work so well because the viewers tend to unconsciously identify with the actors/actresses. The desire to become another, substituting identity by identification, can be traced to the illusion that the filmic heroes/heroines are immortal – identifying with them raises the possibility of gaining «deathlessness.» Viewers can, without real life risks, experiment with the existential drafts presented; the power of imagination is mobilized. Based on a multidisciplinary approach (semiotics, psychoanalysis, cultural anthropology, plus a healthy dose of film history), this book presents prolegomena of a philosophy of cinema.

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Preface ........................................................................................................................13 1 On Both Sides of the Looking-Glass .......................................................18 2 The Real Groucho...........................................................................................20 3 “I” Is Another ...................................................................................................22 4 Wanting to Be Another ................................................................................25 5 Being John Malkovich. Or Michael Douglas. Or Richard Gere. Or Bill Pullman. Or Someone Younger, Maybe Someone of the Other Sex/Gender ........................28 6 Stunt Doubles, Stand-Ins, Spectators. And the Doctors ..................33 7 The Doctors (Continued)–and Those Who Need to See Them ......................................................................................................36 8 “The Big Show Is Going on in My Head” ..............................................39 9 “It’s All in Your Head” ...................................................................................41 10 Introductory Remarks on the Mind’s “Chambers” ............................43 11 Wanting to Be Cary Grant ..........................................................................46 12 Wanting to Be: …… (Insert Name).........................................................49 13 Who’d You Actually Identify With? ........................................................52 14 Why “Desire”? ..................................................................................................57 15 Allo- or Xeno-Experiences .........................................................................63 10 16 The Yearning for a Happy End ..................................................................65 17 Receivers and Senders ..................................................................................69 18 The Likeliness of an Unhappy End ..........................................................73 19 Films’ Dream Work .......................................................................................80 20 Dispositive. Apparatus. Instrumentality ................................................84 21 Activating the Mind’s Potential .................................................................93 22 Multiple Identifications ............................................................................. 102 23 Faking Reality ............................................................................................... 108 24 The Confines of Reality, Storytelling, and the Force Majeur of Temporality ................................................................... 113 25 Attempting to Change Minds ................................................................. 118 26 What to Do about Erroneous Perception? ......................................... 125 27 What Could Be, What Could Have Been ........................................... 131 28 Corrective Action ........................................................................................ 136 29 Identity with Oneself? ............................................................................... 140 30 Come on in, Take Part in My Fiction .................................................. 145 31 Precision and Persuasion .......................................................................... 149 32 There Are Alternatives ............................................................................... 154 33 Complexity..................................................................................................... 161 11 34 Uncertainty and Indecision ..................................................................... 167 35 Particularities of Identification .............................................................. 175...

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