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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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17 Receivers and Senders

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I shall now make a brief detour by means of what is at this point but an aside. I suggest (in doing so I am by no means the only one) that at present a revolution is taking place which is changing our entire psychological make-up in a most radical way. Yet this radical mutation is neither sufficiently recognized nor are its deeper meaning and expectable consequences seized in depth. Immaterial communica- tion, up to very recently, used to manifest itself quite differently from what it means now. For some time already, this has become increasingly conspicuous without, however, getting all the interpretative attention merited, indeed indispensable. The word immaterial is meant to indicate that I am not talking about mate- rial systems such as networks of transportation. These represent, so to speak, hardware communication dedicated to the “heavy lifting” of all things societal. As a rule these systems are bizarrely underrated or not perceived at all, not worth even a “first thought,” much less a second one, of the cultured lot. These com- munication systems encompass rail and road infrastructure, ports and airports, power supply, pipelines, etc., etc. It is not just transport: post offices are part of it (letters and parcels needed and still need transportation facilities too); these things are all too quickly forgotten in an age of e-mail, internet, cloud computing and what have you. Movies, nowadays magically appearing on very large or very small screens, were also dependent on a lot of physical infrastructure (large...

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