Identification Desire and Its Cinematic Arena
8 “The Big Show Is Going on in My Head”
This phrase is, of course, from Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. There is more to it than meets the eye. Once you take it really serious, it nicely expresses that more than habitually assumed is contributed by our minds, much more. It is by no means just a question of cognition and perception, rather, crucial mental mechanisms that have to be looked for within the recipient count for as much as the stimulus provided by phenomena of the external world. General statements about what carries more weight, the latter or its processing by the perceiving mind, make little sense. Apart from the fact that there would be no reaction without input from outside, too little is still known about the adaptive processes that happen when such outside information (in the widest sense) is digested. That is to say, there is, due to research about the functioning of the brain, quite some knowledge about what seems to be going on in individuals. As they depend, however, not least on something such as collective perception, they are under permanent influences much more difficult to gauge.
Evidently, perception in the cinema is, moreover, a special case. (But how “evident” is it really? Remember Rowan Atkinson in Bean, beginning his lecture by–desperately–stating, “well, I’m doctor Bean, evidently.” He isn’t: it’s just an embarrassed stopgap attempt to gain time, to develop an idea on how to get out of that situation, some kind of succor.) Perception in the movies is...