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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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15 Allo- or Xeno-Experiences

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In the previous segment I have begun raising a gripping question. How is it possible that experiences not made by oneself can result in the impression, be it over time, to have truly happened to the proper ego. Feelings others had, incidents witnessed by others, insights gained by others, simply imparted by them, or even fabricated evocations of things that never really happened–how can they give the impression to belong into an ego’s own fund, its category of undisputable authenticity, the ego’s veracity, so to speak? A tentative, obvious answer would be: because they are superbly narrated. Indeed, an article by Oliver Sacks–“Speak, Memory”– practically does say exactly that. Can we add two reinforcing factors: presentation by visual evidence, and the desire to expand one’s horizon? Both (possible) additions demand instant clarification.

As to the yearning to dispose of a more extensive ego (attention: not more exalted, more noteworthy or of more consequence) we have already tentatively contemplated several motives, among others the relative poverty, be it putative, of one’s own existence. It is also not least a matter of curiosity; entering Wonderland (via the looking-glass which actually is the silver screen) must be miraculous. Creating additional spheres and zones wherein your ego can perambulate, discover things, can try out behavioral patterns, find compliance with its ambition truly must be prodigious. To be the master of all your wish dreams: as though all you’d have to do were to insert a DVD in your...

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