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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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33 Complexity


So far we have already examined quite a number of problems which are, in one way or another, connected with the proposition that every human being possesses a dispositive of imaginations. The major initial hypothesis consisted in postulating that this “dispositive” works in a way comparable to an inbuilt interior screen. This in turn explains to a high degree why films exert a particular–and intense–attraction: it is as though they were projected on one’s private screen. Cognition is that way reshaped, our glasses (the spectacles vis-à-vis the spectacle!) tailor the filmic proposals to personal desires, wishes, necessities. The message triggers persons’ fantasies which go on to constructively and ever so subtly change the incoming signals.

That explains why, although experiences are general and comparable enough to result in “social impressions,” there always remains an enigmatic rest which is “unsubtractable” from the ego. Yet there still are the difficulties of manipulation (seen as a political category) and the conundrum of the pre- or unconscious. The world–on this side of inquiries about epistemology or ontology–is surely not cognizable “as such;” intermediaries of all kinds come into play. Constant dynamization of collective and personal experiences, embedded in and influenced by more or less clearly adopted objective occurrences and structural changes, take the uncertainty still some steps further.

The interconnectedness and the interdependency of those factors–the interimistic summary just given is meant to signal what is in fact much more extensive–justifies...

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