Identification Desire and Its Cinematic Arena
37 The Business of Comparing
Can you compare the incomparable? That, in any event, is what Marcel Detienne attempted to do some fifteen years ago. Juxtaposing history and anthropology, he came, unsurprisingly, to the conclusion that history (as or in its variety of historiography, I’d add) must be seen in connection with the Nation; anthropology (according to him), on the other hand, from the very beginning wanted to compare. Now, of course there is comparative literature, and one can even come across comparative history (albeit rather infrequently). As to the present treatise, I have so far endeavored–trying not to give the game away too soon–to compare everything to and with everything. We can premise that the mind harbors “everything”–experiences derived from films are among them–and that all these things ineluctably are entangled in enormous bundles of relations with all the other registered things. Prominent among them are visual imprints, made more or less permanent depending on their relevance, the easier to be recalled the more intense they were; the cerebrations resulting thereof remain equally “present”. “Present” must not be misunderstood as conscious: these imprints may sink into the unconscious, indeed they often do.
The immensely complex web of interactions of all kinds, many of them in their turn unconscious (or not in a position to be readily made conscious), combines Realeindrücke (impressions derived from objective circumstances), inputs from fantasy, and those resulting from processing works of art. On the mind’s screen many of these components will...