Show Less
Restricted access

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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

46 A Mind Bridge


In a remarkable novel, Mindbridge (first published in 1973), Joe Haldeman proposes a thing (a creature or contraption), discovered during a routine expedition to a soon to be colonized planet, that enables humans to enter into telepathic contact. The descriptions concerning the ensuing sensations particularly during sexual intercourse are very illuminating. Imagine to be perceptive–able to sense in an absolutely authentic way–to feminine and masculine excitation in parallel: not just by projection and empathy but by actually feeling, and being aware, of the act of physical love as a man and a woman in parallel, simultaneously, with all the intensity usually reserved for one’s own sex vis-à-vis the other. No attempted “intuition”–the German Einfühlung expresses it better–could come close; in Haldeman’s case it’s a matter of complete identity, no necessity of intuiting something.

I suggest that film, at its most intimate, under the most favorable circumstances, can provide a tinge of approximation. The enigma of an erotic component in the desire to be/become another here acquires at least a shadow of comprehensibility. No one wants to exist in total isolation; and while normal emotive contact with other real persons is satisfying and, to a degree, sufficient, it certainly seems that there always is some sort of transcendental yearning. Such vague needs are as a rule taken care of by religious rituals. Some of them have been covered by (mainly novelistic) literature and, in more emotional form, by sculpture and painting...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.