multiple identificatory positions, whether successively or simultaneously".
Freud's work on fantasy showsthat viewers can "participate in a variety of roles - sliding, exchanging and doubling in the interchangeablepositions of subject, object and observer".
David Rodowick and Elizabeth Cowie have shown that Freud'sideas on fantasy can be used in film studies to theorise the fluidity of film viewing positions.
Although spaceconsiderations preclude further discussion, there are affinities between cognitive concepts and psychoanalytictheories of viewer engagement. Murray Smith's category of "recognition" could be likened to Mulvey's argumentconcerning the spectator's pleasure at looking at the human form, while "allegiance" could be compared toMulvey's theory of the viewer's identification with the ego ideal on screen.
Cognitive film theory's formulation of filmic emotion reinstates a passive spectator inadvertently. This occursthrough an assumption, commonly made by cognitivists, that films not only shape, but direct viewer emotions.Murray Smith's need for a "caveat" when discussing the interaction between viewer and film points to an anxietyabout precisely this issue. Elsewhere he asserts that, "As the ultimate 'organizer' of the text, the narration is theforce which generates recognition, alignment, and allegiance" (75). Although Plantinga rejects the notion that"films
spectator response", he also maintains that, "The fundamental tenet of a cognitive approach isthat the spectator's affective experience is dependent on cognition, on mental activity cued not only by filmform but also by story content".
Carroll, we will recall, claims that viewer emotions parallel and are cued bycharacter reactions to narrative entities, namely monsters. He declares that "the work of art-horror has builtinto it, so to speak, a set of instructions about the appropriate way the audience is to respond to it", and thathorror texts "teach us, in large measure, the appropriate way to respond to them" (31). These "lessons" can belearned through Carroll's empirical study of textual structures, not actual audiences. Malcolm Turvey argues thatCarroll and Murray Smith privilege the viewer's imagination of narrative scenarios over the immediate, sensuousexperience of the film itself.
He contends that both writers tacitly posit "a direct, causal relation betweencinematic representation and abstract imaginative thought", and then conceptualise "the latter as some kind of internal copy, inscription, or transmigration of the former" (437). Consequently, film viewing is less a "cognitiveactivity than a state of mental passivity" because "cinematic representation functions as a perceptual 'prompt'for the spectator's imaginative activity" (437).There is a relationship between this passivity and the issue of varying emotional reactions among viewers. Filmform, especially narrative, may subordinate or even "create" the viewer's imagination, thereby conditioning thespectator's affective response. Cognitive film theory effectively argues for a uniform emotional response amongviewers. As Robert Stam argues, "In cognitive theory, a raceless, genderless, classless, understander/interpreterencounters abstract schemata".
Cognitivism cannot adequately account for why people can and do havedifferent affective reactions and experiences to the same film. "Why do some spectators love, and others hate,the
Matt Hills provides a useful example of this problem with cognitive film theory in his workon art-horror films.
He notes that the responses of 1930s audiences and contemporary viewers to 1930shorror films such as
(1931) often differ markedly. These films, of course,remain, unchanged: characters in them express fear and revulsion towards figures such as Dracula orFrankenstein's monster. Hills suggests that fluctuating reactions can be sourced to the issue of film style:contemporary audiences are less convinced by the visual depictions of the monster (144-145).
Freud, affect, suggestion and psychoanalysis
Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen's interpretation of Freud can help to theorise the variability of viewer responses. This willinvolve a return to the concept of identification, although it entails transgressing the limits of psychoanalysis.Borch-Jacobsen is a philosopher who has undertaken sustained critical readings of Freud and Lacan. Theseanalyses have had several concerns. Borch-Jacobsen argues that, despite received wisdom, Freud and Lacan stillemploy a metaphysical theory of the subject. Even if the subject can only be discerned in repressedrepresentations (of its absence, as Lacan might say) in that "other scene" we know as the unconscious, "thesubject can be divided only because it is first of all
subject" (20). He also claims in
The Freudian Subject
that the psychoanalytic concept of desire is fundamentally mimetic, it operates through an identificationbetween self and other.
Desire (the desiring subject) does not come first, to be
by an identification that would allow thedesire to be fulfilled. What comes first is a tendency toward identification, a primordial tendency that thengives rise to a desire; and this desire is, from the outset, a (mimetic, rivalrous) desire…
(47).We should not attempt to locate the subject in unconscious representations of desire. Borch-Jacobsen "posits anequivalency of subjectivity and identification: the subject
identification; the I
Hisinterpretation of Freud's exploration of identification as a social bond in
Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego
indicates that Freud did not break from hypnosis as is commonly held.
Rather, the social oremotional tie characteristic of identification is the same non-relation or bond that is found in hypnosis.Borch-Jacobsen continues his examination of the relationship between psychoanalysis and suggestion in
. His reading of Freud's work in connection with hypnosis and suggestion can provide a generaltheory of affectivity. This can be used to explore the problem of differing emotional responses among filmviewers. Borch-Jacobsen shows that the subject's "birth" in affect destabilises the self-other distinction. I willutilise this reading to argue that affect deconstructs the distinct identities of both the viewer and the film. This
Entranced: Affective Mimesis and Cinematic Identiﬁcationhttp://www.latrobe.edu.au/screeningthepast/20/entranced.html3 von 925.12.2008 18:47 Uhr