P. 1


|Views: 12|Likes:
Published by Russell Potter

More info:

Published by: Russell Potter on Jan 25, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less







1/25/11 3:08 PM

EDWARD SCHIZOHANDS: THE POSTMODERN GOTHIC BODY by RUSSELL A. POTTER Dept. of English Colby College <rapotter@colby.edu> _Postmodern Culture_ v.2 n.3 (May, 1992) Copyright (c) 1992 by Russell A. Potter, all rights reserved. This text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the author and advance notification of the editors.

A schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst's couch. A breath of fresh air, a relationship with the outside world . . . while taking a stroll outdoors . . . he is in the mountains, amid falling snowflakes, with other gods or without any gods at all, without a family, without a father and a mother . . . .^1^ --Deleuze and Guattari, _Anti-Oedipus_ [1] A schizophrenic out for a walk . . . thus Deleuze and Guattari frame the peripatetic, or as they would say, the nomadic position of their classic critique of Freud's Oedipus complex. The world of this schizo subject is profoundly machine-made, "everything is a machine. Celestial machines, the stars or rainbows in the sky, alpine machines--all of them connected to those of the body."^2^ And it is in just such a way that Edward Scissorhands, in Tim Burton's film of the same name, enters the world; left alone and unfinished in the huge gothic mansion of his dead Inventor, not born but built, his only company other dusty machines, filling his days trimming intricate ornamental hedges with his bladed hands. And yet Edward's own mark is that of the wound, for everything he touches is cut, severed, disjointed. In contrast, down below the mountain on which his mansion stands dwells a sedately postmodern collection of pastel-hued modular homes, each with its nuclear, Oedipal family, its pastel-hued automobile, and its well-watered, neatly manicured lawn. And yet to simply construe _Edward Scissorhands_ as an incarnation of Deleuze and Guattari's schizo would be to do both texts an unwitting violence, for like the prose monolith of the _Anti-Oedipus_, _Edward Scissorhands_ discloses a cut, a blade, that severs the very narrative and theoretical strands that would seem to hold it together; coming-apart is what they are all about. Just so Milton, in a moment of delirious excess, wrote Comes the blind Fury, with th' abhorred shears
Page 1 of 13


a strange territory where the passions lost in the kitschy planet of Suburbia U. In this sense. Yet this wound is deeper and wider. The Inventor's early inventions. he reconfigures the postmodern aesthetic. In the second phase. it is the social wound which bleeds out the deferred pain of a banalized generation. scattering bulbous clowns.592/potter. and with it. or BwO. and that service them. Deleuze and Guattari's nomadic constructions of desiring-production give us. where men re-enact catatonically the stiff and jerky motions of the machines they service.http://pmc. Therein lies his mad art. the leak in the somnifacient waterbeds of a suburban existence so attenuated that it has become. the stain under the plush beige carpet.S. re-absorbs these partial and persecutorial fragments: the infamous schizo Judge Schreber swallows his larynx accidentally. is himself a consummate machine. and dancers among the previously sedate shrubberies of Burton's postmodern suburbia. like his cookie-making assembly line. Television and film. I would argue.iath. the Gothic does not re-enact history.virginia. The two-phase engine of desiring production is the pivot through which this structure articulates itself. Like the nefarious automated feeding-machine that nearly drives Charlie to distraction. In the first phase. the principal of the Burtonesque (as of the Chaplinesque) machine is that it do less well something which could be done far more easily by hand. though. at least temporarily. dolphins. Yet _Edward Scissorhands_ stands somehow apart. except cutting. they might appear to be thoroughly Oedipal hands--if one reads the wound they inflict as the mark of castration. a mere simulacrum of itself. the organs-partial objects--bodily parts disjointed from the whole--appear as persecuting machines: schizo voices undercut reality with paranoiac narratives. dead hands crawl out of the grave to avenge their killer. breaking eggs and cutting cookies with overcharged zeal. in Baudrillard's terms. in that he does everything less well. but is healed by the "miraculating" rays that seem to radiate from his anus. both in its novelistic and cinematic avatars. its gargoyles of blood and sensuality. but withstands it (and its loss). Tim Burton's twist--and a brilliant one it is--is to conjoin this vividly baroque Gothic with the Industrial Gothic of Charlie Chaplain's _Modern Times_. of course.edu/text-only/issue. an economics as well as a stylistics of the Gothic genre.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM [3] [4] And slits the thin-spun life.A. precisely re-enact this scene. Edward. Page 2 of 13 . of a desire that inescapably wounds everything it embraces. are replete with such plateaus. are recovered via--what else?--the Gothic.^3^ Edward's hands. telltale hearts give the lie to narratorial sanity. lacking precisely hands. whether it is in the encapsulated fragments of America's _Funniest Home Videos_ or in the hyperreal simulations of the "holodeck" on board the starship Enterprise in _Star Trek: The Next Generation_. the body-without-organs. Founded itself in a reconstruction of a past that never was. are not hands of fury but hands of desire. With its visceral excesses. the Gothic offers a perfect compensation for the dead historical machinations of the postmodern.

his immaculate and lethal hands have a mind all their own.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM [5] [6] [7] the Blob absorbs its victims into an undifferentiated amoebic mass. hand-made. consequently. as Deleuze and Guattari put it.edu/text-only/issue. Exhibited at a neighborhood barbecue. In schizo-analytic terms. Edward has fists full of blades. as Edward looks on. falls to the floor in the spasms of death." Edward's problematic humanity begins with this breakage. In drawings of the body scaled to represent the relative number of nerve endings in various organs. Edward. As much as Edward is gentle.virginia. The drama of _Edward Scissorhands_. Edward himself is the persecutorial agent of the suburban enclave whose practiced conformities he unwittingly shreds. in every instance he severs and disjoints the body of the socius. the hands. they twitch involuntarily at the approach of the unknown. and he briefly attempts to touch these new hands in his scissored grasp. his hands are remorseless. while "partial" like all desiring-machines. the pleasure in the Inventor's eyes is replaced with a look of panic. whose machines. Reaching out to caress the Inventor's face. Edward's eyes open wide. When the gift is revealed." a guest on a television talk-show. the hands loom grotesquely large over an insectine body. to the re-opening of scars that not even the "miraculating" cinematic machine of "love" can heal. their mass figuring an excess of sensation. clothing. The unfinished thing about Edward is not the Oedipal signifier of the phallus. just as he is on the verge of presenting Edward with hands." but rather the implosion of the Oedipal family. machines of anti-production. and the faces of those he loves.592/potter. is not the persecution and destruction of the "monster. The Oedipal crisis of desire-as-lack (%manque%) is subsumed within the larger crises of desiring-production. and when his emotions overwhelm him they cut maniacally at bushes. the same hands which shape surreal topiary hedges with a gardener's grace "accidentally" slash Edward's own face. too. in short of Anti-Oedipus. "only work when they break down. even when he reaches to stroke or embrace. Then.http://pmc. _Edward Scissorhands_ mobilizes against the Oedipal/capitalistic strictures of desire. which is disclosed as monstrous--the drama. broken into fragments along with the sensations they might have produced. On a broader scale. displayed in a classroom "show-n-tell. but rather his hands. producers of sensation. but Page 3 of 13 .iath. as he slumps to the floor the human hands are thrust onto Edward's bladed fingers and fall. inhabits this dual movement. the quintessential synecdoche of sensitivity (handle with care. It would be hard to imagine a scene more traumatic than that in which the Inventor. touching). and people. In the place of these sensory machines. Peg's endeavor to graft Edward back into family and community leads instead to the rupture of the community's own unarticulated sutures of desire. bring with their overload of sensation the illusion of becoming-complete. while he is gentle. touched. Just as in Deleuze and Guattari's work. the Golem returns to clay. Edward instead leaves a long red gash on his cheek. machines that can do only injury.

stereos. all other values come into question--or rather.http://pmc. Edward's true allies. hands that will never find their way to Edward's body. opens only wounds for Edward). the neighborhood Avon Lady. ." and attributes the problems which Edward's presence produces to his diabolical mission (Edward's answer. . "and this will help to prevent infection. as soon becomes evident in the dinner-table moralizing of Peg's husband Bill. the absence of value as such is disclosed. that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head like mine filled with Gothic story) and that on the uppermost bannister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armor . "At the very least. a celibate machine whose tasks never extend beyond keeping the hedges trimmed in a garden no-one but Edward sees. kitchen appliances. By re-enacting the Anti-Oedipal moment.virginia. waterbeds). .592/potter. denounces Edward as bearing "the mark of Satan." When she takes Edward home. whose schizo hands will make the %unheimlich% out of the %allzuheimlich%) within the capitalist machine. gives a perfect schizo gloss on her paranoia). let me give you a good astringent. Edward breaks open the "family unit" and discloses a cut that runs across the boundaries between the "nuclear" families in Peg's neighborhood and the social production of desire.edu/text-only/issue. the suspended Page 4 of 13 ." but to all the other microfascistic machines that had guaranteed the inviolability of the unreal suburb. the outcast. however. comes to call. who have already taken up their places within the capitalistic desiring-machines (cd players. This isolation is broken when Peg. of _The Castle of Otranto_ [10] The hands--%les mains% (French amplifies the schizo by placing "hands" in a neutral and impersonal form)--floating and disembodied in the opening credits of _Scissorhands_." she says as she pats the terrified Edward's cheeks with a moistened cotton ball.^4^ --Horace Walpole. but with children and adolescents. she unwittingly opens a crisis within the unreal reality of her neighborhood.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM [8] [9] within the Gothic hallways of the inventor's mansion it remains unproductive. THE HANDS Shall I even confess to you what was the origin of this romance? I waked one morning in the beginning of last June from a dream. and as such a (minor) agent of the capitalistic machine. too. whose crisis is suddenly shown to be not domestic but fundamentally social. As the schizo. Edward poses a threat not only to the "family. are not the adults. the local born-again Christian. If the brain is coded as the seat of identity (the transfer of brains in _Frankenstein_ and its heirs. carving her shrubbery into a grinning demon's head. Overcoming her shock at the first sight of Edward. she recovers herself as soon as she sees the cuts on his cheeks (the narcissistic touch. of which all I could recover was. having brought the "real" (Gothic Edward. Esmerelda.iath.

Orlac's playing deteriorates as the hands restlessly finger various lethal implements. conflate two metonymic deployments of the hands: "a body I made with my own hands" and "(his) life is in my hands. at least until the hand sneaks up on Caine's therapist and strangles her while Caine watches from across the room. "There's nothing to fear! Look! No blood. .592 1/25/11 3:08 PM brain common to so many science fiction scenarios)^5^--the hands are coded as the site of sensibility. Yet the re-suturing of the severed hand has hardly put an end to the terror of the hand all by itself. a severed hand takes with it all that is palpable. donning artificial hands and a neck brace so as to convince him that he is the murderer come back from the dead. there once was a man "who had scissors for hands. Caine undergoes psychotherapy. driven by desire for Orlac's wife. These hands." So Henry Frankenstein comforts his assistant when the monster's hands arouse his terror. they Page 5 of 13 . and becomes convinced that the disembodied hand is a mere hallucinatory projection of his own murderous desire--a plausible solution. well-trained in etiquette by the Inventor. [12] This theme has been repeated (with somewhat less success) many times. caressable. but is given new hands (taken from an executed murderer) by a demented surgeon named Gogol (Peter Lorre). is one thing. The horror of the transplanted hands is echoed by Henry's own admixture of pride and fear at the work of his own hands--"Think of it! The brain of a dead man. waiting to live again in a body I made in [sic] my own hands (holds up his hands and gazes at them) . not everyone will eat it--he has touched it with his hands. At the same time. however. Edward is the consummate guest.592/potter." A similar condensation--though visual rather than linguistic--occurs in _Mad Love_ (1932). and it becomes in a sense unclean. of course. . Orlac's hands eventually come to the rescue. The hands are right there in the "laboratory" scene. A concert pianist named Orlac loses his hands in an accident. In the place of hands. it would seem. Gogol attempts to drive Orlac insane by visiting him in disguise. perhaps inadvertently. their stitches is at least as great as the horror of the transferred brain. no decay . Michael Caine plays a cartoonist whose severed hand embarks on a murder spree. the horror at their transfer. however. but when he cuts the family meatloaf with his blades. if only because of its extraordinary intensity of sensation. As the opening scene of the film frames it. never to have one is another. when Gogol assaults his wife. the feelable--or brings with it all the callous(ed) insensitivity society attributes to a murderer. just a few stitches. .http://pmc. . both in the place of and as hands. The hand. Suggestively." that is. most recently in _Body Parts_ (1991). in my own hands!" [11] Henry's lines.edu/text-only/issue. seem to have retained their murderous propensity. and to have something else in their place still another. Orlac kills him with a single skilled throw of a knife. In _The Hand_ (1981). has a mind of its own.virginia.iath. which in many ways is a kind of remake of _Mad Love_. [13] To lose a hand. much as the "criminal brain" that Frankenstein transplants into his monster in the 1931 film version.

Never did me a bit of harm. Neighbor 1: Or *undo* The men. but their uneasiness is translated into humor: "Whoa. Listen--don't let anyone ever tell you you have a handicap.. it ceases to matter whether they are "real" or "hallucinatory.. [14] From its inception. A number of sexual double-entendres rotate around Edward's hands. Completely different. I can't feel a thing. Ed.. for their part." Edward is drawn out of this conversation.iath. by Joyce and the other women. disembodied hand whose mysterious appearance in Walpole's _Castle of Otranto_ (1761) gives the lie to Prince Manfred's claims of nobility. disjointed. It has never lived. from the gallows. Neighbor 2: He's so. Page 6 of 13 . and ever since then. however: "I have my own infirmity.592/potter. The giant. dog-clipper. Neighbor 1: No kidding. which by their very existence accuse the waking world of a fundamental illegitimacy. who line up to feed him mouthfuls of "Ambrosia salad" and other earthly delights. or decomposed body parts." One elderly male barbecue-goer does confide in Edward." as does the barrage of ventriloquized voices in _Wieland_.. barber. as the women in the neighborhood fantasize about their erotic possibilities: Joyce: Oooh. cutting those Edward tries to help or hold. that's a heck of a handshake you got there.virginia." they are real enough to drive rationality into madness. the Gothic has posited and reproduced a legion of partial.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM are a disaster. Not a damn thing.. the detachable hand that horrifies Sir Bertrand in Anna Barbauld's "Sir Bertrand" (1792). Neighbor 3: Mysterious. THE FABRICATED BODY Professor: And you really believe that you can bring life to the dead? Henry Frankenstein: That body is not dead. are equally unnerved about Edward's hands. The old man's blind eye.edu/text-only/issue. Joyce: Do you imagine those hands are hot or cold? And just think about what a single snip could do. though. I created it. the severed hand that establishes the guilt of its former owner in Mary-Anne Radcliffe's _Manfrone_ (1828)--function as the organspartial-objects which disclose the founding aporia of the socius. speak the %j'accuse% of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart. and the relentless beating of his disembodied heart. anywhere. as also their maternal and sexual interest in his body. Took some shrapnel during the war. I made it with my own hands from the bodies I took from graves.. as hands they are the producers of his sudden success--as hedge-trimmer.http://pmc. Their feeding marks the ineptitude of Edward's hands (at that point employed as shishkebabs).

whose desire will never be eaten by a mouth or contained by an anus. the "dissolving sutures" that transgress our own body. and the torso is filled out. is a kind of anti-body. Like the Inventor's other creatures. We see Page 7 of 13 .http://pmc. familial. which jangles with studs and metal buckles. then sewed back together in such a way that the stitch-marks show.592/potter. as well as a loving secret.edu/text-only/issue." Peg muses at one point. "We'll cover up the scars and start with a completely smooth surface. organs cling to it as parasites or (in Deleuze and Guattari's own metaphor) "like medals jingling on the chest of a wrestler. of his body's partiality. Edward's facial scars are self-inflicted. like Frankenstein's scars. with an egg-like torso and a spherical head. This "BwO. a tearer) of flesh. inasmuch as it traverses the amorphous plane of the Body without Organs. no one who has kissed a lover's scar can deny it. it is a threat to both. the arms a more hominid form. a mass of sutures. The fabricated body. As the camera pans around the room in the opening shot.iath." The Oedipal. or both--a kind of opening unmarked by libidinal fascisms. lying in bed.virginia." Here Edward. but her efforts result only in a gooey paste that makes Edward look worse than ever. The stitches in the makeup for Boris Karloff's early film personation of Frankenstein terrify because they disclose the stitches within ourselves. at the word "man" we see Edward's bodily development. Existing partly in both worlds. Edward is held together by a series of belts--figurations. but through the scene staged as "The Etiquette Lesson. The horror and revulsion of this body is its disjunction--its organs have been separately acquired from a shadowy contingent of cadavers. as in _Frankenstein_. its pages turned by a sudden breeze. in later drawings arms are attached. Every scar is potentially a mouth or an anus. we hear the Inventor's voice declaiming a lecture on etiquette: "Should the man rise when he accepts his cup of tea?" The camera pans past an oversize book. covered with scars. these body parts are assembled to form the unwhole-y whole of the monstrous body. it is positioned between the Oedipalized body with its territorialized zones and the zoneless BwO. In the early sketches he resembles others of the inventor's robots. "accidental"--and yet Peg Boggs spends the better part of Edward's suburban sojourn trying to find the particular admixture of cosmetics which will conceal them. is an erotic feast as well as a terror (that is. We can see this not only through Edward's leather armor (or is it his skin?). oral-anal organization that has been imposed on the body exacts a terrific price--its price is no less than the BwO. [17] Peg's desire to smooth Edward's scars thus can be read not only as a desire to erase the terror of Edward's hands but as reaction against the horror that Edward's entire body is an assemblage." as it is often abbreviated. [16] The fabricated body of the Gothic is also a shadow of the terror of libidinal organization. the face is given features. thinks back to the impossible moment of his assemblage.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM [15] Something still more deeply terrifying takes place when. a fabricated and anti-Oedipal anti-territory. a repository of the not-body.

houses. smiles tentatively. Frank Baum")^6^ or its melodramatic denouement. When asked. of course. "Will they tear?" He replied. "Here and there. But she cannot remain. moved by the uncanny recognition that her home is not her home. as the planned hands are broken and lost (they shatter upon impact) and he remains not incomplete but unfinished. with arms and legs lying laid nearby. All this assumes. Jim. to come into being partially whole and yet wholly partial. [18] When the camera arrives at Edward. proclaiming it "boring. and to grow. or at least that the audience has somehow been led to expect some other kind of ending. too much to bear. Leaving aside the fact Page 8 of 13 . her boyfriend is not her boyfriend. her parents are not her parents. food). Kim. that some generic codes have been violated.edu/text-only/issue. such as Pauline Kael. malls.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM the addition of the scissor hands. that the libido has nothing to do with families and everything to do with society at large (economics. smile.iath. and the Inventor parentally intones "That's right. have faulted _Edward Scissorhands_ for what they see as its maudlin sensibility (Kael calls it "Frankenstein's monster by way of L. Go ahead. Edward's inception is not a conjunction but a disjunction." The "clothing of crepe" (pre)figures Edward's own fragile skin. not yet bodied himself. To be born. that our own sanity has been purchased as the result of a kind of extortion or holding-hostage of our bodies--are.http://pmc. in an Oedipalized family is one thing--and to be built. and as a result he can consciously inhabit zones which others will only know in dreams--and ("on the other hand") he can make mistakes no human child would make. and Edward more and less than a child. talkshows. is another. It's funny!" Yet the paradox here is that the inventor himself is both more and less than a parent. the fragility of his body and bodies in general. something that can re-contain just enough of the terror it discloses so that we can all go back home to our waterbeds and sleep in peace.592/potter. In a voice of mock-solemnity. and their (unfulfilled) replacement by human ones. hedges. in the end. At length the Inventor closes the book of etiquette. not at least if this film is to have something we could call an ending. we see that he is not yet himself assembled. Edward. wants him out: "You destroy everything you touch!" he yells. he intones There was an old man from the Cape Who made himself garments of crepe. But they keep such a beautiful shape." and opens a book of poems (which turn out to be limericks). alone knows and moves to Edward's side. the fragility of the Inventor's wrinkled skin. EDWARD IS DEAD: LONG LIVE EDWARD [20] Many film critics. [19] Edward's secrets--that no amount of make-up will cover our scars. Edward truly possesses language before he possesses a body.virginia. his torso and head rest on a kind of workbench. as the quintessential fascist.

even at the start (something which is signalled immediately in the juxtaposition of suburban tract homes and gothic castle). a place without chronology or geography--in short. colorization--of these houses refuses a simplistic mimesis. the pastel coloration--one might even say.virginia. as are the houses seen in exterior shots.http://pmc. chronology is deliberately scrambled. exist side-by-side with 50s fixtures such as boomerang tables and lava lamps. like the clip-art cutouts of postmodern collages. drift about in their own free play of signification. ostracize.S. whether Page 9 of 13 . [23] Yet the apparent smoothness of this untrammelled suburban territory belies the alienation--both of others and of itself--which is the founding ethos of the suburbs. there is no reason to expect that the drama at work in this film be univocal.edu/text-only/issue. Edward is driven to re-enact--albeit with many suggestive differences--the inexorable expulsion and persecution of the monstrous. "Mrs.A. such that commodities. Indeed. The cars--at least those we see up-close--are of early-70s vintage. all one needs is a few dozen "peasants" armed with torches storming the door of some castle. as the inheritor of that tradition. Radcliffe" (of _Udolpho_) moves in next door to "Mrs. the Adolescent Horror (_Carrie_). In her recent study. Like Andy Warhol's brightly colored silkscreens of Mao Tse-Tung or Marilyn Monroe. The scene is so familiar as to be a cliche. Smith's Pies). [22] In the commodity-fetishism of Burton's suburbs. such as CD players.iath. or social class-in the process indicting the very audiences most likely to view his film. _Belonging in America: Reading Between the Lines_.^7^ The modalities of suburban demonization indeed seem to follow remarkably similar patterns. the suburbs as seen by those whose lives remained somehow untransgressed by history. there was _The Day the Earth Stood Still_ (1951) and _Revenge of the Creature_ (1955)). is to stare at. [21] Yet the strongest narrative underlying _Edward Scissorhands_. and it turns out they have known each other all along. the Dark Hero genre (this was after all the film Tim Burton made immediately after _Batman_). not to mention the sensitive-creature-from-another-world (long before _E. the parents are from 60s sitcoms but the kids are from _21 Jump Street_. place. by taking Edward out of the mansion and into the suburbs Burton re-enacts the history of the Gothic. The final effect is a kind of timeless time.592/potter. and done well. 90s appliances.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM that the Gothic itself is historically an outgrowth of the sentimental. Constance Perin argues that one thing that suburbia U._. Yet Burton's film displaces that cliche by rendering ambiguous any comfortable distances of time. has always done. these houses are in effect coloring-book reproductions whose hyperveracity gives the lie to realism. is clearly that of the filmic _Frankenstein_.T. Yet even here. And. I would argue indeed that several filmic machines are at work here. each with its own imperatives: the Gothic Romance (as in _Wuthering Heights_--storm-crossed lovers against the world of social conventions). Smith" (of Mrs. and expel those (re)marked as different. as I have suggested above. alienate.

" Edward. even if he can only alienate Kim further by doing so.^9^ And yet Kim does not know until some time later that Edward knew all along that the house they were breaking into was Jim's. in a classically gothic denouement.. Jim: What--you don't want us to have our own van like Denny's when we could be all by ourselves whenever we like? Huh? With a mattress in the back? Kim: Well. . Kim's shift of love and allegiance exposes the inhumanity of the "human" and the humanity of the "inhuman. I don't want to.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM the person so demonized is a newcomer. by serving as the scapegoat for this crime. Edward marks both himself and his adoptive "family" as outcasts. while initially welcomed almost manically. Jim's recognition of Kim's rejection sets off his maniacal determination to destroy Edward. something beyond a mere farce of the Oedipal drama. . Kim: We can't! Jim: Look. and that he knowingly committed this crime for her. "they keep things pretty much locked up. like. especially after the break-in at Jim's parents' house. there's a guy who'll give us cash for this stuff! Kim: Jim.edu/text-only/issue. Page 10 of 13 . We need Edward to get in. Jim: C'mon. whom he has loved from the moment he sees her face in the mandatory assemblage of family photographs (all families are simulacra. Kim. A week and my dad'll have a new and better everything. Edward performs this sacrifice for Kim. or a someone "just passing through. Kim: huhm.592/potter. Thus. My father has his own room for his stuff to make sure I can't get any use of it. [24] It is Kim's boyfriend Jim who proves to be the ultimate local agent of this suburban fascism. The only thing he holds on to tighter is his dick. Kim: Well. why can't you just do it? Jim: Because my father keeps the damn room locked. when he's sleeping or something? Jim: You don't understand. is soon regarded with deep suspicion.http://pmc." For "when the family ceases to be a unit of production and of reproduction . she recognizes at once what Bataille might call the sovereign abandon of Edward's gesture and despises Jim. Jim's father keeps his electronic toys in a locked room outfitted with state-of-the-art burglar alarms. my parents have insurance up the rear. D&G might say) that adorns Peg's mantelpiece. In schizoanalytic terms. okay? What'll it cost 'em--a little hassle? That's about it. a "handicapped" person.. as Jim himself says in a dinnertable jab. When she finally learns the truth. a retiree.iath. just as he is the ultimate Oedipal subject. Razor Blades'll do anything for you! Kim: That's not true! Jim: Oh no? Why don't you ask him? [25] In the end. can't you take the key.virginia." [26] Yet there is something more here. it is father-mother that we consume"^8^: Kim: But that's breaking and entering! Jim: Look.

The Oedipal crisis is itself placed in crisis. Edward does not simply castrate (one knife would be sufficient for that--why have ten?). suggestively. "4. grounding it out and spraying sparks all over the stage. and Kim gives "him" to them. Kim intervenes. No one is willing to throw Edward out. the suburban "peasants" are held in reserve. He is activated. 1. in one uncanny moment she grasps Edward's hand and menaces Jim with it. What the neighbors want is Edward. and (when that fails) by breaking beams over his back. Edward flees to his "castle." But where is "home"? Jim's not there. turning velcro into teflon. slicing off the clothes he wore during his stay at the Boggs's. away from the nuclear family.virginia.http://pmc. the final scenes of the film offer a subtle yet crucial set of differences--differences which. as the community's agent to expel the intruder who has threatened its libidinal and social borders. he pulls the surface of the Body Without Organs taut. wherever it is. he draws its flow outward. but indifference. telling the neighbors that "it's over" and that they "can all go home now. does not even hold enough interest to make the neighbors linger. 0-Oedipus is a race for death. Jim dies quickly and easily--as Deleuze and Guattari say. When Edward and Jim face off a moment later. Edward touches the microphone stand with his hand. is thrown into a frenzied spiral of jealousy. giving an undertone of the many films of the 50s which implicitly or explicitly took up the question of *un*popular justice (e. is on Edward's side. but no one is willing to stop Jim from throwing him out. asked by the talk-show host about whether he has a girlfriend. is somehow allied to electricity. left not only without the phallus but without recourse to the Oedipal narrative which offered his only prospect of ever claiming it. [27] Jim. he %grounds it out%. unbinding its libidinal cathexes." with Kim and Jim right behind him. like Frankenstein's monster in the 1931 film.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM Edward has not merely broken the Oedipal equation. [28] While following the conventions to a point. descending the stairs. waving the hand Page 11 of 13 . even as Edward is running.edu/text-only/issue. initiate slippages that belie their apparent conventionality.g. in the place of what he regards as an imaginary threat. he unhinges all organs from their Oedipal affixations. The local policeman. Now. first with a gun. and ends up atop the prostrate Edward.592/potter. it seems that Kim has finally given Edward the cue for what he must do. Edward.iath."^10^ His body. he has short-circuited it. Jim sets about killing Edward with mock-Eastwood machismo. discovered below the window. Locked out of his parents' Oedipal sanctum. "He's dead. she seizes upon one of the inventor's discarded alternate hands. and superseded by Edward in Kim's affections. getting his "courage" up for the inevitable confrontation." she proclaims to the neighbors. having taken for a moment Jim's place in the Oedipal chain. its "undoing" turns out not to be castration after all. he drives to the mansion's gate and fires his revolver into the air. as he snips the thin-spun life out of Jim's chest with a single thrust of a finger. as in other parts of the film. 3. _To Kill a Mockingbird_). 2. Jim is swigging Jack Daniel's in the back of his friend's van. as it were.

_Anti-Oedipus_. even though closure is not quite what it offers. but in a long string of lucrative sequels). surrounded hedges and fences. to the status of a kind of local sky-god. now white-haired. an alienation which Edward and his hands disclose." The snow. Lee. plowed under. is no guarantee." lines 75-6. nor saved (like the Beast in _Beauty and the Beast_). but it is readily taken as one by the assembled crowd. a statement of love via surreality and excess. We pan back again from Edward's house. ^3^ John Milton. of course.virginia. his ice sculptures freeze time.592/potter. and the crisis of adolescence understands. 2. while the glove itself may be removed and hidden in the basement. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P. a memory palace. Immaculate in their lifelessness. Yet the horror of _Edward Scissorhands_ is a veritable antipodes to _Elm Street_ and its sequels. where Edward is not the fabricated but the fabricator. but a realization that in expelling otherness is born self-alienation. . by Robert Hurley. ^2^ _Anti-Oedipus_. the flurry of ice-flakes. 2.http://pmc.edu/text-only/issue. but the more thoroughly Oedipalized adults have forgotten. ed. but now. [29] -----------------------------------------------------------NOTES ^1^ Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. "Lycidas. these figures of ice themselves constitute a kind of machine. 1983). A fairy tale after all--or is it? In some strange way. snow descends on us all. the snow of our doing--and *un*doing. Kim pronounces what ought in the circumstances to be the magic words: "I love you"--and yet nothing happens. One wonders aloud: and what was her history. the history of some other love. before he came down. even as Edward effectively is pushed back into a mythic realm. and in them Kim remains a young woman dancing in the snow. in _The Complete Poetry of John Milton_. John T. trans. turns out to be the detritus from Edward's relentless sculpting. it does. One thinks for a strange moment about Freddie Kruger's bladed glove in _Nightmare on Elm Street_. that's friend to men / Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!% [30] And so the film closes in upon itself. %Oh keep the dog far hence. it doesn't prevent Freddie from coming back (not only in that film. it never snowed . and Helen R. sits recounting the tale of Edward to her granddaughter. Its ethic is not the fear of the nightmare Other. From the shreds of these fabrications.592 1/25/11 3:08 PM aloft: "See?" This disembodied hand. . Edward remains untransformed and unassimilated. Mark Seem. the frame-narrative is unable to quite contain Edward-he is neither killed in the manner of Frankenstein's monster. and into the window of the room where Kim. Shawcross (New Page 12 of 13 . that has descended into this young girl who sits under a heavy coverlet listening to her grandmother's tale.iath. And the difference: "You see.

in _The Castle of Otranto." "Tattling on Neighbors. _The Man Without a Body_ (1958). 66 no." all in _Belonging in America: Reading Between the Lines_ (Madison: U of Wisconsin P. and embarks on a quest for a body to attach to it--or more recently the well-known _Star Trek_ episode where Mr.edu/text-only/issue. letter to William Cole (March 9." "I'LL NEVER DIET AGAIN. TO HAVE A BABY"--an anti-Oedipal anti-family whose membership is open only to those (re)marked as singular. The Mysteries of Udolpho.592/potter. .http://pmc." _The New Yorker_ vol.iath. qtd." and "Imperfect People. ^7^ See the suggestive chapters "Penalizing Newcomers. 44 (Dec. 359. 265. 1988). _The Brain that Wouldn't Die_ (1959). 17. "The Current Cinema: New Age Daydreams. 160. xi. ^5^ See for example _Donavan's Brain_ (1953).592 1/25/11 3:08 PM York: Doubleday. ^4^ Horace Walpole. where a man preserves his dead wife's head in a pan of nutrient solution." and "NEWLYWEDS. 90 & . 1963). ^8^ _Anti-Oedipus_. Page 13 of 13 . Andrew Wright (NY: Holt. ^10^ _Anti-Oedipus_. in which a man's talking head is kept artificially alive. ^9^ Edward's own schizo assemblage (which significantly is not *on* the mantelpiece but in the fireplace) consists of newspaper clippings with headlines such as "BOY BORN WITHOUT EYES READS WITH HIS HANDS. ^6^ See Pauline Kael. Spock's brain is stolen and wired into a planet-regulating computer network.virginia. Rinehart and Winston. Northanger Abbey_. 1990): 115-121. in which the brain of a dead millionaire keeps a scientist chained to its will. ed. . 1971). 1765).

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->