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VISUAL PLEASURE AND NARRA

VISUAL PLEASURE AND NARRA - VISUAL PLEASURE AND NARRATIVE...

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VISUAL PLEASURE AND NARRATIVE CINEMA Laura Mulvey Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) - Laura Mulvey Originally Published - Screen 16.3 Autumn 1975 pp. 6-18 I. Introduction A. A Political Use of Psychoanalysis This paper intends to use psychoanalysis to discover where and how the fascination of  film is reinforced by pre-existing patterns of fascination already at work within the  individual subject and the social formations that have molded him. It takes as starting  point the way film reflects, reveals and even plays on the straight, socially established  interpretation of sexual difference which controls images, erotic ways of looking and  spectacle. It is helpful to understand what the cinema has been, how its magic has worked  in the past, while attempting a theory and a practice which will challenge this cinema of  the past. Psychoanalytic theory is thus appropriated here as a political weapon,  demonstrating the way the unconscious of patriarchal society has structured film form. The paradox of phallocentrism in all its manifestations is that it depends on the image of  the castrated woman to give order and meaning to its world. An idea of woman stands as  lynch pin to the system: it is her lack that produces the phallus as a symbolic presence, it  is her desire to make good the lack that the phallus signifies. Recent writing in Screen  about psychoanalysis and the cinema has not sufficiently brought out the importance of  the representation of the female form in a symbolic order in which, in the last resort, it  speaks castration and nothing else. To summarise briefly: the function of woman in  forming the patriarchal unconscious is two-fold. She first symbolises the castration threat  by her real absence of a penis, and second thereby raises her child into the symbolic.  Once this has been achieved, her meaning in the process is at an end, it does not last into  the world of law and language except as a memory which oscillates between memory of  maternal plenitude and memory of lack. Both are posited on nature (or on anatomy in  Freud's famous phrase). Woman's desire is subjected to her image as bearer of the  bleeding wound, she can exist only in relation to castration and cannot transcend it. She  turns her child into the signifier of her own desire to possess a penis (the condition, she  imagines, of entry into the symbolic). Either she must gracefully give way to the word, 
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the Name of the Father and the Law, or else struggle to keep her child down with her in  the half-light of the imaginary. Woman then stands in patriarchal culture as signifier for 
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