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3. Gaudy Rose: Eco and Narcissism

Teresa de Lauretis Indiana University Press ePub


What’s in a name? asks Juliet, who is a woman and knows the tide, the ebb and flow, the pull of the real. Eco answers her question simply, yet implicating the whole of philosophy and the vicissitudes of Western epistemology: everything and nothing. Stat rosa pristina nomine. Nomina nuda tenemus.1 But Juliet’s, of course, was a rhetorical question, and Eco’s answer is not what she wants. We leave Juliet at the balcony unfulfilled, as she must be, and go on to scene two.

Imagine now Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, naked, without guilt and (naturally, you might think) without language. But no, these Adam and Eve do have a kind of language, a rudimentary code made up of two sounds which combine to form a restricted set of signifiers and their corresponding semantic units or signifieds. The sounds are A and B, and with them Adam and Eve express their appreciation of the lush nature that surrounds them. Theirs is a happy life, unmarred by conflict or uncertainty, a world of simple, lasting values. Things are either edible or inedible, good or bad, beautiful or ugly, red or blue. But one day God speaks, and he says:

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16 Then and Now

Kathy Sloane Indiana University Press ePub

We were all thin.
We all had more hair.

George Cables

Helen Wray

Today, there are many wonderful, young musicians. They’re extraordinary. It’s wonderful they’re keeping that music going. But they’re emulating these people that have already done that. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older [that] I don’t hear it as strongly in the present generation, as wonderful as they are.

I think the generation of musicians of Dexter’s era definitely had it harder than the kids coming out of Juilliard and music schools today. There was something about the music at that time, when all those guys were still here – I don’t know what it is. My only thought is they did have it harder, having lived under segregation when they were traveling. We all got closest to the African American bands. They seemed to be the warmest, if you can generalize. I probably shouldn’t generalize because it wasn’t across the board like that.

I hear George [Cables] talk about when he was a young musician coming up and he was on the road with Joe Henderson and how hard it was. They had to pay their own accommodations, and Joe didn’t pay the guys very much. So they’d bunk two in a room and they’d barely have enough money to eat. And the drugs were so prevalent in the clubs then; it was hard to avoid it. Luckily, the young guys today aren’t into all the coke and stuff that was going around then.

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Medium 9780253007445

6. Trashy Women: Karmen Gei, l’Oiseau Rebelle

Kenneth W. Harrow Indiana University Press ePub

From the California Newsreel blurb about Joseph Gaye Ramaka’s film:

Karmen Gei is an adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen. Joseph Gaï Ramaka writes, “Carmen is a myth but what does Carmen represent today? Where do Carmen’s love and freedom stand at the onset of the 21st Century? Therein lies my film’s intent, a black Carmen, plunged in the magical and chaotic urbanity of an African city.” Here Karmen transgresses every convention. Like every Carmen, Karmen Gei is about the conflict between infinite desire for freedom and the laws, conventions and human limitations that constrain the desire. (http://newsreel.org/nav/title.asp?tc=CN0134)

The first thing one notices about this version of Carmen is that the music is original, largely consisting of jazz tracks and Wolof music, nothing like that of Bizet. But the plot is closer to that of the opera, and some of its best-known lyrics do follow those of the opera, including the well-known habanera. Our Karmen first appears in prison where she dances for the inmates and especially the female warden, Angelique. Angelique cannot resist Karmen’s charms, and after a sexually charged rendezvous between the two, Karmen leaves the prison. There the plot loosely follows that of the Bizet version. She seduces the army corporal charged with imprisoning her, enlists him in her gang, and carries out drug deals and break-ins. He is turned away from his former life as officer headed for social success to that of an outlaw, lost to the wiles of Karmen. What ensues is a series of episodes in which Karmen establishes her independence from all men, asserting her adherence to the famous habanera line “love is a bird that cannot be tamed.” In the end, in defiance of the threat of death, she remains true to her ideal of freedom and is killed by the jealous corporal Lamine.

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12. Tracking a Personal Myth through an Oeuvre: The Films of François Ozon

Alistair Fox Indiana University Press ePub

Just as a neuropsychoanalytic perspective can assist in analyzing the internal workings of an invented fiction, so too can an understanding of the brain’s procedures in the creation of stories, combined with a psychoanalytic understanding of the nature and function of fantasies, sensitize one to the presence of recurring metaphors and symbolic configurations of action across the span of an author’s works. Charles Mauron, in his book Des métaphores obsédantes au mythe personnel: Introduction à la psychocritique (1963), has labeled these recurring motifs a “personal myth,” outlining a “psychocritical” model for identifying its presence in an author’s work. Although Mauron’s theory has been largely overlooked in Anglo-American scholarship–with the notable exception of Linda Hutcheon1–it remains valuable, especially given that Mauron’s notion of how fictions are constituted is consistent with what we now know about the procedures of the human brain.

Mauron’s model depends on a theory of fantasy derived from Freud but modified in light of object-relations theory to account for the complexity and variety of fantasies in fictive representations without becoming reductive. Mauron agrees with Freud that “the earliest fantasies seem to constitute hallucinatory satisfactions of desire,” and that these fantasies construct our future psyche,2 but he also insists that fantasies play a decisive role in inhibiting and controlling impulses, as well as in expressing desires for repair, by facilitating “developmental creation, adaptation, restoration, dynamic representation of internal events, conflicts, and projected solutions.”3 In particular, fantasies are the means by which “the personality is able to achieve a discharge of repressed excitation and to master the experience of it” in response to the legacy of experiences that have left a traumatic imprint.4

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6. A Second Nervous System: Acting and Thinking

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Eugenio Barba suggests that “spectatorial perpendicularity” (a consequence, in part, of our ability to stand upright and walk as a species with an evolved neocortex) has inbuilt limitations. For spectators to diverge from perpendicularity may mean an increased receptivity to forces, even those as light as “a gentle breath.” Receptivity to forces enables us to sense and attend to differential movements that cannot be calibrated from an invariant ninety-degree angle of certitude because the forces may be at the very threshold or limen of perceptibility. The differential between movements matters because it signals an emergence of something. The idea of “attention” in Barba’s statement does a lot of work, as the context of his practical and theoretical work is derived from several interrelated sources: a deep understanding of the history of world theater, especially Asian civilizational theater and its impact on European avant-garde theatrical thought, and his own cross-cultural theater workshops conducted over several decades. “Attention” here implies a theory of consciousness derived from a rich archive of Asian theatrical practices, which include the training of actors in highly codified disciplinary exercises. This training also has varying connections to Asian martial arts practices and those of meditative movement, such as certain forms of Tai-Chi that have a demonstrable martial arts application as well. There is a continuum of activity in these traditions in which regimes of meditation, fighting, dancing, acting, music are not thought of as absolutely separate from each other. This continuum of practices shows how a set of movements formulated to wound may be “sublimated” or, better, transposed into a dance of the nervous system or a subtle, calibrated awareness of the nervous system. Awareness, especially of breathing and of its control, calibration of the flow of energy, is integral to these practices. In Barba’s vivid, and anthropologically informed, pedagogical image of receptivity, the ear of corn is the attention of the spectator, while one can assume that the “gentle breath” is that of the actor, modulating his or her energy at a microlevel, even in stillness and at rest, and thereby harnessing a power to activate a receptive state in the addressee/spectator.

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