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Medium 9780253006462

Chapter 1 A Crisis of Representation

Katrina Daly Thompson Indiana University Press ePub

We’re in a crisis. Zimbabwe as a nation, as an emerging new nation, needs to find its identity.

—Actor Edgar Langeveldt speaking at the
Book Café in Harare, 8 August 2001

One evening each week in a Shona village in Chiweshe Communal Lands in northeast Zimbabwe, Mrs. Jaunda* gathers up her five children and walks down the dusty road to her neighbor’s yard. There they join some thirty adults and children in the kicheni, a round kitchen building still smoky from the family’s supper. Gathered around the fireplace, instead of participating in their usual conversation and storytelling, the group is fixated on a small black-and-white television powered by a car battery, enjoying Mvengemvenge, a program of Zimbabwean music videos. They raucously comment on the latest songs, comparing preferences for one performer over another, laughing, and occasionally imitating a dance move. The shows they watch, and their talk about them, are discourse.

In a high-density suburb of Kadoma, a small city near the center of Zimbabwe, Mrs. Kaseke turns on the television in the living room as soon as she wakes up in the morning, and it stays on all day. She and her daughters catch snippets of Oprah, children’s cartoons, and music videos while they polish the floors, prepare meals, and fold laundry. When Mr. Kaseke comes home from work, he sits in front of the TV and catches up with his family on the day’s events, the children’s progress at school, and news brought by visitors who happened by. The television drowns out the sounds of similar conversations in their neighbors’ homes. The parents eat their evening meal in front of the TV, having their own quiet conversation while their four children eat at the dining room table. During and after dinner, they watch the evening news. Mrs. Kaseke watches the Ndebele news, Mr. Kaseke watches the Shona news, and the children join them to watch the English news. Later, the whole family watches the American soap Days of Our Lives while taking care of other tasks. The children do their homework, Mr. Kaseke reads the newspaper, and Mrs. Kaseke makes doilies that she will later sell. The older children stay up talking and watching TV until the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation shuts down after midnight. The shows they watch, and their talk about them, are discourse.

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Medium 9780253020871

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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Medium 9781864620542

Video Pleasure and Narrative Cinema: Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element and Video Game Logic

John Libbey Publishing ePub

[V]ideo pleasure requires the player’s total immersion in the electronic text, trust in the existence of a code imposed by invisible experts, and the self-affirming and empowering experience of its incremental mastery. Predicated on the ability to rapidly discriminate between circulating signs (some hostile, some neutral, and some friendly), and to appropriately respond to them, such a pleasurable mastery involves a skilful and rapid navigation in a chaotic electronic text, a navigation propelled by strategic violent moves administered digitally.1

Jerome Bruner reminds us that narrative is not a contingent, optional dimension of society, but is an essential, ecologically necessary structure with which individuals make sense of social complexity.2 We do not need to subscribe to ontological structuralism – which argues that narrative is a timeless structure that transcends society – to accept this level-headed reminder. In the process of structuring social experience, narrative necessarily reinvents itself in each epoch, offering an historically specific experience. Fredric Jameson’s analysis of the novels of Balzac and Conrad is exemplary in this respect. Jameson identifies in the narrative of Lord Jim the emergence of two incompatible discourses – high literary modernism and popular literature – and historises the emergence of this type of narrative by relating it to the rise of modern imperialist capitalism, dominated by reification and fragmentation.3

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Medium 9780861967155

Chapter 24 Not Just a Day Job: Experimental Filmmakers and the Special Effects Industry in the 1970s and 1980s

Edited by David E James and Adam Hyman John Libbey Publishing ePub

Julie Turnock*

West Coast experimental filmmakers’ participation in the special effects boom of the late 1970s is a little-known and much misunderstood phenomenon. A perception persists that the 1970s special effects industry “gutted” the experimental optical animation community, exploiting them for their labor and sidetracking them from their art.1 Elsewhere, I have argued that the intensification of special effects practice in the late 1970s initiated a technological, aesthetic, and narrative shift in feature filmmaking as significant as the introduction of sound in the late 1920s.2 My research has also revealed the influence of experimental filmmaking on late 1960s and 1970s special effects-heavy feature filmmaking, especially the science fiction extravaganzas like 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Star Wars (1977), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and Blade Runner (1982). Furthermore, it is clear that the impact of West Coast experimental filmmaking went far beyond lending these science fiction films transitory psychedelic visuals representing alien worlds. More specifically, I argue that in the 1970s, experimental filmmakers, both directly as labor and indirectly as inspiration, taught popular filmmakers like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott and their teams, strategies for organizing and mobilizing the elaborately designed composite mise-en-scène. Or, in other words, they provided the technological, aesthetic, and conceptual scaffolding for creating the infinite and complex worlds desired for these science fiction films. Moreover, these filmmakers took skills and inspiration from their day jobs back to their own work.3

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Medium 9780253013873

2 Zombie Demographics

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

listen: there’s a hell / of a good universe next door; let’s go.

e. e. cummings, “pity this busy monster, manunkind”

The first is marked by a silhouetted human form, shambling along the interface between earth and sky; a head flops to one side. In a word: zombie! A corpse that doesn’t know it’s dead, as George A. Romero defined the concept, a concept he still refuses to name out loud. “A Zombie being a corpse that won’t give in and admit it,” reads the communiqué in Pacific Islands Monthly from the outermost rim, even earlier, arriving right after V-J Day (49). The uplink from Zombieville reports that “the sea is flat, an opaque disc of green-blue . . . without as much as a ripple to mar its mirrored surface” (49). The second horizon is more familiar: the churchyard at dusk, after the three-hour drive, where Johnny spots a “huddled figure in the distance up on the mounded hill walking among the graves.”

JOHN: They’re coming for you, Barbra.

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