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“Turning into Another Thing” in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man

Chapter

Abstract

David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), like American Beauty and The Ring, demonstrates that critical consideration of the call for sustaining the play of Otherness in psychic life cannot be thought apart from conceptions of art/technology. Yet Lynch’s critique of denials of Symbolic mediation as they emerge in specious disciplinary genealogies remains distinctively thoroughgoing. Although, like American Beauty and The Ring, The Elephant Man challenges dismissals of visual arts/technologies as inherently deadening, Lynch’s film contests the coterminous idealizations of arts/technologies discernible in Mendes’s and Verbinski’s films, in effect deeming these moves equally static efforts to arrest the vitalizing transfer of drives to meaning. Lynch’s film also expands analyses of cinema’s history to include its relation to clinical and scientific arts/technologies and emphasizes how these cannot be removed from the exigencies of desire or from popular and subcultural knowledges of the body (STB, 3–4). And while The Elephant Man, like American Beauty and conventional accounts of cinema’s origin and its relation to other technologies of visibility, directly engages Eadweard Muybridge’s observable animal locomotion studies, Lynch’s film also considers the physiological studies of interior body movement that principally occupy The Ring.

Keywords

Maternal Origin Psychic Life Film Camera Radical Ambiguity Final Scene 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Vincent J. Hausmann 2011

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