The Imaginary Signifier

The Imaginary Signifier

Psychoanalysis and the Cinema
Christian Metz
Translated by Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster, and Alfred Guzzetti
Distribution: U.S.,Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Phillipines
Publication date: 2/1/1986
Format: paper 340 pages
ISBN: 978-0-253-20380-9
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“ . . . less about film than about the psychology of the viewing experience.” —American Film

Employing Freudian psychoanalysis, Christian Metz explores the nature of cinematic spectatorship and looks at the operations of meaning in the film text.

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Table of Contents


Part I The Imaginary Signifier

1 The Imaginary and the ‘Good Object’ in the Cinema and in the Theory of the Cinema
‘Going to the cinema’
‘Talking about the cinema’
‘Loving the cinema’

2 The Investigators’ Imaginary
Psychoanalysis, Linguistics, history
Freudian psychoanalysis and other psychoanalyses
Various kinds of psychoanalytic study of the cinema
Psychoanalysis of the film script
Psychoanalysis of the textual system
Psychoanalysis of the cinema-signifier
The major regimes of the signifer

3 Identification, Mirro
Perception, imaginary
The all-perceiving subject
Identification with the camera
On the idealistic theory of the cinema
On some sub-codes of identification
‘Seeing a film’

4 The Passion for Perceiving
The Scopic regime of the cinema
Theatre fiction, cinema fiction

5 Disavowal, Fetishism
Structures of belief
The cinema as technique
Fetish and frame

‘Theorise’, he says...(Provisional Conclusion)

Notes and References to Part I

Part II Story/Discourse (A Note on Two Kinds of Voyeurism)

Notes and References to Part II

Part III The Fiction Film and Its Spectator: A Metapsychological Study

6 Film and Dream: the Knowledge of the Subject

7 Film and Dream: Perception and Hallucination

8 Film and Dream: Degrees of Secondarisation

9 Film and Phantasy

10 The Filmic Visee

Notes and References to Part III

Part IV Metaphor/Metonymy, or the Imaginary Referent

11 ‘Primary’ Figure, ‘Secondary’ Figure
On ‘Worn’ figures
Figural, linguistic: the figure embedded in the ‘literal meaning’
On emergent figures
The metalinguistic illusion

12 ‘Small-scale’ Figures, ‘Large-scale’ Figures
Status and List

13 Rhetoric and Linguistics: Jakobson’s Contribution

14 Referential, Discursive
Intersections of the referential and the discursive
Figure and theme
Editing, the superimposition and the close-up

15 Metaphor/Metonymy: a Dissymmetrical Symmetry
From metonymy to metaphor
From metaphor to metonymy?
On the ‘distribution’ of metaphor and metonymy

16 Figure and Substitution

17 The Problem of the Word
The rhetorical and the iconic
The ‘isolating’ nature of the word

18 Force and Meaning

19 Condensation
Condensation in the language system
Short-circuit, short circuit

20 From the ‘Dream-work’ to the ‘Primary Process’

21 ‘Censorship”: Barrier or Deviation?
Uncensored marks of censorship
Getting past or not getting past: the gap between the conscious and the unconscious
Primary/secondary: refraction
Conflict, compromise, degrees

22 Displacement
Meaning as transit, meaning as encounter

23 Crossings and Interweavings in Film: the Lap-dissolve as an Example of a Figuration

24 Condensations and Displacements of the Signifier
On the notion of the ‘operation of the signifier’
Condensation/metaphor, displacement/metonymy: overspill
The spilling over of the image

25 Paradigm/Syntagm in the Text of the Cure

Notes and References to Part IV