Monday, February 22, 2010

New Flesh Revised

The banality of perversion
Overexposure and polymorphous perversity in the work of David Cronenberg

Celluloid decomposition, the surgical table
In the celluloid world devised by Cronenberg one would not discuss his cinematography as art but rater as contagion. In his work we see communication as virus, image as addiction and ultimately the degradation of the visual immune system.
In the absence of a singularity in his mise en scene, distinct repetetive visual motif(s,) signature framing techniques and other cinematic devices which, when combined, create a distinct style-one could not take a frame out of one of his films and, by analogy, see it as a painting. If one where to make an analogy then the frame, spliced from any of his films, could be seen as a surgical table, the sum of the film seen as a laboratory.
In this laboratory the director is the experimenter whose primary concern is the operation on the optic nerves in exploring the possibilities of images affecting, first and foremost, the viscera prior to them being filtered by the mind. We therefore have images and characters that, as Croneberg himself proclaims, are emergent creatures. These creatures from the unconscious make the mental physical. In most cases these creatures are primal, nearly foetal, nearly formless. These creatures function as embodiments, which afford Cronenbergs films to function both as cross genre (in that the author tries to work in uncategorized ghost forms and in self-devised hybrid forms) and at the same time cross gender (in that they deal with polymorphous perversity, omnisexuality and mutant, emergent and gender fluid identities).
Although many of Cronenbergs films capture a claustrophobic, affecting and interiorized cinema, (in Dead Ringers, after it’s opening sequence, the entire movie features 2 or 3 exterior scenes) they all seem to suffer from the same symptom(s). They lack subtext, they suffer from the construction of hermetically sealed embodiments (bordering on symbols) leaving no space for the audience/viewer to come into dialogue, to imagine-that there is the possibility that something might be happening underneath that which is being shown, that there is something that wants to be said except for that which is being said (scripted). An example of the non-distinguishable character/the embodiment (in most cases of emotions: jealousy, rage, hate etc…) which functions on multiple levels and is also audience inclusive is that of the Mystery Man in David Lynchs’ “Lost Highway”.
Towards a collision of images rather that a collection of images
This lack of layered meaning seems to give Cronenbergs films more of an expository nature which dwells on his obsessions: the body’s capacity to respond through transformation, mutation and its own creative diseases, body chaos, body horror, physical revolutions, mental disintegration, polymorphous perversity ,omnisexuality and gender fluid identitities.
Poststructuralist critics such as Gilles Deleuze (see Anti-Oedipus) and Judith Butler (see Gender Trouble), as well as critical theorist Herbert Marcuse (see One-Dimensional Man) analyze the repression of polymorphous perversity through positing challenges to the Oedipal complex itself. In the case of Cronenberg we have no counter weight, no challenges, that is to say that we have no antithesis to the directors thesis so that we (the audience) might be more challenged, more engaged and at the same time more alienated in the act of watching/digesting the image obsessions placed on the surgical table ,the auteurs cinematic frame.

the expression of repression
The problem here is not that suppressed sexuality and gender issues are expressed and by being expressed are possibly absorbed/assimilated into the mainstream (which for some gender purists might be problematic in debasing issues while for others involved in the politics of gender , and with a more realpolitik approach, would at least give visibility to an invisible portion of the population) but an even more dangerous proposal : the expression of repression, paradoxically, leads to repression.
The rational behind this re-repression being that intensifying perversion, letting it saturate the entire field of desire, would contain deviance. In other words; deviance itself is made the cure. This is accomplished by total visibility, complete access to complete excess. In Cronenbergs cinema the viewres are oversaturated with their own desires.


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