The Road Movie Book

By Steven Cohan; Ina Rae Hark | Go to book overview

10

THE NATION, THE BODY, AND THE AUTOSTRADA

Angelo Restivo

In 1965, Pasolini coined the term neo-italiano to refer to the emergence of a new national language, one that threatened to displace once and for all the regional dialects that had, throughout Italian history, defined the parameters of reality for “national subjects” who had remained essentially regional in their primary affiliations (Brunetta: ch. 27). At the time, few Italians were more aware than Pasolini of the ways in which language itself constructs subjectivity; and thus, we can easily argue that Pasolini's neologism can be applied not only to the emergence of a new, hegemonic national language, but also to an essentially new subject - precisely, the “Italian” - constructed out of the rapid modernization of the nation brought about by the economic boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

One of the most dramatically visible signs of this economic miracle was the autostrada, the Italian version of the American interstate highway. But more than that, the autostrada became a trope for the ways in which economic modernization inscribed itself within the practice of everyday life. The autostrada del sole, for example, was charged with symbolic significance: as the backbone of the highway system, this autostrada didn't just connect the north to the south; it sped the driver from the prosperous, bourgeois northern provinces to the impoverished, semifeudal provinces of the south, so that the journey was the traversing not simply of space, but of consciousness as well.

This new proximity between radically different Symbolic orders, combined with a new, “mobile” subjectivity constructed by the automobile, put into play within the nation a number of contestatory discourses. Different regions and different economic interests (including those of transnational capital) attempted to fix meaning at the sites where more traditional ideas of the nation were in flux. This essay will look at the way a popular Italian road movie reveals (symptomatically) the problem of defining the new Italian. Then, we'll look at the strategies deployed by advertising to construct the Italian as “mobile consumer.” Finally, Pasolini's documentary Comizi d'amore (Love Meetings, 1964) not only provides a

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The Road Movie Book
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Works Cited 14
  • Part I - Mapping Boundaries 15
  • 1 - “hitler Can't Keep 'Em That Long” 17
  • 2 - Western Meets Eastwood 45
  • 3 - Mad Love, Mobile Homes, and Dysfunctional Dicks 70
  • Notes 86
  • Works Cited 89
  • 4 - On the Run and on the Road 90
  • Works Cited 107
  • Part II - American Roads 111
  • 5 - Almost like Being at Home 113
  • 6 - Wanderlust and Wire Wheels 143
  • 7 - Exposing Intimacy in Russ Meyer's Motorpsycho! and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 165
  • 8 - The Road to Dystopia 179
  • Works Cited 202
  • 9 - Fear of Flying 204
  • Notes 227
  • Works Cited 228
  • Part III - Alternative Routes 231
  • 10 - The Nation, the Body, and the Autostrada 233
  • 11 - “we Don't Need to Know the Way Home” 249
  • 12 - Hom E and Away 271
  • 13 - Race on the Road 287
  • 14 - Revitalizing the Road Genre 307
  • 15 - My Own Private Idaho and the New Queer Road Movies 330
  • 16 - Disassociated Masculinities and Geographies of the Road 349
  • Index of Films 371
  • General Index 375
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