Narratology: An Introduction

By Susana Onega ; Jose Angel Garcia Landa | Go to book overview

narrative rather than visual terms (although with an emphasis on sight -- in the traumatic apprehension of castration as punishment -- quite in keeping with his dramatic model) may help us to reconsider the problem of female identification. Femininity and masculinity, in his story, are positions occupied by the subject in relation to desire, corresponding respectively to the passive and the active aims of the libido. They are positionalities within a movement that carries both the male child and the female child toward one and the same destination: Oedipus and the Oedipal stage. That movement, I have argued, is the movement of narrative discourse, which specifies and even produces the masculine position as that of mythical subject, and the feminine position as mythical obstacle or, simply, the space in which that movement occurs. Transferring this notion by analogy to cinema, we could say that the female spectator identifies with both the subject and the space of the narrative movement, with the figure of movement and the figure of its closure, the narrative image. Both are figural identifications, and both are possible at once; more, they are concurrently borne and mutually implicated by the process of narrativity. This manner of identification would uphold both positionalities of desire, both active and passive aims: desire for the other, and desire to be desired by the other. This, I think, is in fact the operation by which narrative and cinema solicit the spectators' consent and seduce women into femininity: by a double identification, a surplus of pleasure produced by the spectators themselves for cinema and for society's profit.

[. . .]


Notes
1.
ROLAND BARTHES, The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller ( New York: Hill & Wang, 1975).
2.
Cf. MIA CAMPIONI and ELIZABETH GROSS, "'Little Hans: The Production of Oedipus,'" in Language, Sexuality and Subversion, ed. Paul Foss and Meaghan Morris ( Darlington, Australia: Feral Publications, 1978), pp. 99-122.
3.
STEPHEN HEATH, Questions of Cinema ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), pp. 119-20. 'The shift between the first and second looks sets up the spectator's identification with the camera (rigorously constructed, placing heavy constraints, for example, on camera movement). The look at the film is an involvement in identifying relations of the spectator to the photographic image (the particular terms of position required by the fact of the photograph itself), to the human figure presented in image (the enticement and the necessity of a human presence "on the screen"), to the narrative which gives the sense of the flow of photographic images (the guide-line for the spectator through the film, the ground that must be adopted for its intelligible reception). Finally, the looks of the characters allow for the establishment of

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