Faculty Activities: Jeffrey Kirkwood in October

Assistant Professor Jeffrey Kirkwood‘s essay “The Cinema of Afflictions” has been published in the current issue of October:

Viktor Tausk was an early member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society whom Freud described as “clever and dangerous.” In his now famous paper „On the Origin of the ‘Influencing Machine’ in Schizophrenia,” Tausk discussed a rare variant of schizophrenia in which patients hallucinated persecution by a mysterious cinematographic machine. As Kirkwood argues, the paper surreptitiously offered the first psychoanalytic theory of film by explaining how a machine-and particularly an image-machine-could produce conditions of subjective identification, even if only in cases of extreme pathology. This was a threatening proposal to Freudian orthodoxy, as it not only drew an analogy between psychoanalysis and the cinema, which had long remained a forbidden object for members of Freud’s circle but also seemed to resolve, at least partially, the long-standing agon between the psychophysiological apparatus and the symbolic operations of the ego.

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