The Fascination of Images: How Do Images Teach Us to Desire

Topics: Jacques Lacan, The Imaginary, The Real Pages: 6 (2366 words) Published: October 8, 2011
The fascination of images:
How do images teach us to desire

The culture in which we live teaches us to, and what to desire. It does so through the works of psychoanalysis, interpreting the unconscious, free associations, fantasies and dreams. Interpreting these in a way in which to make the viewer the resolute to the images. The basic human needs are different to that of what we desire, we need food, water, shelter, yet we do not desire these things in a way in which we desire love and sex. It is the culture in which we live that teaches us what it is that we should desire through our relationships with cinema, television and images. Had we never seen the body types, wealth and material possessions that we view on a daily basis through the use of imagery would we still desire them? Or would we be content unknowing at the possibilities of what we could be or have. The body types of women on television, with their perfect bodies and lives, these women while rarely seen in the real world are the women that men desire and women desire to be. Cinema and television gives us a world that both conforms to our desires and establishes them, it is within these images projected at us on a daily basis that teaches us what it is that we should desire.

In the works of Jean-Luc Godard a French film director, he often cites existentialism, the guiding principles behind Godard’s works was that, “realism is the essence of cinema” and that this could be achieved through various aesthetic and contextual media. Within his works he uses long shots to avoid unnecessary editing, yet in contradiction to this he uses jump cuts within certain scenes. Within his 1963 film ‘Le Mepris’ (Contempt) the two main actors are Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccol, Yet Bardot is the one who is used to the greatest effect even when there is equal dialogue between the two characters it is her that the camera lingers longingly at which in turn forces the viewer to look longingly at her. Beneath the films surface however lays Godard’s dissatisfaction with the convention of filmmaking. He articulates his condemnation of the decline of cinematic art and reverses the stereotypes of gender psychology; here the woman is straight while the man is convoluted. Within the scene in which Bardot is lying naked on the bed asking her husband what parts of her body he likes best, she speaks to him through the mirror while Piccol ignores her in the mirror preferring to look at the ‘reality’ of her before him, this causes a triangle between the actors the mirror and us with the mirror subjecting to the fantasy of imagery as Bardot fragments herself by picking out bits of herself and not viewing herself as the whole. Within this scene there is also visual discontinuity with the lighting, which puts the viewer at unease while showing the construction of cinema and allowing the viewer to revert back into reality with the knowledge that it in fact is not reality.

Jacques Lancan a French psychoanalysis and psychiatrist has been described as the “most controversial psychoanalysis since Freud” he stated that humans are fascinated by there own image and his first official contribution to psychoanalysis was the ‘mirror stage.’ The ‘mirror stage’ was initially proposed that it was only infants aged from six to eight months who it affected however in the 1950’s he realised that it represented the permanent structure of subjectivity, he believed that self image is at the basis of our desire and that all desire is at the root masochistic and that sex is just another form of masturbation. The ‘mirror stage’ makes “a decisive turning point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with body image.” (Lancan, some reflection on the ego, 1953)

Within ourselves we view I as another, we live in three different worlds within ourselves, the real or reality in which we very rarely live, it is comprised of the authentic truth...
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