"-- nothing at all to her except what I read into her."
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald "This Side of Paradise"
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"So! You escaped the birds. Just as well..."
- Durand Durand to Barbarella in BARBARELLA
I identify with cinephilia, meaning my actual emotional register is effected by my love of watching films and going to the cinema. I can understand because I live it, though the fact of this love and of repeatedly being a spectator, both at home and in public, can be cause for concern.
There is an article that I read, called 'Cinephobia: To Wonder, To Worry' in a recent issue of Adrian Martin and Girish Shambu's great Lola Journal.
Sarah Keller, author of this article, focuses on anxieties a bit different than those I imagined it would be in relation to, based on my immediate impression of her title.
Keller speaks of anxieties of being surreptitiously filmed, in relation to films acknowledging the peephole, such as PSYCHO. Other definitions of these anxieties include uncanniness and authentic replication, regarding the fear about what being filmed captures, as in the spirit of a person. Lastly, Keller covers the worries about moralities depicted
and, most interesting to me, issues of time passing, i.e. the annihilation of what had been filmed.
The piece interests me, mostly as a kindling for different, more personalized worries i associate with movie love.
I'd locate my own anxieties less as anything called cinephobia, and more as worries couched in the very limits of cinephilia itself.
These worries and dreads include the loss of differentiation:
Losing oneself in the text or in characters or emotions that are being expressed.
Finding over identification, and the anxieties associated with it, spilling past the temporal boundaries of the film into one's own conscious life.
There is the issue of projection vs evasion. The conscious choice a cinephile makes to immerse oneself psychologically or to not feel or have a personally emotive /psychological echoing of the emotional palette touched on in the world of the film. The F. Scott Fitzerald quote which opens this entry refers to that choice. In context it refers to a man who chose someone to fall in love with, and the cinephile who chooses to feel love and project personal memories and experiences onto a film is not so different.
The point of Keller's I found most relevant is the issue of annihilation and films self consciously about/ encompassing an exploration of anxiety itself (her strongest part of the essay, the one on TAKE SHELTER.) Tangentially, I find , as a cinephile, not a cinephobe (and i can't say that i know or even know of any cinephobe) would love to further explore the contagion and containment of dread.
The immersion that occurs when an anxious feeling incurred through watching a film, or even outside the film; something related but occurring simultaneously in the theater, bleeds into the person's conscious life in moments when they are not film going. The anxieties about this occurring, or the inevitability of it's eventual onset, is hand in hand with the fear of not being able to forget or replace an image. The flippancy involved in the ability to forget may be anathema to the very core of someone who is bound to be a cinephile. This sentiment is part of the tone of the satiric BARBARELLA. In the quote at the top of this entry, one sees only the most flippant of mentions made to a near death in the previous scene. The film is self consciously commenting on the onslaught of new images; one replacing another, often belittling it.
There is a conscious choice that a seasoned cinephile is highly aware of: when to immerse and when not to immerse. Using the example of 12 YEARS A SLAVE. One can a) choose to watch the film with separation; fearing the torture , historical burden and psychological damage depicted, a cinephile may choose from the onset to watch disconnectedly. Or b) one can watch the film with a choice in mind to engage, somehow, to locate any semblance of the emotions and damage Solomon experiences within one's own psychoemotive history.
The fear enters the picture only when the choice is no longer one that can be controlled.
I find it most likely that most cinephiles, such as myself, are less concerned with the anxiety expressed within the actual films, and more concerned with a lack of one's own ability to experience anything worthwhile of the memory and strong positive feelings that can be attained from filmgoing/film spectatorship.
These are all fears and dreads that are not at all, as the things Sarah Keller posits, the antithesis of Cinephilia (as she defines as Cinephobia), but rather they are extensions and internalizations built upon intensifications of Cinephilia itself.
link to Sarah's piece:
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