[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]
[ecrea] Behind the Curtain: Sigmund Freud and David Lynch - conference
Mon May 14 12:10:09 GMT 2018
A 2-day conference exploring the cinema of David Lynch through a
26-27 May 2018
The films of David Lynch are sometimes said to be unintelligible. They
confront us with strange dreamscapes populated with bizarre characters,
obscure symbols and an infuriating lack of narrative consistency. Yet
despite their opacity, they hold us transfixed.
Lynch, who once told an interviewer “I love dream logic,” would surely
agree with Sigmund Freud’s famous claim that “before the problem of the
creative artist, psychoanalysis must lay down its arms.” But what else
do the two agree on?
/Freud/Lynch: Behind the Curtain/ takes as its point of departure that
Lynch’s work is not so much unintelligible as ‘/uncanny/,’ revealing
what Todd McGowan has termed “the bizarre nature of normality” – and the
everydayness of what we take to be strange.
This conference invites psychoanalysts, scholars and cinephiles to
reflect on these Lynchian enigmas. What do we mean by ‘Lynchian’? Beyond
the apparent incoherence of his films, are there hidden logics at play?
Are Lynch and Freud in alignment? And what light can psychoanalysis shed
on the Lynchian uncanny?
*/What’s so Lynchian About That? Defining a Cultural Moment with some
Notes from the Couch/
*Olga Cox Cameron**
*/Dream Logic in Mulholland Drive/
/Waiting for Agent Cooper: The Ends of Fantasy in Twin Peaks: The Return/
*/'It's a strange world, isn't it?' A voyeuristic lens on David Lynch's
/Wrapped in Plastic: Lynch and Costume/
*Jaice Sara Titus*
/Laughing it off? David Lynch and the Limits of Humour/
/Panel discussion on Blue Velvet//
/Lynch's Blurred Identity Trilogy/
/David Lynch Sprawls/
/"Listen, Do You Want to Know a Secret?" Lynch Stays Silent/
/She wore Blue Velvet: How David Lynch has sensationalised Hysteria/
/“It is an Illusion”: The Artful Life of David Lynch/
/Panel Discussion on Twin Peaks: The Return/
*Olga Cox Cameron*
/Dream Logic in Mulholland Drive//
/Why not puncture bafflement with playful speculation? /Mulholland
Drive/ proves surprisingly amenable to the dream logic explored by Freud
in /The Interpretation of Dreams/, so let’s see where it takes us.
*/“It is an Illusion”: The Artful Life of David Lynch//
/David Lynch is primarily known as a filmmaker whose singular
cinematic/televisual creations have held audiences both spellbound and
perplexed over several decades. Yet he initially trained as a fine
artist and has continued to work as such throughout his life, using a
wide variety of media to express his unique artistic vision across
various fields. In this paper I will suggest that Lynch’s work, in
whatever medium, is best understood as that of a visual (and sonic)
artist. As such, the perceived lacunae or unintelligibility in it may be
understood or “experienced” in other ways and, further, that
psychoanalysis may help to bring to light various aspects of his work
which have hitherto been less explored than others.
/David Lynch Sprawls//
/Filled with sickly rooms, dark corridors and oppressive small towns,
David Lynch's work often generates feelings of claustrophobia and
confinement. But there's another way his worlds operate - they escape
and exceed the usual boundaries, they spill out in unexpected directions
at uneven speeds. Lynch's work can feel messy and chaotic. In short, it
sprawls. And sprawl has a bad reputation: it's undisciplined and
ungainly, it occupies time and space with ugly, disorganized forms. This
talk examines the 18 hours and umpteen locations of /Twin Peaks: The
Return/ as Lynch's ultimate ode to sprawl.
*/Waiting for Agent Cooper: The Ends of Fantasy in Twin Peaks: The Return//
/This talk argues that the series /Twin Peaks: The Return/ creates the
expectation of Dale Cooper’s return as a fantasy figure capable of
healing the wound of subjectivity itself only to show how he actually
plays a crucial role in its perpetuation.
*/What’s so Lynchian about that? Defining a cultural moment with some
notes from “the couch”, or “Full of Freaks and Sad as Fucks”: On and off
the couch with David Lynch//
/In the tenth episode of /GirlBoss/ – the TV show “loosely based” on the
online vintage shop Nasty Gal, aka the rags to riches story of Sophia
Amoruso, there is a scene which quite simply could not have been written
were it not for the constitutiveness of a certain moment which we can
recognise as, properly speaking, “Lynchian”. Nasty Gal is accused of
stealing business from other online vintage shops and there is some bad
feeling about this, mostly via some hilarious threads on the online
forum, mise en scene for us on the TV show as a “real” forum with the
members seated around a table in a blacked-out space. Nasty Gal joins
the forum and posts (says):
“this message board should be called David Lynch’s Elephant Man because
it’s full of freaks and sad as fuck”
Then she leaves the chat room.
One forum member gasps:
“she called us freaks..”
And another adds:
“Even worse, she completely missed the point of The Elephant Man.”
This little scene captures very well a number of things I want to talk
about in this paper. First, the time has arrived in mainstream culture
where a moment which we can call Lynchian is resonant. Second, the
“Lynchian” thus constituted is a matrix of freaks and sad fucks. Third,
it’s possible to miss the point of David Lynch. Drawing on some dreams
and other unconscious formations and Lynchian assertions, I will try to
sketch something of this cultural moment in order to answer the
question: what’s so Lynchian about that.
*/"Listen, Do You Want to Know a Secret?": Lynch Stays Silent//
/Lynch’s unwillingness – or inability – to openly discuss the meaning of
his work has enticed and frustrated audiences and critical
establishments alike since the emergence of ‘Eraserhead’ in 1977. Who or
what exactly has Laura Palmer now become in ‘Twin Peaks’? Why won’t he
tells us what’s really going on in ‘Lost Highway’? Why won’t he confirm
or deny our own complex theories on the workings of ‘Mulholland Drive’?
Why does he invite us into his own dreamscapes and then leave us to
figure our own way out, with just a liberal scattering of clues to help?
Does he even have the answers himself, or is he too just enjoying the
mysteries contained in the dream? This session is about the gulf that
exists between Lynch’s work and Lynch’s mouth – the sinkhole that can
open up between intention and effect. This is about the man who brings
new power to the phrase ‘tight-lipped’.
*/She wore Blue Velvet: How David Lynch has sensationalised Hysteria//
/The hysterical subject is an essential figure in Lynchian cinema. With
an art historical lens, this paper will explore how hysteria has
returned time and time again throughout Lynch's oeuvre by looking at a
few important characters, from The Alphabet (1968), to Blue Velvet
(1986), to Twin Peaks (1990-2017).
*/'It's a strange world, isn't it?' A voyeuristic lens on David Lynch's
/I shall consider from a psychoanalytic perspective how /Blue Velvet,
/dominated as it is by perverse relationships,//presents us with 'a
strange world' (these being its protagonist's own words at the very end
of the film). I shall focus in particular on the fetishistic function of
blue velvet, a tangible piece of cloth as well as the title of a song,
and on the symbolic significance of the cut-off ear, the film's iconic
and emblematic MacGuffin.
*/Wrapped in Plastic: Lynch and Costume//
/Costume plays an important but under-recognised part in Lynch’s
aesthetic. This talk will explore the distinctive contribution costume
makes to Lynch’s oeuvre with a particular focus on /Twin Peaks/, showing
how for Lynch, costume is more than just character and relates to his
ongoing fascination with the curtain or veil. It will also playfully
examine the influence Lynch’s work has had on fashion.
*Jaice Sara Titus*
/Laughing it off? David Lynch and the Limits of Humour//
/Throughout /Wild at Heart/, David Lynch finds ways to repeat and expose
feminine trauma, often bookedended with jokes and throwaway gags. The
paper will trace how humour plays an important role in the recollection
of trauma and what it means to be stuck in a joke-fantasy while trying
to claim one’s place in the world.
/Lynch's Blurred Identity Trilogy//
/David Lynch is known for creating luxurious cinematic dreamscapes -
infuriatingly beautiful mind puzzles in his signature surrealistic
style. Three films in particular (/Lost Highway/, /Mulholland Drive/ and
/Inland Empire/) form his unofficial 'blurred identity trilogy',
featuring characters who embark on bizarre inward journeys in search of
lost selves. The central premise of this talk is that in each instalment
of the trilogy, a psychogenic fugue follows the unconscious trauma of
unrequited love. Psychoanalytic theory will be shown to illuminate
Lynch's iconic dream-logic, which is disturbing and beguiling in equal
*Dr. Olga Cox Cameron* has been a psychoanalyst in private practice and
a university lecturer in psychoanalysis and literature in Dublin for the
past 30 years. She is the founder of the Psychoanalytic Film Festival
now embarked on its 10th year.
*Allister Mactaggart*, PhD, is a Lecturer in Media at Chesterfield
College. He is the author of /The Film Paintings of David Lynch:
Challenging Film Theory /(Intellect, 2010), in addition to which he has
published on landscapes in Lynch’s work in relation to the legacy of the
sublime in North American art, and on pop music and loss in /Mulholland
Drive/. Allister has presented papers on Lynch’s work at conferences
nationally and internationally, and was one of the guest speakers at the
/Conversations/ symposium held on conjunction with the /David Lynch
Naming/ exhibition at MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art) in 2015.
*Richard Martin* is Curator of Public Programmes at Tate, and teaches at
King’s College London. He is the author of the book /The Architecture of
David Lynch/ (Bloomsbury, 2014), and he organized the 2009 symposium
/Mapping the Lost Highway: New Perspectives on David Lynch/ held at Tate
Modern. He completed his PhD at the London Consortium, and has also
taught at Birkbeck, University of London, and Middlesex University.
*Todd McGowan* teaches theory and film at the University of Vermont. He
is the author of /The Impossible David Lynch/, /Only a Joke Can Save Us:
A Theory of Comedy/, /Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free
Markets/, and other works.
*Carol Owens* is a psychoanalyst and clinical supervisor in private
practice in Dublin. She has edited and authored a number of publications
in the field of Lacanian psychoanalysis, most recently “Lacanian
Psychoanalysis with Babies, Children, and Adolescents: Further Notes on
the Child” (with Stephanie Farrelly Quinn, Karnac, 2017). She is
currently working on an edited collection of essays studying Lacan’s
seminars IV and V (with Nadezhda Almqvist, Karnac, 2018), and on a
co-authored book on Ambivalence (with Stephanie Swales, Routledge,
2018). (carolowensappi /at/ gmail.com) <mailto:(carolowensappi /at/ gmail.com)>
*At the age of six I decided to be a painter. I graduated in Fine Art
(Painting) in 1974 from Bristol Polytechnic, and then from Goldsmiths
College in 1976 with a Post Graduate Art Teaching Degree. Having become
bored with painting, horrified by teaching, but completely obsessed with
the movies, I began programming independent cinemas in 1977, and was
Co-Director of Cinema at the ICA in London from 1979 – 1984.
Courtesy of Channel Four, I was able to begin making documentaries in
1983 and have been an independent filmmaker ever since. In the
intervening 35 years I have produced and/or directed over 80 arts
documentaries for television and contributed to over a dozen documentary
series. These include award-winning films on Andy Warhol and Johnny
Cash, as well as the series ‘The Genius of Photography’ and ‘This is
Modern Art’. I first worked with David Lynch in 1993 while making a
documentary about American independent cinema. In 1996 we began working
on the book /Lynch on Lynch/, which was published in 1997 and has since
been updated. I also worked extensively with the director David
Cronenberg, making two documentaries about his work (one in 1986 and one
in 1992) and well as editing the book /Cronenberg on Cronenberg/, based
on years of recorded interviews. Unlike David Lynch, I don’t paint any
more. He told me off about that.
*Jamie Ruers* is an Art Historian and a Researcher at the Freud Museum
London. She has written and given talks on art history and
psychoanalysis on subjects including Viennese Modernism and the French
*Andrea Sabbadini* is a Fellow of the /British Psychoanalytical Society/
and its former Director of Publications. He works in private practice in
London, is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at University College London
(UCL), a Consultant to the /IPA in Culture Committee/, the Founder
Editor of the journal /Psychoanalysis and History/, the Director of the
/European Psychoanalytic Film Festival (epff)/ and a former trustee of
the Freud Museum. His most recent books are /Boundaries and Bridges:
Perspectives on Time and Space in Psychoanalysis/ (Karnac 2014) and
/Moving Images: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Film /(Routledge 2014).
*Catherine Spooner* is Professor of Literature and Culture at Lancaster
University, where she specialises in Gothic literature, film, fashion
and popular culture. She has published six books including /Fashioning
Gothic Bodies/, /Contemporary Gothic/ and /Post-Millennial Gothic:
Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic./ She is the co-editor,
with Jeffrey Weinstock, of /Return to Twin Peaks: New Approaches to
Materiality, Theory and Genre on Television/.
*Jaice Sara Titus* is a PhD candidate at Brunel University London
researching improvisational comedy and its relation to philosophy,
critical theory and psychoanalysis. Her project particularly explores
how the structure of desire and jouissance are embedded in the dimension
of play, freedom and laughter.
*Mary Wild* is the creator of the PROJECTIONS lecture series
(psychoanalysis for film interpretation), which has been running
regularly at Freud Museum London since 2012. Her interests include
cinematic representations of identity, femininity, the unconscious, love
and mental illness.
A limited number of bursary places are available for those under
Bursary places are charged at £20/day.
Priority will be given to UK unemployed and PIP/ESA claimants.
*Apply for a bursary place*
Please note that we are unable to refund tickets less than 48 hours
before the event.
This mailing list is a free service offered by Nico Carpentier. Please
use it responsibly and wisely.
To subscribe or unsubscribe, please visit http://commlist.org/
Before sending a posting request, please always read the guidelines at
To contact the mailing list manager:
Email: (nico.carpentier /at/ vub.ac.be)
[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]