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Lacan & Fellini. Fellini on Fellini.

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Fellini on Fellini

“Everyone lives in his own fantasy world, but most people don’t understand that. No one perceives the real world. Each person simply calls his private, personal fantasies the Truth. The difference is that I know I live in a fantasy world. I prefer it that way and resent anything that disturbs my vision.”

-- I, Fellini Charlotte Chandler

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Fellini on Fellini

“Real life isn’t what interests me. I like to observe life, but to leave my imagination unfettered. Even as a child, I drew pictures not of a person, but of the picture in my mind of that person.”

-- I, Fellini Charlotte Chandler

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Fellini on Fellini

“I believe that in the beginning we were neither male nor female, but androgynous, like angels…Then came the division… Our problem is to unite the two… man is always looking for his other half… He can’t be complete or wholly free until he has found his woman…This is the great problem for the protagonists in La Dolce Vita and 8 ½. Both Marcello and Guido are surrounded by women, but neither can find his woman. On the other hand, each of the women believes he is her man.”

-- I, Fellini Charlotte Chandler

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Fellini on Fellini

“I was filled by school and church with an overwhelming sense of guilt before I had the faintest idea what I was guilty of.”

-- I, Fellini Charlotte Chandler

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Fellini on Fellini

“The discovery of Jung helped me be bolder in my trust of fantasy over realism… I thought of him as my big brother… He saw dreams as archetypal images which were the result of the common experiences of man.”

-- I, Fellini Charlotte Chandler

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Fellini on Fellini

“What I care about most is the freedom of man, the liberation of the individual from the network of moral and social conventions in which he believes, or rather in which he thinks he believes, and which encloses him and limits him and makes him narrower, smaller, sometimes worse than he really is.”

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Repressed Truths

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)



  • Id, Superego, Ego

  • Resolution of Oedipus complex > the Self

  • Repression

  • Dreams: displacement and condensation(metaphor and metonymy)

  • Neurosis and psychosis

  • Transference


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Language Is Us

Jacques Lacan (1901-81)


  • Self and identity are social constructions.

  • Our unconscious is just not inside us.

  • It is formed by language which is outside us and constructs our sense of self.

  • Language, our parents, the unconscious, the symbolic order represent the OTHER.


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We Want Our Mothers

Jacques Lacan (1901-81)


  • IMAGINARY PHASE: One with mother (Oedipal)

    • MIRROR STAGE: We recognize a separate being in mirror, feel “lack” for mother; recognition of OTHER but not SELF; birth of the never-fulfilled ego (ideal self-image)

  • SYMBOLIC (Oedipal crisis): World of language and authority; Father rules; reason and order; unconscious is formed; emergence of desire

  • REAL: Ultra-conscious experiences that lie beyond Language such as death, terror, ecstasy, love; inexpressible; Kant’s “thing in itself”; the complete unattainable world


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God the Father is the Word

Jacques Lacan (1901-81)


  • Phallogocentric view of life

    • Male bias of authority

    • God the Father

  • We move from the “lost plenitude of the originary mother-infant symbiotic state” to a state dominated by Language and Logos (reason, knowledge, systems of order)

  • This provokes a sense of desire

  • Feminists based theories upon Lacan


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Language Polices Our Instincts

Jacques Lacan (1901-81)


  • IMAGINARY: Privileges fantasies and dreams

  • SYMBOLIC: Tries to make sense of the sensory through cultural authority policeable by the intellect

    • Freud tried to translate the Imaginary Order into the conceptual Symbolic Order


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Internal Battle of the Sexes

Jacques Lacan (1901-81)


IMAGINARY (feminine)

  • Mother

  • Plentitude

  • Creative

  • Dreams & fantasies

  • Illogical

  • Madness

  • Holiness

  • Freedom

  • Rebellion

  • Ideal

SYMBOLIC (masculine)

  • Father

  • Lack and desire

  • Restrictive authority

  • Ordered reality

  • Logic

  • Controlled sanity

  • Ritual

  • Repression

  • Social conformity

  • Accepted imperfection


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Fantasy is Real



  • Unsuppressed imagination

  • Dreams & fantasies source of creativity

  • Plots driven by psychological associations

  • Spontaneity vs. conventional linear narrative

  • The fantastic as real; reality as shallow


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The Restriction of Reason



  • Phallogocentric order repressive

  • Social order inhibits freedom and creativity

  • God the Father is the law

  • Guilt and shame as control mechanisms

  • Insists on cutting the umbilical cord and all ties to the “feminine order”

  • Must overcome the Oedipus complex


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Free At Last



  • Freedom from social conventions and outmoded mythologies (structuring codes of language)

  • Seeks “salvation” outside the conventional mythology of the Church

  • “Phallocratric hollowness of Catholicism” (Roma: clerical fashion show)


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The Human Comedy



  • Absent father (hollow phallus)

  • Mother dominant

  • Perennial lack (quest for the Ideal)

  • Assertion of imaginative order as path to individual freedom

  • Acceptance of ideal as beyond man’s grasp

  • Life is a festival


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Comedy as Christian



  • Tragedy: The gnashing of teeth over man’s sins

    • OT Theology: man as evil

  • Comedy: We all have are flaws, but are still lovable

    • NT Theology: man as forgivable