UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The impossible love of images : Morel, Marienbad, and the (re-)production of fantasy beyond the Lacanian symbolic Ruby, Michael


My intent with this thesis is to outline an aesthetic relation that challenges the Lacanian conception of a human subject “captured and tortured by language” (Seminar III 243). Through a reading of two works, a novel and a film, I demonstrate that the Lacanian symbolic—the register of language—cannot sufficiently describe the processes of subjectivation manifest in the works. A consideration of the subject as participating in a reflexive construction of psychical reality through the proliferation of fantasy is necessary to comprehend these works and the unique relation among them. Jean Laplanche’s theory of fantasy serves a model for this understanding. The first of these works is a novel published by the Argentine writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares, in 1941, The Invention of Morel, and the second is the well-known film from the French New Wave, Last Year at Marienbad from 1961, directed by Alain Resnais and written by novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. These works stage a scene of fantasy (a fantasy of seduction) that involves the intervention of image-making technologies—this intervention allows the fantasy scene to self-duplicate to the point of organizing the formal arrangement of the works themselves. Finally, the production of The Invention of Morel and Last Year at Marienbad comes to replicate this same fantasy scene, suggesting that fantasy itself, through aesthetic (re-)production, can perform the function that Lacan’s ascribes to the symbolic—that is, insistence.

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