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Title: Between self and other :abjection and unheimlichkeit in the films of David Lynch
Authors: Jones, Adam Daniel
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis re-evaluates David Lynch’s films and their critical reception, with particular reference to psychological models employed in the context of ‘Lynchian’ themes such as identity, the self, the material, doubling and ambiguity, In repositioning readings and arguing for a new approach, I identify the flaws in the critical reception and , proceeding form the contention that the reception of the films suggests complex and specific psychological responses, explore possible origins with reference to two principal and associated theories. The five films selected as subjects are Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. The uncanny, or more specifically Unheimlichkeit (as described by Jensch, Rank, Freud et al) is encapsulated as ‘something which ought to have remained hidden but has come to light’ and encompasses a cluster of associations, e.g. doubles and doppelgangers, repression, ambiguous humanity, madness, amputation, the womb and the domestic. Distinct but closely related, the abject (as described by Kristeva), describes visual and physical elements associated with the uncanny but is often less nuanced and more extreme, engendering revulsion, loathing and ultimately a jouissance epitomised by the act of self effacement or the destruction of the self that often concludes an inevitable, heightening and terminal process of uncanniness. I argue that the symbiotic relationship between the uncanny and abject (the concepts coexist and each is implicated in the action of the other) pervades Lynch’s films and test the hypothesis that the balance between them shifts throughout the course of his career, identifying a trajectory characterised by an early predominance of visually disturbing objects through to a more pronounced and complex preoccupation with the uncanny in the late films. I will relate this exploration of the relationship between the uncanny and abject to questions of reception, examining how it problematises readings.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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