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PhD

Todorov and Equipoise

Right. Had lunch, and no thefts from students today, although I’ve reasoned that boiled potatoes are less likely to be lifted from my plate. If only because they’re smothered in leek and cream sauce.

You all really wanted to know the details of my dinner, didn’t you?

And to this. Which is, I promise, the final time I’ll include a photo of a bound copy (unless I sneak one in of the pile of black-bound copies that are being done next month. Red is the university colour, so regulations dictate the official binding) of the thesis.
Final Bound Copy

In other matters, there’s a wonderful book of conceptual criticism, written by Todd McGowan, dealing with David Lynch called ‘The impossible David Lynch’. I bought it and read through it earlier in the summer, and have picked it up again this week as a prelude to updating my Lynch lecture. The trouble is, this book, the library of other Lynch texts, and a PhD-sized collection of notes and thoughts makes me want to either write something myself, or develop this into a full-blown module dealing with the Fantastic in American Cinema. Probably building on Clute’s Fantastika as a notion, (Speaking of which, I’ve got a copy of Clute’s talk, given in Prague last weekend, that builds on and supplements The Darkening Garden. Going to try to get it online and will let you know if I do) and expanding that into an update of Tzvetan Todorov’s book on the Fantastic.

Todorov’s odd. On the one hand, he’s devoted a large chunk of his life to assessing the structure of the fantastic, and on the other, I always get the impression he’s mightily afraid of what it might be. I did a short hatchet-job on his work in Chapter 8:

Tzvetan Todorov’s examination of the fantastic in literature, although comprehensive, struggles to resolve an issue that, for Todorov, is at the heart of the definition and expression of the fantastic itself, and more importantly, our relationship with it, and in turn, with interaction. For Todorov, the fantastic constitutes a “duration of uncertainty”, after which point the narrative praxis resolves itself.”

That ‘duration of uncertainty’ is the real issue. If the sense of unknown-ness needs to be resolved, to be made sense of, then why is is fantastic in the first place? McGowan’s take is a little different – for him, Lynch’s films (as examples of the fantastic) embody a tension between desire (that which we want to have) and fantasy (that which we invent to take away the disappointment at not getting it). It’s the nature of the relationships that tension generates that provides the narrative flow.

Like I said. Thoughts in development.

For now though, I need to prepare for an Adventure. One that involves women with Russian sounding names, an airport at 7.30 in the morning, and mysterious anonymity. And tea.

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