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Structurally bent on self-destruction: Paul Schrader and the decomposition of contemporary society.

Vighi, Fabio 2018. Structurally bent on self-destruction: Paul Schrader and the decomposition of contemporary society. Berlin Journal of Critical Theory 2 (1) , pp. 5-31.

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Abstract

In this essay on Paul Schrader, I take seriously Theodor Adorno’s claim that the film industry is internally antagonistic, thus containing the antidote to its own lie. I argue that Schrader’s films are ideally placed, within contemporary mass-produced cinema, to reveal the inherent contradiction and self-sabotaging of the film commodity. Precisely on account of its formal tendency to endorse its commodity status, while attempting to subvert it from within, Schrader’s auteurial cinema manages to produce symptomatic significations that reach beyond the director’s conscious narrative control. As a rule, Schrader’s mindful emphasis on subjective despair and self-destructiveness redoubles into the partially disavowed denotation of an increasingly substanceless socio-historical constellation seemingly destined to implosion. The focus of this essay rests on the dialectical claim that subjective negativity in Schrader’s films is strictly correlated to the theme of the decomposition of contemporary society. Schrader’s world is from the beginning populated by characters whose personal crises are rooted in the loss of symbolic efficiency of their social environment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Modern Languages
Publisher: Xenomoi Verlag
ISSN: 2567-4048
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 January 2018
Date of Acceptance: 10 November 2017
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2018 11:04
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/108330

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