Title

"The Psychoanalysis of Satire: A Short Paper about Aphanisis in A Short Film about Disappointment."

Subject Area

Film and Literary Studies

Abstract

Joshua Mattson's A Short Film about Disappointment (2018) at first appears to be a Pynchonesque, dystopian satire of contemporary American technological distractions, socioeconomic inequality, corporate and governmental propaganda, and geopolitical leadership abdication. An overt critique of the Trump Era's cultural techno-narcissism, aristocratic class divide, and immigration politics, the novel takes place in the Underunited States, after the Crisis of Confidence, where major cities are divided up into Safe Zones and ghettos. The acerbic narrator, Noah Body, writes sardonic film reviews for a news aggregator site; and the narrative unfolds over the course of 80 film reviews. Beneath the satirical setting exists a psychological and philosophical novel about identity and art in the mode of Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. An absurd and violent feud over the artistic quality of a Michael Bay-like director covers over the despair regarding a melancholic life spent watching commercial media, as Noah Body contends with the loss of desire for his wife, the loss of his wife to his best friend, the loss of bodily control (supposedly to said friend, but really due to an hysterical condition), and ultimately the loss of self in what psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan calls aphanisis. He seeks to refind himself through therapy, dating, and directing a capital-A art film. While the novel does not indicate that Noah's film will actually embody art, it does suggest that the act of collaborating on the project allows the dream of art to counter the pernicious cynicism and nugatory irony of wholesale and generic existence.

Brief Bio Note

Alex E. Blazer is Associate Professor of English at Georgia College & State University, where he teaches contemporary American literature and film. He has presented six papers at SECCLL: on Bret Easton Ellis, Don DeLillo, Mark Z. Danielewski, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the television shows Black Mirror and Legion.

Keywords

contemporary American fiction, Lacan, Sartre, psychoanalysis, existentialism

Location

Afternoon Session 2 (PARB 239)

Presentation Year

April 2019

Start Date

4-11-2019 3:45 PM

Embargo

12-17-2018

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Apr 11th, 3:45 PM

"The Psychoanalysis of Satire: A Short Paper about Aphanisis in A Short Film about Disappointment."

Afternoon Session 2 (PARB 239)

Joshua Mattson's A Short Film about Disappointment (2018) at first appears to be a Pynchonesque, dystopian satire of contemporary American technological distractions, socioeconomic inequality, corporate and governmental propaganda, and geopolitical leadership abdication. An overt critique of the Trump Era's cultural techno-narcissism, aristocratic class divide, and immigration politics, the novel takes place in the Underunited States, after the Crisis of Confidence, where major cities are divided up into Safe Zones and ghettos. The acerbic narrator, Noah Body, writes sardonic film reviews for a news aggregator site; and the narrative unfolds over the course of 80 film reviews. Beneath the satirical setting exists a psychological and philosophical novel about identity and art in the mode of Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. An absurd and violent feud over the artistic quality of a Michael Bay-like director covers over the despair regarding a melancholic life spent watching commercial media, as Noah Body contends with the loss of desire for his wife, the loss of his wife to his best friend, the loss of bodily control (supposedly to said friend, but really due to an hysterical condition), and ultimately the loss of self in what psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan calls aphanisis. He seeks to refind himself through therapy, dating, and directing a capital-A art film. While the novel does not indicate that Noah's film will actually embody art, it does suggest that the act of collaborating on the project allows the dream of art to counter the pernicious cynicism and nugatory irony of wholesale and generic existence.