This post is a response to Richard Prince’s “Why I go to the Movies Alone”. Unlike, the majority of the articles within The Cinematic, this takes less of an academic approach and seems to rely on the format of narration—in a way, it reads like a film. It tells of a man, who is never named, who repeatedly finds himself seated within a both observing the spectacle of life around him. The narrator tells us that “he likes to sit and watch the scene and all the movement and hustle. He especially likes it because of the silence that goes along with his location”—143. While it is made evident to readers that the spectator does this on a ritualistic bases, he does not know why he does it. “For this position, he assumes for no specific purpose”—143.
What I find of interest in this article was not only how its form complements its content, that is, playing with narrative form to suggest to readers that the protagonist is going to the movies alone is not a literal act but a metaphoric one. The way the spectator sits and watches events unfold before him like a film reel. The protagonist positioning relative to his environment, the watching and absorbing of his environment, reminds me of our very on mystories and Lacan’s concept of the gaze. I think the following quote, from Prince’s text, validates what Lacan suggests takes place in the process of transference through the gaze and what we and my collages have tried to identify within our mystories. The protagonist reflects on his transformation, which he links to this passive relationship with the space that he occupies.
“It’s like my looking in that particular place has become customary because the looking there is no longer accompanied by what I have always liked to think of as me. Sometimes I feel when
I’m sitting there that my own desires have nothing to do with what comes personally from me
because what I’ll eventually put out, will in a sense, have already been out—143
The protagonist recognizes that nothing is original in the sense of individuality and influences upon his community. The protagonist hints at the fact that the space has changed, transformed, and with is so has he. He realizes that when these material object shift in form and content, he does as well. His identity and being, as Lacan would say, is being constituted by the shops he watches, the magazines he gets a glimpse at, and the movie theater that is across from him. In addition, the protagonist believes that his desires do not come from him, but from what he observes, takes in, and sees around him. Lacan calls this transformation transference and it occurs because the object (the protagonist’s surrounding community) subject (the protagonist) relationship has been flipped. In other words, the protagonist who is trying to make sense of his surrounding can no longer do so because of its transformation and because its change he can’t make sense of himself. This dynamic relationship is much like hearing someone say “in my day, we never listened to this kind of music”. This little example shows how our communities define and appropriate us to be a part of the collective, and as it changes, the community expects its people to follow the trends as well. If they don’t, they are left pondering as to how things became the way they did. With this these words, and Prince’s “Why I Go to the Movies Alone” in mind, I want to offer the next instruction.
Instruction 3: Go to a bookstore that you have visited on several occasions or any localized place that you can people watch and more importantly watch how various communities come together and disperse. How has this place changed, how have the people changed, and how does this make you feel. In addition, do the sequence of events play-out like a film. In other words, does this leave any trace or feeling of going to the moves alone?