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    ‘Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth’: fictional representations of trauma as the catalyst for psychic meaning in non-fiction film

    Eadie, Alastair Bruce (2021) ‘Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth’: fictional representations of trauma as the catalyst for psychic meaning in non-fiction film. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis attempts to understand why a number of recent documentaries that deal with traumatic personal histories, include fictional interludes: fictional films within the non-fictional documentary frame. Something in the nature of trauma seems to demand the deployment of fictions as a route to truths or meanings about the real, non-fictional world. I borrow the idea of a ‘bait of falsehood’ that can take a ‘carp of truth’ as my central organising principle. It draws on a clinical technique first suggested in Freud’s radical 1937 paper Constructions in Analysis – itself drawing on speculations in Hamlet about the power of enacted, embodied fictions – where a fiction acts as a bait to take an otherwise unavailable truth about the “real” world. It is a technique that recognises the profound difficulty in representing trauma whilst rejecting the idea that trauma is unrepresentable and beyond the reach of understanding. These fictions, when viewed and reflected on with diegetic others over filmic time, are capable of producing psychic insights, “truths” or meanings for the documentary protagonist that might ameliorate the pain of traumatic experience. It is a contention that sees the documentary-making process as having the potential to be a dynamic, therapeutic process which bears comparison with the clinical practice of psychoanalysis including the practice of self-analysis: an inter- and intra-personal exploration, where a trauma rooted in the past is revivified in current relationships and where it is necessary to deploy fictions to bring representational content to otherwise unrepresented aspects of traumatic experience. It is an argument that insists that certain documentaries do not just show something but do something. The edited films that result, are records of a creative act playing out over time, in which things that happen in the filmic present, transform (and can be seen and felt by the viewer to transform) fixed and intractable psychic patterns. To make this argument, I draw on film phenomenology and (especially) on post-Lacanian French psychoanalytic theory, developing a counter-transferential model for the emergence of psychic meaning in which viewer and viewed are mutually-implicated.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2021 16:37
    Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 16:38


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