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1 IKTOMI INCORPORATED: CINEMA AS TRICKSTER By MATTHEW ALAN FELTMAN A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOP HY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Matthew Alan Feltman
3 To my nieces, Michaela and Tara
4 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS My dissertation would not have seen completion without th e generous support of my committee members. Without the extensive kindness and intellectual generosity of Nora Alter providing invaluable feedback and much encouragement, I would not have seen this dissertation through to its completion. I must thank Phill ip Wegner, my director, for his unwavering help and theoretical discussions throughout the course of th is project. Maureen Turim deserves thanks because her intellectual inquiries helped me immensely. Last but not least, this dissertation is undoubtedly in debted to Eric my theoretical trickster wanderings through cinema and its discontents did not go unnoticed. I would also like to thank the UF Department of English and t he University Writing Program for assistance throughout this process. I must extend appreciation for the Film and Media Arts Program at Temple University for providing me with teaching opportunities while completing thi s dissertation. I must also thank th e English Department at Bronx Community College (CUNY) and the Arts and Humanities Department at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. My friends and fellow graduate students, both new and old, also deserve acknowledgment: Stephanie Rogers, Kirk Boyle, Amb er Leab, Byron Bailey, Carolyn Kelly, Aniruddha Mukhopadhyay, Seth and Debra Blazer, Brian Zeiders, Daniel Brown, Kate Casey Sawicki, Heather Bigley, Christina Duhig, Melissa Melon, Ashley Andrews Lear, Michael Perez, Rebecca Liss, Charles Meyer, Paul John son, Scott Balcerzak, Stephanie Boluk, Christopher Ecklund, Roger Whitson and Velina Melonova.
5 I also thank my family, especially my parents, David and Edna Feltman, as well as my brother Rodney and his wife Anne for believing in and supporting my pursuit s in graduate school. I would also like to thank my nieces, Michaela and Tara, to whom I dedicated my dissertation.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................ ................................ ............................... 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10 2 CREATURELY TRICKSTERISM AND CRITICAL THEORY ................................ .. 27 ......... 29 Trickster of the Real: The Trickster Supposed to Know ................................ .......... 40 3 CREATURELY CINE TRICKSTERISM: CINEMA AS TRICKSTER PAR EXCELLENCE ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 65 Tricky Convergences: Tricksterism, Cinema History, and Childr en ........................ 70 A Cine ............................... 80 4 AND THE AVANT GARDE ................................ ................................ ..................... 92 Avant Garde Chicanery: An Unconscious Trickster Phalanx ................................ .. 94 ................................ ....... 100 5 SA(L)VAGE HEAP: TRICKSTERS IN SAUERKRAUT WESTERNS AND THE INDIANERFILME ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 121 ......... 124 Creaturely Cine Tricksters, Sauerkraut and Indianers ................................ .......... 135 6 CRYPTO CREATURELY TRICKSTERISM: CHILD TRICKSTERS AND THEIR DISCONTENTS IN WAR CINEMA ................................ ................................ ....... 156 Crypto creaturely Trickster Twins Somewhere in Berlin ................................ ....... 159 Creaturely Cine Trickster Children unto Death ................................ ..................... 171 7 CODA: THE CREATURELY TRICKSTER TRANSCODED: THE DIGITIZED IMAGINATION AND AVATAR ................................ ................................ .............. 181 Creaturely Tricksterism Transcoded ................................ ................................ ..... 183 The Digital Imagination Unbounded: Avatar and Creaturely Trickste rism ............. 188
7 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 196 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 206
8 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philos ophy IKTOMI INCORPORATED: CINEMA AS TRICKSTER By Matthew Alan Feltman August 2012 Chair: Phillip Wegner CoChair: Nora Alter Major: English The abundance of trickster m anifestations in contemporary cultural productions, representations running the gambit from films, television shows, pop songs, and political pundits to U.S. Presidential candidates, uncovers an aporia between our understanding of the wily figure and the w ays in which it morphs within the context of new media. Technological advances in media production transform the trickster into rather unrecognizable shapes in spaces that range from animated cells and celluloid frames to websites and digital data in which the shattering of spatial and temporal boundaries. This dissertation brings a trickster lens to film/new media studies to examine the intersections and interstices of the capricious folk hero and media history and theory. Just as one must maintain the importance of cultural specificity in tracking th e trickster in order not to desecrate the local tribes who use said trickster and, consequently, transform it into a nominalist trickster, one must regard m edia specificity as well. A second aim of this dissertation is to redress the totalizing and essentialist claims that critical theory, more specifically nascent psychoanalytic explorations, brought to bear on the trickster. Holding a mirror up to the tool s initially used to interrogate the
9 trickster, I reveal an obverse layer of trickster hermeneutics underpinning critical theory itself. A psychoanalytic approach to trickster necessitates a rigorous philosophical exploration that assumes a poststructural a nd Marxist stance in order to maintain historical specificity. Drawing on the likes of theorists who conjoin psychoanalysis, poststructuralism and Marxism, such as Theodor Adorno, Jacques Rancire and Slavoj als the aporias of the social symbolic in what might seem like counter intuitive ways that historically get appropriated into Western culture, overturning any subversive edge they might exhibit as to maintain the status quo. My research crosses paths with garde practices, European westerns, post war films and digital processes to cross culturally examine in t he spa ce of meaning.
10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION When you use a trick in logic, whom can you be tricking other than yourself? Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value Like subatomic particles, tricksters never allow a final definition of time, place and charact er. They never settle or shape themselves so as to allow closure, either fictional or moral. We may believe that we have somehow secured a trickster in place at one moment, but if we look from another angle, he is gone. Franchot Ballinger, Living Side ways Using chiasmic revers als, linguistic traps and playful humor trickster incarnations abound in recent cultural productions, such as films, literature, television shows, pop songs, the news media and political campaigns. Subverting the hegemonic struc tures of society, or attempting to do so, the trickster gets evoked by contemporary artists to break the boundaries of permissible t hought in order to resituate its borders. From legal enclave in our cultural memory; yet many observers lack the theoretical understanding nece ssary to comprehend th ese exploits. Because the trickster wends its way into a plethora of aesthetic productions, an ethico political directive to rethink the polyvalent nature and theoretical wiles of the shapeshifting trickster in the cultural imaginary is important, especial ly considering the pau city of material that situates the trickster among screen and new media studies. Despite how influential it remains in the cultural imaginary, the trickster appears to lose its edge precisely because readers and viewers find the origi nal folktales too unfamiliar. Many of the original Native American tales remain unknown to the general American public. I n June 2010 Matt Dembicki published the first graphic collection of
11 trickster myths that brought together Native storytellers with ren owned comic book artists. It stands to reason that the general population must acquaint itself with the ways in which the Native American trickster figure traverses the cultural landscape and influe nces, consciously or not, a good deal of the popular cultu re Americans consume. Trickster iconography surrounds us, yet many lack the hermeneutic methods to track it. Bumbling its way down the trail, the Native American trickster figure desecrates the values and traditions many hold sacred, something much of the trickster scholarship points out. Academic attempts to situate the trickster in monologue within the social science models usually confine the trickster within the boundaries of each distinct discourse rather than meeting it on its own terms. The essential ist claims scholars use shifting efforts always make the definitions seem a bit arbitrary despite rigorous scholarly efforts to pin down the duplicitous trickster. The first foreseeable problem in beginning to write about th e trickster is how one defines the term. To commence discussing the trickster, one must establish a working definition of it despite the way it perpetually evades the constraints of such definitions. The trickster is a shape shifting comic liberator, a bor n deceiver with a split mind, who transgresses cultural boundaries in order to resituate permissible borders. The capricious trickster, simult aneously acting at times as both a comic fool and culture hero, wields creative powers that heal cultural wounds w hile reconstituting the social symbolic order. This rudimentary definition of the trickster provides an inchoate understanding of it, and it also recapitulates many of the essentialist claims that poststructural trickster theorists criticize.
12 I must stres s the importance of the sacrosanct nature of the trickster in these explanations because some theorists underscore it in their working definitions. Although it clearly should bear some weight in discussions of the trickster, naming it the definitive tricks ter characteristic might b e counterproductive because viewers ultimately determine what they want to delineate as sacred. On a different note, many Native Indian scholars al together, preferring the tribe specific trickster names, such as Nanabozho, Wakdjunkaga or Wenebojo. These textbook definitions of the trickster commonly ignore the historicity of their own producti on. The term used by nineteenth century ethnologists study ing North More specifically, scholars usually trace the term back to the anthropologist Daniel Brinton who first used it to describe a figur e in Native American mythology However as William J. Hynes and William J. Doty point out, it was originally used in the eighteenth Benjamin Disraeli employed the term to describe lying political oppon ents within the political ramifications of the term, while the indigenous folk hero, wreaking havoc at the Theo retically, the trickster highlights that which falls outside the limits of society and acceptable thought, the misrepresented, if you will; but it seems that politicians today utilize trickster tropes laced with Native American iconography in direct opposi tion to this notion of liminal ity. While not all images of indigenous Americans assume a
13 trickster position, some function in ways that employ trickster hermeneutics, nonetheless. Because humor is such a major part of indigenous lifeways ( and Vine Deloria, Jr. disparages it for being nonexistent in many scholarly discussions ) I contend that images of Native Americans can initially indicate that the trickster lurks somewhere near by immig ration propaganda poster showcasing a Na tive American in full headdress, with down, gets resituated in servi ce of an agenda that many Indian s might find appalling. T his trickster slogan deserves attention precisely because it actively asks Italians to identify with the Indian (o)ther, the victims of genocide perp etuated by Euro Americans. The ary trickster manifestations. The figure crosses the threshold of permissible thought, instilling the Indian as perception of Native Americans. This aesthetic rendition of the Native American in service of the status quo brings to light the historical caesura of genocide that requires a spectator capable of unearthing both the stifling ideological doubling of the In dian image and the trickster hermeneutics wo rking together Viewing tri ckster in its various cultural manifestations many scholars publish of the essentialist claim s that get recapitulated in their creative applications. A recent and the Media, Folklore traces the connections between comedian
14 Borat Sagdiyev and the cross cultural trickster. While they do make rather astute observations about the film, they fetter the trickster by offering totalizing statements il in the advance t his claim because of their Trickster Makes the World as the definitive analysis of the trickster figure. Hyde states that th e devil cannot be the trickster; yet, contrary to this position, much academic scholarship interro gates the connections between the devil and the trickster. It should come as no surprise that, if you lay down a prohibition for the tricks ter, the wily folk hero scoffs, disobeys, and shifts the boundaries to prove you wrong. Some Klamaths, post contact, actually view the trickster as the devil, which further makes one question the veracity of such a claim (Ballinger 28). To eradicate the evil side that trickster reveals negates the idea that the trickster can bring balance to a society, a balance that eme rges from thinking through disparate possibilities. The vicissitudes of trickster clearly need more academic resituating under a poststructuralist lens in order to disabuse the trickster of such essentialist claims. r and the devil does, however, raise philosophical questions pertaining to the importance of the negative in trickster theory. He grounds his historical argument in the fact that anthropologists, misunderstanding N ative language, cast the trickster as the a moral, not im without commingling in a space that comes dan gerously close to what many would distinction appears t o fall ap art when he continues, the Trickster is at one and the same time creator and
15 destroyer, giver and negator, he who dupes and is duped himself. He knows neither good nor evil yet he i How would the trickster destroy and negate without traversing the liminal spaces that verge on paradox in a way enmeshed with the rhetoric of happiness, to throw aside negativity. 1 As I will underscore throughout my study, the trickster sign engenders, in part, a negative dialectic, despite the proclivity in our t heoretical culture to signal a positive contradiction. The subversive nature of the trickster figure who transgresses boundaries receives much attention from scholars; consequently, many critical theorists rail against it when they argue that the social sy stem already carves out a space for transgressions as the occult underbelly of soci ety. These theorists debunk t in Rabelais and His World which famously argues that socie ty lifts cultural constraints and pr ohibitions during festival time Fully cognizant that suc h a line of reasoning can disrupt a close examination of trickster tropes in the cultural imaginary, I contend that the cultural transgressions already built into the system can only make one aware of the very prohibitions that keep the system in motion. Yet, if the trickster teaches us anything, it is precisely that exposing the gaps in the social symbolic order disturbs the patterns, engendering paradigm shifts; h ence, what constitutes such transgressions will consistently change To put it differently, what was initially subversive gets subsumed in mainstream society to the extent that the original subversiv e act loses its edge. T his means that new 1 The Odd One In: On Comedy superbly situates this argument in regards to the debilitating effects of the rhetoric of happiness found in contemporary society.
16 (un)lawful fenc es get erected for trickster to jump. The trickster does not need festival time to work its skullduggery, nor does it need the system to completely dictate how it can overturn the social structures trying to pin it down. The trickster figure belongs to a well established tradition of cultural production that existed long before anthropologists used the term to designate a mythic folk hero within Na tive American culture s. Trickster incarnations that garner much attention cross culturally are Coyote, Iktomi Loki, Odysseus, Hermes, Till Eulenspiel, Tripitaka, Eshu, Anansi, Bugs Bunny, and Wile E. Coyote to name only a few. The Amerindian tricksters existed p rimarily in the oral traditions. S ealing the tric d these traditions by transcribing the tales or utilizing tr ickster traits in their own art. S ome of these depictions only unconsciously impart t rickster characteristics. A good number of the studies of the trickster delve into the performative gestures of the oral traditions, but there is a dearth of scholarship interrogating the interstices of cinema and the t rickster. This lack exists in spite of the fact that some of the trickster incarn ations appear onl y on screen. The fact that one can trace many cinematic trickster manifestations back to the influence of trickster literature adds to this particular dilemma. nature, ke ep intact what they find particularl y helpful about the figure and eschew what goes against their viewpoint. They employ what seems l ike an unrecognizable trickster; traditi onal trickster traits fragment an d bifurcate to such an extent that they present a pastiche or bricolage of trickster in their work. Trickster theorists, such as Jarold Ramsey and Mac Linscott Ricketts, view the trickster as a bricoleur and
17 who cobbles together reality from the things at hand. Artists themselves sculpt into their works a multifarious trickster figure that fashions reality to its liking while simultaneously exposing the underside of social reality To fully comprehend how contemporary cross cultural artistic configurations manipulate the trickster, one n eeds to unders tand the initial manifestations. B ecause anthropologists inau gurated trickster studies focusing on Native Americans, my study should begin within trickster discourse surrounding indigenous American cultures. Trickster incarnations cross triba lly appear as an assor tment of animal heroes, and scholars commonly situate Coyote, Iktomi the spider, Raven and Hare as quintessential trickster figures despite the fact that many more actually exist. The indigenous trickster tales, passed down through th e oral tradition, remained unrecorded until the Euro American anthropologists began transcribing them for the purpose of preservation Paul The Trickster gets cited as a seminal text, and the t characteristics compel thinkers to gravitate towards it as an object of study. The trickster, for instance, in which it casts aside social mores in order to teach acceptable behavior. Resituating the borders of permissible thought, the trickster creates and breaks laws like a vigilante outlaw hero taming the American western frontier. A special feature of the t rickster in aboriginal cultures that gets exulted in the scholarship is, as stated earlier, its sacrosanct nature. Hyde underscores this but he also warns his readers not to make this distinction the defining characteristic of the
18 trickster. Some Native A merican tribes view the trickster as their culture bearer, which also creates a problem when sifting through trickster hermeneutics. Even among trickster with the water monster in Tales of Burning Love (1997) Reservation Blues (1995) the apotheosis of a trickster text, deploys the trickster in terms of an amalgamation of j azz music mythology postmodern depiction of the trickster as either secular or sacrosanct; it hinges subjective position in rela tionship to Native American religions. 2 By not approaching the tity with an open mind, one can and sexual exploits as mere debauchery disconnected from the sacred realm. Reflecting upon various tri ckster manifestations, one feels ensnared by the ambiguous position in which it leaves the audience. Eurocentric models of the world usually eschew ambiguity from the equation. The ambivalent or ambiguous positions the trickster evokes during its cultural appearances, even though sometimes in the g uise of mediation, means scholars miss the unconscious trickster hermeneutics at play in cultural productions. Unfortunately, when scholars do locate trickster traits in unlikely places, they tend to rely on the s ame tropes that limit the trickster possibilities for example confining the trickster solely to the narrative and relying primarily on one theoretical trickster text that might not n ecessarily reflect 2 not exist in Native languages in order to broach the topic, one must learn about tribal lifeways. The does not reflect lived experience. Each tribe has its own set of local customs that, in some cases, drastically differ from others.
19 The plethora of trickst er sc holarship tends to examine it under the social science models, taming it as it gets subsumed in the various discourses as poststructural critics point out For example, the Chippewa theorist Gerald Vizenor weds the trickster to poststructural discour Vizenor turns to French poststructural theorists because he views their work as a useful form of resistance theory appears to waiver be tween acceptance and criticism, and many postcolonial critics argue that his use of Western theoretical discourse further oppresses indigenous cultures not privy to el Toward a Native American Critical Theory bridges this div ide by e mphasizing that one cannot assume Native American discourse and Western cri tical theory are m utually exclusive (1 18) Native American strategies of trickster resistance and narrative liberation give rise to Pulitano positioning V izenor as a quintessential Native critical theorist in her chapter discussing his work (145 86) Due to the fact that I posit male theorists as tricksters, I need to address the issue of the t trickster usually assumes a masculine posi tion, but female tricksters appear in the tales more often than some would like to believe. 3 Female tricksters, Franchot Ballinger observes, teach us how to maintain both gendered social roles and familial relati ons (101) nner with his wife, 3 See Ballinger (88 le tricksters.
20 but his wife only has two livers to cook. After his wife inquires about what she will eat for her dinner, Iktomi informs her that she can have the leftovers. He continues to tell her that he will go out hunting and prohibits her from en gaging in sexual relations with the amorous Coyote while he is gone. She devises a dubious plan after she cooks and eats both li vers before their guest arrives: copulate upon his entrance, after which he asks he responds that they will cook up his testicles for dinner, and he flees as Iktomi returns from his hunting expedition. After Iktomi asks his wife why Coyote is racing off in such a hurry, she tells him that he absconded with both the livers. Obviously hungry from his hunt, Iktomi, rushing after Coyote, asks the thief to save one for him; Coyote replies, Erdoes and Ortiz 341). The threat of castration presides in this tale as swoop. I posit that the trickster pulls the phallus out of its rucksack of tricks to signify sexual difference, an act that playfully transforms trickster performances. Gender bending acrobatics and third gender subjectivity remain a touchstone of pre contact Native American lifeways th rough the cross tribal manifestations of what has been wo spirited person. This figure takes many names cross tribally, for example the This third gender person assumes in certain tribes a sacrosanct nature akin to the trickster itself. In particular Winkte Way, this third gender position. The dearth of material int errogating the interstices between the trickster and screen or new media studies underscores a two fold problem, the first of which pertains
21 to the c ritical reception of both. V arious academic fields approach the trickster wi th disparate methodologies, but as Vizenor rightly argues, the predominant social science models confine the trickster within their Western paradigms. 4 assessment of the trickster as a cross cultural archetype diss eminates the derogatory notion that Nativ e Amer ican cultures cannot self actualize According to Jung, the antics and scatological humor, hinders a richly tex tured understanding of reality; however, ility to comprehend the polyvalent nature of the trickster tales highlights the ethnocentricis m that gets employed in many critical inquiries into the figure torical trajectory of viewing the trickster childlike. Recently, scholars of early film such as Andr Gaudreault and Tom Gunning, disabuse this notion through close explorations of how early films actually work. 5 Another problem that arises whe n one starts to critically think through the connections between screen or new media studies and the trickster is the pol yvalent natures of both fields Trickster scholarship encompasses a swath of literature from oral tribal stories and performances to Greco Roman myt hology and European picaro traditions. With such a wide range o f material and connections one can draw into cultural awareness, it appears as though one must transform into Prometheus in order to steal the fire of erudite research just to begin thinking th 4 even though some cultural studies approaches to the trickster do not stem from that model. Vizenor does so because studies of the trickster engage in a monologue with the social science models. Thus, when I refer to the social science models, I mean it the way that Vizenor does 5 I will further develop the connections between early cinem a and trickster in Chapter 3
22 manifestations. Similarly, new media scholarship focuses on the changing technological landscape of images and cybernetic networks. New media scholars get tangled in l models in terms new advance o ne cannot even decipher whether new media refers to media emerging i media. cipatory culture and digitized culture recreate imaginative possibilities for trickster to manipulate ideological terrain. Trying to pin down the ambiguous languag e of these discourses demands t hat theorists must approach the trickster from a playful posit i on in order to re imagine what Jacques Rancire refers to as th and retain its political transformative power. The lack of a nuanced approach to trickster in the realm of film and new media studies remains the ini tial poin t of departure for my study. I find the dearth of material that critically situates the trickster among screen studies conspicuously staring back at me like the sta in that Lacan points out in Holbein painting The Ambassadors The language trickster theo rists employ contin ually gets used by film and new media theorists ; however, the trickster itself rarely makes its way into their discussions T hese theorists might fear trickster hermeneutics b ecause it could deprecate their contributions to media st udies Scholars must privilege seriousness over humor because they need to carve out th eir own academic field of study; nevertheless, the trickster, although festooned for youngsters more of ten than not, meets adult audiences in the most improbably places, especially in cinema and new media.
23 It strikes me as peculiar that recently published film criticism such as Wanda in her edited collection The Cinema of Attraction s Reloaded (2007), hat we should rethink the name seminal analysis of the trickster. Strauven argues that the boundary breaking The Matrix (1999) language itself, obscuring the fact that one can view the primitive tricks as exploits. In this project, I want to examine the spaces where what Strauven calls This disse rt ation aims to sift through the connections between critical theory, screen/new media studies and trickster hermeneutics, M y argument stems from the fact that a serious engagement with psychoanalysis contains the tools for political transformations, as th the interstices of tricksterism and psychoanalysis to show that they wo rk together in ways that obfuscate some of the theoretical acrobatics associated with them. In Chapter 2 ster Supposed to Know: Creaturely Tricksterism and and more recent scholarship trickster into a semiotic sign in a ga me of narrative chance; however, as some critic s point out, poststructural impulses can easily slide into nominalism. Vizenor falls prey to this; consequently, this fact further emphasizes the necessity of a more nuanced
24 approach to subjectivity in trickst er discourse. To rectify this, I posit a creaturely trickster apparatus as an interpretive strategy to examine various subject positions involved in trickster transactions. This approach, conjoining Lacanian psycho analysis and Adornian critical theory with trickster theory, injects cultural historical specificity into ethico political discussions of the trickster. Chapter 3 Tricksterism: Cinema as Trickster Par Excellence explores the connections between the trickster and cinema in more detail. This study and then moves on to discuss the ways in which the cinema itself manifests trickster traits through the magic of cinematic effects and the language of cinema. This chapter examines the interstices of childhood with the nascent cinematic apparatus, which sheds light on the ways the trickster gets employed in film. I posit the possibility of tracking a creaturely cine trickster aura, waning as one would close analysis conclude the chapter with a cas e study of foo tage film, (1938) which includes images of Native America ns, clowns and children. Chap ter 4 Avant garde cinema capitalizes on t rickster like qualities including the ambiguity of abstraction to embolden t he political as pect that I want to associate with creaturely trickste rism. More specifically, I argue that Hans Richter embodies the trickster and his cultural output unearths trickster transactions that undermine the hegemonic cultural logic surrounding him. Richter sta nds as a margi nalized figure in academic accounts of the historical avant garde
25 movements despite the fact that he holds a movements as Dadaism and surrealism. Richter brings his cine trickster aestheti c along with him w hen he moves to America to escape the Holocaust, and, rather distraught by the absence of an avant garde scene in America, he bridges the gap between the historical avant garde to the neo avant garde and influences American underground artists in sometimes (un) conscious ways. I examine his Rhythmus films (1921 1925) Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928) as well as his lesser known but award winning Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947) Chapter 5, Tri cksters in Sauerkraut Westerns and the Indianerfilme underscores the trickster traits at work in the cultural manifestations of renown German author Karl May and his Winnetou e American fantasia condemns May a s the tales themselves contain the q uintessential trickster traits that do not allow for such a reductive reading. I of cu ltural output from open stage performances to Hollywood blockbuster films, provides a playful alternative to the high literature forced upon German child ren. This jocose space provides room for the trickster to wend its way into the German cultural imagina ry. Turning to the sauerkraut westerns and Indianerfilme I examine how the tr ickster works in these films In Chapter 6, I focus on trickster children in post war cinema to underscore the connections between tricksterism, children and post war societies. Starting from the unr uly, huckster children wandering through war torn streets in the German rubble films,
26 I cross national borders and temporal boundaries to view the interstitial position of liminal trickster children in such films as Somewhere in Berli n (1946) Forbidden Games (1952) and Turtles Can Fly (2005) Using the creaturely trickster apparatus to view these cinematic children, I remain highly conscious of the historical political terrain that pro duced the films My short coda rickster Transcoded: The Digitized Imagination and Avatar shifting terrain of digital media that offers the trickster inno vative technology to play with in its webs. The move from analog to video highlights the problems of trickster in the digital age as it moves through Ethernet cables and gets written into digita l data. The trickster also rears its head when we look into motion/performance captu re and who should actually take credit for the se performances. My concluding case study exam Avatar (2009) creaturely trickster bursting through prohibitions by the tech savv y production team as well as in the hegemonic discourse that the narrative wishes to dispel.
27 CHAPTER 2 CREATURELY TRICKSTER ISM AND CRITICAL THE ORY If you know anything about Coyote, this alone should scare the hell out of you. Thomas King, Landfill Meditations The man who managed to reca readers are promised such knowledge only to have it withheld with a superior mein. Theodor Adorno, Negative Dialectic s On Creaturely Life traces from Martin Heidegger and Rainier Maria Rilke to Walter Benjamin and W.G. Sebald. ng Lacanian ive encounters with the Real, the gap in the symbolic order that resists symbol ization and where meaning b reaks down. Santner glosses ove three pages Rings of Saturn but I posit that humor or tricksterism assumes a objet petit a and the Real. Alenka Zupan in her superlative study of humor, The Odd One In: On Comedy creatureliness, which is also not without a possible relationship to comedy, has recently been desc forget that one usually associates animals, such as the Coyote, Spider and Salmon, with the Native American shape shifting trickster. In Aesthetic Theory Theodor W. Adorno writes, he primordial
28 world of animals. [T]he constellation animal/fool/clown is a fu ndamental layer of Adorno acknowledges the humor of animals, an unconscious creaturely trickste r discourse exist s al sees its apotheosis in the abundance of cross cultural artistic representations of the trickster. theory, one should turn to Native American trickster discourse and its most theoretica l seminal trickster text situates the trickster as a semiotic sign in a comic holotrope that eschews subjectivity. However, when discussing poststructuralism Vizenor cites Jacques Lacan, a seemingly unlikely choice given that Vizenor rightly castigates crude psychoanalytic poststructural proclivities, Vizenor does not engage with the psychoanalytic side; but, as I wi ll address below, ter position reconstitutes a problem regarding cultural specificity that a nuanced Lacanian lens would disabuse. I contend creaturely tricksterism makes an intervention into trickster disc ourse that allows a thorough psychoanaly tic analysis that maintains nature and cultural specificity. The creaturely trickster lens provides a theoretical model from which to approach critical theory proper. Before conceptualizin g this apparatus as a means to examine vi sual art I wi ll turn this lens back onto high theory to reveal the existent trickster traits in the works of two theorists that get overlooked when thinking through humor studies: Lacan and Adorno. I posit ion both of these theorists as tricksters in part both because of their relationship to cinema and their participation in oral performances. Lacan taught his psychoanalytic seminars as performances that mimetically recreated the
29 eturn to Germany after his American exile years saw his transformation into a radio personality. Vizenor lauds Adonro as a kindred spirit, which prompts me to look further into the theor trickster traits. 1 The similar biogra phies of Lacan and Adorno draw parallels with trickster as both were extricated from their secure hearths, the psychoanalytic school and Germany, re spectively. Partly due to their cult ural dislocation they both co ncern themselves with the gaps or caesuras in the space of meaning within cultural artifacts. One final vista to these theoretical trickster twists involves turning the trickster lens upon the realm of images. A nuanced trickster approach to cinema studi es opens up new avenues in which to compre n the cinematic apparatus Lacan and Adorno, whose philosophical writings focus on the inner workings of the realm of images, provide invaluable insig ht into understanding the creaturely trickster at work w ithin film as well as a way to begin thinking through screen presence. After situating some quintessential trickster theory, I will conjoin creaturely life, psychoanalysis and tricksterism as a hermeneutic lens to examine cultural productio ns. Poststructu ral Trickster sans Subjectivity; o r To begin locating trickster within the realm of high theory, one must turn to both studies of humor and the trickster fig ure. As I have previously pointed out some humor/tr ickster scholars confine the trickster within essentialist taxonomies. H owever, aforementioned text deserves accolades for integrating poststructural and 1 apter on Gerald Vizenor outlines the majority of the connections between French poststructural critics and Vizenor, but she also includes Adorno in this mix on pages 166 70.
30 psychoanalytic discourses to avoid essentialist taxonomies. scrutinizes comedy, drawing on philosophical and psychoanalytic discourses to locate of the various gaps within those structures. Her trenchant analysis provides a way to espouse philosophical thought with comedy. Although she never explicitly discusse s the trickster at large, she examines various manifestations of comic characters: cases of split subjectivity, th e double and mistaken identity. T hese categories become useful when turning to the tric the trickster encompasses all of these structural manifestations within different trickster tales. Situating critical responses to Comic Transactions: Literature, Humor, and the Politics of Twentieth Century Britain investigates the intersections of comedy within the British cultural imaginary. His evades the quasi formalist, social science frameworks that depreciate the social functioning of comedy. E within the socio political scene and overlaps with the cul tural imaginary. These points Humor is an event, not an utterance Comic incon gruity is social contradiction We do not know what we are laughing at Our laughter is the laughter of others Joke work is work Politics is a joke but does th e joke have a politics? 18). These positions theoretically create a starting point for English to discuss comic tra nsactions; but one could also conjoin trickster hermeneutics w ith these positions. Limiting trickster scholarship to the confine s of anth ropological studies,
31 English only mentions the trickster in one brief sentence that glosses over it: such comic phenomena as the trickster figure and the joking relat that a nalyzing ethico from his theoretical vantag e point puts stress To combat the limiting models of trickster discourse poststructural critics such as Vizenor and Franchot Ballinger, theoretically resist the totalizing taxonomies and supply 2 In Living Sideways: Tricksters in American Indian Oral Traditions Ballinger concomitantly situates a substantial amount of trickster theory to read the trickster across Native American tribes and underscore the assorted contradictions im plicit in trickster scholarship. Vizenor, on the other hand, unshackles the trickster from socia l science models by shifting it into a postmodern discourse, presenting the absent subject of the trickster as a semiotic sign in a comic holotrope Both of these literary critics explain how trickster scholarship, emerging in le aps and bounds, misses the mark: appearing in o ne fissure one second yet shape shifting to fit into a different aperture the next. Their trickster hermeneutics liberate the trickster from the confines of the social science discourses while m s, a chasm brief ci tations Ballinger deconstructs 2 use theory, although other Trickster Makes the World: Mischief, Myth, and Art Trickster Lives: Culture and Myth in Amer ican Fiction
32 the theoretical trickster writings by minimally evoking high theory to point out the contradictions inherent in the scholarship. He interrogates the academic approaches to trickster t hat utilize high theory in his f irst chapter Ballinger disabuses the totalizing claims that scholars use to pin down the trick explicates the various problems inherent in trying to set up taxonomies of tri ckster traits when he observes, Like subatomic particles, tricksters never allow a final definition of time, place and character. They never settle or shape themselves so as to allow closure, either fictional or moral. We may believe that we have somehow secured a trickster in place at one moment, but if we look from another angle, he is gone. (30) In his he gets stuck in an elk skull and masquerades as the local water monster in order to scare procee ds to rape a virgin, infuriating the women who then hit him with a club. The women crack his skull in tw o the only way to kill him is to crack him in the middle of the women chas ing after him. Approaching the myth, Ballinger delineates ten diffe rent ways like acceptable behavior, warns against the misuse of power, and amuses us (17) Ballinger finds a paradoxical hole in trickster scholarship pertaining to the He points toward Barbara Babcock essay, ries of
33 dominan boundaries (150). Although Ballinger finds this notion of liminali ty helpful, he contends that Babcock hermeneutic applications deny cultural specificity because she tables trickste r tales that do not contradict her neat categorization s. O ne can view the trickster as both the culture hero and buffoon, but, in order to receive the subversive, sacrosanct power to deride pride and maintain balance within the community, the trickster necessitates an ex alted position at the center of cultu re. Ballinger concludes hin the d to his family/communal tribe a trickster lurking only at the margins would have trouble transforming alit y, Ballinger points out, is at the margins, Iktomi an d Coyote appear in some of the myths toge ther, which suggests that they can enact transformations as trickster twins. While Ballinger does not conjoin high theory and trickster studies in his text, Vizenor does. important form of theoretical tricksterism. Vizenor compares of the reader, and the death of social sciences in the birth of the modern trickster in mo TD 202). Obviou sly, Vizenor did not abolish the social sciences or the trickster scholarship that maintains a tragic monologue with the social sciences;
34 nevertheless, he did force academics to re assess some preconceptions by bringing tog ether historical cultural anthropologies an d the burgeoning field of high theoretical criticism. with the social sciences is their desire to exclude the underprivileged side of d ichotomies from their discourse. I n terms of trickster, this results in the denigration of both in the chaos/order and humorous / serious binaries. Vizenor invokes Paul Watzlawick, who he claims, argues that what is considered to be the real world [for the social sci ences], what supp osition that the world cannot be chaotic not because we have any proof for this view, but because chaos would simply be intolerable. (188) discourse, while the s ocial scienc e models arrest efforts to bring this d ialectical opposition into play. The trickster favors chaos over order in certain instances, whi le the social sciences privilege order, which reconstitutes Western bourgeois hegemonic values in ethnographies and discu ssions concerning the trickster. Vizenor wants to disabuse scholars from the belief that trickster must exist as a subject, animal, human or otherwise. Instead, he views the trickster as a comic holotrope a figuration joining the trickster as a semiotic sign, the tribal oral performer and the partic ipant audience. He denies presence in an act of shadow survivance, a form of resistant liberation that stands in contradistinction to the dominant tragic absence of tribal hum
35 West Show, an example of a domin ant tragic monologue, kept the denigrating stereotype of the savage Indian alive through both theatrical perform ances and short 3 Vizeor believes that these stereoptyical, g do not refer to any solidified p He own trickster logic to upturn the dominant tragic monolo gues and the cinema/literature of manifest m anners. st approach to t he trickster poses a problem in terms of Narrative Chance hood in tr ickster discourse. Wiget writes, As an assertion, this gen eralization [that the trickster is a comic narrative that denies presence] argues that the trickster, more than simply the negation of signification, is instead the palpable void beyond signification. 4 Historically, however, Native Americans have pointed t o the trickster to explain certain aspects of perceived reality or to justify a proposed course of action behaviors which an signification amounts to the perpetual defer ral of significance. What is missing in and the lack is one inherited by is one of the social matrices of personal identity, for both performer and audience, and of the cultur al and historical constraints of signification. (478 9) T he absent Native Ameri can trickster subject not only renounces the historical roots necessary for an all encompassing trickster theory, it denies the subjectivity of those artists and performers who physically embody the trickster within Native Am erican 3 he Black Maria, in Chapter 3 which focuses on the interstices of the trickster and cinema. 4 Here, Wiget implicitly suggests that Vizenor unconsciously aligns the tricks ter with the Lacanian Real or
36 tribes 5 an abstract entity void of representation in the world approaches a minor form of nominali sm, which Fredric Jameson argues is a byproduct of po stru reconstitutes universal and totalizing statements concerning the trickster figure. As Stuart Christy points out, Vizenor denies the local trickster in his novel Heirs of Columbus further problematizing trickster discourse. Christy argues that Vizenor conflates his own Chippewa bear trickster, Naanabozho, with the endemic Coastal Sali sh trickster Salmon Christie e predominance spell trouble for trickster discourse long before the genetic healing of The Heirs of Columbus Just as shamans from one tribal location cannot heal another Indian from a different geographic region because of local spirits, tricksters cannot liberate different tribe members with varying local beliefs. 6 to all; the particular and communal trickster signification falls into the abyss, misplacing any historical context wi thin which to situate the particular, tribe specific trickster Lacking historical context, against which Jameson warns and Vizenor tries to avoid, the trickster sign diminishes the trickster to a commodity within indian hyperreality, to use rms. 5 examples of such figures include but are not limited to the heyoka of the Lakot a Sioux tribe, the koshare of the Hopi tribe and the newekwe of the Zuni tribe. Ballinger discusses t he sacred clowns in Chapter 5 of Living Sideways 6 Heirs of Columbus and the Chelh ten
37 Thus, Vizenor presents a trickster discourse existing in an abstract realm that renounces all material subjects among its par This results in a nominal trickster, a trickster materializing in name only, unconnected to any corr esponding reality. Nominalists believed that ideas represented by words have no trickster, it cannot coexist with the multiplicity of tricksters throughout Native Ame rican tribes, as Vizenor infers in his theoretical text If the trickster performers can reinvent the trickster however s/he desires, the ephemeral communality of the trickster sign dissipates, favoring the commodity value of certain trickster signs. Viz enor and other postructrualists/postmodernists may argue that trickster discourse does, indeed, emancipate the trickster via the valorization of postmodern pastiche or collage : for instance, Vizenor merges the Chippewa Naanabozho with the Coastal Salish tr ickster Salmon in his novel However, this amalgamation of the two tricksters repeats what Vizenor rails against in the social science social scientists made totalizing, universal statements about Native American tricksters. Here, the trickster becomes universal instead of tribe specific Does Vizenor crave a return to high modernism, then, through the unification of the intrinsic trickster signs? P 31) Ironically, the absent trickster in The Heirs of Columbus evokes this postmodern ity necessary for the all inclusive trickster di scourse Vizenor creates
38 and historical specificity, resulting in a nominal trickster and an unethical discussion of Native of the social sciences and structural anthropology, but this trickster discourse could b urst further open under a Lacanian lens laced with creaturely life, allowing both subjectivity 7 and the incorporation of history into the mix. Before conjoining creaturely life and the trickster, I need to address the critique that poststructuralists inad principle target always turns out to be this or that form of historical P with its denial of both the subject and history. S ynthesizing these structural anthropo logies/social sciences with trickster discourse might suit Vizenor better, considering that his novels ultimately traverse the prohibited terrain of his initial condemnations. The Hege relies on these social science models to build its argument; he dialectically inhabits the social science/structural anthropological positions not mean to suggest here that the trickster should be confined to the Western tradition through dialectical discourse, but a postmodern/poststructural appli cation to the tricks ter, I argue, ideologically confines the trickster in a similar fashion. 7 of subject hood in trickster discourse.
39 The hegemonic social sciences discourses that Vizenor castigates adhere to passions to work. Hegel writes, For it is not the universal Idea w hich enters into opposition, conflict, and danger; it keeps itself in the background, untouched and unharmed, and sends forth the particular interests of passion to fight and wear themselves out in its stead. It is what we may call the cunning of reason th at it sets the passions to work in its service, so that the agents by which it gives itself existence must pay the penalty and suffer the loss. (Lectures 89) Unclear of the ominous outcome, these pass ions ultimately rewrite history; and thus, in a trick ster Vizenor wants the trickster to resist these narratives as well, instead of dialectically using them to its advantage, catapulting the ensnared trickster into a new position As Jame son writes, aesthetics or to resol ve its antinomies and dilemmas: it will rather search out that other AR x lv). Attempting to tackle this problem, th e trickster moves through the social science discourses in order to dismantle the constraints that fix ideological positions Not only should one view trickster discourse as a dialectic of institutional practices, the trickster sign itself works via the dialectic. Viewing the trickster with in dichotomous relationships, such as law/tra nsgression, order/disorder, and so forth seems important to the comedic nature of the figure. By unveiling the un thought, the imposs ible by y the trickster steps, haphazardly at times the trickster unleashes do not merely overturn the under privileged side of the binaries as many post structural theorists decry against Hegel but they initiate a synthesis that births a subjectivity
40 Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism existing totality or some absolute subject creating the course of worldly events out of its unhampered spontaneity. Such an interpretation of German Idealism would miss the crucial shift from substance to su bject. The subject Hegel has in mind is an absolute negativity which can only constitute itself after the fact. Without its manifestation, proper name of the belatednes s constitutive of any logical space as such: our conceptual abilities to refer to something determinate in the world can only take subject. (8) This metaphoric owl of Minerva, this belatedness, swoops down upon the participant audience like the trickster bringing forth the return of the repressed. Trickster of the Real: The Trickster Supposed to Know One must begin amalgamating trickster discourse and creaturely lif e by situating trickster beside psychoanalysis, specifically next to Lacanian psychoanalysis. As previously stated, Vizenor invokes Lacan in his writings, but he provides only the most rudimentary application Vizenor cites Lacan twice in ickster Jacques Lacan, however, liberates the signifier; the comic holotrope in trickster function of representing the signified, or better, that the signifier has to answer for its existence in the nam e of any signification whatever. (189) After this, Vizenor refers to Lacan in the endnote to the above quote: the signifier The sign presupposes the someone to whom one makes a sign or something. The shadow of this someone obscured the entry into linguistics. (209n7). 8 8 Although Lacan broaches the presupposed someone who interprets the sign, he denies any fixed subjectivity due to both the flo ating signifier and the desire of the subject, part and parcel to the desire of
41 application o f Lacan stresses exlusively Lacanian p oststructuralist tendencies. Vizenor conveniently avoids psychoanalysis altogether as he castigates ch of the these explorations fetter the t rickster; but a Lacanian psychoanalytic interpretation would hardly appear Narrative Chance Se condly, reducing Lacan merely to a postructuralist, Vizenor evades the psychoan alytic paradigms that might elucidate his trickster discourse Moreover, he ignores the possibility that one might consider Lacan a quintessential theoretical trickster. Vizenor refuses the logical overlap of trickster discourse with psychoanalysis. As Viz enor suggests, a psychoanalytic trickster discourse could engender crude psychologizings of the trickster. However, I contend that a thorough Lacanian analysis well as o bject a with trickster discourse can redress this danger Tribal storytelling and trickster perfor mances converge in a poststructural comic holotrope transforms the trickster sign into the illusive object a the seems to knock loose the hidden kernel of the Real, revealing the trickiness of social reality itself. Before underscoring some of the fundamental Lacanian structur es, I want to examine what it means to view Lacan as the apotheosis of a tricks ter in his own right. acknowledges it. This does not mean that Lacan refuses all subjectivit y, though, because his entire project necessitates some subject of analysis.
42 Thrown out of the Socit Franaise de Psychanalyse after devoting an entire seminar to the analysis of jokes, Lacan craftily speaks from the psychoanalyti c margins, his seminars supplanting trickster like oral performances. Despite the fact that humor initially coerced him into a liminal space, Lacan illuminates its role in Seminar XVII, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis [ 1969 70]. Unabashedly, Lacanian puns run throughout his oeuvre, but Seminar XVII mig ht stand as his most trickster like text. In addition to all of the animal imagery one finds in this text, its conclusion brings forth the Real itself for his students. The undersid e of psychoanalysis evolving elevate shame to une honte (h)ontology [ hontologie e as close to it as Lacan castigates his students for not reading primary ph ilosophical texts as they appear for not reading Wittgenstein because they only like pickin g apples that have The Phenomenology of Spirit trickster like transgressions over turn notions of truth and expose the fissures in social relations in order to resituate the boundaries of his four discourses. Lacan, in Seminar VII, discusses the jouissance of transgres sion leading to the death
43 drive. O sho ws, if it shows anything at all reudian negation, which would reinvigorat e transgressive performance ( SXVII 1 9). Staging the transgression within the seminar, Lacan attempt s to compel his students to become better reader s of performances. This is a result of oral nature of the psychoanalytic session. 9 Lacan specifically refers to the trickster in discusses truth. Lacan rails against American ego psychologists for their inability to e pretends to animate a lec tern. Lacan writes disdainful it may have been of you, remained open to your faith, I, truth, will against you E 342). L the trickster makes itself known through his writings and teachings. triadic structure of human experience consists of the Imaginary, the Symbolic [B]oth the Symbolic and the Imaginary may be said to belong to the order of sign ification. While the Symbolic refers to the (potentially) infinite uses of signification through language and symbols, the Imaginary refers to the particular ways in which signification becomes arrested around certain fundamental images of ourselves that o ffer a sense of coherence and place in the world. It is through the Imaginary that we achieve particular forms of identification and which enable ourselves around certain basic images with which we identify and/or wish to project. The Real, on the other hand, not only does not belong (directly) to the order of signification but crucially represents its negation. 9 sions in Seminar XVII.
44 Constructing a sense of unity within him /herself, a subject experi ences the Imaginary through images ( imagos ), usually resulting in narcissism as Freud discussed; 10 after an introduction to language, the subject enters the Symbolic order, where every word signifies some thing else. The Real is the impossible limit of sign ification, where signification itself breaks down no language exists to describe the Real or the Void that the subject knows exists but still attempts (and always fails) to fill through object use. Through traumatic fissures, cracks within their Symbolic order, subjects encounter the Real, revealing the external Void that they believe will complete them; therefore, a termed objet petit a the Thing inside a subject mor e than the subject. Eliminating object petit a Ch vuoi telling me that [you desire objet petit a from me], but what do you want with it? What are in The Puppet and the Dwarf that I love, objet petit a the elementary formula of the destructive passion for the Real as the endeavor to extract from you the real kern el of your being. This is what gives rise to anxiety in the encounter with the that which is in me more than myself, and he is ready to destroy me in order to extract th at kernel. Is not the ultimate cinematic expression of the ex timate character of the objet petit a heart of myself, and can therefore be extracted from me only at the price of my destruction. (59) The subject desires objet petit a because it elusively fills the Void created by the impossibility of the Real Lacanian psychoanalysis aims at permitting the subjec t to 10 E 696).
45 continue pressing on while simultaneously acknowledging the impossibility of its own desire. 11 o an analyst the power t o an inaccessible knowledge, one that reveals the root cause of his/ her bly lies in the fact that a psychoanalyst can offer reassurance that the psychoanalytic act will somehow provide g The Subject Supposed to K Now it is indeed in the practice [of psychoanalysis] to begin with that the psychoanalyst has to be equal to the structure that determines him not in its mental form, alas! that is indeed where the impasse is but in his subject position as inscribe d in the real: such an inscription is what properly defines the act. In the structure of the mistaking o f the subject supposed to know, the psychoanalyst must find the certitude of his act and the gap that makes its law. (337) 11 c being, he doubly overlays the tripartite model atop the Lacanian Real while contending that he previously erected this model in The Sublime Object of Ideology s of Power, je ne sais quoi the the sublime dimension shines through an ordinary formula, like the quantum physics formulas which can no longer be translated back into or related to the every day experience of our life world). The Real is thus effectively all three dimensions at the same time: the abyssal vortex which ruins every consistent structure; the mathematized consistent structure of reality; the fragile pure appearance. (97 8) These t hree separate registers of the Real the imaginary Real, the symbolic Real and the real Real permit one to discuss the Real via language or mathematical formulas (the symbolic Real). This model ple layers to describe the intersubjective (R)eality of both the trickster and its participant audience.
46 The psychoanalyt ic act carves out its own fiction based around the belief that the analyst can access a sacred knowledge that emerges in the space of the Real. The analyst as subject supposed to know, as Zizek maintains certainty (which Lacan compa cogito ergo sum ) of the HRL 28). The transference allows the analysand to glimpse the psychoanalytic truth, however briefly he psychoanalytic connections between tricksters and shamans, and Ballinger traces the contradi ctory nature of this coupling 12 vi Strauss makes 13 The psychoanalyst, however, does speak, defrocking the return of the repressed masquerading in new clothes. One can also turn this argument on its head regarding the trickster the trickster speaks, its insight emerging from a sacred relation to the truth. The trickster sometimes seems to stumble upon this truth, his mea nderings uncovering the space of truth that ideologically upturns the hegemonic social order. The trickster unearths an impossible horizon, the likes of which recapitulate a position of the subject supposed to know. 12 trickster and the shaman, but Ballinger takes him to task because the tenuous distinctions between the See Ballinger (22). 13 See Claude Levi Shamans Through Time: 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge (111).
47 How does trickster discourse overlap wi th Lacanian psychoanalysis? The trickster exists within the Symbolic realm as a semiotic sign that allows the subject viewing the trickster to acknowledge his/her own lack via an encounter with the Real, resulting from the trickster breaking the prohibitio ns set up within the Symbolic order. This transgression exposes the lack within the subject, uncovering the Real that lacks an external Limit/Exception. The trickster brings the illusion of closure qua disrupting the r in mind that tricksters some times act as both a culture hero bufoon was u sually a culture hero as well. In other words, the Amerindian trickster is often the agent responsible for creating the co nditions that allowed for the development of human 14 To put this in Lacanian terms, tricksters transgress the Law/fantasy, forcing the audience to reconfigure its particular symbolic order after viewing the impossible possibility associ ated with traversing the fantasy reconstituting the symbolic order and, in turn, beginning to resituate cultural norms. n the social order is the production of shame but does shame initiate a dialectical turn regarding tricksterism and laughter? The dialectical interplay of guilt and shame brings spectators into being through the perception of an objet petit a which can both laugh and incite laughter in the spectator. The laughter of the ga ze as object petit a the floating sardine can that laughs at Lacan in the Petit Jean story fr om Seminar XI, for example, even 14 hold as much credence in light of more recent scholarship, but that does not mean that one should readily dismiss the idea that the trickster resituates cultural norms.
48 engender s shame within Lacan 15 hontology in Shame is not a fa iled flight from being, but a flight into being where being the being of surfaces, of social existence is viewed as that which protects us from the ravages of anxiety, which risk drowning us in its borderless enigma. Unlike the flight or transformation of guilt, however, shame does not sacrifice in On Escape concern in g shame as an escape from being way that psychoanalysis makes one aware of him /herself as a speaking entity, as an The trickster pulls shame out of his metaphoric pouch of tricks a s a ploy to restore balance to society and rearrange the boundaries of permissible thought. In his text concerning laughter, Henri Bergson claims that one laughs at s omething in order to deride it. However, the chortles the trickster produces in his audien ce might not completely adhere to this view position. Hyde, using Aidos the kind of face to face community where you behave because other In a guilt culture, the moral sanctions are more internalized; you carry the internal eye of tinctions historically separate Hellenistic and Homeric Greece; but they both seem to work together in terms 15 Lacan outlines the tale in Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (95 6). He uses the tale to approximate how he precisely tr ansformed into the stain, the butt of the joke among a group of fisherman scoffing at his lack of understanding regarding their plight and vocation.
49 of the trickster. The trickster elicits aidos an experience of shame that simultaneously extracts a level of honor 16 This notion of honor gets ret ained in the relationship to the sacred amid its duplicitous exploits. This sacrosanct nature helps tric kster work as an external gauge to keep one in check w hile it simultaneously creates the measuring stick for an internal super (h)ontology points toward A tangible trickster from Native America manifests itself in the sacred clown, an example of which is the heyok a of the Sioux. Ball inger discusses the heyoka as a merican tribes. Ballinger observes with him), and among the Lakotas Ik tomi is considered a Heyoka because he is always talking to the thunderers. [Laura] Makarius even claims that Heyoka is another name for become sacred clowns or else th e thu nderbirds would kill them ( or so they believed ) and, consequently, laughter through their backwardness. To the Sioux, t hey functioned as a bringer of rain, laughter, hea ling, and balance For the heyoka, no subject was taboo, but s/he could break every imag inable prohibition because these visions supposedly emerged from a sac red space. Ensuring that no tribe member or official regarded their power too seriously the clown s would mock everything (including the 16 Aidos (10 14). You can also see his discussion of shame cultures and guilt cultures which determine possible behavior through the use of an external communal eye and an internal self conscious eye, respectively (14 47).
50 religious members of the tribe), evoke scatological humor, cook a sacred dog stew, and also bring a sacrosanct balance to the tribe. The heyoka, thus, made both the profane sacred and the abject profound. This sacros anct nature of the heyoka doubly works to evoke fear and laughter. After the ceremonies the heyoka needed to enter the sweat lodge to rid him /herself of the recently committed transgressions. 17 Lame Deer states that a heyoka after dreaming of the thunderb to act out his dream in public. Indians are modest. In the old days, to expose a leg say, to the knee prohibition of the la w/transgression dialectic historically constitutes a tangible position among the Native Americans. To psychoanalyze the heyoka via Lacan, one must understand this sacred power as Native Americans themselves did. In Black Elk Speaks Black Elk states, [H e yokas] have sacred power and they share some of this with all the people, but they do it through funny actions. When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the west, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm. But in the heyoka ceremony, everything is backwards, and it is planned that the people shou ld be made to feel jolly and happy first, so that it may be easier for the power to come to them. You have noticed that the truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or we eping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing face is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better for them to see. (145) 17 As Peggy V. Beck states, In the end, at the conclusion of the ceremonies, the clowns are brought into the balanced w orld again in cleansing ceremonies. All the frenzy, obscenity, and terror is calmed and dispersed at order, helps contrast imbalance and balance, order and dis order, in such a way that even a child the end, be so obvious and so justified. (309)
51 In Hegelian dialectical fashion, heyokas uncover the repressed side of dichotomies akin to the Real. Black Elk even appeals to the notion of the symbolic Real through the inaugurating the dialectic, creates a se miotic sign engendering the Real the impossible limit that the participant audience believes will complete them. Black Elk inadvertently broaches the Real (truth) that Indians try to pin down via both the heyoka and the trickster sign. Exposing this limit, heyokas tra nsgress prohibitions, revealing the The Phenomenology of Spirit contains the negative that which would have been called false, if it could have been The heyo thunder beings, which produced fear in the heyoka. 18 The heyoka transcribes these visions/encounters from the imaginary Real into his/her own symbolic order. They later attempt to fill out the Void/Other during the comic ceremonies by transgressing the (L)aw, which, in turn, exposes the lack in both the subject and themselves. Through the 18 One could psychoanalyze the unconscious motives behind these dreams in th come from? Julia Kristeva discusses the relation of jouissance to abjection. It seems important to note that abjection in Kr The Powers of Horror deject ] draws his jouissance. The abject form which he does not cease separating is for him, in short, a land of oblivion that is constantly remembered. Once upon blotted out time, the abject must have been a magnetized pole of heyoka inscribes the dream of t he thunderbirds, which could be viewed as his/her unconscious desire to return to heyoka reveled in backwardness.
52 disorientation of the subject/viewer by way of the ob ject/trickster sign, the participant audience enco unters the Real. Ironically, this trauma/horror of the Real makes the subject laugh with the rest of the audience even though s/he realizes the impossibility of remain o tarry with the negative with the Real. Hegel writes, Spirit gains its truth only through finding itself within absolute rupture. Spirit is that power not as a positive which turns away f rom the negative, as when we say of something that it is nothing or false, and having thus finished with it we turn to something else; rather, spirit is that power only in so far as it looks the negative in the face and dwells in it. ( Preface 129) Here, negative position, exhausting every possibility of said impossibility, the subject repositions itself in the next dialectical position and resituates its symbolic order accordi ngly. viewer from the Truth of the Real. I do not mean to suggest that the trickster reveals the which describes in a parenthetic phrase true meaning and ultimate outcome of our acts, since it is the decentered big Other, the r may or may not know what it does, but it ultimately projects its participant viewers into the Bacchanalian whirl catapulting them into their dialectical journey towards Absolute Spirit.
53 the constellation of trickster discourse, psychoanaly sis and critical theory adds ano Ballinger comes close to positing a creaturely trickster o f the Real discourse. He writes, With a trickster the abstract imaginable becomes concrete possibility. The All is not some immutable Platonic Ideal, and American Indian tricksters manifest this truth with a vengeance. When a trickster violates a boundary or an ordered place or moment, he is often practicing the esse ntial trick of exposing the substance underlying appearances; that is, he reveals for us the trickiness of reality. (135 140) When one combines the high theory that Vizenor evokes gains new significance. Santner historically traces separation of human life from de Kreatur creaturely life, in the eighth Duino Elegy Santner moves through Heidegger and Gio a traumatic dimension that renders I am calling creaturely life is the life that is, so to speak, called into being, ex Naturgeschichte t that the artifacts of human history tend to acquire an aspect of mute, natural being at the point where they begin to lose their place in a viable form o becomes the focal point of departure for creatureliness (16). Situating natural history and c human coincide. Santner states, to a biopolitical animation that distinguishes the human from the animal. To put it aga in in psychoanalytic terms, what we share with animals is the life lived among the spectrum of pleasure and pain. Where we
54 diverge from the animal is in our peculiar capacity for that pleasure in pain that Denying the complete convergence of the creaturely and the human, Santner does not concern himself with the collision of the two, the liminal space where tr ickster animals lurk and transform the human realm. Santner does intertwine psychoanalysis with creaturely lif e. The creaturely sovereign jouissance after t recapitulation of this as the jouissance of the (O)ther. After creating cer tain anxiety Ch vuoi gets entangled in a search for objet petit a s demand The demand creates anxiety about the signifying demand, and the child often missing the mark, translates this demand h owever s/he sees fit ceasing work of symbolization, translation, and failure at translation, that constitutes the signifying stress signifying stress Lacanian Real, and it exposes the Real as a space for and an injunction to eth ico political action. devoting two paragraphs to the place of comedy in Se My sense is that it is at just those points of creatureliness I hav e been trying to isolate that Sebaldian humor arises; these are the points where the nonsensical the point where we catch a glimpse of the mechanical stupidity of our jouissan ce, 7)
55 This model of creaturely humor can be correlated with the trickster of the Real; but the creaturely foolery forms from shocking representations of an impossible possibility objet petit a that produces laughter. To put it differently, a humor that can predominantly remain excluded from our daily lives comprises the pith of creaturely trickster discourse. The anthropomorphism associated with the trickster connects the trickster and Santner characte ristics in the tales themselves: spiders, coyotes and r avens communicate and think like humans while simultaneously remaining non human in their animalistic ways. The Co nce, holds many human qualities; but he also carries h is penis in a box on his back. It is the excess of the non human, the hyperbolic, that makes the creaturely trickster significant. Conc erning comed y, Zupa added up so neatly and with no remainder, there would be no comedy Is not the very existence of comedy and of the comical tellin g us most clearly that a man is never just a man, and this his finitude is very much corroded by a passion which is precisely not cut to the measure of man and of his finitude. Most comedies set up a configuration in which one or several characters depart violently from the moderate, balanced rationality and normality of their surrounding, and of other comic insistence on the indestructible, on something that persists, keeps reasserting dead. In this respect, one could say that the flaws, extravagances, excesses, and so called human weaknesses of comic characters are precisely what account for their not exists only in this kind of excess over itself. (49) The trickster tales abundantly exhibit these excesses of the human; and in this way it maintains the uncanny ability to re main a cross cultural folk hero.
56 Because the creaturely trickster materializes from conjoining critical thought, more specifically German critical thought, with Native American theory, one should rethink like function. As Santner contends whether there is room for humor in the bleak world of historical suffer of history was capable of a good laugh amid all that wreckage piling up before his eyes viewed under the lens of fund that creaturely tricksterism might be a fundamental of the Real, urban decay and ruins of strife, theoretical edifices provide a traumatically results in natural history. As Martin Jay wri tes of the Frankfurt School in The Dialectical Imagination role of the intellectual was to continue thinking what was becoming ever more unthinkable in heoretical tricksters shatter the boundaries of acceptable thought, dialectically shifting philosophical borders. Vi ne Deloria, Jr. laments the ignoring of the humorous side of Indian life by professed experts; similarly, crit say the same about the current academic trend to happily proclaim the met apho buoyancy keeps humor afloat within American indigenous culture; similarly, theory in First as Tragedy, Then as Farce when he upbr aids theorists who state that we now live in a post ideological world (3) Ideology persists everywhere, just as theory informs
57 everything. One can endlessly persist on this core fantasy that ideology and theory entered a caesura or gap within our soc ial s ymbolic order. U nderneath these wily machinations, the trickster ca n expose hidden ideologies or theoretical caesuras that help bring the audience toward a new understanding of t heir own position in the world. Under the creaturely trickster rubric, Adorno becomes a quintessential theoretical trickster in relation to creaturely life; his peculiar relationship to exile and animals begins to close the expanse between this high theorist and his tricksterism. Escaping th e catastrophic events transpiring in Germa ny, Adorno made the trip to America in 1938 and would stay for thirteen years. As Detlev Claussen points out, Adorno had a close circle of friends during his stint in America, and even their nicknames under scored Adorno and his fr 19 These names, signatures on letters, maint ained a level of secrecy they found necessary because of their emigrant status. While Horkheimer and Adorno drove west across America, as and in El Paso, Texas, an FBI agent would not let them alone until a letter from J. Edgar Hoover arrived stating that America already knew 19 Theodor W. Ad orno: One Last Genius (164 Adorno in America (136).
58 about the two Frankfurt School scholars (xii xiii). T he historical situation at large imbued t he animal nicknames with further significance. The language of lim inalit y would seem quite apropriate oeuvre dismiss his opinions about mass culture and the of a manda Matt F. Conne ll writes yful side of Adorno relies on a dark use of exa ggeration, overstatement, irony and chiasmus, which sober critics often want t o dismiss as dialectical excess. Adorno plays the theoretical buffoon to make us think serious chiasmic reversals, which prominently appear in Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life his book of aphorisms written during his exile years in America. In his online journal articl Minima Moralia Jeffery T. Nealon gives credence to this argument when he write s, so obvious that it scarcely seems worth mentioning. Especially in Minima Moralia, chiasmus is prominently on display from the very beginning: the title Magna Moralia [T]he o famously o Minima Moralia reversal is all over Minima Moralia Adorno attacks many longstanding traditions with this text, and morphs writers into creatures such as en t MM 87). Becoming Iktomi, Adorno asserts a dialectical vers ion of creaturely tricksterism and transgresses theoretical boundaries in order to resituate them. In this case the important signifying
59 stress rests on the ach aphorism/thread subverting German m y using aphorisms, he upbraids t he Hegelian belief that the Concept can never be true. 20 Adorno chastises every theoretical tool that remains vital to his own cultural MM 49) lidarity is MM 51). The (un)truth be told: Adorno relies heavily on both psychoanalysis and Marxism throughout his writings. These negated unconscionable statements act like the ephemeral object a and A hyperbolic statements and face the Void of the impossible Thing. The participant audience needs to resituate his/her own theoretical stance within the social symbolic champions this approach in his cri tique of the culture industry, believing that art should aim at breaking intellectual boundaries and expand the minds of mass culture connoisseurs. In the seminal Adorno and Horkheimer argue against the audience already knows the ending before the film even begins. For Adorno, 20 One c in similarl ways Daybreak o Minima Moralia. His writing regarding a comedian in The Shortest Shadow
60 cinematic images hold the capacity to jumpstart the masses into a subjective position with enough historical consciousness to dialectically see through the image and view the intolerable image; or, more directly put to transform moviegoers into the position that of the masses today is their ina bility to hear the unheard of with their own ears, to touch e un seeable ( DE 36). H ere objet petit a and the Real return to the fore in our discussion. Exposing the tricks n the caesuras of the cinematic image that push the audience away while simultaneously compelling viewers to co ntinue looking, the cine trickster opens up the creaturely fissures that Adorno champions. Jenemann states of Syncopation too brief remarks on Syncopation d Instead of the monolithic film text, against which no subject could hope to do motion picture in which subjectivity survives at the margins, just offscreen and out of view. (127) The spectator Adorno aggrandizes must work to construct meaning out of a film, thus inaugurating its own subjectivity after encountering a marginalized space within the fil mic image. In an updated form of this argument, in The Emancipated Spectator Rancire disseminates a similar idea; Rancire reconfigures spectatorship as an active event that shifts the emphasis toward audience members viewing polyvalent artworks with her meneutic strat egies to presupposes that viewers as active spectators can liberate themselves enough to move
61 beyond an artw regarding cinema. cinema only interrogate classical Hollywood films despite the fact that many other films such as avant garde cinema, did attempt to turn the spectato r into an active participant constructing meaning s that break fre e from bourgeois ideo logy As Jenemann points out in his research, Adorno sat in the audience at every film premiere during his stay in Hollywood, and the fact that he made friends with many filmmakers, including fellow migrs, helps further explain his p erspective. I nternational filmmakers, such as Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder, with their ties to the studio system became disenchanted with the Hollywood system, and Ad experiences informed his exile writings. n the Hollywood system actually tr ansforms him into a theoretical trickster regarding the cinematic image. Beginning in 1945 Horkheimer and Adorno began work on a sociological film, the title of which changed from The Accident to Below the Surface T his f the screen, to see whether or not audience members would cobble together an anti Semitic or otherwise rac ist explanation for vi cious actions without explicit racism appearing on screen (Jenemann 131). Anthropologist Margaret Mead and German experimental filmmaker Hans Richter were among the script consultants for this project as Jenemann suggests, would have turned the film into an experi ment in both form and function. However, Adorno and Horkheimer would ultim ately scrap any efforts to produce Below the Surface because Dore Schary, a
62 writer called in on July of 1945, absconde d with knowledge of the script to produce his own film, Crossfire (1947), nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture. 21 the American culture industry certa inly sets him up to act like the trickster, a wrench lars today, Adorno reached into mass culture to such an extent that Richter even said that 22 played a role in his understanding o f laughter. His fame led him to a dinner party in Malibu where he sat next to Charlie Chaplin, a trickster in his own right, and met actor Harold Russell, who wore prosthesis after losing both arms in World War II. When rimaced at the touch of the prosthesis. This specifically because it reveals a fissure in his own sy mbolic order. But the trickster also to this scene. Chaplin mimicked Adorno Claussen imparts this anecdote about Ador no, but Anca Parvulescu unveils the 21 Jenemann discusses the failed film project at considerable length, conn ecting Dore Schary as the link Crossfire (131 147). 22 Hollywood. His involvement with the Princeton Radio Research Project, cut short by his skepticism of empiricism and his fears regarding the diminishing of democracy and the dissemination of propaganda based on his first hand experience with it in Germany, reveals his close proximity to low culture. For a de tailed analysis of thi s, turn to Chapter 2 of land: Authority on 104).
63 theoretical underpinnings of the anecdote in her incisive study Laughter: No tes on a Passion Parvulescu writes, mimicry, Andr Bazin argues, is an alleg Chaplin might have shown Adorno what cinema can be. Did Adorno laug h? If he did, it is a lost laugh for our archiv e or laughter. But the anecdote is an impetus qualitatively different than that of the culture industry, are scattered througho ut his work. This is a laughter that can turn the laughter of the culture industry back on ally announces, leading to the possibility of a different kind of reconciliation. (150 1) What Parvulescu comments upon here is a laughter that calls attention back onto itself, a laughter that brings one into self consciousness through the very act of sh aming The Chaplin anecdote underscores shaming as a creaturely trickster act that produces laughter and engenders the flight into self consciousness. Using both Lacan and Adorno in conjunction with the creaturely trickster calls into question the use of the Hegelian dialectic ; or, more specifically, the use of the negative dialectic. Negative dialectics, inscribed with hegemonic resistance, engenders an antinomian trickster position. Adorno believes that art should aim towards determinant negation, the pr actice of elucidating the specific antinomies in aesthetic and social the German word aufhebung : not just a cancellation but a lifting, which aligns the negative dialectic with the trickster figure in terms of chiasmic reversals that resituate permissible borders. Adorno and Lacan both rely on this double movement in terms of looking for the creaturely fissures in reality and in artistic productions. Another final connectio n in this constellation of trickster, Adorno and Lacan
64 (h)ontology gives shame its importanc e while using puns to elicit a respons e from his seminar participants: Adorno likew ise uses shame and laughter as a way into subjectivity Traversing parricidal territory but not the Oedipal conflict proper, Adorno addresses notions of guilt at the beginning of Minima Moralia. Adorno continues to return to notions of shame throughout the text, and comedy remains entangled in this discussing possibilities that emerge when one thinks through what commonly does not get thought, when one refashions the impossible. This coinci des with resistance inextricably weds the two texts and thin kers together while highlighting the importance of estranging the self f rom the world through reversals that expose t he caesuras in our reality
65 CHAPTER 3 CREATURELY CINE TRICKSTERISM: CINEMA AS TRICKSTE R PAR EXCELLE NCE The cinema implies a total inversion of values, a complete upheaval of optics, of perspective and logic. Antonin Artaud, Manifestly, movies have never been the representations of tribal cultures; at best, m ovies are the deliverance of an unsure civilization. Gerald Vizenor, Manifest Manners The Western European tradition appropriat es Native American culture and iconography both to ideologically subvert the h egemonic social order and maintain the status quo. The peculiar ambiguity of these r epresentations pilfered from indigenous American Indians by various artists and political groups seems to recapitulate the wily maneuverings of the trickster, perpetually mocking any attempts to defend a particular id eological position. To explore the nexuses between the trickster and cinema, one should start with the initial celluloid representations of Indians. While not all Indian representations act as trickster performances o r evoke the wily folkhero, the first fi lmed images of Native Americans instantiate the persistent problems that arise when approaching indigenous representations disseminated for a Western audience, the dialectical image evoking a multitude of conflicting interpretations. An exploration into ea rly cinema uncovers a dearth of Native Ame rican cinematic representations. T he early films of Indians, brief snippets of ritual performances recently Centre national du Cinma depict the Indian (o)ther precisely as a Western audience wants to see Indians: humorously animalistic, primitive and yet, and his group of Sioux Indians performing for his Wild West Show in Brooklyn made the
66 trek to West Ora nge, New Jersey, Frank Maguire and Joseph Baucus requesting their ethnographic moments of ritual performance, Cody and his en tourage performed Sioux Ghost Dance and Buffalo Dan ce for at least four times during that fall, Cody and the Sioux entertainers would make more Native Americans and the ca mer a depict the Sioux in various forms of ritual performance, however staged they initially appear to the trained eye. The fact that Maguire and Baucus from the Continental Commerce Company asked for these films warrants comment because they held the rights Wild West show. European Indianthusia sm, usually absent in scholarly discussions of these films, created a need to capture the Indian on film. 1 dissemination of Native American stereotypes, one should not ignore his role in bringing Native Americans into the cinema. 2 These early film images of Indians depict them in the manner of what Gerald Vizenor would 3 H owever, viewed under a trickster lens, these Sioux performances open up the possibility of resistance to the hegemonic structures confining them. Buffalo Dance filmed by W.K.L. Dickson and William Heise, 1 Indianthusiasm and its European heritage will be explored in Chapter 5 2 Cody publicly apologized for perpetuating this stereotyp e later in his life. 3 Indian which has no referent in any Native American language. Vizenor proposes that one refer to the stereotypical representations as indians with a lowercase to emphasize the absence of any contemporary Native American.
67 depicts three Sioux India ns moving in a circle, squawking about like feathered animals in front of two Indians playing drums. Their awareness of the camera shatters any realist illusions th at the film attempts to project: the dancing Indians keep twisting their heads in order to g aze back at the camera. A common belief among Native Americ an tribes was that a camera had the power to ste back at the camer a could be read as a way to prevent this from happening. A dialectical reading of the film could view the disr uptive gaze of the Indian as a form of resistance, an attempt to shake the verisimilitude out of the picture by both acknowledging the artifice of this ritual dance and instantiating some form of i ndigenous agency. 4 In lieu of beseeching the gods to bring back the buffalo, the loses its sacrosanct power through its gaze that seems to ask the camera for an audience. Sioux Ghost Dance another Edison short, begins with the Sioux standing in a line behind two Native American children. As the camera starts rolling, the adults remain motionless whi le the child on the left dances. T he adult Indians then commence their dance, enveloping the two children within a circle of moving bodies. The artifice of this particular film dissipates after th e Indians begin the almost mechanical mise en scne of shifting bodies and seem to towards the center of the frame and nearly freezes to return but his 4 In Reservation Reelism Michelle H. Raheeja both r ejects and supports giving agency to Indigenous actors filmed by a whit e director. Her discussion of Nanook of the North for example, begins to read resistance in this scene, but she believes that only an Indigenous viewer of the film would acknowledge such resistance (1 90 3). However, when she attempts to develop an Indigenous film theo ry earlier in her text, she permit s whites (20 34). Raheeja is reluctant to read trickster resistance in Nanook during th e gramophone scene because western audiences would not understand it. I contend that these early kinetoscope films can be read under trickster hermeneutics as a form of Indigenous resistance.
68 reluctance to halt and stare direc tly at the camera sustains the verisimilitude of the ritual performance. From merely watching thes e films, one would not immediately call them humorous; however, the Native American iconography does evoke a creaturely trickster in its own right. The use o f child and animal imagery initially prompts a second reading of the films under a trickster lens. The creaturely images reveal the trace of an (o)therness melancholically transcribing its own hi story before the camera, while at the same time falling under the stereotypical constraints that a Western society asks of Native Americans. As Eric Santner writes, [C]reaturely life the peculia r proximity of the human to the animal at the very point of their radical difference nnness into of political power and social bonds whose structures have undergone radical transformations in modernity. (12) The animal like gestur es of the dancing Indians bri ng the creaturely trickster into the frame, but it then appears as though the trickster gets entombed in the mise en scne itself. The seemingly invisible res istance of the Sioux Indians, break ing verisimilitude separates the stereotypical pres entation from a real Sioux presence. These representations, if read under the aegis of the creaturely trickster, expose the screen presence and the simulated indian Vizenor deconstructs in the li terature of manifest manners. Filming Native Americans remains an important historical marker as it ideologically situates the Indigenous le partage du sensible the aesthetic r egime that inextricably binds politics and art. Rancire wr ites,
69 Political statements and literary locutions produce effects in reality. They define models of speech or action but also regimes of sensible intensity. They draft maps of the visible, traject ories between the visible and the sayable, relationships between modes of being, modes of saying, and modes of doing and making. They define variations of sensible intensities, perceptions, and the abilities of bodies. They thereby take hold of unspecified groups of people, they widen gaps, open up space for deviations, modify the speeds, the trajectories, and the ways in which groups of people adhere to a condition, react to situations, recognize their images. They reconfigure the map of the sensible by in terfering with the functionality of gestures and rhythms adapted to the natural cycles of production, reproduction and submission. Man is a political animal because he is a literary animal who lets r of words. ( PA 39) The short films depicting the Sioux allow the visibility of the Indians to proliferate in celluloid representations, both revealing and concealing the true Indian. It takes trickster consciousness to see through the par adox of the ster eotypical representations to force the placated viewer to i nterrogate the subjugation of real Indians shown in these films. O ther than those showcasing the Indians of the Wild West Show, shorts created p osition. One example, the 1903 K inetoscope production Egyptian Fakir with Dancing Monkey reveals of fakirs, a Western creation. This short film depicts a fakir banging a drum for a clothed monkey to perform with a wooden stick an d event ually duel with him To the left of t he fakir, a goat balances monkey ends up showing off its own balancing skills as it propels it self up by its tail and stands on its head. The constructed nature of Egyptian Fakir with Dancing Monkey adds another lay er to the trickery involved in this film. The postcolonial reading of fakir s as a western creation sheds light on the political aspects of the film The fakir works in tandem with the monkey and the balancing goat to become a cu riosity for a western audience. H e also brings the sacrosanct nature of the trickster into the frame as a holy man
70 striking acts as the trick that controls th e on screen animals, maintaining a balance between the mobile monkey and the motionless goat. Viewing the scene under a trickster hermeneutic lens, one senses that what was once outside the purview of a western audience gets rendered visible, the fakir bre aking into the social symbolic of the western cultural imaginary. Viewing er performance. The potential of cinema to expose hidden realities, constructed o r not, reveals the ies to wander across barriers. Viewing these early films in light of trickster hermeneutics broaches the notion that one could actually posit cinema as the trickster medium par excellence These films erely create a point of departure from which to sift through the connections between the trickster and film. A larger reveals the ways in which the cinema can evoke a creaturely cine trickster aes thetic that then gets incorporated into mainstream Western culture in social practice as a political tool, the polyvalent Tricky Convergences: Tricksterism, Cinema History, and Children Ci nema crosses the borders of language as p eople from various cultures read the on screen images to construct meaning out of them. L ikewise, the movement of cinema ac ross boundaries reconfigures a border crossing trickster figure. Both narrativ e and non narr ative film cross national borders, the images speaking for themselves across language barriers. European immigrants in America found early cinema fascinating precisely because they could understand t he stories even if they could not read the intertitles. S ynchronous and direct sound would prove a stumbling block to film cro ssing
71 national borders as certain films would require multiple language tracks before the adoption of standardized subtitles. Similarly, when the Western European anthropologists initiall y started studying the Native Americ an trickster tales the tales themselves existed only in the oral tradition, and the process of preservation throu gh writing necessarily involve d translation. tricks resembles the trickster and its jocose tales. Inscribed with an uncanny magic, the likes of which appeared unfathomable at first, the trickster tales would evoke a particularly condescending laughter when the anthropologists took the written transl ations back to Europe. Fortunately, the Native American trickster tales met a captive audience despite the shockingly sexualized and comical portrayals of such things as Coyote carrying his penis in a box on his back as in the Winnebago trickster cycle o r flinging his penis across a lake. 5 The sacrosanct, yet devilish, supernatural aspects of the trickster Early cinema, inextricably linked to illusion and magic, originall y aroused suspicion amon g the civilized western world in a way that mirrors the Eurocentric influenced early cin ema as it evolved out of magic l antern shows. Ian Christie points out that the magic l antern, already had a somewhat macabre reputation. From its beginnings a century earlier, some of the most common lantern images were skeletons, ghosts and fact that it required darkness e ncouraged such gruesome imagery. (11) 5 The Trickster for the com plete Winnebago cylce of trickster tales.
72 Another association with magic continuing this preternatural view of cinema is found in sisted of the view from a camera mounted to the front of a moving object, most notably a train. ationship to spirits also affiliations with the supernatural. Filmmakers attempted to quash the demonic specters that haunted the cinema by introducing sacred imagery. Respectable citizens disdainfully met representations of that wh ich should remain unrepresented in the cinematic image s of Christ. Protestants roused much concern over the sacrilegious depict ions of Christ until film directors started framing these representations under the guise of filmed passion plays ( 119 20). This inclusion of sacred images alongside the abstruse character of early cinema ironically appears similar to the split between the s One can view the sacred and sacrilegious antinomies of early cinema in the dialectical truth lies in the interplay between un canny magic and the antinomies of filmic truth and illusion, what Siegfried Kracauer in Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality referred to as the realist and formative tendencies. Kracauer situates the realist tendency in the short views of the Lumire brothers, while the formative tendency employs cinematic magic tricks like thos e found in Georges Mlis films touch of cinema to the playful narratives and mag
73 predominantly emer ges through the mise en scne, editing and superimposi ng im ages. In Death 24x a Second Laura Mulvey demythologizes the distinctive boundaries Kracauer delineates. One can find according to Mulvey, an uncanny magic in the realist images of the Lumire brothers To make this leap, Mulvey examines an eerily sa cr ed nature of the cinema in an amalgamation of the magic of optical illusions and the tricks. Mulvey writes, As the economic and social conditions for a popular culture emerged during the appealing to human fascination with the unnatural, the impossible and, ultimately, the supernatural. The ideological mode of address adopted by these entrepreneurs would change over time. The dangerous, forbidden activities involved with summoning up the devil and his tricks gave way to other kinds of beliefs that, over and over again, tapped into the wide and changing variety of superstitions and beliefs associated with life after death. The cinema concentrated into itself a range of these pre existing forms of illusion and entertainment. (33) this new technology w ould haunt cinema; at the same time, this very act engenders an eerily sacrosanct nature to cinema that reminds one of tricksterism. Simi larly, literary scholarship on the archetypal trickster figure equates the trickster with Lucifer, reading the Faust myth as a trickster tale in its own right. Another connect ion between the reception of cinema and the trickster is the shared use of the symbol of th e child. T he figure of the child, cinematically frozen as the promise of future change and liberated from adult constraints, act s as a m etaphor for the birth of cinema. C rossing permissible borders, children inhabit an interstitial position be tween their uncultured, primordial youth and the civilized nature brought on by adulthood. The particularities of this cinematic metaphor recapitulate the way s anthropologists and psychoanalysts initially viewed the Native American trickster figure
74 reflection of an earlier, rudimentary stage of cons ciousness (Jung 141). S ome critical analyses of the trickster figure viewed it as a primitive character of indigenous antiquity. The demythologized belief that early cinema w as primitive and the view tha t the trickster was a savage mythic figure connects the historical trajectories of both To discern the trickster/cinema/child constellation, one must look at the connection betwe en the Indian and the child. Phillip J. Deloria notes, The connections betwee n Indians and children already had a long history, the two being paired rhetorically as natural, simple, nave, preliterate, and devoid of self consciousness. It was no accident that romantic literature often referred to Indians as children of nature and t hat they were denoted as childlike wards in their political relations with the U.S. government. Children, in turn, could be conceptualized as noble savages with equal ease. In 1904, the psychologist G. Stanley Hall endowed this conflation with scientific r igor, viewing the Indian child connection through the lens of evolutionary biology. In his influential book Adolescence Hall linked the stages of childhood development with the progressive evolution of human society from savagery to civilization. (106) H all refers to this development as recapitulation theory. T he connections between the ch ild and the Indian get recreated in the cinema, and the constellation evokes a trickster like position. The cinema itself needed to grow from primit ive cinema to narrati ve cinema, from the shocking aesthetics of the early cinema of attractions to narrative cinema as Tom Gunning puts it Noel Burch similarly calls this the turn from l 5). Later c enti onal Western wisdom, teach life lessons to adults as well as children and retain the seeds for growth Likewise, many studies into
75 aesthetics that would transform into nar rative cinema actually already exist in the narrative and spectacle in early film concludes that a synthesis between the two existed in films made well before narrative became the predominant mode. The advanced filmic into the narrative cinema we recognize today. To further elaborate the constellation of the c hild/cinema/trickster, one turn s to the creaturely trickster, aiming to reveal the gaps in real ity, searches uncharted territory with a childlike gaze (14). 6 point of departure the use of the camera as a kino eye, more perfect than the human eye, for the exploration of the chaos of visual phenomoena that fill 5). Age of Mechanical Reproduction he re via an identification with rative n Louis Baudry in of Reality in pothesis abo ut the dream screen in order to infer that movie goers resemble the chained prisoners, while the film screen is understood breast. Baudry i nvert s myth of the cave and repositions it in the shadows on the cave wal l. 6 Vertov distinguishes between the mechanical eye versus the human eye, arguing that the mechanical eye shames the human eye by the way in which it captures reality.
76 This trickster like move involves the subjective identification with the cinematic image and its ideological underpinnings. Other film scholars from Daniel Dayan to Kaja Silverman delve into the ideological and psychoanalytic effects of suture, the vari ous means by which film beckons the viewer to identify with the camera and/or onscr een images. Nevertheless, none of these studies examine the relationship between the 7 Childhood and Cinema does of fer an extended analysis of the child and its connection to the camera. Lebeau wr ites, [T]he (sometimes elusive) sense that the domain of the visual has a privileged relation to the mind of the child is fundamental to the study of the ties between cinema a 4) Conceiving cinema as Lebeau almost begi ns to develop. Lebau continues, Closer to the state of infancy, or infans (literally, without language), the small child tends to be discovered at the limit of what words can be called upon to tell, or to mean a limit that then generates the questions of how to convey the in the image falls outside of, and so resists, the world of words. By contrast, when it comes to the representation of the child, cinema, with its privileged access to t he perceptual, its visual and aural richness, would seem to have the advantage: closer to perception, it can come closer to the child. (16) Locating the camera in the realm of childhood, an ambiguous world of innocence, guilt and beauty; Lebeau inadvertently gives credence to the notion that cinema itself recreates th 7 The Semiotics of the Text
77 where everything gets turned upside down. Hegel deems this world a if one ever existed a necessary step on the dialectical journey. Despite the lack of any nods to Lacanian psychoanalysis Lebeau almost seems to connect artite structure of all being and t he extrapolating her understanding of the cam with the sensory perceptions of an infant as Leb eau indicates then the spectator identifies with the childlike fascination captured in the Imagin ary in order to misrecognize itself in the on screen image. Yet, representing ow the spect ator gets sutured into the film: with what would s/he identify? The infant, pre mirror stage, struggles in its attempt to straddle and the Real. Lebeau commu inability to construct lin guistically meaningful sentences/images elevates the importance of the Imaginary, but h in the image falls outside of, and so r that which resists significatio n in the social symbolic, venerate s the Imaginary Real in experience allows comple x readings of cinematic r epresentations of children and provokes peculiar inst ances of humor even among the most traumatic depictions. Lebeau maintains the perception of the infans and thi s raises questions about the relationship between the child and the Imaginary I
78 ch ild gets propelled into its historic al subject position through an imaginary identification with its own image. Lacan writes in a particularly telling passage concerning th e function of the mirror stage, This development is experienced as a temporal dialectic that decisively projects the in pressure pushes precipitously from insufficiency to anticipation and, for the subject caught up in the lure of spatial identification, turns out fantasies that proceed from a fra gmented image of the body to what I will call an orthopedic form of its totality and to the finally donned armor of an alienating identity that will mark his entire mental development with its rigid structure. ( E 78) The child finds its own subjectivity i misrecognizing ultimately brings the child into language, the symbolic order and, in turn, history itself. The intersection of the Real and t he imago that the child misrecognizes, the ideal ego that the (O)ther projects for it onto the fragmented mirror ima ge, highlights an unobtainable goal that initiates the child on its quest to become the totality that the (O)ther believes it should be come. This ideal ego, instantiated by the parents, continues The metaphoric child situated as the camera, lacking the words necessary to make connections, underscores the imaginary realm, and it is not for nothing that many of the images that get captured by filmmakers and photograph ers reveal that which slips between the gaps of the hegemonic socia l order. Numerous films involving children unearth the traumatic dimensions that usually fall outside the limits o f the sayable and transform into what Rancire
79 consciousness to int erp a meaningful political message that shatters and resituates the social symbolic order for many viewers. One might ask how images of children can cause such a fissure in the social reality of viewers. Rancire in Film Fab les bifurcates the cinematic chil d into a dual position. He playing either the victim of a violent world or the mischievous observer that takes itself rchangeable, as when Rancire contends one of his twin figures, as pitiable or mischievous, the little animal was tailor made to The connection between children and animals unearths the trickster dynamic at work in this wily constellation. T er to expose the caesuras o f the social symbolic, to reveal creaturely life. Twisting another thread onto this trickster tapestry, Adorno suggests that the connection between the child and the animal exposes a fundamental layer of art. In Aesthetic Theo ry Adorno writes, In its clownishiness, art consolingly recollects prehistory in the primordial world of animals. Apes in the zoo together perform what resemble clown routines. The collusion of children with clowns is a collusion with art, which adults d rive out of them just as they drive out their collusion with animals. Human beings have not succeeded in so thoroughly repressing their likeness to animals that they are unable in an instant to recapture it and be flooded with joy; the language of little c hildren and animals seems to be the same. In the similarity of clowns to animals the likeness of humans to apes flashes up; the constellation animal/fool/clown is a fundamental layer of art. (119)
80 If, indeed, adults try to drive out the childish joys and the childish trickster creates a fundame ntal layer of art, the figure of the child retains a connection to the trickster. Native Americans told trickster t ales to children, and this also occurs in cinema as production compani es and artists saw children a s their target market for animated tric shorts to Walt Disne y and Warner cinema saw more trick ster tales adapted into films, ranging from the early animation of J. Stuart Humorous Phases of Faces (1906) and Gertie the Dinosaur action animation film Song of the South (194 6). This trend of cinema catering to children through com edy and trickster manifestations still continues today with three dimensional (3 D) images becoming more affordab le and the creation of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). The first fully computer generated film, Disney Toy Story (1995), exhibits its own trickster characteristics, and many recent f ilms utilizing this technol ogy bring the trickster to the screen role in this trickster constellation is quite important. Esther Leslie point out that section ten of wherein unconscio us optics becomes a way to save the decay of the artistic aura, Benjamin originally en Benjamin locates the optical unconscious If one can locate the optical unconscious i can one also locate a trick ster aura, waning as one would expect in the cinema? A Cine Ci foundational building blocks, create a tr ickster figure in its own right; however, one needs trickster discursive str ategies to understand
81 it U tric kster hermeneutics, we can locate the trickster within the oral performer, the trickster sign(s) and the participant audience. In filmic terms, the oral performance be comes the dialogue/sound/acting; the trickster signs become the mise en scne/editing/cinem atography; and the participant audience becomes film spectators. The creaturely trickster sign, mechani cally woven into the film through various means, expose s ideological structures that intersect with the hegemonic worldview. Similar to the way Vizenor in his own writing ral performance to the written word, the trick ster sign burns onto celluloid and ete rnally freezes the trickster in the moving image. We need to uncon scious optics. Benjamin argues that the rise of capitalism and the advent of mechan ical reproducibility inaugurate d istance between observer and artwork. Benjamin ultimately rede ems the waning of the If, as previous psychoanalytic scholarship pertaining to the trickster suggests, the trickster actually does exist crossculturally in the unconscious, can a within unconscious optics? Moreover, while the manifest content of the image steers viewers to seek out trickster traits, can such a trickster aura pertain to the latent content of the image? The fragmented nature of the cine trickster in the age of mechanical reproduction recalls the decay of the aura that Benjamin stresses. Armed
82 discourse, I contend that Benj to tracking the portance within cinema. Cinema, with its bag of visual tricks, fragments reality even before we arrive at the mechanical reproduction that Benjamin claims can liberate the masses. Similarly, a tr when other cultures appropriat e the figure. The creaturely cine trickster creates an enigma via its fragmented nature from which art works its way through dialectical contradictions. Adorno expounds upon this in Aesthetic Theory when he observes, The enigmaticalness of artworks remai ns bound up with history. It was through hist ory that they became an enigma. All artworks and art altogether are enigmas; since antiquity this has been an irritation to the theory of art. That artworks say something and in the same breath conceal it expresses this enigmaticalness from the perspective of language. This characteristic cavorts clownishly. ( AT 120) The enigma mov es through cinema, which shapeshifts playfully like the trickster; moreover, the trickster also emerges in cinema precisely bec ause of the ambiguous nature of images and the various interpretive strategies employed to read them. The numerous hermeneutic strategies used to read a cinematic image opens the door to recognizing properties. were present in them, they would be mysteries, not enigmas; they are enigmas because, through their fracturedness, they deny what they would actually like to b AT reception as an aspect of their own history, transpires between a do not let yourself be understood and a wanting to be understood; this tension is the atmosphere inhabited by AT 3 02). The cinematic image stands as the apotheosis of this enigmatic tension,
83 dualism and inevitable shifts that thwart efforts to pin it down. The camera, fracturing and fragmenting re ality, captures the tri ckster cinematographic effects divvy out the fragmented nature of reality much like a child experiences geographical and temporal space: the close ups, zooms, edits, and other ature burns onto the celluloid, and the dialectical tensions inherent in an image engender a cine trickster aura. The infinite playfulness that the trickster brings with him as he cobbles the fragments of reality together creates the possibility of trickst er resistance within the artwork itself. Questions regarding the tricky nature of cinema recapitulate problems that troubled and haunted t he historical avant garde. Peter Brger write that Adorno believes he discovers in art and that is c ompelled to take on ever new forms can hardly be found there. It remains the positioning of a critical subject which, compelling thesis that the historical avant gar de movements sought to destroy art as an institution remains quite important but his criticisms of Adorno eschew the possibi lity that avant garde art contains an y liberating potential Rancire on the other hand, contends that the political traces alread y exist in the aesthetics of an artwork. It does require a community of spectators capable of utilizing hermeneutic strategies to comprehend the ir politics, but that does not mean that political resistance does not already exis t within the aesthetics of a r tworks These works both say the unsayable and obfus cate their meaning s from viewers.
84 Surrealis t film, highlighting dream rather than narrative logic, adds another layer of nuance to this debate These films force the audience to construct meaning out of the juxtaposition of seemingly unconnected images thereby simulating a notion of chance: trickster chanc e. The schism between the dream and narrative logic harkens back to the distinctions between the laten t and manifest content; both logics get revealed on the screen with cuts that one can view as unconscious chance encounters. As many theorists have pointed out, surrealist films exhibit a trace of narrative logic, one e interaction with the shots However much these elem ents masquerade as trickster chance their careful construction actually denotes The distinctions between trickster kismet and the construction of texts blur in surrealist cinema as we ll as in recent works that interrogate the interstices between chaos theory and textual way as to begin to explain the chiasmic turns under the aegis of nonlinear dy namic systems theory. If the spectator understood them as unconscious connections on the pa rt of the creator, she needs to use hermeneutic strategies that place them in the position of the critical subject that Brger argues Adorno requires for resistance to occur. If, indeed, a ubiquitous creaturely trickster aura proliferates in cinema, how would one begin to parcel it out? Turning to an American avant garde film help s us delineate cine tric kster hermeneutic strategies American surrealist artist and fil mmaker Joseph Cornell, recognized more for his boxes than his forays into film, invigorates some of his surrealist found footage films by exhibiting what one can understand as a creaturely
85 Animal Opera underscores his cine trickster acrobatics as zoo animals heterogeneously move as if uce Posner observes of the mill zoo film into a moving visual symphony regarding the na ture of s with the image of an elephant d onning a giant masquerade mask and using its trunk to spin the handle of a rather large jack in the box to set the stage for th e cornucopia of animal images that follow. Two giraffes approach the camera as though they know som ething will soon happen, and then the shot of the elephant opening the jack in the box plays again T he film then cuts to monkeys entering a cage to perform circus tricks replete with u nicycles, pogo sticks, seesaws and trapezes. Following an image of one monkey clapping his hands ecstatically while another smiles as if to laugh at their creaturely playfulness t he viewer gets bombarded with shot after shot of zoo animals. Characteristi c of trickster tales, the ambigu ous nature of the animal images leaves the viewer bewildered Underneath the faade of animal fur and leathery skin, these caged animals unearth the desire for trickster chance, whether one reads it as a chance encounter wit h the camera, a chance to break free from captivity or a chance to exhibit their creaturely side (even corporeal and beastly at times as revealed by a shot of fighting zebras ) The film ends with a shot of pelican s on a sidewalk, the trees above se paratin g them from industrial buildings The mostly light hearted jocularity of the animal images gives the film what I call a creaturely cine trickster aura precisely because the film also presents the viewer with a view of animal life that runs counter to our e xpectations concerning the zoo experience. The film unearths an aesthetics of
86 ambiguity that forces the viewer to look beyond the playfulness of the animals and piece together a larger argument concerning the caged reality of ani mals and our own human rela tionship to them. In some of his other films Cornell splices together snippets of newsreels and found footage to create collage films that act as on screen trickster performances These are replete with sacrosanct inversions, images of children and playfu l editing. While not all of these film s exhibit Native American iconography (1938) does include footage of Indians dancing in ritual dress. This particular film utilizes montage in a way that can easily confuse viewers, and this adds t ambiguity, a trickster like aesthetic par excelle nce The mise en scne in this film connotes a trickster position. Cornell juxtaposes images of Native Americans, clowns, and children with shots of industry that cinematic ally captures pitting as it does primitive barbarism against the civilizing effects of modernization. Introducing on the DVD collection Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant Garde Film (1894 1941) Pos ner comments, Images of children, clowns, animals and Native Americans collide with snippets from travel, adventure, novelty, and industrial films. Many of the collage editing effects were produced during the 1920s and 1930s. Here the resultant conjunction s effect [sic] a surreal nostalgia that remains inexplicable. 8 The Nativ e American iconography tips off the viewer that the trickster might co me wandering across the screen. Moreover, other discursive carnivalesque elements included here underscore the t 8 See Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant Garde Film (1894 1941) Disc Two: American Surrealism
87 As with the mise en scne, the editing of the found footage instantiates a creaturely trickster position This occurs of these images, drastic juxtapositions t hat act like shock cuts re capitulates the dialectic of progress and myth. Cornell evokes the reality of deforestation with two safari hunters clinging to a tree branch before cutting to an image of forest workers chopping down a tree. After including a few shots of urban life and a n image of a pianist, Cornell dialectically juxtaposes tractors and elephants as each pull logs out of the jungle. These images signify the barbaris m of industrialization, and this appears just before circus elephants and clowns putting on make up appear o n screen. These s nippets from carnival life serve as a counterpoint to the indu strial urban scenes that follow; but the film even more overtly resists the myth of progress once Cornell splices in the images of Native Americans dancing at a stadium. The Nat ive American segment concludes with a low angle following shot of a zeppelin flying above a skyscraper and a teepee. The camera pans from left to right to reveal the top of the skyscraper in the background and the teepee in the foreground appear ing at the same height. This constructs an argument that the realm of Native American myth ap pears equivalent to the icon of and industrialization that forces the viewer to see th e interstices and caesuras between the two dialectical concepts. How can e diting, and montage in particular elicit a creaturely trickster position that garde, the use to which film puts the concept cannot become relevant because it is part and parcel to 7). While I agree with B one
88 can view cinematic editing and montage as a gesture towards a trickster performance. Sergei Eisen antithesis The cuts give rise to images crossing temporal and geographical boundaries in ways that can e ither create the conflict purported in the dialectical montage or construct a rhythm or flow, as Vertov introduces in his theory of the interval. The manipulation of sounds in relation to the construction of the image track adds to the add the con trapuntal sound to the list of trickster characteristics. The sound montage of this film jars the viewer into becoming painfully aware of this disconnect between the on screen images and the manipulations of s ound. The film begins with a title frame and circus music playing. It then cuts to the image of two safari hunters clutching onto a tree branch while a t by a snip pet of an orchestra as the film cuts to two men sawing down a tree. This shot lasts for mere seconds before the song changes again and a down low. John and F lo are right at home, just as though they were alone, and every three trucks pulling out of a station. The inc lusion of this sound bite invites one to believe that mo vies should contain a meaning, but the ambiguity in the asynchronous sound montage already alerts the viewer that will thwart this convention
89 Cornell cuts from the three trucks to the image of a pianist sitting next to a piano. The vo i ce on the soundtrack, apparently born with the gift of singing as a bird, and the scientists have discovered that the reason for this is in He is land e image later in an image of the pianist with a female singer standing behind the piano while the viewer hears the sound of the chirping bird. This use of disjunctive s ou nd evokes laughter The images of industry during the first half of the film are accompanied with the contrapuntal sounds of voices mimicking barnyard animals and sounds. H owever, the first time that the railway train, the apot heosis of industrialization, graces the screen, the folk ballad of Cas ey Jones plays. While not synchronized sound, this song about the infamous railroad engineer appears to be the only time throughout the film in which the image tr ack and the soundtrack w ork in tandem to produce a coherent message one concerning the dialectic of Enlightenment. This excerpt from the ballad of Casey Jones, taken from the o riginal 1909 lyrics recounts Casey Jones departing fo r his final train ride as if he knew that he woul d not survive the trip. This song, while whimsical, ironically casts an incriminating gaze upon the locomotive in a way that further situates this found footage film in the tradition of the dialectic of Enlightenment The contrapuntal sound continues thro ughout the rest of the film. T he sounds switch between those supposedly belonging to animals and snippets of songs that work to create a tension between myth and Enlighte nment thought
90 playfully u tilize the sound in this political way enables the creature to make itself known. The jarring sound draw s so much attention to itself that the viewer must pay attention to the way in which the sound actually functions in the film. It flies in the face of the rhythm of the image montage and resists the images in order to jolt the viewer awake, to force the spectator to become a participant in the p roduction of meaning underscores its trickster aura; nevertheless, I must simul taneously maintain that the remain undetected by someone with an untrained eye together to engender this creaturely cine trickster aura, a shadow p resence of resistance lurking on the ma Enlightenment to continue its Bacchanalian wh irl within the audience because it lacks a coherent message. The wily positioning of the images and sounds opens up an enclave of enigmatic tens ion which allows for m ultiple readings of the film The images of Native Americans, children, clowns and industry laced with contrapuntal sound bombard the spectator with it s ambiguous message The power of film to uncannily instigate cr eaturely trickster transac tions opens up a possible space in which the trickster can simultaneou sly exist at the margins and the center of the cinematic experience. The enigmatic charac teristics own historical trajectory position the m edium as a creaturely trickster par excellence Film is replete with disordered order, sacrosanct reversals, comedic tomfoolery and political boundary crossing. The lines of permissible thought
91 emerge from the distribution of the sensible, and the realm o f images adheres to these regulations The cine trickster conversely attempts to barrel through them.
92 CHAPTER 4 DREAMS THAT DADAISTS CAN BUY: STERISM AND THE AVAN T GARDE We [Dadaists] were forced to look for something which would re es tablish our new unity combining chance and design. Hans Richter, Dada : Art and Anti art Personally, I could easily decide to do without rules and logic in the world of image s; the wonderful barbarism of such a possibility delights me finally primal world, nature, untouched land. Sentences cannot be made illogical without killing them, but why should images, which have no absolute value as such burden themselves with logic? Ren Clair, G: Journal for Elemental Form Creation After trac k ing the trickster in early cinema I turn my attention to the ways in which the trickster continues to wind its way against the domi nant modes of production, through the cinemati c avant ga rde. While not what one conventionally co nsiders humorous, avant garde films exalt chicanery via the use of cinematographic tricks, playful mise en scne and boundary breaking politics. Avant garde filmmakers engender a mischievous alternative to the hege monic view of cinema while they also attempt to produce cinema that become s more conscious of itself and its transformative powers. The laughter that gets provoked by some avant garde f ilms seems to correspond with s lips when an uncanny fear passes, and the foreignness of the images and their juxtapositions force audiences to acknowledge the Viewed under a creaturely trickster lens, the films of the historical avant gar de clearly attempt to stray from the predominant narrative cinema Subverting the hegemonic r ules of narrative cinema, avant garde artists carve out a space for a
93 counter aesthetic in order to supplant bourgeois notions regarding autonomous art. It stands to reason that the historical avant garde acts as does the trickster bumbling its way with a passi on to change artistic practice and discourse. Because of its nascent state when these counter movements emerg ed in turn of the century Europe, cinema remains one medium that gets the least attention in discussions concerning the avant garde This is partly due to the fact that fine artists, namely painters and sculptors, created the films that belong to the canon of avant garde cinema; therefore, scholars sifted through the st udies of fine art in lieu of contending with the cinematic aspects on their own terms. Relegated to the margins of the discourse, avant garde cinema re ceived scant attention at first; nevertheless, this would all change when mod ern artists and theorists be ga n to view cinema as the medium that might best shock the world with its capacity to reach the masses 1 The institutional accounts of the historical avant garde movements, cinematic, painterly or otherwise, consistently present artists filled with a des ire to transform and subvert moder n bourgeois existence. As Peter Theory of the Avant Garde (1984) attests, avant garde artists typically refused constraints of any sort, crossing boundaries that would render them renegades. Rebellious, unruly, an a rchic, destructive, and deviant, avant garde artists upending traditions, sought radical social and artistic change. Thes e aesthetic movements cubism, D adaism, futurism, and su rrealism among the most well known e. Reading avant garde cinema under a creaturely trickster hermeneutic lens, I posit that avant 1 Malcom Turvey argues against the shocking affect of early cinema and, more imp ortantly, uses the historical European avant garde as one of the few examples that actually proves this thesis. Turvey argues that his few examples from the avant garde do not substantiate the overabundance of scholarly
94 garde movements such as D adaism and surrealism act in ways sim ilar to the wayfaring trickster. This is especially the case in light of new research that situate s avant garde artists in ways different than scholarship traditionally has done. Avant Garde Chicanery : An Unconscious Trickster Phal anx Matei Calinescu to a discussion of French poetry in the sixteenth century He also underscores the fact that the term became popularized during the Middle Ages (97 8). At that time, the an assault on the enemy ahead of th reasoning about the histories of the avant garde follows that the movements vehemently a ttacked the Enlightenment faith in rationality that culminated in World War ese artists was comprised of critical theorists. Horkheimer would outline these vicissitudes in The Dialectic of Enlightenment these avant garde artists and filmmakers a ttacked the b elief in progress that resulted in the war rubble that surrounded them. As Hal Foster contends in The Return of the Real those movements enacted a mimetic dimension that gets lost in many analyses including in s seminal text. These ar doubly predict the impending problems engendered by the Enlightenment belief in progress, technological and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920 ) that it pred icts the rise of Nazism, and, similarly, avant garde artists, politically engaged, imbued their artistic efforts with a subversive edge that would attempt to reconstitu te a new social order
95 stitutional histo ries of the avant garde Film as a Subversive Art (1974) lays out the political and aesthetic arguments about the historical avant garde s in order to underscore the significance of the neo avant garde that emerges in the mid century. In this text, a compendium of films discussion of movements does not venture far into theoretical territory, and one should note that it glosses over the films in ways that many scholars have done for years. Vogel examines the anti art aesthetic of dada, emphasizing its proclivity to illuminate objects outside of their commonplace reality, and he interrogates the shocking mise en scne of surrealist cinema that sought to destroy every rati onal aspect of bourgeois society. Vogel glosses over these aesthetic groups in order to formulate his larger argument regarding the subversive nature of cinema; however, he primarily concerns himself with cinematic image s and narratives that break religiou s and social taboos of the time. The historical avant garde movements embraced internationalism to disseminate their aesthetic ideals. Dadaism, for example, arose in Zurich, but artists from various countries comprised the group (Turvey FML 77). The fact t hat international artists collaborated to establ ish these groups also helps explain why so many inherent contradictions would exist as to the particular aims of each movement. Embracing internationalism, these avant garde artists also meander between the v arious counter cultur e groups and borrow willy nilly from each. The institutional histories of these movements m ake claims about them that the films made during this per iod actually tend to contradict. This is The Filming of Mo dern Life: European Avant Garde Film of the 1920s (2011). f avant
96 garde films challenges institutional film history. The ways in which the cinematic avant garde contradicts what scholars inform us about the avant garde act as a platform to cross the thorny chasm connecting avant garde cinema to trickster acrobatics. Similar to the trickster, each movement gets relegated to the margins of its time, despite the decisive influence they had on later artists. M ost of the cin ematic avant garde artists surgically examined them at great lengths, remediating them, if you will, for a new audience. Unremittingly, these avant garde techniques assume newer ctions as artists continually remediate them for audiences who may not know the initial sources of these techniques. For this reason, the historical avant garde has garnered much attention from film and new media sch olars as of late, which makes my explora tion of the creaturely trickster working within the cinematic avant garde all the more timely. It should not go unnoticed that the u recalls the derogatory nature of the word that continually haunted the trickster figure and his u nruly antics. In garde cinema as well as primitive cinema and its relationship to Futurism, the movement she speculates mig ht have been unconsciously inspired by early trick fil ms. Strauven writes, Whether or not the Furturist manifesto played an effective role in the (re)discovery emerged, quite sy stematically, in film expe riments of the 1920s is a fact. A vant garde films from the 1920s still today seem to express the desire to transgress the should ther mode of representation of t
97 trick that marks the otherness or alterity, the deviation from the norm, exactly as it was promoted in the 1910s by the Futurists. (108) Strauven creates a constellation of avant garde cinema, primitive cinema and the boundary breakin g trickster figure transgressing societal norms in this figuration. Shifting aesthetic norms to create alterna tive forms to acceptable art, the avant garde movements at the turn of the century acted similar to the trickster figure proper, even more so in t erms of cinema, pushing other ness and alterity to new levels The central filmmakers of the avant garde come from various b ackgrounds The usual suspects that get lumped together in this group include Hans Richter, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Viking Eggeling, Fernand Lger, Dudley Murphy, Francis Picabia, Ren Clair, Walter Ruttmann, Oskar Fischinger, Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, Salvador Dal, and Luis Buuel. However, this group consists of artists that have aesthetic and political concerns t hat run coun ter to any over arching claims th at one can make about the group. For this reason, I need to limit myself to an exploration of one of these artists. A study of the filmmaker known for making the first experimental film will undersco ion in relationship to the avant contributions within and between modernist counter culture groups, I contend, reveal how th e creaturely trickster maneuvers within the ebbs and flows of avant garde cultural production. A focus on Richter will also raise significant questions regarding the relationship between the historic al avant garde and its return in the neo avant g arde. Foster contends that the American neo avant garde enacted the historical avant garde for the first time by way of Fre udian deferred action ( Nachtrglichkeit ). Foster cla ims that the
98 avant garde always already returns from the future because disruptiv e avant garde art cannot influence society as it showcases gaps in the symbolic order (29). The repetition compulsion perpe tuating an avant garde aesthetic, he a rgues fragments t he causal logic of these ar tworks so that they return to the fabric of the social sym bolic from a future moment already anticipating sment, however, does not inc lude certain European artists whose relocation to America evoked an encounter with alterity that rende rs the neo avant garde artworks repetitions of a peculiar order. For example, Rich ter, crossing the Atlantic bridges the gap between the historical av ant garde and its repetition in the neo avant garde in terms of surrealism and in his influence on a generation of American experimental and underground filmmakers. Richter escaped World War II by making his way to the U.S. only to find America lacking a thri ving underground art scene. Inevitably, he would rectify this situation as he went on to produce the neo surrealist feature length film Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947), collaborating with some of the forefathers of avant garde cinema: Man Ray, Duchamp, L ger, and Max Ernst. Foster maintains that the avant garde returns from the future in orer to challenge the belief that the neo avant garde movements are always shoddy imitations of the ir politically minded originals; nevertheless, Richter, artistic hands dabbling in many political counter culture movements, presides as a central figure initiating this eternal return of dadaist/surrealist aesthetics in post war American neo avant garde art scenes. Before beginning an analysis of Richter, I need to touch on the d ada movement, one of the biggest influences on surreal ism. Traditional views of d ada situate its beginnings in 1916 Zurich with a group of nihilistic artists and poets who wished to
99 d estroy bourgeois ideas about art and create anti art. Dada artists, such as Hugo Ball, Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, and Francis Picabia, viewed the corruption within bourgeois society as the impetus for the d estructive impulses around them; they wished to attack these norms in order to right the world. Some scholars of the av ant garde equate dada with anarchy, destruction and disord er, buzzwords that pertain to the wily trickster Dadaist poet, Tzara, with his strategies of subversion, which include d nonsense and contradiction, is understood as exemplify ing da daism; however, former Dadaists insisting that D ada was also constructive that it aimed not merely to destroy but to create something new, lasting, and valuable, d espite the public rhetoric of 9). Resituating the boundaries of art by destroying th em, d adaists perform trickster transactions nd writings effectively illustrate. Creating another connec tion to the trickster, the term d ada itself acts as a signifi er of ambiguity. H owever, some of the humorous associations with d ada slip through the cracks when scholars reduce it to a balefu l force. The term was adopted as the name for the movement becaus e, as one of its founders, the of foolish navet, joy in procreation and preoccupation with (77 8). The whimsical ambiguity in its name unders cores the playful potential of dadaism A fusion of the aims of Dadaism with a new understanding of the unc onscious engendered surrealist art. Conjoining psychoanalysis with dadaism, surrealist artists incorporate unconscio us optics and dream imagery into their work, which maintain its subversive edge at least in its inchoate Europe an stages. In America however,
100 surrealism would assume a rather different form, which I will explore wi thin the context of Richter adaism and surrealism lie in the inclusion of psychoanalysis in the latter. Richter, however, dabbling in both practices anachronistically incorporated a surrealist aesthetic into his d adaist cultural production, and he added psychoanalytic concepts to his dada art Richter is one avant garde figure who stands out as the apotheosis of the trickster Like the trickster, he travers es g eographical borders, at once in touch with the pulse of these movements and marginalized H is wander ings brought him to various cities, including Munich, Zurich, Paris, and Moscow, which gave him a privileged vantage point from which to view the aesthetic fluctuations of a multitude of avant garde practices (Alter 223). Paradox ically, his dallying with various artistic groups, from Zurich d ada to international constructivism, instead of underscoring his importance in modernism, made him practically invisibl e in older histo ries of modernism As Stephen C. Foster Richter from modernism than one does about modernism from Richter; that is, ironically enough, while modernism makes Ric hter smaller, Richter makes modernism l One might attribute the G group, a collective of artists who between 1923 and 1926 contributed to the short lived avant garde journal G short for Gestaltung The G group pell mell of avant garde artists get s subsumed into the histories of o members never solidified into a recognizable whole. G stands out as one of the ear liest avant garde journals to explore a ll forms of modern visual culture, from architecture to film (Dimendberg 53). Its final installment, originall y planned as two issues, focuses
101 solely on film and showcases writing by international avant garde filmmakers. In this way Richter, much like the trickster, gets positioned as a liminal figure in these institutional histories des pite his location at the communal core. Another reason one can view Richter as a trickster figure lie s in his peculiar relationship to dadaism. A d ada aesthetic, even after the (anti )movement officially ended in 1922, pervades his films to such an extent that Richter anachronistically calls his subsequent abstract work dada art Turvey, in both his aforement ioned book and Univ ersal Language in the Rhythm that Richter stays faithful to a functionalist definition of d ada one that relies on balancing antinomies. This maneuver is reminiscent of the a high l evel of chance in his work which doubly ren f orm of tricksterism. A playful d al productions, not only right after ach of his films expos es this aesthetic as a painter showcase s trickster chance and inversion. for him to become an architect, Richter began his artistic career as a painter. While the trajectory of his filmic output moves from abstraction to representation, his paintings move inversely from representation to abstraction, as Nora Alter mentions and this move towards abstraction in his paintings brings unconscious chance onto the canvas (228). Richter describes his re asons for this move in Dada Art and Anti Art (1965), which outlines an artistic vision verging on tricksterism. In 1917, Richter began painting what he would r
102 portraits the colors he brushed onto the canvas. He viewed this as a form of liberation from any preconceived notions and social co nstraints that occluded spontaneous flourishes as an elaboration of the es sence of dada, Richter stat es more freedom I allowed myself, the more I allowed the unconscious to be governed by chance, the more my reaction grew. What I tried to find was not the chaos but its opposite, an order in which the human mind had its place and in which it could fl ow as qtd. in DAA 20). This movement from a seemingly unconscious chaos to order reveals a shadowy trickster fi gure attempting to resituate artistic terrain by exposing gaps in the social symbolic. Ric scious in his a rt initiated a mythic search when he turned his attention to the cinematic m edium. Richter and Eggeling collaborated on a th eory of abstraction that unveils a universal language of cinema and Rhythm us films worked towards this g oal. structured lik wit h his abstract films, tried to structure his films so that they revealed a similar universal cinematic language. From the playful suprematist squares and rectangles in Rhythmus 21 (1921) Richter searches for a universal rhythm of the unconscious, a structured unstructure or unstructured structure that would shatter artistic boundaries. 2 Both the burge oning avant garde movements that Richter hel ped foster in Europe and psychoanalysis sought legitim ation around the turn of the century. Chronologically 2 Rhythmus 21, Rhythmus 23 (1923) Rhythmus 25 (1925) and Fuge in Rot und Grn ( Fugue in Red and Green
103 it makes sense that psychoanalysis proper would not officially make its way into the avant garde moveme nts until surrealists gained notoriety. Because surrealist scholars turn to Dada as the precursor to surrealism, one finds connections between the two, but these connect ions usually get relegated to a shrewd reliance on chance, a trickster like manuever r ather than artistic renditions of dreams. As Adorno noted of surrealism and its self proclaimed associations with Freudian dream logic, nobody dreams like that. V i ewing Dadaism and surrealism as a form of creaturely tricksterism, anachronistically imbued w ith Lacanian psychoanalysis, help s rectify the continual equivalence of psychoanalysis only with surrealist cinema. output, his abstract films might be considered least likely to connect to creaturely tricksterism; nevertheless, Richte belief in artistic and cultural transformation through unconscious chanc e and abstraction, the functional aspects of dada that he upholds, correlates with Richter wishes to expose a primordial cinemat ic language by way of trickster like moves. Ballinger hints at a connection between abstraction and tricksterism: become a model of human possibility. They derange the stability of order into disorder, and disorder, being illimitable and knowin g no restrictions, is replete with potentiality. abstract imagination, whi ch Richter explores in his Rhythmus films, st ands out as a connecting point between the trickster an d Rich One might argue that the Rhythmus films do not elicit any laughter from the audience as they represent only abstract shapes. Foster intimates that the historical avant garde failed to signify precisely because of the traum atic affect of the images that
104 der (29). T hese two operations remain inextricably linked and Foster wonders whether one should view these avant garde enc ounters with the Real as an effort to cure or destroy t he social symbolic. I f avant garde films mimetically recreate a traumatic encounter, a ny derisive laughter Rhythmus films do not necessarily appear traumatic on the su rface, they do present an alternative to narr aesthe tic sensibilities a t raumatic encounter in its own right. Rhythmus 21 functions as the inaugural effort both to unlock this universal langu age of cinema and to b alance contradiction in su ch a way that one might argue Dialectic of Enlightenment The shifting geometric shapes reveal a stru ctured freedom associated with dada; but they also signify contrad ictions in such a wa y that one can easily overlook them In a statement a pplicable to his Rhythm films, Richter says of his abstract drawings, Month after month, we studied and compared our analytical drawings made on hundreds of little sheets of paper, until eventually we ca me to look at them as living beings which grew, declined, changed, disappeared and then were reborn. We finally could operate them like instruments (and that is exactly what we called them). A vertical line was made meaningful by the horizontal, a strong l ine grew stronger by a weak one, a single unit became important against many, a defined one was clear against an undefined one, and so forth. All of these discoveries became meaningful in the light of our belief that a precise polar interrelationship of op posites was the key to an order, and once we understood this order we knew we could control this new freedom. (as qtd. in Turvey FML 41) Richter playf ul stance in terms of these abstract figures is reminiscent of the dialectical trickster figure tion of antinomies that crea tes ordered chaos or chaotic order. To view the enlarging and shrinking squares and rectangles as people, one could argue that these contradictory figures actually resemble trickster twins, dualistic yet functioning
105 as a single unit. There are other moments in these abstract films where three or more shapes of varying sizes simultaneousl y appear on screen; this suggests a momentary synthesis between antinomies before the bacchanalian whirl can create another configuration Even the repetitions in these abstract films reinforce the notion that Richter prefigures the diale ctic. Turvey maintains in his reading of Rhytmus 21 that Richter uses repetition to impose some form of organization on to his figures. Turvey e film creates an impression of order in spite of the moment by moment makes a sacrosa nct r eversal similar to that Adorno effects in his dialectic of reason a nd unreason, progress and myth; moreover, these repetitions also open up the film to a psychoanalytic exploration of repetition. These repetitions reconfigure a fort da g ame of the mastery of unreason or of the split of the subject. To put it differently, the repetitions recreate a t raumatic moment a contradiction r easoning regarding abstraction that attempts to stage and master chaos or reveal the momen t in which th e subject comes into language and inaugurates the division of the e of cinema is that he wishes for somet hing akin to a mirror moment, only one in which the viewer recalls an imagistic primordial language that divides the subjec t and captivates it in the Imaginary. The Rhythmus films initiate a mimetic staging of the dialectic of Enlighte nment as well as the fragmented da ga me of representation that enables a search for a mythic language.
106 To uncover the alterity at the h eart of these repetitions requires an allegorical r eading of these abstract shapes. At the same time, these shifting squares and rectangles create a dichotomous re lationship reminiscent of the division of the self and other Lacan outlines in his theorization of the mirror moment. In making this connection, I realize that these films lack the mediating (O)ther necessary for a subject to emerge into the realm of the s ymbolic order; however, in a step towards semiotics, Richter seeks a language that emerges in the realm of the Imaginary yet gets entangled with the rhythmic movement enabled by cinema. It migh t seem overly simplistic to conclude that the Rhythmus films also transgress the boundaries of narrative cinema, but it is precisely this bo undary that seems significant. While viewing early experiment al and avant garde films one notices the absence of a narrative, a sacrosanct reversal of the hegemonic view of cine ma that one this inversion would occur for Richter in his search through abstraction for a universal lang uage of film He liberates cinema from the narrative constraints of liter ature and theater; howeve r, he simultaneously maintains the belief in abstracti on that he used in his paintings. While no one would argue that a coherent narrative runs through the Rhythmus films, one needs to keep in mind that Richter view s his abstract s hapes as characters. During the y ears following his Rhythmus films and prior to his next film Vormittagsspuk ( Ghosts Before Noon/Breakfast 1 927 ) G took shape with Richter at the helm. While the G group never create d an official manifesto Richter and W erner Grff do elaborate on
107 f G was to separate mod ern avant garde art from the dominant mode s of artistic creation, they also mean to create a new direction for art. They conclu de, Our task is of a destructive and a constructive nature. The classical prejudice, the basis of the cul ture now in decline, must be destroyed Only then will new inclinations and needs take shape. The elemental task of the creative person means not only: corresponding to the inclinations and needs of our time, but above all: creating new inclinations and ne eds. Hence it is not a new direction that we advocate. We direct our appeal not to lovers of art but more generally to those who love the fundamental such people to understand our will to solve the problem of art not from an aestheticizing standpoint but from a general cultural one. We have no need for a beauty that, as a mere flourish, is pasted onto our (precisely oriented) existence we need instead an inner order for our existence. Anyone who creates contex ts who makes the means for form creation more profound and more organized will create new life and surplus (101) Highlighting the destructive and constructive natures of the task of the modern avant garde artist, th is passage gestures toward a creaturely tric kster methodology. Richter and Grff challenge artists to cross permissible borders and create art that transforms every day life and culture. This will, in turn, transform viewers into dialectical thinkers, se lf aware and critical The inve stigatio ns in G tend to gravitate towards visual culture, and this trend climaxes in t he final April 1926 issue, which solely focused on cinema. Richter Strengthening of Our Consci gs point this out, t optical unconscious offers an uncanny nod t o the trickster. Richter writes, The general and characteristic feature of these [avant garde] works is a n ew optical attitude. Film has added a new dimension to the optical consciousness of
108 constant change i n their form. (206) An order emerges from cinemat ic shape shifting and is revealed through (un)conscious optics. Ghosts Before Breakfast ( Vormittagsspuk ) utilizes the ideas about art he elaborates in G and it embodies the spirit of what I call creaturely tricksterism. Replete with tracking shots of floati ng hats as well as a mise en scne of disappearing beards, animal imagery and laughing faces; representational film marks a departure from abstraction despite the fact that these figur es act in ways similar to his abstract shapes. These represen tational images expose a trickster aesthetic that enters the creaturely realm: t he ambiguity with which Richter ed ited the images together led the Nazis to destroy the sound ver sion of the film and disparage it arrative revolves around a few lost hats flying in search of their owners, suit clad men. It should be noted that in Germany the image of a hat swept off the head gest ures towards an emerging existential crisis. Film scholars have pointed out that the rep eated images of both a revolver and a ticking clock approaching no on portends the rise of fascism (Alter 229). This further explains why the Nazis would want it destroyed. Undoubtedly, one could read Ghosts Before Breakfast like the Rhythmus films in term actually appears to divide into two entities, and this exposes intersubjective splitting. Further hinting at the fragmentation of the ego, Richter cuts from the image of the divi ded self to another image of the revolver While one might read this image as denoting a Jungian shadowy double, I contend that it signals the re bellious trickster side
109 of human nature. I Everything Turns, Everything Revolves (1929), a film abou t a circus fairground that caters exclusively to the bourgeoisie a circus performer will also split in two Richter does not aim to unearth an unconscious language in Ghosts Before Breakfast but he does wish to engender a self conscious form of dialectic al art with all the accoutrements necessary to awaken so ciety from its slumber. The ambiguous trickster nature becomes more pronounced with images o f floating hats that seem confused by the split subjectivity of their owners. This playful misrecognition o f the fragmented self plays out on multiple levels; one can view the hats as representative of the totality of the ghosts from the title or as part objects that make the vi w heth ego or the ego ideal in this constellation. This representatio underneath the hat the vacillation between being and non being, self and other, obje c t a gazing back at the audience from the space of the Real. The caesura in the space of meaning here is exposed through the work of the creaturely trickster. The split subjectivity at the heart of Ghosts Before Breakfast reveals the existential gap of being and non being that the viewer must move back and forth between in order to fully grasp the pol itical ramifications The trickster humor emerges in the resistanc e bubbles to the surface as these objects both defy the laws of gravity and revolt against their owners. Highlighting the temporal aspect o f the film, Richter uses stop motion techniques and plays the film backwa rds, which further underscores the trickste r characteristics of
110 the film. Richter manipulates time here in hopes to allow the spectator a moment to c ontemplate and, perhaps, negate the impending crisis. The businessmen existential cri se s as they try to sit down for tea link the political and the personal. If one considers between the personal and the politic al extends to temporality La planche maintains, Thinking about time, whether philosophical or scientific is to be developed on four levels, at once sharply distinct and clearly connected. What I call Level I is that of cosmological time; let us say: the time of the world. Level II is perceptual time, that of immedi ate consciousness; this is also the t ime of the living being. Level III is the time of memory and of the individual project, the temporalisation of the human being. Level IV, finally, is that of history, the time of human societies, or even o f humanity conceived as a whole. ( EO 238) s tricks in Ghosts Before Breakfast sha ke the viewer into an awareness of these simultaneous layers of time. While Laplanche places existentialism within Level III, the existential crisis Richter constructs in the film pertains specifically to historical t ime. Playing with the inter stices in and non linear nature of time, Richter tramples upon hegemonic Western concept ions of time Much like his wandering hats, Richter cr osses the Atlantic to escape Worl d War II. He hangs his hat on the East coast, and, upo n not finding a thriving art scene akin to the one to which he had grown accustomed he decides to create one. Maneuvering like a trickster bricoleur he cobble s together an art scene of new and former acquaintances. insignificance during his wartime exile reflects the problem that scholars stumble upon in terms of his relationship to European mode rnism. The mar ginalization of surrealism and dadaism in America is highlighted by scholars. Once it arrived in America, surrealism, for example was criticized by American artists and c ritics because of the previous political stances associated with it; nevertheless, some American artists readily embraced its aesthetic Surrealism qui ckly
111 got subsumed by advertising, and Angela Miller observes, with advertising undermined its revolutionary claims with American artists on the left: its irrationalism was now linked to another kind of desire, liberating the imagination not in 68). Surrealism in America would affect something akin to a sacrosan ct inversion regarding the aims of the a vant garde. Instead of employing unconscious aesthetic effects to unearth the dialectic al imagination and overturn hegemony, American advertisers wo uld wed psychoanalysis with a surrealist aesthetic to s ell products and maintain the status quo. I need to stress the significance of this American inversion of surrealism because it inhibits much of the social change that the trickster engender s. Some mig ht argue that the social change derived from trickster manifestations already finds its way into capitalist cultural output by way of the politics i nherent in aesthetic production. However, this notion of subverting subversion in the service of capitalism, while seemingly imbued with trickster acrobatics, does not expose aporias in the social symbolic the same way that the creaturely trickster does. In short, the capitalist appropriation of a tricksterly surrealism reinforces the belief that the unconscious can be bought and sold. Dreams That Money Can Buy expands surrealism in America with all the avant garde cinematic tricks Richter could muster. Indeed, he called on many of his acquaintances associated with the older avant garde to help create his only fe at ure frame story revolves around Joe [Jack Bittner], a huckster who concocts a pla n to fund his apartment by selling his ability t o look inside people and give the m a dream. A series of patients enter his office and Joe takes on c ases sequenced
112 ego Narcissus. Joe conflates psychoanalysis and dream givin g, as if the two were interchangeable. Acting like a psyc hoanalyst, Joe allows these dream seeke rs to sit on his couch; his trick involves peering inside hi s o r the objet petit a within his patient The l oose plot revolves around a trickster transaction that subverts the superiori ty of language in psychoanalysis. In what one might call a sacrosanct reversal, Richter refuses to implement synchronous sound in the film. T he vie wer initially finds this jarring; however, this technique serves an interesting purpose in relation to Joe an d his inside people The Lacanian I maginary transforms into the symbo gaze. I would not erpretation in the psychoanalytic treatment, but it does introdu ce the notion that images hold s ymbolic power. Inter estingly enough, this links to function of desire. In Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psych oanalysis Lacan, initially drawing from the figure of Sa The gaze I encounter is not a seen gaze, but a gaze imagined b y me in the field of the Other. Is it not clear that the gaze intervenes here only i n as much as it is not the annihilating subject, correlative of the world of objectivity, who feels himself surprised, but the subject sustaining himself in a function of desire? (84 5) Joe, peering inside the analysand search for object a in order to give it back to th e subject as his/her own desire. This recapitulates cannot represent the big Other n, assume s that position; Joe, rather, ist supposed to transference.
113 The distinction between the phallic object a and matrixial object a as outlined by Bracha L. Ettinger give s us insight about wha t oc his various patients. Ettinger offers a feminist reading of psychoanalytic theory that elaborate s a matrixial object a as an alternative to the castrating phallic object a that borderlinks the subject with the (O)ther. J oe acts as the (O)ther par celing out the into the (O)ther seeking out the object a instead of merely telling the analysand what s/he desires. Joe finds these obje cts by looking into the patients who ask him to find their dreams, and these dreams seemingly w ant to borderlink with him Wh ile I do not mean to fall prey to essentialism by delineating as feminine desires these desired lost objects that Joe foists onto h is clients, something further needs to be said for the link between feminist theory and the avant garde. Julia Kristeva famously stated that the works of avant garde and modernist artists stand as the apotheosis of writers who utilize feminine ecriture. Al though t he avant garde should not be considered solely a form of feminine writing, avant g arde cinema incorporate s borderlinking matrixial object a into the screen. This is understanding of the hermeneutic s of abstraction: viewers need to learn to make sense of the images bombarding them. The images either wish to communicate or t hey want to resist conveying a message to explain how Joe can find t without turning to the Symbolic order The matrixial object a inside his analysand gazes back at Joe with the in tensity of the phallic object a; however instead of dissipating into
114 the abyss as soon a s Joe ascertains its approach, this matrixial object a desires to connect with Joe by beckoning him to examine its intricacies. In order to escape the critique of essentialism that can easily get set against this male /female dichotomy, one needs to consi der the trickst Dreams That Money Can Buy patient who wants Joe to sign up for s omething. She enters his office and states in the non for signs his name to a paper, a meaningless gesture the narrator explains, Joe gazes into her eyes and extrac conformity to gende r stereotypes, the manufactured norms of society put into place by the (O)ther. Her desire to break free fr om the hegemonic structures, which both c reate her being and confine her, opens up the poss ibility of a third gender position at the margins of her dream. a shot of smoke before a cut to an unfocused image that initially looks like an assortment of human organs. As the curved o bjects come into focus, the viewer sees an unassembled female mannequin strewn across the floor. The following images show the manneq dismembered pa rts pulled securely into place. A female singer informs us that an assembly line constructed our heroin e Julie. A photomontage of Ju lie in various positions unfolds followed by close that reveal her plastic body moving on a turnstile. The photomontage captures fragments of her body, frozen and immobile like her heart. T his m ise en scne of a mannequin emphasizes the
115 mirror reveals her split subjectivity caught in the Imaginary realm of her factory produced ideal ego. Juxtaposed images of machinery and wheels turning, reminiscent of Ballet Mecanique further develops the notion that she cannot make more of her life beyond her plastic nature as a commodity. This sequence continues with the introduction of an equally overdetermined ideal male mannequin, a hero who shall save Julie. The male, donning a black tuxedo, pops his head around t he side of an open yellow door. This signifies a stereotypical predatory male nature desiring his materi alistic offerings appeal to her obdurate sensibilities as he supplicates her with synthetic flowers and handfuls of jewelry and diamonds. The two mannequins get married, and they pre tend to assimilate into society. This continues until Julie can no longer handle the sham of the marriage because her prefabricated heart excludes love ng him away, and the viewer sees a wedding dress clad Julie riding a bicycle, her t orso bending back and forth in a seemingly mechanical movement. The images of Julie escaping into the evening get intercut with close ups of her teary falling off a nd close ups of portions of spinning wheels. The use of mannequins to subvert the do minance of hege monic gender roles opens up space for thir d gender trickster possibility. The inclusion of Julie the mannequin permits a feminist reading that aligns itself with Donna the cyborg. Haraway offers the figure of the genderl ess cyborg a s a means to eradicate essentialist claims, and her cyborg encapsulates bot h masculine and feminine traits.
116 This reading of Julie as a cyborg opens up a space of trickster third gender possibility as she evades the notion s of lo ve and romance t hat usually get associated with women. transgress ion of ster eotypical gender norms appears like a trickster move into an indeterminate and liberating space capable of initiating social change. as she complains about the shell of a human her husba nd has become. Her costume, with an embroidered blouse makes her look skeletal, as if h er ribs are exposed The Ruth, Roses and Revolvers before attending a film screening in which the audience members are ge tonight of witnessing one of the most unusual films ever produced. Whatever it may lack in the way of sound or implores the audience to particip ate in the film by mim icking onscreen gesture s, transforming the film into a participatory imitates art T his rather postmodern dream sequence reveals the political underbelly of art despite the fact that the laugh ter seems to undermine the political aspect of the artwork. When Ruth and her cohorts exit the theat er, they return to look at the title of the book, laugh and say image of the book to Man Ray, and the p icture then gets superimposed wi th an image of a riot. This underscores the eschewed political side of art. Case number four, Marcel Duc presents John Latouche [John La Touche] as a gangster whos e dream reminiscent of Ducha
117 Anemic Cinema with color and close ups that fragment the spinning discs develops the notion that a gangster can have a poetic and delicate imagination with out a conscious or subconscious. This is what the narrator suggests to Joe. When John Latouche e dotted bowtie, his anyone who unlocks dre humorously re casts Joe as a Hou dini esque magician. Trickster scholars commonly read gangsters as an extent as to elicit humor. many trickster tropes that finally transform Dreams that Money Can Buy into a film showcasing the creaturely trickster at wor sequ ences begin with a blind grandfather and his granddaughter enter ing uxtaposed close ups of mobiles swinging in a circular motion. The metal objects clinging to the ceiling playfully twirl in front of the camera. The ffice where the blind man inquires want to sell you one of mine. I have so many cir cus montage of metal toy figures, replete with axe throwers, sword swallow ers, lion tamers, unicycle riding kangaroos, stretcher carrying clowns and trapeze artists. The toys pe rforming circus routines evoke the trickster in this sequence ego, a blue faced version
118 abstract into the realm of myth, the preoccupation of his later works. This sequence begins as Joe peers into a blue poker chip, and an eye gets superimposed over it The image c uts to a series of shots of variegated poker chips filmed so that they resemble circu lar versions of the squares featured in the Rhythmus films. Once the blithe, abstract images of the poker chips end, the viewer sees Joe with a group of shady, cigar smoki ng characters pla ying poker with oversized cards. Af ter losing a hand of poker, Joe reaches for his g lass, which shatters as his hand approaches it. T he liquid leaks on to the table and the poker chips. Joe peers into the fluid to s ee his own reflection as h e experiences a mirror moment. W hen he slowly looks up from his reflection, his hat obfuscates his face for a moment before the audience sees that his skin has turned happened. I met myself His blue countenance makes his poker buddies start laughing at him before they depart The precarious position Jo e/Narccisus finds himself in leads into a mythic labyrinthine dream. He states, have always suspected they led a private life of thei the room, and he f ol lows it down the steps to freedom. The blue rope leads to a ladder guarded by suit clad men who initially block him from moving forward like the our he ro manages to eradicate the men. W hen he does, a second, third and fourth ladder a ppear around him to cause confusion He begins to ascend one of the ladders, and as he climbs, the rungs beneath his feet vanish. After he reaches the top, he jump s onto a roof, which transforms into a
119 room w here he meets a woman waiting for him on a hammock. Giving him a bowl of cherries and a sharp blade, she lies back as though she wants him either to feed or kill her. Our saturnine hero assumes the latter, but when he places the blade on her neck, he catches his reflecti on in the knife and stops Joe/Narcissus decides that he needs to begin again back in the poker room. However, after he returns to his forgotten memories, his cohorts fall apart as though they were no more than pell mell pastiches of everyday objects. He c limbs down the rope that he supposedly followed up the ladder, only to have the female he found at the top cut it off as if she was Atropos cutting the before the f ilm concludes with a final superimposed shot of an eye and the blue poker chip. M shamanistic powers The reference to Narcissus gazing down at his own reflection in the pool of liqui d gives the viewer a hint that the association s with myth play a major he follows out of the room, the bizarre climb up the ladder like Daedulus taking flight and the Atropos figure snipping the strin g showc ase the mythic import of the sequence. Nevertheless, the juxtapositions of these mythic moments with the mise en scne of business attire and all the ac coutrements of capitalism set into motion once again the dialectical interplay between m yth and enlighte nment perience with alterity loosen him, and the trajectory of these dreams from the case of Mr. A up through his own dream Absolute Spirit with the help of tr ickster turns.
120 The underlying lesson that Richter finds when he reaches America that dreams and the unconscious can work in the service of ca pitalism gets inverted with the conclusion of Dreams That Money Can Buy The mythic connotations add a sacrosanct nature to this reversa l. While some viewers may dismiss the polit ical connotations of the film and highlight instead the playfulness of the imagery, Richter and his avant garde cohorts incorporate in the Freudian sen se, the political into the film In th is way, Dreams That Money Can Buy awakens the political underpinnings of the avant garde that goes on to influence underground American directors. Dreams That Money Can Buy bridges the gap between the historical avant garde an d the neo avant gar de in the U.S The trickst er like qualities of Richter establish him as a key artistic figure whose cultural production elicits a creaturely trickster aesthetic. H is cinematic output showcases surrealist ambiguity and aporias w ithin the cultural symbolic i n an attempt t o shock spectators into self consciousness. His films underscore the movement from Dadaism through surrealism and beyond, and they unearth a trickster consciousness, the likes of which break the boundaries of classical Hollywood cinema and fo rce the viewer to provide meaning in the ambiguous on screen spaces.
121 CHAPTER 5 CORPORATED; OR L)VAGE HEAP: TRICKSTERS IN SAUERKRAUT WESTERNS AND THE INDIANERFILME There is only Karl May and Hegel; anything in betw een is an impure mixture of these two. Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope If the Wild West had never existed, Europeans would have had to invent it. Julian Crandall Hollick, The American West in the European Imagination shifting abilities a ccentuate its constant boundary crossing, but this movement also helps one locate the trickst er Crossing continents from America to Europe, in an act initially appe ars to stray aimlessly from the Native American context; nevertheless, a European manifestation of the trickster figure retains much of its polyvalent nature The very act of Europeans dressing up like Amerindians creates a nother bridge to the Native Ameri European cultural imagination. Many dismiss the trickst er figure in these cultural artifacts because the trickster seems a bit too conspicuously hidden within the unconsciou s gaps of the texts and artworks. Skeptics wish to find an overt trickster at work. The transformative power of 1974 action by German performance artist Joseph Beuys. Im media tely upon his arrival in the U.S. Beuys, wrapped in felt, took an ambulance to the Ren Block Gallery on East Broadway where he stayed in a room for three days with one other companion: a coyote, the Native American spirit animal recognized mo st ofte n as the trickster par excellence. The coyote urinated on copies of The Wall Street Journal brought in each
122 day and received a hug from Beuys after the three d ays to reveal the bond forged through this simulated vision quest. Beuys believes that performanc e art carries the potential to promote self healing and social change, and this belief informs his decision to alter his performance space into a coyote den and shape shift himself trickster twin. Carving out an enclave within the social sym bolic order, Beuys conjoins this exposes the historical fissures engendered by the collision of European cultures with the Amerindian. O n the website ica and writes, I would never had done it with a coyote in Europe. But there are other animals in America which could conjure up a completely different aspect of that world. The eagle, for instance, the abstract powers of the head and the intellect, the West, powers that the Indian wore on his headdress. I believe I made contact with the American trauma with the Indian, the Red Man. You could say that a reckoning has to be made with the coyote, and only then can this trauma be lifted. The manner of the meeting was important. I wanted to concentrate only on the coyote. I wanted to isolate myself, insulate myself, see nothing of America other than the coyo te. First of all there was the felt which I brought in. Then there was the expected. Coyote signifyi es both the trickster/culture bearer and the initial traumatic enco unter with the Native Americans. Beuys analysis. Many scholars ask exact ly how this works, and whose trauma does it actually liberate. Does Beuys mean to displace German guilt onto Americans, or does an indigenous audience get past its trauma by watching Beuys meet his spirit animal in a staged performance? C an an American aud ience accept its complicit role in the Native American genocide?
123 itude of interpretations many of which require trickster hermeneutics to comprehend. cro ssing performa nce and i dentification with the coyote (o)ther reveal the extent to which the Native A merican trickster figure situates itself within the European cultural imaginary. The most enigmatic and troubling interpretation of this artistic encounter reveals t hat t he trickster is always already entombed within the space of the Lacanian Real, traumatically trapped within the gaps of the social symbolic order. Eurocentric models and, more specifically, the Judaic Christian tradition t end to suppress any force that tur ns p ranks and deceit sacrosanct; however, Beuys relies on e Western paradigms. If the tr ickster gets incorporated into the psyches of European artists as Beuys seems to suggest, it stands to rea son that the European imaginary replete with a fascination for the I ndian (o)ther would exhibit tra ces of the trickster in earlier literary and filmic texts, especially those in which Native Americans play a central role. tribal cu ltures points toward an unconscio us trickster discourse that finds its apotheosis in the work of Karl Friedrich May, the German author who began publish ing popular novels in the late nineteenth c entury Masquerading as Old Shatterhand, May writes about his supposed adventures with the Apache chief Winnetou The Winnetou tales have a long history of both open air stage productions and film ad aptations. The cinematic production s reach their zenith in the 60s UFA ( Universum Film AG ) sauerkraut weste rns that helped usher in both the DEFA (the Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft of the former German Democratic Republic) Indi anerfilme and the Italian spaghetti Westerns (Schneider 142 5).
124 Historically significant in the trajectory of the Ka rl May Phenomeno n, these films the most popular German produc tions of the twentieth century relegate the cinematic trickster to gaps in the narrative and the screen Before turning to them, I first need to Manifesting Tricky Mann Combining May with the Native Americ an trickster figure disrupts an apparent order of thin gs. F manifest manners uproots Klaus sment of May, often considered th e final word on May for an American appellation based on 1 As many researchers note, Hitler attended itorium in March 1912, a week before death (Cook 67 8). Identifying scism, many scholars miss both the as Marlies Bugmann write s in Savage To Saint: The Karl May Story (2008) manifest manners bookmarks Win ; the stoic noble savage sta nds as the pith of the stories. depictions because they recapitulate the myth of the Indian as noble savage. Vizenor even places May in his list of authors of dominance ( MM 3 1). Other literary critics point out that Saxon hegemonic structures persists in an uncanny German identification with the Native American pligh t. I do not mean to suggest that May 1
125 employs postindian shadow survivance, but examini hermeneutics might disabuse some presupposition about the peculiar fascination that leads 2 This subversion of the subject qua inversion of the indigenous (o)ther assume s a peculiar shape i n the German cultural imaginary. I t transforms into German tz to describe the German ado ration of Native American s. In dianthusiasm both pre existed Winnetou novels. F to the Teutons as wild forest dwellers and savages in Germania which refigured primitive Germans as noble savages From this original identification, then, one can see Karl May a s another step toward Indianthusiasm; however, this conclusion ignores two things: ethnological studies of the indigenous Indians and the carnival Indians of the Wild West Shows novels. Af t er Buffalo Bill and the Native Americans he brought to Euro pe including Lakota Black Elk in 1888 literally missed their boat back to America the y decided to tour Germany; it was at this point that May would have seen the show (Kreiss 196 7). An amorphous amalgamation of the Winnetou tales, anthropological studies and stage performances helped shape Nazi identification w ith the Indians. T books to propagate Nazi ideals like Fhrerkult, Rassenlehre (race theory) and Wehrertchtigung (fo he Indian (o)ther into their psyches, Germans dissemi nated a nationalist myth that entombed the 2 Indianerfilme Germans and Indians cites Phil Lucas, a Native American filmmaker, whose anecdote about filming a German mpressive to find real recognition of Native Americans, one
126 noble savage. Bu t this reading too, needs a nuanced psycho analytic framework to grasp more fully the f antasia of Indian identification because, as Jacques Lacan points out, subjects identify with a splintered imago and misrecogn ize it as whole. The fragmented and romanticized Indian (o)ther gets inverted in this process of incorp oration, ultimately displac ed onto the Jew. As Lutz points out, the romanticization of the Indian and anti Semitism dialectically appear as two sides of the same coin Yet the perpetrators of the N ative American genocide contrasts starkly with the di s mal (dis)identification that led to the Holocaust. Afte r WWII, Indianthusiasm assumed new role s in G ermany as hobbyism or ethnic drag. Katrin Sieg conceived the term ethnic drag to describe Germans impersonating Indians as ncies left by the holocaust and hobb yism became vital to worn out soldiers struggling to reclaim their masculinity in postwar society. Donning their handmade Indi an garb, hobbyists could magically resume their lost stoicism and supplant the Indian (o)ther within the social fabric. Although hobbyism existed prior to WWII, Indianerklubs emerged after it, further facilitating hobbyism. Playing Indians more specifically, enacti tales about the Amer ican West in stage performances further opens up a space in the collective German imaginary for the sauerkraut westerns and Indianerfilme to gain their immense popularity. Sieg mentions that East and West German enth usiasts bifurcate their efforts based around their historical positioning and identification with India ns. This, in turn, contributes to the cinematic differences between the DEFA Indianerfilme and the UFA
127 sauerkrauts. East German hobbyists organize under the Indianistickbund (Indianist Union), while West German hobbyists don feathers for the Westerbund (Western The main difference between the Western Association and the Indianist Union is the exclusive focus on Indian cultures in the latter, whereas the former comprises a wide range of identifications with anything Western including scouts, mountain men, military (both Union and Con federate soldiers), and cowboys. (223) In other words the Indianist Union hobbyists concern themselves with maintaining the Western Association hobbyists identify with the myths disseminated by the dominant trag ic monologues. European Indian hobbyists assume an air of seriousness, excising humor from their pursuits much like the tragic monologues of dominance that eschew humor in the literature of manifest manners. Observing a serious tone in each of the individu als /groups she studied, Sieg states, All four (groups of) individuals that I interviewed repeatedly used the term serious haracterization: it signals artistes, or Karl May fans. Moreover, seriousness connotes scholarly accuracy, as opposed to the casual, often faulty reproductions of many hobbyists (Sieg 224) Privileging seriousness in this serious/foolish dialectic ethnocentrically confines the Indian within the Western academic tradition against which Vizenor rails Regardless of t heir own disavowal of indigenous humor, the hobbyists, masqueradi ng as the shifting, ethnicity bending tri ckster role. Sieg recapitulates the stereotypical belief that humor somehow lowers the accuracy of pseudo like posi tion.
128 Despite the reception ncounter in the course of later history, the wandering trickster s in them sashay trickster qualities, In some ways, Old Shatterhand bears resemblance to the traditional trickster, such as Till Eulenspiegel, or confidence man, such as Baron von Mnchhausen. Like these figures, Old Shatterhand survives by using his brains, manipulating t he physically even more robust, has an additional aspect of grandiosity, and has clear aspirations for real power. He interferes not from the margins, like the jester, but wields power at the center of the action. (298) understanding of the trickster figure forecloses any productive connections because she assumes that the trickster must work from the margins. Franchot Ballinger finds this common reading of the trickster fi gur e problematic: liminal position; however, lyv alent nature, she overlooks the work. a trickster figure in his own right. Going blind shortly after birth on February 25, 1852 due to mal nutrition, May regained his sight a few years later. The mythology surrounding his formative years revolves around his grandmother reading him fairy tales and for escape and deceit. His seminary teachers at Waldenburg uncovered his kleptomania after ascertaining that he stole candles to bring Christmas cheer to his desperately poor parents (Bugmann 8). This voracious appetite for absconding from school with items would continue even after he became a scho olteacher. For example, he regularly borrowed a pocketwatch from a fellow
129 teacher, and one day he forgot to return it. He then used the fob watch he accidentally took home to show his social status to his parents. This act sent him to prison for six weeks. H his trickster l ike imagination. (10). As Dr. Heilig which means Dr. (395). publishing career. With the publication of his Winnetou tales, he proclaimed he actually was Old Shatte rhand and touted these tales as an autobiographical account of his American adventures. It is commonly known that he did not cross the Atlantic until 1908, only four years before his death. His penchant for assuming multiple identities culmin ates in the 1890s when he posed for pictures in the 1890s as Old Shatterhand. 3 May further claimed that he spoke twenty six languages, a feat his alter ego could easily master for Native American dialects. These fabrications later plagu e him when h is enemi es expose these lies; nevertheless, one should not overlook his playfulness. 4 His biography resembles a trickster narrative wherein his boastful pride and creative wandering, interwoven with his kleptomania, ultimately result in his downfall. These actions finally force him to publicly announce hi s duplicitous nature. During a talk he 3 4 past gets resurrected and used a gainst him. (73)
130 serio us one and a caricature who is being sketched in newspapers as a slipshod and a undercutting his buffoonery. selfhood divided into this serious/clownish dialect ic reveals a sacred reversal in terms of the privileged position with which May aligns himself. To capitalize on his writing, he needed to negate any trickster characteristics, but May, however steadfast he would cling to the serious side of this dialectic understood that Old crossing and tr ickster like properties gave him renown everywhere save in America. This renunciation of his topsy turvy past makes his creaturely tricksterism all the more important, his own escapist ideals engend ering the shame that lies at the core of his being. 5 May notes, Everyone lives in such a way that nothing very extraordinary can or should happen to him. Our European Bildung is of such a nature that chance, the happening, adventure, surprise are complete ly excluded. The life of any person in school and home, in office and profession, in marriage and society is fixed and must not give itself to extravagance. In the case of the slightest deviation from the philistine course, a hundred forces come together t o suppress that alien element. 6 eals and carve out an alternat e transitional trickster s pace, where he can enact his fantasies led him to identify with the Native American (o)ther an d, ultimately, t he trickster One cannot dismiss in the previous quote the importance of alterity presiding as the pith out the 5 On Escape [ ]. (65) 6
131 Hegelian (and Lacanian) subject realizes itself only as something foreig n, exterior to itself: [ T ] to itself, (mis)perceiving itself through human eyes as the inaccessible reified Otherness. That is to say, insofar as the relationship of the subject to the relating, the fact that Substances appears to [the] subject as an alien external inaccessible entity bears witne ss to a self splitting of the Substance itself. ( TWN 30) The bifurcati on May experiences forces him simultaneously to iden tify with and suppress the I t and object/(o)ther positions. This in turn, constitutes a tricky vantage point from which to t to come to terms with his self consciousness. defines self objet petit a qua the gaze able to perceive the true meaning of the stain from which gives body to the unbearable truth er are precisely his imaginative crimes and mistaken identities, his fugitive poses with alter egos self consciousness emerges at the site of his trickster (o)ther in the guise of objet petit a that evades him no matter how often he tries to negate or affirm it. serious and clownish personas by retreating from the highbrow cultural imaginary of such German authors as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller and their ilk, tales. Hans Jrgen Syberberg even referred 9). To ensure the German classics their rightful place in the minds of the youth, adu lts frowned upon children consu m ing these popular narratives. This would all soon change, however; as Mann writes,
132 Reading Karl May, imitating and worshipping him, used to be a sort of contagious disease among boys in all parts of Germany and neighboring countries. In the beginning, par ents and schoolteachers took objection to this Karl May mania on the part of the young. Their sound instinct told them that the literary production of this dubious adventurer was sheer trash, and not even harmless at that. They wanted to be sure, however, and therefore started reading Karl May themselves. his brassy self confidence, his overwhelming navet proved to be quite irresistible. (392) The first wave of d etractors beca me enamored with Winnetou and Old Shatterhand, and this halted protests ag ainst children reading his works. The deep need to escape bour geois existence propelled surfaced around the turn of the century, of moral indignation arose throughout the conservative and liberal press. From platforms and pulpits [May] was ominously labeled the Corrupter of youth 7 The campaign against s even tually overwhelmed him; nevertheless, May, like Coyote, gets the concluding chuckle as his creative output continues to influence artistic endeavors even today. in the Winnetou tales? May represents an or al storyteller in the comic holotrope, fash ioning himself as the trickster sign of Old Shatterhand. Throughout Winnetou I the I ndians incessantly refer to Old after he performs perfectly every task assigned him, and despite his bookish in telligence. 8 As Franchot Ballinger observes, 7 4) 8 See Nina Berm A Companion to German Realism 1848 1900 (296 7) Also note that Owen The Virginian published in 1902, also begins with the protagonist t aunted for being a
133 trickster/clown/transformer and the myth Sam Hawk ens, teacher upon his arrival i n America, tells him in a particularly striking passage, praising you! A teache r occasionally has to praise even the dumbest boy if he longer be necessary to call you a greenhorn six or seven years from now. Till then, you can console yourself with the co mmon experience that sometimes a stupid (22) Sam chastises Old Shatterhand precisely for the pride and skulldu ggery that gives him the upper hand in his frontier adventures. As Berm an suggests, Old Shatterhand does not solely embody the tri ckster figure ; the trickster sign erupts concomitantly with Old Shatterhand and his blood brother, Winnetou. Old Shatterhand explains the blood ceremony that connects him to Winnetou and I became like a soul with two bodies We understood each other without having to communicate our feelings, thoughts and decisions to each other. W 242). The two character s work in tandem as trickster twi ns undermining the Anglo Saxon A merican imperialists busy industrializing the American frontier. Th eir mutual resistance liberate Indian from the literature of manifest manners Winnetou tales unearth a wily transitional space within the Germ an cultural imaginary a space that spans a century of cultural production. The tales themselves exhibit the trickster sign that traverses theatrical terrain in stage adaptations and open air performances. As Bu gmann points out, as early as 1896 May profes sed a desire to adapt the tale s for the stage, but t he first play, Winnetou did not hit the Munich stage
134 until 1919. 9 The play was performed once more at the ope n air stage near Rathen in 1938. A fter World War II East Germany would ban the characte rs fro m the Rathen stage until 1984 ( 475 6). Winnetou and Old Shatterhand continued to grace German open air stage s ever since, the most famous oc curring at Bad Segeberg every yea r since 1952. Moreover six film adaptations of M b efore the first Rialto sauerkraut western was produced in 1962. 10 Tim Bergfelder suggests that if produced, les would have performed equal ly as well as the se Oriental films (103 4). To further corroborate Bergfel M in catapulting the Wes terns to such success in Germany during the early years of cinema. Roger L. Nichols observes broke out in 1914, Western films had become so popular in Germany t hat booking agents there reported having trouble getting enough copies of films to satisfy the theater Indianerfilme as well as made for television films, such as Winnetous Rueckkehr (1998, turn ). Even comic books capitalized on the 60s May revival. T arrive in the new millennium with the Winnetou spoof, Der Schuh des Manitu (2001, The Shoe of Manitu ), the most successful German film to date, as well as Quen tin T imagining of them in his critically acclaimed Inglourious Basterds (2009). 9 Winnetou for the Deutsch e Theater Muenchen and Alfred Lommatzsche produced it. The very first actors who played the famous blood brothers, Winnetou and Old 1). 10 Ustad Film produced the first of three now lost silent fil Auf den Truemmern des Paradieses (1920, In the Rubble of Paradise ), which starred Dora Gerson, the German cabaret star and wife of filmmaker Veit Harlan. These silent films include Die Todeskarawane (1920, Caravan of Death ) and Die Teufelsanbeter (1921, The Devilworshippers ). The three sound films include Durch die Wueste (1935/6, Across the Desert), Die Sklavenkarawane (1958) and Die Loewe von Babylon (1959). Ibid (471 International Adventures: German Po pular Cinema and European Co Productions in the 1960s
135 Creaturely Cine Tricksters, Sauerkraut and Indianers Locating the creaturely cine trickster figure in the sauerkraut westerns seems at first like an i mpossible task It certainly does not go unnoticed that few westerns depict Native Americans in any way differently than they are in the dominant tragic monologues Add to this the paucity of humor in Native American depictions that Vine Deloria, Jr. laments, findi ng the ever shifting trickster in these films seems akin to the objet petit a Comic chance and trickster resistance simultaneously haunt and evade the cinema of manifest manners. Jacquelyn Kilpatrick outlines the trail of Native American iconography on the silver screen in Celluloid Indians: Native Americans and Film (1999) and she observes that most westerns, with relatively few exceptions before the 60s, depi ct Indians as the noble savage. E schewing any identification w ith Nat ive Americans, these westerns usually revolve around cowboys conquering the untamed Western frontier. In 1964 John Ford, guilt ridden by the stereotypical representations he helped disseminate attempted to correct these conceptions with Cheyenne Au tumn (Kilpatrick 67 8). 11 Kilpatrick, surprisingly, does not extend her study to include the sauerkraut westerns or the DEFA Indianerfilme film, identifying with the Native A merican plight seems influenced by the 60s German co productions because th (o)ther. ean westerns was initially overlooked by American viewers and reviewers of the saue rkraut westerns. The sauerkrauts export ed well in Non U.S. countries Andr Bazin conceives of the western genre as the quintessentially 11 Cheyenne Autumn deserves some acknowledgement as a cinematic manifestation of an inverted trickster in the film.
136 American one ine seminal mean that [western ly dismiss the Italian westerns; yet, as Jeffrey Sammons points out, Renata Adler in his New York Times review of Old Shatterhand brushes it UFA westerns primarily because the tales themselves alienated an American audience by vilifying Angl o Saxons as imperialists impeding the I physical films themselves, the lack of synchronized sound on th e exhibited prints inhibited their American reception as well. F ilm scholars compare and contrast the sauerkraut and the spaghetti westerns, often praising the poststructural and postmodern turns in the Italian films. In this regard, o Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone (1981) Fray ling painstakingly delineates the postmodern, parodic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), the paragon of the irreverential, deconstructive spaghetti western. Frayling points out that this film restages scenes from classic Hollywood westerns only to subvert them in trickster like fashion, chiasmatic reversals deconstructing the western genre. 12 hapter pertaining to May, however 12 See C Once Upon a Time in the West for a highly detailed analysis of the film and its source material in Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone (192 216) Trickster hermeneutics might be more appr Django inside the coffin like Coyote carrying his penis in a box on his back. After Django Ita lian spaghetti western imported into Germany was billed Django
1 37 suggests that the UFA sauerkrauts de nfully romantic view of the Amerindian in order to reveal the extent to which the films rely on the American we stern genre. Bergfelder, on the other hand contends that Frayling probably based this notion on the British release versions of the films in lie u of the original West German release ( 92). As Tassilo Schneider notes, German films may be said to reconstruct it. If the Italian films might be said to be opposite objective: to construct or reconstruct, a viable generic mythology. (146) Indeed, while the sauerkrauts re construct western mythology, these films bring more to the prov erbial powwow inspiring f ilmmakers to make both the DEFA Indianerfilme and the Italian spaghetti westerns. This is a result of with Native American iconography. A lthou gh the sauerkraut westerns do not completely deconstr uct classical wester ns, they overturn the generic westerns by inviting the viewer to identify wi th the Native Americans. Vera Dika makes a similar claim about the Indianerfilme 13 This recurrent gesture of reconstructing American western mythology in the European context br in somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as doubling of the American West mythology at once nod s to the westerns th at came before and inverts them by revealing an aspect usually es chewed from older 13 Indianerfilm overturns the common reading of the Italian spaghetti wester ns, labeling them modernist texts. She situates the DEFA Indianerfilme as postmodern texts due to their use of blank parody. Perhaps, one could classify the sauerkraut westerns similarly, but the tenuous distinctions between modernism and postmodernism pro per and the critiques against postmodernism by the likes of such theorists as Andreas Huyssen, make me shirk this line of reasoning.
138 explorations of the genre While the Hollywood western captured the Indian in the narrative space of manifest manners, these European westerns eschew a simple ideological reading wherei n the Indian remains simply a victim of the capitalist/imperialist Anglo Saxons. The UFA sauerkrauts, however indebted to the western genre they appear, perform a sacrosanct reversal, encou raging the viewer to Schneider antly apart from the overt ent of the stereotypical Winnetou and the narrative theme of Christian conversion in the novels, the sauerkrauts empathize w ith the Indian (o)ther to such an ex tent that Schneider identifies this as a schism from traditional westerns. Gerd producers of the s auerkraut westerns ignore Christian proselytizing in favor of the conventional action found in American westerns while concomitantly transforming the genre into an original European form German identification with the Indianer Che vuoi? Many reading s of Native American representations in the sauerkrauts and Indianerfilme ask what the German s want with the Indian; however, the question is twofold and the Germans as well. Jean Laplanche wri enigma of mourning takes us to the function of enigma in mourning: what does the dead 14 T he 14 of to the enigma in and then to the function of the enigma in The Monstrosity of Christ (38).
139 postcolonial readings of American wester ns expose the negative representations of Indians. But through the distinctly German identification with the Indian (o)ther, the indigenous voice speaks predominantly through the mise en scne, the Native position more elevated in these films I do not mean to suggest that one should not take these representations to task, as many Native American scholars do, but these German films do present the narrative from the other side, from the Native perspective, as reflected/refracted from a German eye. What does the Indianer want of the German; or, more importantly, what does the Indianer in these films ask of the audience? The Indian encourages t he viewer to recognize a hidden counter narrative. The Real of the on screen image remains at the margins and lurks un derneath the headdr esses and stoic representations. T he gazing objet petit a invites the viewer to turn the imperialist into the monstrous other and identify with the Indian. Opening up the fissures of historical memory, the cinematic Indian beckons the vi ewer to resituate his or her own symbolic beliefs concerning indigenous peoples Separating themselves further from the American western genre, the sauerkrauts overturn the predominant undestanding of landscape in the genre antinomies o f garden and desert or wilderness and civilization. In Amercan westerns one thereby finds of Enlightenment in the landscape; however, Schneider claims that the Ma y films deny the desert imagery. Filmed in Northern o punctuating each scene, something critics often note about the Indianerfilme as well. Schneider mentions that the Winnetou films mitigate the ideological impact of place in favor of contradictions within the charact ers themselves, reminiscent of my dialectical
140 cine trickster position (148 9). Certainly not every character embodies a trickster figure, but, as Schneider notes, somewhere in the landscape, ready to settle the narrative conflicts arising from the general, quasi tric tricksters in the sauerkrauts exposing the dialectic of Enlightenment that Kitses finds in his reading Although this ideological reading seems to disappear from most of the criticism of the sauerkraut westerns, it stigmatizes the Indianerfilme A few exceptions withstanding, contemporary scholarship surrounding the sauerkrauts does not consider the scope of Karl May in a comprehensive analysis of b oth the UFA sauerkraut westerns and the DEFA Indianerfilme For the moment, a few preliminary remarks abou t the East German films will be necessary DEFA produced fourteen Indianerfilme between 1966 and 1985, and the predominant academic reading of them pl aces them in the socio historical situation in which they emerged. Co produced during the Cold War by studios in Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, Cuba, Bulgaria and Romania, thes e films are consistently referred to as communist films. I will turn to the wande ring tricksters in the Indianerfilme after discussing two sauerkrauts. With the first Rialto sauerkraut western, The Treasure at Silver Lake ( Der Schatz im Silbersee or the screen. The plot revolve s around a group of bandits, led by the colonel, searching for the Indian t reasure at Silver Lake. T he Apaches and the Butler family joi n forces to prevent the bandits from absconding with the ir gold. The film introduces Lex Barker, heretofore
141 famous for p laying Tarzan, and Pierre Brice, a French actor and dancer, in their recurring roles as Old Shatte rhand and Winnetou physical features correlate with the Teutonic racial stereotype May employs, while 4). Remaining tru omo contrasts starkly with the fraternal relationships in American westerns at the time. Doug Williams the ideal West ern couple but while the frontier in the Western has a tradition of same sex couples, as [Leslie] Fiedler noted, to found a civilization on such a couple was not omo social narrative, cin ematically exhibit the masculine couple that Fiedler discusses without entangling an actress in triangulated desire as found in many American westerns. The seemingly unconscious homoerotic subtext remains significant in terms of this first May adaptation because of what it denies in its transmission from novel to screen. The film altogether ignores an important gender crossing trickster figure, Tante Droll, an imperialist German wan dering across the American West. 15 Tante is a man dressed in othes, a practice that the novel excuses by simply stating that this is common in the West. Why would a gender bending German get eliminated in the s place in the novel infers a connec tion to the Native 15 Die Spur fhrt zum Silbersee (1989), a puppet film from East Germany, does include Tante Droll.
142 Amer ican Two Spirited person, the indigenous third gendered individual, but one that gets displaced onto a German character As Franchot Spirit people suggests, they violate gender boundaries and resemble a trickster (103 9). 16 Richard Dyer distinguishes between the Tante and the Bube in his discussion of the turn of the century German gay sub cultural style. Dressed in drag, a Tante was characterized as being effeminate, standing in opposition to the masculine Bube (19 20). 17 Per haps German gay subculture appropriated Tante Droll to perpetuate this ef feminate stereotype? If this claim holds a trace of truth, it stands to reason that Reinl purposefully excluded the c haracter because homo social cont ent already permeates the film. A challenge to this line of reasoning arises from the fact that western cultural production exposes the gender bending trickster via such characters as Bugs Bunny the character from the film adaptation s u nless he wanted to maintain Western generic conventions? Where do humor and, more importantly, the cine trickster emerge in The Treasure of Silver Lake ? In the absence of Tante Droll, Reinl evokes laughter through other characters in Hawkens, played by German comedian Rolf Walter, recurs as a comic figure in many of the sauerkrauts. Reinl transforms another humorous 16 Many Indian tribes call Two Spirited people other names, such as the winkte of the Lakota/Dakota Sioux, but the indigenous third genders are derogatorily referred to as the berdache They assume various roles in each of their respective tribes, sometimes even helping with childcare. Similar to sacred clowns in this cultural production, one can view the gender bending Bugs Bunny, dressed in drag, teasing Elmer Fudd. 17 Dyer goes on to describe Nosferatu respectively.
143 from a quick witted gambling man in to a butterfly collector sporting a pe culiar safari outfit. The Englishman hob by evokes further humor by giving the British Lord a exaggerated mannerisms and effeminat e disposition connote h is trickster qualities; however, his quest for the Papilio Polymnestor Parinda butterfly in M American West disorients this erudite wanderer. The aforementioned butterfly does not even dwell in the United State s, which som e critics have suggested is a cinematic goof. when asked where he is headed, Castlepool vigational skills presumably le d him to believe he entered East upon landing in the Amer icas. Although Reinl deletes this detail in the adaptation, scientific explorer with the cowbo y. Conferring the cowboy mythos onto a Chaplin esque safari hunter subverts classical western conventions while drawing attention to their interstices. screen appearance in the film e vokes the trickster through formal filmic elemen ts. Castlepool first appears th ree shots after the viewer glimpses the local drunk entering the Prairie Saloon, camera panning left across the patrons until it rests on the stereotypical Native American drunkenly dancing The camera then follows shot reveals Sam Hawkens, who, upon opening a curtain, spies C screen approach This carnivalesq ue mise e n scne accentuates the appearance of the trickster figure, Lord
144 Castlepool, the archetyp al stranger The next shot cuts outside to comic inability to di smount his horse which he momentarily attributes to the fact that his hor se is just a little too tall for him. The town drunk, thrown out of the saloon, enters the frame as he falls to the ground. P icking the drunk off the ground after peering into his e sun without a hat, to the ground along with t he drunk. Eliciting humor, the shared gaze of (mis)recognition between them at this moment portends the ltaneously skelter insight. Assuming the trickster role in t he film, Castlepool represents an aporia in the cultural symbolic order of the Amer ican West. Once Castlepool pushes past the swinging saloon doors, his liminal po sition becomes increasingly apparent. The bar patrons ask him if he is okay, and a woman says, the barkeep hands him a s hot of rum, Castlepool cannot stomach the liquor. This fact reveals his limitations as a Western h ero. The disclosure of C exposes the greater importance of this comic character T or common narrative convention is used in classic Expecting to hear either abo ut the search for gold and riches or the wrongs committed by an outlaw, the bartender appears the bartender mistaking the animal for an outl aw, characteristics, Castlepool describes the butterfly right before another patron shoots his s and
145 butterfly collecting further underscores Castlep supplants objet petit a and this illustrates the absurdit y of chasing these things. comedy at the very point where the human coincides with the inhuman; where the inhuman falls into the human (into man), where the Essence falls into the appearance 9 50). To a Western hero, Cast butterfly hunt appears inhuman precisely because the incongruity between the hunted outlaw and the insignificant butterfly broaches creaturely life. Disrupting the order of directed at the politics of the American West. Castlep gap that even Old Shatterhand cannot reconcile. Alighting upon Castlepool slyly chasing the butterfly around a tree, Old S Old Shatterhand then persuades him to utilize caution around the many killers inhabiting the frontier. To convince them of his capabilities, Castlepool boasts that he has a great horse and a rifle. Not convinced by Cast boasts Sam Hawkens ask him if he even knows how to shoot. Peering up, Castlepool, framed in the foreground, aims his gun skyward and fires. Sam restates the question, when his prey, a dead bird, p lummets into the frame act shames Sam, Old Shatterhand invites Castlepool to join th em because they saw him overcome his greenhorn status. Despite Ca tom foolery, he does not completely embody the trickster, sacrosanct nat ure intact The successful distribution of The Treasure of Silver Lake
146 signifies how well it reson ated with Germans and Europeans. B ut what does this particular comic transaction between this cine trickster manifestation and the viewer do besides produce laughter? C astlepool as a trickster figure upturns or deconstructs the cowboy mythos while the film simultaneously recreates the mythos of the American West with in a distinct German nationalistic agen da Castlepool searches for the creaturely butterfly instead of th e gold the Anglo Saxon imperialists s eek. For the English Lord, gold remains extraneous. On the other hand, all of the characters tha t interact with him smirk at the absurd notion that someone would cross the Atlantic to track a measly butterfly. Castlepoo ois existence leads him to hunt this butterfly, the creature that symbolizes transformation. Castlepool n order for Castlepool to actually find th e butterfly, however, he must join forces with the Natives and Old Shatterhand. Here the significance of the butterfly is that a butterfly trickster acts as the mediator for the Raven in the myths of the Haida Indians of the Pacific Northwest. A reading of the bu tterfly chase scene, thus, render s Castlepool a trickster searc hing for a creaturely trickster This film, which takes itself too seriously at times, needs a trickster to undermine it from within. A self conscious image of a trickster figure chasing a trickster metaphorically exalts the cine while it simultaneously demarcates i ts absent presence from the film. esence in the sauerkraut westerns points toward the difficulties in trying to locate the fluc tuating Native American, German, and American
147 present absence of Native peoples i n western media representations that do not focus specifically on tribal cultures. Sh anley addresses the negative attitudes toward Indians promulgated in contemporary films like Jumanji and Conspiracy Theory that use tribal music and a mise en scne of the primitive jungle with no Native people gracing a single frame. Shanley writes, core element in American identity. Helen Carr, in Inventing the American Primitive describes wel sufficiently civilized, the European is overcivilized, and the Euro American is just Indian as a lover of freedom) justifies bourgeois political ascendancy, the icates bourgeois Preoccupation satisfy the bourgeois appetite for identification with Native life more than any popular Indian literary form in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (33) Americ an popular culture and identity, also is In the case of the former, bourgeois subjectivity He does so by pr oviding an alternative space for German s to come into consciousness. With the rise of Hitler, this complex escapist space gets re appropriated and used to uphold German bourgeoi s ideals. In the case of t he sauerkraut westerns, The Treasure at Silver Lake for example, intertwines the American mythos of the western with the romantic melan choly of Indians to project German guilt and desire onto a simulacrum of the American Western frontier. ying across the frame, is the fil creatur ely trickster figure and the remainder of a tribal presence. One sauerkraut western in particular elucidates this creaturely cine trickster even Winnetou and the
148 Half Bree d ( Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi 1966), gets scant critical attention because it does not rely on any particular M ay text as its source material. I nstead, Barker and Brice resume their roles as Old Shatterhand and Winnetou in a plot only loosely ba sed on the Wi nnetou tales. This film engages with humor and trickster provocations more so than the other sauerkrauts. Ironically, t he on e sauerkraut that explicitly evokes the trickster strays from being a stric t adaptation. The plot revolves around a group of bandits led by Curly Bill (Ilija Dzuvalekovski) who are trying to find the gold Apanatschi (Uschi Glas) inherits on her birthday. T he bandits murder her father and kidnap her younger brother Happy (Marinko Cosic). Winnetou, Old their prowess to stop the bandits from stealing the gold. The reviews of this film contend that Phillips adds nothing new to the genre. This asse ssment holds true if one looks s olely at genre conventions; nevertheless, the trickst er emerges in this film explicitly from the opening sequence. Phillips keeps the trickster magic at the fore rather than marg inalizing it in supporting characters. reaturely trickster through a collusion of animal and child imagery. Three shots of Winnetou riding his trusty steed across the desolate landscape and an expository voiceover situate the viewer before the film cuts to a low angle shot of an eagle circling overhead. The next series of s hots reveals Happy peering down at an the mother eagle returns to protect her eggs. Attempting to pilfer a feather from the nest, Happy tosses down a rope ladder, the end of which almost strikes the mother eagle. H appy slowly descends to retrieve the feather; however, on his return the great bird attacks. Crying out for help, Happy
149 struggles on the mountainside while clut ching the rope and feather. Fortunately, shes to him and hoist s the rope ladder, Happy always p plans to give the feather to Apanatschi as a birthday prese nt. T he images present a horrific narrative devoid of humor, but the campiness of the scene makes the spectator laugh at the mess. The gaze of the Lacanian Real erupts i n this sequence. One can read the sequence as a as the desire to giv e Apanatschi a birthday present ultimately jeopardizes the lives of her family members. The sequence evokes the cr eaturely trickster through images of the child and the eagle while simultaneously reve aling their antagonistic nature. T he image further attem pts to suture However, this identification reminds the viewer of his/her own vulnerability; the eagle acts as the gaze of the threatening Real. As Todd McGowan notes, conception of desire, the gaze is not the vehicle through which the subject masters the object but a point in the Other that resists the mastery of in looking because the subject cannot see it directly or successfully integrate it into the rest of its visual field. This is because, as Lacan specular, is not graspable in the t sees a complete image, something remains obscure: the subject cannot see how its own desire distorts what it sees. (11) Spectators ut they identify with the child. This obfuscates deological importan ce because the gaze emerges at points of disturbs the spectator, but at the same time they are the points where the spectator narrative, the audience can dismiss the
150 eagle as a device to propel the narrative rather than recognizing it as a creaturely disruption. The political significance of this bird harkens back to the 1919 debate concerning the National Eagle on the German c oat of arms. The left wanted the Imperial emblem adorned w co nservatives responded in their right wing satire magazine Rote Hand The previous coat of arms which witnessed the rise of the German nation to wealth and power, shall be exchanged for the representation of a fowl that better expresses the changed character of the age. Adolf Hitler traded on the 323) If read as a dialectical image, the iconic eagle attacking Happ y recreates the National Socialist attempt to decimate a race of people, the Jew replaced by the Native American child. Vie wing this opening sequence through this lens, it becomes clear that the identification with the indigenous child positions the viewer against National Socialism. The trickster hermeneuti cs involved in this reading transform the eagle trickster into a figure of the oppressors; but one might also read it as a cautionary moment wherein Winnetou and Happy deflate the tri up pride. Winnetou and the Half breed ickster motif continues in a later scene. The ba ndits kidnap Happy after seeing him play ing catch with a chunk of gold during Apanats isguised as a magician, Jef f infiltr ates the rival gang at a saloon. His most important trick involve clutches. Before entering the saloon, Jeff filches a top hat from the sleeping drunk outside, holds it behind his back, and swings the door open when the gang questions it sounds a nnounces his presence by responding
151 Curly Bill inquires about his vocation, to which Jeff re egg from behind Curly culminate s in emptying the egg into the and freeing a bird from underneath it. head of the ga ng, Jeff exposes his impotence and deflat This common trope in the sauerkraut westerns to confer trickster status onto the Euro Ameri can (o)ther separates them from the Indianerfilme The displacement of th e trickster magician onto Jeff relegates the Indian representations back to that of the films of mani fest manners. T his the trickster manifestation in the non indigenous character involves a n inversion of the trick ster into the Euro American (o)ther. The DEFA Indianderfilme on the other hand, consistently keep the humor with the Native American characte rs, even though Europeans, as in the sauerkraut westerns, play indigenous characters. I contend that the creature ly trickster haunts the sauerkraut weste rns and the Indianerfilme These films place the trickster into the ca esuras, the crypt of the Real. Entombing the trickster figure, these films awaken the phantom of the creaturely trickster. Concerning phantoms Ni colas Abraham and Maria Torok observe, haunts are not the dead, but the gaps left within us by t he secrets of others. What comes back to haunt are the tombs of others. The phantoms of folklore merely objectify a metaphor active in the unconsc ious: the burial of an unspeakable fact within the love object 2). In this way the trickster becomes the metaphoric corpse, unacknowledged yet encrypted in thes e images. To work through the traumatic ean to begin to work through the
152 historical traumas of National Socialism; moreover, implications concerning t he Native American genocide lurk in this fissure as well. The fourteen DEFA Indianerfilme wrought with an eye to ethnographic precision, lead t he audience to identify with Native Americans while eschew ing any connection to argues ied to offer an alternative to the West German Winnetou series by emphasizing the perspective of the Indians and showing their struggle against thus stands to reason that the D EFA films, despite the explicit effort to cast into the mythological spaces of the New World; therin the May adaptations fulfilled a similar socio psych The first of the Indianerfilme The Sons of Great Mother Bear ( Die Shne der groen B rin 1965/1966) was an adaptation of a Liselotte Welskop He the same name. A professor of history at Humboldt University, Welskop Henrich maintained that her extensive study of Indian history and ed her with enough experience to write an authentic and 90). From her experience of crossing the Atlantic, she attests to the authenticity of her accounts. Marketing these films as ethnographic studies o f Native Indians, the Indianerfilme encou nter the same pitfalls as May, validating cultural products via claims of historical accuracy and ethnography. As Lacan states in Seminar XVII
153 confusion within itself, through adh ering to what it gathers as if it were natural. And how is it gathered? It is gathered in writing, that is to say, detailed, extracted, distorted very act of writing dow n what the ethnographer views tr ansforms the truth into a trace. T hese films David T. McNab contend that the Indianerfilme reconfigures the stoic Indian that one finds in the literat ure/cinema of manifest manners without delving into tribal mythology. However, one films. In the place catapulted into t he starring role of many of the Indianerfilme and was christened the Chefindiane ly signify an East German Indian (251). This distinction The Indianerfilme erase the trickster figure despite the obvious trickster like disjunctions in the setting and characters. Dika argues in her online journal article that The Sons of Great Mother Bear humor. Instead the film was fashioned alm ost as blank parody, a copy of the U.S. Western that included culturally and historically resonant German elemen ts with little ne of t he reasons the DEFA films dispense with the trickster lies in the fact that no one wanted these films to be viewe d as childish. As Lischke and McNab observe, The Indian films tell us more about the politics and culture of former East Germany and Germans in the late twentieth century than they do about Native people in
154 North America. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 (a period referred to in German as the Wende ), East Germans were known to West Germans as wild, uncultivated the Wild West. So there is a historical correspondence in the DEFA I ndian films centuries and how East Germans were represented in the rest of Europe, particularly in West Germany. (284) If t he Indians signify East Germans, one understands why they would not want to propagate the noti on that they revered humor like real Native Americans. The Indianerfilme adhering to the Western genre, avoi ded childishness, despite production value s that today provokes humor. The trickster figure in both The Sons o f Great Mother Bear and Apaches (1973) receives minimal on screen time, appearing for only a few minutes in the latter and only slightly longer in the former. In Apaches the creaturely trickster appears in the opening sequence via shots of a fumbling prai rie dog replacing the child that are crosscut with shots of the hero, Ulzana (Mitic). Non diegetic, childish music alerts the viewer that this sequence should elicit laughter. This dialectical montage conjoins the human and the creaturely. Laughter in The Sons of Great Mother Bear on the other hand, converges with images of children, whose marginal on screen appearance gets conflated with the creaturely culture hero, the bear. The trickster in this film a ctually consists of a juxtaposition of the creat urel y totem animal, the child and the brav e warrior, Tokei Ihto (Mitic). These all stand in stark contrast to the effeminate warrior acting as the trickster buffoon who appears in the sequence when Toke Ihto returns to the trib e. This creaturely trickster past iche seems quite germane because, as Germnden asserts, mise
155 en scne of rebirth as they escap e on a raft acco mpanied by a baby bear. This shot suggests the possibility of reconstituting a new social symbolic order Adorno maintains that the collusion of childishness and tricksterism often gets erased by adults in this case by adult filmmakers. An d yet creaturely trickster children do appear in the post war rubble films and Italian neo realist films. For example, Gustav Iller and Willi act as tricksters Somewhere in Berlin (1946), and Edmund Khler assumes the role in Roberto Germany Year Zero (1948) In these films the dark humor of the children, laced with a trickster thrown into the histo rical fissures of their reality, give rise to the creaturely trickster. Even post war German literature contains children perf orming creaturely trickster roles, as evidenced by Oskar Matzerath in The Tin Drum And one should not forge t that, although not a child, the German folklore jeste r Till Eulenspiegel is a trickster figure. Utilizing a sadistic s humor cul minates in grotesque scatological comedy. U nin tentionally Lakota Sioux heyoka divvying out a sacred dog stew, Eulenspiegel boils a live dog in one tale. Dwelling in the German cultural imagination, these creaturely tricksters of the Real reconstitute the I ndian trickster figure better than the Indianerfilme
156 CHAPTER 6 CRYPTO CREATURELY TRICKSTER ISM: CHILD TRICKSTER S AND THEIR DISCONTENT S IN WAR CINEMA [I]n the death of a child it is possible to rediscover a versi on of sacred horror. Vicky Lebeau, Childhood and Cinema After traumatic historical events in the West, humor often becomes taboo. I n stated mandate that art cannot exist after the Holocaust, artists rarely open their comedi c rucksack in the immediate aftermath of war After WWII, for example, American officials told Wolfgang Staudte that American authorities war entertainers transgressed interdict ions by both U.S. authorities and Adorno they utilized crude humor and grotesque characters to enable their audiences to come to terms with the past and lay down cultural boundaries for future generations. To achieve this goal, artists create a raft of po st war cinema and literature that utilizes the figure of the child. In Childhood and Cinema Vicky Lebeau questions the Persona (1966): image can child, driven by gunpoint, to the edge of the frame? The question can be said to drive the turn to the child as a figure through which to explore the legacy of war and genocide during the twen (141). Lebeau argues that images of children are employed to interrogate the relationship between children and death In this way she evokes the relationship between the child and the space of creaturely life. In war and post war films, children, finding their way through war torn villages and catastr ophic rubble, inhabit a peculiar space if viewed through trickster hermeneutics.
157 Although these films might not concern themselves with Native American iconograph y, they use images of the child to signify the trickster As the German sauerkraut westerns a nd Indianerfilme attest, a mise en scne of children often denotes a trickster lurking on celluloid. Child tricksters appeared in many films prior to those aforementioned, but the figure of the child in war films enables us to examine the ways in which dir ectors deploy children to explore the unspeakable realities and social injustices erupting in the bourgeois social order. L ocating the creaturely trickster in post war films involving children should not be a daunting task. The ive leads Jung to maintain that the trickster begins to help indigenous groups advance towards a more highly developed consciousness. r recapitulation theory 1 tricksters work to sustain the s tatus quo by helping children adapt to the world in which they find themselves. The polyvalent nature of t he trickster permits scholars to reach these conclusions; such conclusions, however, stand in contradistinction to the resistance that the creaturely trickster more often embodies. The ability to explore caes uras within the symbolic order is the core of creaturely trickster discourse. This opens up onto larger questions regarding the complex and contradictory roles children play i n these fil ms. One problem concerning trickster children in war films revolves around the intended audience. No one would deem these films conventional sense. Just as one would never read WW II novel The Painted Bird (196 5) The Tin Drum (1959) Austerlitz (2001) as 1 In Chapter 3 I di in relation to the constellation of children /trickster/cinema.
158 films Somewhere in Berlin Rotation (1949), do not come across as though chil dren play significan t roles in them. Exploring traumatic detritus of war, these films show the child as beyond the limits of the human and realist trilogy, R ome, Open City (1945), Pais (1946) and Germany Year Zero (1949), Volker The Tin Drum Forbidden Games (1952), Andr (1962) and The Mirror The (2 001) and (2006), and finally, A Time for Drunken Horses (2000) and Turtles Can Fly (2005) are all films that investigate the relationship between children and the effects of war 2 In many of these films, children act toget her as creaturely trickster twins. Ballinger delineates two variatio ns of trickster twin oral tales, those in which there is a pronounced opposition of values between the twins and those in which there seems to be a more indiscriminate mingling of trickste r traits. In the first kind of oral tradition twins, we often see differences between the brothers that are reminiscent of the split between tricksters and culture heroes, at least in the sense that there is a division of positive and negative or admirable an d contemptible qualities. (117) Ballinger be noted that their creative transforming powers can be effective only when they act as embody two of the structural figures of comedy uncovers : split subjectivity (the ego and the It) and the double (the ego and the ego). The polyvalent nature of trickster twins necessitates hermeneutic strategies that either 2 For a longer list of cinematic examples, see Lebeau (141).
159 unite or render them diametrically opposed in order to elicit humor t ransgress the limits of acceptable behavior and, ultimately, transform culture Creaturely cine trickster children, who expose the gaps in the Western European symbolic order, force viewers to resituate the borders of permissible thought and move the part icipant audience into ethico political action. The theoretical underpinnings of child trickster twins in war films warrants an interrogatio n of what Abraham and Torok refer to as intrapsychic crypts and transgenerational hauntings, especially when consider theoretical edifice with creaturely tricksterism, I will apply the crypto creaturely trickster to the German rubble film Somewhere in Berlin Finally, I turn my attention to creat urely trickster children who play with death in Forbidden Games and the more recent film, Turtles Can Fly Crypto creaturely Trickster Twins Somewhere in Berlin Juxtaposing creaturely trickster discourse with trickster children in war films requires a syn s notion of intrapsychic crypts. Abraham and Torok used this concept in their psychoanalytic practic e in post WWII Germany. One can view intrapsychic crypts as housing the hard kernel of the Lacanian Real. Tr icksters reach into these crypts, unlock the traumatic kernel, and there exorcise the phantoms lurking in them Abraham notes of the phantom, of the living. Yes, an inventi on in the sense that the phantom is meant to objectify, even if under the guise of individual or collective hallucination, the The phantom is therefore also a metapsychological fac t: what haunts are not the dead, but the gaps left within us by the secrets of others. (171)
160 Tr ansgenerational hauntings occur when parents pass their intrapsychic crypt onto their children. By holding onto these incorporated cryptic objects, subjects believe they fill in the Void that completes them. T he cryptic Kernel thus acts as an invisible and unconscious object a Tricksters reach into these crypts to expose the impossibility of completion via endocrypt ic identification. T he trickster acts as the analyst in revealing tand like tombs The tri ckster turns the hidden phantom or traumatic word into an object a Abraham describes this labor in the following way, It is important to emphasize that the words giving sustenance to the phantom retur n to haunt from the unconscious. These are often the very pitiable articulations. Extending the idea of the phantom, it is reasonable to sively fades during its transmission from one generation to the next and that, finally, it disappears. Yet, this is not at all the case when shared or complementary phantoms find a way of being established as social practices along the lines of staged wor d s. We must not lose sight of the fact that to stage a word whether metaphorically, as an alloseme, or as a cryptonym constitutes an attempt at exorcism, an attempt, that is, to relieve the unconscious by placing the effects of the phantom in the soci al realm. (176) Conjoining the effec ts of cryptic phantoms with creaturely humor, the trickster attempts to exorcise the phantoms, forcing the participa nt audience to reconfigure its social symbolic order. 3 3 The Shell and the Kernel attacks Abraham and Torok for cholia recapitulating the goals of American ego psychology through the therapeutic exorcism of cryptic secrets. seminal essay without any consideratio The Ego and the Id detached it in the latter essay. Freud writes,
161 Before apply ing this trickster notion to cinema, I would like to point out that locating between s tructural and historical trauma. specific and not everyone is subject to it or entitled to the subject position associated related to transhistorical absence (absence of/at the origin) and appears in different ways in all societies and all lives .[I]t may be evoked or addr essed in various fashions in terms of th e separation from the At that time, however, we did not appre ciate the full significance of [incorporation] and did not know how common and how typical it is. Since then we have come to understand that this kind of substitution has a great share in determining the form taken by the ego and that it makes an essential poration into introjection, and Torok contends, he conflates the two terms. Incorporation and Introjection; or, Freud vs. Ferenczi references the seminal but, above all, ontological psychology, Lane refuses a synthesis between the argues, This tension b etween analysis and therapy, which corresponds conceptually to Abraham and The Shell and the Kernel ( noyau aspect of noyau designates a type of organicism that resists symbolization by conveying the the indeterminate center on which its f lesh grows. Ultimately, we may be Viewing the crypt as part of the Lacanian Real uncovers similarities that Lane overlook s, despite his misunderstanding arises here because of hi s interpretati Envelo pe Ego and Id. The Shell appears as the Ego, that which remains conscious, while the Kernel seems to elicit the unconsciou s, the gaps in consciousness. However, t he Psychoan concealing and revealing it, what of the actual kernel? For it is the kernel which, invisible but active, principle o with crea turely tricksterism.
162 (m)other, the eruption of the pre oedipal or presymbolic in the symbolic, the entry into language, and so forth. (722) LaCapra argues that structural trauma eschews the particular absence of historical Transgenerational hauntings thrust upon the child a particular absence or gap in the al incorporating intrapsychic crypts, historical trauma gets injected into the traumatic/hard Kernel, and one can view the encounter with the cryptic Real as an initial step t owards exorcising the phantom a process of introjection if you will. Finding ru bble aesthetically pleasing poses questions about positioning Abraham and Torok in my constellation. Applying transgenerational phantoms, the crypt and the creaturely tr ickster to a German rubble film I maintain that the war torn landscape itself acts as a crypt. A mise en scne of fragmented rubble holds the remnants of WWII historical trauma as well as a National S ocialist presence that continue to haunt the post war German psyche. Filmmakers could lock out thes e memory traces from the rubble by staging domestic melodramas; however, when on screen debris invades these films, the mise en scne juxtaposes the traces of historical trauma with the personal traumas unfolding on the screen The ensuing reconfiguration of the symbolic order correlates with the reconstruction of the rubble filled towns. After d igging through the rubble of the Real, Germans needed to resurrect a new Symbolic order. Thus, the physical reconstruction of Germany correlates with psychical reconstruction The latter work is predicated on exorcising phantoms also metaphorically buried in the rubble. Who can help initiate this process better than the wily trickster, who acts as a buffoon, culture hero and shaman at different moments?
163 It should not be surprising then that Some where in Berlin opens with a pan across a reconstruction site as a worker follows does not however, correspond as one might expect with the clearing away of the rubble but rather, with the appearance of the trickster f igure. A high angle long shot reveals a criminal, Waldemar (Fritz Rasp), scampering amid the ruins. To evade the authorities after pilfering a wallet, Waldemar runs into a seemingly abandoned cellar. Entering the frame via the ce llar window, Gustav Iller, the trickster child of the film, appears. Through the mise en scne La ged position as a trickster by using a low angle shot of him in contrast to the high angle shot of Waldemar. After Waldemar lies to Gustav about chasing his dog, Gustav darts out of sight only to return momentarily and Gustav eventually unlocks the adult trickster Waldemar, and thereby recapitulates idea of u nlocking an intrapsychic crypt entombing a sec ots The film narratives as they move through the space of d isintegration surr ounding them. Gustav and Willi, as part of a youth mob, set off illegal fireworks while playing pretend war games. Afterwards, the viewer sees G father, Herr Iller, return to his garage now reduced to rubble The main narrative thread fu to run away from home and eventually prove his worth by climb ing the high wall of a
164 ruined building. His subsequent fall to his death forces both Herr Iller and the participant audience to reconfigure their position s withi n the social symbolic order Gustav and Willi represent trickster figures in the film, and Lamp recht turns Willi screen appearance. The (O)ther surrogate father, who provides the children with illegal firecrac kers in exchange for food. the window to save Birke. When a neighborhood girl catches him Willie pleads you a wink from Birke. The act of removing the hidden fireworks cause th ey both remove something from an intrapsychic crypt. This trickster in this film i s a split between Gustav and Willi. Jaimey Fisher points out that the yo uth in these films act as both notes to youth who symbolize the dispersion of the social order children also serve as the pillar of bourgeois social relations: they are the cornerstones of the with reconfigures these children as creaturely cine trickster figures, who simultaneo usly transgress the Law and serve as culture hero es. Fisher underscores this dualism when she continues represen tative of youth order
165 and effective agency, but remains unh ke this distinction one step further: Willi repre sents the social threat point toward something that continues throughout the film as he steals fireworks and food from Birke On the other han d, Gustav, guarding his perpetually attempts to bridge the gap betwee n the Law and the transgressors: in this so of the trickster as c ulture hero Gustav and when Gustav runs off to play war games, he warns acts as the policing agent, and, by the conclusion, h e fills the culture hero role that objet petit a both filling the culture hero Void/Shell and abandoning it, in the end, to achieve something akin to cultural balance. I do not mean to suggest that either Gustav o r Willi could serve as the trickster without the ot her. They work in tandem to produce their political edge. Their trickster responsibilities intersect throughout the film, the two characters representing different sides of the trickster coin. A sign of th is connection occurs when a tos sed rock hits Waldemar pulls Gustav out from underneath the kitch en table by his right ear. The pair thus stands in a dialectical relationship corresponding to L n, nee is neither the appetite for satisfaction nor the demand for love, but the difference that results from the subtraction of the first from the second, the very phenomenon of their splitting ( Spaltung This is evidenced by the package of food for
166 their door. Gustav, o n the other hand, wants to substantiate his love by provid ing his debilitated Heimkerer [returning soldier] father with food, the food that Willi has stolen The a dialectic in which both of these tricksters ask each other, Ch vuoi Lacan argues, ] that comes back to the subject from the place from which he expects an oracular reply Ch vuoi question that best leads the subject to the path of his own desire, assuming that, thanks to the know how of a partner known as a psychoanalyst, he does he want from m Gustav lac ks what Willi has, namely food, while Willi lacks the parental love given to Gustav. These two complement each other and each assume s for the other the position of objet petit a that which each believes will complete him but which i n fact exposes the Throughout the film, Lamprecht also takes advantage of the tri appetite. Hyde notes The trickster myth derives creative intelligence from appetite. It begins with a being whose main concern is getting fed and it ends with the same being grown mentally swift, adept at creating and unmasking deceit, proficient at hiding his tracks and at seeing through the device s used by others to hide theirs. (17) The cine trickster children worry a great deal about a ppetite. Gustav feeds outsiders such as Waldemar, and The trading of stolen food for illegal firecrackers to the st ealing of food for the debilitated He rr Iller The significant role of appetite changes after the Heimkerer enters the ruins and Herr Steidel, a war veteran who gazes
167 in a catatonic state out the window it is return inscribes a physical reappearan ce of a transitional object. T ys out in two ways in the film: in the actual consumption of food and the acquisition of money. Elevating money and food into the tra nsposes them with objet petit a throu gh acts of transgression that force characters to encounter the v oid of the Thing that they fantasize will completes them. Birk e for one believes the stolen food will bring him to completion. D espite t he fact that the I llers return the missing food, Birke refuses created by lost money Appetite oscillates between food and money, food turning into a co mmodity rather than a necessity. This plays upon Lacan while simultaneously hinting at an undercurrent of the National Socialist past that haunts the film through fascistic obsession with food. Willie as trickster transgresses the Law, expo sing the Real/Void within Birke. This e nables the participant audience, Gustav, Frau Shelp and thereby dialectic of stealing and appetite reaches its zenith when Willi run After Willi divulges his good intentions in the theft Eckmann In this way, Willi exposes the hypocrisy surroun ding him. H recall formulation regarding the trickster through the transitional space of rubble in the opening and concluding sequences
168 the symmet rical return to the landscape fusing intrapsychic crypts and encounters with the debris of the Real. Playing war by bombing the ruins with illegal firecrackers, the youth mob of play. This initial pretend war scene encapsulates the trickster logic of unlocking the intrapsychic crypt, throwing the hidden secret at the painter Herr Eckmann The rubble as transitional space permit s these children to dislodge the secret hidden with in the fractured space. As D. W. Winnicott notes, Into this play area the child gathers objects or phenomena from external reality and uses these in the service of some sample derived from inner or personal reality. Without hallucinating the child puts ou t a sample of dream potential and lives with this sample in a chosen setting of fragments from external reality. (51) These children did not choose these fragmented rubble s as their transitional space; t herefore, it should not be surprisin g that they phy sically bomb it in order to engage in a form of creative destruction. Winnicott believes that the destructive impulse s in creative play move raises questions about the nature of the transitional objects that exist in this space. and the contraband firecrackers function as transitional objects. The latter in particular exposes the cryptic secret of the past. Fisher ruly children seen [stand] obliquely for the war ; moreover, Fisher claims another film, Rotation mob scene the childre n, in a manner reminiscent of the Nazis stand in line and count off as they receive their fireworks. Shattering windows, creating chasms amid the debris, and recapitulating the past as a microcosm i n the present, the rockets unearth the secrets of the cryptic ruins National Socialism.
169 Even more so th an the rockets and the rubbles, another transitional object extracts from the crypt the Nazi past. The explosions force Herr Eckmann to en counter the Real of this crypt. T he juxtaposition of children and fi reworks intrude on his mental faculties as a rocke t invades his home and burns a hole into his painting. Gathering together the children to underscore the severity of their transgressions uper ego takes over once again. T he children return and he yells at them warriors. Nothing better to do? Always waging inside to witness the hole in the painting, what the viewer recognizes as a figure for the Nazi censorship of art. Thes e children confront head on the destruction of an another transitional object. Winnicott notes ect is always being destroyed. This destruction becomes the unconscious backcloth for love of a real object; that is, an object outside the onfro nted with the hole in the artwork, Willi cries, while Gustav declares the children believe they can patch up the past with some glue and tape. The w ound in the transitional object produces the love Gustav needs in order, as the culture hero to lay down the rules of the social order The transgression that exposes the cryptic secret creates the desire to reconfigure the social matrix and patc h up the gap created by a lack in the social order After the children swear off war games and depart like good tricksters, they once more throw a rock into knocking the ruined artwork out of his hands. This second assault on the picture reveals t he repetition compulsion that haunts transgenerationally the children, that returns at this moment in the fascistic hatred of art.
170 Willi plays an instrumental role in his return to the rubble ore climbing to his death; and, i n a dialogue with Eckmann he foreshadows his death in his narration of his hiding in Willi t was warm there and nobody could find me. And everyone was looking lly locks himself insid e the crypt. The next morning, he ex poses the phantom of the ruins the hidden secret of the crypt by becoming one more victim. The participant narrative audience, as well as the original 1946 the audience of the film, recognize Willi mpt to become the culture hero, even saluting him Wi Symbolic order of the participant audience members most especially for Herr Iller, who visits Willi and reconstitutes the Symbolic order by promising to fulfill their wish to rebuil d the garage. Nevertheless, the real cultu re hero is not Willi but Gustav, phantom to rally the youth mob to finally clear the rubble from the garage and thereby exorcise the phantom(s) of the rubb le image of the children rebuilding the social matrices One problem with this reading arises from the assumption that Gustav and Herr Iller might incorporate the corpse of Willi into their psyches. If this is the case, the removal of the debris from the garage may simply clear a an endocryptic identificatio n coming fast upon the heels of this action. The question thus r emains open whet her an exorcism of the intrapsychic crypt has occurred. phantom haunt the garage, reinscribing the National Socialist victims ins ide the new transitional space? Or did the encounter with the creaturely trickster lead the witnesses into a new f orm of ethico political action? Only the trickster hermeneutic strategies of
171 what Rancire refers to as the emancipated spectator can render these possibilities viable. Crea turely Cine Trickster Children u nto Death Cinematic portrayals of children as t ricksters existed long before the German rubble films. However, the use in these films of the child to reveal the fissures of social reality necessitates Crossing the borders of permissible thought, creature ly cine trickster children inhabit a topsy turvy reality comparable describes in The Phenomenology of Spirit Hans George Gadamar contends, rmeaning of the first world. Rather, this inversion, in which everything appears altered, shows in precise fashion the hidden perversit y of our Creaturely trickster children, cobbling together meaning from th eir disorderly world si multaneously elicit a sacrosanct repulsion and peculiar fascination I war film Forbidden Games novel Secret Games ( Les Jeux inconnus ) c reaturely trickster twins, young Paulette (Brigitte Fossey) and Michel Doll (Georges Poujouly) wander across a France during the 1940 Ge rman Blietzkrieg of Paris depicted as another Inverted World. The film the first awarded an honorary Oscar, and this because the Academy did not have a for eign film category at the time revolves around Paulette, who witnesses both her parents e shot while trying to escape After losing her parents, she carries her dog, Jock, back to some Parisians, who then throw it into the ri ver. Paulette fetches her dead dog out of the water and encounters Michel, a small boy chasing his who then takes her back to his family. At this
172 point she enters the rural world that Peter Matthews designates as part of a fairy tale topography. Raised in the city, Paulette in fancy dress contrasts starkly with the agrarian world into which she stumbles As she learns about the ceremonies surrounding death, she decides to bury her dog and build a cemetery so that the d og will not be alone. Following their construction of the cemetery, filled with dead animals they have gathered from the countryside, the children become obsessed with Christian iconography of crosses, and in their final act of depravity, they pilfer cross es from a church graveyard. In this topsy turvy reality, the worldview imparted by the Doll family filtered worldview, initiates a traumatic repetition of both and the Holocaust. A fter overhearing that th e seven people killed on the br dig a hole and in [the re becomes convinced she must bury Jock. She and Michel construct a crypt in an abandoned mill, presided over by an owl t hey call The Mayor. The owl is both a symbol of the repetition compulsion that will occur under its watch and asks Michel if he thinks Jock will get lonely in the crypt; at this point, these two pranksters seek out de ad animals to bury in their graveyard. In c ertain cases, as when Michel steals baby chickens from backyard, it appears that he kills live animals in appetite for dead animals is rivaled only by her love of crosse s and t game comes to its climax when they pilfer cross es explodes into the filmic mise en sc ne when Paulette visits the church during the Michel that her fa He
173 subsequently gives in to desires and the priest spots him attempting to steal the cross while his sister goes to confessi on. Later, they take their innocent criminal transgressions one step further in steal ing f ourteen crosses from the church graveyard. After the authorities capture Paulette, her screams become an acknowledgem ent of her personal trauma, as she cries out, Maman to recreate her trauma in the mill, she finally unlocks the m agic word, the fi her disappear ing into a crowd in search of her mother. The creaturely tricksterism of these children restores order to this Inverted World via the ir navet I mbued with an inchoate understanding of religious rites t he recreation in the pet cem etery of the Holocaust enables Paulette to transform it into a transitional space wherein she can come to terms with the personal trauma of losing her parents. I ncapable of comprehending how their words act as the impetus for Michel and actions, the adults are too caught up in their battle with the neighbors the Gouards to care activities Without th e creaturely trickster children traversing this narrative world, the film would lose it s transfor mative power. As Mat thews notes, When Paulette and Michel steal crosses from the village church to adorn their own private cemetery of dead fauna (first her beloved dog, Jock, then moles, crickets, cockroaches, butterflies, birds, worms, buried in a mounti ng frenzy), they are at once blasphemers against and parodists of the official religion that the grown ups practice so emptily. Yet in a world where the currency of death has been so cheapened, their crimes ironically restore to it a portion of its origina l sacramental awe and gravity. (10) The sacrilegious activities of these trickster twins enable them ultimately to move into a sacrosanct place, launching them onto a dialectical journey of sorts. Critics of the film were disturbed by the sense that good and evil become equivalent and innocence and guilt appear as flip side s of one coin. The morbid
174 relationship between the trickster chi ldren and the dead animals raises questions about whether viewers should understand these children as innocent or as embod iments of a perverse evi On Evil dwells upon the murder of a toddler in England by a group of children. Reflecting on a designation of the children perpetrators as Eagleton mentions the ambiguous position of children in contemporary culture: Perhaps we are ready to believe all kinds of sinister things about children since they seem like a half alien race in our midst. Since they do not work, it is not c lear what they are for. They have the uncanniness of things which resemble us in some ways but not in ot hers. It is not hard to fantasiz e that they are collectively conspiring against us, in the manner of The Midwich Cuckoos Bec ause children are not fully part of the social game, they can be seen as innocent; but for just the same reason they can be regarded as the spawn of Satan. The Victorians swung constantly between angelic and demonic views of their offspring. (2) In the children of Forbidden Games the question of good and evil marks the ambiguous and, therefore, tricky nature of reality Moreover, the film transform s the cultural imaginary to such an extent that the definitions of these binaries break asunder and are ult imately distributed in a new way T raumatized by the death of her parents and unable to articulate her own emotions, Paulette, along with her accomplice Michel transform i nto trickster twins that do not oppose each other. Rather, the trickster qualities o f each reinforce those of the other. Rancire notes FF 16). Dwelling in the interstitial space between victims an d perpetrators, these tricksters aulette uses animal corpses forms of transitional objects, to come to terms with and exorcise th e phantoms of her dead parents, whom she has incorporated in a melancholic fashion
175 in to her psyche. These trickster twins, bricoleurs accumul ating words and religious rites they cannot fully comprehend, reveal the ambiguous relationship s a subject discovers in a world produced in war. If questions a rise about the in nocence or evil of Paulette and Michel, where would one locate the horrific childhood depicted in Turtles Can Fly ? These war ravaged cre aturely cine trickster children precariously straddle chil dhood and an adult realm that threaten s to r ob them of their innocence. Because the film revolves around the children proximity to death and destruction the space of the Real one wonders if they can even any longer be considered children. While developmentally they appear to be children, it seems at times as if they have surpassed the limits of childhood. Lebeau writes What price the image of the child? In pain, in death? At the limits of language, of culture, of knowledge, the child can always be used to make the familiar strange, the domestic u ncanny, in a way that also draws on the attachment to the image of the child as an incitement to compassion, pity, feeling above all, to the future. But what happens if that image fails? di has reflected on the filming of Turtles Can Fly D welling in the Iraqi Turkish border in Kurdistan t he liminal children of Turtles Can Fly shake off conventional designation s as childr en in part bec ause of their misshapen bodies. Inscribed on the mangled bodies of these children are thus the ravages of war. F ollowing the daily activities of a group of refugee children who, before the 2003 arrival of U.S. troops disarm mines in order to make some money, depicts child ren in dire c ircumstances. However, even in this case, the viewer cannot too readily dismiss the ir child like qualities
176 If, as Ghobadi suggests in his notes on the film that these figures should not be conside red children, how should the viewer understand them ? To deem them adults would imbue the film with an ideological significance th at w ould eradicate the social realities they experience. Moreover, if they were understood as adults, the film would become cl ose to what we see in wi nning, The Hurt Locker (2009). The Hurt Locker American soldiers rather than Iraqi children doing the work of disarm ing mines, and the huckster chi ld Beckham selling to the soldiers DVDs films were similar tenuous one especially if we keep in mind Ran claim that the aesthetic regime corresponds to a distribution of the sensible that always already politicizes art in a specific fashion These two films convey similar messages but the cinematic unfolding of each makes a tremendous difference Turt les Can Fly relies on a mise en scne of maimed children in order to capture the devastation of their lived experience. The complex relationship between children and war remain s the focu reflec t on the gross social inequalities experienced by them. children suggests that he may rely too heavily on a modern Western definition of childhood. As Walter Benjamin observes in Berlin Childhood arou nd 1900 which, in exile, are most apt to waken homesickn of children living in close proximity to death contrast starkly evoking nosta lgia for a lost, youthful innocence. T he trickin
177 exposes a gap where language breaks down: if children in a Western sense, they are still children mise en scne. The challenges fac ed by these children lead Lebeau to argue that the film paints these refugee children as future less or, at best, with a future impossible to imagine. However, reading them through the lens of a trickster hermeneutic opens up a way of seeing them beyond th e bleak fate Lebeau envisions. For without an attention to the children would be cast into the rubbish heap of history. Lebeau understands these children as constraine d to the film the months precedin g the American invasion of Iraq; however, r eading Turtles Can Fly fully aware that Ghobadi captures these maimed children on film after the fall of Saddam Hussein opens up a way to challenge the boundaries of s opening sequence, which consists of Agrin plopping a stone into the lake right before she jumps off a cliff, lets the The viewer may wonder whether the trick ster could dwel l in such a dark narrative. quips and sometimes comic turns remind us that we can locate trickster incarnations in these cinemat ic children. L ike Iktomi ost racized from tribal connections, they thus lurk at the marg ins of their society children operate in a historical fis sure where the space of meaning breaks down. In this way, the film unearths for the participant viewer a realm of creaturely life. The film revolves around two protagonists: Sor an, known as Satellite, a tech savvy child wandering from village to village to install satellite dishes and Hengov. Satellite controls
178 the local children and runs cunning circles ar ound the village elders. W hen it comes to bartering with technological tr aders, his wily t ricks become handy. He, too, does not work his machinations alone : Hengov, an eerily stoic and armless boy who has propheci es to boost his own posit ion usually through an English he barely comprehends The film also includes who despondently looks on as her blind b aby, Riga a product of rape by soldiers calls to her. Because of ict religious beliefs, Hengov and Agrin tell everyone that Riga is their brother. The child constantly reminds Agrin of what enemy soldiers did to her, and she thus concludes that she must abandon her child to find peace The film ends with the arrival of U.S. s oldiers after Agrin drowns her son and jumps to her death, Hengov to fend solely for himself. The main trickster figures here remain Satellite and Hengov, huckster children e mploying a cunning of reason. gures throughout the film. A crucial moment of transgression occurs when he sets up a satellite dish for Esmael and the other Kurdish elders. Hi s tricks begin when he turns on the very exy has prohibited. This elicits stern disapproval from the elders; however, a fter Satellite finds a news channel, where a speech by the U.S President is being broadcast, his role transforms from the buffoon to culture beare r. Satellite translates, incorrectly I
179 at once tragically prophetic and darkly comedic, exposes the signifying stress, the failure of translation revealing nonsensical ness to the viewer. Satellite keeps saying he needs to attend to the village children, who reside in the symb olic order he helps maintain. These children stand in dis tinction to the eruption of the Real found in the untranslatable English emitti ng from the television screen On the other side of this coin, Hengov brings his prophetic visions to the Kurds, offering revelation s stemming directly from the v oid of the Rea l. Hengov understands the signifying stress that emerges from the visions. Agrin tells Satellite that after Hengov made predictions in two differen t villages, things ended badly. Satellite then uses Hengov to forewarn the villagers. Althoug h one could attribute too much seriousness to Hengov, he too engages in some hilarious acts; f or example, even though he lacks arms, he is willing to fight with Satellite, head butt ing him early on In this way, Hengov displays his own inflated pride Heng serious nature figures what Satellite lacks. Both are necessary to counterbalance the other, a deep dialectic developing between the two characters. T he se creaturely trickster twins through their sacrosanct power expose the historic fissure, the symbo lic Real of their ev eryday lives. These cinematic children meander through war rubble and deal with imminent death, and thereby highlight the importance of the creaturely trickster for making sense of the traumas they encounter. The horrors experienced by these child ren tricksters challenge conventional notions of childhood. Moreover, child ren in these films enable a reconfiguration of the social symbolic order during a post war period of reconstruction. Despite how much some viewers may want to condemn the children to their historical fates, these cinematic trickster children are able to transform their worlds. R evealing
180 aporias in the social symbo lic order, these creaturely tricksters children impel the spectator to acknowledge the necessity for some form of ethico political action.
181 CHAPTER 7 CODA: THE CREATURELY TRICKSTER TRANSCODED : THE DIGITIZED IMAGIN ATION AND AVATAR produces poetry, beauty, truth, drama, tension or human feelings nothing other than the human mind and the human heart. Digital technology entertaining us, not teaching us, not moving us. In the future of cinema you still have to do that. Wim Wen ders, What the New Technologies Offer Moving from the original oral nature of trickster tales to the cinematic gestures that transform the trickster on screen, I have argued throughtout this dissertation for a creaturely trickster that materializes in ci cinema moves from the analog to the digital and beyond. Technological advances in digital imagery reconfigure the boundaries of cinema to suc h an extent that some scholars offering stead The creaturely cine trickster, inevitably scoffing at any medium, gets transcoded in our digital age in improbable ways. T ranscoding, Lev Manovich maintains in his foundational work, The Language of New Media refers to the ways that computer logic influences how we define ourselves, and this logic also ap plies to the ways artists now present the trickster in their works Wan dering into Internet memes and fan fiction as well as into cinematic data, the capricious trickster helps us make sense of our ever evolving world. The cine trickster moves onto slippery terrain as digital te chnologies replace analog video. This change si gnals for some Rodowick observes,
182 What characterizes a medium as modern is our awareness that it occupies a continuous state of self transformation and invention that runs ahead of our perceptions and ideas. Hence the uncertain historical interval, itself without a clear or focused image, that moving image scholars now inhabit was cinema become An inter stitial space holds the place for the cine trickster as the digital revolution transforms moviemaking from production to pos t production and from marketing to exhibition. Digital processes augment contemporary artistic practice, and d igital cinematic spaces morph into viable new realms for cre aturely tricksterism. The turn from analog to digital image capture significantly shifts the boundaries of the restrained by bulky equip ment, find themselves liberated by t he advent of digital video. They can now take cameras into spaces and capture moments that previously eluded them. C onsider, for Lightning Over Water (1980), a cinematic ode to Nicholas Ray made during his fi nal days. Despite the fa ct that Ray contends that he abhors the shfit from analog to digital, Wenders uses digital video to the studios, the liberated camera can cross boundaries at a directo A second change occurs in the af fordability of new technologies. This opens the door to fourth world, or indigenous cinema s Socio economic situatio ns once obviated certain people from becoming filmmaker s; however, the shifting technologies smash the se boundaries Less expensive digital cameras and easy access to I nternet distribution enables many more people to disseminate digital data across a pop ular cultural landscape already saturated with images. At the same time, indigenous directors, such as the Inuit Zacharias Kunuk, director of Atanarjuat ( The Fast Runner
183 2001), can now influence the landscape of conte mporary cinematic practices and produce fourth world cinema. T he ability to produce and create films indepen dently mitigates the loss of s acred knowledge and old myths because the se indigenous films preserve culture before it completely disappears Reconstructing sacred cultura l myths in cinematic form, rev italize cinema through its content and cinematography. Creative minds and trickster like play engender a digital imagination, one capable of manipulating digital images for their maximum potential. In ou r ever shifting media landscape, new technologies create novel imaginative pos sibilities. Avatar (2009), what I would consider a film of manifest manners akin to the sauerkraut westerns, stands as the apotheosis of the digitized trickster imagination This film stretches the latest digit al technologies to their limit s because s ome of its sequences almost crashed the computer s as the special effects crew manipulated massive amounts of digital data. In both f orm and content, Avatar showcases the trickster at work: he appears in both the digital performance capture Camer and digitally manipulate the characters as well as the narrative revolving around the tricksterism at work in Avatar I need to foreground some of the c onnections between digital technological advancements, new media theory and creaturely tricksterism that le d up to the production of a film such as Avatar Creaturely Tricksterism Transcoded Digital video, computer generated images (CGI) and the special effects they produce ch ange the face of recent cinema to the dismay of film critics such as Rodowick and Stephen Prince, both of who m feel nostalgic for older forms of cinema.
184 Digital cinema will in a highly trickster like fashion shift the respective bou ndaries an d arguments surrounding cinema. Rodowick suggest s that the only way to discuss digital cinema is to return to questions that haunted classical film theorists, including those about the ontology of the image, the importance of realism, the product ion of temporal and spatial relations, and t he positioning of spectator s subjectivity Rodowick calls for a return of the repressed, precisely that which contemporary scholars think has been put to rest. C lassical film theorists paved the way for later s cholars to elevate cinema to the status of art. However, once cinema morphed trickster like into the digital age, questions about whether digital film should be considered art once more gain ed importance. The debates concerning whether CGI characters shoul d get no minated for awards harkens back to earlier questions about awards for film actors who do not necessarily perform an entire scene in one take as do stage actors. Q uestions about the ontological nature of the image and its significance also creep ba ck into consciousness with the advent of computer manipulation of images. The return of the the way in which burgeoning technologies m ake theorists and practitioners earlier forms. Although filmmakers s till s eem to questions arise concerning whether digital cinema can transform the image enough to produce new experiences John Belton for one, argues that digital e ffects and c omputer generated images do not. Belton traces the burgeoning technological advances of digital cinema only to conclude
185 audience s l cinema offers nothing new, others disagree. For instance, Prince argues, The profound impact of the shift to video will lie not in the gaudy special effects and fantasy creatures that capture so much media attention, but in the perceptual registration of light information, first as the images are captured and then as the values read by the capture device are in turn read by the viewer. We are accustomed to thinking about cinema in terms of its content and its formal devices, and to regarding these as embo dying its essential structural characteristics. From this standpoint, movies will continue to tell stories using editing, camera movement, lighting, and sound, whether on celluloid or digital video. But the quality and character of light itself, and the pe rceptual experience it induces in viewers, provides perhaps the most integral conception of the medium, and it is here in the nature of the light induced perceptual experience that the medium is transforming most radically. (32) One example of these perce ptual experience s Prince discusses is panning with a digital camera, which creates a distracting strobe effect that affects viewers of digital cinema. Another argument concerning new media is that of explains that new me dia is simply a recapitulation of a previous form of media. This notion lies at the heart of the argument about digital processes as technological advances change the way spectators perceive new media. In the contemporary moment, viewers consume online vid eo in windows of varying sizes, on monitors, tablets or even iPhones. Some of this digital data makes the viewer aware that these images are being mediated through the programs th at they run on their computers; however, at other times the viewer forgets th e artifice Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin differentiate these perceptual effects as hypermediacy and immediacy. They the end of the twentieth century, we are in a position to understand hypermediacy as that has never been suppressed fully or for wo sides of the same coin, hype rmediacy and immediacy highlight the trick of tr ansparency in the digital realm: the enigm atic nature of the
186 transparent emerges in the way in which th e spectator views the image. It does not need to arise directly from the data itself. For instance, watching the video game Ben X (2007) through Netflix Streaming on a computer overemphasizes the mediated nature of the framed i mage of avatars playing on a computer in a film being watched on a monitor. H ypermediacy and immediacy further obfuscate the enigmatical nature of the dialectical and digitized images by seeming to transform affect. The trick here comes in how the interfa ces disguise each other, hypermediated clues hiding in plain sight. When one gets lost in the affect of images, the likelihood of seeing th e hypermediated space decreases. T his dual system allows the spectator to experience the image in ways that allow the digital trickster imagination to reveal what is in the frame, what is on the margins, and even what does not appear in the image. The creaturely trickster imagination emerges when laughter get s provoked, even without the political underpinnings that creat Alth ough theorists argue whether these digitized effects can engender new experiences, the possibilities of c inematic transformations become a selling point for directors and even inspire among th em child like awe. The constellation of child/trickster/ci nema I outlined in Chapter 3 does not dissipate when the film market turns to digital imaging processes. The child figure becomes newly significant in term s of digitized processes and through tricks ter possibilities of film s such as Toy Story and Coraline that cater to children with 3 D animation and digitization. A further interesting twist in the children/trickster/digital cinema constellation comes from one of the founders
187 of the French New Wave, Jean Godard observes, Video has its own specificity. It can be used for its uniqueness, but, in my opinion, rarely is. On video, I love doing superimpositions, real superimpositions, almost as in music, where movement s mix sometimes slowly, sometimes brutally then something happens. You can have two images at the same time, much like you can have two ideas at the same time, which, to me, seems very close to childhood. (2) As Godard notes the possibilities of superimp osing two images change with the advent montage in a way that can recreate a creaturely trickster. This is especially the case when used by political filmmakers such as Godard. metaphor of the child and the digital imagination infancy. A nother digital trickster possibility results from the space of manipulability in image iding principles of new media is numerical representation, the idea that artifacts of new media exist as data. Frames of celluloid transform into digital data represented by computer code. Like the computer screens of binary code flashing in The Matrix t ha t create a world uncannily like our own, digital data creates an unparalleled space for play, manipulation and world building. The data of digital images underscores the fact that, if the trickst er bumbles its way through this digital corridor, it exposes the aporias of our social symbolic, or the Real of our lived experience. The physical space of digital data in code both exists and does not exist because viewers experience a digital film the same way tha t they would a celluloid image. Nevertheless, the new storage space opens up a playful terrain for manipulating the cultural Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) was
188 the first film in which the entire diegetic narrative world came into being through digital processe s Avatar first utilizes the latest technology to explore trickster machinations in a fully realized digital universe In Avatar, performances get superimposed with CGI animation, and the indexical nature of the filmed subject both lo se s and gains anew a foothold in reality. The Digital Imagination Unbounded: Avatar and Creaturely Tricksterism Avatar replete with sacrosanct reversals and trickster manifestations, reveals the great lengths that a director will go t o capture cinematic tricks The narrative focues on a corporation that wants to colonize Pandora so that they can dig up a natural resource, aptly named unobtainum, located underneath the sacred tree of the indigenous tribe A group of anthropologists use avatars of the with the m Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic ex marine initially workin g undercover for the company helps the anthropologists gain he fa lls in love w ith Neytiri (Zo e Saldana). Once the company learn s ith the indigenous n epic battle ensues, involv ing the creatures from every corne r of the planet. Jake and the anthropolog ical crew side with and hel p them defeat the corporate invaders Avatar dialogue limit its value among certain film aesthetes; the technological advances that make the film visually stunning, however, promise to change t he face of cinema. Cameron, no stranger to digita l processes in cinema, is a trickster figur e in his own right As revealed in the documentary Capturing Avatar when Cameron first approached fellow filmmakers about the project, they informed him that his idea would never work because the technology did not yet exist. Cameron visited the set of Robert
189 Beowulf and started asking questions about the digital technology Zemeckis used, which prompted Zemeckis to inquire why his fellow filmmaker wa s cu rious. Ca meron concealed his intentions. Even though effects specialists told him that the film could not be made he pressed on much like the trickster does in overtu rning any blocks in its path. Avatar so implausible to these people? He wanted to create a fully digitized universe called Pandora, but he wanted to do so by capturing performances in a new way, turning the physical bodies of his actors into a digital repres entation that could be manipulated wi th a computer. Woody Lindsey standard definition camera that takes constant images of their faces. That da ta is then transmitted to another camera creating a real time image of the live act While this process broke the boundaries of what directors had previously believed possible in motion capture of the Simulcam or virtual camera a device capable of superimposing CGI images over real time images t hat results in his tricksterism against the boundaries performances and automatically convert s them into their digital double While some critics maintain that the se technological advancements reduce the screen, others believe that it actually brings ve rsatility to actors who can now play characters of any age group or species. Yacov Freedman argues that industry standards do not allow an actor to gain recognition for her/his completely digital performance, yet the technological advances contin ue to shift in that direction. Part of t he problem stems from the name that gets a ttached to the digi tal
190 process. T hose w ishing to denigrate it r efer to it as motion capture while those wanting to celebrate the acting call it performance capture. The Academy still refuses performance cap ture roles as accomplishment s worthy of garnering an acting nominati on. Nevertheless, the cast of Avatar as Gollum in Peter The Lord of the Rings trilogy makes a strong argument in favor of the Academy either creating a new category or including performance capt ure into its acting categori es. Performance capture eliminates hours actors must spend putting on make up, yet it still utilizes the facial features of the actor to add verisimilitude to the CGI images. Digital performan ce capture collapses the distance separating the real of the mas k from the actor. As put on their masks and represent the essence with the help of the mask. The self of an individual (the actor) puts on a mask and, with it, pu ts on the character he is playing. In this way we come to a new mode of representation, which is not narrative (and in this sense figurative, imaginary), but is linked to the Real of the mask itself as the gap or interval between the actor and the characte r. (25) The Real of the mask highlights the spli t in subjectivity on the stage. However, in the case of Avatar and digital performance capture the gap between the two elides a fully realized ideal ego and The digitally enhan ced ideal ego in Avatar alters the mirror moment for the actors and actresses to the extent that Cameron becomes the mediating (O)ther and their reflection s change species. This, of course, remains a major theme within the film itself T highly developed creatures and the colonial and romantic themes get d eveloped
191 through the repeated 1 As Lacan p oints out, the deceptive trick in the mirror moment comes thro ugh the misrecognition of the fragmented self as a totality. What happens to the ideal ego and ego ideal when the reflected image changes species I, at least, have no idea that I am wearing [these dots]. I feel alien over takes Saldana until a liberat ing reaction formati on that occurs with her CGI counterpart. Only the ideal ego matters, as the ego T he lack of an ind igenous ego ideal autonomy and visual sovereignty get recognized by the imperialist s thwarted in their effort to obtain the unobtainum. ego in the mirror moment between actors and their CGI images recapitulates a structural problem within t he narratives of the cinema of manifest manners. The elusive ego gets refracted th rough human intervention, in the form of anthropologists infiltrating the indigeno us tribe However, one may argue that Jake Sully, the imperialist avatar, expose some kernel of tr uth about subscribe to the old myth the fight to earn their place within the tribe through p hysical combat and the search for spirit animals all 1 in Avatar
192 can be read as reproducing the stereotype of the stoic Indian. 2 For example, Jake chooses his mountain banshee ( or ikran ) a ceremoni al vision quest a scene cut fr om the theatrical release. D spirit animal, Toruk, the great red bird, the riding of which during the last act of the film The nature of digital performance capture transforms not only the real of the cinema. No matter what images will appear in a shot, it can be filmed in any locat ion with a green screen, a nd computers can add the scenery later Horses, for instance, would physically gallop in the same limited production space in which the aerial seque nces would later take place Transforming spatial relations in film, perfor mance capture turns wire toys int o creatures and vehicles for various flight sequences. In the documentary on the making of Avatar viewers watch the production crew playing with the small replicas of the flight vehicles, dragons and banshees much like the metal toys played with in C alder Dreams That Money Can Buy The only difference is that Cameron puts markers on the toys so that the cameras could use motion capture t o choreograph these sequences; t he se bare bone toys become fully re alized helicopters and dragons through computer animat ion. unseen, shifting time and space CGI effects. In the past, filmmakers could paint over frame s or superimpose sh ots to 2 I employ the term Indian here precisely because Michelle H. Raheja includes Avatar among he r list of recent films about Native Americans.
193 create the desired image. T hese innovative digital technologies now allow one t o create entire universes in real time. Cameron wanders into unchartered territory, and his ground breaking eff orts effectively position him as a trickster bricoleur cobbling together the filmic units through the CGI effects. The narrative of the film also extends into the realm of creaturely tricksterism, as one would expect when dealing with the indigenous Omorticaya clan. In Reservation Reelism Raheja maintains that the trickster would figure prominently in Native American film theory, from the way Indians laugh at the misrepre sentations of themselves and inauthentic costumes to the counterstrategies of hegemo nic resistance of the actors. Howev er, in Avatar the crea turely trickster manifests in way s similar to Old Shatterhand in the sauerkraut westerns. Arriving as a greenhorn, Jake embarks on his adv enture with the indigenous people and phys German criti Avatar as another re fantas ia of the indigenous Americans. S imilarly, the most common reading of the film situates it as an allegory of the Na tive American struggle against imperialist Europeans. The ecolog i cal argument hammers its way into the viewer, while the film casts itself both as an anti capitalist and anti war film with sarcastic comments on quo even resulted in the Pope denouncing it Pandora also resemble down world. Cameron casts Pandora as the anti Earth in its very cap acity to keep human life afloat. The anthropologists meticulously studying Pandora, the world turned topsy turvy, morph Jake Sully from a
194 parapal egic ex Marine into a avatar that enters the new world to learn the secrets that lead him to empathize with the in digenous (o)ther he has become like space of possibility whe re everything regarding the sacred gets skew ed The flora and fauna on Pandora destroy human life As he begins to understand th life force, Jake notes in his video log, Everything is backwards now, like out there [Pandora] is the true wor Cameron creates a digitized world resembling the inverted world, a world capable of upending the reigning worldviews. Phenomenology of Spirit as though it applies to Pandora Hegel writes According, then, to the law of this inverted world, what is like in the first world is unlike to itself, and what is unlike in the first world is equally unlike to itself or it becomes like itself. Expressed in determinate momen ts, this means that what in the law of the first world is sweet, in the inverted in itself is sour, what in the former i s black is, in the other, white. In another sphere, revenge on an enemy is, according to the immediate law the supreme satisfacti on of the injured individuality. This law, however, which bids me confront him as himself a person who does not treat me as such, and in fact bids me destroy him as an individuality this law is turned round by the principle of the other world into its oppo site: the reinstatement of myself as a person through the destruction of the alien individuality is turned into self destruction. (97) The inversion of the supersensible world that inaugurates dialectical thinking transforms a subject through what I call a creaturely trickster turn The humans on Pandora find that the laws of the first world, the supersensible world of hegemonic dominance, are of little use in explaining how things work on Pandora The backward s world exposes that which is left out of heg emonic discourse. T h ese alien encounters resituate subjectivity in terms of the (o)ther once
195 The creaturely cine trickster gets transcod ed in various channels of data and in such digital cultural out put as activist Internet memes chiding politicians and corporations for their roles in twisting the face of democ racy. The trick to t racking the trickster lies in our own understanding of how the trickster maneuvers across the borders of time and space and done, and th e digital turn will not stop the trickster from shaking its finger at us. The wily, cross cultural folk hero will continue appearing in the unlikeliest of places to r eveal the possibility of the impossible and make the unthought known.
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206 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Matthew Alan Feltman, born and raised in central Pennsylv ania, earned his B.A. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania before travelling to the University of Cincinn ati to a cquire his M.A. in English and comparative l iterature. Wan dering down a path that led to Gainesville, he pursued his Ph.D. in Engli sh (film s tudies track) at the University of Florida. He considers himself an inter disciplinary scholar with v arious interests, which include world cinema with an emphasis on European film history, new media studies, twentieth century continental philosoph y, Native American studies, Holocaust studies and humor/trickster studies. After receiving his Ph.D. he plans to fall asleep under a tree a nd dream of coyotes and spiders.