Out of Treatment, Interlude (Routines)

If you follow the comments, then you know that a reader pointed me to Dead Ringers for a transferential scene par excellence. It shamed me as I don’t know Cronenberg’s work as well as I should. Finally, last weekend I got around to watching this. Of course, of course, of course, Jeremy Irons’s portrayal of twins was fantastic. That should go without saying. What needs to be said, though, is that Geneviève Bujold completely steals every scene she’s in from Irons.

I have been extremely promiscuous. I’ve never even used contraceptive devices. I’ve never even thought contraceptive thoughts.

Well, she’s obviously a genius. A Lena “Fucking” Olin caliber actress. I’m angry now. I could have watched this movie instead of wasting my time with countless episodes of Law & Order. I need to change my life.

Change yours first, though. Watch this clip for the scene with Bujold and Irons playing footsie on the couch.

For me it’s all about the récit, a term from French narratology. It could be translated as “a telling of events,” or “story,” but I think the best term for it is “routine.” In the only good essay he ever wrote, pussy-flasher, Jacques Derrida pointed out that the récit perfectly demonstrates the “Law of Genre.” A genre piece, such as a novel or a bit of theater, can never tell you what it is. It functions by telling you what it is not since every variation in a routine differs from previous ones. Variations mark their differences from previous occurrences (becoming re-occurrences. Of course, David Hume basically said this, but you’re supposed to quote Derrida). That is why Claire Niveau (Bujold) finds something “subtly schizophrenic” about the Mandel twins who are both fucking her while pretending to be the same guy (her gynecologist). To get it up with women, Bev needs to hear how his brother screwed her. Elliot also needs to hear how Bev did it, for “you [Bev] haven’t had an experience until you’ve told me about it first!”

The French word “genre” also refers to gender, so the interchange about Bev’s name is particularly delightful; “It’s not a woman’s name. It’s spelled differently.” At which she teases, “Does your brother have a woman’s name, too?” Of course he does, though he seems to prefer the more masculine-determinate Elliot to the gender-bender, “Lee.”

I consider transference a good outlet for frustration when routines go bad. Once a decent therapist starts to see the patterns of your routines and has the balls to call you to the carpet for them, it’s convenient to raise a big emotional fuss to distract everybody. ‘I’ve just pooped my emotions onto your carpet. Now you sympathetically pooped yours. We have to clean this mess up. There’s no time for you to touch my routines. Our emotions are stinking up the room! We’ll never get these stains out!’

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3 Responses to “Out of Treatment, Interlude (Routines)”

  1. Zed Says:

    I also like the stagy, yet belittling, terms “shtick” or “bit.”

  2. Tucker Stone Says:

    You are smarter than me, but I just watched Videodrome again for the nine-hundredth time, so we still have a lot in common.

  3. darknessatnoon Says:

    Not if Nextflix keeps sending me stuff like Harold and Kumar go to White Castle instead of Videodrome. I wanted this to be a Cronenberg weekend, but didn’t schedule it correctly on my queue. I think I torrented Videodrome once, so I should go have a look. You should go get hitched.

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