The informe in David Lynch's cinema : reading American film through the 'Philosophy' of Georges Bataille

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This dissertation argues that several of American film-maker David Lynch's works employ a subversive textual operation in their representations of America and American life that is comparable, in both its approach and political significance, to the collapse of conceptual systems French philosopher Georges Bataille termed 'informe'. Each chapter of this thesis explores an aspect of American ideology that has been shaped within filmic conventions of genre, narration and representation, analysing how the informe in Lynch's films encourages awareness of difference; of other possibilities for representing human relations beyond these powerful circumscriptions of identity and ideology. In each analysis, the 'work' of the informe in the films under discussion is also linked to some of the prominent political concerns dealt with in Bataille's work. These include his focus on genuine human connectedness, eroticism and transgression, all of which are couched within a broader philosophical emphasis that emerges in his work on the need for balance in social existence between the 'heterogeneous' or 'sacred' aspects of society on the one hand, and the 'homogeneous' or 'profane' on the other.

Bibliography: leaves 175-188.