Understanding Laura-or-Artistic Portrait of the American Dream
Life Imitates Art -or- The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of
"Laura", directed in the high contrast black and white frame-space of 88 minutes, is one of the greatest Hollywood dream factory films ever created, because it artistically and forensically reflects back on itself. Said differently, Laura is a glamorous self-conscious life imitates art portrait and forensic inquiry of the social, economic, media and oneiric noir forces that artistically frame the everyday modern construction of the shadowy phantasmagoria of American oral and visual culture. "Understanding Laura", is a social scientific film noir inquiry into the media influence of the Hollywood dream factory and the global culture industry that it reflects.
Much like the obsession with Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon", the noir glamour of "Laura" represents "the stuff that dreams are made of". It is in this dark alluring narcissistic sense that almost everyman wants to possess Laura. Based on Vera Caspery's novel, "Ring Twice for Laura", it is seen as a loosely based life imitates art autobiography. The rhetorical genre of American biography becomes philosophically shaped by the American Dream's admixture of memoirs based on fact checked non-fiction and fictional edited fantasy based on artistic license.
In the modern cosmopolitan artistic world of dames, dolls and broads, Henry James "The Portrait of a Lady" paints a modernist canvas of the trans-Atlantic life of a young American woman. In his literary portrait studio, James portrays a modern woman's character, her fate and the dark existential erotic entanglements she has become involved in. James "The Portrait of a Lady" represents the "New Woman" of modernism, a woman who pushes the influential limits set by the patriarchal and capitalist dictates of male dominated society. "Laura" is an artistic portrait of the Hollywood dream factory's iconic measure of modernisms' new self-directed woman's religion of love, representing the self-made working girl and the American career woman's glamorous noir influence.
Published twenty two years after "Laura's" appearance on the silver screen, Jacqueline Susann's low brow "Valley of the Dolls" is seen as a prurient noir type gossip column, that rhetorically reads like a tell all, under the covers story. "Valley of the Dolls" is a thinly veiled biographical study and surreal pop culture advertisement of the rich and famous, who are found living on the iconic road to self-destruction. These Hollywood box office romantic female starlites, were seen as artistic glamour avatars of the American Dream, they included the likes of Ethel Mermon, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe who now live on Helnwein's art imitates life "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", and its dark phantasmogoria of Hollywood dream factory nightmares.
Caspery's novels can be read and seen as cosmopolitan itineraries of American Dream heroines who were trying to rhetorically balance career and romantic interests, business and pleasure entanglements. Caspery's Laura stands as a sublime Hollywood iconic monument to the social dramatic conflicts Leslie Fiedler called "Love and Death in the American Novel". A mesmerizing and chilling people's history, a classic forensic noir portrait of the American Dream, turned Nightmare. "Laura's" New York characters and their dramatic iconophilic field of dreams seem contextually different from those Los Angeles ones found in the iconic noir classic "Sunset Boulevard", or are they?
Otto Preminger's film direction of "Laura" provides a dark artistic frame of the everyday American noir obsessed philosophy of commercialized life. Laura is employed as a character analysis of the elegant dramatic mask wearing epochal communication, and the timeless dark rhetoric embodied in the obsessive erotic zeitgeist of the 1940's Manhattan upper class social order. "Laura" paints an artistic expressionist projection of the modern materialist ideology of the rhetoric of the American Dream. Fleshing out, a beguiling Edgar Allan Poe like group narcissistic portrait of the sights, sounds and feels of American dark romanticism. Presenting a decadent poetic collection of characters, who can be seen rhetorically representing what Camille Paglia calls "Sexual Personae", "Laura" exposes their masquerades, their flaws, weaknesses, fallacies, deceit, foibles and follies to the light.
Geoffrey O'Brien in "Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir" finds a hardboiled mythology in noir works: "Their mood like that of all myths... a blend of terror and fascination, and like other myths, it is their fate to be perceived as lurid and absurd by the skeptics who come after. Yet if we look hard, we can still discern in these toy like figures the heroes and demons of a generation, the enduring archetypes of an era haunted by all-to-real violence and tormented by desire it could not quite fulfill." The covers of paperbacks by writers such as W. R. Burnett, Dashiell Hammett, James Elroy, James M. Cain, and Raymond Chandler are; "voyeuristic rather than decorative. They permitted, by means of hyperrealism weightier than any photograph could be (after all, a photo would show the people to be mere humans), a peep through a window, and thereby proposed an answer to the question: What is really out there?"
Once "Laura" is placed under the light of the clinical magnifying glass for forensic study and inspection, a pathological narcissistic rhetorical darkness and poetic Waste Land is revealed. Those 1940's something American characters and their ambitious iconic status dreams may have died, however have the new young dream vision characters who have taken their place in today's global communication theatre stage really changed any? Really? Perhaps they have become even darker archetypal class conscious culture obsessed career versions of the same old noir story, the same old noir visions, same old noir dreams? Say like the dark New York urban mask of sanity wearing character found in the film "American Psycho"?
Piecing the expressionist American artistic fragments of the forensic case study of "Laura" together provides an understanding of the American dream vision kaleidoscope of film noir facets. In "Laura", we find the Stendhal like artistic, romantic noir crystallization of home, memory, culture, consciousness, narcissism, dialogue, erotic, masculinity, femininity, iconology, social role, business, career, ambition, status, influence, class, taste, obsession, love, hate, deception and intrigue. Beginning with those once upon a time enchanting fairy tale days of wine and roses, "Laura" works on many different narrative cinematic levels reflecting the American historical novel, making its allegorical everyday artistic, forensic and business ideological base and superstructure of the invisible dream world of light and darkness visible.
"Laura" mirrors not only Thorsten Veblen's "The Business Enterprise" in the advertising the American Dream, it also reflects the affluence, the class structure, the tastes, and conspicuous consumption of "The Leisure Class". The everyday artistic zeitgeist (signs of the times), the rhetorical twists and turns of thought, feeling and behaviour the New York metropolis and social order found working on their 1940's something psychological playing field. The poetic framework of dream vision in the personal, the political, the criminal, the religious, the economic, and the mediated communication network and superstructure of oral and visual culture, are made transparent. "Laura" rhetorically embodies the ut pictura poesis of the American Dream, providing us with a dark rhetorical vision of the everyday allegorical artistic noir dream bed of the dream visions of American visual and oral culture, which is made bare by the forensic light.
Walter Lippmann in his book "Public Opinion" saw how media driven rhetorical influence manufactures consent, by politically, economically and social psychologically using the art of persuasion. Edward Bernays "Crystallizing Public Opinion" was a modern pioneer in the "Public Relations" (PR) field, Bernays influential PR industry slogan was the "engineering of consent". Via public relations, mass communication vehicles become subject to manipulation by "spin doctors", who represent the dominant institutional political and economic arguments and interests. If Daniel J. Boorstin asked; "What Happened to the American Dream?", then one commercial rhetorical noir answer can be found in the Hollywood dream factory's cinematic portrait of "Laura". Joseph Conrad "Heart of Darkness" paints in his literary studio a global noir portrait of the hidden horrors of the heart of Western civilization's cultural imperialism, and the ambitious self-failure of public and private dream vision.
To underscore how the dark romantic Hollywood star power of American surreal dream vision fiction meets American Dream fact, Gene Tierney who had played Laura, disclosed in her 1978 autobiography "Self-Portrait" that she was involved in a secret ongoing affair with JFK starting in 1945. Tierney is quoted as saying about Kennedy; "He smiled at me. My reaction was right out of a ladies' romance novel. Literally, my heart skipped." Evidently, Kennedy ended the illicit relationship, understanding that his political ambitions of becoming American President with Tierney who would have needed a divorce from her husband, would make his chances slim to none. Kennedy tied his rising political charismatic star to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. JFK's rest of the story political rise, view from the top and his biographical "Profiles of Courage", are now American iconic history. Such ambitions were talked about in Vance Packard's classic "The Status Seekers".
In her seminal essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" Laura Mulvey writes about the Hollywood dream factory;
"The woman as icon, displayed for the gaze and enjoyment of men, the active controllers of look, always threatening to evoke the anxiety it originally signified. The male unconscious has two avenues of escape from this castration anxiety: preoccupation with the original trauma (investigating the woman, demystifying her mystery), counterbalanced by devaluation, punishment or saving the guilty object (an avenue typified by the concerns of film noir); or else complete disavowal of castration by the substitution of a fetish object or turning the represented figure itself into a fetish so that it becomes reassuring rather than dangerous (hence overvaluation, the cult of the female star)."
We can see all the sublime noir vicissitudes of Mulvey's "woman as icon" in "Laura", which are not all male gaze directed as Mulvey suggests, and would have us believe. Laura becomes a biographical study, in tracing female rhetorical self-direction, what Virginia Woolf called "A Room of Her Own", an oral and visual figural space that wants to be free of the male erotic icon dominated tradition. No question, Concha Pérez (Marlene Dietrich) in Josef von Sternberg's 1935 baroque styled film "The Devil is a Woman" fits Mulvey's male directed gaze, sex sells, iconic scopophilic description. Mulvey's list of classic Hollywood dream factory films also include Hitchcock's "Vertigo", "Marnie" and his voyeuristic masterpiece "Rear Window". Otto Preminger's "Laura" is found conspicuously absent from Mulvey's rhetorical noir arguments, and scopophobic visual culture driven discourse.
Preminger's masterpiece "Laura" appears to take the same classic noir social rhetorical geometry on a different artistic trajectory towards an envisioned road of woman's sexual revolutionary freedom and new iconic romantic light. This artistic idea, is in stark panoramic contrast to the dark romantic message of the never ending vicious psychopathological cycle of the urban business landscape of corruption found operating in Roman Polanski's Los Angeles noir masterpiece "Chinatown". Our artistic panoramic love of looking finds its scopophilic origins in what Freud called "Schaulust", meaning the erotic pleasures of observing, seeing, watching, looking and peeping. "Laura" is about 88 minutes of the everyday narcissistic framing the desire to see, and be seen in all its voyeuristic-exhibitionistic "woman as icon" pleasures. John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" provides artistic insight into such a popular culture Schauspiel (theatrical performance of visual pleasure) of the "woman as icon". "Laura" reflects the Hollywood dream factory artistic pleasure and pain, light and dark, love and hate vicissitudes of our oral and visual culture.
Mulvey's insightful book "Fetishism and Curiousity" discussing the visual iconography of the "femme fatale", states; "I want to take these ideas out of the context of an analysis of the femme fatale and relocate them in the context of the ‘enigma' of Marilyn Monroe. Quite clearly, Marilyn is outside the film-noir genre and her exaggerated sexuality is not that of the femme fatale. However, some of the same issues of ‘topography', the surface/secret opposition, are relevant to her image, returning the argument back to interconnections between the mask of femininity and commodity consumption."
Mulvey's artistic ideas about Marilyn Monroe not being a film noir femme fatale character, are just plain and simply wrong. We need only to point to Andy Warhol's commercial artistic iconological frame of Marilyn, "Marilyn Diptych", based on a publicity photograph that originated from the 1953 Hollywood noir film "Niagara". To disavow Marilyn's dark side, does a grave injustice to the Goya like "Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" artistic torment that Norma Jean experienced. Marilyn's unresolved mysterious death, represents a true to life imitates art American film noir poetic injustice, rectified in the upcoming second part of "Portrait of the American Dream". Mulvey is correct, that Monroe on her light erotic side embodies the American ideal beauty of the Hollywood mask of romantic comedy. Monroe as the "Playboy" pin up poster girl of the Hollywood dream factory, embodies popular culture's romantic iconic religion of love in the naked city, even more so than "Laura". Monroe whose star went nova over fifty years ago, has stood the commercial beauty myth test of time.
"Laura" is about the advertising rhetoric of modern narcissism and the commercialized American Dream. Laura who has risen to become a New York advertising executive shaker and mover is asked about an advertising art model sales design; "do you think it will make people want to bathe more?" In "Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940" Roland Marchand discusses Marghanita Laski's essay "Advertising-Sacred and Profane", Laski finds that advertisers "gravitate towards depictions of the product as idol." and "identifies a group of ‘numinous' situations and events that trigger ‘life-enhancing feelings' or ‘a passion of awe.'"
Laski sees advertisers delivering persuasive artistic messages of their enchanting goods in terms of the cultural iconic visual domains of the numinous which include; the arts, education, national glory, natural beauty, love and marriage, childbirth and childhood. By infusing products with the numinous, advertisers were selling their products as if they were created in "God's holy light", thereby producing an iconic Vincent van Gogh like "Starry Night" panorama of the American theology of the marketplace and its' business branding of American dream vision.
Marchand focuses on advertising's "social tableau" of consumer "living picture" fantasies of the American Dream. These American "slice of life" living pictures of visual and oral culture, conform to Thorsten Veblen's consumer ideas of conspicuous consumption and leisure. When the hard global marketplace reality and Hollywood dream factory fantasy fairy tale take different roads, like we saw in the global recession of 2008, the entertainment bubble of numinous perception bursts, and noir questions about material profane business of greed and crime can be seen and heard surfacing. Seen from an everyday gender role advertising perspective, "Laura" represents Erving Goffman's "Gender Advertisements" found in the naked city.
"Laura" also portrays American police surveillance and the forensics of the 1940's. Surveillance which would later turn its attention to the McCarthy era stage, and the Hollywood communist witch hunts based on the noir like "blacklists" of the 1940's-50's. "Laura" is the stuff Vance Packard warned Americans about in "The Naked Society", where the noir threats of modernism's powers of electronic media surveillance are seen spying on the naked city. Packard "The Hidden Persuaders" also warned about the advertising techniques of subliminal influence which can be seen changing collective face to face communication, the American social unconscious and their dream visions. Packard's books were about the increasing threats of totalitarian surveillance, influence and persuasion, these psychodynamic threats find their potential rhetorical expression years before, in the avant guard noir of "Laura".
Film noir provides a forensic vehicle for artistic and literary consciousness to observe, and sight-see the repressed often grotesque and heinous social unconscious fragments of the urban panorama of dark lurid memories and dreams. Memories and dreams that are attempting to remain hidden from public view, in fear of being discovered. Noir can be seen as nothing more and nothing less, than the rhetorical return of the repressed of these ugly personal and collective unconscious memories. They will not be beaten down into the oneiric abyss of the heart of darkness, they search for the light. With noir's helping hand, the "so help me God" truth can be told and come to light, even if it is a subjective testimony such as Nabakov's planned sequel to "Speak, Memory", Speak America.
Preminger's "Laura" has a dream vision feel to it, much like Hitchcock's "Rebecca" based on the Daphne du Maurier's gothic romance novel whose opening line begins with "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again...." The camera work of each visual scene in "Laura", the many long shots, close ups, camera pans and 1940's gender advertising model art design stands the test of time. As an American iconic narcissistic reward, the Hollywood dream factory presented an Academy Award Oscar for Best Cinematography in 1944 to "Laura". The film opens with the audience shown the visual object d'art, a beautiful woman's portrait, "Laura" is projected on the silver screen. In the next scene, the camera finds itself panning Waldo Lydecker's (Clifton Webb) apartment, the camera panning technique derives from the aesthetic idea of panorama.
Lydecker starts to narrate and navigate the picturesque panoramic story of "Laura" off screen; "I shall never forget the weekend Laura (Gene Tierney) died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass. It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For with Laura's horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her, and I had just begun to write Laura's story when another of those detectives came to see me. I had him wait. I could watch him through the half-open door."
Lydecker's New York City is poetically seen as a remembered Proustian landscape, one in which the visual panorama has been verbally transformed into the artistic desolation of horror vacui, T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" personified. New York has become Hollywood's silver screen of the poetic black sun of abjection, where the melancholy danse macabre of the memory of his beloved deceased Laura Hunt can play itself out. Clearly, Lydecker feels completely abandoned after Laura's death. Enter the hard boiled homicide detective, New York police lieutenant Mark MacPherson (Dana Andrews) who has been called in to investigate and solve the forensic puzzle surrounding Hunt's enigmatic life and death. Is he up to the task?
Lydecker is questioned as a suspect by MacPherson, while he (Lydecker) is bathing in his bathtub. Here fully naked, Lydecker can hold court in his womb and office like setting. Did Lydecker's visual nakedness poetically inspire the New York iconographic realism of "The Naked City", a 1948 noir film? The film would inspire the late 1950's TV police drama production of "Naked City", which featured many young stage actors, who would later rise to TV and Hollywood star power and fame. For Edward Dimendberg "Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity" the organic metaphor of the naked city provides the artistic cultural logic of the visual body, as an epistemological (knowledge) axiom upon which every metropolis ever constructed has been built. "Laura's" iconic visual body and the suspects in her murder are the rhetorical stuff that the artistic noir of American Dreams are made of.
Getting out of the tub, the camera does not pan to show us Lydecker's whole naked body, instead it reveals to the audience MacPherson's smirk in his facial body language and expressive eye movements when looking at Lydecker's nude body, suggesting what he really thinks and sees in Lydecker's "lavish" home, monographed towels, clean, ordered and descent self-sufficient homoerotic boudoir type scenery. Later seen dressing, Lydecker portrays his own face in the mirror, saying; "MacPherson, if you know anything about faces, look at mine. How singularly innocent I look this morning."
It was the time in the 20th century when American boys selling newspapers could be seen at the corner of the street, yelling "Extra, Extra, read all about it!" Publicity, is the hard sell name of the game for commercial New York newspaper's, whose prurient rhetorical tabloid hype about Hunt's death is heard; "Girl Victim, In Brutal Slaying!". It may as well have forensically read, "Case of Unbridled Passion, Run Amok!" Children are seen standing in front of a Good Humor ice cream truck, while the commercial advertising slogan is loudly made public. With the two dandy prime suspects Lydecker and Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price) in tow, MacPherson first enters the crime scene. Laura Hunt's apartment is where the murder took place, Hunt the successful New York advertising executive was gunned down by an unknown subject (unsub). Macpherson in search of forensic clues, is in search of the truth about the crime.
The noir investigative cerebral hero armed with his playbook of forensic call signs, seeks the solution to a crime through a sequence of interviews with suspects and witnesses. Solving the case is the only badge of honor that the hero needs. For the noir hero, social problems are inherently linked to the corruption of individuals, and vice versa. Corruption is built into the system of decision-making by the institutionalized body politic, and will never end. To reinforce this panoramic noir idea, we are told in the LA based film "Chinatown", "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown...."
MacPherson proceeds to provide a forensic graphic description of the imagined sequence of events leading up to the murder with the two suspects as his forum. With MacPherson's inquiry already begun, logically he focuses his attention on a detailed methodical reconstruction of the crime scene based on police photos which were also published in a New York newspaper. Hunt's face has been horribly disfigured. "MacPherson, why did they have to be photograph her in that horrible condition?" asks Lydecker. MacPherson responds; "When a dame gets killed, she doesn't worry about how she looks."
The when and the where of the murder case found their way into the police photos, reports and in MacPherson's notebook, which acts as a popularized Hitchcock cinematic MacGuffin, an important plot device for the detective to use, to help forensically envision and solve the crime. MacPherson does not carry a gun, so the more focal forensic blunt instrument MacPherson carries around is a miniature toy baseball game, which he plays with from start to near finish as the melodrama unfolds. Lydecker sardonically suggested, the toy game reflects on MacPherson's infantile character; "something you confiscated in a raid on the kindergarten?" Lydecker asks MacPherson; "Have you ever been in love?", "A doll in Washington Heights once got a fox fur out of me."; responds MacPherson. MacPherson in attempting to cover all the bases, seems perplexed by the psychological effects of the murder on the cast of suspects, who resemble a Sadean noir labyrinth of erotic obsession and cruelty. This New York high society "Philosophy of the Bedroom" and its dark Bloomian "The Anxiety of Influence" leads to a erotic connexion of Manhattan doors that somehow all revolve around and leads to Hunt's.
Many of the dark social psychological agonistic crystallizations of such noir dream work, would be made transparent in Herbert Marcuse "Eros and Civilization", and Norman O. Brown's "Life against Death" which became cultural prescriptions for the poetic turn of play of counter-culture. These works originated in light of Freud, Jung, Rank and Adler's pioneering psychodynamic discoveries providing philosophical analytical access, rhetorical and body technical insight into the creative light and darkness of oral and visual cultural patterns of family, art, sexuality, love, work, power, ambition, religion, social conflict and crime. Making the collective cultural unconscious darkness of the encyclopedic dream-work in the naked city visible, is the global forensic aim of all such historical social inquiry.
Investigating these polymorphic erotic obsessions with Hunt seems to hold the forensic analytic master keys to understanding the New York roman à clef mystery, and unlocking the noir secret of her demise. Only Hunt has seen her killer, having been "rubbed out", she's not talking. As McPherson snoops ever deeper on the dark romantic trail of the case, it becomes clear that the people who claimed they loved Laura-her kind friend Waldo Lydecker-her rather vague fiancé Shelby Carpenter, and her-adoring aunt Ann Treadwell are not telling the truth. What deep dark secrets, what "Big Lie" are they all trying to hide?
MacPherson learns about the character of the female victim and her career, via his suspects reported testimonial like descriptions and flashback memories of Laura. Laura's story visually and verbally reads like a Proustian Remembrance of Things Lost. MacPherson also reads Laura's intimate letters, her private diary, examines her personal effects. What deep forensic secrets do they hold? For MacPherson, Laura Hunt's murder is a criminal picture puzzle, a forensic photomontage which features a playing field full of song and dance characters, criminal lurid motives and deductive game connections that is almost within his interrogating grasp to envision and see.
Lydecker narrates a flashback to MacPherson, in the flashback, he first meets Laura Hunt at the Algonquin restaurant in Manhattan. If life imitates art, then it was more by visual architectural design, than by coincidence that the Algonquin hotel works as an iconic New York crowd allusion to the oral and visual surreal synecdoche of American artistic iconography and experience. Once again, biographical reality meets literary artistic fiction, "The Algonquin Round Table" was a group of American literary critics, actors and actresses who held court and influenced American literary styles. The beginnings of "The New Yorker" are reputed to derive from the Algonquin Round Table, aka "The Vicious Circle". Lydecker's sardonic wit type would fit perfectly into this locally and nationally recognized group.
How do all the forensic picture puzzle pieces fit together? What is the truth? Who was Hunt's killer? In MacPherson's hard boiled search for the answers to these questions and lurid details, he gets to know and envision the feminine frame of mind of the victim, he falls hopelessly in love with what Dorothy Tennov "Love and Limerence" describes as the limerence of a person. In this obsessive limerent light, MacPherson has fallen in love with the fragments of Hunt's now Waste Land persona. Professional occupation with the murder, turned to romantic preoccupation with Laura. Hunt appears like no other women he has experienced, she's not the typical doll, or dame, the Sacher-Masoch like "Venus in Furs" who are all to well known to him. It was MacPherson's forensic business to know the pulp fiction of "A Dame Called Murder". Laura has changed his mind.
Why her? Why him? Even if she is dead, he slowly recognizes in Laura, the enigmatic woman behind the mannered erotic veil of his own limerent unconscious masculine desires. She emerges into the light, out of the unspoken archetypal darkness of his unquenched burning erotic desires and dreams for a soul mate. MacPherson was finally standing face to face with his woman as icon, his artistic and lyrical limerent ideal projection. The perfect woman of his dreams personified, she was not a classical beauty myth after all. To his despair, now, all that remained was an iconic woman's dead defaced corpse. In MacPherson's mind, has Laura become Varma's archetypal numinous "Gothic Flame"?
In a highly charged sensual autoerotic scene with McPherson alone in Laura's apartment, thinking about the case fragments of evidence, thinking about the romantic iconic fragments of Laura, he loosens his tie, he smokes a cigarette, he holds her letters like he would like to hold her, he wanders around Laura's apartment, he enters her bedroom, he touches her personal possessions, he smells her perfume, he looks in her clothes closet, he looks at himself in her mirror. Her hard alcohol in his hard boiled hand, he listens to her music that is playing in his head, he searches for forensic clarity, searches for understanding and the truth. Why her? Why him?
In Laura's apartment, Lydecker comes calling, he asks MacPherson; "Have you ever dreamed of Laura as your wife, by your side at the policeman's ball, or in the bleachers, or listening to the heroic story of how you got a silver shinbone from a gun battle with a gangster?" MacPherson's whole body English suggests he has, he is smitten, infatuated with a visual mirage who has taken on an artistic life of her own in his mind. He epitomizes Leslie Fiedler's dark vision and the idea of embarrassment before love. MacPherson appears heart broken, tormented about the crime, melancholic, erotically intoxicated by Laura's portrait, her character, her persona, her beautiful memory.
Is Laura in MacPherson's mind, a timeless female artistic icon such as the one found in Bottichelli's "Birth of Venus", embodying an erotic fantasme haunting his every obsessive limerent thoughts of an impossible dream, one now doomed to the same unrequited love that Petrarch felt for his true life Laura? Laura is lyrically embodied in Petrarch's "Song Book", which has fascinated and influenced writers and readers for nearly seven centuries, will Preminger's "Laura" also continue to do so?
While love is not up for sale, Laura's portrait is, and MacPherson has clearly developed an uncanny limerent type of "Venus de Milo" woman as artistic icon of love and beauty fixation with her. Lydecker knows that MacPherson has already put in a bid for the portrait. "That's none of your business", retorts MacPherson. Clearly it's a commercial question of erotic supply and demand, Laura is a rare sublime artistic commodity. How many perfect women do you know? MacPherson dismisses Lydecker, "I'm busy". Lydecker makes a prophetic warning; "You'd better watch out, McPherson, or you'll finish up in a psychiatric ward. I doubt they've ever had a patient who fell in love with a corpse." Is this the forensic direction that the case is taking?
By the obvious visible decline in the volume of the hard alcohol bottle, MacPherson on the road to oblivion is in search of solace, he stares melancholy at the portrait. He dozes off in her fireplace armchair fixating on Laura's portrait. What dreams may come? "The Woman in the Window" (1944) Fritz Lang's noir film provides a similar themed man bewitched with a woman's portrait, who as it turns out in the end, dreamt the whole story of the film. In its original Hollywood ending, "Laura" was also just a dream vision film within a dream. Writing about Nabakov's "Lolita", Elizabeth Janeway in The New York Review of Books says; "Humbert is every man who is driven by desire, wanting his Lolita so badly that it never occurs to him to consider her as a human being, or as anything but a dream-figment made flesh."
Nabakov evidently had his own obsession with the Petrarchan figure of Laura, evidenced in his unfinished novel "The Original of Laura". The 2005 dream factory film "Déjà Vu" starring Denzel Washington as ATF agent Doug Carlin features a woman as beautiful icon in the science fiction time window. Carlin's reworked Orpheus character travels back through time to save the woman he has fallen in love with. We might also ask ourselves, whether the character Lara in Boris Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago", was really a re-worked Russian epic version of Petrarch's Laura?
Laura's male directed characters present different dream vision aspects of modern masculinity, they all represent types of American bachelorhood, typifying the classical erotic rhetoric of misogyny, and psychological obsessive-compulsive ineffectiveness in the face of feelings of inferiority and insecurity. In her essay "Feminism, Film Theory, and the Bachelor Machines" Constance Penley tells the reader; "The bachelor machines are a closed and self-sufficient system. Its common themes include frictionless, sometime perpetual motion, an ideal time and the magical possibility of its reversal (the time machine is an exemplary bachelor machine), electrification, voyeurism and masturbatory eroticism, the dream of mechanical reproduction of art, and artificial birth or reanimation."
All modern bachelor machines are like the quintessential Hollywood dream factory bachelor character L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies (James Stewart) in Hitchcock's masterpiece "Rear Window". Jefferies who is confined in his New York apartment, provides a voyeuristic photomontage of a modern noir mapping of the "woman as icon" body in the naked city. Modern bachelor machines are narcissistic dream factories, shaped by Hollywood's limerent phantasmagoria of erotic ludic fantasies and experiences of what Samuel Butler called "The Ways of All Flesh".
- Lydecker, the toast of the town, is a witty and famous friend who can never be taken seriously as a lover, and therefore he is tragically doomed to platonically idealize her, as a projection of his own grandiose narcissistic self. The dandy snob Lydecker is seen almost on every occasion wearing a white carnation, overtly standing for his innocence and purity, in reality can be seen representing Charles Baudelaire's Parisian "The Flowers of Evil" which poetically define his prejudiced New York naked city "In Cold Blood" character. As an Austrian born Jew, Preminger must have been aware of the symbolic language of flowers and the significance of the white carnation, which was an emblematic Viennese sign of anti-semitism.
- Carpenter, is seen as a smooth talking, shallow, spineless and unsavory playboy who wants to use Laura as his own narcissistic means to an end, namely as a glamorous New York status symbol, and trophy wife. Feeling secure, he can then always continue his philandering. Carpenter's Hollywood character type would be narcissistically updated in Richard Gere's sublime "American Gigolo" visual persona performance.
- McPherson, represents the "All American", "home of brave" man, NYPD's finest, a down to earth masculine type who seems to have both brains and brawn. A virile Hollywood character who tragically falls in love with a woman presumed dead. McPherson is not like the professional narcissistic playboy Nickie Ferrante "the big dame hunter" in "Affair to Remember" who finds his symbolic soul mate sailing on a trans-Atlantic cruise ship to New York. MacPherson is more like a modern American Orpheus who pines for his soul mate's return from the dead, so he waits for her to come back from oblivion. If she doesn't, will he drink himself there, to join her?
Laura is an ethereal figure of a female directed femme fatale, one who psychologically drives every noir ridden man into narcissistic insanity. She is a classic female Petrarchan poetic figure, a "Citizen Kane" Hollywood type illusion, a dizzying crystalline limerent reflection of what modern everyman (Lydecker, Carpenter, MacPherson) wants to see in a woman. The paradigmatic psychoanalytical "woman as icon" question is; "What does a woman want?", finds an artistic Hollywood dream factory rhetorical answer in, "Laura". The artist Paul Delvaux's surreal artwork "School of Scholars" may have best captured "Laura" in the Hollywood dream factory life imitates art of the social, medical, forensic and artistic interrogation of this "woman as icon" in the modern naked city.
Enter Hunt, the plot thickens. Macpherson awakens from his solace seeking drinking binge to find the limerent object of his desires and dreams standing before him. Was he a male sleeping beauty? Was he dreaming, again? Was she a dream, or was she real? After trying to come to his senses in the face of his own disbelief, MacPherson standing with a pained facial expression, and a Thoreauian inflection of quiet desperation in his voice says; "You're alive!", "Your Laura Hunt?!", "Aren't You?!?" As it turns out, Diane Redfern an advertising art model Hunt hired, was the real victim. What was Redfern doing in Hunt's apartment? Carpenter will a few scenes later reluctantly confess that he was in Hunt's apartment with Redfern, while Hunt was at her country home.
Later the next day, with the ironic plot twist of the death of Redfern in mind, Lydecker asks; "What does Laura's resurrection do for you MacPherson?" MacPherson whose sobered up forensic mind is back on the ball, rhetorically shoots back; "It's to bad Diane Redfern can't be resurrected." In a scene featuring Lydecker, Hunt, Carpenter, and MacPherson, Lydecker in his ongoing tactics to implicate Carpenter, attempts to goad MacPherson into arresting Carpenter, and take him off to the "hoosegow" (slang for jail). MacPherson has other ideas, he has arranged for a New York socialite celebration of Laura's return to the living. At the home coming, Anne Tredwell (Judith Anderson, who is no stranger to noir films) Laura's great dame aunt, an aging Venus in the mirror socialite, who lusts after the gigolo (Carpenter), tells him she wants to marry him. Anne's candid honesty in the bedroom boudoir scene with Laura when they are alone together is the lurid shocking everyday truth.
Anne and Laura are both nervous about what MacPherson's next move will be, both Shellby and Laura are seen as suspects. With her naked city pocket mirror make up in hand, Tredwell takes off her mask, playing the trump card, the rhetorical queen of hearts, she asks Laura; "Are you as interested in MacPherson as he is in you?" Stating the obvious, only reinforces for Hunt that she is not the only one who has noticed Macpherson's advances. Anne proceeds to tell Laura that Shelby is better for her (Anne), because she can "afford him". Tredwell then discloses that she did not kill Redfern, however admits that she had thoughts about murdering Laura, evidently because she posed an erotic threat as her rival for the affections of Carpenter.
MacPherson in front of witnesses and the other suspects, makes his strategic dramatic move from his play book of forensic tactics, he arrests Hunt. Bessie Clary (Dorothy Adams), as Laura's devoted maid, gives a highly underrated Hollywood performance as an emotional straight talking hysterical figure, providing contrast in the face of the New York high society melodrama. Bessie who initially found Laura, the presumed murder victim dead, and then, the angst of finding Laura alive are all refreshing expressions of attachment, affection and devotion. Again, in contrast to Bessie's expressions, are the near asphyxiating dark romantic undercurrents of the elitist New York social mask wearing panorama. When MacPherson arrests Hunt, Bessie's urban existential typecast role appears to personify social life imitating the art of Edvard Munch's "The Scream". Only then can we clearly see and hear the rhetoric of dark romanticism and the timeless noir existentialism of the naked city.
Just as Hunt and MacPherson are leaving, MacPherson in a refreshing outburst of face to face dark violent rhetoric tells Carpenter; "It's to bad you didn't answer the door bell Friday night Carpenter!" MacPherson's mind can now turn to the burning question, what dame like games is Hunt playing with the rhetorical light switch, of the "off" and then "on again" marriage to Carpenter? As a man, MacPherson has returned from near oblivion, he becomes reanimated and restored much like Laura's own poetic justice twist of fate, by returning from the dead. Emotionally MacPherson is seen maturing, moving beyond the masculine misogynist rhetorical posture, into a new erotic realm with his dream woman, one who has become flesh. Is she available, or isn't she? It's become one of those classic agonizing plucking the garden flower games, she love's me, she love's me not dilemma. If she is available, he can make his play for her, he can then protect her from the wickedness that lurks in the dark New York shadows of Vance Packard's "The Sexual Wilderness" that threatens her. Will Hunt let him?
The omnipresence of the pan-opt-icon type surveillance practices of the New York Police Department (NYPD) seen investigating the panorama of the naked city, is pervasive throughout the film. The Reidian iconic body techniques of the interrogation of suspects, is sublimely personified in the NYPD Headquarters grilling room scene where MacPherson needs "official surroundings", to feel secure. Under the Hollywood forensic bright lights, MacPherson wants to sweat the dark secret out of Hunt. MacPherson makes his pitch, he gives Hunt "the third degree", because she's been "holding out". He needs to know the noir truth that she is keeping hidden. Evidently, Hunt cannot be trusted, her beautiful dead doppelganger model Diane Redfern, the real victim of the shooting, was deemed an erotic threat to Laura. Laura is guilty, at least in Carpenter's mind.
This erotic idea is sublimely played out by McPherson's interrogation of Hunt about the possible motives in the killing of Redfern. Hunt who has continued to resist MacPherson's directives, authority and play, asks him about his macho motives; "What are you trying to do, force a confession out of me?" MacPherson circles the space around Hunt, a chair is used to act as a prop, symbolizing the intimate barrier, the frustration he feels in his romantic desires for access to Hunt. MacPherson begins his relentless self-torturing questions and brutal hard boiled advances; "The main thing I want to know, is why you pulled that switch on me about Carpenter? You told me last night, you decided not to marry him."
Hunt sufficiently fearful, finally breaks down under the psychological pressure, telling the truth, she submits herself in the face of MacPherson's potent influence over the dramatic playing field situation. Hunt discloses that her change of mind was made in order to protect Carpenter, she was frantic that MacPherson would arrest him because he is often seen by others as a dubious character. Laura knows he's not guilty. Laura's disclosure paves the way for MacPherson to ask Hunt the burning true love question on his mind, which he desperately needs to know her answer; "Are you still in love with him (Carpenter)?", Laura iconoclastically responds; "I can't see how I ever was."
In Laura's own mind, the built up crystalline fantasy illusion of her feelings of love for Shelby have been obliterated under the forensic light of the disillusioning reality of Carpenter's unmasked face of dark deceit and spinelessness. MacPherson's facial expression is one of triumph, his iconoclast turn of play is successful, Laura has begun to recognize the psychodramatic playing field of dreams in a new clearer light. MacPherson believes Hunt's story. Like out of the advertising rhetoric of an Ivory soap commercial, he tells Hunt that he was "99% certain" that she was innocent, he only needed to get rid of that "1% of doubt".
MacPherson's forensic face to face interrogation of love strategy proves successful, it's an all time classic baseball triple play. He erases any small fraction of a doubt in his mind about her role on the playing field of the dark naked city dreams, while at the same time confusing the other suspects, in order to flesh them out. Now, his serious romantic play for her could begin. Hunt at first is indignant about MacPherson's forensic machismo mind games and ruse, then insightfully recognizes and understands his own psychological noir bind in the face of his romantic desire to protect her.
As a 1940's sign of the times, Laura then formally breaks down Goffman's "Presentation of Self in Everyday Life" face to face intimacy barrier, letting him know that she has understood the reasons and methods for his hard boiled play with her, she provides access; "Then it was worth it Mark". Now, Laura and Mark are on intimate terms, she has learned to submit to his authority in the case, she can trust him with her personal secrets, with her personal fears and desires, knowing that his rhetorical methods and his motives are in fact sincere, "really".
Now for the formulaic noir endgame, MacPherson can apprehend the unsub, his NYPD hard boiled gut tells him he knows who it is. MacPherson proceeds to Lydecker's apartment, finding him not at home, he breaks in, police passkey in hand. MacPherson scopes out Lydecker's apartment searching for the truth, looks at his notebook, looks at the French baroque clock, the same clock that is in Laura's apartment, the one that Lydecker gave her and wanted back when everyone thought she was dead. Searching, MacPherson breaks into the secret compartment in the clock, empty, he now knows where he will likely find the noir instrument of violence that killed Diane Redfern. He races back to Laura's apartment, will the baroque clock, out the truth?
"What is the Baroque?" Erwin Panofsky asks in his essay by the same name. Part of Panofsky's answer; "The experience of so many conflicts and dualisms between emotion and reflection, lust and pain, devoutness and voluptuousness has led to a kind of awakening and thus endowed the European mind with a new consciousness." This new allegorical consciousness focuses on the cultural body political habitus of the scientific, the artistic, the religious, the political, the economic, the literary, the musical, the visual culture, the oral culture, making the social ideological base and superstructure of the historical epochal novel of the naked city visible. Can we begin to see the Platonic hyperrealism of the allegorical continuity of history, viewed from the perspective of the ongoing epic natural and cultural developmental process of dream vision?
Understanding the evolution of the European cultural epistemological, institutional and ideological base and superstructure of the naked city can begin with the classical allegory of Plato's cave, an artistic projective theatre of the mind driven metaphor, that is seen philosophically pre-figuring the silver screen. In Plato's cave of projected dream vision, bachelor machines have always contemplated the "woman as icon". Jean-Louis Baudry's in his seminal essay "Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus" argued that cinema provides the modern dream factory apparatus and ideological machinery that creates a dramatic projected mise en scene in a darkened theatre room, an artistic space that mimics Plato's cave.
Can we see how this modern darkened photorealistic room of Plato's cave mimics the dream screen, mimics dream vision? Can we see how in this darkened room of narcissistic mimetic desires, how moral, artistic, epistemic and metaphysical subjectivity can be acted out and philosophically develop? Can we see in this darkened room the mimetic formation of perennial philosophies of female and male icons, matriarchal and patriarchal thoughts, feelings and sensations can find expression? Can we see how in this darkened room, perennial disillusionment with the philosophy of life in the naked city translates into dramatic "alienation effects"? Can we see in this modern darkened room, how visual pleasure and narrative cinema creates a philosophical simulacra of social reality, which can then dramatically play itself out, in the playground of the Platonic hyperrealism of the naked city?
This is why when people wake up after a dream say it seemed "so real", it is, has been and will always be intended to create the dramatic "reality effect". Tracing the evolution of European ideological reality effects, the classical allegory of the theatrical cave gave way and was transformed into the medieval Christian allegory, which was given a modern literary mythic face and a voice in C. S. Lewis's "The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition" where he outlines the "religion of love". Later, the Renaissance humanist allegory of the cave, became a conscious admixture of classic Greek and Roman mythic world infused with a Biblical Christian theological perspective. The Christian Reformation led by such historical figures as Luther, Calvin and Zwingli turned away from the monolithic totalizing religious, artistic, literary ideological indoctrinating influence by the Catholic Church, instituting the Protestant mythological reconfiguration of the allegory of the Plato's cave. Was it not Friedrich Nietzsche who stated; "Christianity is Platonism for the masses"?
In of itself, the baroque clock represents Counterreformation rhetoric, the artistic and architectural iconic visual grandeur of the victory of the Catholic Church in the face of the Protestant Reformation. Harvie Ferguson "The Lure of Dreams: Sigmund Freud and the Construction of Modernity" discusses the baroque imagination which he believes provided the epochal roots for the growth and construction of modern oral and visual culture. The religious culture war turn of the Catholic Church and the State in its body political desires for dominance, began to develop political rhetorical techniques and everyday rudimentary (compared to modern techniques) panopticon like workings of power and authority to control the unruly masses and maintain social order. For Ferguson; "Almost every aspect of baroque culture can be understood in the context of an ideological struggle between the court and the impoverished urban mass."
Lewis Mumford "Techniques and Civilization", would see in the baroque clock the ideological body political convergence of institutional and culture industrial influence on oral and visual cultural politics, work, religion, art, science and social command and control techniques over the naked city. With these baroque ideas in mind, what cryptic rhetorical imagination code key, what dark influential secret does the French clock contain in "Laura"? Clearly, the clock is employed to work on many allegorical levels of the organic whole of the cultural iconic symbolism of New York's naked city, in a psychoanalytic word, the rhetorical trains of thought about the clock's influence, are historically, religiously and artistically "overdetermined".
In a similar vital literary vein, William Empson's "Seven Types of Ambiguity" works to provide a linguistic frame and visual turn for understanding the rhetorical ambiguities of an artistic hyperrealistic portrait of the naked city. The allegorical linguistic turning points of artistic baroque reference can be seen alluding to a panoramic nexus of French baroque cultural conventions and social connections. The baroque crowd symbolism becomes framed by the institutional and ideological superstructure of society, providing an artistic portrait of the epochal epistemological and artistic organization of body, mind, religion, soul, power, vision, narrative, time, space, movement, crime, noir obfuscation, technology and communication in the naked city.
First and foremost, the baroque clock was a gift from Waldo, as such, it demarcates what Marcel Mauss describes in his seminal book "The Gift". Mauss pieces together the global cultural fragments of sociological patterns of social exchange and communication to understand the development of primitive to modern interpersonal interactions. Lewis Hyde, "The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property" reinforces, critiques and expands the interpersonal gift ideas of Mauss. When everyone thought Laura was dead, Lydecker is seen attempting to invoke and exercise his property rights over the clock, in this light, the clock worked to maintain a male dominated status quo of symbolic iconic exchanges, an unspoken social contract of reciprocity of the "woman as icon", that bound Laura to Waldo. Something Laura will later admit to Mark, and iconoclastically, to herself. In the end, Lydecker's gift will be seen acting much like Agememnon's, I'll show them who's the big shot boss, and his gift of deceit, the Trojan horse, inside the walls of Troy.
The French baroque clock can be seen as standing for Lydecker's grandiose literary urban New York portrait of life imitating fine art, and his critical, snobbish romantic self-delusion surrounding Laura. The allegorical literary veins of such modern naked city delusions of love, hate and vanity run amok in the Western world can be found in the work of Eugene Sue's noir driven "The Mysteries of Paris", Flaubert's road to self-destruction for "Madame Bovary", the Marquis de Sade's sadistic "Philosophy of the Bedroom", and Sacher-Masoch's masochistic "Venus in Furs". The historical manifold of collective narrative unconscious misogynist fingerprints are found on all such noir driven tales, they represent the psychopathological forensic case evidence of the stuff that the dreams of romantic agony are made of.
Feminists might see in the French baroque clock, the "blazon anatomiques" (poetic genre codes of the anatomy of artistic and literary techniques of the body) of the naked city, an inventory of male ways of seeing of the "woman as icon" female body. A male dominant rhetorical and visual method, a way of taking patriarchal capitalist control, over both nature, and culture, in order to alleviate masculine anxieties, insecurities and fears. Forensic minded feminists would see the murder of Diane Redfern, the beautiful doppelganger of Hunt, as a victim of misogyny that lurks, that has always lurked in the naked city. Can we begin to see, how both male and female romantic fears and agonies found in the male dominant transpersonal Western canon, has historically worked and served as the hidden mythological noir motor for the battle of the sexes, and the tragic pathos of the epic obsessive repetition compulsion of rhetorical violence and victimization? Can we begin to see, the need to make the historical decadent dream vision geneology of the noir driven perennial philosophy of the battle of the sexes and the hate crimes of misogyny, misandry and misanthropy perpetrated in the naked city visible and conscious?
Seen from an American literary criticism perspective, does the French baroque clock represent the beginnings of the American Dream? In "American Dreams, American Nightmares", David Madden ed. we find that the American Dream was originally being fueled by the escape from the European religious nightmare. As R.W.B Lewis "The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century" points out, a culture and speech community expresses it's distinct nature through the dialogues surrounding the social problems the community is faced with, in it's survival. With the American Adam a new literary tradition and canon was being created, one which increasingly rejected the old Eurocentric social, political, economic and religious dialogical machinery of talk archetypes, myths, fables and fairy tales.
In the beginning in order to cultivate a national dream, it was necessary to develop national literature. "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" is believed to be the defining moment, and literary point of departure for the birth of a national American literature, identity, tradition and cultural canon, as it related to the international literary community of the times. The new literary philosophical symbolic keys were created by a host of American iconic figures of the 19th century, who were left to develop the American iconographic style in the portrait studio of American dream vision metaphor, thought, literature and writing. They include the likes of; Washington Irving, James Fennimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickenson, Mark Twain, David Thoreau and Henry James. In the American Dream 20th century, Vera Caspery's "Laura" represents a feminist life imitates art point of departure, in plain view of the past panoramic writing tableaux of Henry James modern literary portrait of the American woman as icon, with an Edgar Allan Poe like dark romantic twist.
Lydecker having joined Laura after her release by MacPherson, makes his rhetorical bid for reconciliation with her, trying to persuade her to return to him. He concedes that MacPherson may be infatuated with her, however that he is playing some sort of game. Laura says she understands Mark's infatuation, when everyone else thought she was dead, it was "as if he were waiting" for her romantic return. Enter MacPherson, the noir plots denouement nears. Lydecker's habitual modus operandi (MO) use of Bloom's dark "Anxiety of Influence" creatively leads to a stock character assassination attempt. Lydecker rhetorically attacks MacPherson's sexual personae and his inner self. The abusive interpersonal language game backfires, Laura recognizes Waldo's dark violent rhetorical pattern and tells him that she doesn't want to see him again. With; "My congratulations MacPherson. Listen to my broadcast in fifteen minutes, I'm discussing great lovers of history."; Lydecker departs.
MacPherson then finds Lydecker's smoking gun hidden in the secret compartment of the baroque clock in Laura's apartment. Laura admits that she felt that Lydecker was responsible for Redfern's death ever since she returned to New York, however she couldn't make herself believe that "Waldo was a murderer". Laura feels classic tragic pity for Waldo's mistaken identity crime of passion, and professes her feelings of complicit guilt in his killing of Redfern. Not for anything that she (Laura) did, but "for what I didn't do"; "I owed him (Waldo) too much." Mark understands Laura's thoughts and feelings, however he believes they're fallacious; "That's nonsense. Forget it."
Waldo is ultimately responsible for his own actions. Mark observes; "I must say, for a charming and intelligent girl, you certainly surrounded yourself with a remarkable collection of dopes." By "remarkable collection of dopes", is MacPherson alluding to the 1936 cult classic "dope addicts" run amok film "Reefer Madness"? Mark replaces the gun in the baroque clock, to be picked up the next morning. Laura asks; "What are you going to do now?", "Arrest Waldo."; responds Mark. With MacPherson's own life imitates art forensic work successful, his sublime labors can be seen in the light of Bernini's allegorical baroque sculptural portrait of "Truth Unveiled by Time".
Laura and Mark's silver screen first kiss is passionately underwhelming to say the least, for the hard boiled NYPD officer, it means business before pleasure. The physical intimacy works to artistically seal the yet to come passionate promise of Gustave Klimt's "The Kiss". Before Mark leaves, he tells Laura at her front door; "Forget everything like it was a bad dream." Laura retires to her bedroom, hearing the chimes of the baroque clock, she turns on the radio to listen to Waldo's broadcast;
"And thus, as history has proved, Love is Eternal. It has been the strongest motivation for human actions throughout centuries. Love is stronger than Life. It reaches beyond the dark shadow of Death."
"I close this evening's broadcast with some favorite lines from Dowson"
"Brief Life - They are not long, the weeping and the laughter, love and desire and hate. I think they have no portion in us after we pass the gate...They are not long, the days of wine and roses. Out of a misty dream, our path emerges for a while, then closes within a dream."
The poetic words from Ernest Dowson, only work to reinforce the decadence of Lydecker's character. Yeats who co-founded the "Rhymers' Club", had dubbed Dowson as being part of the "tragic generation". Lydecker has somehow quietly slithered his way through the back door into Laura's apartment, he retrieves the gun from inside the baroque clock, at the same time he hears himself speaking on the radio, he reloads the gun and prepares for the envisioned melodramatic liebestod (lovedeath) ending with his beloved Laura. Startled by Waldo's announced entrance into her bedroom, Laura asks; "Waldo you've already taken one life, isn't that enough?" "You're the best part of me, that's what you are." responds Waldo. Lydecker's death and passion driven noir ideas are the femme fatale stuff that Mario Praz called "The Romantic Agony".
Lydecker's narrated New York artistic panorama of "The Waste Land" memory of Laura at the beginning of the film, ends with his own version of a crazed mythological type Pygmalion (Waldo) and Galatea (Laura). Galatea who was brought to life by Venus, provides an artistic frame for Lydecker's mythic dream vision desires using Edgar Allan Poe's literary device of a "Dream Within a Dream". Waldo's lovesick relationship with Laura can be viewed taking a forensic perspective of Heinz Kohut's "Analysis of Self", as an artistic "selfobject", of his grandiose narcissistic inner self. Going deeper, most likely Waldo's forensic profile fits the naked city description of R.D. Laing's "Divided Self" and Cleckley's psychopathic "The Mask of Sanity".
Seen from a Jungian artistic perspective, Laura can be viewed as an archetypal narcissistic projection of the feminine numinous principle, called the "anima", an art possession Lydecker refuses to part with. From an archetypal literary perspective, we can trace the limerent "woman as icon" tradition back to Moses Biblical "Eve", Homer's "Helen", Plato's ancient Greek goddess of wisdom "Sophia", Christ's mother "Mary", Arabian Nights "Scheherazade", Dante's "Beatrice", and Petrarch's "Laura" to name a few. All can be seen, representing historical aspects of the dream visions of woman as icon, each playing their artistic Muse-poet role in men's desires and dreams. The highbrow Waldo is jealous, perhaps even envious of any and all of Laura's suitors, he cannot bare the "vulgar" erotic thought of being abandoned by Laura for MacPherson, or for any other "cheap" lowbrow obscene comers, for that matter.
Laura foils Waldo's first salvo shot at her, she runs out of the bedroom to Mark who has broken into her apartment, because he has suspected Lydecker's foul play. Laura runs straight into Mark's arms, he uses his own body as a human shield against a repeat crime of passion stage performance by Waldo, who still wants to make the kill. Lydecker is then shot by another police officer, Waldo's second shot misses its' intended mark. Waldo with Laura's portrait in the background, goes out with a visual pleasure and narrative cinema bang and famous last dying words melodramatic whimper..."Goodbye, Laura...Goodbye, my love." The camera's final iconic pan turns to Mark and Laura, then focuses on the French baroque clock which has been defaced by Waldo's shot. The camera then takes us to where we started on our noir journey, back to the portrait of "Laura".
"Laura's" chic life imitates art ending is like the allegorical painting of Bronzino's "Venus" who is surrounded by such visual figures as Cupid, Folly, Oblivion and Time. With the face of the French baroque clock an amorous symbolic "gift" from Waldo iconoclastically destroyed (much like the defaced "Girl Victim") by his own misogynous hand, Laura is now free of Waldo's influence, she can move into modernity's American artistic domestic exchanges of love, erotic, sexuality and work. Laura can now embark on creating her own Proutian narration of the "Remembrance of Things Past", with Mark. Let the sexual and popular culture revolutions begin, the Hollywood dream factory has historically fired the first American liberated woman as pop icon shots.
Laura's hard boiled NYPD policeman (MacPherson) is victorious over the ever lurking, venomous snake in the grass, highbrow wordsmith (Lydecker). Metaphysical forensic light, logos, ethos and eros has triumphed over the MO of noir deceit, dark pathos, thanatos and misogyny found working in the naked city. Officially, the dark romantic passion murder mystery case is now closed. Now, the audience is given the certainty, that there will be no more Shakespearean poetic intimate secrets between "Adonis and Venus". For Mark and Laura, the last visual archetypal limerent iconic barriers of the Ovidian erotic love will soon be broken, sun and moon, heaven and earth, will find numinous narcissistic mythic unification. The timeless silver screen couple has found their monumental visual cultural iconic place in Hollywood's star trek.
The Rest of the Story -or- Hollywood, the Dream Factory
Does the artistic, forensic and social scientific inquiry of the film noir frame story of the American Dream really end there? Well, of course it does not! We all know how Paul Harvey's iconic "the rest of the story" plays itself out. It is well documented American artistic iconic history, at least those iconological parts that have to come to light, out of the same collective dramatic unconscious noir epistemologies, desires and memories. The prosopographical answer to "Who's Who" in today's global marketplace theatre of the status driven communication and social order in the artistic iconic naked city can be found circulating in our dreams. Beginning with Hortense Powdermaker's "Hollywood, the Dream Factory", we can start a social inquiry into its anthropological figurative influence on our global dream screens and nightly dream vision theatre. The everyday visual pleasure and narrative cinema dream factory of life imitates art dream visions of those hundreds of millions of American memoirs, characters and prosopopoetic plots have all developed and unfold, from there.
Lewis Mumford's "The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects" can help provide noir access, and psychodynamic understanding into dream vision patterns of the naked city playing in the cosmopolitan global anthropological theatre of the world stage. From an artistic, social scientific and business enterprise perspective, the global theatre becomes an Entertainment Tonight iconic stage, featuring the artistic kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria of dream vision. This global amusement art apparatus of visual pleasure and its oral machinery of talk platform (business communication ideological base and superstructure), is erected by cable channels, media networks, movie studios, newsrooms, boardrooms, advertising agencies, and multinational brand name business enterprises. You will see them continue to play on our collective dream screens tonight, tomorrow and the night after in the global anthropological theatre...24/7...the commercial artistic panorama of the dream factory in the naked city is being shown.
Some of the global entertainment theatre stories that have not been told by the Hollywood dream factory, will perhaps find expression in the future? It took over thirty years for the 2012 Hollywood dream factory version of "Argo" to provide a culturally paranoid stereotypical panoramic portrait of the 1979 Tehran, Iran hostage crisis. While "Argo" is certainly entertaining, it is factually inaccurate, and as they say, why should the facts get in the way of a good story? In his seminal philosophical essay "On Bullshit", Harry Frankfurt sees the people who create an admixture of fact and fiction as a means of entertainment and personal advancement, are in fact an even greater enemy to the truth than a liar. In terms of the naked city body politics of collective memory, Winston Churchill evidently once stated; "History is written by the victors." In other words, the winners have written the history books, and in the modern age, film the epic theatrical ways of seeing history. Have we forgotten the body political problem of memory, of collective amnesia and of the diffusion of responsibility? George Santayana's idea that "those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it", speaks volumes about repressed collective and individual noir memories. Memories, that can be found circulating in our dreams and nightmares, lest we forget.
Can we begin to see what Charles Eckert in, "The Carole Lombard in Macy's Window" (Quarterly Review of Film Studies 3, no 1, Winter 1978) called the "living display window" of consumer society? Can we begin to see, and understand that Planet Hollywood's "Now Playing" iconic panoramic ways of seeing the frame story of the American Dream has been artistically reworked from the humanist Renaissance dream vision of the naked city body of Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" (and Woman), into a global choreographed business branded commercial advertising one? Can we begin to see, how the epochal rhetoric of the remembered art history of mind and body unifies the Petrarchan humanist epistemology, communication and memory of billions of earthly bodies, past, present and future? Can we begin to see, in James Joyce "Ulysses" the historical novel and the panoramic epic literary symbolic communication navel of the dream visions starting from the Biblical Adam and Eve. Can we begin to see, how this business life imitates art of Planet Hollywood's Vitruvian navel gazing, artistically connects all of us, to each other in the interconnected social epistemological network of the global anthropological theatre?
Can we start to trace the body political potential for America becoming a superpower on the world stage back to the literary work of Henry James novel "The American", a time where film and the Hollywood dream factory technological ways of seeing had not yet been invented? Can we update and re-work the thematic idea of "The American", to flesh out the global dream factory influence of the choreographed reach of commercial media, under its new working title, which reads; The American: Ways of Seeing America on Film, In Dreams and Nightmares. Can we begin to see, in "Laura", the picturesque panoramic turn of T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" and the literary archetypal noir fragments of humanism's dream vision art history of the anthropological landscape of the naked city in ruins?
Can we begin to see, the literary and panoramic visual turns of art history, predicated by the historical noir battle of the sexes, a rhetorical culture war still found raging in our nightly dreams? Can we begin to see, and understand this perennial nightmaric romantic agony can be found in modern American cautionary tales such as found in the literary portraits of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and Theodore Dreiser's "An American Tragedy"? Can we begin to see, the postmodern literary, artistic and business portrait studio of the dream factory's "One Thousand and One Nights", and the romantic limerent iconic joys and agonies of the ongoing human noir condition of the global anthropological stage theatre historiography?
The NYPD, the LAPD and all those other urban American PD's have had their panoramic hands more than full with forensic well documented noir dreamers of real passion crimes and madness run amok, on all levels all American society. Post 1944, such "CSI" true crime stories as the murder of Kitty Genovese (by Winston Moseley, New York, 1964), the Boston Strangler's "silk stocking murders" (Albert DeSalvo, Boston, beginning 1962), the Zodiac killer, (1960's case unsolved), the Charles Manson and "the Family" murder spree (1969), serial killer Ted Bundy (1974-78), Son of Sam murders (David Berkowitz, 1976-77), serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (1978-1991), the "Original Night Stalker" (1979-86, case unsolved), Rodney King beating LA, 1991, which ultimately led to the 1992 LA riots, the Waco siege (Waco Texas, 1993), Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing (1995) , O.J. Simpson's alleged murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (LA, 1994) and Simpson's 1995 "trial of the century", the Columbine High School Massacre by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (1999), 9/11 (2001) the Boston Marathon bombings by the suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev (2013), are just the collective conscious tip of the noir's oral and visual culture iceberg.
We have watched how the Planet Hollywood dream factory has rhetorically fueled the cult of the American hero's visual cultural iconic dominance in the global entertainment theatre panorama. The American iconic hero cult can be choreographed, lyrically framed and accompanied by Bonny Tyler's dream like lyrics of "Holding Out for a Hero". Beginning with "Laura", we can trace the Hollywood dream factory and the American entertainment culture industries iconic amusement art montage of "Coming Attractions". Post 1944, we can trace what Marshall McLuhan called "War and Peace in the Global Village", the daily and nightly American dream vision entertainment montage of the world news on the international geo-political marketplace stage. Many of these around the world panoramic war and peace stories, have since found rhetorical expression via the Hollywood dream factory silver screen (and the then soon to come, small screen of commercial television).
We can begin our filmography sight seeing tour of Planet Hollywood's dream factory of the artistic collective memory panorama of the choreographed production of visual pleasure and narrative cinema in the European military theatre, General George S. Patton's 1944 true life dream of defeating Hitler's Wehrmacht, (Patton). President Truman's "the buck stops here" executive orders to drop atomic bombs in the Pacific theatre (the bombs names Fat Man and Little Boy, have allusions to characters created by the dean of hard boiled noir, Dashiell Hammett) on Hiroshima (Hiroshima, John Hersey's novel) and Nagasaki in 1945 (Fat Man and Little Boy, UK 1989, ending WW II (The Beginning or the End), and heralding the atomic age and fueling the modern dreams and nightmares of the apocalypse. The physicist Robert Oppenheimer, (Oppenheimer, TV series) in charge of the "Manhattan Project", provides the poetic words for the global theatre epochal new age; "Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds." In the Asian theatre, the 1950's Korean War, (M*A*S*H). The escalating "Red Alert" in the global theatre of the Cold War, with increasing social psychological and psychodynamic consequences, (The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Spy that Came in From the Cold).
Eisenhauer in his January 1961 TV farewell address to Americans, leaving a cryptic global noir message, warning of the ominous growing body political threat of the "unwarranted influence" of the American military-industrial complex, (Failsafe, Dr Strangelove). In 1962 Kennedy and Khrushchev go toe to toe in the global heightened Pentagon war room defcon (defense readiness condition) theatre, playing the M.A.D. game of thermonuclear brinksmanship during the Cuban Missile Crisis, (13 Days). In the domestic theatre, perhaps tied to global theatre politics, the riddled political conspiracy theory of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 plays itself out, (JFK). LBJ's orders to escalate the Indo-China Vietnam War, (Jacob's Ladder, Apocalpse Now, Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket). Ronald Reagan's choreographed global theatre war, against the Russian "Evil Empire", (Star Wars). The nearing end, of the Cold war (The Hunt for the Red October). Post Cold war, the panoramic turn to Middle Eastern political theatre conflicts and the Bush Gulf War (Live from Bagdad, The Manchurian Candidate, 2004). The Kosovo War (California Dreamin'). 9/11, Osama Bin Laden's militant al-Qaeda true believer Islamic fatwā, a very real dramatic deadly game, acted out on the playing field of the mass media's global theatre, (World Trade Centre, United 93) and the resulting war on terror in the global theatre. The background, leading up to the Afganistan War, (Kandahar). Bush II, Iraq War II (Green Zone, The Hurt Locker). The hunt for Osama bin Laden in the global theatre (Where in the World is Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty).
Post 1944, from a cinematographic domestic stage perspective of the American President, the American Dream, and American visual cultural iconology, the 1960 Presidential rhetorical game changing TV debates of Kennedy versus Nixon, was a watershed theatrical moment for small screen commercial oral and visual culture television. Kennedy's 1961 Cold war space race promise of taking Americans to the moon before the end of the 60's (The Right Stuff). In 1962, the mysterious circumstances, of the death of Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jean and Marilyn, TV movie). The 1960's growing sexual revolution, popular and counter-cultural movements (Hair). The Civil Rights movement (King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis), John Filo's Pulizer Prize winning iconic tragic photograph of the dead body of Jeffrey Miller, a student shot by Ohio National Guardsmen at Kent State (Kent State, 1981 TV movie, Oliver Stone's Nixon, 1995). The Woodstock Festival, (Woodstock). Political whistle blowing, Daniel Elsberg (The Pentagon Papers). Mafia informant, Joe Valachi, (The Valachi Papers). The legal case, of Miller v. California, (obscenity). The legal case, of Roe v. Wade, (abortion). The Watergate, and the resignation of President Richard Nixon (All the President's Men). President Jimmy Carter (Jimmy Carter, PBS documentary). President Ronald Reagan, (Reagan, TV movie). President George W. Bush, (W). President Bill Clinton, (Primary Colors). People of the State of California vs. O.J. Simpson, 1995. Columbine High School shootings (Bowling for Columbine), The Bush v. Gore Presidential recount (Recount, TV movie). 9/11, (World Trade Centre, United 93). President Barack Obama, (By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, TV movie).
These are just a small historical slice, a poetic fraction of the extended limerent play of the rhetorical game of life imitates art montage of American dream visions and Planet Hollywood's phantasmogoria of iconological moments, stories and biographies. E.D. Hirsch "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know" provides a dream factory like cultural idiomatic key word reading list, the most of which can be found in circulation in the collective dream vision patterns of Americans living in the global village. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson "Metaphors We Live By", sees the use of cultural metaphor as the cognitive rhetorical stuff of everyday life. Howard Pollio "Psychology and the Poetics of Growth: Figurative Language in Psychology, Psychology and Education" informs us, that speakers of the English language use thousands of metaphors and idioms on a weekly basis to communicate. Marcel Danesi "Poetic Logic: The Role of Metaphor in Thought, Language and Culture" returns to the ancient Greek philosophical question; "What is Life?", the poetic Planet Hollywood patent answer "life is a stage".
In this poetic biographical sense, we can turn to "Poet in New York" by Frederico García Lorca to help say a few words about "Laura". Like an elegiac voice from the dark noir night, New York is the "City that Does Not Sleep". Lorca poetically weighs in on New York, the 20th century's urban poetic prototype of Western civilization, "a panorama of open eyes / and bitter enflamed wounds." Much like Lydecker, Lorca appears to poetically mourn the New York life which is seen as a waste land poetic stage of spiritual desolation. Much like Laura's own flight to the country and her work in the garden, the only consolation Lorca finds is a similar flight for poetic contact with the natural world. Much like MacPherson, the metaphysical and rhetorical violence seen operating in the naked city, is a forensic noir adjustment. As Lorca says in "Ode to Walt Whitman"; "Agony, agony, dream, ferment and dream." inhabits the American mind, body and soul. In the New York poetic lyrical forum today, Supertramp's "Breakfast in America", "Gone Hollywood" provides one musical portrait and sound track for the iconic "talk of the Boulevard" playing in the naked city. Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" limerent iconic commercial portrait of the cities lyrical frame, reads; "Start spreadin' the news I'm leaving today I want to be a part of it New York, New York...."
Abram Kardiner, "Psychological Frontiers of Society", believed that each culture influences the development of personality, shapes cultural patterns of narratives, and contributes to the formation of anthroloplogical patterns of body images and desires projected onto their communal dream screens. Today, in the global international dream theatre, dream screens increasingly show narrative noir symptoms of the commercialization of memories, thoughts, feelings and sensations that are being technologically shaped by the consumer's panoramic view of oral and visual cultural knowledge in the naked city. The social interpersonal communication boundaries are seen vacillating between postmodern fact and fiction in the global surreal narrative theatre. Jean-François Lyotard "The Postmodern Condition" points out that subjective reality becomes constituted by the knowledge and roles played in the language games of a society. Social bonds are in themselves found working in the service of language games. Lyotard believes that in postmodernism there is no overarching narrative at work, that reads, organizes, and creates language games.
Au contraire, the collective visual narrative arc of the language game frame story structure has been present since the beginning of humanity and civilization. The postmodern visual pleasure and narrative artistic frame consists of the innate historical, medical, religious, theatrical, artistic, literary, musical, scientific and philosophy of life dream work plot device of dream vision. Peter Brooks "Reading for the Plot" tells his readers; "we can make sense of such dense and seemingly chaotic texts as dreams because we use interpretative categories that enable us to reconstruct intentions and connections." We only need to pick up the historical narrative language game fragments of individual dreams, then we can begin to see the postmodern epic collective oral and visual cultural portrait of the whole epistemological poetic montage of dream vision. Then, when we begin to see and understand the whole of dream work, we can arrive at the realization, that we are living in the global anthropological theatre of the commercialised naked city of Planet Hollywood.
Beginning with ancient Greeks saw the dramatic rituals of theatre as a competitive, conflicted, and cathartic spectacle. Each new generation of narrators, readers, spectators, and actors becomes trapped in the epic never-ending theatrical cycles of dream work, dream vision, life writing, literary conceits, and the psychodramatic admixture of comedy, tragedy, plot, character, and civic naked city history. Lyotard sees a cultural epistemological crisis of the fact and fiction fragmentation of the fund of narratives, marking the often surreal reality of postmodernism. The global business power elite, captains of consumer capitalism have epistemologically driven their commercial dream factory fleets of culture industries into the consumer's eyes, ears, bodies and dreaming heads of the naked city. Anthropological dream vision conditioning, via the business ideological shaping of consumer consciousness, cognition, communication and behaviour to the collective cultural phantasmagoria of visual and narrative pleasure of the naked city is the result. The global Planet Hollywood business enterprise uses the commercial dream factory techniques of persuasion and propaganda to influence our everyday anthropological dream visions on the planet.
George Lipsitz in "Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture" tells us, the media began to cause a radical epistemological shift: "Time, history, and memory become qualitatively different concepts in a world where electronic mass communication is possible." Film, TV, and pop music have changed how we think and remember. The TV soap operas, the game shows, the sitcoms, the "live" sports shows, the "reality" TV programs, and the late-night talk shows, all entertaining hundreds of millions. As Philip Roth sardonically says in "On the Air", "Suppose entertainment is the Purpose of Life!" Leo Lowenthal in "Literature Popular Culture and Society" asks, "What is ‘good' and ‘bad' in the arts and popular culture?" He tells us that "The social criticism of popular culture lacks any systematic body of theories."
Dream vision provides a philosophical and aesthetic vehicle for social inquiry, social theory and practice of criticizing the commercialism of popular culture, mass communication and social order. We find a prosopographic network of "Who's Who" of Planet Hollywood's advertising of popular culture in our dreams. Said differently, our collective dream visions in the global theatre reveals the mind, body and artistic soul being fashioned by the body political invisible hand of corporate mass media of Planet Hollywood's commercial advertising icons, idols and opinion leaders of pop culture.
The Hollywood dream factory's "Laura" can be seen as a classical commercial business enterprise product of Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age". Today we find the polymorphic meta-fictional story of all those living in the global noir theatre of "Laura's" Planet Hollywood. Ongoing dream research of the global marketplace has shown, that the collective Planet Hollywood commercial ways of seeing circulating on the planet, brings to light a dark psychopathological complex of the scopophobic denigration of vision of man and woman as icon, and dehumanization of art. This consumer driven noir side of dream vision exposes the grotesque, the kitch, the camp, the trash, the stigmas and decadence of global consumer culture. José Ortega y Gasset's "The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture, and Literature" ideas can be used to expose and explore the destructive global dream vision cultural noir.
"The Great Code" by Northrop Frye provides rhetorical master keys to access the historical myth making bricolage of the great code of art. Dream research can make Frye's canonical "Great Code of Art" and what Anton Ehrenzweig called the "Hidden Order of Art" visible and audible for all to see and hear. If life imitates art, then Clement Greenberg's seminal essay "Avant Guard and Kitch" prophesized the influence of the lowbrow marketplace on aesthetic tastes in a consumer driven society. Dream research uncovers the business enterprise fingerprints of Planet Hollywood's consumer dream art machine, they are found in plain site of our dreams, they are visible everywhere. The fingerprints of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" invisible hand of the marketplace can be found on the global gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) of the dream visions of the naked city. The so-called art of pornography, camp, kitch, pick up artists, cult of the amateur, and trash culture are pervasive in the postmodern dream work and dream visions found in the naked city. Decadence, the grotesque, the pornographic art of loving has always been with us, they are all coming to the noir light of Planet Hollywood's global theatre of dream vision. In a word, the global theatre has become "Pornified".
The rhetorical and media influence theory outlined by the Toronto School of Communication prominent scholars include Harold Innis, Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, can be used to show the pervasive mass media driven social psychological effects of oral and visual culture on our dream screens and dream visions. Since "Laura", television, computers, cell phones, the internet, satellite communication have changed the psychological panorama of everyday life. All these new commercial technologies have colonized our dream vision world. Today's market research industry is using neuromarketing techniques to help neuropsychologically influence and condition consumers to the global culture industry's technological phantasmagoria of the social tableaux of the marketplace, thereby shaping our dreams, desires, consumption and consciousness.
Marshall McLuhan's "Understanding Media" provides access to understanding the anatomy of the American Dream and dream factory production in the global anthropological mediated dream vision theatre. If we understand the nature of the social psychological influence of mass media communication, then we can begin to identify and understand the anthropological psychodynamic noir centres of global dream factory production. Nearly seventy years have past since the dream factory production of "Laura", the commercial news and communication today is no longer delivered only by the mediums of word of mouth, telephone, radio, or newspapers alone. "Laura" provides a comparative mind's eye visual pleasure and narrative cinema point of reference of the dramatic portrait of the artistic, forensic and business enterprise, helping us to see the post-modern body political dream factory influence of the global entertainment industry and mass media hyperrealism effects on our nightly dreams. Said differently, "Understanding Laura" provides a pragmatic portrait of Planet Hollywood's dream factory, a post-modern way of seeing the anatomy of forensic noir, the artistic, the literary, the scientific and the business forms of communication at work in the naked city.
The Planet Hollywood dream factory as a world entertainment industry is influencing how our mind's eye artistically perceives, how our bodies consume, how we live, and how we dream in the naked city of the global anthropological theatre. This cultural imperialist noir side of the dream factory's business enterprise is already found ready made in Charlotte Beradt's "Third Reich of Dreams", where the Nazi's art of persuasion and psychodramatic rhetorical methods of propaganda can be found symptomatically working to serve totalitarian practices in what amounts to being a body political prisoner in the metropolis of the naked city of Nazi controlled dream vision, with no escape. Hitler and the Nazi's malevolent body political institutional invisible hand can be found serving and working to indoctrinate German public and private life, cognitive-behaviourally framing and shaping their dream visions.
Having few social psychological options in the face of the simulated reality of threats of psychological corporeal punishment, the German public learned to consciously conform and comply to Hitler and the Nazi's body political ideology. Stanley Milgram's "Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View" and his "small world experiment" shows us how dream screens and dream visions of all those living on the social psychological grid of the prosopographic social network of the global naked city theatre can be influenced, manipulated, indoctrinated and controlled by the authoritarian body political invisible hand. Can authority really exercise such powerful body political influence, reaching into on our dreams? Karl W. Deutsch "The Nerves of Government: Models of Political Communication and Control" provides insight into the body political process by which the invisible hand operates. Researching historical body political communication found in dream visions both West and East can show conclusively that it has, it does, and authority will continue to try to do so.
Welcome to the commercial global entertainment dream machine, the Planet Hollywood dream factory that has become a consumer driven life imitates art influencing machine of visual pleasure and narrative talk. Such an authoritarian body political invisible hand reach, was described by Aldous Huxley in "Brave New World" where "sleep learning", conditioning and psychological manipulation is used to control society. Huxley's "Brave New World", George Orwell's Big Brother in "Nineteen Eighty-Four", and Lewis Mumford "The Myth of the Machine Volume II: The Pentagon of Power" conceptual "megatechniques", all speak of the work of dystopian mind control technology. Are these just urban dystopian political legends, and fractured fairy tales circulating in the global noir theatre? In "The Literary Underground" by John Hoyle, we can find an oneiric Kafkaesque portrait of alienation in the family, office, factory, and work, painted by Franz Kafka in his literary portrait studio.
Welcome to Viktor Tausk's, "On the Origin of the Influencing Machine", a technological metaphor for dream visions that have literally gone beyond one's own personal dream screen locus of control and become conscious technophobic day terrors. The technological, epistemological and epochal artistic oral and visual ontological turn from modernism to the postmodern has created a Planet Hollywood "Stranger than Fiction" cultural condition. This global business condition has been social psychologically driven and fueled by the cultural myth of the work of the machine and the global Hollywood dream factory model, as an entertainment influencing art machine with all its international invisible hand foreign film, mass media and culture industry imitations. Stuart Ewen in "All Consuming Images" talks about the dreams reported by adolescent girls in 1924 that were driven by the Hollywood dream factory star performance art "machinery of glory";
- "Many times have I had dreams of having the world at my feet."
- "I have had dreamed of...charming millions, winning fame and fortune."
- "I was before a large audience...It was a great success."
- "The whole world applauded me."
Welcome to "Machine in the Studio", Caroline A. Jones talks about the "Triumph of American Painting", and the artistic Americanization of the global business enterprise of modern art. The logotype hyperrealism of Planet Hollywood's iconic visual pleasure and narrative cinema in the global theatre is at work as we speak. In Delmore Schwarz literary wordsmith portrait studio "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities", we find a dramaturgical place where visual pleasure and narrative cinema unfold about a man who has no name, having a dream that he is in an old fashioned silent movie theatre, watching his parents melodramatic Hollywood dream factory "Back to the Future" courtship and romance novel unravel. After the oneiric theatrical performance, does he awake much like Franz Kafka, from unsettling dreams? Today, most of our urban individual visual pleasure and narrative life imitates art point of dream vision departure, is being shaped by the brand names inculcated in the oral and visual culture of Planet Hollywood.
"Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control" is the title of Derreick Jensen and George Draffen's book, outlining the Bentham like "Panopticon" practices of the institutional global industrial culture. Today, people can be seen as Charlie Chaplin like post "Modern Times" cogs, in the business machine of the naked city global anthropological dystopian theatre. Indeed, nearly 90 years later Fritz Lang's German expressionistic noir like science fiction film "Metropolis" has become a dystopian urban iron cage social science fact. Making the psychological prison of the bureaucratic iron cage of society visible and audible was Franz Kafka's life work. Kafka understood that there was no escape from the surreal Kafkaesque alienating labyrinthine influences at work in everyday life. In Kafka's "Metamorphosis", the traveling salesman protagonist wakes up in his bed one morning, after "uneasy dreams", to find that he had been grotesquely transformed into an insect.
Welcome, to the Global Cultural Reich of Dreams of Consumer Capitalism. Thanks to the pioneering Edward Bernays PR technology, psychological techniques of propaganda, surveillance and mind control can be social scientifically, politically and commercially engineered to work on influencing collective dream screens and dream visions, everywhere on the planet. "No Logo" by Naomi Klein outlines and underscores the negative global influence of brand named logotype corporate business activities which embody "the power of the select group of corporate Goliaths that have gathered to form our de facto global government." Some might argue this is just a Planet Hollywood "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004) multinational corporation conspiracy theory. In fact, this body political consumer cultural dream vision theory is qualitatively and quantifiably scientifically testable, using today's experimental, psychometric and neuropsychological methods. Some of the media effects that will be uncovered are Pötzl effects on perception, thought and feeling due to subliminal stimulation, and Veblen effects of conspicuous consumption.
Milton Friedman "Free to Choose" distinguishes between a free market economy and a control market economy, advocating for the body political ideal of the former. Evidently, Friedman doesn't recognize the historical connection of his own economic ideal invisible hand, power of the market distinction. Nazi Germany's "Third Reich of Dreams" was a body political controlled market economy par excellence. Hitler and the Nazi's powerful invisible hand of propaganda took near complete body political command and control of the German market, of German dream vision and of the bureaucratic social organization of the German naked city. World War II and the Holocaust is a Nazi testament to the paraphilic dream factory necropolis of genocidal noir that such a necrophilic planned economic State controlled social order can imagine and create. Today, the body political grip of the corporate institutional invisible hand of the Global Cultural Reich of Dreams of Consumer Capitalism is perhaps even more pervasive and persuasive on our planet.
In his seminal essay "Sociology of Dreams" Roger Bastide believes that the study of dreams should ask two interrelated questions. First, what is the social function of dream work? Second, how does the sociological framework of dream thought operate?
Society furnishes the social communication framework for the dream's heritage, thoughts, emotions, sensations, perceptions and memory. Sociology needs to study the human developmental life imitates art cycle of dream work, to trace how epistemological structures of the body politic influences memory, art, mind, body, and communication. The sociology of knowledge of today is reflected in the sociology of the dream and nightmare, which in turn epistemologically reflects the global business sociology of dream vision. The noir marketplace of oral and visual culture in the naked city, is driven by the dream factory, creating the everyday life social reality of the global anthropological theatre. In this sense, the sociology of the dream and nightmare provides symbolic access into understanding what John O'Neill calls "Sociology as a Skin Trade", the body political institutional and industrial division of dream work labor of the naked city body, in the social reality of the global theatre.
What large scale sociological dream research of those living in the industrial urban areas of Planet Hollywood would make visible and audible, is the pervasive body political and behavioural economic noir influence on our mind, body, and feelings...and on our collective dream screens and dream visions. This Planet Hollywood business enterprise shapes the anthropological everyday psychodynamic dream factory, thereby dramatically influencing the artistic portrait of life imitates art frame story of people and collective memory. Dream research can provide philosophical access to the prosopographic field of epic history and the body political dream bed, dream screen and dream vision, leading to an understanding of the artistic and forensic noir side of life imitating art dream work. Such social scientific field research of the historical process of dreaming, can make transparent the transpersonal narcissistic, oral and visual cultural mimetic process at work. Making the noir body political communication influences of the dream factory social order of Planet Hollywood's iconic naked city visible, is a forensic imperative.
Using Northrop Frye's "Anatomy of Criticism" and pragmatically applying his rhetorical communication ideas to the naked city and the business metaphors, idioms, allusions and clichés of the American Dream and the American Nightmare, we can begin to see and politically measure both the light and the forensic darkness of the poetic diversity of dream vision patterns, personal and collective unconscious memories of Americans. From a global business entertainment theatre perspective, Ernst Bloch's "The Principle of Hope" provides a life imitates art panoramic index to measure the utopian hopes and dreams at work of all those living in the global village. It also provides a Planet Hollywood dream factory dystopian film noir index of seeing and hearing all those multitudes of people living on Helnwein's "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams" of the naked city in the global theatre. Can we begin to see what Umberto Eco "Travels in Hyperreality" called "America's obsession with simulacra", amounting to nothing short of being lost in Planet Hollywood's iconic American dream vision funhouse of the artistic reconfigured consumer allegory and body political hyperrealism of Plato's cave?
Using the scholarly methods of such philological schools as the School of Athens, the Frankfurt school, the Vienna Circle and the Toronto School of Communication (to name some of the schools), a social scientific humanistic dream vision index of the naked city can be achieved by collecting large numbers of dreams reported on the planet. William J. Bennett's "The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators: Facts and Figures on the State of American Society" "empirical analysis" of the family, youth, education, crime and popular culture by its' very nature, is a flawed superficial American body political vision. Without looking at the cultural visual and narrative unconscious psychodynamics of the dream factory's body political invisible hand influence on dream screens and everyday dream visions of Americans, an accurate social inquiry, empirical study and implementation of social scientific policy making, is impossible. The global cultural epistemological turn needed, is found in Terry Eagleton's "Walter Benjamin or Towards a Revolutionary Criticism". Only by pragmatically applying a revolutionary criticism onto our collective dream work found in dream vision patterns, can the medical humanities bring light into the noir narrative workings of everyday dreams.
In the global classroom of the great dreams of the "The Great Conversation", the teaching of dream vision, can help children, adolescents, adults and the elderly to learn to understand, work through and cope with their dark feelings, thoughts and behaviours. If life imitates art, then dream vision is an innate developmental device, a visual narrative tool to promote artistic sublimation for children, for adolescence, for adults and for the elderly. Someone might ask, why include the elderly? Traditional liminal wisdom philosophically points to the funerary texts of the Egyptian (Book of Emerging forth into the Light) and the Tibetan "Book of the Dead", which provide conceptual advise on the art of death and dying. Dream vision can promote Epictetus "Art of Living", as well as the philosophical phantasmagoria of art of living forms that have been conceived, and will ever be conceived in the future.
Without dream vision tools and philosophy of life coping skills, are our children's children and their dream work doomed to experience the dystopian psychodynamic vicious narrative heart of darkness cycle of nightmares conceived in such literary works as William Golding's "Lord of the Flies", J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye", and Anthony Burgess "A Clockwork Orange"? Without dream vision coping skills, are those adults who have experienced the romantic agonies of separation and divorce as found in the prevalent sociological dark romantic dream vision pattern of the "Ex-Files", doomed to wear their battle scars, and carry their psychological traumatic narrative baggage around with them, for the rest of their dream vision life? There is reason, for psychodynamic pessimism, there also is reason, for humanistic philosophical optimism.
In Raphael's art imitates life "The School of Athens" portrait, the Platonic utopian dream vision of liberation and the humanistic dream of epistemic philosophical unity of art and science can be realized by understanding collective dream vision patterns that circulate on the planet, as we speak. A pragmatic global philosophical revolution in dream work can bring a historical, domestic, scientific, religious, political, economic, artistic, dramatic, medical and creative narrative paradigmatic change. Such a global philosophical life imitates art dream vision revolution is coming, it is in the making as we speak. Such an everyday dream world revolution will succeed only when Jean Jacques Rousseau's benevolent body political invisible hand, dream and vision of the cultural narrative turn towards global epistemic and artistic transparency of the encyclopedic psychodynamic panoramic portrait of communication and social order of the naked city is complete.
Only then, can we begin to secure a healthy cultural ecology, driven by a medical humanities "Blueprint for Survival" for our planet. Only then, can we begin the business of restoring the dream, by creating a medical humanities foundation that drives healthy dream vision patterns free of manipulation. To this end, by using Ariadne's golden thread, we can create a humanistic panoramic narrative map of our collective heritage, and the philosophical labyrinthine landscape of the dream visions of Western and Eastern civilization. Whether we allow tyranny, war, psychopathology, noir crime and corruption to continue is our choice, our responsibility. Remember, in our global anthropological theatre of Planet Hollywood, "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities." Clearly, "It takes a village to raise a child", and we all are existentially free to exercise our duties, or not. The social psychological diffusion of collective responsibility of the traumatic noir like psychohistory of childhood can be humanistically traced back to ancient Greek and Biblical times.
We will carry on making and creating the global iconic theatre stories of film, art, literature, science, religion, politics and economics. The philosophical question is whether our dreams lead us and our planet to a collective utopian, or a dystopian noir place and vision? Can we find a philosophical "Happy Ending"? Dream vision can be used as a medicine or pharmakon (pharmacology), we can implement a mythic sea change in the circulation of the fund of narratives about the human condition found in our dreams. Dream vision is the "One Thousand and One Nights" narrative heart and soul of Western and Eastern civilization, it is the artistic soul of the global theatre of humanity. The business of restoring the dream to health, hope, light and harmony is the medical humanities monumental task at hand. Are we up to the challenge to renew, to revitalize and build a strong and ecologically healthy dream visions of life on the planet?
Rene Kuhn "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" introduces humanism into the picture puzzle solving scientific frame work of sciences search from coherent knowledge and understanding. The philosophical jigsaw puzzle process has, is, and will continue to be epistemologically driven by paradigmatic social scientific revolutions in dream vision. Dream vision can shed forensic light on the noir naked city panorama, and creatively transform it. Without a global medical, artistic, social scientific and political economic ontological paradigmatic dream vision revolution, the collective film noir shadow, the nihilistic social portrait of confusion, disillusionment, the obfuscation, the opacity of the alienation effects in the naked city, will only grow larger. Then, the self-fulfilling Biblical prophesy of apocalyptic destruction and Eliot's dark romantic prophesy of "The Waste Land" tragedy of the commons can be fulfilled. The body political Shakespearean ontological turn of light or darkness, comedy or tragedy...that is the arts, the social science, the medical, and the business enterprise driven question.
Aeschylus ancient dramaturgical turn to ontological light and insight, or, the aporetic theatrical turn to tragic blindness caused by the thespian's dark acting power, using the hypocritical rhetorical tools of deceit and deception. The dark tragic turn generates the noir madness, and is still haunting us, to this day. These stand as our melodramatic existential light and dark romanticism choices, in the naked city noir panorama of dream vision decision making. In the global anthropological theatre, noir has always been seen as being an ontological part and parcel, of the human condition. On a final few Planet Hollywood naked city lyrical notes, we can pursue Frank Kermode's "The Sense of Ending" by turning to the German writer Goethe, author of "Faust", who provided a real life social ontological plot device, a biographical narrative point of departure similar to that found in the Hollywood dream factory classic "Citizen Kane" and his enigmatic last dying word "Rosebud...." Goethe's famous last dying words on his deathbed were; "more light!..."