18 Jun 2007

The Violence of the Real. Transcendental Style in Film

Since I saw Taxi Driver for the first time (about 7 or 8 years ago), it has always remained one of my favourite movies. And thinking about transcendental types, I used to associate precisely Travis (Robert De Niro) with such a type. Travis, an old war-veteran who suffers of insomnia, is the typical loner who cannot finds it place again in the 'symbolic order'. He tries to be a taxi driver, as an attempt to symbolise his position at the margin, but also this fails. Being himself an outcast, living with outcasts (while working at night, serving other people in the margin) is not an option. What has fallen apart is the 'symbolic order' as a whole. We could say: a theology of liberation is no longer an option, for the idea of moral or political reform (as a program) has lost it's force. But where the symbolic loses its grip over Travis, Travis becomes the hostage of a different force: a singular, absolute relation to the real (he has to kill). Of course, this absolute relation manifest itself first in the form of a program: he prepares an attack on the presidential candidate, but it becomes clear that his agenda is finally not political. He has to be remain faithfull to a singular calling, and this can be lived anywhere and anytime.
Of course, I used to consider this Lacanian-transcendental reading as a little bit of overinterpretation, but was surprised to discover recently that Paul Schrader (the scriptwriter of Taxi Driver) had actually such a sort of transcendental type in mind. Schrader took his inspiration from Bresson's movie Pickpocket, and had just finished his studie of the work of Bresson, Ozu and Geyer, published as 'Transcendental Style in Film'. In a next topic, I will come back on his idea of transcendental style, for it are precisely these experiments which will help us to conceive something like a transcendental style in music (in life, in thought).


Nira said...

Good for people to know.

Viagra Online said...

It was a great movie, "taxi driver" was the best production in the 90's. By the way, where do you find that picture above? I just wanna take it.