cflow journal - issue 2013-2

Creative Assemblages – When aesthetics meet the economy or what do they have in Common?

Roee Rosen

Doctor Cross

Short film, 13:16 min looped, 1994.

Doctor Cross (1994) starts off as a kind of psychoanalytic intake but turns swiftly into a confessional reality TV interview, in order to end again in the clinical. This film of Roee Rosen’s can be viewed as a negation between psychoanalytic, social and economic mechanisms in the context of the libidinal economy and the simulacrum and the institutional discourse of power as a moral court based on the law of “debt and guilt.” The movie is a double mockery of psychoanalytical séances and reality TV that subversively exaggerates both. It looks at media as a technological dispositif, an “empty signifier” that reveals the secrets and increased desires in which “reality becomes speculation” and people are “chopped, made of bits and pieces.” At the same time it prohibits a possible realization of reality, introducing “normative value” as it opens a space of discipline and control – a calculated space of voyeurism and exhibitionism in a restrictive economy which elevates sexuality and its employment by commercial media as an instrument of power. This leads to scarcity of all kinds – scarcity of financial means, liquidity, rights, desire and power. The psychoanalyzed protagonist is not the master of his own language, but an affirmation of a grammar that imposes a law of domination, born of violence that perpetuates itself as it is disseminated by the mass media.

Doctor Cross is a skillful manipulator of inscription who in “rigorous language” gives the patient his cues. This is a figure embodying male and female features, as a cross-hybrid between Mother and Father in a corrupted triangulation. Doctor Cross is at once psychoanalyst, the doctor who is supposedly able to help, soothe and relieve the suffering, to heal, and takes the place of the oedipal object of desire and the position of the signifier. Indeed Doctor Cross is a psychoanalytic scarecrow who doesn’t want to listen to the analyzand. The name, Cross, refers at the same time to the idea of the cross as a sign of Western humanity entrapped by Christian morals of guilt and redemption masking the desire for power deeply rooted in monotheistic culture. Indeed, both the analyst and the analyzand wear masks, assigned specific roles in the script marked by attributes with a fetishist subtext, the analyzand being denoted by toy ears, the analyst by a moustache and a pink corsage. However, these props are no carnivalesque. Both their masks and their speech and conversation publicly manifesting secrets and sexual fantasies are forms of a perverse normalization and conventional distribution of roles in a drama piece where they mirror each other. The session is not about liberated sexuality. It’s all about castration! Castration! It’s about restrictions, inscriptions and commands in an economy of commodity fetishism.

In his culminating speech bursting with energy, the psychoanalyzed “patient” almost succeeds in realizing himself, as a hero of himself in an outburst of outward heroism taking the form of exhibitionist pleasure. But he remains trapped in a circle of perpetual subjectivation under the spell of technological mediatization. An internal weakness surges back, returning him from linguistic excess to the violence of dominant language. What started as a psychoanalytic séance goes through confessions as “tales of terror,” but unlike Sade he cannot realize himself through the affective experience of horror but remains a mirroring, remains in the narcissistic, in the optical and abstract, enclosed in the circle of dreams determined by seeing and being seen. “In the shadows of a pathological event” unfolds the unrealized reality, determined by the “play of identifiable dependencies” (Foucault) in the oedipal field of repressed sexuality. His life in the end is limited to the closed system of the signifier, inscriptions, and his dream of power does no more than mirror, as a caricature of dominant social existence. He remains the dependent patient, a boy-toy, a subject of Doctor Cross, a little pet dog, not a wolf man. There is treatment but no therapy, no cure of the soul. Through the repetition of affect and the regression to childhood he is caught in the circuits of the oedipal circulation of demand and supply, stimulations and sanctions in which punishment and reward are intertwined.

Text: Dimitrina Sevova