This essay focuses on the possibility of articulating a form of nostalgia in film not tied to an opposition to irony. It concentrates on the neo-noir cinema of David Lynch precisely because he is a master of balancing nostalgic sincerity and postclassical irony within the same film. Therefore, the essay argues that the films of David Lynch present the viewer with a way out of the postmodern deadlock where nostalgia remains less radical than irony. To make this argument, the essay utilizes Giambattista Vico's notion of the ricorso from book 5 of The New Science in order to situate Lynch's unique position within the history of film noir as a genre. Vico's poetic developmental scheme, which relies on the “four master tropes” (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony), is adapted to the historical evolution of film noir as a genre. The essay then translates Vico's ricorso into a fifth master trope, metalepsis, and connects Lynch's form of postnostalgic uncanny (and Vico's ricorso) to metalepsis (in both the tropological and narrative sense) to show how Lynch moves neo-noir beyond the structure of irony without flirting with the new sincerity or metamodernism.
“I Like to Remember Things My Own Way”: Metaleptic Nostalgia in the Neo-noir Cinema of David Lynch
Ed Cameron is professor of English and film studies in the Department of Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. He is the author of The Psychopathology of the Gothic Romance (2010) and numerous articles on film, literature, and psychoanalysis. His work has appeared in the journals Cardozo Law Review, Studies in Humanities, Gothic Studies, Punk and Post-punk, Cinema, Film/Literature Quarterly, Mosaic, Diaspora, the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Interdisciplinary Humanities, Film and History, and the Journal of Culture and the Unconscious.
Ed Cameron; “I Like to Remember Things My Own Way”: Metaleptic Nostalgia in the Neo-noir Cinema of David Lynch. Genre 1 December 2021; 54 (3): 341–367. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-9407597
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