Saturday, December 1, 2007


SCOPOPHILIA: Literally, the love of looking. The term refers to the predominantly male gaze of Holloywood cinema, which enjoys objectfying women into mere objects to be looked at (rather than subjects with their own voice and subjectivity). The term, as used in feminist film criticism, is heavily influenced by both Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis.

Scopophilia, voyeurism, the gaze
objectification, fetishism
Hitchcock & psychoanalysis
Scopophilia literally means "love of watching." In Freudian analysis, scopophilia is associated with the anal stage of development. Voyeurism is a synonym for scopophilia.
Voyeurism: deriving sexual gratification from observing others in secret. Often the object of voyeurism is undressed or engaged in some kind of sexual activity. The key factor in voyeurism is that the voyeur does not interact personally with the person being observed. Voyeurs are called Peeping Toms after the legendary man who illicitly looked at Lady Godiva during her ride.
Pornography appeals to voyeuristic desires, as does much advertising. Recently, the proliferation of internet webcams has created a new cultural arena of scopophilia.

Voyeurism, scopophilia and other visual pleasures

Synonym: voyeurism.
Origin: G. Skopeo, to view, + philos, fond

The term scoptophilia, subsequently replaced by scopophilia, took its place in Anglophone psychoanalytic literature as a translation of the Freudian notion of Schaulust, "pleasure in looking," in the sense of both seeing and being seen, as well as "curiosity." Freud distinguished between two frequently encountered forms of this partial drive: one active, "voyeurism," and the other passive, "exhibitionism," neither of which he would necessarily rank among perversions (1910a [1909]).

Psychology of staring
The act of staring implies a visual focus, where the subject of the gaze is objectified. This has been the subject of psychoanalytical studies on the nature of scopophilia, with a subsequent development in some aspects of feminist thought (see Gaze, film, photography and voyeurism). Paradoxically, the notion of staring also implicates the looker in constructing themselves as a subject. Sartre was interested in the individual experiencing shame only when they perceive that their shameful act is being witnessed by another. (see The look)

Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology (sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology) is a 1943 philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre
Part 3 Chapter 1: The look
The mere appearance of another person causes one to look at him/herself as an object, and see his/her world as it appears to the other. This is not done from a specific location outside oneself, it is non-positional. This is a recognition of the subjectivity in others. Sartre describes being alone in a park, at this time, all relations in the park (e.g. the bench is between two trees) are available, accessible and occurring-for him. When another person arrives in the park, there is now a relation between that person and the bench, and this is not entirely available to him. The relation is presented as an object (e.g. man glances at watch), but is really not an object, it cannot be known. It flees from him. The other person is a "drainhole" in the world, they disintegrate the relations of which Sartre was earlier the absolute centre.
This transformation is most clear when one sees a mannequin that they confuse for a real person for a moment.
While they are believing it is a person, their world is transformed, and everything exists as an object that partially escapes them. During this time the world comes on to you differently, and you can no longer have a total subjectivity. The world is now his world, a foreign world that no longer comes from you, but from him. The other person is a "threat to the order and arrangement of your whole world…Your world is suddenly haunted by the Other's values, over which you have no control."[2]
When they realise it is a mannequin, and is not subjective, the world seems to transfer back, and they are again in the center.
This is back to the pre-reflective mode of being, it is "the eye of the camera that is always present but is never seen".[2] The person is occupied, and too busy for self-reflection.[3]
This process is continual and unavoidable. Subjectivity is competitive. This explains why it can be difficult to look someone in the eye.[2] Sartre does mention another man in the park who is reading a newspaper. This man is different because he is so engaged in a project, that he allows himself to be completely the object- "a man reading".

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