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February 2002, Week 2


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 11 Feb 2002 09:15:00 -0600
TEXT/PLAIN (46 lines)
Sarah Higley replies:
On Sun, 10 Feb 2002 23:05:09 -0500 "Sarah L. Higley"
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Yes...thanks; but remember that we're interested not in the mere use of
> this term in film, but the equation of this term WITH film; i.e., AHD's
> third definition.  Do the Topper films and these other titles use the term
> ectoplasm in ways that connect it to filmmaking?
> Another colleague has suggested to me by private email that the reason the
> third definition was removed in the fourth edition of the AHD was that a
> lexicographer had misread the Ellison passage.  In other words, Ellison's
> protagonist is not saying that he is not a "projection of an image on a
> movie screen" (Meaning #3 in the AHD), but that he is not a ghost, in
> either Poe's sense or in the sense of the Hollywood ghosts in popular
> horror films (i.e., "Hollywood ectoplasms").  He is invisible in a
> different way.  But film essentially and literally produces "ghosts,"
> "apparitions," but also "visible icons," the opposite of an invisible man
> as Ellison means it. So the equation, while it might have been imperfectly
> understood by the dictionary makers, is still a fertile and complex
> metaphor in his novel.
> If my private emailer is right, and the AHD definition solely refers to
> this passage, then that's one thing.  But if film images are referred to
> as "ectoplasms" in film jargon somewhere, somehow, that would be really
> useful!  Are they in any of the films you mention?

None of the films that I mentioned use the term in that way.  I
also suspect that it was a misreading of Ellison, although there might
be some specialized use like that one within spritualist writings--or
maybe surrealists?

Good luck.

Don Larsson

Donald F. Larsson, English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

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