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September 1998, Week 3


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Wed, 16 Sep 1998 16:25:12 -0500
TEXT/PLAIN (48 lines)
Speculations (so to speak) about symbols:
> Ken Mogg wrote:
> Now, please, what is the 'obvious' sexual symbol in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
> when Miriam's strangling is reflected in a lens of her glasses lying on
> the grass (the other lens has been cracked)?  I'd love to know!  My mind
> simply goes 'boingg!' when Wood says the symbolism is obvious.  Is the
> lens supposed to represent spilt semen, or something? (But semen isn't
> reflective.)  A ruptured hymen?  (But that sounds far-fetched to me.)
> The equivalent of birds attacking people's eyes in THE BIRDS?  (Ditto.)
> Ken,
> Wood was probably referring to the Hollywood convention of eyeglasses
> denoting the power of the "look", which in theory-speak means that anyone
> who has the power to look at other people (in Hollywood, almost always men
> looking at women, thus the connotation of sexuality) also has power over
> them in other ways.  There's been alot of work done on the way women have
> been depowered in Hollywood films very simply by removing their glasses,
> symbolizing that their ability to be on the "looking" rather than the
> "looked at" side of the relationship has been taken away.
> Just a thought.
> Jason Lapeyre
> York University
Although I don't have a source at hand, there are more blatant,
pre-Lacanian Freudian meanings connected with eyes and glasses,
although I've heard them associated with both male and female
genitalia.  (Maybe check out Leon Edel on Henry James--all those
characters with monocles!) It's not an uncommon set of images in
Hitchcock: the eyes on the curtain being cut in Dali's dream sequence
from SPELLBOUND, the broken sunglasses in Thornhill's pocket in NORTH
Don Larsson
Donald Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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