To resurface the lost problematic of desire

This is an unwritten paper, the formalization of an unexistence, or a formalization of unexistence, or simply, some unexistence. In this age of virtuality, as far as bodies still need valuation and authorities prefer to value measurable expressions of unexistence, it should not surprise you if various literatures of this age will all address unexistence.


Biri ve Diğerleri (1987)
To resurface the lost problematic of desire

This paper is a Zizekian reading of a Turkish film from 1987, Biri ve Diğerleri (One And The Others), whose title refers to the metaphoric character of its story: a desiring man sitting at a depressing bar. This simple setting intensifies the structural aspects in the story, making it straightforward for us to designate its elements by Lacanian terms. Moreover, the film appears as a ‘Lacanian’ film, already structured around the problematic of sustaining one’s desire inside a closed and impenetrable world of signifiers, of overlapping shadows with no ‘place’ left to rely on.

A better known movie by its director Tunç Başaran is Uçurtmayı Vurmasınlar (Don’t Let Them Shoot The Kite, 1989). Both movies bear marks of the coup d’etat in 12 September 1980 that ruthlessly crushed all democratic opposition alongside the social organization in Turkey, and both protagonists’ name is ‘Barış’ (meaning ‘peace’). However, while UV handles this problem directly, by telling the story of a child in a women’s prison under oppression, BvD approaches it metaphorically, locating it in a man that sits in a bar. This relocation allows us to delineate figures of Big other, vanishing mediator, the distinction reality/Real, partial objects etc. all of which are organized around this man’s problem of not compromising his desire.

The main tension is between the Real woman in the man’s mind and a woman in reality that comes by (her name is ‘Ümit’, meaning ‘hope’), functioning as his object petit a through partial objects. In the bar, all elements negate each other, forming a closed world of signifiers: the barman’s sorrow against the customers’ chit-chat, the fight between a divorced older couple against the insecurity of a young loving couple, the mocking by his friends of an old actor expressing his desire. And this closed circle is strengthened by the protagonist’s Lacanian stance of not compromising his desire by clearly separating Real from reality. This stance is firstly perceived by the woman as a rejection and some kind of betrayal. Then she accepts and comprehends it, finally repeating it towards him in a final glance, just before going away with her husband in the concluding scene.

The movie’s displaced political problematic can also be observed as a disawoved factor within the Turks’ enjoyment with movies made before 1980. In the 70s, Turkish cinema was very active, producing hundreds of movies with colorful stories and happy endings. After 1980, this tradition called ‘Yeşilçam’ suffered much, alongside the crushed hopes of the country. As a result, ‘Yeşilçam’ movies obtained a new nostalgic role, carrying an attitude of sticking to the ‘goodness in Turks’, a defence of ‘national’ culture, disavowing the general problematic of desire opened up by the disaster of 1980. This nostalgia alone proves that the Lacanian stance expressed in Tunç Başaran’s movies and especially clearly in BvD is worth interpreting and propagating.

As the culture industry desperately consumes all the tasteful signifiers it finds in Yeşilçam, the problem of desire is destined to resurface in people’s minds and their cinema accordingly.

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