Sep. 29th, 2013

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The Drowned Man
The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable, production shot


Gradiva is the story of a young archeologist who buries his desires, but of course what is repressed always returns and one night he dreams of Pompeii; it is the time of the eruption of Vesuvius, and he sees his Gradiva there, the dream image of a woman depicted in a plaster-cast bas-relief, with a particular gait that fascinates him, for which he searches in the streets. He is possessed by her ‘lente festinans’. The woman in his dream lies down as if to sleep, stretched along a broad step. She dies (it is a moment for which Jacques Derrida says all historians wish: to witness the coincidence of the event with the archiving of that event). She is like a beautiful statue and a veil of ashes covers her face and soon buries her. In 1907, Freud published his essay on Gradiva and delusions and dreams. It is also a ghost story, unstable and distorted, its happy ending uncertain even when resolved. [1]

In that same year, Freud wrote a postcard from Rome to his wife, Martha. "He invited her to think of his joy in encountering––or re-encountering––after a long solitude, a beloved face. It was, however, as he remarked, a rather one-sided recognition, for the face to which he was referring was that of the bas-relief of the Gradiva, a figure stepping lightly, high up on a wall in the Vatican".[2]

106 years later, to the date, I step into a building near Paddington Station, London, for Punchdrunk's latest production, The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable.

Contains spoilers... )

[1] & [2] A London Fantasy, by Sharon Kivland

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