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Mathes, B. (2014). Always a Face to Remind You. DIVISION/Rev., 9:40-41.

(2014). DIVISION/Review, 9:40-41

Always a Face to Remind You

Review by:
Bettina Mathes

The idea that the surface is the level of the superficial is itself dangerous…for it is on the surface that depth is seen, as when one's face breaks out in pimples on holidays.

-Jacques Lacan, “The Direction of the Treatment”

In thinking of the psychology of mysticism it is usual to concentrate on the understanding of the mystic's withdrawal into a personal inner world of sophisticated introjects. Perhaps not enough attention has been paid to the mystic's retreat into a position in which he can communicate secretly with subjective objects and phenomena, the loss of contact with the world of shared reality being counterbalanced by a gain in terms of feeling real.

-D. W. Winnicott, “Communicating and Not Communicating”

If I were a film, it would be Robert Bresson's 1951 Journal d'un curé de campagne (The Diary of a Country Priest). Based on the novel by George Bernanos, this quiet and detached film about the loneliness and eventual passing away (dying would be the wrong word here) of a young priest speaks to me like no other. Why? Perhaps because Bresson knows how to protect his characters. Beneath the surface of this tenderly austere black-and-white feature there is an ongoing private conversation that never gets communicated but makes itself felt throughout the film. Bresson is a believer, not a psychologist. He doesn't analyze his characters. He moves them. But we don't get to know their motivation. Observing the priest-we never hear his name-I learn to love the surface.

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