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Sanchez-Cardenas, M. (2013). Matte Blanco and Narrativity: Hitchcock's Vertigo. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(4):825-840.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(4):825-840

Film Essay

Matte Blanco and Narrativity: Hitchcock's Vertigo

Michel Sanchez-Cardenas

Matte Blanco: Introduction

The aim of this article is to identify some unconscious axes in Hitchcock's Vertigo by focusing on Matte Blanco.

The Unconscious, Matte (1975) shows, is governed by two major principles: the Principle of Generalization and the Principle of Symmetry. The Principle of Generalization states that elements presenting analogies or similarities between them are included in increasingly wider sets (or classes). The Principle of Symmetry states that, within these sets, the elements or individuals united analogically become equivalent. This principle is so called because relations, which for consciousness are asymmetrical, become symmetrical for the unconscious. For example, if in consciousness A is the father of B, the symmetrical proposition (B is the father of A) cannot be true: this relation is thus asymmetrical. But in the unconscious B can be the father of A: the relation thus becomes symmetrical.

Matte Blanco thus explicitly follows Freud who writes: “Moreover, as a rule, the existence of quite insignificant points in common between two elements is enough to allow the dream-work to replace one by the other in all further operations” (1940a[1938], p. 168). The Principle of Symmetry corresponds to unconscious functioning, where we have: “exemption from mutual contradiction, primary process (mobility of cathexes), timelessness, and replacement of external by psychical reality” (Freud, 1915, p. 187, original italics). To say that x and y are different is compatible with its contrary, i.e. that they are not different: hence a confusion between x and y (timelessness). Condensation and displacement also result in a confusion of places (Matte Blanco speaks of spacelessness where they are concerned).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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