Trickster in the screen and information age — Workshop
A presentation by Dr Terrie Waddell
Saturday, June 9, 2012 10am - 4.30pm
Venue: The Theosophical Society, 355 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill
Admission: Members & Concession: $85 • Non-members: $110
Please bring a plate for shared lunch.
It’s been said that the dominant obsessions, patterns or directions of certain time periods are governed by archetypal energies – for example we can interpret the 1960s as dominated by Dinoysos the personification of ecstasy, and the age in which we live (the information age) as under the influence of trickster. In all its mythical projections trickster has been thought of as a constructive and destructive catalyst for psychological movement and reflection on a range of emotional and intellectual levels. Although it has been personified as shape-shifting shamans, clowns/fools and primitive animal-human hybrids able to play in the sacred and profane, it is far more complex than its cultural projections. In this seminar we will try to understand the impact trickster makes on contemporary media culture.
The seminar will run from 10am – 4pm. In the first workshop session (10-12 noon) we will ask ourselves how trickster myths of the past are reworked into our screen stories. The archetype itself, even the narratives of myth, haven’t drastically changed. It is only the projections which speaks to us through particular cultural languages. We will look at how trickster plays with notions of identity and shape-shifting through the screen texts of Dexter, American Psycho, Deadwood, the video clips of Chris Cunningham (particularly Madonna’s Frozen 1998), and other examples.
After lunch (1.30-3.30) we will then try to tease out at the nexus between trickster and narcissism, in particular the antics of celebrity/actor Charlie Sheen and the persona of Julian Assange (Wikileaks) as he comes to us through the media. It’s interesting to think about whether narcissism and trickster energy is conjoined, or whether they are in fact polarities, the former desperately trying to emulate the latter. This in itself is a tricky point – for as anthropologist Paul Radin wrote of the North American trickster Wakdjunkaga: “He possesses no values, moral or social, is at the mercy of his passions and appetites, yet through his actions all values come into being.”
Dr. Terrie Waddell of the Media: Screen and Sound program at La Trobe University, has taught and written widely on contemporary media and mythical approaches to screen texts. Previous book publications include: Wild/lives – Trickster, Place and Liminality on Screen (Routledge, 2010); Mis/takes – Archetype, Myth and Identity in Screen Fiction (Routledge, 2006); Lounge Critic – The Couch Theorist’s Companion (co-editor, ACMI, 2004) produced in conjunction with The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) and the former Australian Film Commission; and Cultural Expressions of Evil and Wickedness – Wrath, Sex, Crime (editor, Rodopi, 2003).
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