Fifth Irish Psychoanalytic Film Festival
(An APPI/IFPP/Independent Colleges Event)
Jan 31st/February 1st 2014
Psychoanalysing Irish Cinema
(or, everything you wanted to know about ‘The Irish’ but were afraid to ask Freud)
The Fifth Irish Psychoanalytic Film Festival will take place on 31st Jan/1st February 2014. The object of our psychoanalytic/cinematic scrutiny for this festival will be ‘The Irish’. The notion that the Irish are unanalysable is attributed to Freud, locating ‘The Irish’ together with other unanalysable subjects (‘The Japanese’,‘Lesbians’...) who somehow are beyond or outside the discourse of psychoanalysis. In Martin Scorsese’s movie The Departed, one of the protagonists, Colin Sullivan remarks that:“What Freud said about the Irish is: We’re the only people who are impervious to psychoanalysis”. William Monahan, screenwriter of The Departed admits that he paraphrased this line which he had come across in various articles, his understanding of the apparent original remark by Freud being: “This is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever.” Although this remark attributed to Freud has never successfully been tracked down in his writings or those of his biographer – the Welshman Ernest Jones – it has become something of an urban myth about ‘The Irish’.
In this Fifth festival of psychoanalysis and film, we turn our gaze to ‘The Irish’ in cinema, in an attempt to consider at least in part the veracity of Freud’s (attributed) pronouncement on the Irish Psyche. Representations of ‘The Irish’ on film as well as Irish film-making will constitute the material of our viewing, analyses and discussions.
What might it possibly mean to be unanalysable, or to be a race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use? Is it that our relationship to the Unconscious is articulated differently to that of say ‘the English’ or ‘the American’, and if so, how? Is it perhaps that our relationship to our symptom and unconscious enjoyment belies our ability to transform that relationship? Is it perhaps that years of repression by the Church and the British leave us sublimated and/or drunk? What are the particular emergent cinematic identities that we encounter in Irish Cinema that testify to the effects of these specific racial attributes apparently stitched to our identity by Freud?
From special Irish versions of the sexual non-rapport (‘The Quiet Man’, ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, ‘Crying Game’ etc.,) to the constitution of the all-singing, all-dancing ‘Oirish’ subject with a strong accent and a liking for a jig at a crossroads or on an open-top bus (‘Lughnasa’… ‘Commitments’), to ‘Jordanesque’ and ‘Sheridanesque’ landscapes bringing a rich tapestry of divided, conflicted Irish subjects into focus (‘Adam and Paul’, ‘Hunger’, ‘The Guard’, ‘What Richard Did’ etc. etc.,); Irish Cinema although in its relative infancy may yet allow us to understand and reflect upon the Irish Psyche and its relation to the unconscious in ways that Freud could not have imagined.