A digital magazine on topics related to cinema from a Lacanian psychoanalytic perspective

What is Cinematheme?

Cinematheme is a digital magazine published once yearly wherein authors share their views on various topics related to cinema with the use of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. 

We are now calling for papers by authors wishing to contribute to the magazine, to our second issue to be released in late 2023. We are interested in showcasing both those established in the field of psychoanalysis and related ones as well as new and upcoming voices. Press the ‘Call for Papers’ button below for more information.

Why the neologism ‘Cinematheme’?

By coining the neologism of the matheme, Lacan explicitly expressed his desire to introduce some mathematical and technical rigour into his often-baroque teaching. In his nineteenth seminar titled ‘… Or Worse’, he called his mathemes the “pivotal point of all teaching” and his way “to approach [beyond the noise the communication process] something that concerns knowledge about Truth”. Yet, by echoing this Lacanian term in Cinematheme, we do not intend to reduce cinema to Lacanian mathemes or to give it the status of a matheme as such. With our neologism, Cinematheme, we want to emphasise the art and the skill of showing that the rich field of cinema can breathe life into the Lacanian mathemes. But cinematic narratives are not only useful to illustrate Lacanian theory and the nature of subjectivity, but also to challenge and expand Lacanian theory and to take roads into the nature of subjectivity yet to be taken by psychoanalysis. The art of cinema, to put it in a Freudian way, is a “valuable ally” and cinematic narratives are “to be prized highly, for they are apt to [show] a whole host of things between heaven and earth of which (…) [psychoanalysis] has not yet let us dream”.

The logo of Cinematheme, the mobius film strip, is not chosen at random. The mobius strip echoes, better than any other topological figure, the cinematic experience. It is by problematizing the binary opposition between outside and inside that Lacan allows us to see that, during the act of watching, the cinematic object ‘fuses’ with the subjectivity of the spectator. The encounter of a film with the eye of the subject undoes the strict externality of the concatenation of filmic images, giving the film an internal existence marked by his unconscious, his fantasies, and his desires. But the mobius strip can also be utilized to echo a more fundamental truth about film. A film might be an external object, but it is already, before any kind of spectatorship has taken place, structured by the fantasies and the desires most internal to the speaking subject. The eternal appeal of cinema lies in this structural truth, in the fact that it opens the possibility for the subject to encounter one’s own subjectivity as well as the limits of it in the endless concatenating artful cinematic images.