How can one “… engage with television in an ecstatic mode” ? Brian Ott, visiting professor of media and rhetorical studies at the University of Colorado, Denver, explains how recourse to the Lacanian concept of Jouissance (“a radically disruptive pleasure, which momentarily dissolves the socially constructed subject, thereby evading ideology”) can be called on to clarify.
In his paper Television as Lover, Part II: Doing Auto[Erotic]Ethnography (Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies 2007; 7; 294) professor Ott gives examples of “Television as lover” – citing his reactions whilst watching a TV showing a scene from the 2002 film ‘Unfaithful’ – in which Connie Sumner (played by Diane Lane) is in her kitchen cooking dinner. But her actions do not interest professor Ott. Instead –
“What excites me is the image of a tomato, for it feels too red, too ripe, juices pouring out onto the table as it is sliced. Then, the image of pot of water; it like me is about to boil over, to explode. It cannot contain itself . . . it cannot be reduced to a rigid, singular meaning. I along with my lover have created this ecstatic ‘moment’ where tiny bubbles exceed rational explanation, where they resonate with my body. I am overwhelmed by a pleasure so intense that it shudders through me. I grip the remote tightly, and for an instant come undone. Slowly, I become self-aware again. I recognize that I am lying in bed with the TV next to me. I do not immediately turn off the TV but begin to surf again.”
(Note: The ‘lover’ in this case is the TV, rather than another person).
Some might ask though “What are the implications of engaging television as lover for critical practice generally and for academic critics in particular?” For the full picture, the entire paper can be read here.
Other Dr. Ott papers include: