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Enigmatic pearl: Trauma and the sublime in the short film, Pilbara Pearl

Rossetti, S. (2008) Enigmatic pearl: Trauma and the sublime in the short film, Pilbara Pearl. IM: Interactive Media, 4 .

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My article explores the Burkian notion of the sublime in the postmodern sense, linking big ideas such as romantic love, as it is felt, which is grand in scope and transcendentally threatening in origin, rendering it and its representation almost incomprehensible to humans, such as Eddie (the protagonist). In doing so, I seek to answer one of Lyotard’s questions, regarding whether art is possible under the category of the sublime by applying some of his tenets to my film. I draw upon my creative practices to explore how I sought to represent trauma and sublime notions of love through the aesthetics of cinema. Kant, too, is discussed, in terms of the immensity of love and Eddie’s initial failure of imagination to comprehend objects which appear terrifyingly boundless and formless, such as Pearl’s immersion in the otherworld of her fish tank. Through Wicks we encounter Schopenhauer, providing an access point to the trauma theories of Caruth and Walker, to reveal the traumatic authorial origins of this filmic narrative. Finally, in agreement with postmodern concepts, I argue that the gap between being human, and the thing (antagonist Pearl’s immersion in her fish tank, which we, the audience, witness) is a sublime moment in the film for Eddie. Consequently, his powers of reason and imagination challenge him into a reversal, ultimately enabling him to surrender to love to experience the unthinkable, as he immerses with Pearl in her fish tank. I thus conclude that Eddie’s terror of love transforms into a positive epiphany, which is, nonetheless, sublime.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: National Academy of Screen and Sound
Copyright: © IM/NASS 2008
Other Information: Script: Dir: Christopher Watson; 10 mins, 1998
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