Unstable Identities and Irregular Distances, AKA My First Journal Article

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It’s the nature of academic publishing that after working on something a year ago that briefly took up all of my attention, I almost didn’t notice a couple of months ago when the article was actually published. But since this is officially My First Academic Publication, it’s probably worth acknowledging the milestone. (And of course although I’m being mildly flippant, I’m also quietly proud of what it represents.)

The article is based on a paper I presented at in June 2014 at ‘Distance & Proximity‘ the conference of the UCL Society for Comparative Cultural Inquiry. Here it is (under open access, so the link takes you straight to the PDF):

Pavey, Alex (2014), ‘I’m there right now. Call me’: Unstable identities and irregular distances from Raymond Chandler to David Lynch, Tropos, 2 (1) pp. 50-60.

Should you require any more enticement than that, here’s the abstract:

David Lynch’s Lost Highway (1997) and Raymond Chandler’s The High Window (1942) each contain scenes in which ambiguous distances and fluid identities disorientate the protagonists. The principle of incrimination that underpins modern criminal investigation demands a rationalisation of time, space and identity. But these three categories can be undermined, intentionally by individual action, or inherently by the technologies and systems of modernity itself. In both Chandler and Lynch, audio-visual media, particularly the telephone, demonstrate the fragility of any rigid, rationalised conception of distance and proximity, undermining the possibility of the stable knowledge by which the detective might solve the case, and the accused might defend himself against incrimination. The particularly disorientating dynamics of relation experienced by Lynch’s protagonists are also analogous to his subversion of cinematic narrative structure – in which the possibility of narrative closure constantly seems to both approach and recede.

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Author: Alex Pavey

I'm a Research Assistant at the University of Portsmouth, and recently submitted my PhD thesis at UCL. My research focuses on Los Angeles literature and cinema across the twentieth century - particularly, although not exclusively, narratives of crime and detection.

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