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Politics, Theory, and FilmCritical Encounters with Lars von Trier$
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Bonnie Honig and Lori J. Marso

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600181

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600181.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 November 2020

The Nymph Shoots Back

The Nymph Shoots Back

Agamben and the Feel of the Agon

(p.97) 4 The Nymph Shoots Back
Politics, Theory, and Film

Lynne Huffer

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the gendered structure of Nymphomaniac’s passionate ambivalence and agonistic dénouement. It begins with Nymphomaniac’s dialogic narrative frame as a sexually differentiated story within a story, before placing the film in the context of the classic, Enlightenment-era Pygmalion story about artistic creation. Within that context, von Trier takes his place in a long tradition of masculine creators dependent on the nymph as the cipher or screen for their passionate ambivalence: their erotic and intellectual projections. This tradition is followed through in Giorgio Agamben’s description of image making as an “amorous experience” between an artist and an imago: “an object in some sense unreal.” A critique of Agamben as an enlightened Pygmalion then serves as a background for an analysis of von Trier’s critical remake of the Pygmalion story. In the end, Nymphomaniac is read as much more than the display of its own ambivalence about itself.

Keywords:   Nymphomaniac, nymph, Giorgio Agamben, Pygmalion, Galatea, Enlightenment period

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