Before seeing anything or imagining to see something, he tries to listen, he behaves as an eavesdropper, with all of his private detective gadgets. What does this make him? Potentially at least it makes him into a fantasised, imagined entity. He doesn't fantasise the scene of the murder, he fantasises himself as a witness to the murder. What he sees on the blurred window, glass, which effectively functions as a kind of elementary screen, cinematic screen even, that should be perceived as a desperate attempt to visualise, hallucinate even, the bodily material support of what he hears.
 Blue Velvet (1986 ; Director: David Lynch).
Dorothy's apartment is one of those hellish places which abound in David Lynch's films, places where all moral and social inhibitions seem to be suspended, where everything is possible. The lowest masochistic sex, obscenities, the deepest level of our desires that we are not even ready to admit to ourselves, we are confronted with them in such places.
From what perspective should we observe this scene? Imagine the scene as that of a small child hidden in a closet or behind a door witnessing the parental intercourse. He doesn't yet know what sexuality is, how we do it, all he knows is what he hears, this strange deep breathing sound. And then he tries to imagine what goes on.
At the very beginning of Blue Velvet we see Geoffrey's father having a heart attack, falling down, we have the eclipse of the normal paternal authority. It is as if Geoffrey fantasises this wild parental couple of Dorothy and Frank as a kind of phantasmatic supplement to the lack of the real paternal authority. Frank not only obviously acts but even overacts, it is as if he is ridiculously excessive, gesticulating, shouting, and so on - are here to cover up something. The point is of course, the elementary one, to convince the invisible observer that father is potent, to cover up father's impotence, so the second way to read the scene would have been as a spectacle, a ridiculously violent spectacle, set up by the father to convince the son of his power, of his over-potence. The third way would have been to focus on Dorothy herself. Many feminists, of course, emphasise the brutality against women in this scene, the abuse, how the Dorothy character is abused. There is obviously this dimension in it. But I think one should risk a more shocking and obverse interpretation. What if the central, as it were, problem of this entire scene is Dorothy's passivity. So what if what Frank is doing is a kind of a desperate, ridiculous, but nonetheless effective, attempt of trying to help Dorothy, to awaken her out of her lethargy, to bring her into life. So if Frank is anybody's fantasy, maybe he's Dorothy's fantasy. There's a kind of a strange mutual interlocking of fantasies. Its not only ambiguity but ossillation between three focal points. This I think is what accounts for the strange reverberations of this scene.
 Vertigo ( 1958; Director: Alfred Hitchcock).
This brings us to our third [ after The Conversation and Blue Velvet] and maybe crucial example, what is for me the most beautiful shot in the entire Vertigo. The shot in which we see Scottie in the position of a peeping tom observing through a crack. It is as if Madeleine is really there in common reality while Scottie is peeping at her from some mysterious interspace, from some obscure nether-world.
This is the location of the imagined, fantasised Gaze.
Gaze is that obscure point, the blind spot, from which the object looked upon returns the gaze.
After suspecting that a murder is taking place in a nearby hotel room, Gene Hackman, playing the private detective, enters this room and inspects the toilet. The moment he approaches the toilet in the bathroom it is clear that we are in Hitchcock territory. It is clear that some kind of intense, implicit dialogue with Psycho is going on. In a very violent gesture as if adopting the role of Norman Bates' mother, the murder in Psycho, he opens up the curtain, inspects it in detail looking for traces of blood there, even inspecting the gap, the hole at the bottom of the sink, which is precisely another of these focal objects, because in Psycho the hole, through fadeout, is morphed into the eye, returning the gaze.
We say the eye is the window of the soul, but what if there is no soul behind the eye, what if the eye is a crack through which we can perceive just the abyss of a netherworld.
When we look through these cracks, we see the dark other side where hidden forces run the show. It is as if Gene Hackman establishes no we are nonetheless not in Psycho, let us return to my first object of fascination, the toilet bowl. He flushes it and then the terrible thing happens.
In our most elementary experience, when we flush the toilet excrements simply disappear out of our reality into another space, which we phenomenologically perceive as a kind of a netherworld, another reality, chaotic primordial reality, and the ultimate horror of course is if the flushing doesn't work, if objects return, if remainders, excremental remainders return from that dimension.
Hitchcock is all the time playing with this threshold. The most effective for me, even the most touching, scene of the entire Psycho is after the shower murder when Norman Bates tries to clean the bathroom. I remember clearly when in my adolescence I first saw the film how deeply I was impressed by, not only by, the length of the scene - it goes on for nearly ten minutes, details of things and so on and so on, but also by the care, the meticulousness, how it is done, and also by our spectators' identification with it. I think that this tells us a lot about the satisfaction of work, of a job well done, which is not so much to construct something new, but maybe human work at its most elementary, work as it were at the zero level, is the work of cleaning the traces of a stain. The work of erasing the stains, keeping at bay this chaotic netherworld which threatens to explode at any time and engulf us.
I think this is the fine sentiment that Hitchcock's films evoke. It is not simply that something horrible happens in reality. Something worse can happen which undermines the very fabric of what we experience as reality. I think it is very important how the first attack of the birds occurs in The Birds, precisely when Melanie crosses this bay. First we even don't perceive it as a bird, as if some stain appeared within the frame.
When a fantasy object, something imagined, an object from inner space, enters our ordinary reality, the texture of reality is twisted, distorted. This is how desire inscribes itself into reality, by distorting it.
Desire is a wound of reality.
The art of cinema consists in arousing desire, to play with desire, but at the same time keeping it at a safe distance, domesticating it, rendering it palpable.
When we spectators are sitting in a movie theatre looking at the screen, you remember at the very beginning before the picture is on, its a black dark screen and then light is thrown on. Are we basically not staring into a toilet bowl and waiting for things to reappear out of the toilet? And are, is the entire magic of spectacle shown from the screen not a kind of a deceptive view trying to conceal the fact that we are basically watching shit, as it were ...