By Teresa de de Lauretis
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Extra resources for Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema
But a critical feminist reading of the text, of all the texts of culture, instates the awareness of that contradiction and the knowledge of its terms; it thus changes the representation into a performance which exceeds the text. For women to enact the contradiction is to demonstrate the non-coincidence of woman and women. To perform the terms of the production of woman as text, as image, is to resist identification with that image. It is to have stepped through the looking-glass. As the reader by now has discovered, the title of this essay has little or nothing to do with Lewis Carroll's book or its heroine.
They saw a woman running at night through an unknown city; she was naked, with long hair, and she was seen from behind ... " (for the female sex is invisible in psychoanalysis, and in semiology it does not exist at all). What this theory of the cinema cannot countenance, given its phallic premise, is the possibility of a different relation of the spectator-subject to the filmic image, of different meaning-effects being produced for and producing the subject in identification and representation-in short, the possibility of other subject processes obtaining in that relation.
The problem with this notion of Through the Looking-Glass I 25 meaning is that, being coextensive with the signifier as a subjecteffect, meaning can only be envisaged as always already given in that fixed order which is the symbolic. , what is symbolized-behind the most diverse ideas"; as the signifier of desire, the phallus must also be its meaning, in fact the only meaning. 18 And so, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, Metz in the last instance goes back to the equation of cinematic code(s) and language, now called the symbolic.