“Ripley’s coldness is not the surface effect of his gay stance, but rather the other way round. In one of the later Ripley novels, we learn that he makes love once a week to his wife Heloise, as a regular ritual -there is nothing passionate about it” – Tom is like Adam in paradise, prior to the Fall, when, according to St Augustine, he and Eve DID have sex, but it was performed as a simple instrumental task, like sowing the seeds on a field. One way to read Ripley is thus to claim that he is angelic, living in a universe which precedes the Law and its transgression (sin). In one of the later Ripley novels, the hero sees two flies on his kitchen table and, upon looking at them closely and observing that they are copulating, squashes them with disgust. This small detail is crucial -Minghella’s Ripley would NEVER have done something like this: Highsmith’s Ripley is in a way disconnected from the reality of flesh, disgusted at the Real of life, of its cycle of generation and corruption. Marge, Dickie’s girlfriend, provides an adequate characterization of Ripley: “All right, he may not be queer. He’s just a nothing, which is worse. He isn’t normal enough to have any kind of sex life.” Insofar as such coldness characterizes a certain radical lesbian stance, one is tempted to claim that, rather than being a closet gay, the paradox of Ripley is that he is a male lesbian. This disengaged coldness that persists beneath all possible shifting identities gets somehow lost in the film. The true enigma of Ripley is why he persists in this shuddering coldness, retaining a psychotic disengagement from any passionate human attachment, even after he reaches his goal and recreates himself as the respectable art-dealer living in the rich Paris suburb. Perhaps, the opposition of Lynch’s “straight” hero and Highsmith’s “normal” Ripley determines the extreme coordinates of today’s late capitalist ethical experience -with the strange twist that it is Ripley who is uncannily “normal,” and the “straight” man who is uncannily weird, even perverted. – SLAVOJ ZIZEK http://ift.tt/1KxH0wN


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