Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 1 No. 2, 1987
Film, TV and the Popular
Edited by Philip Bell & Kari Hanet

Scandal to the Jews, folly to the pagans:
a treatment for Hail Mary

Stuart Cunningham & Ross Harley

Art is what allows you to turn back and see Sodom and Gomorrah without dying.
Jean-Luc Godard

Seek and you shall find more than you imagine.
Hail Mary

Block It!

Preparing to see Jean-Luc Godard's 1984 'modernisation' of the Bible story of the Annunciation and Nativity Je vous salue, Marie (Hail Mary) was to be transported back to a time when the cinema occupied a far more central place in the public sphere than it conceivably does today. A time when the power of the cinematic image was precisely an institution, and as such was undergirded and policed by wide ranging rules of censorship that guaranteed an order of acceptability, a licensing of the image. That Hail Mary has, as it were, hit the jackpot in attracting a concerted campaign by certain segments of the Catholic Church and other fellow travellers to have it lobbied off the screen worldwide irresistibly conjures images from the past concerning the wayward attractions of the cinematic institution: the scandals that 'rocked' Hollywood in the twenties, contributing to the establishment of the Hays Office, the policing of the movies by the Legion of Decency in the thirties, the perpetual worrying over the effects on children of their sojourns spellbound in darkness, and, of course, Australia's long history of cinematic censorship codes reputedly second only to Ireland in severity. More specifically, it seems as if the cinema has effectively internalised a wariness about the second term of the unholy trinity - obscenity, blasphemy, sedition; censoring itself, for the most part, out of the field of representation of religious subjects. And this, in retrospect, may seem eminently pragmatic, given the treatment dished out to the 'scandalous' Rossellini for Il Miracolo (second episode of L'Amore) in 1948 and to the more deserving Bunuel for Viridiana in 1961. So when, in passing, we conjure the image cinema-religion, we might only come up with Cecil B. de Mille's films. Such elephantine sincerity - no less interesting for that, but scarcely the alpha and omega of possible permutations of the aforesaid image. So that as we prepared to see Hail Mary, caught up therefore in this and last year's cinematic succes de scandale across what today passes for Christendom, we could at the very least rejoice in a perverse sort of fashion, given that the cup (full of the secular waters of liberalism and creative licence) of successfully defending the very possibility of its being shown had passed to other hands, that the power of the image was again on trial. If Godard reinvents the cinema, as his critics have often enthused, this is perhaps one of the least probable ways they could have thought of for him to do it.


Scandal. Stumbling-block. Obstacle. Derived from the root 'to limp' or 'hobble'. A whole series of Biblical texts demonstrate how ominous a condition it is, to be 'scandalised'; for example:

But whoso shall offend (scandalise) one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences (scandals)! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom they cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. [1]

Hail Mary is certainly the kind of film that seems destined to perpetual scandal. But not because it is held to scandalise the imputed moral righteousness of the religious right. They may have their day of reckoning if it can be shown that Godard's 'obscene and blasphemous' portrayal of an often unveiled Mary at times cussing God, a resentful, thick Joseph, a bovver-boy Archangel and a precociously insolent Jesus is an absolutely logical permutation of the biblical narratives. One that captures the original scandal that sees Joseph doubting Mary's virtue and on the verge of ending the betrothal (Matthew 1:19), Mary being 'greatly troubled' at this penetration of her enceinte [2] (Luke 1:29), the angel Gabriel (who must surely have got his promotion for this job) having to intervene with both, and Jesus playing tough with his dullard parents in the temple (Luke 2:41-51). While Hail Mary's strident detractors might try to keep their cult figure enclosed in their walled city - like a queen bee, enormously imposing, absolutely immobile - Godard's pregnant virgin might liberate such a Gulliver among the Lilliputians in ways that recall St. Paul's original Nietzschean invocation of the transvaluation of all values:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block (scandalon) to Jews and folly to Gentiles ... For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. [3]

Of this 'meticulous profanation' [4], one can only say 'all of it is true and none of it'. [5] They have been scandalised, but in all the wrong places.

If Hail Mary, then, is a scandal to the monotheistic 'Jews' of the religious right who think they hold propriety over the one Text, the one Word, the one Body, the film has also seemed folly to many a polymorphous cinephile or to those exacting apostles of the 'radical' cinema who might wish that the scroll of Godard's history had been rolled up well before this latest second coming so as better to preserve the hagiography of Jean-Luc, saint of the political cinema. Hail Mary: sexist, a mess, 'undoubtedly' viewed, at least one forum for the 'pagans', as 'confusing and incoherent, if not downright distasteful'.6 One sort of consensus amongst the polytheistic 'pagans' seems to be emerging about Godard's re-entry into the cinema with Sauve qui peut (La vie) (1980), Passion (1982), Prenom: Carmen (1983), Detective (1985) and Hail Mary. Many would dismiss them as successive indications of directorial washout, in much the same way as the latter-day films of fellow nouvelle vague-ers Truffaut, Rohmer, Rivette and Resnais have been, for the most part, so unenthusiastically received. In a slightly different fashion, they may appear to constitute too much a return to the protocols of the art cinema, from whence Godard is held to have extracted himself with La Chinoise and Weekend and the beginnings of his first exit from a certain kind of cinema altogether. 7

These kinds of expressions of disappointment in Godard, as a dirty old man, becoming dirtier with age, returning to his romantic/existentialist/ pessimist/personalist roots, are usually overlaid with a perverse nostalgia for the 'political' Godard, who, though the precepts of an ultra-leftist Maoism might have been unacceptably sectarian, dangerously righteous, at least kept before us the fantasmic image of a severe cinematic exemplum to which no other filmmaking project could aspire, however much it might masochistically endeavour. It was a cinema that was good for you. Especially you. Tout va bien (1972) and its ilk did yeoman service as our cinematic superego for many years. For those who keep the lamps trimmed for the 'political' Godard, his recent pronouncements around Hail Mary might seem like red flags to a bull. On his reasons for pulling the film from Rome:

It's the house of the church, and if the Pope didn't want a bad boy running around in his house, the least I could do is respect his wishes. This Pope has a special relationship to Mary; he considers her a daughter almost. 8

On the Bible:

I think there's something so strong in the way the Bible was written, how it speaks of events that are happening today, how it contains statements about things which have happened in the past. I think, well - it's a great book! And somehow I think we need faith, or I need faith, or I'm lacking in faith. Therefore maybe I needed a story which is bigger than myself.
I like it that Hail Mary is really being discussed. Instead of people saying, "Oh, it's directed by Godard," people are talking about the subject of the film first. 9

And, in an interview with Colin MacCabe:

Q. ... that brings us to the question of politics. Before 1968 there was an ever increasing reference to politics and then there were the politically militant films, but now politics seems to function as a joke, a memory, a dream.

A. Yes, I discovered politics very late in life because I'd been taken up with movies. But then movies taught me about politics because I was working with images but I asked myself, "Images of what?" - and then I discovered politics. But I discovered that politics was only a movie, a movie made in Russia.

. . .

Q. Religion has become more important in your recent films ... Why this interest in religion?

A. I discovered religion in politics, distorted in a way, but still religion. Actually it's not religion that interests me but faith. Like my own faith in movies. What is faith? Why do people have faith in themselves? And then you have to deal with the subject of faith. 10

If, however, it can be argued, as we think it can, that Hail Mary has an equally logical relation to Godard's earlier film and video going back explicitly to as early as Numero Deux (1975), 11 however much the present film might also pose a different order of things, then the bemusement, or worse, of the cinephile 'pagans' might be confounded.


Godard has divided his film into twenty-four sequences with little statement-titles and it's worth reproducing this breakdown as an aide-memoire in unravelling some strands of the film:

1 - they say men enter a woman; 2 - the moon and the balloon; 3 - there's no such thing as chance; 4 - the angel's dollars; 5 - the annunciation; 6 - our distant descendants; 7 - I don't sleep with anyone; 7A - does the soul have a body; 8 - I'll throw myself into the sea; 9 - a cigarette and a saxaphone melody; 10 - what is flesh; 11 - trust is necessary; 12 - a great secret; 13 - could I see you quite naked; 14 - rain falls from above to the ground; 16 - I'm tired of seeing clearly; 17 - the balloon and the moon; 18 - the animals; 19 - the water; 20 - the little boy; 21 - the family; 22 - I am he who is; 23 - he'll come back at Easter; 24 - ave maria.

Sequence 10: "What is flesh?" Mary quotes a little parable told by St Francis (she quotes from Julien Green's Frere Francis, a biography of St Francis of Assisi by the English novelist) about the 'flesh and the candle':

I think that the spirit acts on the body, breathes through it, transfigures it, veils it to make it fairer than it is. For what is flesh alone? What ... is flesh ... alone? You may see it and feel only disgust. You may see it in the gutter, drunken, or in the coffin, dead. The world's as full of flesh as a grocer's counter is of candles at the start of winter. But not until you've bought a candle home and lit it can it give you comfort.

This story pulls together various strands of the text in a tight latticework of argument and narrative. The reading commences as an extra-diegetic voice-over of the concluding images of 'a cigarette and a sax melody', the seduction sequence between the Czech emigre professor and Eve/Eva. ("This is the time. And the place.") The image is of a naked Eve, smoking, warning off another 'caller' on the telephone. The quotation is then completed in sync-sound and as Mary finishes for the night at the gas station. The transition to sequence 11 is effected through a scene between Joseph and Juliette, whose fitful attempts at 'relations' are continually blocked by the image and body of Mary in both minds' eyes, a topography played out physically in an earlier sequence12 as Mary's basketball (moon-sun-basketball-swelling belly: a complex albeit palpably self-evident paradigm of images pervades the visual logic of film) is 'stolen' by Juliette and passed amongst the triangle Mary, Juliette, Joseph. Juliette is a signifier of abjection: "Out of my mouth comes shit", the opening lines of the film; Eve/Eva the overdetermined signifier of the erotic; Mary takes her place, in this trinity of 'beautiful young women', somewhere between the two. And, in these narrative preludes, the continuous displacement of desire comically invokes the structure of the family melodrama: Juliette wants Joseph who wants Mary who just wants God.13

However, in this scene, Joseph has seemingly finally capitulated to Juliette and the known world of the abject-erotic: "Don't you like my body? ... I'm a real woman too." However, as is the case on more than one occasion, Gabriel and his angelic offsider block Joseph's path to an incorrect destiny, inveighing on him that 'trust is necessary' (sequence 11) against his masculinist presumption that "she'll make a fool of me". In sequence 12, St Francis' discourse on the body continues. Mary is entranced by St Francis' anthropomorphisation of nature: 'brother' sun and 'sister' moon. Joseph, in the throes of sexual frustration, taunts her: and what does he call the body? Brother donkey. Caught up in this tessellated pattern14 is Godard's play with a quite orthodox Christian discourse on flesh. The point of the parable of the flesh and the candle is surely one concerning the harrowing or mortification of the flesh: it is everywhere, on display, commodified like a stock of quotidien comestibles; it is not until it consumes itself that it gives 'comfort'. This point is doubled both by Joseph's blocked attempt to go the way of all flesh - to take it home and light it up - and by St Francis' donkey: a dull, obdurate specimen, that must be pushed into the right kinds of service. And that is precisely what Gabriel is trained to do: to slap the 'doltish', 'nitwit' Joseph around until he comes to his senses. Christian discourses of the flesh, Kristeva observes, displays "more than a lack of univocity":

In opposition to the peaceful Appollonian (not Dionysiac) Greek corporeality, flesh here signifies according to two modalities: on the one hand, close to Hebraic flesh (basar), it points to the 'body' as eager drive confronted by the law's harshness; on the other, it points to a subdued 'body', a body that is pneumatic since it is spiritual, completely submersed into (divine) speech in order to become beauty and love.

These two 'bodies' are obviously inseparable, the second ('sublimated') one unable to exist without the first (perverse because it challenges law). One of the insights of Christianity, and not the least one, is to have gathered in a single move perversion and beauty as the lining and the cloth of one and the same economy. 15

"Godard slides continually between an investigation of the images of woman and an investigation which uses those images." 16 The same ambivalence that Laura Mulvey and Colin MacCabe find in Godard's earlier inquiries into sexual differences could be, and inevitably have been, found at the centre of Hail Mary. Structurally similar to notorious sequences like the "boldest - and some would say most boring - 'beaver' shot in the brief history of that budding genre"17 in British Sounds (1969), Hail Mary's simultaneous invocation and revocation of places to view the spectacle of the woman's body nevertheless thus clouds the picture with a new, very ancient, discourse: "I was trying to make the audience see not a naked woman, but flesh, if that's at all possible. And the difference between."18

Godard wants to interpose a discourse on flesh that blocks, historicises, displays in relief, our halt and maimed modern knowledges of the subject of sexual conduct. It is as if those who want, or get, sex in Hail Mary - the student Eva ("don't call me Eve") whose relationship with the Czech professor (who might well suggest the inventor of Rubik's cube) comes (and goes) too quickly, producing tears rather than baptismal water; the frustrated Joseph, who comes to look too much like the very model of blocked desire, Travis Bickle, and then his castrated successor, Rupert (Puppy) Pupkin; the abject Juliette, who throws herself at Joseph ("maybe marriage would help", "all women want something unique", "don't you like me body", "It's always her - I'm a real woman too") - are too close to it, too famili-ar. Wanting unmediated contact, forgetting that all desire is the other's desire, lacking access to amatory codes within which desire might be appropriately mediated.

Here various strands of recent cultural theory converge in important ways. Towards the end of Histoires d'amour, a series of psychoanalytic readings of the major historical constituents of Western amatory discourse - Greek, Jewish, Christian - and the major mythical figurations - Narcissus, Don Juan, Romeo and Juliet, the Virgin Mary, Julia Kristeva speaks of the inevitable crisis, the modern lack of an amatory code which is not to be seen to be filled in by psychoanalysis: "Psychoanalysis doesn't inaugurate a new amatory code, succeeding courtoisie, libertinage, romanticism, pornography. It signals the end of codes but at the same time love's permanence as a constructor of positions for speech."19 She nevertheless speaks eloquently of the necessity to appropriate shards from a plurality of possible myths to shore up our 'shattered imaginary'.20

And it is in this context that we can place the 'logic' of Kristeva's and Godard's, Virgin Mother. On the one hand, there is the narcissistic segment of maternal jouissance, that which is left over, does not fit into the classical theological schema: "Their child is probably there, but its presence is only one segment of jouissance, the segment destined for others."21 It is this segment that attains its antitype in the story of the Annunciation and virgin birth. Like feminine wish-fulfilment narratives of forties weepies like Now, Voyager and The Reckless Moment,22 one level of the story concerns a woman having her cake and eating it too. Without having to enter the circuit of sexual relations, which, in biblical theology of the flesh, is characterised since the fall by male domination and mimetic violence and, in Godard's (and Godard/Mieville's) work passim, but especially in Numero Deux and Sauve qui peut, by fetishism, blockage, and mimetic violence,23 a woman may have a child. And in such a way as to scandalise the male universe:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 24

Or, as Godard's Joseph says: "Why don't you tell the truth? Where did it come from? ... You must be sleeping around with men with big cocks!" By heightening the idea that no one really knows where a child comes from, the story of the Virgin Mother stands as the place where questions of sexual relations, feminine autonomy, the creation of life, and the utopian 'open system' that children represent, the latter functioning so critically in Godard/Mieville's late seventies video work, especially France/Tour/Detour/Deux/Enfants (1978), all converge. We find traces of it even in de Beauvoir where she says that "in a sense the mystery of the incarnation repeats itself in each mother ... the mother lends herself to this mystery, but she does not control it; it is beyond her power to influence what in the end will be the true nature of this being who is developing in her womb."25 So there is a narcissistic segment in maternal jouissance, a proper regarding of the self, which Godard captures so well in the scenes of Mary's bodily and spiritual self-examination, and which Kristeva makes so crucial in her examinations of the paintings of the High Middle Ages26 and of the transformation of the myth of Narcissus into the Christianised doctrines of ego affectus est in St Bernard and St Thomas.27

On the other hand, and also still on the verge of a 'feminism', is a psychoanalytic discourse that "proves that the desire for motherhood is without fail a desire to bear a child of the father (a child of her own father) who, as a result, is often assimilated to the baby itself and thus returned to its place as devalorised man, summoned only to accomplish his function, which is to originate and justify reproductive desire."28 The power of the Christianised amatory code of self-love was also predicated on the "intrapsychic necessity to be received, adopted, by an ideal other."29 Thus there arises the question of appropriate forms of mediation of such love, a question which Michel Foucault also raises in his examinations of Greek, Roman and Christian discourses of the ethics of sex.30 We exist in an interstices of, on the one hand, a "vestigal Christian moral puritanism, sheared away from a theology of salvation which made it credible; on the other, a hedonism guided by 'how-to' books, pop psychology and the commercial marketing of sexual fantasy." What is needed might be "a way to ask ourselves what is fitting, honourable and beautiful in sexual matters, and our inherited languages of medicine and psychology can only tell us what is good, healthy and normal."31 Arguably the most rigorous theorist of a cultural and moral aesthetics of mediated desire, Rene Girard, points to the 'universal' cultural mechanism which sees the subject's desire mediated through, and imitative of, the desire of the other. This perpetually sets up the possibility of mimetic rivalry between contending desires that resemble each other never more than when they are enacted as presumed emanations of an autonomous subjectivity. Mimetic rivalry precipitates violence in all its - inter-subjective, social, international - forms. Girard takes the New Testament as a 'scandalous' inversion of the propagation of these mechanisms, this field of the sacrificial, debunking as it does all forms of mimetic rivalry and substituting a 'good' mechanism of mimesis d'apprentissage. Girard finds the story of the virgin's childbearing to be indispensible to his argument for the New Testament's inversion of the sacrificial order. Anthropologically speaking, the story is structurally homologous to the widespread archaic narratives where gods 'come over' mortals in order to give birth to mythic heros. The code is the same, but the message is radically different. Such divine implantations always involve representations of monstrous sexuality and always resemble rape - "the orgasm which appeases the god constitutes a metaphor of collective violence." The absence of sex has nothing to do with 'puritanism' or 'repression', but with the narrative's differentiation of itself from these structural cousins. And, within the Bible's discourse on the flesh, it signifies a definitive break with the circuit of violence and domination within which sexual relations are played out since the Fall. And, within the Girardian discourse on mimetic desire, it signifies a new kind of subject-model, or self-Other, relation; one in which the Other is not presented as a fascinating model-obstacle to be embraced and overcome in paroxysmic rituals of sexual violence, as is the case in mythological narratives of god-mortal couplings.32

So, what, then, to return to Kristeva, of a proper mediation of maternal jouissance? In speaking of the intrapsychic necessity to be adopted by an ideal other, she posits a topography of desire within which libidinal maternality finds a place:

... there must exist what I, with Freud, name a 'father of individual prehistory': a sort of conglomeration of the two parents, of the two sexes, which is nevertheless to be considered as a father - not one severe and Oedipian, but a living and loving father. Why father and not mother, when one knows the mother to be she who first attends to us, giving us our first kisses, our first loves? Because we are thereby permitted to pose an intrapsychic and social instance that is not the physical envelope of the mother, which exists in too great a proximity to the infant and risks provoking short-circuits leading to inhibition and psychosis. This 'imaginary father' - the degree zero of our archaic loves - plays the role of the loving third to which the 'I' in process of constitution identifies; it permits the investing of our drives in the symbolic, the dissociating of the somatic from the psychic and, consequently, the creating of a space of play, of the gift, of exchange, beyond separatism and absence ... Moment of enrapture: of metaphor. Baudelaire speaks of 'the bounty of he whom all name ...' 33

The story of the Virgin Mary and subsequent encrustations throughout the history of Catholic theology, charted so thoroughly by Marina Warner,34 provides a paroxysmic multiplication of positions for the woman: she is all of mother, daughter and spouse of the god-child, and much more besides. And, at certain moments in this history, it was not at all improbable, within this libidinal paroxysm of trading places, for the father's 'joyous serenity of incest with the mother'35 to find a place in the topography. The slide that Berenice Reynaud identifies in the pre-production of the film might seem exemplary, charting as it does the veritable trajectory of Kristeva's histoires d'amour:

Godard intended first to shoot The Story of Dora, about the difficult (transferential) relationship between Freud and his patient - then a story of incest between father and daughter - then drifted from there to tell a love story between a father, God, and his daughter, Mary. 36

A love match, rather than a violent rape? A possibility taken very seriously by the 'death of God' theologians Altizer and Hamilton, for whom the deity's 'little death' was to be taken as the devolution of transcendental power into the incarnated figure of Jesus and, we might add, into the maternal body.

So both nominator and denominator - the narcissistic segment of maternal jouissance, the search for proper mediation - in the Virgin Mother equation (a balance nicely captured in the Magnificat,37 where Mary both centres herself in the divine order and positions herself as 'handmaiden') converge and emerge around the figure of the body. And it is in this sense that Godard's interposition of his new, very ancient, discourse on the flesh at once establishes a series of connections to contemporary feminist 'body politics', as we have seen, and marks a fascinating rearrangement of terms with respect to the 'political' period of his filmmaking. If we seek in this, latest, work of Godard and Mieville we may find more than we imagined.


1 Matthew 18:6-8.

2 enceinte: enclosure, surrounding wall or fence, but also to be pregnant.

3 1 Corinthians 1:22-25.

4 TFP Newsletter (Tradition Family Property - Bureau for Australia) 2, no.4 (1986), p.3.

5 Paul Byrnes, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 June 1986.

6 David Will, "Edinburgh Film Festival Notes. Godard's Second Comings", Framework, nos. 30/31 (1986), p. 166.

7 David Bordwell's recent analysis of narration in Godard's 1959-67 output (Narration in the Fiction Film [Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985]) would allow an even stronger case to be put. For Bordwell, Godard's early period cannot be assimilated to the formal conventions of the art cinema, nor satisfactorily to any general paradigm of cinematic narration (classical, art cinema, historical-materialist, parametric). Thus, if the post-1980 output appears to be a 'regression', a 'conservative career turn', such that "Sauve qui peut (La vie) and Passion seem to be almost completely assimilable to the art cinema's narrational mode" (p. 334), then the wash-out is even more radical than many would think.

8 Katherine Dieckmann, "Godard in his 'Fifth Period' An Interview", Film Quarterly, v.39, no.2 (Winter 1985/6), p.2.

9 Ibid, p.3.

10 Colin MacCabe, "Every man for himself", American Film v.9, no.8 (June, 1984), pp.33,34.

11 This relation is elaborated in greater detail in our "The Logic of the Virgin Mother - A discussion of Hail Mary", Screen, v.28, no.1 (Winter 1987), pp. 62-76.

12 Sequence 7 - "I don't sleep with anyone".

13 Recall Thomas Elsaesser's immortal remark concerning relations in Written on the Wind: "Dorothy Malone wants Rock Hudson who wants Lauren Bacall who wants Robert Stack who just wants to die." "Tales of Sound and Fury", Monogram, no.4 (1972).

14 Rod Stoneman uses this image to describe Passion's characterological structure. See "Passion 2" Framework, n.21 (1983), p.5.

15 Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection trans. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbis University Press, 1982), pp. 124-5.

16 Laura Mulvey and Colin MacCabe, "Images and woman, Images of Sexuality", in MacCabe, Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980) p. 87.

17 James Roy MacBean, Film and Revolution (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), p.106.

18 Dieckmann, p.3.

19 Julia Kristeva, Histoires d'amour (Paris: Denoel, 1983), p.355.

20 Kristeva, "Histoires d'amour - Love Stories", Desire: ICA Documents (London: Institute of Contemporary Arts, 1984), p.21.

21 Kristeva, "The Father, Love and Banishment", in Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art ed. Leon S. Roudiez, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1980), p.156.

22 c.f. Elizabeth Cowie, "Fantasia" m/f , no.9 (2984).

23 Note the two famous, and structurally similar, scenes of the generation of "masculine" sexuality around mimesis, violence and the construction of a frozen image of woman as, respectively, domestic comestible or "workhorse": the anal rape scene in Numero Deux and the impotent Pierre's speech:

One day something terrible happened. Sandrine had fucked another guy. She wouldn't tell me who. I wanted to rape her. She let me and finally I buggered her. Then she started screaming. Afterwards we realised that Vanessa had seen it all. I suppose that's what family life is all about.

and Monsieur Personne's game with his 'toy train set' where he plays the engine, his employee and the two prostitutes are coupled together and each is instructed to act out reciprocal modes of sexual domination and submission, in Sauve qui peut.

24 Matthew 1:18-19.

25 Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975), p.514.

26 Kristeva, "Motherhood according to Giovanni Bellini", in Desire in Language, pp.237-270.

27 Kristeva, "Narcisse: La nouvelle demence", "Ego affectus est", and passim, in Histoires d'amour.

28 Kristeva, "Motherhood", p.238.

29 Kristeva, "Histoires d'amour - Love Stories" in Desire, p.19.

30 Michel Foucault, Histoire de la Sexualite, Tome 2: L'Usage de Plaisirs, Tome 3 - Le Souci de soi, Tome 4 - L'aveu de la chair ( Paris: Gallimard, 1984-5).

31 Michael Ignatieff, "Anxiety and Asceticism" (review of L'Usage des Plaisirs and Le Souci de soi), Times Literary Supplement, 28 September, 1984, p.1072.

32 Rene Girard, "La conception virginale", in Des choses cachees depuis la fondation du monde (Paris: Grasset, 1978), pp.243-246.

33 Kristeva, "Histoires d'amour - Love Stories", in Desire, p.21.

34 Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: the Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976).

35 Kristeva, "The Father, Love, and Banishment", p.156 and see also Kristeva, Histoires d'amour, pp.232-3.

36 Berenice Reynaud, "Impure Cinema: Adaptation and Quotation at the 1985 New York Film Festival", Afterimage, v.13, no.6 (January 1986), p.11.

37 Luke 1:46-55.

New: 31 January, 1996 | Now: 9 March, 2015