'Even the Ghost was more than one person': Hauntology and Authenticity in Todd Haynes' I'm Not There

Carolyn D'Cruz, Glenn D'Cruz

Abstract


If the opening sequence of a film is a microscopic 'event' that achieves far more than setting the tone and whetting the appetite for what we are about to see, then Todd Haynes' I'm Not There is exemplary. This paper works its way through the conceptually dense and intricately woven textual layers of the film's opening to stage a three-way dialogue between Haynes, Bob Dylan and Jacques Derrida: three mavericks who defy simple categorisation, by transgressing the boundaries of their respective fields (song writing, cinema and philosophy). By introducing Derrida's deconstructive logic of hauntology as a strategy for reading Haynes' biopic on Dylan, the figure of the ghost is called upon to situate the quest for an identity's authenticity as a perennial, irresolvable problem in song, cinema and philosophy. Belonging to a time that is neither past nor present, a place that is neither here nor there, the ghost offers the perfect medium to join Haynes, Dylan and Derrida in (re)thinking identity in terms that respond to a call (in the name of art, justice and truth, among other things) that is not based on an unyielding conception of authenticity.


Keywords


Haynes, Dylan, Derrida, Authenticity, Identity

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