The iconic title sequence of Hitchcock’s Vertigo contains a series of spirographs that can more accurately be described mathematically as Lissajous curves. These curves are produced by harmonographs ("a device consisting of two coupled pendula, usually oscillating at right angles to each other,” attached to a mark-making device) unimpeded by friction. Coiling curves with no discernible beginning or end, these forms mimic the repetitive and circular structure of the narrative of the film, in which female characters, functioning as placeholders for male desire, are gradually emptied of subjectivity, so much so that death becomes inevitable. Lissajous explores the near infinite recurrence of this narrative trope in cinema, and its inscription in the Real upon the bodies of female spectators.
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