The cinematic gaze, a concoction of awe, confusion, excitement and fear, reflected best in the moment before disaster strikes. Yet, we find it difficult to specify exactly what is being expressed. The object of fantasy, or the sublime, is said to act as both a failed representation and the failure of representation per se: a moment in which existence momentarily loses all of its attached meanings and words can no longer be uttered. The deleted scene from the Disney feature Fantasia (1940), with its rich sentimental soundtrack Clair de Lune, expresses this momentary spurt of innocence during which, one might say, the Lacanian Real peers through into the realm of symbolic reality. Suddenly, the two commercial passenger jet airliners are aestheticised and transformed into two angelic egrets flying into the night. Their destination no longer the WTC but the lush full moon.
Zizek speaks of a similar tranquillity actualised by ideology. In his book The Sublime Object of Ideology he argues that a hegemonic ideology can never succeed wholly in its task of creating a sensis communis without the adducing of sublime objects. The sublimity of such objects intimate to its subjects a beyond to what is usually publicly avowed and exchanged. In doing so, one’s conceptions of reality and the Other are formulated (aliens and meteors are, after all, but metaphors). Once such an ideology is accepted, the subject is left in a state of incapacitated tranquillity, constantly experiencing that paralysing moment before disaster strikes, wearing diapers and aestheticising the world’s catastrophes as ‘entertainment’.