Ghosts of Theatre and Cinema in the Brain focuses on the staging of Self and Other as phantom characters inside the brain (in the "mind's eye," as Hamlet says). It explores the brain's anatomical evolution from animal drives to human consciousness to divine aspirations, through distinctive cultural expressions in stage and screen technologies. Even-numbered chapters look at specific dramas with ghost characters from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans to Shakespeare, Japanese Noh, modern drama, and recent films. Odd-numbered chapters examine various intersections of psychoanalytic and neuroscientific theories to explore the brain's inner theatre, regarding ghosts and gods performed onstage and onscreen, as extensions of and connections between different brains in particular cultures.
"A fascinating analysis, based on research in psychoanalysis, evolutionary psychiatry, and neuroscience, of ghostly presences in our minds and brains and of how theater, film, and television function to activate these ghosts and transport them from one brain to another. This book marks a quantum leap in our understanding of the crucial role that dramatic performances can play in the intersubjective processes through which human subjects are constituted, maintained, and transformed." - Mark Bracher, Director, Center for Literature and Psychoanalysis, Kent State University
"Mark Pizzato, who long ago slipped through the mirror stage of Lacan into the cellarage of the theater, is now ghosting that form, or being ghosted by it, with cinema too on the brain. Still drawn in the mind's eye to images of transcendence, what he perceives on the actor's body, in the era of the virtual, is augmented now by resources from neurology, cognitive science, and evolutionary psychology, and with all that a transhistorical vision. Given the ancient dreams of immortality that possess him, there is nothing in that vision of a readymade historicism. As he moves from stage to screen, gods and ghosts going with him, surreptitiously in communion with images of the Self, he has written another book with extraordinary specular scope, moving as it does, too, from art to entertainment, then the other way around. Yet, whatever he's examining, or obdurately looking at, it's the shared mortality of actor and spectator that really cuts to the brain, as with the lunatic Lear on the heath, who smells of mortality. To say the least, with all its neuroscientific, ontological range, this is a heady, invaluable book, in which though Pizzato goes avidly to the movies theater materializes (as it does in theory) wherever you look." - Herbert Blau, Byron W. and Alice L. Lockwood Professor of the Humanities, University of Washington