In Black Sun, Julia Kristeva traces female psychology back to the maternal chora (mother-Thing) situated in the pre-Oedipal phase and details its dynamic encounter with the imaginary father. The maternal chora and the imaginary father constitute the two parts of this seminal article interwoven to form the basis of a narcissistic assumption that trigger the psychological mechanism of melancholic loss. The 2004 Hispano-Argentine drama film The Whore and the Whale (La puta y la Ballena) constructs a psychological exploration between depression/melancholy and feminine writing within a two generational story of three women who quest for an unquenchable maternal love. The female writer Vera’s searches for mother-substitutes, namely in the persons of Lola and Matilde, as loving “object mothers” lost in her childhood establishes the essential hub of the film. Luis Puenzo, the Argentine director, visualizes the film with a poetic language that recalls a story of a wounded whale while connecting the fate of the female writer Vera with Lola, a former Spanish chorus girl-turned-prostitute in the Patagonia tango bar. This study analyzes the links between the semiotic chora and depression/melancholy signified by three feminine metaphors for chora: the breast, the tango and the whale in the sea. Vera, who has breast cancer, finally realizes her female consciousness is constructed not only to fight back against masculine breast myths, but also, as heard in the feminine voice-overs, to support resistance to a seemingly dominant male perspective prevailing in the film. The magical self-powering mise-en-scène of “Vera and the Light Bulb” crosses the time frame from 1934 to 2003, the period when Vera embraces Lola’s motherly power and thus strengthens her writing core. The sea, containing Lola’s body, Matilde’s ashes, and the wounded whale, represents both an archaic image of a maternal womb and a representation of the female triad. Vera learns a lesson from the motherly ocean through a sacrificial-altar-offering of Lola and Matilde as ghost m/other, subliminal representations of her death drive. Vera becomes a creative daughter-writer of the sea.
KEYWORDS: depression/melancholy, narcissism, chora, mother-Thing, object mother, imaginary father, the tango