Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Child Out of Context

Jan Svankmajer's film Alice is an adaptation of Lewis Carroll's novel Alice's adventures in Wonderland, yet does it really capture the atmosphere of Carroll's world of nonsense? Carroll's world is full of fabricated bizarre creatures, yet the tone is one of curiosity unlike Svankmajer's Alice which is a tone of curiosity mixed with fright. A young girl, Alice, is thrown into a dirty, run-down house with rickety stair cases, tears in the wall, and overall disgust oozing from every corner. Alike, in Del Torro's film Pans Labrynth a young girl is cast straight in the middle of the Spanish Civil War. Not only does she experience terror in her parents world, but her own underground world she is the supposed princess of holds horrors for her. In both of these films, the idea of the uncanny is illustrated by way of inaniment objects possessing life, noises acquiring exagerated volumes, plant life acting abnormally, and humans acting inhumane. The uncanny in lamence terms is something homely and familiar in a different context or environment causing it to become abnormal and eerie. In both Pans Labrynth and Alice, the films demonstrate a young girl in a filthy, corrupt, and uncanny environment that is not suitable for children, therefore causing the child to be part of the uncanny.

Sigmund Freud demonstrates his understanding of what it is to be uncanny in his work "The Uncanny." He uses the German words "heimlich" and "unheimlich" to show their opposition and illustrate the uncanny. To be "heimlich" is homely, while what is "unheimlich" is the opposite causing eerie, unfamiliar, and sinister feelings (McCallam 135). Freud states "What interests us to find that among its different shades of meaning the word ‘heimlich’’ exhibits one which is identical with its opposite, ‘unheimlich.’ What is heimlich thus comes to be unheimlich," exhibiting that what is familiar may also become unfamiliar (2). Heimlich and unheimlich therefore show the way in which something can be uncanny by being both something homely and something eerie. When a familiar subject is transcribed into a different context or environment the subject may appear to be "unheimlich," or disturbing.

In, surrealist director, Svankmajer's film Alice, a young girl climbs into a drawer and enters a strange world of despair and inaniment objects possessing life. A few of the characters in this film that really caught my attention were the socks and the white rabbit. The socks took on independent motion and drove holes into the wooden floor. Even Alice's own socks gained motion and attempted to detatch themselves from her to drill holes with the others. A sock is normally known to be inaniment and unmoving. The fact that the socks take on life and make loud drilling sounds, signifying power tools, is an example of the uncanny. As well having the imagery of a whole room filled with socks that appear similar to snakes, while making extremely loud drilling noises, makes one unnerved. In this moment the element of the uncanny is taking control over one's emotions and causing them to feel their familiar socks turn into cringingly strange beings.

Also, the white rabbit from the very beginning was a peculiar stuffed animal. This rabbit became the most uncanny being in the entire film in my point of view. First off, the rabbit is depicted in a glass case held down by a pole. This makes one wonder why a stuffed animal is restrained so much from the outside world, almost as if he is meant to be contained. This rabbit does not dissapoint when he thrusts himself from the pole and crashes through the case. Though, when he does escape the pole's hold upon him, he sheds wood shavings rather than cotton and through out the film has to eat these wood shavings. When he eats the wood shavings he makes awkward and loud slurping sounds as well as chomping down his teeth as soon as he see's Alice. These violent acts, peculiar materials, and disturbing sounds make for an uncanny character. He is a stuffed animal, and by social norms he is known to be a amiable fuzzy friend to young children. Instead this animal breaks through Alice's glass encasement and chomps at her while she chases him giving an eerie tone to the film and to the viewer. As well, the thing I found most disturbing about the white rabbit was his occupation and use of sisscors. Instead of serving the purpose of being a toy for a child, he was a minion for the Queen of Hearts who literally cuts of the heads of other cards in the film. He demonstrates an unfamiliar act for a stuffed animal who can almost be catagorized as a religious symbol, being an easter holiday traditional present.

With all the odd activity in this "drawer" land, one would believe it unsuitable for a young child. Alice's expressions and reactions to the characters in the film are one of curiousity and disturbance. It seems as if Svankmajer cast a young naive girl to be shoved into a disgusting, creepy, and uncanny world and let her react naturally rather than giving her a script that entails her expressions. The child is supposed to be percieved as a being of innocence and purity, yet when Alice enters this world it is strange and foreign to see such a young girl experiencing these events. The child representing a symbol of innocence is a very romantic idea that modern society still upholds. William Blake illustrates this romantic idea in his poem "Reeds of Innocence," where he describes how he saw a child on a cloud and gained inspiration from him, though when the child vanishes he says, "So he vanish'd from my sight/ And I pluck'd a hollow reed,/ And I made a rural pen,/ And I stain'd the water clear" (1). In this he shows that once the child, the inspiration, the innocence, was gone, he no longer was inspired but "stained" the water "clear," entailing that he corrupted his inspiration and could no longer produce his former thoughts. Therefore a child being put in a corrupt and menacing environment, like Svankmajer has his young protagonist in, evolves the child to be something uncanny.

As well, Svankmajer has Alice become increasingly filthy with dirt, dust, and grim on her dress, face, and socks. Anthropologist Mary Douglas defines dirt: "a matter out of place" (Berthold 4). I speculated a parallel between her definition of dirt and Freud's definition of the uncanny. What is not supposed to be, but is, causes notice and disruption such as something that is dirty or something that is uncanny. Everything in the film is run down, dusty, and filthy, illustrating how having a dirty environment, or matter out of place, makes an uncanny environment for it is something nice and familiar turned unfamiliar and gross. It is very uncanny in that the dust and dirt is put upon an innocent, clean, child. In this I believe Alice's portrayel as a dirty child is symbolizing her corruption of innocence and the development of her becoming part of the uncanny world. In the end of the film, she too states that she would like to cut off the rabbits head if he were to come back, illustrating her innocence being tainted. She is now a dirty child; she is part of the uncanny.

In Del Torro's film Pans Labrynth a young herione is thrust into a magical world with eerie beings and once again objects, or rather plant life, acting in an abnormal manner. She not only has to take on the challanges of this world, but she is also coping with the hardships of her parents world where the Spanish Civil War is taking place. In the world of the civil war, her step father is a vicious demonic human. He will torcher and demolish a person just to satisfy hismself and advance his own success as a war captain. He takes on an inhumane role that viewers are disgusted by; once again bringing up the issue of disgust and dirt for he is a dirty human being metaphorically causing him to be uncanny. A human being, which is very familiar, acting in an inhumane manner, or unfamiliar and astonishing way, causes him to invoke an unnerving reaction from viewers who can sense the dreadfullness of this being. An example of this type of character can be seen in J.K. Rowlings series of the boy named Harry Potter. Harry Potter's arch nemesis is Lord Voldemort, who is an unearthly being and literally rips his sole into seven pieces by murdering innocent civilians. He strikes fear into the hearts of viewers and I, myself, cringe at the sight of him in the film adaptations. In the real world, these uncanny, unfamiliar, and terrible beings are catagorized for example as murderers and rapists. These criminals are feared and reveared as inhumane beings. They are part of the uncanny since they are familiar, yet unfamiliar since they possess qualities that are not transcribed to their species. In Del Torro's film, there is much uncanny in the underground world as well: fairies are eaten by a disgusting loose skinned monster, an infant is prompted to be used as a sacrifice, and a root that acts similiar to a baby is burned to death. Even writing this caused me to take a second look around my room for I am invoked with an awareness of fear. Ofelia, the young protagonist in Pans Labrynth is thrust into both these worlds of terror and trecherous obstacles. Her being an innocent child makes her uncanny in this corruption.

Even in the film Toy Story, there is a toy who was taken to pieces by a neighboring child who strives to cause mischief and disturbance. The toys come out from under his bed and the most disturbing scene is of a baby doll head with wirey hair, one blue eye, and mechanical spider legs. This toy is traumatizing because he invokes sinister terror into one's mind for it was an innocent infant dissasembled and combined with robotic industrial products and disgusting features; once again bringing up the issue of disgust in relation to the uncanny. This toy is uncanny for it is a baby, which is something sweet and known, transformed into an eerie and disturbing monster, which in fact an uncanny being on it's own.

Placing a child in a horror movie or any type of creepy supsense film enhances the film's ability to strike fear into viewers for the child is not expected to be in such corruption or to be corrupt themselves. In the Journal of Popular Film & Television, Chuck Jackson gives more examples of corrupt children in films such as The Exorcist, The Poltergeist, The Bad Seed, and The Omen (1). Each of these films illustrates a child, an image of innocence, corrupted and wreeping horror. Jackson explores the concept of the child causing shock to viewers in The Bad Seed:

The Bad Seed, I submit, remains a popular referent for the problem of the violent child precisely because of the way in which the film deals with the subject of evil, and because the film is at pains to reverse common-sense assumptions about the connection between innocence, whiteness, and childhood (1).

He states it is to "reverse common-sense assumptions," or to transform what is "heimlich" into "unheimlich." Children become uncanny in horror flicks due to their role in society. Making an innocent child into something evil adjusts the film to be exceedingly scarier illustrating that a child in a corrupt environment, or corrupted by their environment, is uncanny. As well, this branches off to another issue dealing with current events. Children who are violent and wreap havoc upon their environment, or vice versa, their environment wreaps havoc upon them, reaches viewers emotions much more abundantly than if it were an adult. Jackson says upon the killing spree's in the 1990's:

The number of schoolyard killing sprees of the late 1990s totals seven. The following is a list of locations and dates: Moses Lake, Washington (February 1996); Pearl, Mississippi (October 1997); West Paducah, Kentucky (December 1997); Jonesboro, Arkansas (March 1998); Springfield, Oregon (May 1998); Littleton, Colorado (April 1999); and most recently Conyers, Georgia (May 1999). Until the Littleton tragedy, the horrifying spectacle of children who kill seemed most crystallized as a national problem in the Jonesboro, Arkansas, case. In Jonesboro, Andrew Golden, an eleven-year-old boy, and Mitchell Johnson, his thirteen-year-old partner, shot and killed one teacher and four students, leaving ten others wounded (2).

These acts appear more horrific than those of the murderers and rapists mentioned previously due to the fact that an innocent child has done these corrupt and inhumane crimes. As well when a child is reared in a broken home and put into foster care, humans feel much more pity upon the child than an adult homeless man. This is due to the child being uncanny in the situation, for the child is supposed to be pure and unexposed to such vulgar circumstances.

In both the films, Alice and Pans Labrynth, a child is portrayed in a corrupted dirty world where they become part of the uncanny due to their role of the innocent in our society. This issue is supported by Freud's concept of the uncanny and the use of the words "heimlich" and "unheimlich," as well as other films such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix and Toy Story. Romanticists such as William Blake believe the child to be pure and untainted, yet when real events occur such as shootings at schools that belief is contradicted and the child becomes something to be feared for how they be so tainted at such an pure and young age.

Works Cited

Alice. Dir. Jan Svankmajer. Perf. Kristýna Kohoutová. Channel Four Films, 1988. Videocassette.

Berthold, Dana. "Tidy Whiteness: a Genealogy of Race, Purity, and Hygiene." Ethics and the Environment 15.1 (2010): 1-26. General One File. Web. 15 Dec. 2010.

Blake, William. "Reeds of Innocence." Day Poems. Timothy K. Bovee, 2001. Web. 15 Dec. 2010.

Freud, Sigmund. "The Uncanny." "The Uncanny" by Sigmund Freud Part One. Web. 15 Dec. 2010.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Dir. David Yates. Perf. Daniel Radcliff. Warner Bros Pictures, 2007. DVD.

Jackson, Chuck. "LITTLE, VIOLENT, WHITE THE BAD SEED AND THE MATTER OF CHILDREN." Journal of Popular Film and Television 28.2 (2000): 1-11. Film & Television Literature Index. Web. 15 Dec. 2010.

McCallam, David. "Encountering and Countering the 'Uncanny' in Descartes's Meditations." French Studies 57.2 (2003): 135-47. Oxford Journals. Web. 15 Dec. 2010.

Pans Labrynth. Dir. Guillermo Del Torro. Perf. Ivana Baquero. Estudios Picasso, 2006.DVD.

Toy Story. By John Lasseter. Perf. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Disney, 1995. Videocassette.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brainstorming: Critical Paper

Movies: Alice by Svankmajer and Pan's Labrynth by Del Toro

Concept: the uncanny and surrealism

Something homely and familiar may become foreign and sinister in a different context/environment. The idea of a work of art invoking a reaction of shock.

Alice: inaniment objects coming to life, Alice always dirty (definition of disgusting: an object displaced from its natural environment) - have source and better definiton in other notebook.
noises, little girl speaking for everyone, violence in child and bunny stuffed animal.

Pan's Labrynth: mythical creatures, inhumane people and creatures, violence in children's story, death to child

Branches off to another issue...
Can a child be something uncanny? When a child is displaced into a scary movie, yes. Is it even that scary with out a child? Still scary, but the child creates an eerier tone. (can also be seen with any female rather than an adult male...the vulnerable vs strong/masculine roles)

Why is this?
A child is viewed as something innocent and when put in a corrupted environment it brings out a reaction in people.
----> William Wordsworth
----> "Little, Violent, White: The Bad Seed and the Matter of Children"

The idea of the tainted child...
- third world countries
- shootings at school

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Polar Express

While I was thinking of portal books to use for this assignment, I saw my younger brother watching The Polar Express on the television in spirit of the upcoming holidays. I realized how perfect this film would be if only it had a book. Little did I know, the film is based on a children's picture book from 1985 written by Chris Van Allsburg. This book consists of twenty-six pages mostly illustrated with large depictions of the scene being presented. There are many differences, one of the most obvious being length, since the adaptation is a 100 minute film. So what did the film posses that the short story does not?

The film The Polar Express begins with a young boy laying in bed who appears to hear bells chiming and wonders if it could possibly be Santa Clause. He is perturbed to see his sister and father to be the source of the chimes. He goes into his drawers and pulls out articles and such on the issue of who plays Santa: the magical Chris Cringle or ones own mom and pop. This illustrates his doubt in Santa's credibility. Yet, in the 1985 book the boy says, "'There is no Santa,' my friend insisted, but I knew he was wrong." In the book form, the boy does not have the issue of not believing in Santa, yet the film created a dilemma that the boy had to overcome which was finding his Christmas spirit and believing. Another indicator of this is when he can hear Santa's sleight bells immediately for he says, "they pranced and paced, ringing the silver sleigh bells that hung from their harnesses. It was a magical sound, like nothing I'd ever heard." Only people who believe may hear the sleigh bells, since at the end of the book and film his parents cannot hear the sleigh bell he recieves from Santa. The movie demonstrates the moment when he overcomes this obstacle with the sleigh bell. He cannot hear it, yet all his new friends can until he says in an agonizingly sincere tone, "I BELIEVE." Finally he is able to hear the melodic chimes of Santa's magical bells.

Another addition to the movie that helped articulate the boys dillema was the bum on the train. Who was he? I believe he symbolized the main character's doubts and frustration with the myth of Santa Clause. He was cynical and vulgar, yet he always helped a person in need and vanished into snow. He would challange the boy by saying that Santa does not exist, yet ironically he is magical himself and should not exist either to the cynic. He wants to believe in magic and in Santa, yet he is approaching an age of adolescense where this is questioned. In the book, there is no "bum" character on the train and I believe this change made a big difference. The main character has a clear cut self discovery quest where he learns to believe in Santa and enjoy Christmas again. This difference made a difference.

Another huge difference is the fact that there are other children the boy befriends on the express in the film adaptation. He meets a sweet young girl and also a meek little boy. He ends up having a very strong bond with the both of them as they help him on his journey to believe. Having these extra characters adds human qualities to the story and allows the viewer to connect emotionally. As well, the meek young boy has his own quest and story. We do not get to hear his whole story and how come "Christmas never works out for [him]," but we can see the change in his attitude through out the journey. I actually think it is clever to exclude his backstory because this gives opportunity for another story to branche off from this film all about the meek little boy. We see his journey from meek nameless young boy to Billy, who is cheerful about Christmas and ecstatic to see a present from Santa. It is peculiar how he is the only character who recieves a name. I don't know why the main character does not but I enjoy when Billy recieves his name in the film. It is when he finds his Christmas present in Santa's workshop and I believe that is the turning point for Billy. When he recieves his name, he grows into a different person. This is a significant difference from the short story that only shows one boys adventures to the North Pole. The film shows different perspectives on the journey: for children who are doubting Santa, for children who may not have the best holidays, and for children who a still firm believers in Santa and are full of holiday spirit (represented by the young girl). It is a film for everyone and appeals to every humans emotions.

The characters and the quests presented in the film made it completely different and more enjoyable than the childrens book. These are the most significant differences that made a huge impact. All in all, the film is fantastic and the book is a sweet story to read to young ones during the holidays.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Visual vs Print: End of Oz

I'm in love with the MGM film, The Wizard of Oz, as I have always been since I was three years old and was terrified of the Wicked Witch! After reading the novel though, I found many differences and information that was not provided in the movie...which is a good thing. There is a big significance between the two endings of the works, since it entails the "moral of the story" and serves to wrap it up.

One difference I thought is worth discussing is the Wicked Witch's death. In the movie this is the beginning of the end, the climactic moment. Contrastly, in the novel, it occurs on page 154 in a book consisting of 261 pages, so there is still about 100 pages to go after her death (clearly not the ending). As well, in the movie it was a huge scene where Dorothy and her friends are running for their lives and all the guards have them surrounded. The witch wants to start with the scarecrow and begins to set him on fire. As this happens, Dorothy reaches for a bucket of water (conveniently right behind her) and throws it upon the scarecrow to extinguish the fire. By chance, she hits the Wicked Witch as well and the witch dramatically deflates and gives her finals words while she wails and melts away. This scene is very different in the novel. The witch plans a trick to have Dorothy stumble on an invisible iron brick while simply walking in the hall. She successfully stole on of the silver slippers and denied giving it back to Dorothy. In Dorothy's anger, she dashed water at the witch on purpose, but not knowing it would anialate her, and the witch began to melt. Dorothy apologizes for her causing the witch death and the witch gives a detailed explanation of how she was in disbelief that Dorothy was the one to cause her demise. This scene is very anti-climactic with the apology, the extended conversation between Dorothy and the witch WHILE she's melting, and the reason behind the throwing of the water.

After the witch is killed in the movie, Dorothy and her friends immediatly appear before the Great Oz (but we know that time has passed by use of film techniques). He is revealed as a fraud, but still gives each character a placebo of their desire and offers to take Dorothy home with him on his hot air balloon. When she does not succeed in leaving with him, Glenda immediatley appears traveling in her pink bubble (like a bubble blown up from pink gum) and tells her how to get home. In the novel, all of this is lengthened completely and there are many more villains to pass before they reach Glenda such as the fighting trees, the spider in the forest, and the Hammer Heads. Throughout the film, the Wicked Witch of the West is identified as the main villian from beginning to end. She stalks them on their entire journey to Oz and once she is defeated, no more villains approach them. The book is different in that is does not identify one clear cut villian and I feel it was a good thing to cut it from the movie and have one complete antagonist.

Getting more specific, Dorothy uses a famous phrase in the film, "there's no place like home," while this is non-existent in the novel. In the works original form, the book, she requests, "take me home to Aunt Em!" This is a minor detail, but in the film it makes a huge impact upon audiences and the entire story. This gives the story a moral and wraps it up nicely for the viewers to understand exactly what the moral is. In the novel she phrases it differently which lacks the dramatic effect given by the film.

She also becomes very fond of the scarecrow compared to everyone else; he is her favorite and she expresses this in her farewell to them in the film. Though, in the book she shows empathy towards him equalivalent to the other three. She kissed the lion and the tinwood man, but hugged the scarecrow because his face is painted and in the end the narrator says, "she found she was crying herself at this sorrowful parting from her loving comrades." Contrastly, in the film she states that she will miss the scarecrow the most, singling him out while in the book she cries about all of them. I feel the movie creates a bond between the two to show not only friendship but best friends and like in most hollywood movies, a wing man/right hand man.

Lastly, a major change from the book to the movie is the dream plot provided by MGM's version. When Dorothy arrives clicks her heels she is, what I would call teleported (witht he cirlces and music), back to her bed where Auntie Em is trying to nurse her back to health with Uncle Henry. All the men who live in Kansas by the farm also appear, including the magician, and she tells them how she went to Oz and they were all there with her! Basically, it is concluded that it was a dream. Though, in the Baum's book, Dorothy appears back in Kansas standing in front of their newly built house. Aunt Em rushes out to her asking where she has been! This shows that she has not been present and asleep while in Oz. How long does it take to build a house? She must have been gone for a very long time as well. I believe MGM made it a dream to make the story more believable and to keep her in the house during the entire Oz adventure since it might be an eerie thought for young children watching if she really was gone for months. Also it shows that one doesn't have to go on a long adventure or runaway to learn that "there's no place like home." They can have a disturbing dream or thought of losing the ones they love and should be able to recognize where they belong.

All in all, I prefer the film version of this tale. Baum provided a great source, but MGM adapted it to be a classic.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

To Sequel or not to Sequel?

After our discussion on the film Return to Oz, which is the sequel to The Wizard of Oz, I started thinking about sequels in general: Why are they made? Is it a positive or negative effect on the series as a whole? Is the original better than the sequel? My definite statement on sequels is they commonly destroy the essense of the original film and disturb the memory associated with that particular story.

Obviously, most people would agree that Return to Oz was an awful addition to an amazing film. My personal opinion on this adaptation would have to be that it was unecessary and made me angry to have to call that place oz and that girl Dorothy. My experience with the original MGM version was amazing. I watched the film back to back everyday for about a month when I was four years old and it was a big part of my childhood. I had the slippers, the dress, the warn out VHS cover, and the songs that were anthems in my younger days. My parents would use these tunes and apply them to certain routines of life that made me laugh and obey, for example taking a bath and washing my hair. When I was four I hated getting my hair washed since the soap would sometimes drip in my eyes, so my dad made up a song for it and I couldn't wait to sing along with him. I really admired Dorothy and wished to be in Oz like her with my own little Toto.

After viewing Return to Oz, it had a sort of Schaunkmier effect (not as drastic) in which everything bright and wonderful about the original turned dull, dismal, and dark in this film. It was more sinister and had tacky additions that seemed out of place and tested my ability to relate. Overall this sequel tarnished some memory of Dorothy's journey to Oz.

In the spirit of this month (October), I will use the Disney movie Halloween Town as another example. This movie was one I looked forward to every October in Disney's "31 Days of Halloween" tv program. That and Hocus Pocus!

Halloween Town was not a well made movie in terms of graphics, but the plot was simple and magical. It was about a girl, Marnie, who learns from her grandmother that she is a witch and needs to go to Halloween Town (where her grandma lives) to complete her training. Marnie follows her grandmother on to a bus that transports her to Halloween Town. This would be her portal to the other world in terms

of our class discussions. There was also a conflict in the movie that had to be solved and Marnie was the one to save Halloween Town along with her little brother and sister. So, this movie not only transported you into a different realm, but also had a point to the story.

This movie has two sequels. The first sequel has the same cast/actors but features them as older. They are presented with a similar problem and solve it once again. Though I felt it was a bit more quirky and did not have the magical feeling the first one gave me when Marnie first arrived in Halloween Town and saw all the foreign arrangments of this world. The third addition to this movie was the worst one! They didn't even use the same characters or actors and it was called Halloween Town High so the setting was a highschool rather than the magical town that was given to me as a child. I found this dissapointing and stupid. I get upset when I watch that movie.

I feel that sequels are usually unecessary and lacking in the initial feeling that sparks ones id (Freud) and makes a child dream of places and wish to be there! Sequels just don't have the same effect as the original film, in a negative way.

Friday, October 15, 2010

"The Dorothy's" Group Presentation!

My group including myself, Owen, Alex, Gina, and Gabe, did our presentation on the children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and MGM’s film adaption, The Wizard of Oz. I felt our group worked great together and we all enjoyed the company as well as having funny/ thought provoking discussions when we got together(which was 3 times outside of class). I think Owen was the organizer of the group meetings and even sent out emails with the notes of our meetings which were very helpful. During the actual meetings, I felt it was a process of summarizing the book so everyone was on the same page, throwing lots and lots of ideas out there, organizing what topics to include and eliminate, and then figuring out how to present it in a manner that would engage the class. We all had something to bring to the presentation and in our preparatory discussions, though Gabe did not attend the first two he definitely made up for it when he came the day of and had a lot to talk about. We decided to split our conversation up into six thought provoking questions for groups to answer: If you were Dorothy would you go back home to Kansas? Why did they make Dorothy older in the movie? Why for the movie was Oz made into a dream? In the movie why are the witches roles expanded? Do the scarecrow, tin man, and lion really lack in what they want? And compare Dorothy to Wendy and Alice. Gina came up with this idea and during our presentation I felt it went really well and our classmates gave a lot of input which I was very happy about. We each were assigned to a question but during the discussion and especially during the presentation we really all collaborated in answering the questions. Alex also came to every meeting and contributed a lot of ideas and knowledge to our discussions. I really enjoyed all the people in my group and had a great experience with each of them. As for my part, I think I really got over my nerves and was able to be a key presenter in class and during the discussions outside of class I participated and shared my ideas and knowledge with my group members. I can’t say I was a leader during the preparation, just an equal member, but I think I did a really good job for the presentation which is rare for me! My question was about the tin man, lion, and scarecrow really lacking what they seek, but I participated in pretty much all the other questions as well. The only part of the presentation that didn’t go so smoothly was the beginning when we were trying to organize the groups. I think this was due to nerves and not communicating to our classmates how it was going to work. Though after about a minute we got the hang of it and I really didn’t think it was anything to take note of because everyone was just settling in. I was really proud of all the members in my group! They stepped up during the presentation and gave a lot of their time during the week to prepare for it. Overall it was a nice experience with good people, lots of laughs, and a great story from my childhood =)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Tinker Bell is an odd character. She is a fairy and fairies, as is quoted in the book by Barrie and the film Peter Pan by Hogan, "have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time." So Tinkerbell can only be bad when she is bad and only good when she is good. She cannot find a balance and therefore is somewhat bipolar. She is always so jealous and does evil things to try and kill Wendy, yet as a child I always wanted to be like Tinkerbell and never realized the jealousy behind her. I even was Tinkerbell for halloween one year. I find that Barrie plays with the role of females and males in this novel because even though he portrays Tinkerbell as the jealous and uncontrollably emotional girl, he also shows Wendy as the maternal figure. Though, I cannot make a feminist arguement here due to the male characters in the novel. Peter is always so full of himself and believes he is the best at everything and should be the captain wherever he is. Wendy's father also has issues for dominance when he throws out Nana to prove who is "master" of the house. He illustrates the typical roles of males and females.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Futter..What?

Where did this come from?! I recently watched Tim Burton's interpretation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. I quite enjoyed the movie, yet I felt it was a bit rushed which was completely opposite to the drawn out children's novels. When I saw the anti-climactic ending, I thought it was very predictable and dull but something took me off gaurd: the Futterwacken. I was very confused and lost. I feel this is unecessary for the film and where did it even come from? I would love to know if Carroll wrote a poem or something on it like "Jabberwocky," but I can't recall reading about it. I understand that Disney may have wanted Burton to insert some fun and light heartedness in this film because it is for children (so to speak for Disney's reputation), but I felt this was a cheesy attempt. Yet, I am an adult and maybe my younger brother, who is 8 years old, may have enjoyed the dance. This movie was a twist between the Czech movie Alice and Disney's original Alice in Wonderland in my opinion. It reminds me of the Czech film because it gives a more dark setting than the cartoon with the atmosphere/weather, the human heads in the moat, and the allusion that the queen murdered the king. On the other hand, it has humor and the creatures are friendly (more friendly than in any other form of Alice) which reminds me of the oringal Disney film.

The Many Sides of Wonderland


There are many different interpretations of Lewis Carroll’s tale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. While some are dark and eerie, others are cheery and bright. In the past few weeks I’ve read Carroll’s novel along with his sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and viewed two adaptations of Alice’s adventures in film form.

The first film I watched was Alice, by Švankmajer who is a Czechoslovakian director. It may be the culture difference, but this film was demented and horrifying to me. It differed from the book in many ways but also took the form of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland more than Through the Looking-Glass. From the beginning of the movie, when the sounds are intense and creepy, when there is no one stirring but panning through the decrepit messy room, there is violence present for the stones are being tossed into the cup of tea and a few minutes later the white rabbit is breaking the glass and tearing his own stomach open to get out of his cage. Though the entire movie was dark and had a creepy industrial setting. The movie takes place in a sort of underground run down motel where inanimate objects take on life. Even Alice herself transforms into a child’s doll when she drinks the shrinking potion/cookies. This frightened me so much because I am extremely afraid of dolls ever since I was young. Another thing that really freaked me out was when the rabbit, Bill, and the other creatures with skull heads made a huge paper machete of Alice which trapped her. That was definitely not in the book, but it was a creative play with inanimate objects taking on life like qualities for the director. The sounds throughout the entire film were heightened compared to the almost nonexistent dialogue only produced by Alice’s lips, which also seemed off because the mouth was moving for Czech language while she was speaking English. The entire film was odd and off in my opinion. Again, back to the sounds, the “owe” of Alice herself and the rabbit was disturbing to me because they were being violent to each other and clearly not stopping even when the other protested it was hurting them. The director used a sock with dentures and eyes to represent the caterpillar. While I found this creative, I also found it very strange and not at all flattering to the character. I also kept wondering why the rabbit was so intent on possessing scissors, though in the end I was horrified to find out he was cutting of heads with them! When Alice returns to reality, the glass case in which the rabbit use to be is still broken and empty. She finds the pair of scissors and thinks to herself that she would like to cut the rabbits head off. The ending is very ominous and leaves us with a sense of violence and terror for the little girl wants to cut off the head of her stuffed animal! This is not a wonderland or children’s story in any way.

In Disney’s version, Alice in Wonderland, it takes on a happy atmosphere and is clearly a children’s film. This film incorporates both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. I made note in my book that in the first novel, there are two chapters that are completely left out in any of the film adaptations called “The Mock Turtle’s Story,” and “The Lobster-Quadrille.” Also, the book is opened up by a poem that starts with the line “All in the golden afternoon,” which reminded me of the song the flowers sing in the Disney version, though the flower scene is entirely from the sequel. As well, the queen giving Alice lessons on proper etiquette, the Bread-and-butterfly, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the story of “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and the concept of an un-birthday are from the sequel and incorporated into this film. This film differs from Alice in that it is a cartoon, it has a brighter and more optimistic setting, it is more outdoors and not confined to dirty walls, the characters she meets are not so mean to her (differs from the books as well), there are many songs included to lighten the madness, and there is hardly any violence as well as Alice being a little smarter in situations.

I must say I enjoyed the Disney version much better than the other film and the two novels. I’ve always loved the Disney film and reading the book was very sad to me because the tone and situations were much different and drawn out. When reading Through the Looking-Glass I was already familiar with Carroll’s style of writing so I was not as shocked, but it was different from the first and still possessed unanswered nonsense for no apparent reason other than to make you wonder what the characters are talking about. The film Alice will never be a favorite of mine though it was an experience to see a foreign film such as that.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

English 312: Film + Literature

My blog will now be transitioning from topics in English 436: major crit theories to that of English 312: Film + Literature. This blog is now dedicated to my fall 2010 English 312 class with Professor Hatfield at CSUN.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Releasing the Monster: A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein


Marxism: “ From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need” (Marx 7). Karl Marx possessed the notion of a utopian society in which every man would work to their best ability, therefore every man would gain the necessities for life. If every man works to their capability to produce, there will be no such thing as an inadequate worker, hence every product will be a commodity. Marx believes a commodity is not always as it seems, he says,” A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour; because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labour” (664). In order for a product to be of value and therefore considered a commodity, the labour must be according to the workers’ best ability. Human labour is equal in which it is the same kind of labour in a social respect: Marx makes the analogy, “after the discovery by science of the component gases of air, the atmosphere itself remained unaltered” (666). Although there is a diversity of gases in the atmosphere, the atmosphere itself is still regarded the same and does not alter its functions, just as humans differentiate in the work force, but the products or commodities produced still function the same and were produced by the same form of labor: human labor. In “Capital,” Marx argues the length of the Capital working day and the recklessness of it saying, “To the out-cry as to the physical and mental degradation, the premature death, the torture of over-work, it answers: Ought these to trouble us since they increase our profits?” (674). He believes the Capitalist society and the class systems makes for reckless behavior towards the working class. He expresses these visions further in “The Communist Manifesto,” while talking about the bourgeois versus the proletarian. The bourgeois’ only interest and thirst is money, or capital. The proletarian is the producer of capital, and therefore enslaved by the bourgeois to use their products for consumption. The bourgeois are the leaders in Capitalism due to the modern industry and their giant industrial armies (Marx 658). As well, Engels, who is a believer in Marxism, talks about the desolation and destruction of the working class due to Capitalist society in “The Great Towns.” Engels writes from a perspective of one journeying through the town of London. When he first arrives, the town appears grand and spectacular saying, “…all this is so vast, so impressive, that a man cannot collect himself, but is lost in the marvel of England’s gretness before he set foot upon English soil” (1). He says this regarding his first sight while sailing through the Thames viewing the buildings, wharves, countless ships, and steamers (1). Though, this view of England changes once he enters the town and see’s how these grand spectacles are produced: inhumane labor forces; “Something against which human nature rebels” (Engels 1). Engle’s visit’s the slums of metropolis and understands the harsh conditions of labor and the sacrifice of quality of life to make grand appearances for the bourgeois to flourish upon. He believes the two classes are now at war, and even further the proletarians are at war amongst themselves. The bourgeois use weaker human life to maintain their lavish existence, leaving their workers to scarcely a bare existence (Engels 2). The proletarians have been degraded to a savage existence. If the bourgeois picks a lucky proletarian to become a worker, the wages will scarcely maintain ones health and soul, while no work leads to theft and starvation. There is a battle against each other; every man for himself and a war of each against all (2). As well, Engels recognizes the structure of landscape in the great town. The poor are deployed to the designated poverty area, while the rich are in grand buildings and luxurious homes kept completely separate from one another. Engels says, “…poverty often dwells in hidden alleys close to the palaces of the rich; but, in general, a separate territory has been assigned to it, where, removed from the sight of the happier classes, it may struggle along as it can” (2). Now there is complete separation and alienation of the working class against the bourgeois. The bourgeois takes advantage of the proletariat and belittles them, making sure they can never rise nor prosper, for they will lose their cheap and in demand labor that is essential for the maintenance of their lavish lifestyle. Mary Shelley published the novel Frankenstein near the close of the French Revolution. During this time, the magnitude of the starved and over worked proletarian epidemic was foreshadowed. Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, may be analyzed using the theory of Marxism, as well as diverging into theories of the id, ego, and superego, the panoptic society, the sublime, and the master-slave relationship along with the knowledge-power relationship, and concluding into the larger implications of a Marxist perspective on the industrial revolution: cyborgs.

In Shelly’s Frankenstein, the wretch symbolizes the working class rising up and rebelling against their master. The novel is placed in the 1790’s; in the midst of the French Revolution (385), where there were hints of industrial life starting to take over the workers lives. As well revolutions are composed of new elites forming plebian masses to overthrow the old regime and gain more power to themselves. Though, when plebian masses form Montag says, “…in doing so they found that they had conjured up a monster that, once unleashed, could not be controlled” (386). In Shelly’s novel, the monster is symbolized by the wretch, and the monster is the masses of plebians revolting and devoting their time to the destruction of the bourgeois. The wretch, as well is composed of body parts from corpses. Shelley says, “I collected bones from charnel-houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame” (58). The only available corpses are those that are not protected, and those that are not protected belong to the poor and lower class. Hence, the wretch is the embodiment of the working class rising up and revolting against the bourgeois. The bourgeois is represented by Viktor Frankenstein who abused the power of science and resulted in creating a monster. This can be symbolized as the bourgeois created machinery for labor and abusing their workers who in turn will eventually rise up and revolt.

In Shelly’s novel, the wretch symbolizes the rise of the industrial revolution and the enslavement of the working class under the machines as well as intersecting into theories of freud, Foucualt, and Longinus. Montag says, “Although he once dreamed of creating a race that would worship him as master, he realizes as he lies dying that his relation to science ought rather to be described as a state of servitude…Frankenstein has been the instrument of science” (390) The monster as a person is no longer the slave but the monster personified as an artificial, scientific, project is. Now the slave has gained knowledge and power by reading Milton and as well being artificial he has inhuman capabilities. He has surpassed Viktor and caused a reversal of roles becoming the master over his own. Being versed in Milton has given the wretch knowledge of the tale “Adam and Eve,” which exemplified another master/slave relationship between God, the creator, and Adam, the creation. Though he realizes the differences between his master and Adam’s master, “ Viktor is now feeling that he is in “a state of servitude,” meaning that the industrialization of England has made him feel like a servant to it. Technology has begun to rule over him, symbolizing the working class. From a Marxist perspective, the population created factory machines that produced industrialization. Industrialization lead the poverty and desolation of the working class. Instead of making the lives of people easier, the machinery has enslaved the working class and the master has now become the servant. The absence of modern industry in the novel makes great emphasis and focus on the wretch as the outcast and only scientific project in an otherwise sublime world: Montag says, “Frankenstein’s world is a world without industry, a rural world dominated by scenes of a sublime natural beauty in which not a single trace of Blake’s ‘dark satanic mills’ is to be found” (394). This idea of a single creation isolated with no one to govern over him and no one to help him govern over himself diverges into Foucault’s theory of a Panoptic society. In the Panoptic society, everyone governs over themselves because since they are being watched, they are less likely to behave inappropriately. The wretch has no one to behave for resulting in him rebelling against all of mankind and his own master. As well, the wretch rebelling against mankind due to their treatment of him may be viewed in a Freudian perspective. The monster attempts to rationalize his behavior for longing to be loved and rebelling against humanity using his ego to rationalize his id and satisfy his superego; id being his instincts, ego being his reason, and superego being his moral conscious.

In the novel Frankenstein, with knowledge and power, the wretch is able to reverse the roles of master and slave due to his Marxist implications of being the embodiment of the working class and a machine. The wretch commands Viktor to provide him with a companion after wreaking havoc against Viktor’s family saying, “We may not part until you have promised to comply with my requisition. I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species, and have the same defects. This being you must create” (128). The wretch has found Viktor’s weakness: love for his family and has used this power against him. He demands to have a female of his kind so he may have company since he has nothing to lose himself, having no family other than Viktor, giving him power over his master. He is educated on the feelings of humans because he observed the De Lacey’s and felt these same emotions since the master had installed them in him, once again permeating the idea that the slave depends on his master, yet with knowledge the slave has power over his own master. The monster says, “I, too, can create desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him” (127). In this way the monster can symbolize the working class wanting to level the playing field with their master, or employer. The employee knows his employer needs him, therefore it gives power to the employee. Dr. Frankenstein felt with every fiber in his being that he needed to create his monster, not knowing it would become such a wretch, saying, “ My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance, but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse, urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit” (58). This can allude to the Marxist criticism of the rich wanting to get richer and using the poor to produce their wealth. They loose all humanity and morality with the scent of money in the air because that is their one “pursuit.” Though workers, like the monster, know with the knowledge that their master (employer and machine) need them in order to produce, they may rise up and rebel against their master. Shelly gives her monster that power. He is able to have a voice and rise up against his master.

Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein, may be interpreted with the theory of Marxism as well as branching off to other theories such as id, ego, and superego, panoptic society, the sublime, the master-slave relationship, and the knowledge-power relationship, while leading up to the modern implications of the cyborg theory. The larger implications of the Marxist perspective of the industrial revolution enslaving the working class symbolizes the machines becoming the masters over the human race: cyborgs. The theory of cyborgs is that once unleashed, is mankind strong enough to relinquish their need for it? Technology has overthrown manual labor, and relating it to modern society one may consider computers, ipods, cars, movies, video games, etc. No one will disagree that the human race is enslaved by these products they have created. Man created technologies and cyborgs to make living less difficult, yet as Montag says on industrialization, “ …displacing of the human by the inhuman. For in the process, which in its largest sense is nothing other than history itself, humankind is in no way central. Humanity’s greaest achievemnt may have been to hasten its own destruction” (391). The future prediction in this theory is that cyborgs will be the dominant species in the world and man kind will forfeit its powers to their own creations: Donna Harraway says in her “A Manifesto for Cyborgs,” “ The boundary-maintaining images of base and superstrcuture, public and private, or material and idea never seemed more feeble” (2260). The cyborg will create blurs in the boundaries of life and once that line is crossed, will mankind survive?

Works Cited

Engels, Frederick. "The Great Towns." Marxists Internet Archive. Web. 16 Aug. 2010.
Foucault, Michel. "Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Haraway, Donna. "A Manifesto for Cyborgs." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Leitch, Vincent B. "Sigmund Freud." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Longinus. "On Sublimity." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Marx, Karl. "The Communist Manifesto." The Norton Anthology of Theory and
Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume 1." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.
Marx, Karl. "Critique of the Gotha Programme-- I." Marxists Internet Archive. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .
Montag, Warren. "The "Workshop of Filthy Creation": A Marxist Reading of Frankenstein." Frankenstein. By Mary Shelley. Ed. Johanna Smith. Boston, NY: Bedford/St. Martin, 2000. 384-95. Print.
Shelley, Mary. Ed. Johanna Smith. Frankenstein. Boston, NY: Bedford/St. Martin, 2000.Print.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ethnicity Studies and Post-Colonial Theory


In America, we are called a melting pot. Though, are we all combined? Are we all melting together and becoming equal? Our amendments say so, yet our social discourses show otherwise. The once oppressed are now changing their identity to one's similiar to thier ancestors in order to runaway from the melting pot and renforce their heritage into their daily life. Langston Hughes says in "The negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," :
But, to my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering 'I want to be white,' hidden in the aspirations of his people to 'Why should I want to be white? i am a Negro -- and beautiful! (1196)
This theory is exemplified in the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker, an American Literature author. In this story, an African-American family shows the contrasting characters of a proud African woman and an ashamed one. One of the daughters, Maggie, is very shy and self conscious of herself, yet her sister Dee is vivacious and very proud of her heritage. Dee comes home to visit her family with a new name, Wangero, and a new man. They are both in cultural attire as well as sharing thier African names. In the end Wangero longs for a few of her ancestors quilts left in her mother's house, but her mother already promised it to Maggie. Wangero believes Maggie will ruin the quilts by everyday use, while she would proudly hang them up and show her culture to others. She tells Maggie that she doesn't understand thier hertiage and says, "You ought to try to make something of yourself, too, Maggie. It's really a new day for us"(8). Wangero is the epidemy of Hughe0s' theory on ethnicity. Hughes as well says, "We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame" (1196). The character Wangero in "Everday Use" is exactly the young negro Hughes is striving for in the melting pot.

Works Cited

Hughes, Langston. "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountains." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Walker, Alice. "Everyday Use." American Studies @ The University of Virginia. Web. 16 Aug. 2010. .

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reflection of Gender Studies/Feminism Presentation


In my presentation for our English 436 course, I presented Foucault's theory in his "The History of Sexuality." My group divided the movement into four sections so each of us was able to present a different theory. I believe our presentation was a success and everyone seemed to enjoy the topic and our interpretation of it. I was satisfied with everyone in my group and felt no problem working with them nor obtaining a grade as a whole.

For my contribution I began by giving a short summary and analysis of Foucault's theory. My notes were as follows:
The Incitement to Discourse:
Sexual activity was once an individuals unbiased choice. Now there are social norms and regulations that reflect upon sexual activity. It has been censored throughout the centuries. Religion such as Christianity influenced peoples thoughts on sexual interaction and desires. Now there are government laws and moral laws to abide by. As well, there is one similarity between confessing your sexual sins to a priest and defending them in a court room: truth. People began to write literature related to sexual activity that was looked down upon as “scandalous” literature. Foucault brings up the anonymous author of My Secret Life, who dedicates his writing to describing his sexual adventures. The anonymous author says, “there is nothing to be ashamed of…one can never know too much concerning human nature.” He was scorned by Victorian critics and people felt it was obscene and inappropriate, though he believed sexual activity should not have the discourses it has been made to have. He justifies it by calling it human nature. In the 18th century there became an uprising to discuss sex. Not sex in general, but to analyze, classify, and specify it. They would analyze the birthrate, the age of marriage, the legitimate and illegitimate birth, the frequency of sexual relation, the ways of making them fertile or sterile, the effects of unmarried life, the impact of contraceptive practices, etc. Foucault believes that we talk about sex more than anything else and we are always in search of it. Society has made less a discourse on sex but rather many discourses produced by a series of institutes such as demography, biology, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, ethics, pedagogy, and political criticism. Everyone wants to talk about sex, yet it is exploited as the secret.

The Perverse Implantation:
The transformation of sex into discourse was the object of banishing any sexual activity that would not procreate. Legal actions against minor perversions were multiplied: sexual irregularity was annexed to mental illness. During childhood, norms are set and if one deviates the slightest from the accepted form of sexual activity, that person is alienated and looked upon as someone with a problem. Grave sins included debauchery, adultery, rape, spiritual or carnel incest, and sodomy. As well hermaphrodites were criminals for a while because they were “crimes offspring.” Tells us a story of a man who pet a little girl for doing a job for him and he is sentenced to jail time for it. Too many regulations and emotions involved with sexual activity.

After I presented this information to my peers, I told a narrative about a personal experience belonging to my neighbor who suffered the consequences of sex as a discourse. By doing this, I was able to involve the audience emotionally using Plato's "On Rhetoric" device pathos and intice thier curiousity, which may have lead to a discussion but for lack of time was forfeited. I explained how my neighbor inacted a perversion, slapping a girls bottom, and was sued by her father for this minor perversion. The legal system sided with the young girl's family and my neighbor was sentenced to forfeight his right to attend LAUSD schools. As follows, he felt alienation and was labeled a pervert. He ended up falling into bad habits such as drugs and alcohol. Now he is twenty-three, has no job, no car, and no friends. This is a perfect example of the negative side and consequences of our discourse of sex.

After I presented I felt everyone was moved by my narrative and had a good understanding of Foucault's theory.

Femenism and Gender Studies

Sex Addiction Assessment - Self Test

Only mental health professionals who are certified in sex addiction therapy (CSAT) have the knowledge and experience to diagnose sex addiction. However, there are "red flags" that can indicate the presence of sexual addiction. The following is a list of common attributes of a sex addict. Please note that behaviors are not limited to the list below. Individuals who recognize any of these patterns in their own life or the life of someone close to them should seek professional help:
Obsession over sex to the point where it intrudes your daily routine or hinders your ability to maintain your job and relationships

Practicing unprotected anonymous sex on an ongoing basis

Going into and remaining in debt for the purpose of obtaining sex with prostitutes. This may also include subscriptions to pornographic Web portals or "sex chats"

Looking for sex in public places, including public bathrooms

"Cruising" down the streets but calling it "people watching"

Having sex in dangerous places

Excessive and compulsive masturbation (3-25 times per day or week)

A dependence on sexually explicit material in order to become aroused and/or to reach orgasm

Persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior. A common rationalization is, "I'll deal with the consequences when I experience them."

Ongoing endeavor to set barriers to sexual behavior such as moving to a new neighborhood, getting married or even starving themselves sexually, a condition Dr. Carnes calls "sexual anorexia" which only fuels the addiction

The addict experiences intense mood shifts due to shame and despair

Tremendous energy is spent on obtaining sex, being sexual and then recovering from the consequences

Neglect of important social, occupational or recreational activities

Having numerous XXX videos and magazines at home

Exhibitionist activities, including exposing oneself in a car

Constant preoccupation with sexual fantasies which interferes with daily routine

In "The History of Sexuality" by Mechel Foucault, he addresses the anonymous author of My Secret Life, who wrote series and series of his sexual experiences and recounts them in detail. He is scorned by the critics since it is written in the Victorian era where sex is not a part of public life at all. The author defends himsellf saying, "a secret life must not leave out anything; there is nothing to be ashamed can never know too much concerning human nature." There was such a discourse on sex that one could not openly write about it. In the eighteenth century, there began a craze to talk about sex, but not sex in general, more to analyze it and seek ways to censor it. Foucualt says, "it was necessary to analyze the birthrate, the age of marraige, the legitimate and illegitimate births, the precocity and frequency of sexual relations..." (1507). Foucault believes we talk about sex more than anything else and we make it a discourse. Yet, we do not make sex in general a discourse, but many institions set rules and regulations on sex.

In San Jose Counceling facilities, red flags for sex addiction include masturbating, checking out people of the sex of ones preference, practicing unprotected sex, acting upon anonymous sex,and even having ownership of pornography. This could be considered a medical and a psychiatric problem which are both institutes that created discourses on sex. Many of the questions are personal, but are not intensely radical, meaning many people who are not sex addicts would answer yes to the presented questions. This is another point Foucault brings up when he talks about the pervert. Foucault says, " Through the various discourses, legal sanctions against minor perversions were mulitplied; sexual irregularity was annexed to mental illness" (1513). As well Foucault describes that the only morally and politically correct way to have sex was for the purpose of procreation (1513). In modern society, we still have these discourses with people considering themselves sex addicts. Since they have a higher sex drive then others they believe themselves addicts and mentally ill. Foucualt's theory is to attempt to persuade one to realize that sex was made a discourse by humans and was not a discourse in its original form, so one should not be afraid to express thier sexuality for fear of how others will view them.

Works Cited

Foucault, Michel. "The History of Sexuality." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



Marxism versus Capitalism: everyone works and everyone gets what they need versus bourgeois taking advantage of the proletarian. karl Marx believed in a society of equal opportunity. Instead of every man for himself, it is every human being for the whole society. Commodities, or objects of value, are produced by everyone and not only the able worker because there is no such thing as an inept worker. Marx says on commodities, "A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social character of men’s labour appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour; because the relation of the producers to the sum total of their own labour is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labour” (664). Marxism is creating a society for the common good and is repulsed by capitalism. In David Mamet's film Glengarry Glen Ross, we see a capitalistic society and its faults.

One of the first quotes one hears in Mamet's clip is "The rich get richer, law of the land." Wealth is concentrated in fewer hands and only the rich thrive while the workers help the rich thrive. In this clip, a man from the corporate office visits the small branch to lecture the workers on how to produce commodities. He uses his material items to show his identity saying "I have a BMW, that's who I am!" Now the human being is being replaced with a commodity. As well it shows the master-slave relationship between worker and employer. Marx says on family values in captialistic societies, "The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation" (659). In the Mamet's film, the corporate worker scrutinizes the employee's about their families telling them to go run to their wives and go play ball with thier kids, but if they want to make something of themselves then close the deal! The employer also shows how worthless his employee's are showing them he will fire them on the spot if they do not comply, permeating the master's power over them and thier need for the job. He also instill the idea that they can rise up if they try hard enough by giving the illusion that he use to be one of them and now look what he has. Yet, Marx would argue that this is the bourgeois teasing the proletarian and making them disillusioned so they will continue to produce commodities for thier personal gain.

Works Cited:

Marx, Karl. "The Communist Manifesto." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Marx, Karl. "Capital, Volume 1." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. By Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alexander the Great

Is it possible for a son to love his mother too much? In modern society one would disagree and merely label the man as a "momma's boy," though Freud would have a different stance on this. Freud would incorporate his belief of the oedipus complex in his argument. The oedipus complex involves a father, son, and mother's relationship. In Oliver Stone's production of Alexander the Great, Alexander exemplifies a son involved in an oedipus complex, which Freud.

Freud believes that between a father, son, and mother, their triangle relationship causes psychological ambitions and issues. The son looks up to the father and wants to be as great as him, though he also wants his father out of the picture. The son wants this because he loves his mother so much he longs for her to be solely his. This triangle relationship can be conquered when the son becomes an individual and the parents grow old and weak, though under some circumstances the son does not realize his individuality. When the father by chance dies or under some circumstance is out of the picture, the son becomes confused and tries to rationalize the fathers dissapearane as well as resist his lust for his mother now that she is his. Freud believes that this happens because childhood is the most crucial component of an adults pyschology as well as their relationship with the parents. Freud says, "In my experience, which is already extensive, the chief part in the mental lives of all children who later become psychoneurotics is played by their parents. Being in love with the one parent and hating the other are among the essential constituents of the stock of psychical impulses which is formed at that time..." (814). He believes this is when the childs mind is dependent on both parents, and if the father vanishes, it will affect the their mind.

In the 2004 film Alexander the Great, Alexander's father is murdered. Alexander goes on to conquer lands and make a name for himself, though he avoids his home and his mother. When he finally speaks with his mother, he blames her for his father's death and is furious she took part in it. At the end of his rant about his hatred for her, he kisses her on the mouth in a sexual way. Though he is distraught with his mother and mourning his father, he is struggling with an internal conflict of sexual lust for her. He is an example of a confused son in an oedipus complex gone awry. In this film, Alexander proves Freuds theory that the parental relationship with a child is crucial in an adults progression to finding ones self.

Works Cited

Sigmund, Freud. "The Interpreation of Dreams." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. 115-16. Print.

Stone, Oliver. "Alexander the Great." 2004. Film.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Birth of Man


As the extra terrestrials gaze upon their struggling captive inside the egg that has now boiled due to the climate, a molten rock creature has protruded from the interior crust of the unknown planet. The being who was created larger, begins to plead for the man to not destroy his protective shell, for she senses he may be the one to save her from the creature who plagues the planet. He tears through the shell that protects him from the creature, though he begins to drip blood and she wonders if he is man at all, or woman like herself who bleeds as well. A prophet in a red cloak approaches her. He begins to explain to her this whole phenomena of a place. This place is called earth. The small one who reaches for her in terror is her child and longs for her returning grasp. The man in the shell is her child’s father, who will provide shelter and made the child exist. She is human, and all humans are mortal. He bleeds because he is hurt, and her stomach shrivels because she has hunger. The molten rock creature symbolizes the hurtles that life offers and the canopy that overhangs the man represents the solution, which is unity. If they become one, they can defeat the struggles.

In the above analyses of Salvador Dali’s “Birth of Man”, the writer implicates the meaning of the painting to be a simple family dealing with the usual problems life on earth demands. Though the way the writer presents this information is in an unfamiliar way. Viktor Schkolvsky would call this defamiliarization or making the concept unfamiliar to the viewer (1). Schkolvsky says on this topic, “The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known” (1). The writer of this analyses has appealed to the senses of a person, and not merely stated a fact. Though it is a basic concept of life, it has been dramatized and shown in a different and abstract perspective. The common human being was compared to an extra terrestrial, the struggles of life were depicted as a molten rock creature, the blood and starved stomach symbolized the weaknesses of mortals. As well, the cloth canopy represented unity or the solution, an ordinary man in red was the moral guidance, and planet earth was shown as a hot foreign climate. With all the metaphors, the interpretation was still simple when the writer explained each figures meaning. This style of writing is favored by formalists. The writer as well parallels the painting by giving each figure a different meaning, therefore giving it an unfamiliar perception or interpretation to the viewer. Schklovsky relates the purpose of parallelism to the same as imagery, which he says, “is to transfer the usual perception of an object into the sphere of new perception - that is, to make a unique semantic modification” (4). The writer defamiliarizes the basic concept of a family living on earth and parallels it with extremes.

Works Cited

Dali, Salvador. “Birth of Man”. Web.

Schkolvsky, Viktor. "Art as a Technique." 1-6. Web.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Ashley Scott

Professor Wexler

English 436

July 13, 2010

Why do people have such high influence over others? How did slavery end or even begin? How did the holocaust happen? All this resulted from persuasive human beings. They fortify their power with the use of speech or rhetoric. This can range from small decisions to world changing decisions depending on the influencers motives. Aristotle, an ancient philosopher, believed that using rhetoric was one of the most powerful means of persuasion. He believes that , "rhetoric seems to be able to observe the persuasive about 'the given'..."(Aristotle 115). In the YouTube clip "Motivation", Peter Gibbons explains to his lay off interviewers the problems at the company Initech during which he uses some of Aristotles theories on rhetoric such as ethos, logos, and pathos.
Aristotle believes that one of the species of speech is ethos in which a person gives themself a character and disposes the listener in some way which Gibbon's does in the YouTube clip (115). He does this by addressing his interviewers by their first name, Bob, which takes the authority away from them and lets him be the controller of the conversation. He also has very calm body language, almost too calm for a job interview which shows that he does not need them and gives him power. He uses ethos by giving himself authority and credence. As well, he is employed by Initech so he knows first hand the system in which it works and he tells them how lacking the company is instead of them addressing him as the problem. He influences them to believe that the company is the problem, not the workers.
Another one of Aristotle's species of speech that Gibbons excersizes is logos. Logos shows or seems to show something that instills their opinion to appear logical and rational (Aristotle 115). Gibbons does this by explaining why people do not work hard at Initech. He says, " If I work my [butt] off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime! So where's the motivation?"(Gibbons). He shows that because Initech does not give out commission to it's empolyees, they have no real motivation to go above and beyond the limits needed to keep their job (Gibbons). In this way, Gibbons uses logos to make a logical reasoning as to why the company isn't working well and it is due to their lack of benefits for employees and not the employees themselves.
Aristotle's last species of speech that Gibbons uses is pathos where a speaker incorporates emotion in their speech. Aristotle says, "[There is persuasion] through the hearers when they are led to feel emotion [pathos] by the speech; for we do not give the same judgement when grieved and rejoicing or when being friendly and hostile"(115, 116). When a speaker makes their audience feel emotion, the viewers opinion tends to change for better or worse but there is a definite change either way and this is a form of persuasion. Gibbons uses pathos when he says he has eight bosses and only does his work because each of them hassle him. The interviewers feel sympathy for him and understand his annoyance of having eight bosses. He also shows how fed up he is by saying he doesn't even care anymore, so they try to offer him things instead of firing him which is a definite change in their initial opinion before they met him. At the end he says his good bye's very amiably and appeals to their emotions in a friendly way.
Aristotle's theory of ethos, logos, and pathos, in his work "On Rhetoric", are exemplified in the YouTube clip "Motivation", where Peter Gibbons completely influences his interviewers to side with him and to oppose Initech. He gives himself authority, shows them logical reasoning, and appeals to their emotions. This leaves them in friendly standings and lets Gibbons keep his job (even though he does not care for it anymore).

Works Cited

Aristotle. "On Rhetoric". The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York:
W. W. Norton &, 2010. 115-16. Print.
YouTube - Motivation. Perf. Ron Livingston, John C. McGinley, and Paul Willson. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 13 July 2010.