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.