some minor criticisms


Abjection – Junot Diaz’s Personification of the Psychological Struggle in Ysrael
May 17, 2010, 4:24 am
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              In Ysrael, a short stoy from his book Drown, Junot Diaz constructs a fictional world as a simulacrum for the psychological struggle for control of the ego between the id and the superego. First, there is Rafa, the guy that wants to “chinga all my girls and then chinga everyone else’s” (Diaz 4). He is representative of the “id”, the “repressed” and its constant drive to fulfill the “pleasure principle” or build up his “libidinal cathexes” (Freud 431). As the id, Rafa looks to control the very naive and influential “ego”, which is personified in his little brother Yunior. There is no father figure in the story, so Rafa has taken the role of the father as the son’s “ideal” (Freud 438). All Rafa wants to do is go out and have sex with girls. Whether it is in the mouth, the vagina, or anally, the repetition of sexual gratification is Rafa’s modus operandi. It is the “compulsion to repeat [which] must be ascribed to the unconscious repressed” (Freud 434). Yunior represents an ego that looks up to the id just like the way any younger brother looks up to his older brother, but as the ego grows older, the encroachment of the “reality principle” starts to take precedence over the seeking of immediate and repetitive carnal gratification.  

       The story begins with, “We were on our way”, just Rafa and Yunior, personifications of the “id” and “ego”, two parts of the “psychological trinity” living in harmony (Diaz 3). Then that harmony is disrupted by the third part of the trinity, the “superego”, an agent of repression, of castration, personified by Ysrael. “Rafa stood still and tilted his head, as if listening to a message… something beamed in from afar” (Diaz 3). Rafa’s state of living in “the imaginary”, his life led by the “pleasure principle”, his very existence is in danger because of Ysrael. Rafa feels the tension or “castration anxiety” in coexisting with Ysrael. Rafa looks out to Barbacoa, a symbol of the “symbolic order” and home of Ysrael and says, “We should pay that kid a visit” (3). Rafa and Yunior are in the colmados, or fields, representative of what Jacques Lacan coined as “the real”, or the natural state of man, outside of the influences and conventions of the “symbolic order”. Ysrael and Barbacoa, represent the “symbolic order”, an unnatural, foreign state that represses the “id”, making it impossible for Rafa to exist in it. “We can’t drink the water around here. It would kill us” (16). Freud states that, “infantile sexual life is doomed to extinction because its wishes are incompatible with reality” (Freud 435). 

                Because Rafa represents the “id”, Diaz makes sure to display the raw sexual   “polymorphous perversity” that drives him. Rafa is constantly looking to fulfill his “pleasure principle”.  “When I get home, I’m going to go crazy- chinga all my girls and then chinga everyone else’s” (Diaz 4). The pleasure principle drives Rafa to seek physical pleasure and avoid or repress pain. For example, when Yunior mouths off to Rafa by reminding him of when the “tip of his pinga had swollen to the size of a lemon”, Rafa “pounded the hell out of” him on for bringing up the reality or pain of the situation (5). Diaz demonstrates the “ids” one track mind by having Rafa not eat or drink in the story, basically not doing anything else but seeking the “pleasure principle”. When Yunior asks if they should eat, Rafa replies, “Don’t be stupid” (10). Even when Yunior is spending their money on “pastelitos” or getting molested on the bus, Rafa “didn’t bother to look” or “wasn’t looking” (11). Rafa is too “distracted” by the “pleasure principle”, he is too busy “scheming” to notice anything else (10).  

         However, Rafa’s drive for pleasure was not strictly sexual. Diaz outlines Freud’s module of psychosexual development by having Rafa go through different stages of “libido development” (Freud). First, “Rafa shot whole afternoons about kissing” girls, this represents the “oral phase”, a physical but not necessarily sexual stage. Next, “if he was lucky they let him put it in their mouth or in their asses” (5). This is representative of the sexual “sadistic-anal” and “phallic phase”, all phases just before the repressive “latency phase”. So, sexual or not, the “id” is only worried about fulfilling and protecting the “pleasure principle” and that is why Rafa must go to Barbacoa to face his opposition, his repressor.

        Yunior, Rafa’s little brother, represents the “ego” in the “mirror stage”. He is a very impressionable kid that wants to emulate Rafa. “I kept expecting Rafa to send me home and the longer he went without speaking, the more excited I became” (9). But, Yunior is not solely driven by the “pleasure principle” like Rafa. As the “ego”, Yunior is the “representative of the outer world to the id” In other words, he has the drive to fulfill the pleasure principle like the “id”, but also takes into account the “reality principle”, or “exigencies and obstacles of reality” (Lacan). For example, while at the colmado, Yunior has the hindsight to ask if they should eat before they leave. Rafa, who is consumed by his instinctual need for pleasure, dismisses the very notion of delay. “Don’t be stupid”, he says (10). Furthermore, Yunior does not repress all guilt and pain like Rafa does, but is also not tormented by the guilt like Ysrael. “I had never been sad more than a few hours and the thought of that sensation lasting a lifetime scared the hell out of me” (9). Yunior is the middle ground between the “id” and “superego”. He does not repress pain, but he is not overwrought with guilt.

          Although usually at odds, Diaz makes an interesting commentary on the “id” “ego” binary by noting that if there are no pleasures to seek or repress, then, theoretically, the two faculties should get along. “In the campo there was nothing to do, nothing to see”. They walked “across the valley to see girls who were never there”. So they projected their cathexis, or libidinal energy in non-sexual ways, such as doing chores for their uncle, “We worked hard at keeping busy”.  “The campo was nothing like the barrio in Santo Domingo” (4). Without the temptation and distractions of city life, “primitive impulses” are “sublimated” or diverted. There is no struggle between the “id” and the “ego” because there is nothing to repress. “In the Capital Rafa and I fought so much… but in the campo it wasn’t like that. In the campo we were friends. Diaz is pointing out that the pleasure-principle and the reality-principle could live in a harmonious balance, that is, if the “superego” does not guilt the “ego” for the smallest bit of desire. “Tia said that if we were to look on his face we would be sad for the rest of our lives” (9).

  

      In Ysrael Diaz points out the ever encroaching influence of the “symbolic order”, Barbacoa on the campos, “the real”. Yunior’s first encounter with Ysrael is marked by a very fascinating event. “A door opened on the fuselage and a man began to kick out tall bundles that exploded into thousands of leaflets as soon as the wind got to them” (7). Diaz uses the dropping of “leaflets”, or posters of wrestlers to symbolize the introduction of language and all the constraints of its rules on man. Diaz further elaborates this symbolism by making the leaflets about something as primal as wrestling. The “symbolic order” has “intellectualized” wrestling, in essence making it its own. Furthermore, Diaz has the “symbolic order” make the campos way of life ineffective. In Ysrael, Western civilization puts its own rules and values on the old fashioned ways of life that the “id” and “ego” live. The symbolic order lures people in with material things like “proxyl 9” and “North American sandals”, but the “id” in its drive for survival remains “unperturbed”, those same influences might have a different effect Yunior later on (15).

         It may seem that Diaz’s stance on the “symbolic order” is pretty clear because he makes Ysrael, the face of the “symbolic order”, deformed. A pig had eaten off his face like an “orange” when he was a baby and the consensus in the campos was, “that face of his would make you sick” (8). It is acceptable to assert that Diaz makes the “superego” deformed because he feels that it is an abomination to nature. “I’m sick, Ysrael, said” (17). Ysrael must wear a mask to hide the “superego’s” true face, one of oppression, castration, plus it seems everything about Ysrael is foreign. It “was no handmade local job… It had been manufactured abroad” (16). Another way to look at Ysrael’s mutilated face is to read Freud’s writing on The Uncanny. In it Freud points out how to “arouse” feelings of the uncanny in a reader. Freud cites Jenstch when he writes, “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive” or vice versa “excite the spectator” (Freud 421). In addition, Jenstch writes:

     “In telling a story, one of the most successful devices for easily creating uncanny effects is to leave the reader in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is human or an automaton and to do it in such a way that his attention is not focused directly on the uncertainty” (421).

Although, it was said that Ysrael’s face was in fact eaten like a “skinned orange”, I really thought they were going to reveal something about that later on, my curiosity fueled my reading but as Jenstch pointed out, it did not confuse it.

       Diaz also, closely follows Freud’s writings on psychosexual development and realizes that Rafa’s life based on pleasure is at best superficial. That is why Yunior is so quick to cling onto Ysrael when they finally speak. Deep down inside, Yunior knows that those “activities of instincts intended to lead to satisfaction” can lead only to “unpleasure”, so he looks for a new role model (Frued 435). In a Lacanian lens, Yunior is in a literal “mirror stage”. He is looking for “identification”, he is looking to assume an image and he is searching for the “ideal-I”. Yunior was at a crossroads in his life, according to Lacan, he was at “a threshold of what it would become” (Kurzwell 425). Lacan states that “the construction of the subject is not the result of pure perception but needs the image of the body as intermediary” (426).

        One can argue that Yunior’s ease to cling to Ysrael is a bit premature, but according to Freud, that is what happens when “mechanisms of the unconscious (Rafa) are dominant” (Freud 439).  In a reverse effect, when desires to hold off pleasure and focus on things such as wrestling, “the ego sometimes copies the person who is not loved” (439). A single common trait such as wrestling was enough for Yunior to identify with Ysrael. Another way to  explain Yunior’s likening of Ysrael is what Freud calls, “the mechanism… of identification based upon the possibility or desire of putting oneself in the same situation” (440). Although, Ysrael was horribly disfigured when he was young, he still lives a very rich life. He wears nice “North American” sandals, has a good rapport with shop owners, and has a very good physique from working out. Rafa, on the other hand, does not wear shoes, he constantly steals from shops, and has no time for working out because he is always chasing girls. Even with the consequence of being associated with an outcast, Yunior, “accepts the suffering involved in it” (440). For a few moments, Ysrael was a substitute for a “libidinal object-tie” (440).

        Ysrael is a story about the “early infantile influences” that shape the ego. Diaz has given a face to the “malignant fate” and “daemonic power” in the form Rafa and Ysrael. The ever impressionable “ego” is constantly influenced by the “id” and the “superego”. In the final scene Yunior is starting to relate to Ysrael. “[I] caught up with Ysrael, who was ahead of us. Are you still in wrestling?” asked Yunior (17).Here the “superego” is already starting to have an affect on the “ego”. The pleasure seeking life that Rafa represents, for a moment, does not interest Yunior. “On the way back to the road I left the bottle with Rafa to finish and caught up with Ysrael” (17). Here, Rafa is being faced with the materiality of his existence. His simple life based on the “pleasure principle” is no longer interesting to Yunior and he must do something drastic, so he projects his own inadequacy at Ysrael then attacks him. “Then my brother brought his arm around and smashed the bottle on top of his head” (18). This is where the eruption of the “id” happens when it is faced with “abjection”. But it is not only the “id” that attacks the “superego”. “Roll him on his back, my brother said and we did, pushing like crazy” (18). This we in the attack is a metaphor for the “id’s” victory over the “superego” for the “ego”. Rafa was faced with being replaced and in order to retain the fantasy role in Yunior’s “imaginary order” he attacks Ysrael. Rafa is doing what Freud wrote as, “break[ing] through the pressure weighing down on it and force its way to consciousness or to a discharge through some real action” (Freud 434). Ysrael’s influence on Yunior was also adding to Rafa’s “sense of inferiority” and a neurotic such as him must fight, if not for Yunior, then for his own pride. Yunior is now solely influenced by Rafa and the “pleasure principle”.  Although, Diaz may criticize the “superego” and its foreign existence, he also points out the inherent faults that lie in a life based on just the “pleasure principle”. In this story Diaz has the “id” be victorious, maybe next time, Yunior will defend Ysrael and he will get a good job and be an upstanding citizen instead of stealing rides on buses, chasing tail.

Diaz, Junot. Ysrael. 1. 1. 3-20. Print.

Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74.

Freud. Sigmund. “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004. 431-437. Print.

Freud. Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004. 418-430. Print.

Kurzwell, Edith. “Jacques Lacan: French Freud.” Theory and Society. 10.3 (1981): 419-438. Print.

Lacan, Jacques. Freud’s Papers on Technique 1953-1954. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book 1. Trans. John Forrester. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. New York: Norton, 1991.

 “Psychoanalysis.” Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. Purdue, 12 05 2009. Web. 20 Apr 2010. http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/.

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Foucault on Bob
April 21, 2010, 11:20 am
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  Remember these male enhancement commercials on tv? Of course you do! They have been running non-stop on every channel short of Nickelodeon for years now. Everyone also knows who the guy with the big smile is. That’s Bob, and one can only assume from innuendo that, Bob has a huge “dong”. (Thanks Enzyte!) Bob has taken advantage of male enhancement pills or as Foucault puts it, “pedagogical controls and medical treatments” (892). He is doing what all men should be doing, he is, “ensuring population”, all the while, “constituting a sexuality that is economically useful and politically conservative” (892). “Cunnilingus for the misses Bob?” “No way, I don’t do ‘fruitless pleasures'” (892).

  Pictured above is a penis festival held every first Sunday of April in Kawasaki, Japan. This of course isn’t another commercial for Enzyte but is an example of how our society has become so enamored with the “wang”, the “peter”, the penis that we’ll march it down the street on our shoulders like it won the big game. We have basically become such a “genitally centered” society that we have more words for penis than Eskimoes do for snow (892).

*Below is a clip from the second “Austin Powers” movie

   This revelry of the wanker has made the male enhancement field a billion dollar industry. The fact that I can write “male enhancement” without pointing out what part of the male is enhanced is another example of the garrulous brouhaha over the pecker. Today, being able to please your woman has become the most essential part of the “marital obligation” (893). The bedroom has come “under constant surveillance: if it was found to be lacking, it had to come forward and plead its case” (893).

  According to Foucault, “heterosexual monogamy… was spoken of less and less” (893). “Efforts to find out its secrets were abandoned” (893). But luckily for the man with the wee wee-wee, “medicine made a forceful entry into the pleasures of the couple: it created an entire… pathology arising out of incomplete sexual practices” (895).  No longer did these “oddities of sex” have to turn off their bedroom lights with dejection (896). These men sought out their “lesion”, their “dysfunction”, their “symtpom” and took control over their sexual lives.

  But, sadly these medicines have been proven not to work. Their attempts at enlarging themselves was “always destined to fail and always constrained to begin again” (895). Foucault writes that all the medical studies, and all the enhancement medicine work with a “double impetus” or purpose:  “pleasure and power” (897). These men with small privates felt powerless, so what Enzyte and all the other “male enhancement” companys were selling these poor saps was not the pleasure aspect, but the power. Foucault furthers his point by saying that, for those men, “an emotion [is] rewarded [for] overseeing control” over a seemingly helpless topic and “power [is given] through its very exercise” (897). So, the big billion dollar male enhancement industry doesn’t sell more inches, they sell more confidence. Placebos that have more of a psychological result than physical and Michel Foucault forsees it almost 34 before bob was Bob. I wonder if he ever read “The History of Sexuality”? 

Foucault, Michel. “The History of Sexuality.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004. 892-899. Print.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Marxism and The Battle of Algiers
April 14, 2010, 2:07 am
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 For my analysis, I decided to revisit one of my favorite black and white movies, “The Battle of Algiers” and to interpret this film about revolution through a Marxist, or more specifically, a “Cultural Materialism” lense (646). I picked this movie because it perfectly embodies a “narrative… [that] evoke[s] social adversaries in order to quell them” (646).  The director, Gillo Pontecorvo went to great lengths to accurately portray the violence displayed not just by the Algerian terrorists, but the French police as well. The FLN, or native Algerian insurgents, terrorize the occupying French citizens by blowing up cafes and buildings, they represent a “dissident presence in the social world of the era” (646). Then, the French paratroopers, or the “true nobles” of the story quickly respond by hunting down some of the resistance leaders and assassinating them in the name of “true virtue”.

          By showing the explosions and murder, Pontecorvo not only shows the atrocities perpetrated by the guerrillas, he also shows the viewer that there is something wrong in this country.The opening scene for instance takes place in a chic cafe in an affluent French part of Algeria. The setting of the scene itself is ludicrous, French nationals sipping espresso and nibbling on desserts in a cafe in Africa with African waiters dressed in neatly pressed uniforms. The French people’s “attempt to naturalize social divisions reveal their artificiality and all ideological resolutions out their ‘imaginary’ quality on display. Rivkin goes on to say that “the very effort suggests that the class differences harbor potential dangers for the rule of the aristocracy” (645). The scene ends with a guerilla spy dressed as a French person planting a purse bomb in the cafe and blowing up everyone in it.

        In the end, the French military succeeds in tracking down and quelling the Algerian uprising. They follow individuals involved back to insurgent headquarters and execute and torture cell leaders. In one scene they just blow up an entire building full of people they think are involved. Even though the French “nobility” are victorious in wiping out this group of rebels, there is an underlying message to be heard. As Rivkin points out in his book, even though “the nobility may consistently triumph, the very necessity of depicting such triumph over adversaries suggests that there is trouble” (645). Furthermore, by solely using violence or vice to end the Algerian rebellion, the “nobility’s claim to legitimacy is tenuous” (646).  

           

          In the movie, as in real life, the French won the battle of Algiers but the tactics used by the French military to stop the insurgence caused a huge backlash against French occupation in Algeria. The movie ends with scenes of huge protests and rioting for Algerian independence.

Rivkin, J. and Ryan, M. “Introduction:Starting with Zero.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004. 643-646. Print.



“I never thought I’d have as much fun talkin’ bout this” – Host of NiteBeat
March 23, 2010, 1:38 am
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              A few weeks ago it seemed like our class discussions on Lacan hit a few speed bumps. The terminology was there but true understanding of the concepts on a popular level weren’t. That was until professor Wexler put in a DVD of Slavoj Zizek, a “Slovenian Denis Leary,” according to the interviewer in the video. Zizek is a modern pioneer of Lacanian psychoanalysis combined with Hegelian and Marxist schools of thought. He brings to light Lacanian theories and gives them a modern twist. In another part of the movie where Zizek comments on a video of Lacan speaking, he points out the facade that Lacan puts on. He says that he is showboating with all the expressive hand gestures and the all black attire. Zizek is basically Lacan without all the fluffer, without the disguise.

 In this excerpt from the documentary Zizek is being interviewed to sell his new book “The Puppet and the Dwarf”. In this interview he talks about “tolerance and choice” being used in modern society as a sort of “trojan horse” that manipulates people using their own conscience as a driving factor to do something. He uncovers the underhanded ways that postmodern society dangles free will in front of people, but always with clause. The parent gives the child the choice of going to the grandparents house, but the child is not truly free because he is obligated to go by the grandparents “love”. This false freedom that Zizek talks about is what Hegel called a “yoke of necessity”. 

                 After seeing the Zizek documentary my mind was able to grasp the Lacanian train of thought much easier. Zizek explains his philosophical standpoint in a  modern pop cultural context and that makes it much more accessible to the every man. I think that is also why he is so popular. He brings old school trains of thought and tries to make the masses understand it, instead of dangling that knowledge (power) above their heads.  I really enjoyed the documentary, I am not sure if i agree with his standpoint on love, but all in all, it was a very enlightening video.

Zizek, Slavoj, Perf. Zizek!. Dir. Astra Taylor.” Perf. Zizek, Slavoj. Hidden Driver: 2005, DVD.



What is going on in Denmark?
March 9, 2010, 2:29 am
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         Franco Zeffirelli’s take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet is an out there, albeit  substantiated interpretation. To have Gertrude, Hamlet’s  widowed mother, be the object of Hamlet’s Oedipal desire was a pretty interesting take on a classic story. When one thinks about it, Zeffirelli’s claim is not that far-fetched. Shakespeare already floats his story over to incest island with Hamlet’s uncle marrying his mother, so having Hamlet sexually long for his mother in the death of his father sort of makes sense, in a “Deliverance” kind of way. 

        Hamlet suffering from the Oedipus complex can be explained in many ways. First of all, Hamlet seems like a man-child, someone who has not fully developed out of what Freud calls the primal stages of psychosexual development. This arrested development may be what leads to Hamlet’s sexual desire for his mother. Due to his high status in society, Hamlet was probably given anything he desired. This probably resulted in an unrepressed “id” and a suppressed or undeveloped “super ego”.

          For royalty, in this case Hamlet,  there is a skewed “symbolic order” and that unrestricted or nonexistent “reality principle” is totally overpowered by the drive to seek pleasure, no matter how perverse it may be. Therefore, the unrestricted conventions of a royal family may lead to some seriously messed up values leading to what Freud coined as  “polymorphous perversity”, or seeking sexual gratification in socially unacceptable places, i.e. your mother.

       So in conclusion, Zeffirelli really had a good argument for making that scene seem very sexual. Shakespeare from a psychoanalytic perspective made me reflect more on the society that created the characters, then the characters themselves.  Why was Hamlet lusting for his mother? I did not really blame Hamlet the pervert, I blamed the society that formed him. I haven’t seen the movie, but I think it deserved better than the 6.8 that it got on IMDB. Maybe it was the whole kissing his mother scene that swayed a few viewers.

Freud. Sigmund. “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004. 431-437. Print.



The Legend of Pebbles
February 16, 2010, 2:51 am
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              Whenever people think about the most ferocious type of bird , they think of  falcons, an eagles, or even vultures come to mind. But, if one was able to ask a bird which, or more precisely who, they thought was the toughest fowl on the planet, the unanimously answer “Pebbles”, the baddest bird around.

             The legend surrounding Pebbles, started as early as his birth. Word has it that Pebbles’ mother, a common seabird, had gotten lost from her flock during one of the worst winter migrations ever and sought shelter in a cave somewhere in the Carolinas. That cave happened to be inhabited by a pack of wolves. So as the story goes, instead of becoming food for the  vicious canines, she found love and in that very cave and  the unassuming giant known as Pebbles was born.

             But, Pebbles’ greatness does not stem from his strange origin, it is his great feats of bravery that feed his legend. A pigeon in New York tells a story of him guiding US pilots in Vietnam and of him helping tear down the Berlin Wall in ’89. Some birds say, Pebbles is 40 years old, some say he’s a 100. This mystery only adds to his growing legend.

           Human beings have never heard of  Pebbles before today, and this picture is the only known photograph of the hero known to exist. The rare picture, taken by a German couple on holiday in the Cayman Islands, shows Pebbles defiantly standing on a “no birds” sign. He stares off into the distance looking for the next great adventure he is about to embark on.

Structuralist Analysis

First, lets look at the most obvious sign in the picture, the big sign with the red line going across the silhouette of a bird. By defamiliarizing myself from the triviality of such a sign, one might infer that birds are not wanted, they are a nuisance, or maybe even that they are bad or evil. The wear on the sign signifies that this sort of negative mindset towards birds is long running. The fact that the bird in the sign is just standing there is an indicator that even their presence is not wanted. The colors red and yellow signify a sort of urgency to the cause. Strangely enough, the fact that there is even a sign like that assumes that birds will be able to decipher the symbolic significance of such a sign and therefore stay sway from that area. The fact that there is a bird on the said sign is an indication that assumption is false.

          The second signifier in the picture in the picture is the bird on top of the sign. To do a structural analysis one would usually separate the sign and the bird, but I feel that the location of the bird on top of the sign signifies so much more than the two apart. The bird on top of the sign signifies rebellion. It signifies the utter ignorance of such a sign. It signifies the meeting of man and nature and the subsequent failure of man to control nature. The position of the bird, turned away from the viewer also adds to the aura of defiance and that is why I wrote the Legend of Pebbles. The bird is staring off into the horizon signifying a new journey ahead.

            The time of day and setting of the picture also play, albeit minimal, roles in the picture. The time could either be sunset or sunrise, either way the time could signify that a journey has just taken place or that one will ensue. The location of the picture, far from the blurred buildings,  may represent that this sign is located on the outskirts of the city or suburbia, that this is where man and nature meet.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. “Course in general Linguistics.” Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2004. 59-71. Print.



Group Presentation #1 – Greek Antiquity
February 11, 2010, 2:12 am
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    For our presentation on Greek antiquity and to give the contrasting ideals of Plato and Aristotle, relevance in our modern time, we decided to  apply these theorys to something that has been long overlooked and has played a very negative affect on our society. If you were at last weeks class, then the images of prodding doctors and gaping orifices were burned into your retinas and you know that I am speaking of child birth. This subject, in its uncensored, true form, has become some sort of taboo in our very sensitive and politically correct culture and we decided to contest  that Aristotle’s protection of imitation as art is fine in the realm of art, but that its spread into other realms is highly harmful to a viewers grasp on true reality.  As a group, we decided to compare two starkly different portrayals of child birth. The first being the comically portrayed birth of Rachel’s baby on the sitcom Friends.  We used this first “imitation” or “mimicking” of a true birth to show that  it is the version that people prefer, but is not neccesarily the verison that is beneficial to the in any way besides superficial. At the group meetings, I asked whether or not the reason for high teen pregnancy is because young teens’ only exposure to such a serious matter as child birth is through shows like Friends. From there we, as a group, elaborated on the comical representation of birth as being disadvantageous to scoiety and that true, unaltered videos of birth should be mandatory to ward off hormonal teens from disregarding the seriousness and gore of child rearing as consequences of sex. Also, during the presentation I asked the class whether or not the laughing or the “comicallization” of something uncormfortable, such as child birth, had become second nature, or a reflex, engrained throughout the centurys in our human psyches. I found it strange that some people laughed during the most graphic parts of the true portrayal of birth, it was like a defense mechanism. The professor added that it might be some sort of Fruedian response to uncomfortable situations, but I had neither the experience or reading to discuss the matter. Though we did not have time for a vote, I added that our group should take a poll on which video they prefer. Of course, the majority would prefer the aristotilian version over Plato’s any day. From there I was going to add that our society’s main function is on comfort and not true knowledge, something that Plato was very cautious of and the exact opposite of his utopian society. Something I did have time to add was the effectiveness of the middle video, the slightly censored version of a true birth. Although Plato might not approve, I thought that it would be better for the viewers education and stomach if we gave that person a mixture of true knowledge with a censoring of the really nasty stuff, a play on Horaces small part in our readings.