Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dystopian Allen

Reading: Woody Allen's The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose, “Yes, but Can the Steam Engine do This?” pg. 30 – 35
“Panopticism” by Michel Foucault
Donna Haraway's “Cyborg Manifesto”

We discussed, firstly, the idea of Panopticism brought about by the philosopher Michel Foucault. This tells us that we are all watching each other in society, essentially, and keeping us from doing whatever we wanted. Very limiting.
“Foucault argues in this chapter that the formation of modern disciplinary institutions can be linked (at least in a formal sense) to the treatment of plague victims in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe. Just as the great Confinement was, in Foucault's eyes, based on the exclusion of the leper, modern disciplinary institutions and practices are based upon the rigidly segmented treatment of plague victims. Foucault states that, "Rather than the massive, binary division between one set of people and another, the plague] called for multiple separations, individualizing distributions, an organization in depth of surveillance and control, an intensification and a ramification of power" (198). Thus, while lepers were merely excluded and left to their own devices (in the darkness of a dungeon, or simply the darkness at the margins of society) the new disciplinary practices were formed under the idea that all evil must be rigidly separated and excluded.
Thus, the leper and the plague victim become combined to form a disciplinary subject.
The fully developed model of this double subject (excluded and segmented at once) is given in Jeremy Bentham's discussion of the Panopticon. The Panopticon is literally a building in which individuals cells circularly enclose a courtyard in which there is a central watchtower. The key, for both Foucault and Bentham, is that the prisoners (or workers, or school children, or hospital patients, etc.) in the cells can all be seen in a glance by whoever is in the watchtower, but they can never see who observes them or even if they are being observed. For Bentham, the power must be always visible and never verifiable: power is thus evenly applied to separate bodies.
Thus, a new and total economy of surveillance and discipline is invoked. The previous model (that of the plague victim) was never as total as desired. In fact, through "the frenzy of passing time, bodies mingling together without respect" (197), a whole economy of transgression was inadvertently created. The totalizing specter of surveillance was, in fact, imperfectly applied; gaps between theory and practice were large and unavoidable. In addition to this theoretical and practical totality, the Panopticon promised a reduced economy (in terms of 'cost') of surveillance.
Not only is it more effective, but the Panopticon is cheaper and easier to manage than previous disciplinary systems. Foucault states that "The Panopticon is a marvelous machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces homogeneous effects of power" (202) and that "A real subjection is born mechanically from a fictitious relation. So it is not necessary to use force..." (202). Thus, not only does one remove the necessity for (usually expensive) force, but one removes even the necessity for constant surveillance. Rather than actual surveillance, all that is required is the constant threat of surveillance. When this is firmly ingrained, the subject becomes "the principle of his own subjection". (203). The constant, unknown threat of surveillance (and the resulting sanctions for 'wrong' action) constitutes subjects who are not only afraid of this constant threat, but internalize the external and begin to police themselves. The Panopticon affects "a perpetual victory that avoids any physical confrontation and which is always decided in advance" (202-203).” -

We also discussed Donna Haraway's “Cyborg Manifesto.”
“In “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism 1980s,” Donna Haraway argues that the emergence of cyborgs in human culture has merged the differences between man/woman God/man, mind/body and forced both people in general and scholars to reconsider what we mean by gender. Indeed, Cyborgs have forced us to reconsider what gender is. Her writing style is very abstract and poetic and juxtaposes various metaphors together, just as she claims humans have been combined with computers. Her claim is not that the 20th and 21st centuries have begun the tradition of the cyborg, but that it has taken on new importance with the emergence of new technology.
She writes that “by the late twentieth century. . . we are all chimeras” (8), and this shift means that humans behave in different ways. These differences force us to reconsider male heterosexual dominance in two different ways: first, cyborgs are by definition “unnatural” and therefore the terminology we use to discuss them forces us to consider that our conceptions of humanity are arbitrary – or at least culturally constructed (20-21). By seeing how gender constructions are just that . . . constructions, we can provide a new viewpoint on gender and sexuality. Second, they force us to reconsider feminism, itself, Feminism should not try to replace one all-encompassing philosophy about humanity with another, but instead feminists should avoid an “essentialist” theory, even in opposition to more dominant ideologies. One should use cyborgs as a way of articulating resistence against the idea of compartmentalization itself. Cyborgs make us reconsider both individualism and social determinism. Instead, the concept of the monsterous – much as in the medieval period and before – can be used as a lens to talk about what is on the “borderlands” (10, 38). Cyborgs break down and resist the conceptions of the individual. Haraway ends her article by summarizing her two main positions, that the “production of a universal, totalizing theory is a major mistake” and that cyborg imagery can undermine the dualisms that Haraway feels are damaging to our society (and possibly even “child abuse”). Instead, we should use cyborg imagery to create different conceptions of what humanity is all about.” -

We also discussed Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451, which chronicles the time of when a future day “fireman”, who burns books for a living, ends up reading that which he was supposed to destroy and ends up getting completely captivated by the world that books bring him. I really enjoyed reading this whole novel and I just wish it had kept going when I got to the end. I wanted to learn more about Montag's character and the world that they lived in. A lot of this ties into some of Woody Allen's works, most notably his movie Sleeper, where Allen's character was cryogenically frozen and woken up thousands of years later when books have been abolished, the government has taken over the minds of the public, and artwork has been almost destroyed in how silly it all is now. Allen's character is called an alien and his thought processes are considered evil by the government because he actually has rational thought in this time and his “radical” ideas of wanting to express real feelings needs to be staunched.

This week was my group's week to do a group presentation. The book that my group was assigned was Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and we also wanted to tie in the Dystopian texts that we had read this semester as well. We decided to mix the exercise between Michel Foucault's “Panopticism” and Fahrenheit 451, so we had the whole class sit in the center of the room, while our group, who was dressed all in black to support conformity, kept a watchful ear out for any nonconformists. We decided that we'd try to facilitate a discussion based on a couple of reality television show clips that show the disgusting redundancy and lack of substance that exists in a lot of modern day television. We asked the class why these clips were “the best thing ever” so that we could get across the message that if we keep going in this direction as a society, there will be nothing stopping our whole lives from being just one giant trivial hair-do. We made a rule for the group presentation that no one could use personal pronouns, (ie. I, me, you, she, him.) and could only refer to themselves as one of the group, (ie. Us, we). If a person disobeyed the rules and ended up using a personal pronoun, we threw a plush dog at them to signify that the mechanical hound from Fahrenheit 451 was killing them since they were displaying signs of being nonconformists. After the small exercise in conformity, we decided to facilitate discussion from the class even further by talking about what we had just done. What it came down to was that most people were able to understand out “join or die” mentality that we were trying to get across since that was a large message in many of the Dystopian texts that we had read.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chekhovian Allen

Sunday, April 11, 2010

After Spring Break, our Midterm paper was due, and here mine is.

No Woody Without Women
When you think of the human race, you generally think of it involving Man and Woman. There would be no human race if there wasn't one or the other, and so, each is an extremely integral part of humanity's survival. Originally, men were the providers while women were the housekeepers/nurturers, and a lot of men like to think of themselves as completely different and altogether separate from women, however, this couldn't possibly be farther from the truth. For the first few years of a man's life, he is under almost entirely the sole care of a woman, and this leaves quite a resounding impact. One of these impacts manifests itself in the form of what Sigmund Freud coined as the Oedipus Complex. According to Freud, all men go through the Oedipus Complex and it is a key part of becoming a normal human being integrated into society. The Oedipus Complex can be cause for a man's need to be dominated by women, and examples of this can be found in some of Woody Allen's work.
An extreme form of men wanting to be controlled by women would be the sexually deviant dominatrix, who by some men enjoy being bound up in leather by and whipped and beaten and disciplined. None of Woody Allen's characters portray a level of the Oedipus Complex as radically as a dominatrix, but some of them could be tip-toeing on just barely not being at that level. The amount of domineering by women of Allen's characters is more intellectual than physical. As children, men are dominated by their mother both intellectually and physically. Since Woody Allen's characters are all grown up, though, and can no longer be dominated physically, they still need to feel those feelings of inferiority but can't get them anymore because women are no longer physically imposing to them. Instead of Allen's male characters being dominated by women physically, they often seek out the company of women who are superior, or at least up to par, intellectually for them to deal with.
That Woody Allen's characters go after women who are intellectually superior than them shows the cultural background that Allen grew up with. In the Jewish community, as Martha Ravits explains in her essay entitled “The Jewish Mother”, the woman is seen thus: “Her claims to affection, her voicing of opinions. . .are perceived as threatening in part because she acts as a free agent, not as a subordinate female according to mainstream cultural ideals.” Woody Allen's being raised in the ethnic Jewish community and by the classic Jewish Mother has had a huge impact on the way he portrays women in his movies. Since Allen has been brought up with women that are free spirited and independent from the binding constructs of a male-dominated society, he is looking for that same sort of rebellious woman who is not subordinate, but instead, dominant.
One of the most compelling ideas for this case is Woody Allen's 1979 film “Manhattan”, in which Allen's character falls head-over-heels in love with Diane Keaton's character. Initially, Allen's character finds Keaton's character to be extremely beautiful and intelligent, however he feels she is much too opinionated and overbearing, and he finds her utterly repugnant. Eventually, though, Allen's character finds that the personality traits of Keaton's character that he once couldn't stand, he now finds irreplaceable and endearing. He finds these traits so indispensable, in fact, that he gets fed up with the intellectually hollow relationship that he is in with a fourteen year old girl and breaks up with her to be able to devote himself romantically entirely to Keaton's character. When they first meet in the movie, Keaton and Allen are discussing modern art in a museum and they each have extremely different ideas on art, how art should be displayed, and the meanings behind art. The high speech that they use to get their points across is like a little intellectual game, or battle, that they are having with each other. The fight that Allen is putting up against Keaton says a lot about what is attractive to him in a woman. Allen's is not the only character who is guilty of this interesting little trait though, because Keaton's character is just as bad as he is. Stereotypically, one would assume that a tall and beautiful woman like Keaton's character would go after men who are equally tall, if not taller, and they would almost without exception be handsome fellows. Instead, though, Keaton's character habitually dates men who are very smart, however they are also short, nasally, and balding, as is shown when she accidentally bumps into her ex-husband. Keaton's character's ex-husband was played by Wallace Shawn, which was an excellent comedic choice since he is obviously so contrasted to the way that Keaton had been describing him, which was as a dashing lady-killer of sorts.
After Allen's character and his girlfriend, along with Keaton's character and her date, leave the art museum and walking around the town at night, Allen and Keaton continue to battle it out, testing their wits against one another and challenging each others views on society and art and the like. On the left side of the screen was Keaton, tall and somewhat imposing in the frame, in the middle of the frame was Allen, somewhat small and seemingly unassuming, and on the right side of the screen was Allen's fourteen year old girlfriend. The contrast between Keaton's character and Allen's character's girlfriend in the scene is huge; they are polar opposites. One is an intellectual, self-made woman living on her own in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, while the other is a slouching high school student who could never hold her own in an intellectual conversation with Allen. Allen's character is betraying himself. He tells himself that he wants to be with the young and subservient high school student who would never question any of his beliefs or foundations because he is so much older, experienced, educated, and intellectually superior to her. Obviously though, he wants somewhat more of a challenge than a fourteen year old can give him as he is inevitably drawn towards the more suitable character in Keaton, once again going back to what Ravits was saying. The imprint left in Allen by his mother's defiance of the male constructed ideals of desiring only women that don't say anything and are subordinate is a strong one indeed, one that he spends his whole life trying to deny.
Some more of Woody Allen's thoughts on being intellectually dominated by women come out in his amusing short story “The Whore of Mensa”. The main character in this story, Kaiser Lupowitz, puts Allen in an immediate position of dominance as a private detective, “the fuzz”, as he later calls himself, or a cop, a person who the common man is forced to fear and obey without question in our society. A female character opposite from Allen's, however, is the “whore” that the short story is named after. She is not a whore in the traditional sense of the word, but a whore in that she sells her mind instead of her body. Again, the intellectual female that is portrayed in “The Whore of Mensa” is a way to express Allen's need to be dominated, even though he is technically in the position of power.
The way that Woody Allen writes about an intellectual conversation in “The Whore of Mensa” is interesting, indeed, and reveals further Allen's thoughts on women. Allen presents an intellectual conversation in this short story as something devious, intimate, and even somewhat carnal. At first glance, these traits given to the intellectual conversation can seem meant merely as a comical way to put a looking-glass up in front of society to let it laugh at itself, however, these traits have some pretty serious undertones and meanings. In presenting intelligent speech in this light, Allen is not merely putting up a looking-glass for society to laugh at itself, but he is also putting up a looking-glass that reveals himself and his deepest intentions and thoughts.
Not only are Allen's characters typically attracted to a large intellect, but they also tend to go for tall and beautiful women, specifically non-Jews. Ravits explained when she said that “Jews felt more conflicted about Otherness and the desire for acceptance when they could look over social fences and see the opportunity to blend into the dominant group, if only they could shed traits of ethnicity regarded as inferior by non-Jews.” This rejection by Woody Allen of the typical and traditional Jewish female norm that his peers had all been expected to adhere to is a way for Allen to try and assimilate with the main body of America. Physically, Allen is unmistakeably Jewish, and so to try and fight this, he and his characters are constantly in pursuit of women that are uncharacteristic for an average person of his ethnic background. While Allen is attempting to fight the Jewish stereotypes that have been prescribed and forced on him ever since he was a child, they still manage to find their way through the holes in his defenses in the form of his upbringing. He looks for the physical attributes of specifically non-Jewish women, but then he is only attracted to them if they have the same sort of mental attributes that he has come to admire and need after being brought up in the Jewish community.
Try as Allen might to find a tall, beautiful, non-Jew who is also extremely intelligent, strong, and assertive as a suitable female partner, it is extremely idealistic of him and really quite shallow. Don't be mistaken, I have no issues with how shallow a person can be, but only if they deserve it. Based on the rules of being shallow, Allen is asking for too much. He wants, expects, and feels he deserves a woman who is considered the “full package”, however, Allen is leaps and bounds from being a full package himself. On top of Allen physically being the opposite definition of what is attractive, he is also extremely neurotic, nasally, and can get very annoying. What man doesn't want perfection from his woman, though? In the struggle that is the rat race of human life and existence, perfection is always desired, but never found. This desired perfection in one's sexual partner is an ideal that is carried over from infancy through Freud's Oedipus Complex. The mother is the single most important female in a child's life until they have an intimate relationship with another woman as an adult. The mother is perfect in the child's eyes, and so therefore, the mate, too, should be perfect. This is an ideal, though, and luckily, most humans are able to see past a couple of flaws in their sexual partner's physical attraction or intellect.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Egotist Allen

For this section of the class, we are focusing a lot on the book by F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise. “The book chronicles the life of Amory Blaine from his childhood up through his early twenties. Born the son of a wealthy and sophisticated woman, Beatrice, Amory travels the country with his mother until he attends the fictitious St. Regis prep school in New England. He is handsome, quite intelligent though lazy in his schoolwork, and he earns admission to Princeton. Though initially concerned with being a success on campus, after failing a class he gives himself over to idleness; he prefers to learn through reading and discussions with friends than through his classes.

Toward the end of his college career, America enters World War I and Amory dutifully enlists, forgoing his degree. During his time overseas, Beatrice passes away. Upon his return to America, Amory meets the young debutante Rosalind Connage, the sister of his college friend Alec. The two fall deeply in love, but because of his family's poor investments, Amory has little money, and Rosalind does not wish to marry into poverty. Despite Amory's best efforts to earn money at an advertising agency, Rosalind breaks off their engagement in order to marry a wealthier man, devastating Amory. He goes on a three week drinking binge, which is finally terminated by the advent of the Prohibition.
Amory's quest for self-knowledge begins to be realized. He has a short summer romance with the wild Eleanor. Soon after, Alec is caught with a girl in his hotel room, and Amory takes the blame. Amory then discovers that his last close tie, the dear friend of his mother and his father figure, Monsignor Darcy, has passed away. Further, the family finances have left him almost no money. He decides to walk to Princeton and is picked up along the way by the wealthy father of a friend who died in the war. Amory expounds his new socialist principles and then continues to walk to Princeton. He arrives late at night, pining for Rosalind. Amory reaches his hands to the sky and says “I know myself, but that is all”” -

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Existential Allen

Reading: Woody Allen's The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose, “Notes from the Overfed” pg 57 – 62.

We discussed Fyodor Dostoevsky's 1866 novel Crime and Punishment. “A young Russian student, Raskolnikov, believes himself to be an extraordinary man--one who has the 'right' to commit and crime. In order to prove his stupid theory correct, Raskolnikov 'needs' to murder the old pawnbroker and her innocent sister. Immediately following the crime, the guilt strikes and poor Raskolnikov becomes ill. Upon recovery, he finds an old school acquaintance, Razumihin, who might be the only non-male-jerk of the whole story. Meanwhile, Raskolnikov is visited by Luzhin, who is engaged to Raskolnikov's sister Dounia. Luzhin, being the male chauvanist pig that he is, is merely marrying Dounia to prove his manly nature and ability to dominate the female species.
As soon as Raskolnikov can walk he takes a little stroll to the police station where he practically confesses to the whole murder. Later, he witnesses the death of the old drunk husband, Marmeladov, who spent the entire family savings on vodka and whiskey only to get run over by a horse. Raskolnikov graciously delivers the dead body to his wife and starving children and for some odd reason, leaves all his money to the family. Raskolnikov returns home to find his sister and mother there who have come to prepare for the wedding. Raskolnikov denounces Luzhin and forbids the marriage. To top it off, Svidrigailov, Dounia's former employee comes to town who had also previously tried to seduce Dounia, and Rask., being the big brother that he is, violently detests the man for this.
Porfiry, the police inspector, is interviewing people about the murder. Raskolnikov goes to the station thinking that he is a suspect and once again practically confesses to the murder. Since this time, Raskolnikov met Sonia Marmeladov, daughter of the drunk, and has taken a liking to her. He feels great sympathy toward her since she had been drawn into prostitution to make money for the family. Raskolnikov feels a closeness to her and promises to tell her who the murderer is.
Raskolnikov again meets with Porfiry. He then goes to Sonia and confesses to her. Unfortunately, Svid overhears the confession and uses this information to try to get Sounia to sleep with him. She refuses and he later commits suicide.
Raskolnikov finally confesses the murder to the police after talking to Sonia and is sentenced to eight joyous years in Siberia. Thinking that it will be a great vacation spot, Sonia joins him there to rebuild his life.” -
There was a group presentation for Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment that was very entertaining, in which the group used sock puppets to discuss what was going on in the book. With so many characters running about all the time, it could make the book somewhat difficult to follow, but the group was able to completely differentiate each sock puppet, both in aesthetics, and in personal characteristics. The group was well put together, well thought out, and they facilitated discussion in a very pleasing manner.

We also watched parts from the Woody Allen movie Crimes and Misdemeanors in which a man decides to have a woman that is insanely enamored with him killed. Much of the movie also goes into Woody Allen's character and how dejected he is the entire movie. Allen's character is constantly getting overshadowed by bigger, more “important” film makers, etc. and he never gets any respect. The character who ends up having a woman murdered goes through pangs of guilt and is very reminiscent of Crime and Punishment, no doubt intentionally so.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Intellectual Allen (i.e. Reverential Allen)
Week 1

Reading: Woody Allen's The Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose. “The Whore of Mensa” pg. 141 – 153.
Theodor Adorno's and Max Horkheimer's “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (1944)
Walter Benjamin's “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936)
Harold Rosenberg's “The American Action Painters” (1952)
Clement Greenberg's “Avant-Garde and Kitsch” (1939)

Wrote an assignment that analyzed a non-Woody Allen film using only the texts discussed in class.
I chose to use the perspective of Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint to analyze the comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin, which was directed by Judd Apatow and starring Steve Carrell.

Portnoy vs. The Virgin
As Alexander Portnoy reveals to us through Philip Roth's text about how complicated and difficult sexual conquests can be, I am reminded of the character Andy Stitzer, played by Steve Carell, from “The 40-Year Old Virgin”, which came out in 2005 and was directed by Judd Apatow. Stitzer has been frustrated throughout his whole lifetime pretty much trying to steer clear of women and their sexual orifices due to how awkward he is with women and the terrible luck that he has had in attempts at getting them to have sexual relations with him; these constant failures that Andy encounters eventually make him stop any sort of attempts at sexual conquest and cause him to be a recluse, staying inside his home and keeping to himself for the most part, except when he has to talk to people at work, or go out to the store to get the ingredients to make a good egg-salad sandwich. The incessant amount of masturbation which Alexander Portnoy employs on a regular basis as an adolescent Jewish boy is akin to the various memorabilia that Andy Stitzer has collected and has displayed around his apartment with pride. Instead of taking out all of the frustration in his life out on his penis, as Portnoy does, Stitzer instead represses all of the feelings which make him upset and gets out any of his pent up aggression probably through painting die-cast figurines.
What intrigues me the most between the two characters of Portnoy and Stitzer is the huge contrast that they each display in masturbation techniques, along with how comfortable (or uncomfortable) each one is with masturbation and how each one feels about the act. Portnoy is no stranger to masturbation, they are much more than acquaintances, more like BFF's, for lack of a better term. Portnoy loves masturbation so much that he doesn't care when, where, or who may be around, as long as he is able to get his rocks off with no one being any the wiser, he is essentially happy. Not only does Portnoy use his hand though, he has a plethora of different ways to masturbate, which include a milk bottle, a cored apple, and even various pieces of a butchered cow, which most people would just use for ingestion. When Portnoy masturbates he is constantly fantasizing that he is being called “big boy” by these sexual objects and begging for him to do all the sort of dirty things that he would do to a real-life person, or maybe even a my-size Barbi doll, either way, it is obvious that Portnoy is well versed in the art of self-pleasure. Andy Stitzer approaches masturbation much like he approaches women, and that is to say that he tends to stay completely away from it; he has been so repressed from sexual frustration that even bringing himself to masturbate would be too much, even with an erection lasting longer than four hours. The one time that Stitzer does actually try his hand at masturbation, he treats it like he would try to romantically treat a woman; he unmakes his bed as sensually as he can, sets out all of the required accoutrement for masturbation, including hand lotion and kleenex napkins, sets up candles for some nice atmosphere lighting, and even turns the pictures around of his favorite stars. The imaginative part of masturbation is where Stitzer has trouble, because while he attempts to get the sexy women in his head to say attractive things, he is stopped by his own knowledge that he really isn't pleasuring a woman, but pleasuring himself, which is a thought that Andy can simply not stand; and so, Andy doesn't masturbate ever.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Oedipal Allen
Week 2

Reading: Sigmund Freud's Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, “The Relation of Jokes to Dreams and to the Unconscious.” pg. 197 – 223.

In this chapter of Freud's book, “The relation of jokes to dreams and to the unconscious is discussed. Thought transformation with a view to the possibility of representation, condensation and displacement are the 3 major achievements that may be ascribed to the dream work. The characteristics and effects of jokes are linked with certain forms of expression or technical methods, among which the most striking are condensation, displacement, and indirect representation. Processes, however, which lead to the same results have become known to us as peculiarities of the dream work. Jokes are formed as a preconscious thought is given over for a moment to unconscious revision and the outcome of this is at once grasped by conscious perception. The characteristics of jokes which can be referred to their formation in the unconscious are presented: 1) the peculiar brevity of jokes; 2) displacements; 3) representation by the opposite; and 4) the use of nonsense. Dreams serve predominantly for the avoidance of unpleasure, jokes for the attainment of pleasure; but all our mental activities converge in these 2 aims.” - Carrie Lee Rothgeb, Editor, “Abstracts of the Standard Edition of the Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. The New York Freudian Society.

We read, in class, an excerpt from Sander M. Gilman's Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews In this excerpt, we were given information revealing how many Jews dislike themselves because of their culture; how they were brought up, what their history is, etc. This point is really driven home in the rest of Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, which we finished discussing this week. The first part of the book explains what the title of the book means.

“Portnoy's Complaint. A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature. Spielvogel says: 'Acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism, and oral coitus are plentiful; as a consequence of the patient's “morality,” however, neither fantasy nor act issues in genuine sexual gratification, but rather in overriding feelings of shame and the dread of retribution, particularly in the form of castration.' It is believed by Spielvogel that many of the symptoms can be traced to the bonds obtaining in the mother-child relationship. “

Here is even more evidence that we can successfully attempt to psychoanalyze Woody Allen through his jokes, and through his works. Even though Allen did not explicitly state a lot of the things that we are inferring, there is enough evidence so that we can really get a good sense of how Allen was raised and how it affected the way he sees the world, and therefore, the way that he makes movies. Allen interprets the world and puts it on film, wrapped in the comedic hue that always surrounds anything in Allen's eyes (or at least it seems to!).

Continuing from the first day of the week on the Jewish self-concept, we received an essay to read by the University of Oregon's Martha A. Ravits called “The Jewish Mother: Comedy and Controversy in American Popular Culture.” This essay by Ravits, which was released in the scholarly journal MELUS in the Spring of 2000 goes into the negative light that American society has shone onto the stereotypical Jewish female. Ravits condemns things like Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint because of how harshly they criticize the women that put their heart and soul into raising them. Both Philip Roth and Woody Allen are prodigal and successful Jewish sons that now, in adulthood, choose to deject the women and mothers in society by imposing unfair critiques and stereotypes on them. This less-than-kind way that mothers of Jewish children are shown ties in directly with the excerpt from Sander M. Gilman's Jewish Self-Hatred: Anti-Semitism and the Hidden Language of the Jews; if there wasn't such a negative image that was being portrayed to the American people and society, then maybe the Jewish women would have a higher self-esteem, and this would cause everyone in the Jewish community to have better self-esteems and thoughts on self-worth.

There was a group presentation today on Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, but it was executed poorly, it wasn't very well put together, it wasn't very captivating, and due to all of these things, I don't remember anything else about it.