Monday, May 16, 2011

Analysis 7: The West was no Occident

Analysis #7 (Ethnicity Studies and/or Post-Colonial Theory)

Said. Orientalism 1861

Edward Said was a very successful academic that wrote the “landmark” work called Orientalism. In this work “Said discusses how European and U.S. literary and cultural representations, academic disciplines, and public perceptions foster biases against non-Western peoples, casting them as oriental Others” (1861). This work is considered by many to be what starts the “field of postcolonial studies” (1861). Said’s “work focused on imperialism and the interplay between the dominant West (the ‘Occident’) and the Middle and Far East (the ‘Orient’) (1861).
Even though he has the West to thank for all his academic achievements with his works prominently displayed in College textbooks to be studied by thousands of students Said is perhaps bitter because he felt “out of place” (1862). Perhaps all the gifts he receives from the “Occident” were not enough. Perhaps he feels guilty for getting an education from the very best Western schools. Perhaps he felt more of an allegiance to the “Orient” that is his place of origin. Said spends much time in the West and observed the West’s “understandings of Arab culture” (1862). This observation brings about the work known as “Orientalism” that “voiced a strong dissent against pro-Israeli U.S. policies that operated at the expense of Arab peoples” (1862). Said seems to believe that, “Orientalism reveals more about the West and its fantasies than it does about the actual people, culture, and history of the East; not simply a myth, it is ‘more particularly valuable as a sign of European-Atlantic power over the Orient than it is as a veridic discourse about the Orient’” (1862, 1863). Shortly after this quote from Said’s biography in the textbook the race card is thrown as a possible explanation for the way some western scholars portray the East. It reads, “…Said’s analysis is a sharp warning to scholars and intellectuals, showing how scholarship is sometimes informed by rasism and how intellectuals have been complicit in the administration of imperial power” (1863).
To find out a different perspective of Said I looked on the internet:

“In 1980 Said criticized what he regarded as poor understanding of the Arab culture in the West” [2]:
“So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Moslems and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have instead is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.”[1]
Notice the date that this quote from Said is from. They year he says this is 1980.
On November 4, 1979, an angry mob of young Islamic revolutionaries overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 Americans hostage. "From the moment the hostages were seized until they were released minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president 444 days later," wrote historian Gaddis Smith, "the crisis absorbed more concentrated effort by American officials and had more extensive coverage on television and in the press than any other event since World War II." [3]

At this point I begin to wonder how our textbook could have ever described Said as someone with a “sense of homelessness” (1862). The textbook informs the reader that “this sense of homelessness defined for him the proper stance of the intellectual, who should remain independent of fixed theoretical, disciplinary, professional, and national loyalties, yet always be attentive to social injustices and what he calls the “brute reality” of history” (1862).

Do Said’s words from "Islam Through Western Eyes," sound like the words of an objective intellectual? Perhaps he strongly supports a particular side, for his argument defends one perspective (Islam) while blaming another for it’s negative over exposure (mass media, and America).
Online there is a picture of Said throwing a rock at Israeli guards near the border fence. Is this the image of a man “independent” of “national loyalties”? Is this how a "professional" should behave while being “attentive to social injustices” (1862)?
I agree with Said’s belief that there are Western scholars that feel superior to the East, but I also believe there are Eastern scholars that feel superior to the West. Perhaps if Said had asked people from the East if they think that their culture is superior to the West he may be surprised as to how many Easterners would say “yes”. Perhaps then he could have written something not so one sided, or perhaps that was never his intention.
The Middle East has become very wealthy and should be thankful that they possess such an important resource. Said should wonder what the middle east would have been like without it. Said thinks very little of the West for I re-enter a portion from a quote used earlier in this analysis: “So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Moslems and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists” [1] I could not find any quote of what Said believes the Muslims and Arabs think of America. Said seems to have saved his voice for only making derogatory comments about the West. Said seems to believe that the West is so simple minded, and heartless that they look at Muslims not as people, but as terrorists with oil. Does this not make his entire essay a junket of hypocritical thought wrapped in a very small box painted red, white and, blue with a sloppy hand and very broad strokes?
When there is major social injustice (Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, Germany) America is there to help. When there is a natural disaster anywhere on the globe, America is there to help (Haiti earthquake, Pakistan floods). I have not seen these elements incorporated into the textbook and students are not taught of America’s good works. Why this is so, one can only speculate.


Imperialism – The policy of extending a nation’s authority by economic and political means over other nations.

Works Cited
[1] Edward W. Said, "Islam Through Western Eyes," The Nation April 26, 1980, first
posted online January 1, 1998, accessed December 5, 2005.



Edward W. Said. "Orientalism". ed. Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

The American Heritage Dictionary. Fourth Edition. Bantam Dell. New York. New York. 2001

Analysis 6: Feminism and Barbarella workin 9 to 5

Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar: The Madwoman in the Attic (1979)
To read this can make an American man in today’s American society feel attacked for something he does not believe of women in literature. I generally do not choose a book based on whether it is written by a man or woman. This takes the term “judging a book by its cover” to a new level of “judging a book by its gender”. Perhaps, this would have been a better title than, “The Madwoman in the Attic”. According to Gilbert and Gubar I guess I couldn’t help but to come up with a better title for their article being that I am a man and all.
The year 1979 was a different time. The film 9 to 5 starring Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin, and Jane Fonda released a year after “The Madwoman in the Attic” was written. This movie is a feminism film manifesto that brings to light sexism in the American workplace. Ten years earlier, in 1968, Jane Fonda stars in Barbarella, a movie that is the true embodiment of what feminists seem to hate. To preview this movie go to: (
Gilbert and Gubars article expresses outrage directed toward the history of western literature and its “patriarchal” views. They seem to have difficulty understanding how this happened and why. They are not looking at this history scientifically and they seem to wonder, “Who put men in charge?” The question can also be asked in history, “Why didn’t woman take charge?” Perhaps it was social order that worked at the time. I am happy to see women’s dramatic progress in the western world. Women and men have always been mentally equal, but not equally educated. In America men and women have an almost equal standing. I believe this is because the west is much more technological than it was in the eighteen hundreds. Even in the early nineteen-seventies the world was still a bit technologically deficient. I believe that in today’s world there are more women graduating from college this year than men and I think that’s great!
Gilbert and Gubars article points out with a hint of unfair disgust that, “Western literary history is overwhelmingly male---or, more accurately, (here’s that word again) patriarchal” (1928). They then suggest that this fact has been ignored by many theorists because, “one supposes...they assumed literature had to be male” (1928). This is a good example of perhaps how the author feels, for the “one” in that statement may be the authors expressing their broad brush emotion towards men. The reason it has not been the focal point of most theorist could simply be that they have other things that interest them more.
Gilbert and Gubars then ask a question, “Where does a woman writer ‘fit in’ to the overwhelmingly and essentially male literary history Bloom describes?” (1928). They answer their own question and pronounce a glorious discovery, “that a woman writer does not ‘fit in’” (1928). They then pronounce their opinion in a factual way about how a female writer is viewed by this patriarchal society as, “a freakish outsider” (1928).
The article continues and unleashes sentences the length of long paragraphs forcing the reader to take in two or even three deep breaths to voice the complexity of long trains of thought while attempting to grasp its full meaning.
The article ends with these words of wisdom, “…we must begin by redefining Bloom’s seminal definitions of the revisionary ‘anxiety of influence.’ In doing so, we will have to trace the difficult paths by which nineteenth-century women overcame their ‘anxiety of authorship,’ repudiated debilitating patriarchal prescriptions, and recovered or remembered the lost foremothers who could help them find their distinctive female power” (1938).
Isn’t this self-absorbed way of thinking what they seem to hate about patriarchal society? This almost sounds like a war cry for women to unite and focus no more on literature written by men, for they had their turn. I imagine the authors saying, “Now it’s our turn! You are not a freakish outsider! You are a woman with thoughts that need to be heard!” This is true. Women, of course, should be heard. I never thought any different. The authors seem to assume that all men think this way, and that is why I take my sarcastic pokes at the article.
The authors state that, “Her battle, however, is not against her (male) precursor’s reading of the world but against his reading of her. In order to define herself as an author she must redefine the terms of her socialization” (1929, 1930). This seems to suggest that man has defined women and this has not been an accurate description nor credit her full ability. From my perspective I have seen strong women denigrated relentlessly by other women. In the job world I have had female bosses, and in the lunch room I heard the women of the office comment every day on what she wore. They would mimic her and any little thing she said to delegate the job was considered “bossy” by them. I have seen many examples in my life in which women in a group will tear down another that attempts to take charge. I’m sure this does not happen all the time, or even most of the time, but it happens, a lot. Before women can “redefine the terms of her socialization” I think they should respect each other’s goals, or at the very least try to like each other.

Works Cited
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. "The Madwoman in the Attic". ed. Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Analysis 5: Three debates on the term postmodern

Analysis #5 Lyotard

In Defining the Postmodern Jean-Francois Lyotard discusses three debates on the term post-modern.

The first debate is about architecture (1466)
The Second discusses “the idea of progress” (1467)
The third is “expressions of thought” (1468)
The Second discusses “the idea of progress” makes a few interesting points that caught my thoughts and left me thinking. One of the points made here is that which states that “liberals, conservatives, and leftists” have disagreed about almost everything, “but the parties concurred in the same belief that enterprises, discoveries and institutions are legitimate only insofar as they contribute to the emancipation of mankind” (1467).
This is a very confusing and vague statement. It seems as though all the talking heads agree that progress through enterprises, discoveries, and institutions is good as long as it “emancipates” or “frees” mankind “from restraint, control, or the power of another”. I find it very difficult to believe that “liberals, conservatives, and leftists” want mankind to be “emancipated” because all that these groups ever want to do is restrain, control, and hold power over mankind. It’s like saying, “We can free you, but you must always do what we say”. The only thing that I believe they agree on is that they think that they know what is best for everyone. When they say that they want mankind emancipated, what do they want us to be emancipated from? Our subtle flaws make each of us different? Our beliefs? Our personal faiths? Our political incorrectness for only they know what is acceptable? Are they not the ones that are determined to control and plan each step into the future? Liberals and Leftist seem to hide behind a false heart of freedom that cloaks their true intention for control as they plead with humanity to join them in their “Cartesianism” world view determined to “break from the past by starting from a radical doubting of all received truths (1466). The only way to tear down this great nation is to overwhelm the system with half-truths, and right out lies. The Leftists and Liberals gain control as they over-react to everything with pretend offence waiting for any reason they can to reach for that race card (the perfect weapon to end a debate). Conservatives want to keep things like a black and white sitcom from the 1950’s and follow a very strict path as to what they see as moral, normal, and just. Strict Conservatives stagnant view of humanity leaves us in a two dimensional black and white series, for color is considered to risqué. If left to their own conservative devises mankind may resemble the lifestyles of the Puritans. We need conservatives to lighten up, leftist to shut up, and liberals to calm down. They need to find balance, but they are too radically different. The pendulum may swing back and forth but the only way to stop it is to center. What humanity needs is to always be slightly confused for confusion leads to questions, and questions lead to answers.

1: to free from restraint, control, or the power of another; especially: to free from bondage < emancipated the slaves>
2: to release from the care, responsibility, and control of one's parents

Works Cited
Jean-Francois Lyotard. "Defining the Postmodern". ed. Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Analysis 4: Perhaps X Marx the wrong spot

Definition of CAPITALISM
: an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by INVESTMENTS that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market

Definition of SOCIALISM
: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private PROPERTY b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done
“Capitalism has no remedy for the worst social and economic problems that it creates and that will eventually rend it asunder” (649).
“Marx is certain that capitalism will end, and why: but no one can know exactly what the roles of intellectuals and critics will be, and what the new society will look like, until the force of historical necessity brings them into being” (649).
We know what a (almost) free Capitalist society looks like, as Americans we are living it firsthand. Capitalism does have its flaws, nothing is perfect. One of the main objectives of the Socialist in our society is to intensely magnify these flaws, and pluck at the heartstrings of those that are unsatisfied with the imperfect world in which they live. The socialist mantra of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his deeds” sound so poetic, mysterious, and glorious like the sirens of the shore beckoning ships to come closer. We know what happens then. Marxism (or Socialism) is very clever with its deception, and art of distraction. It infests society, strangles freedom, kills dreams and claims people need guidance, not from God but from government.
See Quote above: “Marx is certain that capitalism will end, and why: but no one can know exactly what the roles of intellectuals and critics will be, and what the new society will look like, until the force of historical necessity brings them into being” (649).
Does this suggest that Socialism is inevitable once Capitalism has dissolved into the folds of history? Is this a warning that other possibilities are waiting on the wings, and society must be ready to run to Socialisms warm loving embrace? The quote says that “no one can know exactly what the roles of intellectuals and critics will be, and what the new society will look like…” (649). Perhaps I could propose a guess that the role of all “intellectuals and critics” that oppose socialism in a socialist society would be imprisonment or death. As for what society would look like I can only go by Socialist societies examples that have or still exist today. It seems as though all the societies I can think of that aim for the “gift” of Socialism overstep the mark (or Marx) and fall into Communism.
“While the word "socialism" is sometimes used interchangeably with "communism", the two are not the same - communism is an extreme form of socialism.”
Socialism is most successful in small amounts but society must strictly adhere to the prescribed amount. America has some Socialism, intertwined into its free, capitalist society. Like its more successful brother Capitalism, Socialism wants more power. To do so it must weaken Capitalism by magnifying its flaws. They must spread these flaws and press the case for Social reform by taking over Schools, and News agencies. It must claim it is for “the children” or for our own good for we are not capable of handling our own freedom. Socialism knows people need to believe in a higher power. That slot is generally filled by God. It seems as though Socialists want that higher power slot to be filled not by God, but by government. They seem to magnify all the flaws with religion and its messengers. They make it seem foolish to believe in such things. The word of God quiets and the mouth of Government become large.
Although I disagree with the want for a Socialist society, I can understand it in very small doses. I love freedom. To do whatever I want to do with my life, over many hurdles of obstacles, and over each one a measurement of success. Life is not perfect there will always be flaws. Socialism is happy to point out the flaws of life to offer its lie of perfection. Every attempt made for a Socialist society seems to fall into communism and that’s simply a world in which I dread for our future.
If anything this subject really got me thinking. Many will agree with me, while others say, “prove it”. I would not ask the same to a Socialist, because I think what that will lead to is not the perfect world offered by Socialism, but to the restricted harsh world of Communism instead.

Works Cited
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. "From Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844". ed. Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Analysis 3: Phenomenology, Reader-Response Theory, or Psychoanalysis

Sir Sigmund Freud-Wexler III

Phenomenology, Reader-Response Theory, or Psychoanalysis

This was the topic of our group presentation. I had a lot of fun creating visually creative presentation from PowerPoint. Each from the group took one or two topics from the list of subjects and made it their own. Each was assigned to create what they believe to be a fun and interactive experience for the class to enjoy. There were many subjects to cover and we thought this to be the best way to cover each of them thoroughly. The presentation date was coming quickly and none of us were able to get together at one time. I attempted to take the reins and reel everyone in so that we could have a cohesive demonstration. This was a very difficult task. Many were difficult to reach through e-mail, and others sent their portions last minute. Some were quick to respond.

I think perhaps there were too many people in one group, and too many topics to cover for one presentation to remain effective, fun, and interesting. I would have preferred to have the group split in half. One to cover Freud, and Lacan. The other to cover Phenomenology, Reader-Response Theory. Groups of three are much easier to manage and perhaps we could have acted more like one group instead of one in a group. To have only three in the group would have allowed me to help them create one single PowerPoint that flowed smoothly. We could have easily coordinated a meeting time to work on our performance. I was glad we were able to pull together in the end, but at times it felt like I was pulling teeth.

I created a PowerPoint presentation that covered Freud's interpretation of dreams, and the story of Oedipus Rex. The class responded very positively to my work and I think they were very impressed with the visual effects, storyline, and interactive experience with the picture puzzle. I would have spent more time with the interactive portions of my presentation, but in the interest of time, and knowing that I was the first of six, I needed to speed up a bit. They seemed to have fun and responded quickly with the answer to the picture puzzle. The quick response tells me that the class was paying attention, and appeared very alert to my questioning. There were also outbursts of laughter which fueled my performance and let me know that I was doing a good job. I had a lot of fun telling the story of Oedipus Rex as well. The changing images kept the student's eyes up front and excited with each changing image. I used pop culture icons to convey the story, and portray the characters of Oedipus Rex.

I finished with an interactive segment and asked the class to interpret a dream image. First by looking at the image as a composition, and then to look at it again but this time as a picture puzzle. I then explained that by looking at both the manifest dream-content and the dream-thoughts we can disentangle the meaning of the dream.

Answer: A Hero’s Welcome

Reflection 7: Marx the spot

Reflection 6: Phenomenology and Reader-Response Theory