Jul 312013

motherLet’s pause for a moment to do proper homage to the remarkable fact that during the 1980s, there was a blockbuster family film in which large parts of the plot revolved around the subject of incest. That film was Back to the Future, which I recently discussed with Dan Calvisi and William Robert Rich on their screenwriting podcast (PEL listeners can download a free story map outlining its plot structure free for the next 30 days here, after which it will be available on Amazon.com).

You may recall (or may have repressed) the fact that the subject of incest is not merely subtext in Back to the Future, but a central part of its plot. After traveling back in time, Marty McFly becomes the object of his young mother’s not-so-maternal affections. Getting back to a future in which he has actually been born requires that he deflect his mother’s sexual interest back to his father. As we shall see, “Back to the Father” would have been just an apt a title for the film.

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Jul 172012

Marie Rutkowski  has written a very nice piece on the role of nature in fairy tales:

The effect, I think, is to make nature seem to be in collusion with love. One message in some versions of the tale, particularly Grimm’s, is that love is like a force of nature, and nature will take its revenge on those who stand in its way. Many of the various cruel stepmothers and stepsisters meet violent ends. While Lin Lan’s ugly stepsister Pock Face is boiled in oil due to her own choice, in several tales her counterpart is punished by animals. The stepmother and stepsisters are pulled apart by wild horses in a Filipino version, and in the Grimm’s tale, birds pluck out the stepsisters’ eyes.

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Jul 142012

Rousseau was not a cheerful fellow. According to Terry Eagleton, he’d be even less cheerful if he were alive to see what has happened to the public sphere and educational system in Europe:

… would no doubt have been appalled by the drastic shrinking of the public sphere. His greatest work, The Social Contract, speaks up for the rights of the citizenry in the teeth of private interests. He would also be struck by the way the democracy he cherished so dearly is under siege from corporate power and a manipulative media. Society, he taught, was a matter of common bonds, not just a commercial transaction. In true republican fashion, it was a place where men and women could flourish as ends in themselves, not as a set of devices for promoting their selfish interests.

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Oct 092010

laughing BuddhaHaving recorded our discussion on Buddhism but still feeling obligated here to plumb the depths of the web further for Freud-related material, I did a search for “Buddhist Psychotherapy” and came up with this site (part of “the complementary health information service at Metta.org.uk”) that demonstrates that, as Wes said, all of your talking cures come out approximately the same (given an equally decent therapist) no matter what their theoretical basis.

Much like Alcoholics Anonymous begins with a requirement to accept your helplessness compared to a God from which you must beseech health, this kind of therapy begins by accepting the religion’s view of the world:

The Buddhist framework begins with the central acceptance of the four noble truths. These represent the reality or bedrock of human experience (and indeed universal existence) and it is perhaps the acceptance and understanding of the nature and existence of suffering which can make a Buddhist based psychotherapy so much more than “simple” cognitive psychotherapy, by going beyond pure cognitive skills and assessments which tend to go through the categorisation of client states and their diagnosis.

If I sound skeptical here, it’s about the claim that it’s “so much more” than regular cognitive psychotherapy. Rather than just treating you like a scientific subject as Freudian thereapy does, this (and many other types of) therapy claims to deal with your actual metaphysical status in the world through the four noble truths, i.e. that life is suffering (even if things seem to be going well for you now, it’ll suck eventually) but that you can detach from the sources of your suffering, your addiction to your own desires, and attain a higher state of consciousness beyond your petty problems with your mother and the fact that no one likes you and your bed wetting and all by strictly adhering controlling your actions, speech, intentions, efforts, concentration, and even your views (this is the Eightfold Path I’m paraphrasing here, which the fourth Noble Truth tells you to follow).
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