Id in cartoon?

Sigmund Freud became famous in part thanks to his theory of the psyche and one of its component the id. But of course, understanding it is no easy task. Me in particular, I find reading his essays and books about the id really hard to comprehend the concept. So I decided to instead use a different method, one that has always been successful at teaching me new things: cartoons.

To me, Phineas and Ferb is more than just a regular cartoon made for children to laugh. It contains, to my surprise, quite a large amount of references and allusions to real-life events and studies, demonstrated in humorous ways that allow me to be entertained and learn new things at the same time. And the episode “Monster from the Id” finally answers my prayers when I want to study Freud.

The id is described as “the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives” (all credits go to Wikipedia for that). Therefore, what would the id of Candace be if she has one? I was surprised, actually, to find out that it is a monstrous, hideous-looking version of herself who hunts Phineas- and Ferb-head gazelles in her subconscious. After all, Candace has always been obsessed with busting Phineas and Ferb ever since the show began, so by the definition above that can be qualified as a drive for her id. Baljeet’s interpretation of the id also fits perfectly to the way Freud described it, in a simpler way of course, for children and me to understand. The song in the episode even mentions “repression” – another Freudian concept – and “psyche” – the very first time I heard of it. And Buford’s last line “I don’t care what Freud said about your selfish need for satisfaction” wraps the episode up beautifully with what I later came to learn as the “pleasure principle”. I never thought I would say this, but thanks to a cartoon, I finally understood Freud.

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Rousseau is Strong With the Force?

With the upcoming Star Wars movie, it only felt right to try to make some sort of connection between our readings and the prolific series. I find that traits of Rousseau’s work  can be found in the the series especially in the original trilogy. First and foremost, owe could begin by looking at the Empire. Throughout the movies, the empire is the face of evil in the movies as they are constantly hunting the protagonists in the films. What the empire seems to show is a reflection of the civilized society as Rousseau described which is a society that is corrupt, brutish and violent. There is a single character within the series that fully contradicts the state of the empire through his state of living: Yoda. When the audience first sees Yoda, he is a little green man who lives in isolation from the rest of the world on the planet of Dagobah. Living far away from society, Yoda can be perceived as the most wise character in the franchise. While Yoda may not be the absolute idea for Rousseau’s vision of early man in the fact that he is capable in critical thought but in his way of life being lacking in most forms of technology shows a form of the appreciation for Rousseau’s belief that the peak of man being a less modern version of man.


Another example of Star Wars showing appreciation of Rousseau’s work in the film is through the most disgusting character in the entire film, Jabba the Hutt. Jabba is arguably the most vile and disgusting character to ever grace the silver screen. Jabba reflects, the fear emitted from Rousseau’s work considering the progression of man. Rousseau believed that as man progresses, they slowly lose their athletic ability that allows them to survive without any technology. Jabba is portrayed as fat, lethargic, slug who talks so slowly that it’s almost like getting the air he needs to form words is an effort. Despite this, Jabba is an extremely powerful and influential person where he lives. He Has many people at his fingertips to do his bidding despite the fact that he is a vile creature. Also when reflecting back on the empire, one could also say that The emperor himself is the best example of the modern man in how he is. The emperor is first of all, a frail seeming old man (discounting what we see of him in the prequels) which as with Jabba shows the loss of human physical prowess. The emperor is also constantly vying for more power from the force. These two characters seem to display an agreement with Rousseau as to the state of modern man.


May the force be with you.

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The Discomfort of Uncertainty

In Hoffmann’s The Sandman, one of the most obvious aspects of the story that is brought to our attention is how much uncertainty the reader has about the events occurring in the story. The story depicts a young university student who is haunted by the memory of certain childhood events connected to the events of his father’s death. He is haunted by the seemingly malicious figure of Coppelius and it gradually sends him spiraling into psychological madness.

Personally as I read this story, it was noticeably chaotic. Although the narrator of the story is not Nathaniel himself, there is no sense of understanding the true events of what was occurring. At some point when I was reading the story, it was almost as if Nathaniel’s insanity was epidemic. There line between humans and automatons became blurry. It was hard to discern what was real and what was a hallucination. Even as we read about how Nathaniel falls madly in love with Olympia, his feelings feel so real that we begin to question the basis of their relationship. I found it deeply unsettling to read a story through this perspective. It had me reflect on personal dreams or imaginations that evoked a strong emotional response and the basis of where they stemmed from.  Hoffmann alters the structure of the story to emphasize the uncertainty that the uncanny creates. I think that Hoffmann successfully proves a point; Humans are incredibly responsive to the concept of uncertainty. On some fundamental level, humans are deeply bothered by what they do not know, on what they can not understand. I think that this short story did a really incredible job of portraying that.

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Human Nature

I have found that we read, and I wrote, a lot on human nature, the state of nature, and man’s inherent tendencies to be good or bad… or neither. In thinking about what I believe is really true on this subject, I always end up thinking about it slightly more biologically than, say, Rousseau or Hobbes.

My first thought is usually that man’s primary objective must be to survive as a species. Man must survive and procreate. So therefor, we cannot be naturally evil. We cannot want to intentionally harm others and the human race. But then I debate that maybe our biological goal is less concerned with humans as a species and more concentrated on individual survival. Therefor, man would not inherently harm oneself and probably would not intend to act negatively towards others, unless their success as a human was at risk. So maybe it can be argued biologically that man is inherently competitive and filled with self interest for the purpose of survival. But I still generally chose to acknowledge man as inherently good with the intention of supporting mankind as a race.

I agree with most books we have read that man’s most innate tendency is that of self preservation. But, I guess the question to be answered is whether it is self preservation as an individual or self preservation as a member of a greater community… I don’t think there is an answer on the realities of human nature, but I do believe the only place we will find implications of an answer is in our biology.


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The Hunger Games

Writing my Hopkins essay, I found it evocative to look up dictionary definitions of seemingly important words. In reviewing one of Hopkins’ poems (I forget which one) I came across the word “quell.”  I looked it up, and the definition reads: “put an end to (a rebellion or other disorder), typically by the use of force,” “subdue or silence someone,” and “suppress (a feeling, especially an unpleasant one).” What does this make you think of?! Well if you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, like me (and Kat, I think – see below) it may have made you think of The Hunger Games and more specifically the Quarter Quell..?  

For those of you who don’t know – the Quarter Quell is a ‘special edition’ Games that happens every 25 years. In the second book of the series, the capital hosts the third Quarter Quell. The twist of this Quarter Quell is that there is no normal reaping, one male and one female victor (winners of past Games) from each district must compete. The ‘theme’ of the Quarter Quell is said to be randomly selected from a variety of options, but I believe this Quarter Quell was orchestrated to force Katniss back into the games as an attempt to dispel the inevitable rebellion. Katniss is the only female victor from district 12 so this concept works perfectly in favor (hah – get it) of the capitol’s agenda. After reading the definition of “quell,” I came to realize that the name of these quarterly games as the “Quarter Quell” foreshadows all that happens in Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Maybe this was evident to everyone else, but I thought this was crazy!

Shortly after this revelation, I saw the final movie of the series. The entire movie I kept thinking of what all these other titles and made up names infer. I think I can thank Arts One for that. Anyway, when I got home, I looked up a couple other definitions.

Firstly, Primrose is a flower known for being fragile and for its thin and short stem. They are also known for their reproductivity. Knowing this, might we have for seen Prim’s career as a doctor and even death? Alma is often the name of a deity associated with light and earth; “Coin” is defined as “A small piece of metal, usually flat and circular, authorized by a government for use as money” and “To devise.” Within these connotations and definitions could we have seen the death of Coin and the election of Alma?

I have read a lot of books but after this semester of analysis and close reading I have come to understand how much more depth there is in much writing – even in the Hunger Games. I think I will continue to see more meaning in most works of literature I read and in movies I watch.

PS. on another note – don’t you think the Hunger Games could be taught in an International Relations class?



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Young Adult Fiction

**I realize this particular topic has little to do with the program itself, it is something that sparks my interest**

I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the novel genre considered “YA” or “Young Adult.” It seems that there is a certain stigma against those who are over the age of 17 and still read novels from the teen section at Indigo. I find that such novels find their designations not due to their writing or story (which can face mature themes and spark important conversations) but instead the degree of optimism found within. The novels of the intermediate period, between teen and adult, seem to hold an overwhelming sense of doubt that only intensifies in novels intended for adult readers. For example, the characters, story, and overall theme of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt seems to call upon the doubt in a person. The main protagonist, Theo Decker, seems to never catch a break. His life is just a series of losses (the loss of his mother, his home, his friends, his father) and reading it becomes a chore when the character only serves to suffer. Though there is a moral, it is not concrete or even particularly important to the story, Tartt appears to relish in the pain and hardship that Theo is put through. He goes from a messed up kid to an even more messed up adult, all the while losing loved ones like buttons off a cheap jacket. Though brilliantly written and captivating in its sadness, the novel carries with it a feeling of loss, and self-doubt. There is no happy ending, no light at the end of the excessively long tunnel. I understand the draw to more mature themes, more mature stories and the ideas encapsulated therein can be fascinating and act as an exceptionally interesting window into human nature but one cannot survive on strife and analysis alone.

For this reason, I have recently found myself drifting back to YA novels due to their exact “contraryness” to this drab overarching theme. The feeling of hope one can derive from simply reading a YA novel is not to be misplaced. Analytics and analysis are all well and good, but I dearly miss the days when a story could be just that, a story. Many of the novels and plays we have read this year have practical applications, ways in which the reader could find hidden or buried meaning in the words, and as interesting as I find that, I feel there is a magic lost. It seems to me that there can be no uncomplicated understanding, no easy way to read these novels through the eyes of a mature reader. This is the reason I have harkened back to the novels of youth, those with explicit morals and easy characters. They provide no challenge in understanding and usually end with what is considered a happy (or at the very least, happier) ending. Overall, I can appreciate the complex narratives and mature themes found in novel suited for older readers, but I simply can’t do without a significant dose of hope once and a while. Can you?

P.S: A novel series I would suggest if you’re into YA fantasy with more mature themes is the Abarat series by Clive Barker. The illustrations are divine and the story itself, engaging and fascinating.


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Found Poetry

In one of my most favorite classes I have ever taken, Environmental Literature, my teacher introduced me to the idea of “Found Poetry.” The idea of Found Poetry is to take quotes and phrases from a piece of prose and turn it into a poem. So, I wrote a poem found in A Discourse on Inequality that aligns on some fronts with Rousseau’s ideology and romantic nature. It reflects my favorite part of A Discourse on Inequality that I wish Rousseau had elaborated more on…


Rousseau – A Discourse on Inequality:

Found Poetry


Nature- Value Self


Our ills are of our own making,

Strengthen the power which Subdues –

sociable and a slave, he grows feeble.

His imagination paints no pictures;

his heart yearns for nothing.

Makes man in the end a tyrant over Himself –

man will not be born a man. Neither

foresight nor curiosity,

They speak of savage man,

they depict civilized man –

wear chains for the sake of imposing chains.

Once a people is accustomed

to Masters, it is no longer in a condition

to do without – not obliged to make

a Man a philosopher before we can make him

a Man.

But let us return to their foundation –

in Nature which Never lies.

Understanding owes much to the passions.

If we do not first have knowledge

of men themselves,

render ourselves incapable of knowing

Him. I would

have sought as my own country,

less fortunate or wise too late:

happy and peaceful commonwealth

of which the history was lost so to speak,

in the darkness of time. I would

have wished to Live and die free, that is to say,

subject to Law in such a way.

Such, Magnificent and Most Honoured Lords,

are the citizens – make your happiness endure

by the wisdom of using it well.

Wish not to live in a republic

newly founded, more dangerous

than the actions they report – exhibit

some love for the earthly city. What is more, this precious liberty

separate the original from that which is artificiality.

The activity of self-love contributes,

to the mutual preservation of the whole species.

It will be easy for others

to go down further the same path

– only after clearing away sand and dust,

where love is never seasonal,

for there is in freedom:

clash of passion, cry of nature.

Where there is no love, what would be the use of

beauty? Presages and guarantees

or a sincere and permanent reconciliation. No

Greater Felicity for Himself

than that of seeing You all happy.


-Jordan Fitzgerald



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Tempest Lecture: Book and Body

In lecture today, we were asked if Shakespeare is a master illusionist. The idea of Prospero and Shakespeare’s relationship was also questioned. Does Shakespeare use Prospero in Tempest as Plato uses Socrates in Republic? Through different lenses of interpretation one may argue either way. I do not believe Shakespeare speaks through Prospero as deliberately as Plato does through Socrates, but I do think that Shakespeare manipulates the character of Prospero to author Tempest.

Later in our lecture, Professor Mota, in reference to Greenaway’s art film, explained how Greenaway believes that “print and flesh are equally attractive” and that this directly relates to the relationship between book and body. He then proposed the idea that Prospero’s books give him life and that they give life to the story and life to the island.

I agree with this, because without Prospero’s books there would be no storyline and therefore no Tempest. I think that the play was in a way written by Prospero because he was responsible for everything. Because Tempest was in reality written by Shakespeare but it appears to be controlled and manipulatively written by Prospero, it is appropriate to assume Shakespeare speaks through Prospero to some degree. Here, Mota and Greenaway’s ideas offer an answer to previously asked questions and connect both the written play and film interpretation.


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