Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pain Touches Us All…

In last night’s lecture I cannot for a minute pretend I understood all of which was said. I can however state that I found it to be very interesting. Although I do not speak Greek, Italian or otherwise I can connect with what was said on some level. That level is that I could hear through her intonation a level of anguish and pain, as can be detected in virtually any language. Dr. Frank was very intense in her descriptions of the various texts and I often found myself trying to keep up. I simply found myself just closing my eyes as she spoke in the various languages of the texts. It was delightful to listen to, I never really heard someone speak Greek or something like it. The way the words flowed sounded like water flowing over a river or something like it in the sense that it was soothing to listen to. It was quite a different tone than I was expecting but none the less insightful and entertaining. One thing she did say and I quote “when there is force there is pain” I found very interesting. I would generally say that upon reflection of what she said that I would agree with it. In my opinion whenever someone is forced into something they generally fall into a state of stress, which in turn can cause pain on some level. This obviously can manifest itself as both physical and mental anguish for that person. Funny enough we have learned throughout this course that pain can also manifest itself by an unseen force. So it is as though many of us don’t even know when it’s coming. This notion in my opinion is pretty scary, how can we ever learn to deal with pain if we can’t even see it coming, we would never be able to anticipate it. Overall I thought that this lecture was a lot different than our other lectures but at the same time very helpful in further understanding yet another facet of pain. It has been a great run.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kikes and Coons

So let me just start off by saying I thought this was a highly intelligent film. The reason being is that it was so carefully planned out that while I say there watching I had a difficult time ascertaining what was fictional from reality. That alone made this a powerful film, and I must say scary as well. We live in a nation based on a certain set of beliefs, and this movie in my mind challenged some of those. What honestly struck me most was the racial aspect the film brought to light. Some of the things I just couldn’t believe. The example of some of the commercials that they showed portraying just blatant racism was astounding and just ridiculous. I mean to think we as a nation actually allowed things like that to be aired on television back then. One of my best friends that I have known since the 9th grade is black. I look at him as if he was my brother and in his eyes I am nothing but the same back. The sheer stupidity of racism is appalling. In all Seriousness, just because certain members of a conceived racial profile might not be the smartest or do the right things don’t make an entire race such. There are plenty of bad people of all races. There are not so bright Asians and whites. There are extremely intelligent blacks and Hispanics. To label an entire race based on a few is wrong. I have dated several black women for instance, and I remember what it was like going out or publicly displaying affection with them. It was like there was something everyone around us was transfixed on. Some like unspoken taboo or some crazy thing. Then we have the Jews. I’m Jewish and although for some reason people don’t think I “look Jewish” I don’t think that’s very good at times. When people think that I am not Jewish they often don’t think twice before they make a remark against Jews. I may not be very religious but it’s as if I am classified as a white person and then as a Jew. Not simply a white Jew but those things are separate. Imagine what I use to hear people say when I the Jew was dating a Jamaican. It wasn’t very nice. The Coon Chicken Inn was probably one of the saddest things I have ever seen. It was pitiful just simply pitiful. People should get their heads out of their asses and realize we are all people, who are just like every other living creature, animals. I don’t see a white hamster having a problem with a black hamster…. Does anyone else? We really all need to grow up….

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pain by the Mile

Now this last lecture was interesting. I have often found myself glued to the television as some seemingly insane person decides to run a marathon of sorts. I can say that I enjoy watching them, their faces, expressing every imaginable facet of pain. How do they do it? Why in the world do they do it? I often wonder how anyone could ever dream of doing such. Now granted, I am a personal trainer and can appreciate wanting to take your body to the next level and to attempt to achieve the impossible with it. However, I hate running, in fact I detest it. That is of course, one person’s opinion. I’m certain that there are plenty of people who just can’t wait to go out and enjoy the weather and run till their hearts are content with it. That just isn’t me. In my opinion just watching them is a painful experience all in itself. I watched last week as the people in the race simply collapsed because their bodies refused to go on. You know, when your body actually has to go into auto shut down I think it’s time for someone to listen to what their body is telling them. Now what I can say is that from a trainer’s perspective that I not healthy. What those people put themselves through isn’t healthy. Every single individual from the video was basically emaciated to the point that physical activity of that caliber was simply not wise. When the body has deteriorated to that level one needs to pick up some calories, in all seriousness they need to stuff themselves. Personally, why anyone would want to subject themselves to such insanity is beyond my comprehension, and I myself would never advise it. To make a joke, even as the people crossed that finish line they certainly didn’t even appear to be happy. In fact they seemed to be downright miserable. After the lecture we had a discussion regarding the lecture and I could tell not many people had much to say, including myself. When I talked to some of my peers they all agreed that there wasn’t much else to discuss in terms of further conversation regarding the matter. Although I found the subject matter of the lecture to be interesting I really didn’t have much to expand upon, and I believe no one else did either. Until next week….

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Pain Show

Could you ever mutilate your body in front of an audience? Could you even conceive of it, Let alone derive some twisted sexual fulfillment from it? I can safely say I cannot. In actuality I’m not very big on pain personally, despite my insane threshold of tolerance for it. In my last lecture I learned that there was a whole big world of pain I have never even heard of, that of performance of pain. Never would I have thought there were actually people who could seriously make a public spectacle out of their own ridiculously excruciating acts of self flagellation. I was shocked to learn that people with that mind set actually are out there. My father always told me and still stands by his original statement, “there are a lot of sick people out there.” As I sat back and processed all the images the good professor shared with us I couldn’t help but hear my father’s voice reverberate back in my head. I did however find one part of it to be humorous even in its level of grotesqueness. That being the clip that was played where Bob Flannagan used almost every conceivable S word in order to convey what he wants out of everyday life. He did a very smart job with it, hell I never actually sat back and pondered just how many torture or pain words start with S. The guy named so many I couldn’t even help but to laugh at the sheer preposterousness of it. I mean sure is it sometimes fun to add some playful smacking or biting into your love life, hey I’m all for it and I’m sure that I’m not the only one, but that guy just made a joke out of it. He was in his own zone if you will, on in which I never even want to step foot in. I believe that that man has got some serious issues, although granted he was very ill. He suffered from CF which I happen to know a lot about because my mother once worked for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and I got the experience of meeting and knowing several CF fighters. I can say that it is terrible to watch and probably unimaginably so for the one experiencing it. I never have seen anyone with such an outlet as Bob however; for in actuality it is astonishing to me that he was physically able to conduct everything he did given the severity of the disease and its debilitating effects upon one’s body. No Pain no gain I guess.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Distress, was a word used in the film Everything is Illuminated frequently. I would say it is a perfect word to describe the overall tone of the movie. Although the broken Ukrainian English butchering was very humorous it only masked what was really going on in this film. I would have to say that my favorite character was definitely the grandfather, because of his complex character vs. that of Jonathan or Alex. He was the character that stuck out to me from the very beginning as just off, as if there was something to be in fact “illuminated” about him or potentially his past. Usually it’s the bitter ones that we learn from in life, that typically culminating in the form of don’t grow up to be like me or something pretty close. Now I am Jewish so I guess perhaps I should have some deeper connection with this movie but in actuality I really don’t because I am not very religious. What I do know is a simple life lesson, no one is bitter for no reason. When I saw grandfather I knew something had happened to him, not sure what but I knew he was unhappy with himself, and obviously beat himself up about it on a regular basis. Finding out at the end of the film that he was actually a Jew was a bit of a revelation for me, considering I was harboring an inclination that he was in actuality one of the ones responsible for the sacking of Trachinbrod. I suppose in some way my initial gut feeling was correct, he did have a reason to be unhappy; pretending to be something he wasn’t by being an anti-Semitic prick. Given his experiences in life I would say he was the most pained of all the characters aside from the lone woman in Trachinbrod. She represented the alienation of the past. Never been in a car, didn’t know if the war was over etc. she didn’t want to know about the future, only cared about preserving her past, which unfortunately was burned and gunned down decades earlier. Jonathan was just funny to watch, given his peculiar tendencies. I would say he was even more deranged than the “seeing eye bitch”. The only thing I can’t seem to figure out was why grandfather pretended to be blind, I am still pondering on the significance of that; as well as why was the only character grandfather connected with was the seeing eye bitch. Finally we have Alex, a simple boy who embraced the past, or more aptly put just an out of date hip hop phase. Although the clothing was fly, I would say he was the most naive of them all. How do you not know that the people of your own country harbored anti-Semitisms? Overall I enjoyed the movie especially the broken English because that alone was painful. As for the overall message of the film I would say it was well received and that I would recommend this film as a movie to fall into repose with.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shut Up and Forget...

Now this was a lecture I happened to find interesting. 911 is such an interesting topic primarily due to the fact that it is different for everyone. How we see it, look back on it, remember it, etc. When we were showed the picture of the falling man everyone in the room had a different reaction. I was honestly watching everyone else look at the picture because that is what I found interesting. I have seen that iconic image many times; in fact I think it’s sort of embedded into my brain somewhere. We really don’t talk about 911 very much and I believe that is a terrible thing. I never really understood why if we think something is bad we don’t talk about it. Why not talk about just how terrible something is? We are a society that loves to shut up about what bothers us. I think that makes us weak personally. When it comes to 911 yes it was a hurtful tragedy but why in the world would we ever even dream of forgetting it? It was a day that touched each and every one of us in such a uniquely profound way. It is a reason to make art over. Art should be beautiful, and even the most tragic occurrences can be seen as such depending on the depiction. What Grayton Parrish made was an example of such, because it is indeed a beautiful depiction of something horrific. The work titled “Cycle of Terror and Tragedy” is actually astounding in my opinion. It reflects all the lost voices of 911 and even the ones who simply shut up. When I looked at the picture of that painting I thought, I couldn’t help it. It struck me as so powerful a depiction. In my mind this is how it should be. How tragic days such as 911 should be remembered by future generations. It is very hard to recreate the profound feelings associated with that day and I often wonder myself how I will explain it to my hopefully future children, or anyone for that matter. A part of any explanation will be missing. The emotion will be lost, totally annihilated just like the falling man. The only reason he is remembered is by that picture; a mode of cataloging various events in time to suit our needs. Otherwise he would have only been remembered for about ten seconds in the minds of whoever saw him jump. Parrish chose a different route to remember, he painted a picture for us all, both present and future to behold and understand; of a day that we should never forget…

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Harold and Maude

Alright so I guess I will start by saying that some older films really can be awesome. This coming from the guy who typically doesn’t like older films even ones from the 70’s and 80’s. Anything pre- 90’s to me is considered outdated, typically. I happened to love this film yet I have never seen it before. The entire concept of it was simply brilliant, and I can understand why it is so highly followed as a “cult” film. It was hilarious, and I often found myself cracking up constantly at the absolutely ridiculousness of some of the events and behaviors that took place within the film. The overall message of it was also very powerful, and I enjoy and respect it all the more for it. It was one of those uplifting movies that makes a person want to just get up and live their life to the fullest like Maude did. She was a character that I think each and every one of us would try to be at least in some form. Hey at 79 I would love to be able to run around and do half of the crazy stuff she did. She was like the perfect ideal elder woman. I sure hope my hopefully future wife, whoever she may be is half as exciting as that batty old woman. To me everyone instantly falls in love with her character because she just represents a freedom that so many of us strive for yet never attain. In a way Maude reminded me of my own grandmother, who is the most upbeat energetic elder lady I have ever seen. Then we have Harold, and all I can say is how sad. I would hate to be near the guy, simply for just how miserable and morbid he is. It was as if he was Maude’s total antithesis. If there was some type of fun to suck out of life I would call Harold and he could leech it from me. Although there were times I appreciated his horrific dedication to reenacting his own attempted suicides, I thought he was a bit messed up in the head. I personally am a guy who can’t really imagine ever killing myself, or at least have yet to even have a sliver of thought towards that direction. This is not to say that like is wonderful and doesn’t have its ups and downs, but to me Harold personified the guy who only lived for the downs, never the ups. Overall I thought this was a great film and I am glad it was chosen for this lecture night because it probably would never have been brought to my attention otherwise. Safe to assume if it hasn’t happened in the last 20 years that it won’t happen tomorrow I guess. Everyone around me should only want the best and live for it. I’d like to think I take life with a grain of salt but at the end of the day I turn every single frown I have ever had upside-down.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Is Love a Disease?

Last week I attended a lecture by a guest speaker named Dr. Ealy. I must say it was very interesting, although I was not fond of his particular chosen mode of delivery. He was extremely knowledgeable about our topic of the week and I certainly felt as though my Tuesday night was well spent. He spoke of the Spanish play Celestina and that was the major focus of the discussion, yet it was actually something else entirely that captivated my attention. Dr. Ealy essentially associated love with disease or an illness. This is something I have never actually thought about yet in a peculiar way it makes a bit of sense. I have been in what I call love, or at least love in my definition of the term, yet I never actually looked at it as a negative, such as to tie it with words as sick, ill, diseased, etc. I find it inconceivable that someone in love would not enjoy it if in fact they received the same pleasure back from it. From what the professor was saying it is true that love is indeed a form of infatuation that can easily be associated with an OCD disorder. When a person is in love they sometimes simply cannot stop thinking of the other person making them obsessive. Is it normal to call a partner about ten times a day? I would say no but this happens quite frequently among couples. Sometimes, at least in my previous relationships I have found myself acting completely out of character. Looking back I am unsure if that was right. Has anyone honestly thought about their partner from the moment they wake up to the second they fall asleep, I am sure they have. Is this not a bit sick? To become so wrapped up in a love affair. The professor brought up another point that I found absolutely true. People in love sometimes say or do things they would never ordinarily in order to please their partner. Now why would someone do something they would never in a million years dream of doing unless something was wrong with them? Could love in actuality make us run on less than all our cylinders? These are but a few of the questions that I began to mull over during and after that lecture. Could love actually be a negative? Could love really be a form of mental sickness? I wonder……

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rape is Funny

First off I wanted to say just how shocked I was at the turnout for this specific lecture. I had no idea it would generate such interest within our university. The topic of tonight’s discussion was rape and why we as a society portray it in our media as comical. I can safely say that in reality I do not find anything about the actual act of rape to be funny, yet there are certain times when someone for the sake of being ridiculously witty shoots out a comment or something that evokes a reaction from me. This is either one of disgust, admiration, or a laugh. I cannot explain why I find some of these jokes or commentaries to be funny but I simply do. The underlying reasoning of it is typically because I find people worthwhile and enjoyable to converse with if they are in fact quick on the uptake. Tonight’s lecture got me thinking of that; although it focused on pop culture portrayal and movies etc. internally I focused on a different aspect. I wanted to reflect on why I in fact admit to finding some portrayals of rape to be funny. It is actually rather disturbing to be able to say that about myself upon reflection but none the less it is the truth. I know that I’m not alone as I watched countless individuals snicker or grin as our professor made a comment or showed us something on the screen. The question is why do we find this funny? Well I think the reason is because like one of my classmates said we have become desensitized to the thought of rape as an actual real life occurrence that takes place all around us on what is probably a daily basis. On our campus alone there are so many groups and organizations that help fight the realities of this issue and yet we still walk around as if they don’t exist. It’s not as though we read in our universities newspaper that someone was raped the other day, which in my opinion is both good and bad. It is good because it doesn’t raise an unwanted response of panic within the student body and yet it is also bad as well. If we are not told that these things really do happen right under our noses or perhaps right beneath our dormitory floor in the room below how are we not expected to not be desensitized? Our school publishes a safety report annually and I have read it. Unfortunately I cannot even remember if it includes rape incidents or merely robberies etc. it is true that our university is numb to this reality. As a senior I have gone to countless parties where there is so much alcohol involved that it’s no wonder that certain individuals have things happen to them, or do things themselves. I have seen both men and women put themselves in harm’s way because there is an element of fun derived from it. I suppose rape is not only a numbingly real factor in all our lives but we in fact seek the HUMOR in it, the FUN.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Requiem for a Dream

So first off, DRUGS ARE BAD… this was the first time I have ever seen this film before although it debuted in 2000. All I can say is what a mistake that was on my part. I have seen so many movies throughout my life and very few will ever be remembered in the vivid detail that I have assured myself this film will be. I found that Requiem for a Dream was a brilliant depiction of the human condition. The movie itself followed the perpetual downward spiral of four individuals all linked in some way or another to each other. All of which were addicted to drugs of various types. I became entranced and at the same time painfully ensnared by this film. I have known many people who have done drugs and whose lives have been left completely changed by the devastatingly strong grip of their addictions. This movie was said to be dangerous in its depictions, of the truths that we as humans seemingly cannot accept within our society. Within that realm of society we enjoy being in a bubble of sorts, oblivious to the terrible and harsh truths that envelope our lives. This bubble however is merely semi-permeable and its films like this that break that barrier and challenge the normalcy of what we are so very use to. This film was about that, and what challenges drugs can present. Everything one does in their lives is a decision, a conscious choice. This movie merely chose to depict four individuals’ choices. I found it to be very powerful and quite moving. The way Darren Aronofsky chose to direct this was nothing short of brilliant. It was from this that I gained a respect for this director even though I have not seen any of his past works to my knowledge. I am certain that I will see many more now that I know just how good of a director he is. This movie was done in such an eerily precise manner, every scene cut at the right moment etc that made it what it was. I was a bit confused upon hearing that people found this film dangerous. From that am I to assume that depictions of truth itself are dangerous to us? If so how can we ever truly believe what we are being shown? Who gets to decide what is dangerous, who gets to choose what truths we immerse ourselves in……