Monday, April 4, 2016

Illuminations 4.4.16


Literary Analysis IRL: The Steeplechase Face

I've been really into a few things lately; one of these is the analysis of all sorts of things through the lens of Freudian trios. This sort of analysis is normally used for literary purposes, and can range from myth to literature to comic books to video games. One famous one is in Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte-- with Heathcliff (Id) Cathy (Ego) and Edgar Linton (Superego). Another cool one is in Batman-- the Joker (Id) Batman (Superego) and Commissioner Gordon (Ego), though the last two types might be better seen as reversed. 

Here are some more examples of Freudian Trios--

David Copperfield
Id: Steerforth — Troublemaker, selfish, tries to influence David.
Ego: David — Everyman type, kind enough, but goes one way or the other.
Superego: Agnes — Selfless, loving, tries to lead David down the right path, is actually referred to as his "good angel."

Harry Potter:
Superego: Hermione — Intelligent, respectful to authority, has proper 'manners'.
Id: Harry — He has "a saving people thing" as Hermione says.
Ego: Ron — Act as the 'middle' of the two when Harry wants to rush off to save somebody but Hermione wants them to take their time being as cautious as possible.

Ego: Neville — completely devoted to Dumbledore's Army taking place at Hogwarts.
Id: Ginny — Brave and loyal, but a bit of a hot-head and impulsive.
Superego: Luna — Very smart and an idealist.

Superego: Lupin — calm, studious, the most prone to common sense out of the three
Ego: James — over-confident and mischievous, but less reckless than Sirius
Id: Sirius — the rebel of the group, doles out the harshest bullying to Snape and is driven to intense emotion

Lord of the Flies
Ego: Ralph — Wants to get off the island but is practical about it
Superego: Piggy — Smartest and only one who remains logical throughout
Id: Jack — Instinctual and acting on the most immediate need

The Lord of the Rings, the three main Wizards
Ego: Gandalf
Superego: Saruman
Id: Radagast

Les Misérables
Les Amis
Id: Courfeyrac — The Center - warm, friendly, loves women and fashion.
Ego: Combeferre — The Guide - "Revolution, but Civilization."
Superego: Enjolras — The Chief - the marble lover of liberty.

Flowers for Algernon
Superego: Charlie — self-doubting, rational, and scientifically-minded, emotionally unfulfilled
Id: Faye Lilliman — Overtly sexual, artistic, and whimsical
Ego: Alice Kinnian — Compassionate, emotionally mature, educated, balances intellect and emotions

Hindu Mythology
Superego: Brahma — The creator deity who brings the universe into being
Ego: Vishnu — The one who preserves the universe in the here and now sustaining its existence
Id: Shiva — The deity that comes along at the end of time to destroy everything so that it can be reborn

Arthurian Legend
Id: Gawain — will kill, without question or orders, anyone who so much as insults him or his friends. 
Superego: Lancelot — The ultimate knight, Arthur's Right-Hand-Man; ever-questing for glory for God and King, and seeking enlightenment through the Code of Chivalry.
Ego: Arthur — Mediator between all the knights, especially the above two, who are notably good friends despite absolutely hating each other. 


Freudian trios can be applied to almost anything, as you can see, short of real life. Its hard to ignore the parallels between this form of classification and the holy trinity, if it can be applied so far. But why stop at literature? I tried to apply the Freudian trio to the "frontrunners" of this election... Analyzing things critically helps me distance myself from reality, and therefore come back better prepared to deal with it. That is very ideally speaking. This is what I came up with--

Trump: Id 
Hillary: Ego 
Bernie: Superego

Though Bernie is not obviously obsessed with rules and policies, he does seem to have a grip on reality-- more so than the others. I won't justify my reasoning now, but will gladly have a conversation about it later; For now, I just wanted to try making a certain point which I believe isn't unrelated.

When the id is suppressed-- as Carl Jung suggests, in his psycho-analytical writings, often happens-- I believe it surfaces in unexpected and unpleasant ways. This happens often in American culture, through the suppression of art and creativity in schools; I believe that having this happen leads people to use that creative energy in their lives in ways that are less than constructive. In that regard, it almost seems fitting to use literary analysis to analyze real life.

Then there's this article I stumbled upon, which is also very interesting: 

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/37/22/24-steeplechase-face-2014-05-30-bk_37_22.html

In summary, it talks about the history of Coney Island and the Steeplechase Face, which it describes has served as an outlet for the grotesque and the perverse in it's prime, when it served as the mascot for Steeplechase Park-- which stood from 1897 to 1966. 

"Hidden fans beneath the Boardwalk entrance that blew girls’ skirts up over their waists, as well as a clown-faced dwarf that chased visitors around and spanked them with an electric paddle."

“The face is like a Victorian relic. It’s the repressed id, and the id being released.”

“I think people identify with it. It represents the subconscious. People can project their feelings onto it, whatever turns them on,” Denson said. “The smile is as mysterious as the Mona Lisa’s. Hers was very subtle, and his is very obvious, but you can still read almost anything into it.”



I was surprised to learn that Trump bulldozed the gates, along with the rest of the park, in 1966. This was Fred Trump; father of Donald. He held a party with his wealthy friends to preempt the city from declaring the park a protected landmark, where there they threw bricks through the face's bared teeth. He hoped to convert it to waterfront housing, but the face remained at Luna Park as a symbol of what he tried to destroy. 

Perhaps I may even go so far as to entertain the idea that its a twisted form of rebellion against his father Fred. Perhaps the matter of Trump embodying this now-- saying whats really on the minds of millions of Americans-- is just another form of expression, of the id being released. If so, it is better to have this out in the open than to be in the dark about the truth.

--Anna



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