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Postmodern Authors and their “Growth” Deconstructing Harry “Lost in the Funhouse”
Outline n n Starting Questions Deconstructing Harry q q n General Introd: Background & the Characters Harry Criticized Harry Redeemed the Functions of “Art” “Lost in the Funhouse”
General Questions: n n n “Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts. ” Do you agree? Are we in a “night-sea” journey? Is sexual intercourse done for love? How do we relate an author to his/her work? Are we the author of our lives? q Is the author dead after his/her work is done? q Author as character –e. g. ? q Author as “creator” –e. g. ? q Author as fragmented, with multiple determinants of meanings – e. g. ?
Woody Allen n n Produced over 30 films; "funny movies" with caricatured Jews: funny, producing a neurotic, culturally voracious, imaginative, hedonist intelligentsia in New York seekers after romance and meaning, who muddle through moral conundrums while striving to make the right choices Psychological dimensions: Annie Hall (1977), Another Woman (1988), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) Two women: Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow. (ref. Rubin-Dorsky, Jeffrey) Many are self-reflexive. e. g. The Purple Rose of Cairo –film as an escape for a housewife.
Deconstructing Harry (1997) : General Introduction n Three films produced after the Soon-Yi. Farrow scandal Husbands and Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Deconstructing Harry Negative reviews: “vulgar, smutty (淫猥的), profane, self-hating, self-justifying, selfinvolved, tasteless, bankrupt and desperate” (source)
Vulgar Language n n Lucy: "you shmuck, you bastard, " "I'd like to cut your rucking head off, " you "prick, " and finally, you "motherfucker, " Harry: "world class meshugene [feminine] cunt. “ Harry calls Beth an "aggressive, tight-ass, busy-body cunt. " What do you think? Is the film self-centered, misogynist? Male-chauvinist? Racist? Or an apologia for artist and confirmation of art?
Self-Reflexive Elements: Woody Allen plays the role of the author, Harry. n Opening sequence n References made to Ingmar Bergman’s films: The Seventh Seal, The Wild Strawberry; n To Woody Allen’s own film: the reappearance of actors (Judy Davis--Julie, from Husbands and Wives, and Julie Kavner--Grace, from Hannah, Radio Days, and Oedipus Wrecks, are only two of many), and the repetition of scenes (most memorably the Seder dinner from Crimes and Misdemeanors). n
The “Growth” of an Artist to n n Move beyond his egotism; Face his errors (egotism, interest in sex, lack of human concern) Show human concern for his father and Fay/Harry Know where he functions the best and where the worst.
Egotism – putting anecdotes in life to art and the other way around. n n n n Harry Block Jane and Lucy (Harry’s Wife’s Sister) Joan –Harry’s Shrink Wife Larry & Fay – Harry’s fan Doris & Burt– his sister Richard – his friend Cookie Hilly n n n 1 st story: Ken, Janet and -Chap 7: Epstein and his Shrink, Helen (a Jewish mother) Goldberg, The Devil Chap 9: Jane/Janet; Harry/Ken, Fay/Grace -- elevator stuck Self-belittling: q q Harvey Stern The Seventh Seal The Actor (Mel out of focus)— expect the world to adjust to the distortion you’ve become. Lucy: You take everyone's suffering and turn it into gold, LITERARY GOLD!
Life Parodied: Tradition and Profession n n Tradition is the illusion of permanence. chap 7 (tradition and shrink, Helen); chap 15 (Amy) Stereotypes of Jewish people reinforced or made fun of?
Harry’s Views and Life n Against traditional and religion q n Between air conditioning and the Pope, I chose air conditioning Self-Centered and life in a mess: q q Six shrinks later, three wives down the line, and I still can't get my life together. The two most important things are the work that you choose and sex.
Harry Criticized n n Joan: pill-popping, beaver banging, alcoholic. So now you're blaming me because I don't go out with you enough, to meet strangers to FUCK! Chap 13: Doris (His sister): You have no values. With you its all nihilism, cynicism, sarcasm, and orgasm. Harry Block: Hey, in France I could run for office with that slogan, and win! Max Pinkus's Dark Secret
Lessons from his Characters Chap 11: Ken n At the playground –Jane, cold and selfish woman n Lucy – “more maternal”
Lessons from his Characters Chap 15: Doris & Helen n Doris: Incapable of believing in something; n Helen Character: she loves you. n Marriage ‘droning on’ – ”working” for some other people
Chap 16: trip to Hell n n n Forgive his father –You’re a fallen angel, I never believe in God—condemns himself and acknowledges his errors Forgive his father and send him to “Joy Luck” restaurant. Devil– love it down here. H: better to rule down here. The Devil: It's like Vegas. You're up, you're down, but in the end the house always wins. Doesn't mean you didn't have fun.
In deep shit Reconciliation Fay and Larry; n From accusation to loving and blessing them. Robert n “To be alive is to be happy. ” Enter his “Dream” of being applauded and confirmed Reader: n Sad on the surface; to deconstruct your work is to make it happy.
Conclusion n n I'm a guy who can't function well in life but can in art. “A character who is too neurotic to function in life, functions in art. Rifken lives a disjointed, fragmented life. He long ago comes to this conclusion: all people know the same truth; our life consists of how we chhose to distort it. Only his writing was calm. His writings, which had in more ways than one, saved his life. ” teaches him multiple perspectives, applaud him and confirms his values.
Allen Critiqued? n n His presentations of women and minorities? Of Life and death?
John Barth, "Lost in the Funhouse" He wishes he had never entered the funhouse. But he has. Then he wishes he were dead. But he's not. Therefore he will construct funhouses for others and be their secret operator. .
“Lost in the Funhouse” as a Künstlerroman n 1. 2. 3. Two major characters: Ambrose (13 -yr-old) and the narrator – and maybe the two are one? The others: Peter (15 -year-old), Magda (14 -yearold), mother, father, uncle Karl. main actions visit of the Ocean City on the Independence day (the fourth of July) during World War II. Background—train car autogiros 旋翼機 p. 70 Ambrose --frustrated in seeking for his love, ends up staying in the funhouse. the narrator – trying to tell a good story about it. e. g. p. 69, 83 “I’ll never be an author. . . “
“Lost in the Funhouse” chronological sequence of events: In the car – see the Tower – arriving at the Ocean City – boardwalk – invitation of Magda -exposition Funhouse n The structure of the story: n part I: 1 st paragraph (present tense) n part II: chronological n part III: pp. 73 Ambrose and the narrator “lost” in the Funhouse 74, 75, Ambrose “lost” 76, 80, 83, n part IV: pp. 88 entrance; action n part V: pp. 91 after; summary of the story and possible endings n
The story as a Kunstlerroman n n Magda p. 71 -72; Peter 72 (mother, father described too) Ambrose’ personality: p. 69, 72, 73, 74 -75, q highly sensitive and shy; not able to express his love; different from the other kids q q Ambrose’s detachment: 72; attention on Magda: 74, 75, 78, 79 as an artist –imagines his future; 80 -81; 84, different from others: baptism 85 “But though he had breathed heavily, groaned as if ecstatic, what he'd really felt throughout was an odd detachment, as though some one else were Master. Strive as he might to be transported, he heard his mind take notes upon the scene: This is what they call passion. I am experiencing it”. (81)
The story as a Kunstlerroman (2) = his experience in the funhouse n “For Ambrose it is a place of fear and confusion. ” 69 q Does not invite Magda, who goes in with Peter. q Lost –see slide 21 (outline); mirrors & self-reflections, no linear progression n q q q n “In the funhouse mirror-room you can't see yourself go on forever, because no matter how you stand, your head gets in the way. Even if you had a glass periscope潛望鏡, the image of your eye would cover up the thing you really wanted to see. (81 -82) Loses his name-coins and found another one (89, 90) Stand away from the young lovers Sees an old man p. 84 Becomes a funhouse maker, after realizing that his crippling selfconsciousness also comes with a gift, an extraordinary imagination. p. 94 3 endings
The story as a Kunstlerroman (3)— the narrator’s story-telling n n n Against realism, the narrator discusses a. “realist” techniques and b. narrative conventions: a. description 70; 71 b. Italics and names p. 69, beginning 73, plot 74, ending 83, 87, 92. b. Author as father 70. God 84 -86 b. development and endings: 83; 87 (dramatic ending); 2 nd p. 88 -89 -91 b. possible endings: p. 92 q q q Ambrose dead; Ambrose becomes ‘successful’ as an adult and goes back to the funhouse for a visit; Ambrose stays making giant funhouses.
“funhouse” and life n n n Funhouse as Art which contains: Fat Lady May, selfreflecting mirrors, a small old man 84, a funhouse of language: Labyrinth structure caused by narrative intrusions (about italics, names, description, metaphoric description, plot) and confusion of plotlines a funhouse in life during wartime: WW II and independence day; the war-- pp. 71, 73, 76; 78, 82, 87, 92 “act” “be” 79 act as Magda’s lover, or be her lover Is it true that we can not be a funhouse-maker while ‘playing’ in the funhouse at the same time? What else can art be compared to beside “funhouse”?
Reference n n Rubin-Dorsky, Jeffrey. “Woody Allen After the Fall: Literary Gold from Amoral Alchemy. ” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Fall 2003, Vol. 22 Issue 1: 5 -28. “Lost in the Funhouse” q q –visual presentation http: //web. nwe. ufl. edu/~gulmer/s 02/tzarleng/Funhouse 1. ht m Web Quest: http: //webpages. shepherd. edu/ltate/Web. Quest. Pomo. htm