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Untangling the Knot

Untangling the Knot

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Untangling the Knot

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  1. Untangling the Knot Futuristic Societies – See The Light of Day Svend Aage Madsen, 1980

  2. R.D. Laing – Knots, 1970 • Patterns of human interaction • Knots, tangles, impasses, binds • Quest to find meaning • “They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.“ • Truth of individual existence

  3. Power and Identity • Individual identity-formation • ~ power-structure and identity-formation of society • Language, Reality, Fiction • Assumption of responsibility • Language as redemption • The Individual

  4. SvendÅge Madsen, 1939 • Philosophy / humor • Existence • Network of works • Labyrinth • Mathematics • Realism from Aarhus • Relativistic attitude • Three phases of his works: • Abstract modernism • A shift from anti-art to anti anti-art • More realistic

  5. Identity • Individual body / political social body • Michel Foucault – again • ”..nothing is more material, physical, corporal than the exercise of power.” • The fantasy of a social body constituted by the universality of wills • Rebellion  separate, independent, somewhat ostracized

  6. Variation • Kierkegaard - “one must also constantly vary himself, and this is the essential secret.” • Exploration of our humanity • Painful existential void • State-defined utopia  individual prison-dystopia • The self versus the others – in the quest for happiness • Ethical battle

  7. Existence • Mental oppression • Uniformity • Power internalized • Power and knowledge • Rebirth • “He does not think there is anything the matter with him because one of the things that is the matter with him is that he does not think there is anything the matter with him – therefore we have to help him realize that, the fact that he does not think there is anything the matter with him is one of the things that is the matter with him.”(Laing)

  8. See the Light of Day, 1980 • Happiness = constant change and challenge • Purpose • Elef and Maya • Engineers of the new society • Present – Past • Making sense / finding meaning • Identity – words • Depth – broad experience • Predictability - serendipity

  9. Summary • Day 1: • Time, the bloodsucker, makes my days as fleeting as images gliding past me. • Main character - Elef • Works as a teacher that day • First Wife - Judith • Works as a Judge that day • Two girls • “Madame Datam had amused herself by giving me another class the same day where we talk about the same story again.” • Agge – “repellent” and negative attitude • He finishes the day thinking about Time, the bloodsucker • “That’s why I’ve written down this day, when I was Elef and Judith was Judith, piece by piece, the way you write down a dream to hold onto it before it dissolves into nothingness, ceases to have existed.”

  10. Summary • Day 2 • “Being beautiful just for you.” Donovan. • Maya – second wife • Introduces the idea of repetition in life being beneficial. Elef thinks this is ludicrous. • “Thousands of people were obsessed with one thing. Took upon themselves, voluntarily, one particular task. The idea is stimulating.” • “Unhealthy. That’s how it sounds to me. Out of a lack of meaning, someone focuses on swimming obsessively, all day, every day, in the hope of swimming faster than everyone else. And if he’s finally successful, then a few days later someone else will swim even faster.” • Maya slaps Elef for apparently no reason, but later it appears she slaps him so he will remember her and the time they spent together

  11. Summary • Day 3 • To find the thread that can tie my scattered days together. • Octavie – Third wife • Elef sits on an education commission • Equal number of children & adults • “So Madame Datam must have discovered that there were some French words you didn’t know and paired you with me?” • “I wouldn’t be so sure about that. No one knows Madame Datam’s reasons. More likely she wanted you to get a good impression of the city, which is why she assigned you the most charming guy around.” • Elefbites his hand in an apparent attempt to find & understand feelings physically & emotionally

  12. Summary • Day4 • …I awake, one day richer, one day poorer…? • Linda – fourth wife • Works as a counselor • Had a girl but today has a 5 month old baby boy • Elefis a journalist on organic construction • “ I had a little girl. I wanted to keep her. Only her. Not to get another one, randomly placed at my breast the next day. I wanted it to be her. I wanted to possess her.” • “Back then, people only had experience in very specific areas: a single profession, a narrow circle of family and friends. In order to counter the feeling of isolation, people grasped desperately at news from all corners of the earth and from all categories.”

  13. Summary •  Day 5 • Longing for longing • Elvira – Fifth wife • Elef • Constantly thinking of Maya • Not feeling well • Sees Maya in dancing class • Maya & Elef go for a walk in the park and kiss • Maya keeps the dress he made for her • Elefputs ring on Maya • “I have a heart! I have found it.” • “I can’t hide it from my wife either. My heart is still exposed.”

  14. The Human Condition • ” I never get what I want / I never want what I get” (Laing) • Choice • Uncertainty / unpredictability • The right to be wrong • Togetherness   separateness

  15. Themes • Words and self-identity • Inter-subjective meaning • The present – the past • Relationships and Love • after • object ⊹ subject • before

  16. Boredom • Elasticity of spirit • Creativity • Control  happiness • Tied to wrong words • The state as mother • The “Memories” • Own expression – own language • Love and marriage • Plants • Babies

  17. Language as Subjectivity • Self-identity • Alternative growth and change • “give me words” • Memories • Book is Elef’s diary of memories • Elef is trying to figure out the importance of memories • “A day worth living is a day worth writing down” • The Scrabble game • “Telling” themselves • Language as existence • Language of body and soul – the other • A partner – not the collective

  18. Hope for the individual(?) • Individualized expression • Laing – and untangling knots • Linguistic reconstruction • Diary • Fixation versus flow • “find the thread that can tie my scattered days together” • “We are the Immortals”

  19. More Themes • War • War is murder • “If a soldier is ordered to cross the border into foreign country, the soldier must choose for himself: either he can follow the order, invade an enemy country, and risk death; or he can, with no further consequences, shoot the officer who has given him the order” • Choice • No choice in profession, family, or friends • But some sort of freedom, can drink • Goals • There is no mastery ability • No pride in work and knowledge • Time • Blood sucker • Can’t build strong relationships • Never an expert at anything because each day you have a new job • Lack of Violence • No strong relationships so less violence

  20. Utopia / Dystopia • Consumerism • No consumerism • No sentimental physical belongs • Time / Energy • Dissonance between having reality and lasting relationships • Social responsibility • Perform jobs for community • Punishment • Judge reprimands through reasoning • No physical punishment • Women/sex • loving vs. longing • Education and upbringing • New parents every day

  21. Video Clip 50 First Dates, 2004 http://www.youtube.com/watch v=ad7_bZrU7vg&feature=PlayList&p=AB6788814AEE3160&index=8

  22. Questions • Discuss the themes of Variation vs. Boredom – would you like to live in this society? • Why does Elef feel especially attracted to Maja? Is it human nature to need just one mate? • Discuss the function of language and memories – do you keep a diary? Why / why not? • Are memories important to you? Why / why not? • Would children benefit from growing up with different families? Or having different families to turn to? • Compare this reading to other readings with regard to the concepts of free will and choice. • Think of the most important characteristics of the future societies we have discussed