Monday, June 19, 2017

Wim Wenders’ WINGS OF DESIRE: A Reason to Believe by Monica Boretsky

To persevere: to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly (Bastida). 

The films presented in our writing class provide one with reasons to become indignant with the outcome Western civilization has on the lifestyle of its citizens. In Walkabout Nicolas Roeg exposes the ignorance and self-centeredness it instills in a person; in The Gods Must Be Crazy Jamie Uys shows that the desire for possessions can consume one’s life; in Swept Away Lina Wertmuller demonstrates the inability for one to love another outside the predetermined qualities defined by society. Viewers become witnesses to the destruction caused by these traits and habits of life in Western civilization. Wim Wenders, however, provides a different approach, in Wings of Desire. Although he, too, reveals the defeating aspects of our over-civilized society by focusing on Berlin divided by a wall, he provides a reason to believe in civilization as well. Through Damiel’s experience of becoming human, one is reminded of the beauty of life that one may experience through love. 

As a living inheritor of Western culture, I was appalled at how the characters in these films take things for granted.  The older sister of Walkabout and Raffaella of Swept Away both live in the luxury of a wealthy lifestyle. In this life, they do not bear the weight of personally putting in any labor to obtain what they want in life. Both of them lack the appreciation for those who do put in the effort.  In Walkabout, the older sister says condescendingly to the Aborigine, We want water to drink. You must understand! Anyone can understand that. We want to drink. I can't make it any simpler” (Roeg, 27:18). Her ignorance is mirrored in Raffaella when she speaks to those serving her on the yacht in a demeaning tone. One morning she says, “I like having my coffee fresh if you could understand that. The bad habits of a typical grubby southern slob” (Wertmuller, 00:08:32). While these characters expect the world to rotate around them, Wings of Desire reminds us of life’s small pleasures that have become so second nature to us that we forget to appreciate them. When angel Damiel becomes human and smokes a cigarette for the first time, he has a visible reaction of joy and contentment. His face eases up and clearly experiences the full sensation that many people have overlooked (Wenders, 1:42:00).  This little moment of the film is greatly representational of our own dilemmas. Not only do we shut down these small pleasures, but Wings of Desire also shows us the possibilities available when we break down the divides set up by Western civilization.      

Walkabout and Swept Away display two relationships in which the partners come from different sides of the money and power equation. According to societal standards, the two women are the most prized in society. The men who attempt to have a loving connection with them ultimately face self-destruction. The Aborigine commits suicide (Roeg, 1:52:34) and Gennarino leaves his family for a life of loneliness and shame. In a monotone voice, with the sense of defeat he says to his wife, “Don’t worry about it, I’m not ever going home again” (Wertmuller, 1:51:12).  Both of these relationships were halted and ended due to the stigma that society set in place.  The English older sister of Walkabout could not accept the offer of the Aborigine through his mating dance (Roeg, 1:48:25).  Raffaella, despite confessing her love to Gennarino on the island, did not leave her wealthy capitalist husband ooce she returned to the mainland(1:38:00). These two films prove that the social constructs of society are a plague to the value of love. The divides are strongly built and could not be broken down in these films to allow a loving connection to exist.  Wenders, however, shows a more optimistic approach to love---one in which the divide set by society between the two partners did not keep them apart. 

Wings of Desire demonstrates the many divides that are embedded deeply in society.  Set in Germany, there is the line separating West and East Berlin. There is another line separating circus people (traveling performers) and village people (average citizens). The most distinct difference found in this film is the divide created between angels and humans. While this may be called fanciful, Wenders makes the case that love is bigger than the social rules that divide us. Angel Damiel confronts the fact that he is in love with human Marion. Unlike the older sister and Raffaella, however, Damiel does not give into abiding by the divide, and pursues a relationship with her.  Their connection is successful and meaningful.  As Michael Sexson states in his review of the film, Marion, “Indeed… is teaching Damiel what he needs to know. Here the child's puddle is becoming the sea” (Sexson, para. 17).  Their relationship is one of true love and, “the fact that she meets the person literally from her dreams gives hope to the viewer of how the joining of two individual to make both their dreams come true” (Hannanian para. 7).  They return each other back to the childhood innocence that Wenders warns his viewers not to lose.

It is clear throughout the film that only the children in society are able to witness the presence of Damiel and his fellow angels; the adults cannot. Angels are representative of innocence, and so Wenders is making a strong point about the innocence of one’s childhood.  This sense of innocence is lost through the progression of existing in Western civilization.  This mirrors the idea present in Walkabout:

It is particularly eye opening to see the six-year-old boy begin speaking the Aborigine language, clearly embracing what his older sister cannot.  Both of them have grown up in civilization, however the sister has been living in it a full eight years longer than the boy…Roeg warns his viewers that the older one becomes and the more time one spends in Western civilization, the less apt they will be to understand the whole picture: an individual is larger than the society they grew up in and a difference in cultures does not make someone lesser than another (Boretsky). 

As one progresses through Western civilization, one loses one’s childhood innocence. Wenders delivers to viewers the harsh reality that is present in the world, depicted in the opening scenes of the film: passengers on a train bombarded by their anxious thoughts, fearful responsibilities and of a man committing suicide. Despite demonstrating this, Wenders presents Damiel as an example of staying strong through the bad to experience and embrace the good that life has to offer. This angel has seen these evil pressures of society that sometimes get the best of us, but he continues to pursue becoming a human. When rationalizing his desire, he claims, “To conquer a history for myself.  What my timeless downward look has taught me… I want to transmute, I want to sustain a glance… a short shout, a sour smell.  I’ve been outside long enough.  Loving enough out of the world. Let me enter the history of the world.  Or just hold an apple in my hand” (Wenders, 1:14).  He understands and appreciates the value of Western civilization and sees the opportunities it provides its citizens.  For him, it gave him the experience of sensations like taste and pain, as well as the gift of love. 

In the end, Damiel is each of us stuck in a limiting version of Western civilization. Like him, we must not be afraid to transform ourselves and must persevere in order to find love, success and happiness. We must not let obstacles constructed by society keep us from obtaining what we want.  Unlike the other characters in previous films viewed this semester, he transcended the divide keeping him from what he desired. Breaking through resulted in the realization of experiencing all the good Western civilization has to offer, things that many often overlook. Wim Wenders reminds his audience to never stop appreciating the small things in life and to not give up when there is an obstacle in our path to obtaining what we want.  In short, we should strive to embody the spirit of Damiel, who encompasses appreciation and optimism, when living within Western civilization. 

                                             Works Cited

Bastida, Maria. "Top 60 Perseverance Quotes." LoveQuotesMessages. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2017.

Boretsky, Monica.  “Blinded by the Status Quo.”  06 March 2017.

Hannanian, Ariel. "Awakenings into Adulthood Via Wim Wenders." Awakenings into Adulthood Via Wim Wenders’ "Wings of Desire". Taking Giant Steps. Web. 03 May 2017.

Jamie Uys.  The Gods Must Be Crazy. New Realm, 1980. Youtube.

Lina Wertmüller.  Swept Away--by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August. Perf. Mariangela Melato and Giancarlo Giannini. Medusa Distribuzione S.R.L., 1974. Youtube.

Nicolas Roeg.  Walkabout. Twentieth Century Fox, 1971. Youtube.

Sexson, Michael. "The Storyteller and Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (The Cresset, March 1993)." Header. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 May 2017.

Wim Wenders.  Wings of Desire. Perf. Bruno Ganz and Solveig Dommartin. Road Movies, 1987

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ralph La Charity's LITANIES SAID HANDELY Reviewed by Kirpal Gordon

Listeners and lovers of the open mic, ancient-to-the-future scribes of the oral-aural, laya yogis and lyrical-miracle technicians of the sacred, cross-country Whitmaniacs of every stripe and Democratic Vista impulse will delight in journeyman Ralph La Charity's latest from Dos Madres Press in Loveland, OH, ($20.00 at Litanies Said Handedly: poetry, collage, & performance.

The tongue-in-cheek title is the key that opens this delightful book. Consider the words: Litanies (Middle English) are simultaneously petitions for use in church services or processions, usually recited by the clergy and responded to in a recurring formula by the people” AND tedious recitals or repetitive series”---that is to say that both meanings are jokes. The only church he gets remotely close to, or reminds one of, is the Church to John Coltrane. As for tedium, even as he delivers his ghost-driven/rust-belted Homeric tales, Orphic songs in hell and street-wise celebrations of signifyin’ monkeys, Frankie-&-Johnny lovers, neo-Irish aborigines and bar room Crazy Janes, one is at the edge of one’s seat.  This is oral story telling at its best. As for Said Handedly: beware! Even reading the poetry silently causes the ear to want to hear these sounds aloud, but one must view La Charity actually kicking it live ( to realize that his presentation of his work, a combo of Joe Cocker spasmodics meeting Robert Bly’s arm-wave scansions, is indeed said with his left hand in full metric swing and his voice a trained instrument of multiple meanings and dial-a-dialect possibilities!

Check his opening shot, “he was a dandy mon.” On the page (p. 81 in the book) the language is a tad spooky and the repetition of “a dead man walking” a bit grim, but to hear him rock it aloud is to experience real fright that won’t quit. Note that his voice jumps into song and then returns to speech in a performance matched by his body’s full participation. This reviewer heard the spoken version first, and although a reader may think that the 25 minutes of youtube is all one needs (BTW: he recites entirely/tirelessly from memory!), I have taken great delight in finally seeing his spoken word in print. Moreover, the twelve collages, multiple front matter dope, and his appendices on the art of oral poesie, really contextualize his Algren-esque quests.

Regarding this art form, in “Prefatory notations,” he calls it “an obscure-side apprenticeship, akin to learning pick-pocketry; a dark economy guild of seers & sounders” and sees himself as “a practitioner of call/caul poetics, a self-embodied variorum; a calling forth from within fused with a calling out of the surround, this transactional dynamic yielding a utility of rare gas bases for actualizing the Body Poetique; a Harm’s Way Yoga of public poet alchemizing.” He sees poetry as “the shapeliness of form worn as sound cloak” and calls the book “an assemblage of Ever-Dance, the shards captured mid-melt as scored scourings meant for the tongue-trigger emptying forth of an early dog days evening.” In “Interrupted,” he remarks that “Makars commune with the dead & artists / who’ve brought back are who’ve / brought back from the Other side.”

This graybeard big daddy from Cincinnatti encants, enchants and takes the kind of chances that an improvising be-bopper might take with the chord changes---or that, as the nuns would say back in the day when we danced too closely at the parish dance---“leave room for the Holy Ghost.” His dedication reads, “…These poetics descend in a rush, tripping off the tongue, resonant to the blind who will, unaccompanied, sing.” He's the real deal.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Viewing from the Outside: New Perspectives on Western Civilization by Michael LoRusso

Humanity is blinded by greed and today’s fast paced nature to the extent that we have lost the ability to appreciate seemingly minor surroundings and experiences. As inheritors of Western society, we have become increasingly comfortable with the everyday patterns of our lives, and we often forget to question the work that others perform that enables us to live the way we do. Whether or not this ignorance is a result of our environment and the principles that are instilled in us at an early age, one truth that cannot be repressed is that experiences we are unprepared for and the interaction with those unlike us are what cause us to see life in a bigger way. When we interact with others, we are forced to question our everyday lives, and we learn to appreciate the little things in our lives that often get looked over. Through the four films assigned---Nicholas Roeg’s Walkabout, Jamie Uys’ The Gods Must Be Crazy, Lina Wertmüller’s Swept Away, and Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire---one is taught to break free of one's comfort zone and embrace one's curiosity. These films show us that until we challenge the principles that have been instilled in us and accept those of others unlike us through a desire to see the world from a broader perspective, we will never reach the potential of wisdom and awareness of life that our generation has granted us.

Film director Nicolas Roeg, via his 1971 classic Walkabout, was the first to persuade us to see the world from a different perspective. Our generation is depicted exactly as citizens who are consumed by Western civilization. Seeing the vast distinctions between the Aboriginal boy on a walkabout and the two English children, such as the jump cuts of the Aborigine hunting for food immediately following a butcher chopping a steak, the audience is forced to question their level of awareness (Roeg, 0:45:20). What seemed so normal suddenly inspires the audience to question the normality of everyday life. For nineteen years, I have accepted all that is around me, failing to challenge the ways in which our society acts. Though Roeg shows us how the simplicity of our lives holds us back from understanding life as a whole, he reminds us that we have not yet failed. As young recipients of Western civilization, it is difficult to stray from living the way we are surrounded by, stuck in a pre-conventional stage of moral development, too scared to challenge our society (Kohlberg). I was led to believe that there was no other way to think; there was no other perspective. It is not until the English boy begins to understand the cultural distinctions, and adopt the Aboriginal culture, that I could sense a sign of hope. The aborigine teaches the English boy survival skills, and eventually he is able to find a spring of water on his own (Roeg, 1:05:00). After the boy accepts the Aboriginal culture, he, unlike his older sister, grows confident that that he can survive and thrive in a very non-Western and "uncivilized" milieu. The interactions and culture clashes throughout his journey in the Outback allow him to open his eyes and experience a new perspective.

South African film director Jamie Uys also challenges us to question the principles of our society in his 1980 comedy, The Gods Must Be Crazy. Of course the opening narrative embodies this theme and mocks some of the illusions of Western civilization which causes viewers to see this film allegory in new ways. However, the deeper themes throughout the film force our eyes even wider. One of the first things I questioned was how the Bushmen function as a tribe without a written law! What is it that keeps them governed? Later it becomes clear: The absence of greed and possession give them nothing to fight over; therefore, there is no need for written law. Uys makes it evident that the purity of the Bushman tribes’ lives allow them to reach a post-conventional stage of moral development (Kohlberg). Kalahari Bushmen live based on their own ethical principles. “They’ll never punish a child, or even speak harshly to it, so of course the kids are well behaved” (Uys, 0:04:18). The signs of respect, not only between people of the tribe but also their respect for the animals they hunt and the nature that surrounds them, depicts these Bushmen in a higher ethical state than us (Uys, 0:05:00). Compelled to experience things from their point of view, I find the world so much easier to handle. There is none of the stress or anxiety that I face on a typical day at Hofstra University. Seeing the clashes between Bushman culture and Western civilization throughout the film causes us to widen our perspective on life even more. Uys suggests that we may be missing out on a higher quality of life by showing us the simplicity of their everyday lives, which lack the stresses we complain about unceasingly. Suddenly I found a new point of view; I began to wonder who should truly be considered civilized.

As I continued to question my life, I was smacked in the face with another culture-clashing film, Lena Wertmuller's 1974 international sensation Swept Away. At this point I more readily widened my perspective, and I was able to see this third film from a big picture point of view. Seeing how money can corrupt someone so dramatically was scary. I wonder if I act at times like the female protagonist Rafaella, the wealthy, never-ending complainer with a sense of entitlement who thinks she is superior to those around her. She zeroes in on deckhand Gennarino and orders him to get her fresh coffee and properly cooked spaghetti (Wertmuller, 0:14:36). I thought of my high school friend who would never get in trouble, because his money could buy him out of any woe. He had always seemed invincible to me until I was exposed to this film. I learned that money has minimal value in real life situations. In fact, I no longer consider financial status as a reflection of one’s wealth, but instead I consider the experience they have when it matters most. Raffaella lacks any knowledge of survival and the capability to kill in order to eat, making her the less wealthy one in this isolated island situation (Wertmuller, 1:15:00). She even tries to buy a lobster off Gennarino, offering him thousands of dollars, which he promptly refuses (Wertmuller 0:53:00). Appreciating the film from Gennarino’s point of view, we see that something that we value so heavily in our capitalistic society cannot compare to the value of knowledge and wisdom.

 Lastly, we watched the Wim Wenders'  1987 romantic film fantasy Wings of Desire which perfectly summed up the entire semester and celebrated seeing the world from a wider perspective. If anyone can see life from an outsider's point of view, it is the angels in this Berlin setting. They have been watching life from a non-corporeal perspective since the beginning of time. Though they cannot interact, they still understand us as humans---sometimes more than we can understand ourselves. They are able to see the mistakes and wrongs of humankind. Wenders creates a boundary that separates the humans from the angels which clarifies their distinctions. Although the angels are able to see the lives of everyone from the outside and can understand a desire for spiritual assistance, they cannot understand what it feels like to exist in real life. At one point Damiel says, "Sometimes I get fed up with this spiritual existence. I don’t want to always hover above I’d rather feel a weight within," and then he proceeds to list a number of human actions that we as humans often take for granted, such as a simple card game or the concept of pain (Wenders, 0:13:20). Since Damiel is able to see the world from the outside, he is not corrupted by an egocentric society, and he has a desire to feel and experience all these things that we often take for granted. We are so consumed by the stressors our daily lives, that we fail to see the value in the little pleasures we see and feel every day. We look for some sense of guidance or a way to get us through our sophisticated lives. Often time we reach for a spiritual sense of help to get us through, because our complicated lives become too tough to handle.

Wenders depicts the parallels between spiritual and physical notions in the film. I have been told from a young age that if I do good on earth I will fly to heaven. With that desire to fly comes a fear of falling as well. At times when I do wrong, I may fear that I may not make it to heaven, but rather fall to hell below. This idea appears throughout the film. For example, Marion’s dream to fly is accompanied with a fear of falling, and breaking her neck in front of an audience (Wenders 0:26:00). Finally, I was convinced again to open my eyes, and live my life with an open perspective, shown to appreciate the value in things I had previously taken for granted.

Our journey this semester was difficult, and it tore us out of out comfort zone, forcing us to finally consider our lives from the outside. Through less than two hours of confusion and frustration, I was able to appreciate and widen my perspective more and more with each film. I can now see the obvious flaws in Western civilization that I had been blinded to before. What seemed so natural to me began to feel barbaric. I learned to embrace my curiosity and question the things and ideas I am fed rather than merely accept them. Then finally, I was convinced to appreciate the little things in my life that I often look right past. Through four short yet powerful films, I am able to value my life in a whole new way, open my eyes to new ideas and suggestions, and feel that I am closer to achieving a post-conventional stage of moral development


Works Cited
Kohlberg, Lawrence. "Stages of Moral Development." Lawrence Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development. N.p., 5 Dec. 2007. Web. 29 Mar. 2017.
Wings of Desire. Dir. Wim Wenders. Road Movies, 1987. Youtube
Swept Away-by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August. Dir. Lina Wertmüller. Perf. Mariangela Melato and Giancarlo Giannini. Medusa Distribuzione S.R.L., 1974. Youtube.
The Gods Must Be Crazy. Dir. Jamie Ups. New Realm, 1980. Youtube.
Walkabout. Dir. Nicolas Roeg. Twentieth Century Fox, 1971. Youtube.
Wings of Desire. Dir. Wim Wenders. Road Movies, 1987. Youtube   
The Gods Must Be Crazy. Dir. Jamie Ups. New Realm, 1980. Youtube.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Bill Bradd's CONTINENT OF GHOSTS Reviewed by Kirpal Gordon

Bill Bradd offers us a portal into a multi-dimensional universe via this book of poems and prose poems. Using Pangea for his metaphor of the undivided self at birth and the death of his mother (when he was two and of whom he has no memory) as our point of departure, we enter “the Continent of Ghosts, where all the people you used to know reside now.” Wearing the mask of the Trojan soldier Aeneas---“stitcher of songs, a wandering performer from occasion to / occasion, hoping for payment of some kind, a room or a meal”---Bradd weaves and re-weaves tales of ancient Greece alongside Biblical events, Native American lore and moments torn from his own life. In addition, the narrator is shadowed by Belial, envoy of Satan, and the many surprise shifts in voice and diction add an element of the kaleidoscopic to this already shape-shifting, interconnecting experience.

For more, visit

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Abused Woman’s Colonization and Declaration of Independence in SWEPT AWAY by Ariana Farajollah

The only sensation crueler than physical enslavement is its mental impact. Many individuals experience one or the other, but the female protagonist in Lina Wertmüller’s film endures both. Swept Away depicts the tale of capitalistic cruiser Rafaella and communistic crew member Gennarino. Despite her earlier mockery of Gennarino, Rafaella is forced to seek out his survival skills when the two get stranded on a Mediterranean island. In a wild turn of events, passive Gennarino becomes disturbingly dominant, demanding sexual favors in return. As a result, the character of Mariangela Melato forms a positive attachment to her captor, portraying many signs that point in the direction of Stockholm Syndrome. However, this condition hardly insinuates that women are inevitably, continuously doomed.

Abusive relationships result in long-term effects and under this umbrella lays Stockholm Syndrome. Without either of the two realizing it, the disorder creeps up to the couple caught in captor-captive relationships. Mental disorder therapist Julia Layton describes the cause of the syndrome: “In a traumatic and extraordinarily stressful event, a person finds herself held captive by a man who is threatening to kill her if she disobeys him in any way. She may be abused physically, sexually and/or verbally —  and have trouble thinking straight” (par. 1). Rafaella undoubtedly fits all of the criteria. In Rafaella and Gennarino’s case, the couple is unexpectedly trapped in the middle of the ocean. To surmount it all, the event is especially anxiety producing due the fact that the individuals share a mutual contempt for one another. For instance, Rafaella complains that the fish Gennarino so painfully caught emits a horrific odor and thus justifies her propelling it overboard (Wertmüller 0:25:19). Stripped of her privilege, Rafaella struggles to feed herself and proceeds to ask the scruffy man for assistance. Gennarino smirks, agreeing to find sustenance under the contingency that she participate in sexual intercourse with him (Wertmüller 0:59:33). When Rafaella disobeys, Gennarino rapes her and threatens to keep the food to himself, thereby indirectly killing her (Wertmüller 1:08:19). In short, under stressful conditions, Rafaella’s Syndrome is caused by the sexual onslaught and refusal of food when she expostulates his request.

The Milan-bred blonde sheds her high maintenance character and transitions, instead, to a self-sacrificing slave. She becomes attracted to Gennarino’s abuse of power and begins to view it as a positive display of masculinity. At this point, Rafaella exhibits symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. Prime Health Channel’s website states that one common symptom is “showing admiration for abductors” (par. 6). She forgoes all resistance of torture, replacing it with confessions of love and proposals of marriage (Wertmüller 0:1:23:07). Critic Tania Modleski describes the situation best: “[Rafaella] luxuriates in her lover’s abuse and even surpasses him in devising more exquisite sexual degradations for herself” (par. 7). Rafaella’s change in temperament and abnormal positive attachment to her “master” provokes Wertmüller’s audience to diagnose the submissive woman with Stockholm Syndrome.

Despite the façade of an erotic sex life the beached couple has curated, the relationship lacks substance. One reviewer comments, “…there's no love between the two….Wertmüller's simply created a situation in which no other options exist for Rafaella” (Rembrandt, par. 2). Forced to remain close to Gennarino for survival, the captive accepts that her situation will be exacerbated if she resists. When opportunity arises for the pair to escape the imprisonment of the island, Gennarino insists they do so out of insecurity (Wertmüller 1:48:00). He seeks validation of Rafaella’s romantic feelings towards him. However, the woman regains the snooty essence of her character, recognizing that their relationship would crumble under the circumstances of the civilization due to their artificial affection. Thus, Rafaella chooses to desert her suitor, evidencing the notion that she never truly loved him, and that her mind was, in fact, merely colonized by the influence of Stockholm Syndrome.

Frustrated by the fashion in which the female director chooses to portray the symbol of feminism, the audience may question society’s view of a woman’s destiny. They ask if this is the lot women are squared off to in society and if submission to man is the only passageway to survival. Critic Roger Ebert argues that Wertmüller is attempting to relay the message that  “woman is an essentially masochistic and submissive creature who likes nothing better than being swept off her feet by a strong and lustful male” (par. 5). However, I must disagree. Although women are susceptible to caving into weak points just as men are, might I add they are just as readily prepared to overcome the struggle. Similarly, Rafaella endures complete dominance and abuse from her captor; however, her resilience allows her to break free from the shackles of her mental illness by leaving him immediately after the two reach civilization. Of course, initially, Rafaella appears oppressed, but the disturbing progression of the film merely serves as a set-up for her victory, or declaration of independence. In her analysis of Swept Away, student Samantha Storms stresses the sentiment that “the negative light that is shed upon women such as Rafaella is not a symbol of inhibition, but an indication of forward movement and progression within a corrupted, subjugating culture” (par. 6). Women are individuals who are not damned to be the oppressors in society, but rather, are inherently the advancers.

Colonization of the mind is powerful. Left with no option but to rely on evil Gennarino for survival, the young woman guiles her mind into a synthetic lust, evidencing a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome. A declaration of independence is even more powerful. Rafaella slips from her captor’s chokehold and evolves into an emblem of female empowerment. The flip from Rafaella’s tainted mental state to an account of female empowerment speaks volumes regarding Western culture. Lina Wertmüller’s iconic piece Swept Away causes her audience to question society’s views on mental health and a woman’s place — or lack thereof and, furthermore, serves as a catalyst for social progression.

Works Cited

Ebert, Roger. "Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August Movie Review (1976) | Roger Ebert."

Romano Cardarelli, 20 Feb. 1976. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Layton, Julia. "What Causes Stockholm Syndrome?" HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks,

            29 Aug. 2006. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

Modleski, Tania. "Wertmuller’s Women." Jump Cut Review of Contemporary Media.

            Jump Cut Review of Contemporary Media, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

PHC Editorial Team. "Stockholm Syndrome - Causes, Symptoms, Cases and

            Treatment." Prime Health Channel. Prime Health Channel, 6 Oct. 2010. Web.

            18 Apr. 2017.

Rembrandt Q. "Swept Away (1974)." Letterboxd. Letterboxd, 2 May 2014. Web. 19

            Apr. 2017.

Storms, Samantha. "Passion’s Dark Side: Roeg’s Walkabout vs Wertmüller’s Swept

            Away by Samantha Storms." Taking Giant Steps. Kirpal Gordon, 08 Dec. 2016.

            Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Stifling Society: Learning from the Uncivilized in WALKABOUT by Imani Hinson

Nature and the way things work outside of civilization is what promotes growth within individuals. Children exposed to the “real world” are given the opportunity to mature in ways that those who grow within civilization do not. Within western culture, children are accustomed to being cared for by their parents and accustomed to an education that makes them book smart; however, it is the interactions outside of the classroom that will stick with them and help them to learn real life. Being in nature promotes personal growth and helps young people mature into who they inspire to be. The separation from indigenous people and life outside of the suburbs of civilization hinders a child from maturing. We see the process of tearing down these dividing walls within the Nicholas Roeg's 1971 cult film classic Walkabout where civilized children are introduced to an unfamiliar world.

The film begins by defining a walkabout: “When an Aborigine man-child reaches sixteen, he is sent out into the land. For months he must live from it” (Roeg 0:08). The British children live in an Australian  city and are shown within their educational institutions where the girls are practicing vowel sounds and the young boys are also in school rote learning. Both the young lady and the boy are dressed in attire suitable for a formal school when the scene changes to their father driving them out to the Outback where it appears that they will be having a picnic. While the boy is playing with his toy gun and the young girl is setting up lunch, the dad begins to shoot real bullets at the boy. The young girl rushes over to protect both her and the younger brother, but is interrupted by the father lighting the car on fire and killing himself in the process. The young girl and boy now left on their own in the outback, must cope with living sans civilization, without someone holding their hand.

As the two young children walk through the Outback, they are not able to use many resources due to their lack of awareness of the numerous resources at their disposal. They see a black figure in the distance and they meet him, asking him how they can get water. The Aboriginal then uses his basic life skills to ensure that they are able to get water. He helps them get back to civilization, but not before showing them some of the land. This Aboriginal is on his walkabout, having to fend for himself, learning how to mature on his own without having supervision around or having someone baby him through every life decision. The boy just knows what he needs to do to stay alive, and he knows what he needs to do in order to make it through.

The film portrays many differences between civilized life and what is to be considered uncivilized life. It pans back and forth with jump cuts many times, contrasting Aboriginal and European lifestyles and cultural norms dedicated to each set; however, it does not show the difference between the education of the young and the ability to grow during educational years. In western civilization, we are taught arithmetic, reading, writing, social sciences, and natural sciences but learn nothing of the natural habitat or of the indigenous people living in nature. We are systemically taught how to be spoon-fed until around the age of 23 when we are given the chance to be completely independent, to find jobs and learn how to fend for ourselves in a world that is not too kind. “Conservative trends across western schooling contexts are signaling an explicit devaluing of social and moral learning within their official curriculum mandates” (Keddie 355). Western civilization grants students the opportunity to grow in a scholastic sense but not in a moral or social capacity.

In western culture we are educated on a surface level; teachers administer assignments and students are expected to know the information but are never given hands on experience. Paulo Freire discusses the banking concept of learning in western culture where “education is seen as a transaction in which teachers deposit knowledge in their students” (Beckett 50). The problem with this model is that students are never challenged enough to think for themselves or to learn things outside of what is taught within the classroom. Students lack the chance to grow on their own or think for themselves which hinders their development and their growth process. They are halted from learning because they are fed information and expected to regurgitate it when needed instead of having a hands-on experience with the real world.  Freire says that “it’s impossible for me to help someone without teaching him or her something with which they can start to do by themselves” (Beckett). When western culture frees itself of this notion that students are not able to think for themselves, only then will our children will be far more educated and able to grow at a much better rate.

In Aboriginal culture a walkabout is taken by a young person in late adolescence. Given the chance to live on their own for months, teens must learn how to hunt, cook and fend for themselves and yet make it out alive. This may seem harsh, but is that just the western civilized way of thinking? If civilized children were taught beyond the four core subjects, would they be better adapted to the world they will eventually encounter? The Aboriginal was able to take care of himself and two strangers because, from a young age, he was gifted the tools and knowledge of how to be on one’s own. He was not coddled by his parents or village and therefore was forced to grow up and become mature enough to be self-sustained.

Although children of civilized communities are well educated in terms of the core subjects, it is essential to realize all they miss out on by not being introduced to non-civilized life. “The children of civilized races are shut away [from] free contact with nature [and] grow up with undeveloped capacities” (Jones 493).This quote was taken from a study done by Martha Simpson, simulating the Aboriginal walkabout for kindergarten children in civilized Australia. These children were given an opportunity to expand their education outside of the walls of their classroom and learn what those who are living this life every day experience. By creating a simulated walkabout, the children are given an opportunity to have that growth period on their own like the Aboriginals who live there already have. The tools for success to living life can be given through the nature of being able to know what’s in one’s backyard. “Advocates believed that direct contact with nature fostered the instincts required for adjustment to the modern world” (Jones 493). Taking some practices from the Aboriginal people, western civilization would be able to mature if we were not afraid to take a peak in their back yards.

In addition, by showing children the idea of accepting diversity, they are able to grow up knowledgeable about the many different cultures in the world. In western civilization many young children do not know of diversity or are not willing to accept it until they are older. The maturity process that comes with being outdoors and experiencing other cultures helps to ensure that these children are equipped with the tools for success when viewing others. As KP said, these children are not able to get to the point where they “look at others and don’t see others as others” (Gordon). They are not at stage five and six of Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. “In brief, for Kohlberg later stages were not just different than earlier stages; later stages were in fact higher, more adequate, preferable, more moral or morally better than earlier stages” (Moroney 362). “Most people never reach the highest stages (five and six)” (Moroney 362). These children must be given the tools and access to seeing diversity first hand.

In Simpson’s experiment “Aboriginal legends and cultural practices thus become teaching tools for white settler children, enabling them to learn from the bush” (Jones 494). These children were given the tools to accept diversity and appreciate other cultures because they were exposed to differences and different people at a young age. By teaching children in their early ages of learning to accept all cultures and people they are given a step ahead of others to reaching their full moral capacity.

Walkabout asks the question as to if our society’s education is really equipping us with the tools we need to succeed. Being a college student, growing up in the ideal public school education, there is so much more that is unseen and unknown of due to the fact that the education system has not gifted the facts about life outside of civilization. They teach the four core subjects and expect young adults to be able to know how to live their life. For western civilized children our walkabout does not start until 22 or 23 when we are set out on our own after college to find jobs, to find housing, to find ourselves, but that walkabout process of exploring and learning could be our guide along the way as we go through schooling. If children in western civilization were not so coddled by our society’s education system then our children would go far beyond what they ever thought of accomplishing.

Works Cited

Beckett, Kelvin Stewart. "Paulo Freire and the Concept of Education." Educational Philosophy & Theory, vol. 45, no. 1, Jan. 2013, pp. 49-62. Web. 28. Feb.2017.

Gordon, Paul Kirpal. 22 Feb. 2017. Class discussion.

Jones, Jennifer. "Nature Study, Aborigines and the Australian Kindergarten: Lessons from Martha Simpson’s Australian Programme Based on the Life and Customs of the Australian Black." History of Education, vol. 43, no. 4, July 2014, pp. 487-503. Web. 20. 2017.

Keddie, Amanda. "Prioritizing Social and Moral Learning Amid Conservative Curriculum Trends: Spaces of Possibility." Journal of Curriculum Studies, vol. 47, no. 3, June 2015, pp. 355-373. Web. 22. 2017.

Moroney, Stephen K. "Higher Stages? Some Cautions for Christian Integration with Kohlberg's Theory." Journal of Psychology & Theology, vol. 34, no. 4, Winter2006, pp. 361-371. Web. 22. 2017

Walkabout. Dir. Nicholas Roeg. Perf. Jenny Agutter, Jean-Luc Roeg, and David Gumpilil. 1971. Youtube.