Writing from Samsung Galaxy

As we say in my culture, I keep finding new adventures for my ass. My Samsung Galaxy smartphone has arrived, and I am now learning to use it. I have a feeling it will take a while because after years of being a BlackBerry addict, a different type of device is very unusual. I keep pressing wrong buttons and scaring myself. The keyboard feels too big. But the Android app market is making me happy because I know it from my Kindle.

Sorry for a boring post. Its main goal is to see whether I can blog from this device.

I’m Glad I’m Not a Film Critic

I’m very happy that I did not choose to specialize in film theory. Teaching film sucks, people.

I have a three-week-long section on Spanish film in my Culture of Spain course, and I suffer. The movies I selected are wonderful, the students enjoy them greatly, we have intense discussions of the films, the students are really good at analyzing movies (which is obviously the result of the hard work conducted by two of my colleagues who do specialize in film criticism.)

Still, I suffer because the moralizing gets to me. The students moralize about film in the way they never do when we are working with literary texts. I’m into moralizing myself but never to the same degree as the students.

“If he is unemployed, how come he has money to buy cigarettes?”

“Why is he sitting in a bar instead of looking for a job?”

“Why is he smiling at his friend’s daughter? Doesn’t he know she is underage?”

“The 40-year-old male protagonist held a 15-year-old girl’s hand. Is he a pedophile?”

“Why is this woman letting a male colleague give her a lift home? Is she cheating on her husband?”

“Why is he using such bad language? Doesn’t he care there is a small boy listening to him?”

When I try to get the students to stop being judgmental for a few minutes and try to analyze the film as a work of art, I begin to sound to myself like a defender of alcoholism, smoking, pedophilia, adultery, profanity, and God knows what else.

If anybody has any subtle tricks they use to soften the students’ judgmental streak, please share.

Is Obama a Narcissist?

I wish people didn’t use psychoanalytic terminology stupidly. Because when they do, they say more about their own deep-seated issues than about the topic they think they are discussing. See the following example:

First, Obama’s personality. In an earlier life, I spent a lot of time studying the psychoanalytic literature on narcissism. It was all part of a study of canonical American poetry, where I thought that the imperial grandiosity of the American imaginary could be illuminated by examining its underlying narcissism. But all that is by way of saying I’m not using this term recklessly. I think there’s a lot of the narcissist about Obama. There’s something chilly and empty about him. Unlike Bill Clinton, he doesn’t revel in human company. It makes him uncomfortable. He wants the rich and powerful to love him, but doesn’t care about the masses (unless they’re a remote but adoring crowd). Many people seem to bore him. It shows.

I have no idea whether Obama or Romney are narcissists. I’m not their therapist, so it’s not for me to decide. However, I know that not liking human company is not a narcissistic trait. Neither are aloofness or feeling bored by people. If you consider these to be negative qualities in a human being or a politician, that’s your right. These are not narcissistic qualities, however.

Narcissists don’t like to spend time alone. They are in need of an admiring crowd at every stage of their existence. Narcissists have great people skills because without such skills they would not be able to find the audience to observe their narcissistic performances. Narcissists know all too well how to relate to others and make themselves indispensable. They feel uncomfortable outside of human company, not within it. Other people can have as much capacity to bore them as food does to bore a foodie. They dedicate their lives to consuming other people.

The failed analysis offered in the linked post is a great illustration of why the so-called “psychoanalytic literary criticism” is worthless garbage. Psychoanalyzing and diagnosing works of art is stupid. Doing this to politicians is not too smart either. This kind of analysis is always politically and critically impotent because it betrays an incapacity to engage with ideas (or works of art) and substitutes analytical thinking with a tabloid obsession with personalities.