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The Founder: Ray Kroc’s self-hatred is an American mirror.

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In our efforts to catch up with recent movies, we ordered The Founder through Netflix and watched it last night.I had forgotten what it was about, and was intrigued when we popped it in the DVD player to find out more about the emergence of the McDonald’s empire.What could me more all-American and apple pie-like than McDonald’s?Even though McDonald’s has promoted a fast food culture that has had an insidious impact on our health, has contributed to a generation interested in drive through convenience for everything from banking to health care, and has had questionable hiring and employment practices, there was, in my mind, something solid and positive in my mind about McDonald’s and those golden arches – just as there is something wonderful and wholesome about Coca-Cola.  How can Coca-Cola be wonderful and wholesome?  In France the King always drank better wine than the ordinary people.In the United States, we all drink the same thing – and it is lovely – an elixir; and we eat the sam…

The Crown: Edward the VIII Season 2, Episode 6

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Edward the VIII’s abdication is something that I have been vaguely aware of for as long as I can remember.It was a romantic, but, in my moral set, a tainted romantic decision – he chose to marry a divorced woman (when I was eight years old and first heard of this, divorce had a tone of scandal) and he gave up the throne for love.It sets in motion the action in The Crown – but also in the King’s Speech – a movie that must have come out before I started blogging because I can’t believe that, to this point, I haven’t posted about it.My personal connection with Edward is that his portrait – dancing with his wife, Wallis Simpson, used to adorn the walls of the Waldorf Astoria where, until last year when the Waldorf was sold to be turned into condos, the annual meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association was held.Edward and Simpson looked perfectly matched, and seemed to signify all that was royal and regal about the Waldorf Astoria back “in the day”.
And that fairy tale – tainted sl…

The Crown: Governance as a lesson for our time.

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My connection to Queen Elizabeth stems from my identification as a member of the Episcopal Church (the American branch of the Church of England), where the minister once characterized us as the “frozen chosen”.She has always appeared to me to exemplify what it means to have a stiff upper lip.And a stiff lower lip.She has seemed almost inhuman.I was first introduced to her on screen when she was portrayed as a child in the movie The King’s Speech.I think I next ran into her onscreen – or the royal family as a whole – in Love Actually, where the loser sandwich delivery guy imagines himself in America as Prince Harry without the weird family.Oh, sure, I have seen her on TV and in People magazine.Elizabeth is the mother of Charles who married Lady Di – and she has never turned over the throne to him – but I am not an anglophile, so am just now learning about the history of the monarchy from the new Netflix series, The Crown, which really seems to flow almost seamlessly out of The King’s …

Il Trovatore

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Il Trovatore - The Troubadour – was not Verdi’s original title for this opera – apparently he wanted to call it The Gypsy Woman – and it is two Gypsy women – a mother and a daughter - who drive the craziness in this very crazy opera.It just so happens that I am in New York with a mother/daughter combo – the reluctant wife and stepdaughter.I am going to the annual psychoanalytic conference – and they are here to look at a possible college.We decided to take in an opera to round things out, and what an opera we chose!
Things got rolling long before the current action starts.A gypsy woman was seen in the count’s infant son’s room.The count was concerned about this and chased her out.Then the son became ill, and the count was convinced that the gypsy had put a spell on his son, so had her burned at the stake.Her daughter is traumatized by seeing her mother burned alive (the aria where she sings about remembering this brings the terror back to life – and has the potential to traumatize th…

Don DeLillo’s Zero K – Do Billionaires Die Too?

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The Reluctant Son has headed off to college and we were talking about a philosophy course he is taking.  This class is filled with books about death, Plato’s Apology, Phaedo, and Euthyphro were the leadoff hitters, and a book I had not heard of – a novel by Don Delillo – Zero K followed.  My son was in the midst of reading it and said that he didn’t really enjoy reading it, but that he thought it was a profound book, and he wondered if I might read it too so that we could talk about it.  Is there better chum he might have put in the water?  Not for this guy!
So, having read it, as we discussed it, I was curious about his experience of knowing that he was going to die.  I let him know that I first experienced the sense that I was mortal on a visceral level during Freshman year in college, when I was confronted by some of the same readings from Plato – and a bunch of deaths in the Iliad and the Odyssey.  I wonder if I also became viscerally aware of my own mortality in the context of b…

What is Psychoanalysis?

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I blog as the Reluctant Psychoanalyst, but I have never defined directly what it is that I mean by Psychoanalysis.  Here is a description of what psychoanalysis is – and why I think it is an important perspective (even if I reluctantly identify with it) for us to be aware of when we think of all things human:
Though psychoanalysis as a discipline and a field is largely the invention of one man, Sigmund Freud, it has been practiced, altered and thought about by a myriad of individuals.  In fact, Freud first learned of a new technique of treatment from his friend Joseph Breuer, who called it “the talking cure”.  Breuer was reporting his work with a patient, Bertha Pappenheimer (they called her Anna O), who, when she first started to recall the things that had preceded being symptomatic, had called it “chimney sweeping”.  Most people, when they think about psychoanalysis, think about it as a psychotherapeutic technique – one where the psychoanalyst sits behind a couch that the patient i…

Y Tu Mama Tambien - Sex and Sorrow

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When my only biological child was born, I was glad he was a boy.  I was scared to death about navigating adolescence with a daughter – in part because adolescent boys (not to mention creepy older guys) just seemed so dangerous.  Having been gifted with two adolescent stepdaughters, their self-awareness is a bonus – and the lack of it on the part of most of the reluctant son’s friends (he seems to be an exception – or maybe just hiding it from me well) should have given me more pause about having a son – and this movie would have clued me in had I seen it when it first came out in 2001.  I didn’t see it then because the trailers made it seem raunchy, which it is, but what the trailers didn’t capture was that the raunchiness is one the more realistic integrations of sexuality and, in one moment, sensuality into a film that I have seen.  Somehow these Mexican filmmakers have allowed their adolescent males’ sex lives to be part of their lives – and this has not led the film to be tawdry …