One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
The novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest was written by Ken Kesey and was first published in 1962. It tells the story of an Oregon State mental hospital and it's patients. Their lives are oppressed and dictated by a tyrannical Nurse Ratched, whose strict routine remains unopposed by her patients due to their mind numbing medication and threat of electric shock therapy. However her unbending rules are soon challenged by the arrival of the bold and daring McMurphy who takes it upon himself to oppose the powers that keep them imprisoned. These events are all noted by Chief Bromden (who pretends to be deaf and dumb) who understands McMurphy heroic resolve to oppose their oppressors on behalf of his fellow inmates.
The novel explores the boundaries between sanity and madness as well as themes of authoritarian control madness through out. It shows a state of madness to be an 'alternative' to conformity. The book also reflects freedom and the loss of it. The central character McMurphy is a wild, non-conformist rebel who is attractively dangerous. He is not mad but is in the asylum as a punishment (and to avoid the work farms). The novel shows how the Nurses, particularly Nurse Ratched, attempt to make McMurphy conform to society. The Asylum and the nurses within it clearly symbolise an oppressive and unfeeling society.
It is a very 60s hippy text but I think it probably also reflects anxieties about the Cold War at the time - totalitarian authority and the resistance of the individual etc.
Angst: origins of anxiety and depression by Jeffrey P. Kahn, MD
Jeffrey P. Kahn's book Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression presents a new theory that common anxiety & depressive disorders are modern consequences of biologically evolved social instincts. The book explores how around 20% of people are afflicted with common Anxiety and Depressive disorders- Kahn believing this angst stems from an evolutionary inheritance that biologically shaped us into social communities. According to the the book Angst can be separated into five specific diagnostic subtypes: Panic Anxiety, Social Anxiety, OCD, Atypical Depression and Melancholic Depression. Each of the five comes from primeval social instincts that told our ancestors how to improve survival of their community DNA. These instincts are also very much alive and unfettered in other species today.
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws by Kate Bornstein
The Secret Agent By Joseph Conrad
Conrad’s The Secret Agent is a dark story about deception and betrayal set in late Victorian London, though its tone is often satirical. One of it's main themes is madness that is explored in may different ways. However my main focus is on the character Stevie who is described as being mentally ill yet he is one of the kindest and most sane character's in the novel. Stevie’s is extremely sensitive to cruelty and pain; in the first chapter we hear the story of how his compassion had been worked up by ‘tales of injustice and oppression’ until he had been persuaded to let off fireworks in the office which results in his dismissal from his one and only job. Later he objects to the cab driver’s whipping his horse and when the latter deliberately whips him again, Stevie gets down from the cab, stammering, ‘Too heavy. Too heavy’, in a desperate act of self-sacrifice. Ironically, in the light of what happens, it is the appeal to Mr Veloc’s ‘grief and unhappiness’ at his behaviour that persuades Stevie to get back up.
With the exception of Verloc’s walk to the Embassy at the beginning of the story, most of the walks, journeys and encounters in the novel take place at night or in darkness. In the Cab Ride scene, Conrad reminds the reader of the ‘sinister, noisy, hopeless and rowdy night of South London’ through which the cab passes, before there is a time-shift in the narrative, a technique Conrad uses throughout the novel, back to the events leading to Mrs Verloc’s decision to leave home for the alms house. Although she used deception and had ‘burst into tears outright and aloud’ to get her way, she is sacrificing her material comfort for the preservation of her son, but which the narrator cynically describes as an act of heroism and ‘deep policy’, in contrast to Stevie’s innocent altruism. In this dark key, there follows a monologue from the cabdriver punctuated by choric responses from Stevie that is initiated by Stevie’s horrified and compassionate observation of ‘that mute dweller on the earth’, the horse: ‘This ain’t an easy world.’ ... ‘Bad! Bad!’ and ‘Ard on osses but dam sight arder on poor chaps like me’ ... ‘Poor! Poor!’ When later Winnie returns to take him home, Stevie’s insight in to the suffering and injustice of society is summed up in the phrase, one of the longest and most complex he speaks in the novel, ‘Bad world for poor people.’
Stevie’s profound though inarticulate compassion is presented to the reader in an unexpectedly comic way when we are informed that the boy’s response to the plight of the cabdriver and his horse is ‘a bizarre longing to take them to bed with him.’ This is then explained by reference to Stevie’s memories of being consoled by his sister when he was little: she would ‘carry him off to bed with her, as into a heaven of consoling peace.’ The tender but also fierce care that Winnie has for her brother is the only positive relationship in the novel and it will lead at the end of the story to Winnie’s murder of Verloc who, she convinces herself, ‘took the boy away to kill him,’.
Stevie's sensitivity could be debated as stemming from his madness. For example he is described as being obsessed with "… drawing circles, circles; innumerable circles, concentric, eccentric; a coruscating whirl of circles that by their tangled multitude of repeated curves, uniformity of form, and confusion of intersecting lines suggest[ing] a rendering of cosmic chaos, the symbolism of a mad art attempting the inconceivable." It is symbolic of his dream to make the world a perfect place. The circles that Stevie draws might also symbolize the circles that his mind is always travelling in. When characters like Winnie or Verloc come up against an impossible problem, they tend to shrug it off and figure it's not worth worrying about. Stevie, though, never stops trying to find new ways to figure out a problem.The Cab Scene ends with a thematically significant dialogue in which Winnie tries to explain the role of the police to Stevie, as she sees it. Conrad comments that ‘like the rest of mankind, perplexed by the mystery of the universe’ (a central idea in the novel), Stevie wants to believe that the authorities, ‘the organised powers of the earth’, have the ability to make life better for people. In some limited ways, as we see in the actions of Heat and the Assistant Commissioner, who are not presented as bad men, they do, but not, Conrad suggests, in matters of social justice: Winnie tells Stevie that the purpose of the police is to defend the status quo, ‘so that them as have nothing shouldn’t take anything away from them who have.’ Stevie’s innocent sense of justice is eloquently expressed in his response: ‘Not even if they were hungry?’ Ironically, his question goes to the heart of the anarchist debate, though, with the exception of the terrifying Professor, the anarchists in the novel are presented as delusional and ineffectual.
I'm interested in the way Conrad explores madness in Stevie and I'm inspired with the way he is obsessed with Justice that he searches for in his manic drawings of circles.
Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas De Quincy
I decided to study Thomas De Quincy's novel "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" as it explores the writer's addiction to Opium. I thought it would be interesting to compare it with Ken Kessey who believed mind altering drugs to be beneficial and that all society should take it in order for the world to be a better place. However after analysing De Quincy's text, despite having a similar belief to begin with it soon changes. I think it would be interesting to explore the effects of drugs in my project and it's initial high descending into darkness.
Thomas De Quincy's novel "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" is tormented with the question as to whether artistic creation and human happiness are compatible yet his work proves the two to be incompatible in his life. He is unable to find salvation or resolve in his work; especially when his opium addiction resulted in him being unable to fulfil his artistic and philosophical ambition. The continuous reworking of “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater” proves De Quincy to have never been satisfied with his art. De Quincy, a Romantic prose writer, does not find art as a form of escapism but as a tool to examine personal experiences in order to discover oneself. De Quincy hopes his confessions to be “useful and instructive” as he argues both the pains and pleasures of opium. De Quincy is much more literal in his form of escapism which is through the opium induced dreams rather than art. His addiction to opium becomes for him a religion calling it “the true church” of which he is the “only member”. Even his first use of opium is described as a religious experience saying he “had heard of it as I had of manna or of Ambrosia”. Both “manna” and “ambrosia” are known as food of the gods in mythology and Judaism suggesting opium to be sacred and supernatural. De Quincy continues with his religious imagery by emphasising that his first experience with the drug was on a “Sunday” (repeating the word four times), as well as illustrating the pharmacist as a prophet-like figure - a “vision of an immortal druggist, sent down to earth on a special mission to myself”. Furthermore on return to the “Pantheon” he claims that it had “vanished from Oxford-street” which adds to the “mystic” and “celestial” atmosphere surrounding his first encounter. By creating a religion from his addiction De Quincy implies that opium is the route to pleasure and therefore he does not need art to heal him. This is suggested in the line “the poor are far more philosophical than the rich – that they show a more ready and cheerful submission to what they consider as irremediable evils, or irreparable losses” for despite romanticizing poverty there is a subtle suggestion that the rich are able to escape suffering as they can afford opium, whereas the poor must endure the pain. De Quincy places heavy emphasis on the pleasures of opium as he aims to expose the misconceptions of taking it, rather than challenging the moral objections. Therefore he goes into detail on his “Opera pleasures” and how opium “increases…that particular mode of activity by which we are able to construct out of the raw material of sound an elaborate intellectual pleasure”. De Quincy also enjoyed when on the drug “to wander forth…to all the markets, and other parts of London, to which the poor resort” as he revelled in “sympathising with their pleasures”. The long wondering sentences echo De Quincy’s movement in the scene. Ultimately the drug to him “always seems to compose what had been agitated, and to concentrate what had been distracted”. However, “the elevation of spirits produced by opium is necessarily followed by a proportionate depression” suggesting the joy of escapism through opium is short-lived.
For De Quincy opium is no longer a form of escapism for what once gave him pleasure now gives him pain. This is most evident in his dream which he believes to be illustrations of the subconscious that therefore reveal the depths of his suffering. For example he suffers a torturous dream in which he “was buried, for a thousand years” and “kissed, with cancerous kisses, by crocodiles”. However De Quincy’s most poignant dream is of Anne who he thought of with “grief of heart and perfect love”.She appears to him “more beautiful than she was at that time” causing De Quincy to rejoice saying “I have found you at last”. However his moment of joy quickly takes a sinister turn when “thick darkness came on” as “her countenance grew dim”. The dream returns to them “by lamp-light in Oxford-Street, walking again” as they had “seventeen years before”. However, the previous images of “thick darkness” implies that the innocence and optimism De Quincy once had when they “were both children” has been lost due to his digression into addiction thus “The opium dream becomes a final farewell to this pathetic adolescent experience”. This is emphasised by the suffering De Quincy undergoes in no longer being able to grapple intellectual problems. This is shown by the line “I shrunk from them with a sense of powerless and infantine feebleness that gave me an anguish the greater for remembering the time when I grappled with them to my own hourly delight”. Ultimately the greatest pain of opium for De Quincy is his failure as an intellect comparing himself to an “architect” who had “foundations laid that were never to support a superstructure” causing “grief and ruin”. Perhaps this is true as “Confessions of an English opium-Eater is often described as being a minor character in English Romanticism and, in being understood as such, becomes almost a footnote to the likes of Wordsworth and Coleridge.” Convinced his intellectual life to be a failure he “refrains from trying to construct art” believing that he will never create a “superstructure”- “instead he is a kind of impressionistic reporter.”
Tragically De Quincy never finds happiness in his artistic creation as he fails to find any resolve from his pain in his work. Even at the end of the article De Quincy addresses the audience saying “think not, reader, that therefore my sufferings were ended” but to “think of me as one, even when four months passed, still agitated, writhing, throbbing, palpitating, shattered”. His torment stems from his belief that he has failed to reach his intellectual capacity- therefore his artistic creation is not compatible with his happiness as he believes it to be a failure. His constant reworking of “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater” only proves De Quincy to be dissatisfied with his work-which were only magazine articles that were neither completed nor shaped works of art. His inability to create art only adds to his suffering. Opium has an influence on his written style such as the long sentences, digression and phonology, but the lack of structure in “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater” emphasises his work not being complete. Before beginning the Pains of Opium De Quincy admits “I have not been able to compose the notes for this part of my narrative into any regular and connected shape.” De Quincy losses structure at the peak of the novel which echoes his reality. Joyce and Keats both follow a structure in which they progress from suffering to happiness through art whereas De Quincy does the complete opposite. Perhaps most tragically of all is De Quincy’s assurance to the reader that he has stopped taking opium and that in doing this and his life was “again a happy one”. The truth is De Quincy never overcame his addiction. This suggests that De Quincy uses his art to project a more ideal version of himself (as he also lies about his friendship with Anne saying it “could not have been an impure one”) but unlike Stephen in “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” he does not use it as a tool to shape his real identity.
To conclude De Quincy does not find happiness and artistic creation to be compatible due to his addiction preventing him from reaching his intellectual capacity. His frustration and dissatisfaction with his work prevents him from progressing as an artist which in turn prevents his happiness.
 Confessions of an English Opium Eater Essay- e.Notes.com
 Confessions of an English Opium Eater Essay- e.Notes.com
 Confessions of an English Opium Eater Essay- e.Notes.com
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and German Expressionism
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German silent horror film, directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. Considered the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, it tells the story of an insane hypnotist who uses a somnambulist to commit murders. The film features a dark and twisted visual style, with sharp-pointed forms, oblique and curving lines, structures and landscapes that lean and twist in unusual angles, and shadows and streaks of light painted directly onto the sets.
Expressionist theatre did not adhere to the rules of the "well made play". Poetry, prose, and visual art bled into one another in an aesthetically intense effort to attain the "essence".
The first expressionist films "Kammerspiel film" were created between the wars. Films were highly symbolic and deliberately surrealistic portrayals or filmed stories. Sets were wildly non-realistic and geometrically absurd, with designs painted on walls and floors to represent lights, shadows, and objects. The plots and stories often dealt with madness, insanity, betrayal, and other "intellectual" topics.
Theatre, with its accessibility to the masses, and its embedment in group experience, was a particularly favoured form for expressionist practitioners.
Dreamlike and surreal (nightmarish and eerie)
Things to do to achieve this:
- Shadowy, unrealistic lighting.
- visual distortions in the set.
- use of pauses for long time in counterpoint to speech.
- Closely linked to Play's theme or structure.
- Simplified images the theme of the play called for.
- Bizarre shapes and Garish Colours.
- Bare Stage (few props).
- Props normally symbolic.
- Use of masks.
- Deliberate use of shadows.
- Lighting stark (illuminating key areas of the stage space).
German expressionist theatre will have a strong influence on my project as I think the way it portrays a dark, drab and surreal atmosphere directly echoes the tone of Ken Kessey's Novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Therefore I aim to incorporate this sense of darkness and despair in my own work.
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
German Expressionism: The Essentials
Tim Burton: A German Expressionism Influence
Vincent by Tim Burton - Short Animation(1982)
Girl, Interrupted (Film)
Girl, Interrupted is a 1999 film directed by James Mangold and was loosely based on Susan Kaysen's 1993 memoir of the same name. The film follows the character Susanna Kaysen's during her 18-month stay at a mental institution. The film received mixed reviews (despite Angelina Jolie's Oscar winning performance). Stephen Holden in The New York Times wrote; "Girl, Interrupted is a small, intense period piece with a hardheaded tough-love attitude toward lazy, self-indulgent little girls flirting with madness: You can drive yourself crazy, or you can get over it. The choice is yours" where as Tom Coates from the BBC wrote; "Girl, Interrupted is a decent adaptation of her memoir of this period, neatened up and polished for an audience more familiar with gloss than grit." The author herself however was one of the films disparagers stating that Mangold added "melodramatic drivel" to the story by inventing plot points that never happened in the book (such as Lisa and Susanna running away together).
I found Girl, Interrupted to be an interesting film to compare with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as it is set in an all female Mental Hospital. It's interesting to note how the two works explore sexuality. Girl, Interrupted shows the female patients to be very open and bold about their sexuality whereas One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest illustrates the male patients to be completely sexually repressed (excluding McMurphy). This difference compliments the theme of female dominance in Cuckoo's Nest.
Control is a 2007 biopic of Ian Curtis directed by Anton Corbyn. It follows the troubled life of musician Ian Curtis during 1970s England and his rise to fame as lead singer of the band Joy Division. A husband and father, Curtis begins to feel the strain of his band's growing fortune, his crumbling marriage to wife Deborah and his worsening epilepsy- all of which eventually lead to his suicide.
The director Corbijn had been a devout Joy Division fan since the band's early days in the late 1970s and even met the band where he shot several pictures for NME- some of his pictures where even included in the movie- as well as directing their music video "Atmosphere". Corbijn commented on the way in which the film overlapped with his own life in some ways. "I had moved to England to be close to that music at the time, and I was very into Joy Division. I worked with them, took pictures of them that became synonymous with their music, and I was forever linked. Then eight years after [Ian Curtis'] death, I did the video for "Atmosphere." So in other people's eyes I was always connected with them." The film rather notably was shot on colour stock and printed to black and white to "reflect the atmosphere of Joy Division and the mood of the era". Ian Curtis' widow, Deborah Curtis was a co-producer for the film as well as Tony Wilson ( the man who gave Joy Division their TV break on the local magazine programme Granada Reports, as well as founding Factory Records which released most of Joy Division's work). Ian Curtis' daughter, Natalie, played an extra in the crowd for the Derby Hall gig. The final scene of the film is shot in the exact position where Ian Curtis's memorial stone is located in Macclesfield with the camera panning out to reveal the crematorium which can be seen directly from his memorial.
I believe Control to portray beautifully the exhausting struggles and isolation of depression which are emphasised in the films black and white aesthetic. Also the long quiet shots perfectly juxtaposed the sudden fast and flickering moments perfectly echoing Ian Curtis' inner struggles. Not to mention the symbolism of the title Control which is also the name of one of Joy Division's hit songs.
Wonder.land: Video design (by 59 Productions)
I found both Nola Avienne's subject matter and use of materials particularly inspiring especially in her works "Heady" and "Brain Maps". These works had a huge emotional impact on me due to the way they express the confusing and colourful nature of our minds and the world. They're tactile, humorous, cathartic, disturbing and sparkly. Avienne created "Heady" after being in an accident the year prior that made her feel the need "to knit myself together". She stated that she "wanted to make something but didn’t have the energy to get into the studio after work, so [she] brought up some yarn and heads began to emerge. Each of them developed a personality as [she] stuffed them with personal objects, childhood artifacts, notes, spoken words, things [she] needed to let go of and place into these icons." She made the white head "Medella" in 2003 along with a full-size spine. The teeth were made of resin (that dentists used for bridges around 50 years ago) and fresh water pearls.
(Medella Yarn, vintage dentures, pearls, paper, embedded personal objects, blood and beeswax.)
Her series "Brain Maps" show large scale images of her brain from an MRI scan using watercolors. I love the way Avienne dissects and reconstructs the human brain by using familiar and ordinary objects to familiarize our everyday conception of the mind and brain. It beautifully illustrates the complexity of the mind beyond its shape and form.
( Brain Map no.3 (bee tending) 2014. Watercolor on vellum. 36”x 36” )
"I choose materials that evoke a visceral response, suggesting seduction, repulsion, fragility or protection. I thrive on the alchemy of chance, unpredictable occurrences in materials that allow the environment of a work to emerge. In my studio practice, my work has developed progressively through the investigation and negotiation of the tensions between art and science, chaos and order, humor and discomfort.
I have always been fascinated by blood and regard it as a potent substance that resonates more than pigment outside of the context of the body and feel that my own blood is the most honest material I can use.
Magnets I’m just strangely drawn toward."
Henry Hering was a photographer from the mid-19th century. He is noted for the photographs he took of Bethlem patients which he took in order to examine their faces for evidence of their mental health conditions. Several of the patients he photographed twice: once shortly after arriving, and again shortly before leaving. This in itself was very unique as in the 1850's photography was relatively new, therefore ‘before and after’ photographs would have been new and exciting for the times.
(Sarah Gardner, a domestic servant, was admitted to Bethlem aged 26 in August 1857 suffering from ‘great mental depression’. She was discharged in October 1857.)
Hering did not photograph all of his subjects twice partly due to the fact that not everyone recovered. Bethlem claimed to have had a recovery rate of 57% from when these photographs were taken between 1856 and 1860.
(Eliza Camplin, a labourer’s wife, was admitted to Bethlem aged 36 in February 1857 suffering from ‘acute mania’)
Hering studied each photograph after taking it commenting on their appearance as well as the process of taking the photograph itself. For example Hering commented that when photographing Eliza Camplin she ‘made some objection to her own dress, which she evidently thought not very becoming; and she at length made it a condition of her sitting quiet that she should be represented with a book in her hand. The book, indeed, was held upside down; but it did quite as well.’
It is interesting to study Hering's work as they illustrate both deterioration of some patients and the strengthening of others- an thee which is pivotal in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and an idea I would very much like to explore in my piece. O also find it fascinating to speculate the process of creating the images and how staged and elegant these patients are portrayed- is it all a facade?
Guy Shelmerdine directed a piece called Catatonic that was an immersive and interactive short film set in an asylum. It used the 360º 3D immersion of VR, as well as a ButtKicker™ (which is a vibrating device) built into the base of the wheelchair that the audience member/patient sits in. Catatonic takes the audience member on an immersive journey through an insane asylum in which they are bound to a wheelchair, enabling to undergo "a sensory-shocking horror thrill ride." The members of the audience were ushered into a custom-built wheelchair by nurses dressed in a 1940s uniforms. The design of the chair resembles a padded cell which Shelmerdine described as "a unique blend of comfort and paralysis". In order to fully enter the virtual environment created the audience member was then given headphones and a headset.
The location of the film was actually captured at a derelict mental hospital in Pasadena. Shelmerdine's aim was to bridge the stark terror of a gripping horror film with the inescapable immersion of virtual reality stating “The Catatonic experience blends the real world with the virtual world, whereby audience members become mental patients in a spine-chilling insane asylum”
I'm really interested in creating a piece that is both interactive and immersive in order to shock and confront the audience with their emotions.
Charlie Chaplin's Speech in The Great Dictator
The Great Dictator's Speech
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. .....
Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!