Daily Archives: April 4, 2010

Shutter Island

Johanna Isaacson, who will be teaching a course on San Francisco literature at SFSU in the Fall, kindly offered this film review of Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island for exclusive publication at analepsis.

Shutter Island’s Valuable Things

Johanna Isaacson

1954, a paranoid moment– US doctors have lobotomized 18,000 people with no end in sight, top CIA officials purchase ten kilos of LSD from Sandoz Labs, the House of Un-American Activities is ramping up the Red Scare, the Cold War is launching into a protracted period of crisis and escalation.  Enter Teddy Daniels, a working class detective, ex WWII soldier who was present for the liberation of Dachau and the exposure of its horrors.  He is now approaching yet another nightmare zone, Ashecliff Hospital, a  mental institution/penal colony for the criminally insane where the benign gardens and open air treatment mask an insidious world of physical and psychological torture.  We’re not certain, but all the signs point to Ashecliff as a gothic no man’s land where  non-compliant patients are disappeared and converted into drugged or lobotomized zombies– soldier-fodder for history’s insatiable maw of militarism and violence.  Fortunately, our detective exhibits an acute critical capacity and intuition, he will not be put off the scent by the Warden Dr. Cawley’s transparent front as humane doctor, he knows that the experiments at Shutter Island are anything but benign and compassionate.  Crawley says of his experimental methods, “Valuable things have a way of being misunderstood,” and we, with Teddy, shudder at the sinister implications.

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Θερμοπύλαι (HUM415)

Monday we discuss 300 (and, just as importantly, the relevant passages from Herodotus’s History). Take a look at some maps for a better sense of the geographical context of the battle of the Hot Gates:

Above: “Leonidas at the Thermopylae” (1814) by Jacobin and artist Jacques Louis David.

Above: A relief of Xerxes from the apadana (audience hall) at Persepolis.

The GPCR (HUM470)

GPCR poster

To villages we go, to the borders we go, to places in the fatherland where we are most needed we go.

Tuesday we begin our discussion of Rae Yang’s memoir of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Spider Eaters. Students interested in some historical context might take a tour of Morning Sun . Here’s a clip from a documentary of the same name:

An article from the Monthly Review on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Quotes from the Little Red Book:

“The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you.


The world belongs to you. China’s future belongs to you.”

— Mao Zedong (1957)

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

— Mao Zedong (1927)