Analysis of Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Salman Rushdie is a contemporary novelist known for his controversial work: Satanic verses which have been banned in many countries. He uses the novelist technique of magic realism. Haroun and the sea of stories is burlesque comedy and it is also a satirical allegory about Indian middle class and its corrupt political set up.
The main characters in the Novel are Rashid and his son Haroun. Rashid is humorously known as the Sha of Blah. He is a story teller and he is hired by panjandrums to tell stories for their election campaign. The city to which they belong is called dull city. Smoke stack industries have made the city polluted. Sha of Blah has been invited by a political party to campaign for their rally. Sha of Blah to his surprise finds out that he has lost the ability of speech and is not able to cook up stories anymore. Adding further to his woes, he finds out that his wife has eloped with Mr. Chattergy, their neighbor. Sha of Blah goes to a valley known as valley K. In reality valley K refers to Kashmir and it is India’s troubled spot. The Muslims of Kashmir want to secede to Pakistan. Sha of Blah and his son Haroun stay in houseboat in the dull lake of valley K.
Haroun and the Sea of Stories show poignantly the struggles of the Indian politics. It a vitriolic criticism of Indian politics. Politicians appear to citizens only during the time of elections top beg for votes. Then they vanish forever. It is light hearted comedy. Salman Rushdie’s psychological analysis of the characters is mesmerizing. The novel uses the elements of fairy stories like the Sha of Blah telling a sea of stories. Sha of Blah and his son Haroun live in Sad City called Alifbay.I don’t quite understand why Rushdie makes India pathetic and wretched. Rushdie writes the novel as disenchanted colonialist. There is no literary essence of the sublime. The novel does not deserve to be called as a great work of art. The novel has no philosophical content. The novel degrades Indian middle class life. The sea of stories has no plot. Salman Rushdie is a master of escapism. The magic realism inherent in the novel is scarcely believable. The Sha of Blah can be compared to Don Quixote. Why does Rushdie portray a bleak picture of India? Rushdie has got a colonial mindset. The novel cannot be merited as an extraordinary work of out. There is no essence of a story in the novel. Rushdie degrades the Indian middle class.

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Analysis of Jacques Lacan’s Psychoanalysis

Jacque Lacan is a controversial and notorious psychoanalyst, known for his rewriting of Freudian theory. Lacan’s theories are widely used in postmodern literature, film studies and also psychotherapy.
Prominent among his concepts is the mirror-stage. The mirror-stage is a stage when the child learns the concept of the self as being distinct from the body. Here I would like to contradict Lacan; the development of the self concept of the child is not psychological but emotional. The bonding of the mother with the child marks the growth of the development of self hood. For Lacan the growth to selfhood through the mirror-stage is not perfect. There is no perfectly developed self. With the development of the mirror-stage the child enters into the world of language and this world is marked by desires and lack.
The mirror stage has been used film studies. The spectator of a cinema is confined to gaze at the images that appear on the screen. Laura Mulvey has termed the gaze as scopophilia or a sexual one. The gaze is primarily a male sexual gaze. Laura Mulvey is of the opinion that cinemas should offer gay and feminine gazes.
With coming into fruition of the mirror stage, the child enters into the psychological realm of the ego and the super ego. The child learns to subordinate the ID and adhere to the norms of the ego and the super ego. The ego that is the result of formation of parental influences is a culturally produced phenomenon and not a natural one. The Super Ego too, the moral laws of the society is a product of the societies’ laws and regulations. An individual has to tight-rope-walk between the Id, Ego and the Super Ego. The psychotics defy the Ego and the Super Ego and follow the pleasure principle of the ID.
The most significant breakthrough achieved by Lacan is that he theorized that the unconscious is structured like language. Dreams are metaphors and metonymies. There are two types of dreams as enunciated by Freud and they are condensation and displacement. A dream of condensation is prolific with symbolic imagery. For example: I had a dream of a wild elephant who was very agitated and I soothed it and put it among a pack tame elephants. There it rested peacefully. As a condensed image, I interpret the wild elephant as my own anarchic libido and through the dream, I am taming it. Displacement in a dream refers to dreaming of situations where one wants to escape from reality. For example: I dreamed of winning a lottery. The dream reminded me that I am wasting a lot of money buying lottery tickets. Lacan has incorporated the work of the linguist Roman Jacobson. Metaphoric content of a dream rests on the syntagmatic axis and metonymies in a dream rest on the paradigmatic axis. For Lacan the unconscious acts according to the rules metaphors and metonymies.
Lacan has also borrowed terminology of the French structuralist Saussure. For him language was an assemblage of Signs and the sign is divided into the signifier, a visual, tangible thing and the signified, an idea. For example: if I say Rose is passion, rose is the signifier and passion the signified. Lacan gives primacy to the signifier and places the signified below it. A single signifier can have multiple signifieds.
For Lacan the Phallus is not an organ but a signifier. The phallus performs three functions, the imaginary, the symbolic and the real. I would like to question Lacan about how the phallus is a psychological signifier. The ID is the seat of passions, the ego the culture and training of the parents and the super ego the laws of the society. The idea of the self develops through these three states. I would also like to question Freud’s Oedipus complex. Oedipus complex is a misnomer. How can a child become sexually attracted to the mother or the father? Incest is a taboo and is very rare in a society. Who has given the conscience not to commit incest? Sexuality begins at puberty and we become attracted to the same (rare) or opposite members of the society. I would also like to question Freud’s castration complex. Girls do not have a penis and they suffer from a castration complex. They have the feelings of penis envy. Under normal circumstances we do not think of our genitals. Our selfhood is marked by emotional and psychological feelings of individuality. I would like to ask Lacan: how can the phallus be a privileged signifier. We are holistic individuals and not merely sexual objects seeking gratification.
Again Lacan goes on to say that the name of the father or the super ego is a symbolic phallus. That is most preposterous. The super ego contains the laws of the society and they are not found in the phallus. The laws of the society help to make life more meaningful. Deviants break the laws and get punished for it. The phallus is mere drivel and becomes an empty signifier. Again Lacan goes on to say that the internalization of the phallus constitutes the formation of the symbolic order or the super Ego. How can laws be phallic? Laws are civil and criminal and they are not formed from a phallus.
Lacan in his text makes a case study of Nazism. Nazism as a totalitarian ideology marked the hatred of the Jewish race was one of the repressed by the oedipal conflict. For looking at Nazism we have to analyze the mind of Hitler. Hitler’s father was Jewish and he was born out of an illicit relationship. Lack of care and acceptance by the father made Hitler into Jew hunting maniac.
One of the most confusing concepts of Lacan is that sexual difference is not biological but one of significations. There is masculine and feminine gender and their genitals are different. The ways of attaining pleasure and orgasm are different for both men and women. Generally women take more time to orgasm. Sex for the woman is not physical but emotional and psychological. Lacan has said that there is no perfect sexual relationship and that for some extent is true. Love and emotional bonding are more important than sex.