Navigating Norman: The Serial Killer Monster as Meaning Machine

W. Scott Poole quotes Judith Halberstam, who calls the monster a “meaning machine.”  This observation seems to suggest that the monster is always overdetermined – that the monstrous body in a particular work can mean a variety of things in any given time and place.  Poole agrees with Halberstam when he argues: “The subject of monsters contains too much meaning” and goes on to observe that “the very messiness of the monster makes it a perfect entry into understanding the messiness of American history” (xv).  In Monster Theory, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen lays out the seven theses of the monster, and his first theses is that “the monster body is a cultural body” (4).  Cohen also believes that we can read the monster, but the monster’s meaning always has a basis in the culture that surrounds it.  While Poole asserts that monsters are indisputably real—created by material circumstances and producing material consequences – Calafell, who bases her readings heavily on Poole and Cohen, find the monster a useful metaphor for describing problematic identity relations in the United States; she seems to embrace both a metaphorical reading of the monster and the contention that monsters can be very real, at times.

Continue reading “Navigating Norman: The Serial Killer Monster as Meaning Machine”
Navigating Norman: The Serial Killer Monster as Meaning Machine

An Insanely Long Series: Reading Psycho Bit by Bit

Anthony Perkins is Norman Bates.  Point blank.  There are no two ways about it.  Except, of course, when he isn’t Norman Bates.  And what an unusual experience it is to envision someone else fulfilling the role, especially since it’s been years since I’ve seen the Gus Van Sant remake.  The beauty of the comprehensive exam is that I can select the books I put on my lists (based on a unifying theme), and I was really excited to add Robert Bloch’s Psycho.  Of course, I’ve seen the original movie many-a times, but I’ve never read the text, and like any horror fan, I was immediately interested in how the novel would compare with the film.  I decided, then, to do what I did with The Shining.  In “Let’s Not Overlook Anything” I blogged about the Shining in small increments and spent a considerable amount of blog space discussing one or two scenes.  I decided I would do the same with the text Psycho – blog a little bit about each section as I read it.  So this is my “insanely long series,” my observations about Bloch’s Psycho.  And my first observation is that Bloch’s Norman Bates is fascinating.

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An Insanely Long Series: Reading Psycho Bit by Bit

The Big Ten: Looking Back on Some Popular Just Dread-Full Posts

Jaelyn's LogoWell, it’s official.  I’ve written an uneven 73 posts on Just Dread-Full since the blog’s inception in late October of 2015.  Now, before I continue, I had a different introduction written in this piece, but the ghost of Miss Jessel is apparently bitter about how I depicted her in my piece on The Innocents, because she’s crawled out of the movie and consumed my laptop.  Really.  Michael and I lost my laptop in the transition from his parents’ house to his house (one of us was carrying the bag).  We, and his parents, have searched every conceivable place, and it’s simply disappeared. As such, I’m typing from his laptop, and I have to start this piece over again.

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The Big Ten: Looking Back on Some Popular Just Dread-Full Posts

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films

psycho 2Tonight, after a dinner at the Public House, Michael and I headed to Erie’s Warner Theater on 8th street to watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho on the big screen while the Erie Chamber Orchestra sat under the screen, playing the score.  The experience was phenomenal.  Watching musicians play the opening score while credits splashed across the screen was so exhilarating I got chills.  Of course, one pivotal musical moment happens during the infamous shower scene, but the music was similarly arresting when the last remains of Marian’s car sink under the swamp, and when “Mrs. Bates” turns around, and we see her “in the flesh.”  (Or, if I may, in the lack of flesh).  In fact, I never realized how beautiful Psycho’s score was until I saw it produced by a live orchestra. Continue reading “We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films”

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes: Examining Evil, Psychosis, and Human Error in Psycho and Other Films