Saturday, February 11, 2012

...It's Cleansing Time Again!

Twice I've completed the Blessed Herbs Colon Cleanse, and twice I've been very glad I've done so.  It's a gruelingly difficult process, but I've always felt fantastic after it's completion.  It requires a 5 day long liquids-only fast, which is particularly difficult when one works in a restaurant.  And, it's not uncommon to have bouts of feeling positively rotten during the cleanse.  But, it's sure a wonderful feeling to know you're ridding your body of toxins and icky stuff (mucoid plaque, they call it).

Tomorrow will be day one of the full-fledged fast.  I've been slowly tapering down the amounts of food I've been eating over the past three days in preparation so as to hopefully cushion the blow.

Truth be told, I attempted to do this cleanse in November (twice!) but was unsuccessful.  It was during this time that I was working two serving jobs and doing doubles 5-6 days a week.  It was also November in Ohio, so it was cold and gross (for some reason, I find it exceedingly more difficult to be hungry when it's cold outside).  So, being constantly surrounded by food, needing as much energy as possible to work my doubles, and being in gross weather all contributed to making the cleanse damn near impossible.  By the time I got to the end of day 1 of each failed attempt, I felt like I was going to die.  I got all hot, sweaty, queasy, and contracted a throbbing headache.  I made the executive decision that the cleanse would have to wait until I was perhaps doing a less physically grueling job (both times I did the cleanse previously I was working only 4 nights a week and was otherwise sitting in classes, sitting while editing/deejaying, sitting doing homework, etc.) and also at a point in my life where I was not so consistently surrounded by food.  I also knew that being in warmer weather would help too (the first time I did the cleanse was in June 2010 and it was a hell of a lot easier than when I did it the following snowy March).

So, now that I'm currently only working one serving job 4-5 nights a week (only 3 out of the 5 nights for the upcoming cleanse), I think it will make things easier.  During the days I can be lowkey and keep myself occupied with other things (yay, Netflix!).  It will also be a hell of a lot easier to drink the cleansing mixture at the designated times because I won't be preoccupied with being at work and lose track of the dosage schedule.  The fact that LA is warm and beautiful in February also helps.  I think somehow one's body is more willing to be hungry when it has to expend less energy on staying warm.  Finally, the temptation will hopefully be less painful because I won't be quite so constantly surrounded by food.

I'm looking forward to feeling better and turning over a new leaf.  I know the next several days are going to suck, but I also know I'm going to feel awesome when it's over :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Psychology of Personality Famous Person Project: Æon Flux 12-2-09

Fictional character, Æon Flux, was created by the innovative Peter Chung for an animated series bearing the same name, which aired on MTV’s Liquid Television in 1991. Peter Chung is hailed as a groundbreaking animator who is well-known for the opening animation sequence of Nickelodeon’s famous Rugrats cartoon; however, Chung’s biggest claim to fame is the avant-garde series Æon Flux which continues to enjoy an avid cult following to this day. I have been a passionate fan of Æon Flux ever since I first saw the series in 1995. I was inextricably drawn to the alluring complexity of Æon Flux as a character, and she continues to be my favorite female protagonist of all time.

Much of the appeal of Æon Flux is her elusiveness and the ambiguity of her back-story. Peter Chung actually never explains who Æon is or where she comes from. Rather, Chung portrays the embodiment of who she is by her actions, beliefs, and the nature her relationships with others throughout the series. Mysterious, visceral, and seemingly amoral, Æon answers to no one and adamantly refuses to be controlled. In The Purge, an episode which directly tackles the issue of Æon’s motivations and psyche, she faces the dilemma of having possibly been implanted with a custodian – a device which gives a conscience to those that have none. During her banter with arch-nemesis Trevor Goodchild, Æon warns, “Don't make the mistake of fencing with me! I know who I am and what I am still capable of.” Trevor goads her on, asking Æon why she doesn’t just kill him. She snaps, “Just because I don’t feel like doing something doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing it…I have no conscience – you know what I mean.” Staggeringly self-assured and fiercely independent, Æon superbly asserts herself and rejects the idea of being controlled. Even if she has been implanted with the conscious-granting custodian (which is never actually revealed in the episode), Æon’s true nature endures.

Equally revealing is the episode The Demiurge, in which Æon Flux and Trevor Goodchild fight over the fate of a supreme being with deific powers after which the episode is named. After a day of battle and bloodshed, Æon is approached by the female companion of a fallen soldier. The woman, distraught and begging for answers, continues to pester her for information until Æon finally retorts “We won. We must have been right…What I know? He said the light was beautiful – yes, it was. No use, see? Because the truth isn’t even pretty. What else? Oh, right: love isn't the answer…it's the problem.” Such convictions portray that Æon is very disenchanted with the notion of love and harmony, which is exemplified by her crusade to dispose of the Demiurge, the entity which Trevor promises will “change everything” and bring eternal peace to the fictional world in which they live.

Tension abounds during the final confrontation between Æon Flux and Trevor Goodchild in The Demiurge. A compelling dialogue propels the face-off:

Trevor: You! You drove [the Demiurge] out! Alright, you got it! You got what you wanted! So you answer to no-one?!
[Æon points her gun at him]
Trevor: Are you out of your mind?!
Æon: The only reason I don't shoot you has nothing to do with duty or principle, it's simply a matter of knowing who I am.
Trevor: Is that why you won’t let it see you? Why you can’t bear the gaze? Because you've done terrible things? Then there are the transgressions you never even knew you’d committed. Those are the worst, because those you can never forget. All you can do is suspect...
Æon: I'm not in the habit of arguing over the color of red herrings!

Such illuminating sentiments indicate that Æon is devoid of morals and principles – she simply does what she wants, regardless of the consequences. Governed by her instincts, drives, and desires, Æon gives little thought anything or anyone else.

Æon Flux’s complicated psyche is perhaps most notably illustrated by her relationship with true love/arch-nemesis, Trevor Goodchild. Throughout the series, Æon and Trevor enjoy a highly antagonistic, yet openly wanton attraction for each other. Glimpses into moments of tenderness indicate that both characters deeply care for one another; however, neither Æon nor Trevor would ever admit this, least of all to themselves (and in fact take great pains to avoid doing so). The crux of this dichotomy is that Æon and Trevor seem to be the only ones who can keep learning the games the other one plays. A relationship epitomizing mutual addiction and dysfunction, the duo do terrible things to each other. Aside from Æon’s love-hate affair with Trevor, her relationships tend to be short-lived, volatile, and exploitative (in Æon’s favor, of course). An opportunistic, cunning, and unrelenting woman, Æon refuses to indulge in anything (including relationships with other people) that will not serve her objectives.

Sigmund Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Personality is the theory I have elected to use for this project. This theory’s basic principle is that all humans are driven by instinctual urges which are rooted in the very basic needs of nourishment, safety, and sex (which at its core is a biological need to ensure the continuation of our species). Freud’s theory also suggests that our personalities consist of three distinct components which interact with one another to mold and shape our behavior: the id, ego, and superego. The id encompasses people’s primal, unconscious desires. The ego, on the other hand, includes rational thought and judgment. This rationality serves to control our actions so that we may best fulfill our basic desires. Lastly, the superego constitutes our sense of right and wrong – our conscience.

Freud’s theory postulates that we employ various defense mechanisms, such as rationalization or denial, to assuage our anxiety. Anxiety occurs when we experience fear from a real or imagined threat to ourselves. Objective anxiety stems from real life dangers (e.g. natural disasters). Neurotic anxiety occurs when there is a clash between the id and ego – when fulfilling our primal desires conflicts with reality. Moral anxiety, the type of which Æon Flux is seemingly devoid, transpires when our superego disagrees with the desires of the id. In essence, our conscience imbues within us a sense of guilt when the drives of our id are “immoral.”

The final component of Freud’s theory suggests that each human undergoes the same psychosexual stages of personality development. During each stage, we endure conflicts centering around areas of pleasure on the body. If inadequate resolution of these conflicts occurs, an individual can become fixated at a certain psychosexual stage. Beginning in infancy and lasting into adulthood, these psychosexual stages include oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital phases.

Æon Flux is largely ruled by life instincts, the most potent of which is her insatiable need for sexual gratification. Her unrestrained libido, which manifests itself via indiscriminate sexual conquests, is particularly cathected towards Trevor Goodchild, the only individual from whom she harbors any sort of attachment. Æon’s libido is similarly cathected to her gun – she is never willingly without it (separation results in total preoccupation with getting it back and all other goals are halted until this has been achieved). Æon’s destructive death instincts are also highly acute. She incessantly puts herself into dangerous, deadly situations and shows little regard for her own life. Interestingly, the entire first season of Æon Flux consisted of unrelated vignettes completely devoid of dialogue, the end of each resulting in Æon’s inevitable and gruesome death. Careless with her own life and compelled to destroy, conquer, and kill, Æon’s aggressive drive is profound.

Æon Flux’s reckless, pleasure-seeking tendencies indicate that her id is the dominant structure of her personality. Amoral, selfish, and impulsive, she is primarily governed by the needs of her id. In keeping with Freud’s notion of the pleasure principle, Æon avidly endeavors to increase her pleasure (which, ironically, is sometimes achieved through her own physical pain). Æon’s ego is very well developed. She is a master of manipulating her environment in order to achieve that which she desires. Though Æon’s reality principle is somewhat eclipsed by the overwhelming presence of her id, it is still highly functional and successfully aides in the completion of many of her objectives. Lacking any semblance of a conscience or inner morality, it can be argued that Æon’s superego is grossly underdeveloped. Æon’s superego, or lack thereof, ceases to curb her primeval instincts; and feelings of shame or guilt are foreign to her.

Because Æon Flux is devoid of morals or a conscience, it follows that she is exempt from experiencing moral anxiety. The impulses of Æon’s id consistently overwhelm those of the ego and superego, therefore conflict is uncommon. Due to the lack of conflict between these components of her psyche, Æon rarely, if ever, experiences anxiety. Æon’s fearlessness and daredevil antics indicate that she seldom experiences objective anxiety. She is unfazed by death and destruction, and in fact welcomes it.

Æon Flux frequently employs defense mechanisms and is exceedingly efficient at doing so. The most notable defense mechanisms she uses are reaction formations and denial. Æon’s capricious relationship with Trevor Goodchild is fraught with innumerable reaction formations. Though she desires Trevor, she consistently engages in hurtful, antagonistic behavior which is crafted to keep him at bay while at the same time maintaining his interest. Yearning to be with Trevor is unacceptable to Æon’s ego; therefore she devotes endless energies to ensuring that a lasting attachment will never occur. Adding to the complexity of their relationship, Trevor often follows suit and does equally damaging things to Æon. Denial is another defense mechanism with which Æon is very familiar. Obstinately refusing to admit any weakness (manifested by hurt feelings or jealousy over Trevor), Æon keeps her emotions under a façade of composure. She thus denies her emotions and feelings in order maintain the integrity of her ego, which dictates that she must not let anything or anyone compromise her independence.

Though we do not know the extent of Æon Flux’s past, one can still observe distinguishable fixations at two of the psychosexual stages of development. Æon’s cynicism, insensitivity, and aggressive tendencies indicate that she has an oral sadistic personality and is thus fixated at the oral stage of psychosexual development. Prone to sarcasm, ruthlessness, and acerbic remarks in addition to her propensity to manipulate, exploit and dominate others; Æon undeniably fulfills the criteria for an oral sadistic personality. Freud proposes that such a fixation arises from a painful teething experience during infancy. Æon’s love of anarchy, destructiveness, cruelty, and sadistic sexual acts denote that she may also possess an anal aggressive personality. Within Freud’s theory, it is suggested that this type of fixation at the anal stage of psychosexual development stems from difficulties in toilet training. An anal aggressive personality develops when a child has overly demanding parents and reacts by defecating inappropriately, thereby defying the requests of the parents.

Last, but by no means least, Æon Flux exemplifies the qualities of a female phallic personality in that she often uses her feminine wiles to charm and overwhelm men. Æon expertly (and frequently) conquers men, crushing them without a moment’s hesitation. Regarding men as disposable and worthless, she exploits and uses them without regret. Freud explains that the female phallic personality is substantiated by narcissism, a trait which Æon possesses in abundance. The theory also claims that the phallic personality develops from an inability to establish mature relationships with the opposite sex. Æon’s disinterest and unwillingness to engage in meaningful relationships with anyone, particularly men, thus supports the notion that she posses a female phallic personality.

Æon Flux is a delightfully complex character whose undeniable allure has captured the hearts of millions. Exploring the various intricacies of her psyche and considering some of the possible explanations of her personality was a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. It is no surprise that Peter Chung’s ingenious creation has garnered such an immense cult following; however, as profoundly flawed as Æon Flux is, were she a real person, she would undoubtedly experience great difficulties functioning, let alone excelling at anything other than her chosen profession as an assassin, spy, and seductress.

Works Cited

“The Purge.” Æon Flux. Executive Producer: Japhet Asher, Director: Peter Chung, Æon Flux (voice): Denise Poirier, Trevor Goodchild (voice): John Rafter Lee, Writer: Eric Singer. MTV. 3 October 1995 (Season 3, Episode 9).

“The Demiurge.” Æon Flux. Executive Producer: Japhet Asher, Director: Howard Baker, Æon Flux (voice): Denise Poirier, Trevor Goodchild (voice): John Rafter Lee, Writers: Steve De Jarnatt, Michael Ferris, John D. Brancato. MTV. 5 September 1995 (Season 3, Episode 5).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cleveland International Film Festival: The Ape

In response to his disenchantment with popular crime shows like CSI and Law and Order, Jesper Ganslandt created The Ape – a film which challenges our malformed notions about the nature of crime and offers a profoundly chilling perspective on the subject.

The Ape follows a day in the life of Krister, a seemingly ordinary man who wakes up one morning in a pool of blood. The disoriented Krister immediately panics and frantically searches his body for wounds, but we quickly learn that the blood is not his own. This discovery begs the question we will ponder for the majority of the film – whose blood is that?

Throughout The Ape, Ganslandt employs the use of gripping, emotive close-up shots which evoke a cage-like, suffocating feeling. As Krister’s palpable tension mounts, the audience finds themselves increasingly anxious and uneasy. We are trapped in an isolated uncertainty, unsure of what has transpired or why.

Ace in the hole, Olle Sarri (who is ironically a popular comedian by trade), delivers a compelling, anguished performance. During the Q&A which followed this screening of his film, Ganslandt explained that he intentionally kept Sarri in the dark in order to make his character appear more unsure and uncomfortable. In fact, Sarri was not even permitted to see the film’s script, a fact which renders his performance all the more impressive.

Fraught with ambiguity and inconclusiveness, The Ape deviates from the typical, formulaic thriller in that the film refrains from explicitly spelling out the intricacies of Krister’s story. Drawing his inspiration from real life crimes which are rarely solved, let alone understood, Ganslandt expertly delivers an unnerving mystery in The Ape. (9 stars out of 10)

For more information about Guest Filmmaker Jesper Ganslandt or the Cleveland International Film Festival, visit

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cleveland International Film Festival: Dear Lemon Lima

Suzi Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima is a delightful journey into the world of adolescence. Thirteen-year-old Vanessa Lemor is a quirky, off-beat girl who struggles to find her identity when she is thrust into a new school. Recently dumped by Adonis himself, Lemor nurses a wounded heart as she grapples with fitting in and making new friends.

One of the few films to get teenage heartbreak right, Dear Lemon Lima is a touching picture which manages to be sweet and uplifting without being overly saccharine or cheesy.

I particularly enjoyed the animations during the rolling credits. Something about bunnies defecating heart-shaped poop just really tickles my fancy.

Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima is a smart, refreshing treat. I highly recommend it. (8 stars out of 10)

Edit: Due to popular demand, Dear Lemon Lima will enjoy an encore screening on Monday, March 21st at 5:10 pm at Tower City Cinemas. To check out the Cleveland International Film Festival and purchase tickets, visit