Nov 30 2010


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Requiem for a Dream

The Deerhunter

Thin Red Line

Boardwalk Empire

Night of the Hunter** (Jim–“one of the best two or three films ever made”)

The Searchers (Star Wars based on this film–John Wayne film; identity and loss; John Ford film)

The Pianist**** (repulsion)

Rosemary’s Baby

The Shining

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Clockwork Orange (inversion of a katabatic narrative)

The Matrix***

Triumph of the Will****

the Olympiad (transformation of a nation into evil)

Citizen Kane

City of God

Apocalypse Now

Lord of the Rings


The Wire (5 part series; David Simon writer–>based on Baltimore framed by the Greek tragedies; police force, docks, mayor, education, journalism)–entire series filled with katabatic narratives; essays –” hell and metamorphosis; post-industrial dehumanization of workforce”

Cold Mountain

The Warriors

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Dec 12 2008

Katabatic Goddess

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This is Kevin! To view the piece go to my blog at:

             In my project I wanted to visually represent Katabasis through the use of allegory. The theme of katabasis would be expressed visually through the use of symbols and elements that are often associated with the journey. I like to think of it as a visual worldcloud for katabasis.
              Inspiration for the drawing came from many sources. Religious art, symbols, and icons from different cultures were fused together to create a fabricated deity that embodied katabasis. For example, the goddess figure in the drawing is a nod towards Hinduism, the woman’s multiple arms allude to Shiva, the destroyer and his wife Devi; the feather is an Egyptian symbol for judgment, and the burqas that make the water are icons of middle eastern cultures as well as a symbol of oppression, freedom, and the Islamic religion, I’d also like to point out that the room that we studied in was very much an inspiration for this drawing.
         Yet another source that I drew from is one of my favorite artists, Gustav Klimt. His work was inspired by the beauty and sensuality of women as evidenced both in his stunning portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer and Emilie Floge, and in his enigmatic depictions of mythological femme fatales in works such as Judith and Danae. Gustav Klimt was a highly controversial figure in his time. His paintings provoked violent reactions and were often branded as ‘obscene’ by the conservative majority in Vienna. The richness of form, the vivid juxtaposition of colors and the rich symbolism and eroticism made his art some of the most significant paintings of the 19th and early 20th centuries. 
I find Klimt’s art to be highly katabatic. His paintings show a cycle of life, death, growth, love, sexuality and rebirth for the female figure. I wanted my project to reflect the female subject and the use of symbolic representation used by Gustav Klimt.  While this drawing nothing compared to the paintings of Gustav Klimt, I believe that encompasses many of the themes and issues our class covered this semester.

      While the symbols in this drawing can be interpreted by the viewer in any way, these are my interpretations of them:

– Four arms – alludes to Hinduism; signifies the power of women
– Braided Hair – not being completely free; oppression
– Blind – spiritual blindness; not being illuminated
– Feather – judgement; justice; weighing the soul
– Fire – destruction and thus rebirth/renewal
– Serpent – many interpretations of death, deception, divinty etc.
– Ravens – loss, death and war; a guide
– Birds – the human soul; joy, wisdom
– Butterlies- linked to death and the soul
– Clouds – fertility, bliss; gloom, obscurity, depression.
– Ocean/water – mind, depth, a dive into the soul; exploring the self
– Burqa – oppression, liberation, love of god; no identity
– Octopus – goal of the journey; change, fluidity
– Trees – creation, the earthly world

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Dec 05 2008

The Taliban and Their Legacy by Donielle

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The Taliban is a product of the Soviet Invasion in Afghanistan which was a conflict that lasted from 1979-1989. They were mujahideen (المجاهدين or “freedom fighters”) groups that formed during the war against the Soviet Union. However after the collapse of the Soviet Union the pullout of their forces that followed there was a power vacuum in Afghanistan and the country was reduced to warlord’s competing for control of the country’s land, political power, and wealth. The Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, an administrator of a religious school rose above the chaos and established order in Afghanistan in 1994.

However the Taliban’s radical religious agenda became apparent almost immediately when they began to restore law and order. Singing, dancing, playing music, watching television, and flying kites were all outlawed by the Taliban and praying five times a day was mandatory not optional. Violators were subjected to public executions or amputations. The US invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001 when they learned that the Taliban was providing refuge to Osama bin Laden the leader of al-Qaeda. The invasion has weakened the Taliban’s influence but they are not fully removed from Afghanistan and have more influence in some areas than in other.

The Taliban’s most damaging policies were the ones that were inflicted on women. In the early 1990’s 70% of school teachers, 50% of government workers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women. Since 1996 women were barred from having jobs, they were required to wear burqa’s all the time when outside the house, girls were expelled from schools and were barred from going to schools, women were not allowed outside unless they were escorted by a male, women also not able to be examined by male physicians but female physicians were banned from practicing.

Despite the Taliban’s removal from power since 2001 violence against women is still prevalent especially in Kandahar where the Taliban exert the most influence. On November 15, 2008 25 girls were sprayed with acid by unidentified men. The schoolgirls are easily recognizable with their uniforms of white tops, black slacks, dark coats, and headscarves. A woman whose daughters were victims of the attack said she always wanted her daughters to get an education and “not to be left illiterate like their parents”. But she doesn’t want to send her daughters to school now. She was quoted saying, “I won’t send my daughters to school after such an attack. Would you?” About 600 schools have been closed for security reasons and over 120 schools have been burned down. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attacks and threats and promises that more will come in the future.

Women, who are denied education, live in extreme poverty, are trapped in their homes and sometimes result to desperate measures to escape. Domestic violence is a problem in Afghanistan that often not reported and if reported the women are the ones punished. 87% of women have been abused half of this abuse is sexual, 60% of women are in forced marriages and 57% of women got married at the age of 16 or younger. On November 1, 2008 a woman used self immolation and died after being subjugated to domestic violence by her in laws. Women are imprisoned when they have been raped, run away, or falsely accused of murdering their husbands among other crimes. Conditions in prisons are subhuman with little food and no healthcare for the women and their children. When released the stigma of jail ostracizes women from their families and their communities and they are forced to become beggars or prostitutes.

Although the Taliban is no longer in control, women are still denied basic freedoms. The legacy of the Taliban thrives when women are terrorized so they can’t go to school and the justice system fails to protect women from the men who terrorize them. There are some improvements in Afghanistan; occasionally rapists will be prosecuted and rehabilitation centers are being created for runaways. But until the government takes a active role in protecting and uplifting women, Afghani women will still be living in brutal legacy of oppression of the Taliban.



Hayes, Laura. “Laura Hayes, Borgna Brunner, and Beth Rowen.” Who are the Taliban. 2007. Infoplease. 2 Dec. 2008 .
May, Clifford D. “Meet the Taliban.” 27 Nov. 2007. National Review Online. 2 Dec. 2008 .
Mehta, Sunita, ed. Women for Afghan Women : Shattering Myths and Claiming the Future. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. 36-40.
The Reality of Life in Afghanistan. RAWA News. 2 Dec. 2008 .
“The Taliban & Afghan Women: Background.” Feminist Majority Foundation. 2 Dec. 2008 .

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Dec 05 2008

Lives Snipped to Bits: Erika’s Final Project

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Throughout the semester I’ve been looking at the course material and wondering how it fits in my life. I think that applicability and relevance is important in the classes you take. Luckily for this class real life application was obvious to me.

The past year has not been an easy one; senior year of high school never is. Added to my senior year was a best friend with an eating disorder and extreme depression. Her attempted suicide added to the noxious mix. The stress and heartache of dealing with the situation turned every moment with her sour. While most students worried about prom, I worried about the cryptic texts I got from her every night asking me why life was worth the effort. My guide through all of this was my AP Lit teacher. Everyday he would talk with me, ask me how I was doing, and make sure I didn’t lose myself to this mess.  I have decided, almost a year since this thing began, that my experiences with Dannica have both helped me grow and caused me to shrink back. I know about the joys in life and the little things and how you have to live everyday fully because things can change so quickly. I also know how sometimes you lose someone because you love them too much and want them to get better even though they don’t want to, how one night is all it takes to crumble ten years of friendship, and how someone doesn’t have to die in order for you to lose them.

My collage is simple, I know. I intended it to be that way. Everyone has stories of losing someone, whether it is a physical loss or just a growing apart. The simpleness of the piece allows it to be applicable to all. The newspaper it is made of also adds to this theme. Newspapers around the world all carry people’s tragic stories; newsprint is universal. Collage is a form that allows for a sense of generalness. Shapes can be detailed and specific, but they can also just be outlines. By leaving the details of a drawing or painting, this collage once again applies to almost everyone.

Inspired by Blue, I decided to look at loss specifically.  Grief affects people differently. The way individuals cope with loss is unique to their situation. Families who lose children, and husbands and wives who lose their spouses are affected much the same, while people who lose their parents respond very differently. I know that my feelings were very conflicted and I went into a secretive world of my own in attempt to deal with my grief.

The scissors in the picture are the best way for me to express how I felt this last year. It was as if someone had cut my life into pieces and I couldn’t put it back together.

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Dec 05 2008

Ricky’s Final Project

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Final Project Greek Myth2

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.

Reasons For My Selections:

1.Troy – Besides the obvious connection to Homer’s writings, each of the main characters of the story (Achilles, Hector, Agamemnon, Paris, etc.) experience their own katabasis. It is unknown as to whether any of them reach their anabasis.

2.Training Day – Jake, the new guy, delves into a world of corruption and greed, and quickly realizes that being in narcotics wasn’t what he expected. Jake experiences his katabasis in a world of drugs, violence and sex and reaches his anabasis: getting back to his family alive.

3.Road To Perdition – Michael Sullivan, gangster and hired gun, must protect his surviving son and get revenge for the murder of his wife and other son. In the end, Michael Jr. does survive and reaches his anabasis, however, his father Michael Sr. is not as lucky. Michael does protect his son to the very end, though.

4. The Kingdom – Ronald Fleury and his team go to Saudi Arabia to determine who is responsible for the recent suicide bombing in “The Kingdom.” Fleury and his men face many obstacles including strict limitations, other suicide bombers and terrorists. All the characters, except Colonel Ghazi reach their anabasis.

5. The Amityville Horror – George Lutz’s mind is taken over by the Amityville manor as he is taken down into a Hell-like experience that almost results in him murdering his own family. Lutz ventures into the secret basement which symbolizes his journey to the underworld and back. The entire family reaches an anabasis when they escape the house.

6. Cry Wolf – Owen Matthews and Dodger play a manipulative game with their entire school that results in confusion, accusations, and possible murders. No one truly reaches an anabasis.

7. The Departed – The characters in this story each go through their own personal katabasis and their journeys intertwine with each other. In this particular story, almost none of the characters an anabasis, however, the movie shows the struggles and conflicts of each character and illustrates their pain and sufferings very well.

8. The Recruit – James Clayton is recruited by Walter Burke, a high-ranking CIA member. Together these two characters dive into a world of lies and secrets, where only one will be able to reach an anabasis.

9.Tigerland – Bozz was drafted and is at a military training base nicknamed Tigerland in the US. This movie explores his trials and tribulations and he develops from a draft-dodger to a hero. The movies climax takes place in a smoky, foggy river appealing to the katabatic symbolism.

10. Spartan – Scott is a member of a government agency who ventures to an Arabic nation to rescue the President’s daughter who has been apparently kidnapped by a sex slave ring. Scott deals with the mental and physical obstacles of going beyond what he believes and rescuing the daughter under the most terrible of circumstances.

11. Jarhead – Swoff enlisted into the Marines and now struggles with many mental and physical obstacles. He is forced to deal with the mental aspect of training but not getting into the action, along with worrying about whether or not his fiancee is cheating on him in his absence. Physically, Swoff has to deal with the risk of being involved in a germ warfare and keeping up with the physical standards of being a Marine.

12. Smoking Aces – Agent Messner and many other cops and hired assassins collide at one hotel like two cars racing at Daytona. Messner and the others quickly realize they are in a fight for their lives. Following the gunfight, Messner must mentally deal with the death of is partners and many other cops around him. Messner’s katabasis ends with a jaw-dropping finale to this thriller.

13.Doom – John Grimm is forced to face his terrifying past and overcome many physical and mental obstacles to save his sister and himself. Mentally Grimm must overcome the events he has witnessed and keep his sanity as well. All the while, he must fight for his life against both the living dead and his insane sergeant.

14. Blade Trinity – In Blade Trinity, the three main characters each experience their own katabasis. Hannibal continues to seek vengeance against the vampires that once used him as a slave. Blade continues fighting against the beast inside of him while he too continues his quest for revenge. Abigail deals with the death of her father and continuing his legacy. All three are also forced to deal with the emergence of Dracula.

15. A Few Good Men – Kaffee, a plea bargaining lawyer, is assigned to defend two Marines charged with murder. Kaffee must decide on whether he is willing to risk his life and his future in the name of justice. Not to mention, he has to attempt to bring down the man that runs Guatanamo Bay.

16. Enemy At the Gates – Vasilli, a Russian sniper, becomes the rallying cry for his country in WWII while they face being overran by the Germans. Vasilli is forced to shoulder great responsibility and that is before the Germans bring their best sniper to Stalingrad to hunt him down. His katabasis ends up in the deadliest game of hide and seek.

17. Fight Club – Possibly one of the best examples, the Narrator is so disappointed with himself in life, he creates an alter ego to allow himself to do anything. The Narrator is forced to overcome many physical and mental challenges, as are the rest of the characters. Each engages in crumbling fights while risking their lives in Project Mayhem.

18. Assault On Precinct 13 – Jake Roenick, a good cop with bad experiences, attempts to hide himself at a desk job in a small precinct. However, he delves deep into his katabasis when a top priority criminal is dropped into his lap, while over 30 well-armed, dirty cops intend on killing Bishop and everyone else in the building. Jake is forced to fight for his life and those around him, including the prisoners he is responsible for.

19. SE7EN – A psycho serial killer begins killing people using the seven deadly sins for his reasoning. David Mills is assigned the case, his first as a detective, along with veteran officer William Somerset. Mills soon must overcome the mental and physical attacks of the killer and continue to do his duty as well. References to both Dante and the seven deadly sins also make this movie easily related to the course.

20. Friday Night Lights – Projected to win the state championship, the Permian Panthers, as a team, experience a katabasis filled with drama, injuries, and tremendous amounts of pressure. Each player and the coach experience their own katabasis as well; each player is forced to deal with the idea of life after football and the coach must continue to meet expectations to keep his job. Only the final game will determine who will and won’t reach their anabasis.

21. Tombstone – Wyatt Earp and Doc Elliot encounter great danger while sheriffing the town of Tombstone. Doc Elliot must overcome the realization that he is dying and Earp must overcome both the death of his brother and the threats his family is facing.

22. The Punisher – Frank Castle’s entire family is massacred and he is severely wounded. Presumed dead, Castle returns to kill all those who were involved with his family’s killing, while attempting to overcome the ghosts of his pasts and all those that stand in his way. In this particular story, I personally believe an anabasis is unreachable, survival is all that Castle can do this deep in his katabasis.

23. We Own the Night – Bobby Green runs a nightclub for a very dangerous gangster, meanwhile both his father and his brother are cops pursuing those around Bobby. Bobby must decide which side he is on and after that he will have to find a way to survive. Green must overcome the attempted murder of his brother, the murder of his father, his girlfriend leaving him, and still must fight for his life. The movie climaxes with him hunting a murderer in a burning field, a symbolism of katabasis.

24. The Last Samurai – Algren was devoted to fighting off any resistance from the samurais, however, after being taken captive by the samurais, Algren learns their methods and becomes a valiant leader of the samurais. Algren is forced to deal with many mental and physical challenges as he comes to terms with the way of the samurai while fighting for his life in a losing battle.

25. The Bourne Ultimatum – Jason Bourne continues to try to uncover his identity while most of the US government continues to hunt him down. Bourne’s katabasis is both mental and physical, as he fights for his life and unveils who he really is. In addition, he is still recovering from the death of his lover.

26. Scarface – Tony Montana power-drunk and drowning in a world of violence, sex and drugs falls farther into his katabasis with each passing minute. His sister and all those around him die off one by one, while Montana continues to struggle mentally with his life and the choices of those around him.

27. The Godfather – Michael Corleone is forced to lead the family through tumultuous times following the deaths of his brother Sonny and his father Vito. Michael must deal with the mental and physical challenges presented by the violence surrounding him.

28. Boondock Saints – Connor and Murphy are Irish twins who attempt to rid South Boston of evil. Together they experience a katabasis as a result of their deep devotion to Catholicism and doing what is right. They kill evil men for a living and fight for their lives in the process while trying to justify their actions to those around them.

29. 300 – King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans venture to Thermopylae to stand against an army numbered in the millions, King Xerxes and the Persians. This movie has too many katabatic undertones to name, the setting, the characters, the visual effects, etc. Leonidas and his Spartans fall deep into their katabasis and, despite the ending, reach a full anabasis, as their actions allowed for the defeat of the Persians at Plutea.


1. “Nothing Left” by As I Lay Dying
2. “The Air That I Breathe” by All That Remains
3. “We Made It” by Busta Rhymes ft. Linkin Park
4. “The Warrior’s Code” by Dropkick Murphy’s
5. “I Stand Alone” by Godsmack
6. “Ohio Is For Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights
7. “The Mirror’s Truth” by In Flames
8. “What’s Left of the Flag” by Flogging Molly
9. “Closer” by Lacuna Coil
10. “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit
11. “Somewhere I Belong” by Linkin Park
12. “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West
13.“Only God Knows Why” by Kid Rock
14. “The Unnamed Feeling” by Metallica
15. “Not Falling” by Mudvayne
16. “It’s The End of the World (As We Know It)” by R.E.M.
17. “The Last Night” by Skillet
18. “Falls Back” by Spineshank
19. “Phoenix” by Stratovarious
20. “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
21. “Prayer” by Disturbed
22. “Thousand Miles From Nowhere” by Dwight Yoakam
23. “Broken” by Seether ft. Amy Lee
24. “Prayer of the Refugee” by Rise Against
25. “Scars” by Papa Roach
26. “Numb” by Linkin Park
27. “Put On” by Young Jeezy ft. Kanye West
28. “We’re All To Blame” by Sum 41
29. “The Blood of Cu Chulainn” by Mychael Danna
30. “Let’s Start A Riot” by Three Days Grace
31. “Falls Apart” by Thousand Foot Krutch
32. “In The End” by Linkin Park

Works Cited:

1.Katabasis. (2005). In Wikipedia [Web]. Retrieved November 25, 2008, from
2.(2004). Troy (2004). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
3.(2001). Training Day (2001). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
4.(2002). Road to Perdition (2002). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
5.(2007). The Knigdom (2007). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
6.(2005). The Amityville Horror (2005). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
7.(2005). Cry_Wolf (2005). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
8.(2006). The Departed (2006). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
9.(2003). The Recruit (2003). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
10.(2000). Tigerland (2000). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
11.(2004). Spartan (2004). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
12.(2005). Jarhead (2005). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
13.(2006). Smoking Aces (2006). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
14.(2005). Doom (2005). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
15.(2004). Blade Trinity (2004). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
16.(1992). A Few Good Men (1992). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
17.(2001). Enemy at the Gates (2001). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
18.(1999). Fight Club (1999). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
19.(2005). Assault on Precinct 13 (2005). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
20.(1995). Se7en (1995). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
21.(2004). Friday Night Lights (2004). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
22.(1993). Tombstone (1993). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
23.(2004). The Punisher (2004). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
24.(2007). We Own The Night (2007). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
25.(2003). The Last Samurai (2003). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
26.(2007). The Bourne Ultimatum (2007). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
27.(1990). Scarface (1983). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
28.(1990). The Godfather (1972). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
29.(1999). The Boondock Saints (1999). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:
30.(2006). 300 (2006). Retrieved November 29, 2008, from International Movie Database Web site:

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Dec 05 2008

Requiem For A Dream- Final Project

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Final Scene

Style Elements

A Dissent Into A Narcotic Underworld
Katabatic Themes in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky’s film adaptation of Hubert Selby’s 1978 Novel, Requiem for a Dream depicts four characters who fall into the firm holdings of addiction, leading to their imprisonment in a dark dream world of delusion, devastation, and reckless desperation. All four characters willingly pick their poisons and make a gradual decent into the deepest sanctums of hell in the form of their addictions, until they are ultimately overtaken and devastated by a harsh reality that has left them with nothing.
The film follows Harry Golfarb, his mother Sara Golfarb, Harry’s girlfriend, Marion Silver, and his best friend, Tyrone. Sara Golfarb is an elderly widow living alone in her one-bedroom apartment in Brighton Beach, and she spends a majority of her time watching infomercials on television. One day she receives a phone call telling her that she has been offered the chance to appear on a television game show, and so in preparation for her television appearance she begins dieting to be able to fit into the red dress she wore at her sons graduation. She goes to a doctor who prescribes her a regimen of weight-loss pills to take through the day along with a sedative to take at night. The pills make her neurotic and hyperactive, inducing hallucinations and compromising her health. Her formal invitation to appear on the television game show never arrives, but her addiction to the diet pills only becomes more severe as her health spirals downward. Eventually Sara suffers a complete mental breakdown, after which she is hospitalized and forced to undergo agonizingly painful electroshock therapy.
Meanwhile, Sara’s son Harry is an occasional heroin user who, together with his girlfriend Marion and his best friend Tyrone get involved in the local drug trade. They hope to make enough money to move out of Brighton Beach and achieve their goals of living self-made lives complete with materialistic comforts. While they are successful at first, eventually their supply of drugs runs out and they start to loose money and hope. As their desperation grows Marion is forced to turn to prostitution, causing a rift between her and Harry. Having lost the ability to trust Marion, Harry’s heroin using grows into a deadly addiction and his arm becomes severely infected at the injection site. Harry and Tyrone travel to Florida in hopes of saving their business, but Harry’s condition only worsens until he is forced to seek medical attention, but once inside the hospital both are arrested. Harry begins to feel extreme heroin withdraw and his arm has become so infected that it must be amputated. Tyrone is sent to a prison labor camp where the guards are brutal and everything is made worse by the effects of his own drug withdraw. Marion continues to whore herself out for her drug fix, and has become so de-sensitized because she is in bondage to her addiction that the world passes before her as if in slow motion. All four characters find themselves deeply immersed in a fate of their own doing, drowning in their own misery and failures, unable to reach even a remnant of their prior dreams, as they end up inhabiting a truly haunting nightmare.
At the time of its release most reviewers placed Requiem into the genre of “drug movies” along with other films like Scarface, Blow, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Half-Baked, but really drug addiction is only the vehicle Aronofsky uses to ask the question “What is a drug?” By paralleling Harry and Tyrone’s heroine addictions, with Sara’s addiction to diet pills, and Marions addiction to cocaine we witness the same thought process. What begins as a casual and controlled substance usage for all four characters quickly spins out of control as they all descend into a dark place due to their narrow-mindedness in reaching their goals.  The movie is however, very similar to Brian De Palma’s movie Scarface, in that it is a commentary of the American dream, portraying it as persistent and not easily overcome by those who are so entangled in reaching for it that they ultimately loose sight of it.
The soundtrack to the film, composed by Clint Marshall, is entirely classical music as performed by a string quartet. The score features sharp high tones from stringed instruments to create a cold and discomforting tone. The music escalates as the film progresses, gradually reaching crescendo over the course of the film. To visually portray the “pushing off” or delivering of each characters drug of choice into their system Aronofsky uses quick montages of extremely short shots of close-up images of the actions that are taking place; the pills being popped, the powder being separated, a syringe being tapped, a pupil dilating, a hand twitching. This coupled with long tracking shots and the use of time-lapse photography help him to transport the viewer into the slowed and numbed world of being under the influence. While at first everything moves quickly, once the effects of the drugs are felt time seems to move slower and reality matters less. However, when portraying Sara Golfarbs addiction to diet pills Aronofsky makes use of the fish-eye lens and speeds up the frames to show how neurotic and antsy the drugs have made her. Sara’s hell is haunted by appliances that come to life, flickering lights, and the echoing speech of the infomercials coming from the television set. Overall the lighting in the beginning of the film is bright and in hues of oranges and reds.  The shots are wide, and incorporate a good deal of background and skyline. As the film progresses the shots become tighter as the scenes become darker, now ruled by shades of blue and gray. Their dismal circumstances are brightened by images of better times and places. This symbolizes each characters gradual imprisonment in hell. While they first sought drugs as a mean of escape, they were actually slowly descending into a dark world of addiction and desperation, and once they reemerge they do so only to discover that their reality is quite darker and quite different then when they left it. The final scene of the film portrays each character curling up into the fetal position, as they have found themselves unable to escape from reality anymore. While their drug addictions did ruin their lives, it also provided them with an escape. Their drugs of choice become their sole sources of pain and pleasure, existing at the core of their relationships with eachother. This perfectly characterizes the nature of the underworld, mischievous, cruel and dangerous, it seductively took them in and left them with nothing but a harsh reality to face, which is perhaps a fate worse than hell. Aronofsky captures the life destroying all consuming power of addiction with unnerving effectiveness.
The film opens and closes with the same image, that of Harry’s delusion of the girl in the red dress standing on the end of the pier overlooking the ocean. In the beginning of the film this is symbolic of him looking towards the future, striving to reach something that is out of his reach. Several times during his drug induced hallucinations he see’s this image again, each time walking a bit further down the pier but never actually making it there. In the final scene Aronofsky careens back and forth between the four main characters, showing them having hit absolute rock bottom and allows the final scene to escalate to a brutal climactic moment. Harry he finally makes it to the end of the dock, only to discover that the girl is gone, so he heads back, only to stumble backwards into a dark abyss and wake up to his reality, which is a lonely, dark, cold hospital room where he is sweating and missing half of his arm.
While a typical katabatic journey is usually followed by an anabasis into a better world, the characters in Requiem for a Dream make their anabasis back to a reality that is perhaps worse than the hell they left. Through his use of lighting, timing, music, and cinematic technique Darren Aronofsky portrays a decent into the dark world of addiction that serves as a disturbing narrative on the dangers of drug addiction and the dangers of the blind pursuit of the American Dream.

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Dec 04 2008

Final Project Description

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here is a description of my final project.

Symbolism of Katabasis and the Flame of Knowledge

An important part in a Katabatic journey, whether in film or in literature, is that of the hero or protagonist obtain some form of life-altering and course changing knowledge. This knowledge is generally acquired at the darkest point of the character’s Katabasis and this newly acquired knowledge is what guides the protagonist from the physical, emotional, or symbolic hell that traps him. In this photograph, the Katabatic journey of the heroes studied such as Odysseus, Captain Kirk, Julie, Aneus, Orpheus, Nafas and Neo all experienced is symbolized by two lit candles, which in addition represent other folds in the Katabatic journey including anabasis. Therefore, this photograph allows the act of Katabasis to become symbolic and explores the different aspects of Katabasis that make it a unique journey.

This photo contains a plethora Symbolism which interestingly possesses a Greek origin, like the word Katabasis. Therefore, symbolism and consequently the word “symbol”, is derived from the Greek word symballo meaning to throw together, to join, or to unite (Fingesten). It originates from a Greek custom of symbolia, in which a host broke a terra cotta pot and gave the fragments to his guests, and upon the next meeting the circle of friends rejoined the pieces to create the pot once more. The significance of this lies in that these broken pieces of pottery only bear importance to those who know the origination of them and their meaning. Now, symbolism often goes hand in hand with art, and is prevalent in many modern pieces. Symbols in art forms are considered by far the most complex and meaningful and opens the work to a variety of different interpretations (Fingesten). This piece truly shows the complexity and different interpretations of one symbol in its use of objects, color and light.

This photograph is a symbolic representation of the Katabatic journey and its relation to acquiring knowledge. Taken in black and white, it shows two candles, both lit with their flames touching. A hand holds the candle that is more dominant in the piece and behind the candles, is a sun spot mirroring their shape. Before discussing the symbolism of the objects in the piece, the importance of the symbolism of the usage of color must be noted. The usage of black and white in this photograph shows the contrast of both dark and light, a quality not prominent in a normal color photographs. Color photographs also frequently lack the color gray, a prominent color in this photo, except for the candles and the pure white of the sunlight hitting the wall and the flame of the candle. The colors of gray, black and white each convey meanings in the area of color symbolism. Gray is said to represent confusion or indecision, black is negative, evil and dark, and white represents truth, wisdom, peace and light.

The candles, the most prominent objects in the photo are symbolic of the Katabatic journey itself, as they are straight and unyielding, as in both film and literature nothing distracts or can keep the protagonist of the Katabasis from completing the journey. The lower candle symbolizes the descent into the underworld, as the candle, when it burns to the ground, and the upside-down candle symbolizes the ascent as it burns upwards. Therefore, where the candles meet symbolizes the point of the journey in which one finds himself in the underworld or his darkest, personal version of hell. The candles are black in this photo because they journey into the underworld, or a personal hell is a dark one. The candle that is held by a hand in this photo is also symbolic of the flame of knowledge. The flame begins where the two candles meet, and as the black candles symbolize the journey and darkness of Katabasis, and therefore, it is both the darkest, and the brightest point of the journey, due to the flame that is present. The flame, in the photo is a brilliant white a color that symbolizes truth, wisdom and light, and as mentioned before, the flame can be interpreted as the flame of knowledge. So, the darkest point of the journey, is when the hero or protagonist reaches their hell, or journeys to the underworld, but it is also the brightest point in the journey, for while in hell, the hero discovers or learns a useful and/or life changing piece of knowledge that allows them to complete their ascent and anabasis.

The color white, though not prevalent in the picture, where it does appear is important in symbolizing the Katabatic journey. As mentioned before, white is shown in the flame, symbolizing truth and wisdom and represents the hero’s acquiring of knowledge. White also appears on the top candle in the photograph where the flame has burned away the black wax on the candle, revealing the white core. Therefore, as the flame burns away the black, or negativity, the ascent of the journey from hell is filled with truth and knowledge. Also, behind the candles is a sun streak that came through the blinds and hit the wall. The sun spot mirrors the shape of the two candles. Because the candles represent the entire journey, and the color white represents the truth and wisdom acquired on the journey, the mirror image of the candles portrayed by the light symbolizes the entire journey as one of knowledge and wisdom.

On a final note, thought this aspect does not appear in the photograph, while preparing to take the picture, when the two lit candles met, their flames caused sparks and the flame was a brilliant white color. Sparks flew and right away, a lot of the blue wax on the candles melted away to reveal the white wax beneath it. Before the picture was taken, it was clear that the meeting of the two flames was both the brightest and darkest point of the symbolized journey.

The candles in this photograph combined with the hand, color choice and lighting effects, shows the symbolic side of the Katabatic Journey. The candles are a strong symbol of a journey, where the flame is both truth and wisdom and the flame of knowledge, an important part of the journey as it often provides the reason for the journey, and the way to complete the journey of Katabasis and Anabasis.


Fingesten, Peter. (1963). The Six-Fold Law of Symbolism. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 21, 387-397. Retrieved November 10, 2008, From JSTOR database.

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Dec 03 2008

David’s Final Project and picture

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The picture in word

The Katabatic Descent

For my project I decided to create a story of a katabasis based on loss, which is similar to the katabasis of Julie in the movie Bleu, through the use of computer-edited photography. In the photo I used filters, color alterations, and color deletions to bring out the story telling elements that I wanted to include.

The katabasis of the main character in the image is a result of trying to go clean from cigarettes. The main character is going through withdrawals, anger, and depression from the lack of this wanted substance. The main character can only think about cigarettes but at the same time can’t get any because he wants to leave it all behind. Because of the desire to quit smoking he is more withdrawn from friends who still smoke because he does not want to be tempted to get a cigarette from other friends who do. Also he doesn’t want to be reminded about the situation he is in.

This particular scene portrayed is a symbolic scene that takes the story and compresses it into this image. The setting of the picture is a shower and the reason for this location is because of the shower is a symbol of cleansing. However for the main character there is a force blocking him from becoming cleansed. Strewn about the shower are empty cigarette boxes. These show that he is stuck with the thoughts of the cigarettes. The cigarette boxes are empty however showing that he isn’t able to get anything although he is haunted by the image of the cigarettes. The cigarettes imbedded in his mind are a barrier to him and conflict with the cleanliness of the shower showing that he cannot be completely clean, or begin an anabasis, until the cigarettes are off his mind. The coloration that is in the image also emphasizes the main characters concentration on the cigarettes and nothing else in his surroundings. And everything that actually is colored in the photo has a blue filter on it that darkens the color and expands on the idea of depressing.

The way that the main character is displayed in the image shows a lot about the trouble and hellish experience that he is going through. First of all, his posture is one of sadness and reflects on the attitude of the scene. The way he is slumped on the wall shows some helplessness as well. The way the character is facing emphasizes a decent for him and also he is facing the packs of empty cigarette boxes. By facing the cigarette boxes it shows the characters unwanted dependence from the addiction to the cigarettes and again shows they are on his mind. The shadows that are brought out especially on the main character help show the dark tone of the scenario. It is also darker the further down you look in the picture and that brings in again a descent into hell.

This story from the picture correlates to the story from the movie Bleu and its katabatic experience that the main character faces. Both of these characters have a katabasis that stems from loss; for Julie in Bleu it is the loss of close family and for the main character of the photo it is a loss of an addictive substance. From this they both begin a descent into their own hell. Both characters are stuck with a memory of the lost and both want to get rid of this memory but it still haunts them both. As Julie becomes more distant from friends, the same happens with the main character of the photo, as said earlier. Although not specifically shown, the main character withdraws from friends who smoke so that way the main character can try to get rid of the memories of the lost like Julie.

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Dec 03 2008

Final Project picture and paper for Elena

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For the final project of the Underworld Greek Mythology and Modern Film Class, a photo journey was created to represent the nightmare of the journey through hell that is the basis for this class. Katabasis, the journey through the Underworld was the necessary journey that the hero in myths and stories must complete as discussed in class. In The Aeneid, Aeneas, the protagonist of the myth journeys through the underworld and acquires knowledge from his experience. Scholars, such as Agnes Kirsopp Michels have argued that Aeneas only journeyed through the underworld in his dreams. Michels attempts to prove that Aeneas’ journey was solely to be interpreted as a dream.  Michels claims that because Aeneas and the Sibyl take the exit from the Underworld of the Gates of Sleep by way of gates of ivory, rather than the one of horn, Virgil intended that the trip to the underworld was to be interpreted as Aeneas’ dream from which he is awoken from.

In the photo journey the pictures are taken from the Exorcist Stairs in Georgetown in Washington D.C., chosen for their hellish appeal and terrifying connotation. The pictures were taken and developed by hand in a dark room to gain the effect of the personal hardships that are needed to complete an obligation that is necessary for success. The pictures themselves are meant to symbolize the nightmare that is the Underworld, the dream through hell. The way that the photographs are matted and placed together as a puzzle is to signify the specific sequence of events that are necessary to be completed to enter and exit the Underworld. The string that wraps around the pictures, weaving in and out starting with the first photograph and snaking through all the way around to meet back at the beginning, and ending with a bow symbolizing the process of going through hardships and ending the journey with gained knowledge.

The first photograph in this journey is very focused on ivy leaves that have stairs leading down but are fuzzy and cannot be understood at the current time. The fuzziness of the bottom of the stairs is meant to show the dream that will be entered to journey through the Underworld. This photograph symbolizes the first step to enter the nightmare that is the Underworld. The deep below is unknown and uncertain it is hard to know what is in store and is a scary situation. The only thing that is known from this photograph is that there is hope that something will be learned at the bottom by the small lamp that is seen through the leaves in the distance.

The next photograph is clearer, the ivy leaves are still seen but they are no longer obstructing the view down the stairs. The way down the stairs is long and there are platforms that symbolize that there will be trials that the hero must accomplish in order to move on. The light, or the knowledge to be gained at the bottom of the stairs is still visible and now slightly clearer and is no longer seen through the vines; the goal is now in clear sight. In the following photograph the entire view of the stairs, now, from the bottom step to the very top is visible and the light or knowledge at the bottom is in clear and close sight. The long trek back to the surface is long and tough, but there is light and opening at the end of the path to show where life will be.

The next photograph may be the simplest, but most important of the whole journey. This picture is of the very top of the stairs with only a few steep steps to overcome and the closest to the end of the journey. The opening to the light at the top of the stairs is in clear sight and very close, but cannot be reached without the hard trek of the final steps, leading out of the nightmare. The railings point up to the sky and to the opening that the stairs lead to the surface of the world and to the world of the living. The end is near, but the hardest part of the journey must be accomplished before the dream can be over.

Finally, the journey is complete, awoken from the dream. The nightmare is over and with the knowledge gained there is hope for a better life is now in view. This photograph shows the river with the American flag flying high over the arch of the journeyed stairs symbolizing the hope that the U.S. has after facing such hard times. The plant life is oozing from the fence and the trees are growing to show the life of the world that is flourishing and will continue to go on. The hero has completed his journey and has grown from the experience. The bow is tied to end the journey of the photographs and to show that the journey was not just a waste, but a learning experience that was necessary to the growth of the protagonist.

Work cited

Michels, Agnes Kirsopp. (1981). The Insomnium of Aeneas. Classical Quarterly, 31(1).140-146.

Retrieved November 14, 2008, from JSTOR database.

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Dec 01 2008

Final Project

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Katabatic Journeys in Everyday Life


            For my project I decided to use a popular Youtube video parodying the magician David Blaine. When technical specialist Jim Groom came into our class and explained to us the vast number of multi media tools available to us on the Internet for free, I was eager to explore a unique means for presenting my project. I pulled a video off the Internet and spliced it, adding my own storyline using a free program called Comic Life. I also added music and it through this combination of multi media elements created a katabatic narrative with a comical spin about a journey through time into a prehistoric universe.

            The youtube video I used as a basis portrays Evan, who is materialistic and shallow, only caring about his distressed Abercrombie jeans, his Carrie Underwood and Chamillionaire CDs, and his Honda sedan. Evan is deathly afraid of David Blaine who is constantly pestering him, so after listening to Evan complain about his material possessions David uses his magic to send him through time to spend a week in the prehistoric age. Right after Evan disappears he appears seconds later in a dumpster looking quite distressed and battered. In between these scenes is where I cut the video, adding my own storyline of what happened to Evan while he was gone. It is this journey that represents his dissent into hell as he fights for his survival, searching for food, shelter, water, and tries to avoid the carnivorous creatures all around him. While in prehistoric times Evan encounters a shaman who represents the prophet who Odysseus met in Homer’s The Odyssey that informed him of all the trials and tribulations he would have to endure in order to make it home. Through his struggles he realizes all he had once taken for granted and ultimately emerges with a greater appreciation for the simple comforts in his life.  

His personal loss was that of his material possessions, but he also lost his best friend Peter for David sent him to dinosaur times by himself. The losses he suffered are similar to those of other katabatic heroes we have studied this semester like Odysseus, Demeter, and Aenaes to name a few. The dinosaurs that threatened to eat him alive were similar to the youth in City of God because they are both innocent in that they don’t know anything more than what they have to do.

            Though he did not fully comprehend at first, David Blaine permanently altered Evan’s life. He would never again think so lightly of all the things he enjoyed in his everyday life. David Blaine, although an annoying pest most times to the two protagonists in the video, had knowingly sent Evan on a journey that would forever change his life. In this respect, David Blaine is similar to the Gods of the Odyssey and “Hymn to Demeter” who interfere with the lives of mortals. Being deprived form his 21st century lifestyle led him to become a real man, capable of overcoming anything.


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