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The Naked Eye/I • MADNESS AS ART

Carlos Amador • Dr. William A. Nericcio • Nikki Prieto

na∑ked: adj. [etymology: Middle English, from Old English nacod; akin to Old High German nackot, Latin nudus, Greek gymnos] 1. not covered by clothing: NUDE. 2. devoid of customary or natural covering: BARE: as a: not enclosed in a sheath or scabbard b: not provided with a shade c: of a plant or one of its parts: lacking pubescence or enveloping or subtending parts. d: lacking foliage or vegetation e: of an animal or one of its parts: lacking an external covering (as of hair, feathers, or shell). 3. a: scantily supplied or furnished b: lacking embellishment: UNADORNED. 4. UNARMED, DEFENSELESS. 5. lacking confirmation or support. 6. devoid of concealment or disguise 7. unaided by any optical device or instrument (visible to the naked eye) 8. not backed by the writer's ownership of the commodity contract or security.

Unclothed. Revealed. Unadorned. Without cover. In a word, “naked.” A familiar enough word--a welcome one at times. In this 1999 version of The Psychological Novel, we will use the concept of nakedness to explore the minds, bodies and art of women and men throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. We will concern ourselves with individuals who are anything but normal and by the end of the semester we may well decide that “normal” is the last thing we want when we are looking for art--especially when it comes to better surveying that contentious realm called the psychological. The various naked minds, bodies and psyches we encounter this term will teach us to rethink what it is we think of when we imagine the dimensions of the human mind--in the process we will learn again just how instrumental literature can be in exposing the riches and excesses of this mind. We will not limit ourself to the written word in this seminar, as we will explore also naked eyes from the visual arts and cinema. Odds are your eyes and “I” will be moved by these encounters. This course is open to all undergraduates without regard to your selected major and assumes no expertise in literature, film or fine art. If you are curious about naked artists, naked souls and naked eyes, then hold on to your hats. With your dynamic participation, our adventure promises to be one hell of a spectacle.


January 26, 1999 Tuesday
We begin with an introduction to the concept of The Naked Eye/I. The “eye” in relation to the “I”--or how “seeing” saturates the “Subject.” Also, an extended overview of expectations and responsibilities. A revisionist soliloquy on the word “naked.” And last but not least, an introduction to your gifted TAs.

January 28, Thursday
Read up to page 97 in Pascal Bonafoux’s Van Gogh: The Passionate Eye. How did Van Gogh attempt to reshape the world that entered his brain through his eyes--in short, Van Gogh’s canvases * Van Gogh’s observations: our goal is to describe that translation.

February 2, Tuesday
Finish reading Bonafoux’s comprehensive overview of Van Gogh’s career. Think about the various meanings of the word, “naked.” Is Van Gogh a naked artist, and, if so, what does this teach us about the psychology of art? 

February 4, Thursday
Read the “The Judgment” and “The Stoker” in Franz Kafka’s The Sons. Try not to read the Mairowitz/Crumb exposť on Kafka, as it will decidedly slant your readings of the story. In class short writing assignment on Van Gogh and Kafka: come prepared. Receive Imagination Speculation #1 due next Friday, February 12, at 12 noon, under my door, 4117 AH.

February 9, Tuesday
Over the weekend read Mairowitz and Crumb’s Introducing Kafka and Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” In class, we will consider Kafka’s short story, but we will also think about how the genre of biography, and here, illustrated biography, impacts upon our interpretations.

February 11, Thursday
Read Kafka’s “Letter to His Father.” Consider how reading this tract changes the way you have come to read Kafka’s literature. What is the relationship between literature and autobiography? NOTE: Your Imagination Challenge #1 is due tomorrow at noon, under my door, 4117 AH.

February 16, Tuesday
The naked eye is the naked I is the naked self. From fiction we turn now to the paintings of Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s gift to art in the 20th century. Kafka, perhaps, has prepared us for the visceral honesty of these pictures--then again, perhaps not. Read to page 59 in Kettenmann’s pictorial biography.  

February 18, Thursday
Finish reading the Kahlo volume. Think through the concept of the Naked Eye/I with specific regard to issues of gender. Is a naked woman the same as a naked man. We know they are not, but why. Think this through as you carefully read this book and “screen” these images.

February 23, Tuesday
Over the weekend read to page 110 in Freud for Beginners. Also read the first Case History in Three Case Histories, chronicling the sad tale of the Rat Man. Read slowly and with a dictionary. Try not to evaluate the rightness or wrongness of Freud’s theories; read this tale as you would a novel. 

February 25, Thursday
Finish reading Freud for Beginners. This is a more complex book than it might first appear at first glance as the images are as sophisticated as the commentary; Zarate as important as Appignanesi: attend to this as you read the volume. You will receive your 4-7 page Imaginative Speculation Research Adventure Essay assignment today--they are due Friday, April 16 at 12noon, under the door at 4117AH.

March 2, Tuesday
We continue our reading of Freud with the infamous case of the Wolf-Man. Read “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis” (1918). Again, read it as you would a novel or detective story--and read with a good dictionary: Freud has to use big code words for sexual practices so as not to offend his readers. 

March 4, Thursday
We will continue our discussion of the Wolf-Man case history and conclude our discussion of Freud as he relates to literature and the naked psyche.

March 9, Tuesday
Now that we have read Freud, we need a juicy piece of literature to apply him to... Enter Young Valiant, a play by famous and infamous Los Angeles playwright, Oliver Mayer. Enter class having read Mayer’s play. How does his work add to what we have already learned about literature and the psyche. 

March 11, Thursday
Celebrity day in the our naked asylum as ranking inmate Oliver Mayer joins our class for discussion and questions. After class book signing and party at Monty’s. Bring a friend.

March 16, Tuesday
Seeing and the psyche, speculation and the mind: it all comes together in this centerpiece work of the class, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Come into class having read to the end of chapter VIII (8). As much as Wilde crafts a lurid tale, he is also and simultaneously fashioning a theoretical meditation on the nature of representation and subjectivity. Watch for this as you continue your reading.

March 18, Thursday
For today’s discussion read up to the end of chapter XII (12). Pay keen attention to who is desiring whom throughout this gothic libido festival. In-class writing assignment, a distinct possibility. 

March 23, Tuesday
Read from chapter XIII (13) to Chapter XVIII(18) for today’s discussion. What role do narcotics play in the novel? Are they a means to self-discovery or an escape from reality? Or both? 

March 25, Thursday
Finish your reading of Wilde’s wild novelistic romp.
March 30, Tuesday
NO CLASS-Enjoy yourself, naked or clothed.

April 1, Thursday
NO CLASS-Enjoy yourself, naked or clothed.

April 6, Tuesday
Today we will begin screening Billy Wilder’s magnum opus, Sunset Boulevard. Expect also, an introductory lecture on Wilder and seeing as Pathology.

April 8, Thursday
We will continue screening Wilder’s grand classic. As you watch the film, think about the connection between Wilde’s novel and Wilder’s film.

April 13, Tuesday
We will finish screening Wilder’s movie today. What is the connection between Hollywood and the psyche. How does Wilder get us to rethink the connection between the Naked Subject and the larger naked body politic? 

April 15, Thursday
General discussion of Wilde and Wilder. Your 5-8 page Imaginative Speculation Research Adventure essays are due tomorrow under my office door, 4117AH at noon.

April 20, Tuesday
Read Carlos Fuentes’s Aura over the weekend and come into class ready to discuss the relationship between Fuentes, Wilder and Wilde’s work. Note how each weave a connection between memory, seeing and sexual desire.  

April 22, Thursday
We will continue our discussion of Fuentes’s Aura. Can we draw a connection between Fuentes’s work and Freud’s from earlier in the semester? How does the concept of nakedness or subjectivity figure in this eerie novella?

April 27, Tuesday
We will begin screening Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948). Are there connections to be drawn between this work and Wilde’s? Think carefully of the relationships that develop between men in the movie 

April 29, Thursday
We will end our screening of Hitchcock’s Rope and continue our discussion. We will also screen a limited selection from George Stevens’s Giant, so as to set up our class for next Thursday.

May 4, Tuesday
Lecture on Hitchcock and the Naked Eye/I--some peculiar suggestions about the relationship between philosophy and literature, a distinct possibility. 

May 6, Thursday
Quiz likely. You will enter the room having carefully prepared Tino Villanueva’s Scene from the Movie Giant--how does Villanueva translate trauma into art?

May 11, Tuesday
You can expect a review of the semester as well as several huge hints about the final. Not a day to skip unless your feeling really, really brilliant or lucky. Expect a surprise!

May 13 Thursday
In-class final exam.
Party at Monty’s!


Requirements, you ask? Reading and class discussion make up a significant portion of the class; attendance helps--you won't pass without it. If you intend to miss more than three classes, you will be asked to leave our naked observatory permanently. And I do not just expect attendance, I expect prepared attendance--even, brace yourself, participation. Do think twice about setting foot in our singularly ugly classroom if you have not completed your assigned reading for the day. Also to be expected? One short imagination challenge (2 to 3 pages); one researched imagination challenge (5-8 pages), a final exam on the last day of classes and (bleah) quizzes--if and only if the nudity obsessed occupants/inmates of our class decide to perform with high school level indifference.


Quizzes, Prepared Attendance, Class participation, Ability to attend class without sleeping:40%
Essays: 35%
Final ExaM: 24%
Chutzpah, Ganas, Drive: 1%


Why ‘office hours’? I expect you to visit your fabulously talented and utterly exploited teaching assistants, Nikki Prieto or Carlos Amador, or your massively overpaid professor in office hours at least once during the semester. In a class like ours it will be too easy to fall through the cracks, to feel that you are nothing but a number or some warm pile of clothed flesh filling a seat. In order to understand that the individuals teaching you are somewhat human, please make a point of letting us meet you personally outside the confines of our “lovely” chemistry/geology amphitheatre. My office hours are from 11 to 2pm on Tuesdays in Adams Humanities 4117--and do note that I KEEP my office hours (If I am not there on Tuesdays, I am either away mometarily answering the call of nature or dead); Ms. Prieto and Mr. Amador will post their hours shortly--they will hold their office hours in Adams Humanities 4179; and you can leave them a message there at 594.6711. If these hours are inconvenient, do not hesitate to call me at 594.1524 either to schedule an appointment or discuss your questions via telephone. My email address is, but please only contact me via cyberspace if it is an emergency or if the thought of visiting a professor or teaching assistant makes you deathly ill.

Van Gogh: The Passionate Eye, Pascal Bonafoux
The Sons, Franz Kafka
Introducing Kafka, David Mairowitz & Robert Crumb 
Frida Kahlo: Pain and Passion, Andrea Kettenmann
Three Case Histories, Sigmund Freud
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
Aura, Carlos Fuentes

REQUIRED BOOKS AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT THE BLUE DOOR LITERARY BOOKSTORE [3823 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA, (619) 298-8610. From campus, take 8West to 163South, exit at University. If you see the giant HILLCREST street sign, park! You’re almost there. You can get to 5th avenue and Hillcrest using San Diego Transit’s #11 bus from the Bus Circle opposite Adams Humanities on the SDSU campus.]
Freud For Beginners, Richard Appignanesi & Oscar Zarate
Scene From the Movie Giant, Tino Villanueva
Blood of Palomar (NOT A REQUIRED TEXT--Extra CREDIT title for nakedly ambitious students only!!!!), Gilbert Hernandez

Young Valiant, Oliver Mayer, $5.00

Sunset Boulevard, Billy Wilder
Rope, Alfred Hitchcock