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HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top10-28-2007 04:12:53 AM

Jellineck
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Under your bed
Registered: 08-02-2007
Posts: 894

Freud and Juri's Duel

As evidenced, there is a lot of Freudian subtext in Utena. It would be quite an epic task to categorize it all. Therefore, I have decided to concentrate on one specific area where I think it plays particularly important significance: that of Juri's duel.

Juri is an unusual character, by the standards of the rest of the Utena cast. She fits neither the role of the prince or the princess, the typical male nor the typical female. In the Ohtori terms, she is even more of a gender-ambiguous character than Utena. In a world where girls are reliant on the ideal of the prince, Juri does not desire (and openly rebukes) the male savior. She has no sexual attraction to men, which plays an important role in sexual politics (i.e. even Touga, consummate ladies' man, never even remotely flirts with her). And finally, she alone is undefeated by Utena, first felled by a miracle of chance and the second by her own hand.

Her first duel has a special significance in the Utena world. First, is the opposition of the Apolline force of logic (there are no miracles) against the illusionary basis of Ohtori. Second, on a more symbolic level, the sexual dynamic that comes into play through rather blatant imagery. In case you didn't get the point...

(Image Removed)

The flower, obviously, is the vaginal symbol. And if you don't get what the sword stands for, I advise to stop reading this little essay. With Juri, this has special sexual and philosophical significance. It is the penetration of both her confidence and her representation: that miracles do not exist, there is no magical solution. The symbol above is no less than a sign of domination. Sex in Utena is mainly a method of domination and control, and thus sexually suggestive imagery often notes the same thing (i.e. the appearance of the vaginal symbol aka vulnerability appearing in a moment of extreme tension). Furthermore, her locket is the center of her vulnerability, and has...guess what...a vaginal symbol.

Again, Juri is something of a gender role enigma. She dresses in femininized men's clothing, displays none of the traditional feminine activities, and wields her phallic symbol (sword) in a superior fashion. In many ways, she is dominant. However, her role as Shiori's emotional victim effetes her. She uses her bitter disbelief in miracles to create a protective shield. Prior to this defeat, Juri successfully averts the phallic symbol from the vaginal symbol, asserting her control. Her victory Utena claims her dominant role, and at that crucial moment, she aims her own phallic symbol. It is at that crucial moment of assertion that her own vaginal symbol is penerated - a direct hit to her most vulnerable area, shattering her defenses and beliefs.

Though I said I'd only focus on the first duel, I'd like to note that the Ruka period has special significance as well. Ruka's superiority in fencing speak a lot, essentially placing her into more of the female role with his phallic superiority. Where Juri has previously been mostly untouched by the manipulation of men, she is suddenly forced into a role much more common to the other series' females. Yet Ruka's intent is to help to perfect Juri's princeliness and give her independence from Shiori (arguably). It is interesting to note in the second duel that Dios, rather than penetrating her flower, cuts off the locket and separates her from her major vaginal symbol. This eventually results in Juri's "castration" of herself and ultimate emotional breakdown.

An interesting little theory I've been playing around with. I'm thinking of analyzing Touga's duel in the same context, to a greater degree than what I have done before. If anyone is familiar with Nietzsche, Juri's duel ties in a good deal with the Dionysiac vs. Apolline struggle as well. Potential fodder for a future essay.

Last edited by Giovanna (07-15-2011 12:01:14 PM)


"You said you would do anything for me, right Mamiya?" Mikage purred as he slithered close. "Yes that's right" Mamiya said with a rosey blush. Mikage's smile was evil and cinister as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. "Eeny meeny myny moo. I wonder where my banana will go?" - The Forbidden Passions of Nemuro

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#2 | Back to Top10-28-2007 07:23:37 AM

Stormcrow
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

Jellineck wrote:

If anyone is familiar with Nietzsche

...did someone say Nietzsche?

You raise some good points, though I suspect it is possible to overdo the phallus/vagina business (not in real life, though). Certainly, dominance is the issue at hand, I think you're right no the money there. All of the duelists have their own responses to Utena's domination. Saionji finds it intolerable and unacceptable, so he keeps coming back for more punishment. Miki doesn't really have a problem with it, he's naturally the submissive type anyway, which is why he alone of the duelists never had a real chance at the Rose Bride, in my opinion. Actually, he'd make a good Rose Bride. Anyway, Nanami flat out refuses to acknowledge Utena's dominance, cheating during the duel, and then continuing her dominance games outside of the duels. Touga is crushed by it. It's probably the first time he's actually been forced to submit (except in the movie...ew), and he has a pretty thorough breakdown. Juri's response seems to be "I never really lost". Like Saionji, she can't tolerate submission, and like Touga, she's never had to do it. So she runs away. Of all the duelists, she actually has the least interaction with Utena outside of the duels, almost none in fact. Is she afraid of her? Could this be why she casts down her rose at the end, not only out of bitterness, but cowardice as well? To preserve in her mind the idea that she could have won?

That wandered off-topic a little I think, sorry. Regarding the Appolonian vs. Dionysian aspect of the duel, that's a fair point as well. Juri's style as a fighter is very precise, and everything about her suggests rigor and structure...except for her chaotic heart. Could be another reason why she lost. And Utena certainly fits into the Dionysian mold in some ways, she's carefree, sloppy, and her fighting style is all over the place. And her heart? Equally chaotic I'd say, though that doesn't become apparent until her duel with Touga. Hmm...not at all sure where I'm going with this...I kind of sputtered out there.


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#3 | Back to Top10-28-2007 12:05:49 PM

Jellineck
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

You raise some good points, though I suspect it is possible to overdo the phallus/vagina business (not in real life, though).

I counter by saying you can never overdo the phallus/vagina business etc-wankgirl. Seriously, though, I get what you mean. But since I choose to analyze from a Freudian standpoint, that pretty much means it's necessary to perceive everything with that mindset to come to a conclusion. For instance, it is true that a flower is a fairly universal vaginal symbol, and it comes to represent submission and vulnerability throughout the series by the use of a flower in the duels, Juri's locket, etc.

Touga is crushed by it. It's probably the first time he's actually been forced to submit (except in the movie...ew), and he has a pretty thorough breakdown.

Another excellent Freudian analysis. Touga wields his sword with a certain relish, as evident by his usage of the Rose Bride (Freudian imagery abound).

(Image Removed)

Because it pertains, I'll copy my analysis of Touga's second duel here...

1. Touga's rendering her vulnerable and exposed, much as he managed to tear away at her confidence in her own princely status. Utena, in her most vulnerable state, is almost always depicted in something different than her typical uniform - dressing in a more feminine dress for her dates with Akio, nude in her sex scene, in pajamas for her nighttime conversations with Anthy. The battle is really a good metaphor for Touga's at least damaging her unswerving faith in her prince and in her own abilities.

2. Conversely, the rebirth of that identity. It's no mistake that she's wearing that less practical dress during her fight with Touga rather than her uniform: as she re-discovers her strength, Touga is slicing that other symbolic idenity off of her. Though he deprives her of her certainty, it allows her to rebuild as a wiser duelist.

3. It involves sex, so it's the best one. Touga's need to not only dominate Utena, but sexualize the defeat as much as possible, accentuating the weakness of her gender and her submission to him. Another duelist might have been contented to just defeat her and take the prize, be it Anthy or whatever intangible reward she represents. Touga's objective in this one was ultimate possession of Utena and conquest, so it's a very good insight into his character as well.

The third one obviously is the one that applies best here. He uses not only his symbolic phallus but his the power of sex to attempt to dominate Utena, both in his aggressive actions and his manipulation of her childhood dream. He slices her phallic symbol, and uses his phallic symbol to cut away at her clothes where he could just go in for the kill.

In a surprising reversal, however, Utena overcomes him and slices off his rose. The whole process is intensely emasculating. Hence, his isolation.

And thank you for contributing to the Appolonian/Dionysian debate! I find it pretty fascinating. I'll just go off the topic and consider another point in the series to demonstrate this point. As you well know, Dionysian equals nature which is associated with the female aspect. The female aspect is represented by vaginal symbols, like a rose. The Appolonian, or the mind, is the male aspect. Hence, the phallic dominating symbol of the sword.

To me, this contrast between the Appolonian and the Dionysian is best exemplified by the forces of Anthy and Dios (pre-Akio). It seems much like a page of a Greek myth: a woman whom could not be identified as the pure and innocent ideal must therefore be a harlot and temptress. She is the witch, the force of nature and chaos. Dios is the lawful idealistic prince who represents purity of thought and intent. The witch seals the prince away, and Akio is born, a combination of Appolonian contemplation and Dionysian hungers.

(Image Removed)

In this image, the symbols of the Appolonian (phallic) penetrate the symbol of the Dionysian (the witch) in punishment for corrupting the arch Appolonian figure. Anthy's inherent chaos is tamed and she is forced into a position of submission as the Rose Bride, though sometimes that darker power coursing underneath the surface comes forth. Akio attempts to use Appolonian logic to find an impossible end, evidencing his corruption.

Is she afraid of her? Could this be why she casts down her rose at the end, not only out of bitterness, but cowardice as well? To preserve in her mind the idea that she could have won?

Good point. Is she so afraid of having her beliefs shattered and being dominated then she'd rather forfeit? Ultimately, I disagree. In terms of pure mechanics, she should have won over Utena. It was Dios that interfered both times. In her second duel, she had no real drive to defeat Utena, and her will had been erroded by Ruka. I think her emotional response to Dios's deeply personal blow was genuine despair. She was alread defeated in a multitude of ways. First by Shiori, then Dios shattering her uncertainty, then through Shiori's abuse at Ruka's hands, then Ruka's domination and psychological torture, then at least Dios's attack. At that point I too would have difficulty so much as standing up.

Last edited by Giovanna (07-15-2011 12:01:45 PM)


"You said you would do anything for me, right Mamiya?" Mikage purred as he slithered close. "Yes that's right" Mamiya said with a rosey blush. Mikage's smile was evil and cinister as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. "Eeny meeny myny moo. I wonder where my banana will go?" - The Forbidden Passions of Nemuro

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#4 | Back to Top10-28-2007 02:43:34 PM

satyreyes
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From: New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

Stormcrow wrote:

Regarding the Appolonian vs. Dionysian aspect of the duel, that's a fair point as well. Juri's style as a fighter is very precise, and everything about her suggests rigor and structure...except for her chaotic heart. Could be another reason why she lost. And Utena certainly fits into the Dionysian mold in some ways, she's carefree, sloppy, and her fighting style is all over the place. And her heart? Equally chaotic I'd say, though that doesn't become apparent until her duel with Touga.

This reminds me of a discussion we had a while back about which of the colors of magic (in the card game Magic: the Gathering) each of the characters fit into.  There are five colors of magic and five student council members, so we very much wanted a neat fit -- each student council member in one color.  Juri is one of the characters we had trouble with, for the very reason you state.  Externally, she's "white" -- disciplined, moral, focused on creating order, Apollonian.  But internally, she's much more "red" -- chaotic, emotional, Dionysian.  We could have gone with either color, but we ended up choosing white because we wanted to reserve red for Nanami.  To make things even more interesting, we had much the same issue, in reverse, for Utena, who's red on the outside and white on the inside.  Ikuni noticed the same thing, of course, accounting for the perfect compositional correspondence between various shots of Utena in Juri's first duel and shots of Juri in her last duel.

I too am reluctant to cry Freud every time a sword penetrates a rose, but in this case I'll make an exception.  The shots Jellineck posted scream "phallic and yonic."  On the other hand, I'd like to believe that Ikuni is a tolerant enough guy not to assume that Juri must have Freudian issues because she's a lesbian.

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#5 | Back to Top10-28-2007 10:30:06 PM

ShatteredMirror
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From: Sacramento, CA
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

I think I need to read more Freud (or at least more about Freud) so that this makes more sense to me.

But I think that Ikuni is probably more open-minded than we give him credit for. emot-tongue


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#6 | Back to Top10-29-2007 01:47:04 AM

Jellineck
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

On the other hand, I'd like to believe that Ikuni is a tolerant enough guy not to assume that Juri must have Freudian issues because she's a lesbian.

Oh, he's obviously very tolerant. I'm not suggesting this indicates his personal belief system. Juri in herself probably does not have significant Freudian issues, but sex as an essence is extremely prevalent in Utena. The series is filled with Freudian imagery. I'm not saying Juri has a Freudian complex; it is part of the world she dwells in. She represents a departure from the female convention, which is why the penetration of the phallic symbol is so important with her. It's showing that not even she and her logic are exempt from the gender trappings of women in Utena. It is women, after all, who suffer considerably more than men. People say this is because of Anthy, and the resultant punishment on her gender.

This might all be exaggeration, but in a show as centered on gender roles and sexual politics, I think it has concrete merit.

I think I need to read more Freud (or at least more about Freud) so that this makes more sense to me.

But it sure sounds smart, don't it? emot-biggrin

Last edited by Jellineck (10-29-2007 01:48:22 AM)


"You said you would do anything for me, right Mamiya?" Mikage purred as he slithered close. "Yes that's right" Mamiya said with a rosey blush. Mikage's smile was evil and cinister as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. "Eeny meeny myny moo. I wonder where my banana will go?" - The Forbidden Passions of Nemuro

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#7 | Back to Top10-29-2007 01:51:14 AM

ShatteredMirror
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

True, if nothing else it makes for an interesting read. But do you have a Freud 101 source that you'd recommend?


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#8 | Back to Top10-29-2007 01:57:28 AM

Yasha
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

ShatteredMirror wrote:

True, if nothing else it makes for an interesting read. But do you have a Freud 101 source that you'd recommend?

ACTION PHILOSOPHERS!


No, seriously. It's entertaining AND educational.


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#9 | Back to Top10-29-2007 02:00:35 AM

ShatteredMirror
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

That is so cool. Seriously.


Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source.

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#10 | Back to Top10-29-2007 02:10:37 AM

Jellineck
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

All you really need to know in Freud, here, are the phallic and vaginal symbols. Those are fairly obvious. Getting deeper would be much more difficult, as it's difficult to determine which characters from suffer Oedipal complexes. The infantile sexuality theory might apply here, though.

Nietzsche is much harder to understand on a basic level, because it's difficult to understand one part of his philosophy without looking at the bigger picture. But essentially Appolonian means the mind, rationality, the conduit through which we perceive nature. Dionysian means nature and is essentially represented by sex, wine, and the loss of intellect. Appolonian is usually associated as a masculine trait, while Dionysian is feminine. Hence, my comparison with the Dionysiac witch Anthy and the Appolonian prince Dios.


"You said you would do anything for me, right Mamiya?" Mikage purred as he slithered close. "Yes that's right" Mamiya said with a rosey blush. Mikage's smile was evil and cinister as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. "Eeny meeny myny moo. I wonder where my banana will go?" - The Forbidden Passions of Nemuro

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#11 | Back to Top10-29-2007 01:53:04 PM

NajiMinkin
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

When I came to this thread, I expected to see dear Sigmund and Juri battling to the death. emot-mad  Luckily, this analysis was spectacular enough to eclipse that let-down. etc-love


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#12 | Back to Top10-29-2007 06:03:16 PM

ShatteredMirror
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

If they were actually dueling, Juri would probably stab him in the eye... and no amount of cocaine could numb the pain of that.


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#13 | Back to Top10-29-2007 06:07:52 PM

Pandora
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

*laughs* Oh good, it wasn't just me that thought that, then!

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#14 | Back to Top10-29-2007 08:29:05 PM

Stormcrow
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From: Los Angeles
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

ShatteredMirror wrote:

If they were actually dueling, Juri would probably stab him in the eye... and no amount of cocaine could numb the pain of that.

...but he might counter with his...cigar.emot-wink

EDIT: Back to the topic...Freud's sexual symbolism is predicated on well-defined gender roles being the only healthy norm. He certainly considered homosexuality to be a disorder, for example. So if we reject that, and I know I do, what does the symbol of a vagina pierced by a phallus mean to a gay woman? Leaving aside the argument for the moment that Juri wasn't really gay, is it valid to assume that a sword piercing a flower has the same sexual significance to Juri that it does for, say, Saionji? That gets into a very murky area I realize, but it might be interesting to think about.

Last edited by Stormcrow (10-29-2007 08:32:53 PM)


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#15 | Back to Top10-29-2007 08:46:24 PM

satyreyes
no, definitely no cons
From: New Orleans, Louisiana
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

Stormcrow wrote:

Leaving aside the argument for the moment that Juri wasn't really gay,

How do you mean?  I think it's fairly well established that she's gay -- okay, not 100% explicitly, but it's very much implicit in her relationship with Shiori.

Stormcrow wrote:

is it valid to assume that a sword piercing a flower has the same sexual significance to Juri that it does for, say, Saionji? That gets into a very murky area I realize, but it might be interesting to think about.

I think you'd need to ask a lesbian!  Fortunately, there's no shortage of them around here.  What does phallic imagery mean to you guys -- or do you prefer not to think about it?  emot-smile

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#16 | Back to Top10-30-2007 12:15:48 AM

Jellineck
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From: Under your bed
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Posts: 894

Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

Leaving aside the argument for the moment that Juri wasn't really gay, is it valid to assume that a sword piercing a flower has the same sexual significance to Juri that it does for, say, Saionji? That gets into a very murky area I realize, but it might be interesting to think about.

Actually, I think that has a very large significance. Perhaps I didn't exactly make that clear. I know that no one is really discriminated against based on sexuality in the series, but there is a lot of concentration on gender roles. Juri behaves very different from the other girls of Ohtori, with her powerful presence, attitude, and poise. I think she considers herself a prince when it comes to Shiori: someone who could save and protect their love.

In this way, she fulfills the male role. Yet when Utena reaches outside her female role, there are concentrated efforts to degrade her and "put her in her place" (i.e. Touga). With Juri, the penetrated vaginal symbol not only represents the harm done her most vulnerable area, but it is a distinctly sexual and dominating symbol as well. I think her lesbianism is not so much a key factor to this directly as it is on her gender role.

As for Juri vs. Freud...interesting, but I prefer Akio vs. Freud vs. Kinsey. In a naked mud wrestling match.

In fact, toss out the fight. And Freud and Kinsey.


"You said you would do anything for me, right Mamiya?" Mikage purred as he slithered close. "Yes that's right" Mamiya said with a rosey blush. Mikage's smile was evil and cinister as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a banana. "Eeny meeny myny moo. I wonder where my banana will go?" - The Forbidden Passions of Nemuro

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#17 | Back to Top11-02-2007 04:04:20 AM

Erebus
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Re: Freud and Juri's Duel

Stormcrow wrote:

... is it valid to assume that a sword piercing a flower has the same sexual significance to Juri that it does for, say, Saionji? That gets into a very murky area I realize, but it might be interesting to think about.

It is very safe to assume that the same action has different meanings for each character, if considered that none of them share the same background nor the same needs. Were Juri asked to free-associate starting from " a sword piercing a flower". it would be shown that her associations are influenced by the way her psyche was affected by the main events in her life. It is undeniable that both swords and flowers have a sexual meaning and relate to male and female roles; what is arguable is the way those are taken by a character.

Juri's case is an interesting one because of her inner conflict. During the series it is shown that she can play both dominant and pasive roles just as everyone in real life does. However, what might make her suffer is, not only that duality but also her idealized self-image, meaning the way she thinks she must behave in comparison with the way she really acts. Her conflict can be understood as that of a neurotic who is not able to find equilibrium among her needs.

I'll try to extend this one later. I must go to bed before I say much more non senses. Nacht!


Yet nothing can to nothing fall, nor any place be empty quite ;
Therefore I think my breast hath all those pieces still, though they be not unite ;
And now, as broken glasses show a hundred lesser faces, so
my rags of heart can like, wish, and adore, but after one such love, can love no more.

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