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Gougai! Gougai!

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 Top02-05-2008 08:36:16 AM

Hedgehogey
Framed Landscaper
Registered: 01-30-2008
Posts: 430

Anthy as Proletariat?

One possible interpretation of Anthy's position in RGU is that of an eternal wage slave.

Consider: Marx wrote that:

4) the maintenance of his individual existence appears to the worker as the goal of his activity and his real action is only a means; he lives to acquire the means of living…" And so "the more the worker expends himself in his work, the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, and the poorer he himself becomes in his inner life, the less he belongs to himself.... The worker puts his life into the object, and his life then belongs no longer to him but to the object. The greater his activity, therefore, the less he possesses … the alienation of the worker in his product means not only that his labour becomes an object, takes on its own existence, but that it exists outside him, independently and alien to him, and that it stands opposed to him as an autonomous power. The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force… the alienated character of work for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his work but work for someone else, that in work he does not belong to himself but to another person."

Anthy's labor (her suffering being stabbed by the swords of Dios constantly) is very much not her own. It is a tool for her boss (Akio) or a succesion of would-be bosses to use for their own purposes. Under wage slavery it is often said that "one can choose to have a different boss but one can never choose to have no boss". This is true in Anthy's case: She can be the Rose Bride of any duellist but she cannot choose to not be a Rose Bride (a servant). Her "labor" is her time being stabbed by the swords of Dios and the "product" which results from it is Miracles, Eternity, the power to turn back time, etc.

There's also another Marx quote which I can't track down which states something to the effect of "while the proletariat is working, he is not truly alive...he exists only in the hours in which he doesn't work and lives by selling his life in bits and pieces."

Marx meant "Not truly alive" in a metaphorical sense, but for Anthy it is literally true, or as literally true as anything is in SKU. While she is laboring, she is literally a "corpse", as movie Akio states. She remains in this condition until Utena comes along, her first "owner" who doesn't wish to own her.

Thoughts? More to come.

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#2 | Back to Top02-05-2008 09:23:10 AM

Valeli
Thorn of Death
Registered: 12-05-2006
Posts: 481
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Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

That's a neat thought. Hmm.
I'll preface all this by saying I'm no expert in Marx at /all/. I'm trying to organize my post a bit. By and by. Cause your idea is good and deserves a less sloppy reply from me.

Rhyaniwyn wrote:

Marx was pretty concerned with the objective world and when you apply him to Utena, there's a bit of a gap between what he was talking about and what is going on in Utena (which is, imho, more concerned with the subjective world).  However […] It is certainly part of Ikuhara's maligned 'adult world' to kill your spirit doing work you neither like, nor truly serves your own ends.

I think this sums up what I was blabbing on about well before this edit. So I’ll delete what I had, put your quote up, and get to some more specific bits.

Basically I think there’s a gap between the objective things Marx was concerned with, and the subjective things SKU (imo) focuses on that makes the comparison a little bit awkward (but certainly not impossible).


Hedgehogey wrote:

Anthy's labor […] is very much not her own. It is a tool for her boss (Akio) or a succesion of would-be bosses to use for their own purposes.

I think there’s going to be a difference here depending on whether you find she has one boss (Akio), or a whole string (the Student Council, Akio, etc). The inferences you can draw from each point will be different – it’s important to establish if the Student Council are also workers (working towards the manifestation of their own subjective ideals through the means of Akio’s game), or not. 


Hedgehogey wrote:

[Anthy’s] "labor" is her time being stabbed by the swords of Dios and the "product" which results from it is Miracles, Eternity, the power to turn back time, etc.

I don’t think that her being stabbed is labor, so much as an effect of the choices she has made (to subjugate her own will to Akio’s, and lock herself up). Does she really produce any of those things either? (I think the question of her success is too subjective to really have a definitive answer on. Just a rhetorical question.)


I think that it would be awkward to have /just/ Anthy representing the worker. A set up like that would seem pretty ill-suited if a theme like this were being woven in. Which isn't to say you can't find themes like this with other charachters - maybe you can, I haven't thought about it.

You also assume that Anthy is working for Akio. A fair enough assumption, although I think you can make an argument that that's not necesarily the case, and that Anthy's actually working for herself (to create a prince, or restore Akio to being one). Either way. Anthy and Akio certainly put their lives into their schemes, but maybe one can draw a distinction between this type of "work" relating to personal relationships and the type of work (i think?) Marx was concerned with.

Marx wrote:

while the proletariat is working, he is not truly alive

Several people in Utena /are/ "working" on acquiring ideals/dreams/etc through relationships, but I don't think very many of them are dying inside because of it. On first glance, at least. Most of them seem to be having very real problems /because/ they lack the object of their ambition. Superficially, it seems Saionji would be better off if he could (re?)gain his friendship/equality with Touga, if Miki could find his "shining something," etc.  We have a cast of deeply troubled charachters, working to fix their issues/past, and I think most (if not all), would be better off if they were able to succesfully do this. You could probably try and show that they wouldn't actually be better off though. How you'd do that is up to you.


Marx wrote:

The life which he [the worker] has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force… the alienated character of work for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his work but work for someone else, that in work he does not belong to himself but to another person.

How does this last part apply to Anthy well? It seems like the concepted of a "created" object setting itself against the creator might have a better match with Utena(creation) and Akio(creator). But this would imply Akio is actually the worker? Which doesn't match up very well with what you'd said before, about Anthy taking that role.

Let's say that Akio /is/ a worker though (and I haven't watched the series in a while, but I think there were some scenes you could use to support an argument that Anthy is manipulating him, if you wanted to make that argument). Maybe all he's doing really /is/ with the intent of freeing Anthy from her coffin. Is he working to maintain his life? All the evidence I can think of off-hand would seem to suggest that he's pretty well off in the current scheme of things at Ohtori. He's as close to the top as anyone there gets to be. That wouldn't mesh well with the earlier part of your Marx quote imo. And also - if Akio is a worker - I think it's hard to make an argument that he doesn't very much enjoy that which he does. It would be much easier to argue that Akio is working to preserve the status quo at the Academy.

I'm going to stop here. I've played devil's advocate in a rushed fashion, but I /do/  think you have a neat idea, and I bet you could have it stand up better with the inclusion of more quotes/charachters. All I can really say is that based on this single quote exclusively, and a (i think?) focus on Anthy as the worker, you've limited yourself and created a situation that might have a few issues. But those issues could be all fixed by broadening this. In my ramblings I've already suggested that Anthy might not be the only worker (maybe Akio is being used as one too; if you go on, I bet you can find lots of other people. Everyone on the student council /is/ working for their single individual goals that would "bring them back to life," so to speak, but are ultimately unatainable).

So yeah. Neat idea. Just needs a bit more to make an argument that can stand up imo, and I think you can probably find that bit more in the series if you look for it. Fun perspective.

Last edited by Valeli (02-05-2008 11:20:16 AM)

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#3 | Back to Top02-05-2008 10:45:59 AM

rhyaniwyn
Myth is my Bitch
From: Tallahassee, FL
Registered: 11-09-2006
Posts: 684
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Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

Valeli wrote:

It seems like this is talking about a much more material sort of object/work focus to me. What is Anthy/Akio working for/on? I think they're working on ideas, or at best, upon each other and the other students of the academy. The relationship seems more to be one of personal endeavor than of capitalist enterprise, I think, is what I'm trying to say.

This isn't a weakness in the comparison, from my perspective.  It harkens to an angle in which Akio represents a purely materialistic life (full of conquests, expensive possessions, and secular power).

Valeli wrote:

Anthy/Akio certainly put their lives into their schemes, but maybe one can draw a distinction between this type of "work" relating to personal relationships and the type of work (i think?) Marx was concerned with.

In general.  Anthy as Rose Bride is certainly a slave.  She's pampered in some respects, because how well does she perform practical chores?  She does clean, but mostly her work is more glamorous in nature than your typical wage slave.

Valeli wrote:

Marx wrote:

The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force… the alienated character of work for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his work but work for someone else, that in work he does not belong to himself but to another person.

How does this last part apply to Anthy well?

However, Anthy's service to Akio places her in direct service to his ideals and his (materialistic) world.  It's not what she wants.  Gio has argued that Anthy continues to serve Akio because she wants Akio to help her.  Essentially, Anthy wants to be rescued and she wants an Utena.  Unfortunately for her, Akio's just mouthing platitudes when he talks about regaining the Power of Dios.  So what Anthy does for him is ultimately serving Akio's whims, not her own.  Her work is completely divorced from her own inner desires.  It's so unfulfilling that Anthy has to lock her true self away in order to survive day to day.

Marx was pretty concerned with the objective world and when you apply him to Utena, there's a bit of a gap between what he was talking about and what is going on in Utena (which is, imho, more concerned with the subjective world).  However, I think the spirit of the quote and the spirit of SKU have a lot of similarities.  It is certainly part of Ikuhara's maligned 'adult world' to kill your spirit doing work you neither like, nor truly serves your own ends.


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#4 | Back to Top02-05-2008 06:21:39 PM

Hedgehogey
Framed Landscaper
Registered: 01-30-2008
Posts: 430

Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

rhyaniwyn wrote:

In general.  Anthy as Rose Bride is certainly a slave.  She's pampered in some respects, because how well does she perform practical chores?  She does clean, but mostly her work is more glamorous in nature than your typical wage slave.

Her work is certainly not the same as that of a factory worker, but it is still alienated labor because it always belongs to someone else. A proletariat is not defined by the comfort of their work but wether or not they own the means of production and final product of their labor.

However, Anthy's service to Akio places her in direct service to his ideals and his (materialistic) world.  It's not what she wants.  Gio has argued that Anthy continues to serve Akio because she wants Akio to help her.  Essentially, Anthy wants to be rescued and she wants an Utena.  Unfortunately for her, Akio's just mouthing platitudes when he talks about regaining the Power of Dios.  So what Anthy does for him is ultimately serving Akio's whims, not her own.  Her work is completely divorced from her own inner desires.  It's so unfulfilling that Anthy has to lock her true self away in order to survive day to day.

That's a better sumation than my initial post. Anthy's regular work as the Rose Bride is so deadening and monotonous that she eventually has come to believe that she is a "doll with no heart".

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#5 | Back to Top02-05-2008 06:40:51 PM

Hedgehogey
Framed Landscaper
Registered: 01-30-2008
Posts: 430

Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

Valeli wrote:

Basically I think there’s a gap between the objective things Marx was concerned with, and the subjective things SKU (imo) focuses on that makes the comparison a little bit awkward (but certainly not impossible).

Any comparison of Utena to something that isn't...well, Utena...is going to be a little awkward. Nevertheless, legitimate comparisons have been drawn to feminism, jungian psychology and many other things before.

Hedgehogey wrote:

I think there’s going to be a difference here depending on whether you find she has one boss (Akio), or a whole string (the Student Council, Akio, etc). The inferences you can draw from each point will be different – it’s important to establish if the Student Council are also workers (working towards the manifestation of their own subjective ideals through the means of Akio’s game), or not.

Are the student council proletariat? In Marx's definition of the word, they aren't. While each is striving for their own ideal, each ideal can only be actualized through the exploitation of another's labor (Anthy's). In fact, this motif of using the lives of others as fuel for a "spell" comes up again and again. Mikage uses his hundred dead duellists as fuel and Ruka sacrifices his own life as fuel for Juri's miracle.

I don’t think that her being stabbed is labor, so much as an effect of the choices she has made (to subjugate her own will to Akio’s, and lock herself up).

Those are not mutually exclusive ideas. It's very possible that she labors BECAUSE her will is subjugated to Akio's. She would refuse the work if she weren't.

Does she really produce any of those things either? (I think the question of her success is too subjective to really have a definitive answer on. Just a rhetorical question.)

I was always under the impression that it was Anthy's labor as the Rose Bride which produced all these things, or at least the illusion of them. Wether or not they're real or fake miracles, eternity, etc. is to me, less important in this discussion than the fact that Anthy worked to produce them but was always denied control over the final product.

I think that it would be awkward to have /just/ Anthy representing the worker. A set up like that would seem pretty ill-suited if a theme like this were being woven in. Which isn't to say you can't find themes like this with other charachters - maybe you can, I haven't thought about it.

That seems the major flaw with my comparison. In the real world, Proletariat outnumber Bouergoise by a large proportion. Still, RGU wouldn't be the first work of art to have a single character representing a much larger societal group.

You also assume that Anthy is working for Akio. A fair enough assumption, although I think you can make an argument that that's not necesarily the case, and that Anthy's actually working for herself (to create a prince, or restore Akio to being one).

This relates to class struggle. Worker and Boss always have conflicting interests. Anthy wishes to create something for herself and/or free herself from her condition but Akio, being the controller, punishes her on those rare occasions when she steps out of line ("Anthy...come here." It's a command.).

I'll answer the second half of this post...later.

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#6 | Back to Top02-06-2008 07:53:17 AM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

On the surface, the analogy is quite apt. Anthy is in a position of servitude. She is exploited by her master(s). She accepts unpleasant conditions for the sake of someone else's aggrandizement. And it's also certainly true that she is very very alienated*. On the other hand...As Rhya pointed out, Marx was a pretty militant materialist who more or less denied the existence of any kind of spiritual world. You could go so far as to say that he attempted to inject spirit into matter with his semi-mystical meditations on the value of labor. But it wasn't spirit in the sense that the Power of Miracles is spirit for example. And once you remove the spiritual character from it, SKU completely stops making sense. It is a valid perspective on much of the show, in which the student council become utter fools chasing phantasms, risking their lives for some vague illusion. But I really don't see how the Black Rose Circle or the Rose Bride can make sense that way. So I have to agree with Valeli that the metaphor is pretty strained.

In fairness, I should maybe point out that I have never liked Marx with one linguistic exception. See below.

*the word Marx used, which was translated as "alienated" was the German "entfremdet", from the root "fremd" meaning "strange". Hence, "entfremdet" could be rendered "having been made strange". Alienated is certainly a good translation, but I have to say that entfremdet is one of my favorite words.


"The devil want me as is, but god he want more."
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#7 | Back to Top02-06-2008 08:30:30 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

It's hard for me to see Anthy as a proletarian but I just don't know that much about Marxism. Still, the unhealthy and exploitive relationships and the misunderstandings do have political counterparts. For example Aboriginal peoples having their culture taken away from them "for their own good." Or crusades to set people free without really asking what freedom means to them. Or the condescension, back-biting and bitterness that often characterizes class relationships or relationships between other kinds of groups.

I often see the endless stream of phony issues in the media and "reality" TV as pertinant also.

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#8 | Back to Top03-06-2008 09:31:28 PM

brian
Atlantean Singer
Registered: 10-22-2006
Posts: 588

Re: Anthy as Proletariat?

Now that I've thought about it for several months maybe Anthy is the exact opposite of a proletariat. You could make a case for saying that she is extremely snobbish and inbred. After she stabs Utena she seem almost to be looking down her nose at her. She is the epitome of a tired god; decadent, cynical, manipulative, aloof, indifferent to human suffering and unwilling to mix her blood with anyone not of her own class even if that means committing incest.

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