Fear, Failure and Relationships

In “Vincent’s Struggles”, Vanessatshionyi analyzes the film Time Out and the protagonist Vincent and explain his personality, emotional state and the social capital he uses to navigate though the world he is finds himself in.  The keywords or tags used: failed system, failure, fear, fear of change and relations  help guide this discussion. “Inverted Class Protrusion” by Bodonn opens up Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism and the concept of the good life with “mass delusion” being the tag Bodonn uses. “Helmer’s Take on Time” by Madisonduarte  analyzes the novel, The Beasts in the Jungle by Henry James and the concept of heteronormative coupling with the tags forgetting, queer, relations and  sexuality the explains the protagonist’s challenge. “Halberstam’s Take on Pedagogy” by Calexrose discusses The Queer Art of Failure by Judith Halberstam, focusing on her take of the education system with the keywords, academia, education and pedagogy. The similarity between the four conversations is the concept of fear, relationships, the expectation of living “the good life” however one defines it and failure being the end result for the subjects or characters.

In all of the tags listed and discussed, all nine of them can be divided into four groups. Failure, fear, fear of change, failed system being in the first group. Queer, relations, sexuality in the second group and mass delusion and forgetting being in the third group. Academia, education, pedagogy can be the forth group. Fear, relationships, education are the parent topics of the tags. Though the categories, including the parent categories may seem to be separate subjects, they all can be linked together to form a similar outcome when one lives thoughtlessly, improperly or without self –awareness. That outcome is usually failure.

Vanessatshiony points out that the protagonist in Time Out “uses his different roles, as a husband, son and a father, to navigate through a world where he does not have to get super close to those around him” (Vanessatshionyi). She explains how fear drives Vincent’s thoughts and actions and allows him to push away those who are closest to him including family and friends. Providing for his family financially, even in ways and methods that puts their emotional health at risk comes before anything else. The chasing of the “good life”, as Lauren Berlant in After the Good Life, An Impasse, imprints “a new mask” (Berland 196) onto Vincent’s face and life. This chase affects his “relations” or the relationships he’s cultivating though a good portion of his life. The fear he experiences, which is the fear of not being a good provider, is not limited to himself, “his children seem to fear him” (Vanessatshionyi), as the trait is passed on to them.

In Madisonduarte’s analysis on “Helmer’s Take on Time” and The Beasts in the Jungle, the tag: “relations” in some ways drives the story and also end it. Unlike Vincent’s relationships that is very peripheral, John’s relationships are more central and internal with May being the only person in his life. Madisonduarte  points out that “Marcher and May are not performing heterosexuality, but rather the interpretation of the two of them as a heteronormative couple is based on a shared history and their subsequent relationship that mirrors traditional courtships.” It is suggested that May lay in waiting for John to commit to her until her life ends.  Madisonduarte concluded that this makes her “unfulfilled desire so much sadder, because, despite the amount of power she has over Marcher’s life, she is unable to gain the one thing she needs from him.”  Though “fear” is not mentioned in the conversation, one could argue that fear is a driving force in John’s and May’s life together. Though sexuality is implied in the essays, it seems like its secondary to fear.

Though the above keywords were not mentioned in “Inverted Class Protrusion” by Bodonn, fear can be intertwined in it. “The painstaking restlessness that fatigues Vincent throughout the movie seems to me to be a reaction of disillusionment from the deflective optimism that creates these good life fantasies” (Bodonn). One could ask what is driving Vincent to the levels he is shooting for. What force is propelling him?  Vincent is working diligently to prevent the failure Judith Halberstam writes about in The Queer Art of Failure. Since Vincent is not the “queer” Halberstam writes about, he is not going to experience the freedom to “escape the punishing norms that discipline behavior and manage human development with the goal of delivering [him] from unruly childhoods to orderly and predictable adulthoods” (3). In other words, he never develops and that brings Vincent back to square one, the job interview at the conclusion of the film.

“Halberstam’s Take on Pedagogy” pinpoints the author’s take on the failure of pedagogy and the education system. The keywords, academia, education and pedagogy can also be eventually linked to fear and eventually failure. Though Halberstam’s “Queer Art of Failure” discussed various types of failure, my discussion focuses on education. Failure and fear generally goes hand-in-hand and the terms that’s often used in pedagogy when it comes to avoiding failure, “’rigor’, ‘excellence’, and ‘productivity’” (Calexrose). This could also be the “mass delusion” Bodonn wrote about in his essay.

The tags in the discussion, though on the surface can seem separate, they all come together in the end. Fear and eventually failure being the end result. Relationships, especially interpersonal relationships are usually sacrificed in the process.


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