Evolution or Design

Evolution or Design: Philosophy, Theology, and the Universe

David Hume expresses that humankind cannot know that the world was designed by God, an idea that was obviously novel in his time, when Judeo-Christian thinking continued to put emphasis on the creation myth that is found in the Old Testament’s book of Genesis. William Paley’s argument concerning design responds in a way suggesting that Hume did not grasp the point made by those who favour the concept of Divine creation of the universe. (in Davies, 2000, 253-259) For Paley, if the universe could be seen to have some sort of systematic design, as perhaps is suggested by laws of natural physics that are now known to us, then we cannot rule out that some kind of instigator was at work in establishing the universe’s different systems.

Hume used analogy to explain his position, narrating a discussion between Cleanthes and Demea, in response to the pious position of Philo. For instance, the presence of a house obviously points to the existence, at some point, of its having had an architect or builder. However, Hume continues with a comment that, “surely you will not affirm that the universe bears such a resemblance to a house, that we can with the same certainty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here, entire and perfect”. (in Davies, 2000, 261) Phil might attribute all creation to God, but God need not have made the universe, just because a house or a table, for that matter, has had its maker. Paley, on the other hand, uses the example of a watch that we can easily recognize as such, although we do not know who the maker was or, most significantly, how the watch was made, or how it operates. (in Davies, 2000, 254) Indeed, we do not need to know these things in order to understand what the watch is, its function, and how to use it to our advantage.

Hume valued natural laws but he saw their limitations in terms of just how much could be known by human beings, or how much people could really draw from these laws, for in discussing the universe, perhaps everything did not need to have a logical ‘cause and effect’, that the processes of the universe might be grander than anything the human mind could see or fully understand. In a sense, Paley seems to be agreeing, again, in referring to a watch, as he writes that not only do we not need to know how a watch was made or functions, but that we do not expect the watch to be perfect in its operation. Just because it may sometimes fail to indicate the time, or may lose important seconds, for instance, it does not just cease to be watch that can be understood with sufficient study, or the summary of another person. An uninformed person could begin to understand some feature of how a watch was made to tell the time but need not expect to understand it totally, or to see it as perfect, or to believe that it had any order of its own, beyond the workings that came to be understood. (in Davies, 2000, 254-255)

Hume wrote at a time when science was making great gains. He also had the wit to understand that, a very small part of, “this great system”, referring to the universe, had come to be understood through a very short time. In this area, he seems to match Paley in his reminder that we do not need to understand everything of how something works, or how it has originated, in order to see its result or function. Hume knew that the universe had been, “very imperfectly discovered”, and that it was therefore impossible to suggest with any certainty anything about the origins of it. (in Davies, 2000, 264) Hume also makes reference to the inability of the human mind to understand the Infinite, as he seems to have thought the universe was, that it might be boundless, and that the human mind was only capable of grasping what it could see or fathom. The idea that the universe was the result of divine creation he saw as very flawed for the divine might not be something that made things in the way of a person, or for that matter, could be altogether capable of making Creation but in ways that humans could not, or would never clearly understand. Perfection could not be ascribed to God, “even in his finite capacity” and at the same time, it was not enough to just state that God was, “free from every error, mistake, or incoherence in his undertakings”. (in Davies, 2000, 265)

If the story of Creation were known to be true, as it was once strongly presented in the Christian religion, this still would not imply that the laws of the universe were consistent, or knowable, or that the universe need have any symmetry as the human minds prefers to think in such terms, and is unhappy with what is random and disordered. In general, Hume seems to have noticed a tendency for people to discuss whether the universe was the work of one mind, in the Divine, or to move towards another extreme, of the universe as the result of several, quite incoherent influences. (in Davies, 2000, 269) Religious answers were for Hume no more satisfying than those of science and it was necessary for the thinking person to suspend judgment as, “our only reasonable resource”. (in Davies, 2000, 270) Paley’s argument seems to center on the unknowable as still being valid for consideration, including the possibility of divine creation, but this argument does not seem very convincing as he responds more or less to Hume’s criticisms with reactions of, ‘well, we don’t know that the universe wasn’t created’. Hume ends up seeming the more balanced in his demand that the individual learn to rather hang in the balance, accepting that he or she cannot know whether Design or random or other creation were true, in the beginning, or whether different processes of different kinds went into creating the natural world, over time. Of course, this is much harder for many people to do, given a wish for final answers, that allow some sense of symmetry or order.

The questions discussed by both Hume and Paley become more interesting when examined in the light of John L. Mackie, and then, Stephen T. Davis’s treatments. Mackie stresses that there is no conflict in accepting Evolution as the cause of the universe as we study it, for it has been religious consciousness in its version of Design by divine means that has been interpreted as an opposite, or as the pole against which all “scientific” arguments must be made. (in Shatz, 2001, 235) The theory of Darwin seems to provide more answers for Mackie and that were not available to Hume who, again, interpreted the question of Design as one that was either “for or against” creationism, as much as he recommended that the individual force himself or herself to suspend judgment on what might be true, ultimately. The human mind enjoys suggesting models of the solar system, or discussing the laws of gravity, even though it still cannot be known that there was any predetermination for what seems to be regular, or that which can be measured. Darwin’s theory, obviously, caused a complete upset in convenient myths of God’s methodical creation of the world and humankind.

In Darwin’s day, the very idea of imperfect creation, let alone the suggestion that man did not stand far to the side of the animal kingdom, was seen as revolutionary. Perhaps we forget in the early 21st century, that educated people did not always accept their close biological relationship to apes. Evolution of the universe is entirely possible and clashes only with the pole of divine Design, but does not need to clash with that other pole discussed by Hume or Mackie, in other means of creation or the universe’s development that can be taken tentatively. As Mackie seems to have explained, a person who was a theist could find a kind of compromise in seeing the ‘creation of evolution’ in different processes or actions that set the universe in action, and this evolutionary idea of design could stretch to fit in the challenge posed by Darwin. (in Shatz, 2001, 236-237) Much philosophy of Design seems to refer to the conditions of the initial “set up” of the universe, whether shaped by the ‘hand of God’ or the result of conditions of chaos as in the big bang theory, as these both refer to an eventual order of developments or patterns that humankind can still study and learn to understand. Eventually, theistic arguments, in our time, must face up to new knowledge from nuclear physics or chemistry which can support or perhaps totally disprove thematic models of creation, of various kinds. (in Shatz, 2001, 236)

Upon turning to Stephen Davis’s criticism of how we tend to look at Evolution in relation to Design, some very old questions become very interesting, indeed. (in Shatz, 2001, 222-229) Where Mackie sheds more contemporary light on what is discussed by Hume or Paley, Davis moves quickly to how we have looked at Darwinian ideas of evolution quite narrowly, perhaps assuming that Darwin was right when, in fact, many models and theories might lead to the same sort of conclusion concerning gradual changes in the solar system, environment and species, that have gone into making the universe as we know it today, and as it will be known differently in the future. Davis explains that much that came after Darwin can be seen as instances of what he calls, “fine tuning”. (in Shatz, 2001, 223) When stating that current approaches are “probabilistic” as opposed to deductive, he shows how the foundations of how we criticize the idea of divine Creation are a bit flimsy. Much of what he writes from here, seems to refer to such pursuits as current ‘superstring’ theory in physics, as it moves forward at a terrific rate, with less emphasis placed on substantiating what is ventured by theorists.

Davis explains several ideas important to our current understanding of the non-theistic but natural origins of the universe, pointing out their sometimes uncanny ‘coincidences’. For example, so-called big bang theories do not really refer to random events because the force of an explosion of the kind would have to be at a particular rate and level to prevent too rapid expansion from over-balancing, “the gravitational attraction of the various bits of matter… no gases could have been formed, let alone the galaxies that the gases later became”. (2001, 224) If the rate of expansion had been too slow, the universe would have collapsed. In Davis’s view, it is very strange that if the big bang theory is anywhere near correct, that environmental force just happened to occur at the needed force and pressure.

Davis’s knowledge of science provides a break from what seems more like conjecture in the other philosophers’ views discussed in this paper. The reader learns that much of the now favoured theory of natural evolution from the ‘big bang’ demands isotropy too, in an even, smooth set of processes that just happened to take form, also. (2001, 225) Life forms emerged on that planet that just happened to be the correct distance from the sun, no closer and no further away from it. The universe seems to have had fine-tuning over time, roughly like the change-oriented ideas generated by Darwin and those to follow him, but none of these are satisfying of their own accord, as Davis is able to suggest.

Davis makes his strongest point in his conclusion, showing that current models boil down to two possibilities: either the universe was fine-tuned due to natural and random causes, or it became fine-tuned through the efforts of an, “intelligent designer”. (2001, 229) Those supporting theories of Design hold the latter to be stronger and as it also explains an endless human question of why was the universe created at all, that cannot be answered satisfactorily by scientific ideas alone referring to random events “mysteriously” followed by what seems to be the fine-tuning so mentioned in Davis’s argument.

In conclusion, Davis helps us to see that Hume really was not very far off the mark, as we read him many years later, in positing that a person must steer between the suggestions of both creationist and evolutionary models, that we cannot know at this point in time, the origin of the universe. Buy dissertation on any other topic from our Ph.D. writers


  • Davis, Stephen T. “Fine-Tuning: The New Design Arguments”, in David Shatz. (ed) Philosophy and Faith – a Philosophy of Religion. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.
  • Hume, David. “We cannot know that the world is designed by God”, in Brian Davies. Philosophy of Religion – a Guide and Anthology. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Mackey, John L. “Evolution: an Alternative to the Design Hypothesis”, in Shatz, Philosophy and Faith – a Philosophy of Religion.
  • Paley, William. “An especially famous argument”, in Davies, Philosophy of Religion – a Guide and Anthology.

A Cyclical Aesthetic

A Cyclical Aesthetic: Futurism, Fascism and Modern Film


The past century has witnessed horrors and destruction on a scale unparalleled in human history. The death struggles between communism, fascism and capitalism resulted in the defeat of the two former movements at a cost in terms of human suffering that is almost unimaginable. The century also gave birth to a bewildering array of artistic movements such as futurism, cubism, surrealism, abstract expressionism. It is perhaps not surprising that artistic movements should model themselves upon the "ism"s of political ideologies, for in the course of the past decades the distinction between the two has often been blurred.

This paper shall review some of the artistic and political revolutions of the past century. It will be argued that the art of the century cannot truly be understood without reference to its political structures, and vice versa, for the two informed each others structures and patterns of development. Indeed, as will be seen, the deep structure of aesthetics in this century is cyclical and may be seen to have – at century's end – determined the triumph of the fascist will in aesthetics five decades after the ideology was crushed in Europe.

The Empire Strikes Back

One of the strangest aesthetic echoes of the twentieth century occurred in the late 1970s when the American director George Lucas launched the phenomenon known as Star Wars. The most successful franchise in cinematic history, Star Wars tells a basic story of good versus evil between broadly-drawn characters dressed in white and black. Towards the end of the movie, after the destruction of the Death Star, the three heroes enter a vast hall to receive their honours from the leaders of the rebellion.

Any cinephile in the audience would have experienced a jarring sense of deja vu at this point. The three heroes march down an avenue between massed ranks of rebel soldiers – who turn with military precision as the heroes pass – to a raised podium at the end of a vast stadium. This image is a clear quote from Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, which captured on film Albert Speer's spectacular set and production of the sixth Nazi Party Conference in 1934. In place of Luke Skywalker and his two companions, Riefenstahl's shows Hitler, Himmler, and the new head of the Nazi stormtroopers march down the avenue. Indeed, as stills from the rally show, Lucas even echoed the vertical swastika flags behind the podium at Nuremburg with rows of vertical columns behind Princess Leia (Winston, 132-33).

While critics might argue that there is a symbolic layer of significance here, a more troubling possibility is that there is no direct relationship between the politics of Star Wars and that of Triumph of the Will. Rather, as a free-floating image – divorced of any overt Nazi connection – Lucas' cinematic quote is particularly disturbing as it is a celebration of power in and of itself. Indeed, from the opening of the first movie when the vast starship moves over the heads of filmgoers, through John Williams' compositions of imperial marches, to the special effects of dazzling speed and light, Lucas defined the aesthetic tastes of a generation. That he did so by recycling across time and disciplines the iconography of a fascist empire that has come to represent – in the view of history – one of the lowest points of human civilization, is probably lost on most of the audience.

A Futuristic Fascism

One of the ironies of Lucas' quoting Triumph of the Will is that the Nazi iconography was itself a quote. Underlying the Nazi images was an earlier aesthetic – that of Futurism – which informed Italian fascism and probably contributed to the display of military power that was the Nuremburg rally. In the Futurist Manifesto (11 September, 1916) Marinetti and his compatriots argued that the era of books and learned was past. Society had evolved beyond the need for words; all that mattered now was sensation, speed and war which would be incarnated in cinema:

The Futurist cinema . . . will become the best school of youth: a school teaching joy, speed, strength, courage and heroism . . . . The Futurist cinema will thus take part in the general renewal, supplanting the literary review (always pedantic) and the drama (always predictable), and killing the book (always tedious and oppressive). (Marinetti, 25)

Although it took a century to come to pass, it may be argued that we are now living in the "future" depicted by Futurism. Young people today are schooled by cinema and media more profoundly than by our education system. Since Star Wars the dominant cinematic vehicle has been the "blockbuster" which, invariably, seems to consist of heroes with big muscles driving things that move really fast, and blowing up other things and people in really big fireballs. The popularity of books, and indeed of written media in general, is declining dramatically in comparison to the power and speed of newer media such as cinema and the World Wide Web.

Star Wars may thus be seen as fulfilling the promise of Futurist cinema in many respects. It did mark a sort of renewal of American film and the end of a brief period in American cultural life when the media, in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, questioned the political and social status quo. Complicated intellectual analyses were ignored in favor of easy distinctions – white/black; United States/Soviet Union; us/them – that came to define the presidency of Ronald Reagan only a few years later.

Given the interdisciplinary flow of ideas from culture to politics and back again, it is not surprising that President Reagan employed the terminology of Lucas' films in labelling the Soviet Union an "evil empire" (although it was, in many respects, an empire and certainly evil under Stalin), against which he employed his Strategic Defense Initiative that quickly became known in the popular media as "Star Wars" (Ryan, 228-37). None of this is, of course, to say that Lucas was a Nazi or a supporter of Reagan. However, when Lucas took Nazi iconography and stripped it of its overt ideology, he was left with an essentially Futurist construct.

Lucas' celebration of speed, power, and war as a force for renewal may be seen to have had a direct impact upon the American socio-political context. This was in keeping with the Futurist vision of the ultimate purpose of drama: "We therefore believe that the only way to inspire Italy with the warlike spirit today is through the theatre" (Marinetti, 23). Certainly Star Wars coincided with a renewal of American confidence in the capacity of the military, through technology, to conquer any foe. This may be seen in the American defense buildup throughout the 1980s, which culminated in the Persian Gulf War where American laser-guided bombs destroyed a Baghdad which, lit by waves of anti-aircraft fire, presented a striking visual echo of the Death Star battle from Star Wars over a decade earlier.

The Empire of the Senses

It is fatally easy to represent the Star Wars films as a simplistic merchandising franchise, without appreciating how much of their power is borrowed from artistic work in other disciplines. However, it is important not to demonize Star Wars as the single cause of this modern fascination with speed and power, for important elements that contributed to Lucas' vision – and 6 thereby to the Western socio-political mainstream – already existed within our social context as figured within other media and disciplines.

Consider, for example, one of the most disturbing aspects of the Star Wars movies: the staggering body count of the imperial dead. This may seem like a trivial issue – the imperials are the bad guys after all – but the scale and the dismissive nature of the slaughter dwarfs that of comparative treatments of war in, for example, Hollywood propaganda films of the Second World War. There, at least, the Nazis and Japanese had faces; although all too often these were caricatures. In Star Wars the enemy, except for a handful of figures, are faceless soldiers who die in their thousands without blood or pain. In a sense this may be seen as the perfect fulfilment of the Futurist cry for a "great hygienic war" (Marinetti, 25).

It is easy to dismiss this issue with the response that it is "just" an action movie. However, cultural constructs – especially those with the demonstrated mass resonance of the Star Wars films – are never simply "movies". Indeed, Star Wars has had such an impact that other movies – such as the "indie" film Clerks where in one scene the characters debate the morality of killing "innocent" imperials – situate themselves with respect to it as a cultural reference point.

If we thus perceive Star Wars as not a singular work but as a component of a cultural continuum, then the slaughter of the imperials represents simply a stage in the gradual reduction of 7 the human body (of others!) as an object whose destruction and mutilation stirs our jaded senses. J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg argue as much in an interview explaining their controversial aesthetic vision for the movie Crash:

JB: I was writing against a background of a sensationhungry media landscape that seized on all the violent imagery emerging from Vietnam, from the Kennedy assassination, from civil wars in Africa . . . I was writing about the way in which sensation had usurped the place previously occupied by some kind of sympathetic engagement with the subject. ("Body Work", 39)

As Ballard and Cronenberg contend, movies such as Star Wars and Crash interact and engage with social attitudes in complex ways. It may be argued that Star Wars made the objectification of a faceless enemy – at the end of a missile arc, not face to face – popular in the West. The slaughter of tens of thousands of Iraqi troops thousands of feet below allied aircraft, or the bombing of Serbia by NATO in the recent Kosovo crisis, was acceptable to Western public opinion only because of our cultural objectification humanity in works such as Star Wars. Like this paper? PhDify.com provides professional academic writing help. We know what you need.


Decades ago, the bombing of Guernica by the fascists during the Spanish Civil War shocked the conscience of a world, and led to Picasso's painting of one of the most masterful works of protest ever created: Guernica (1937). Today, in an environment constructed by a sensation-hungry media and informed by the "hygienic war" of Hollywood, the bombing of innocents has become "collateral damage" and elicits barely a yawn in the general public. As we have seen, the distinction between cultural production and socio-political context is an artificial one. From the Futurists to the Fuhrer to the Hollywood blockbuster and modern air war, art has both reflected society and revisioned it. We can no longer perceive or study cultural productions divorced of their context for, as we have seen, it is the context that often invests our productions with their significance. All types of writing tasks you can order at PhDify.com


  • "Body Work: Andrew Hultkrans Talks with J.G. Ballard and David Cronenberg." in Course Kit: Arts and Ideas. York University, 1999: 33-40.
  • Marinetti, Filippo, Bruno Corra, and Emilio Settimelli. "Futurist Manifesto: Futurist Synthetic Theatre 1915." in Course Kit: Arts and Ideas. York University, 1999: 23-24.
  • Marinetti, Filippo et al. ""Futurist Manifesto: Futurist Cinema 1916." in Course Kit: Arts and Ideas. York University, 1999: 25-26.
  • Ryan, Michael, and Douglas Kellner. Camera Politica. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988.
  • Winston, Brian. "Triumph of the Will." in Course Kit: Arts and Ideas. York University, 1999: 132-36.  

Notorious: Can a Love that Trusts Test

Of Spies and Suspense

In the opening scene of Notorious 1 a Nazi spy is convicted of treason. The scene indicates, obviously, that Hitchcock is applying his talents for suspense to a spy thriller. Equally bluntly this scene establishes that lies and deception will lie at the heart of the film.

Ostensibly, the film is a spy thriller and the action commences when Grant (Devlin) approaches Bergman (Lisa Huebberman) and proposes that she spy on her father’s former comrades. He appeals to her patriotism and when she denies such noble sentiments he plays a secretly recorded phonograph of her condemning her father and loudly pronouncing her loyalty to the United States, her home and her mother’s birthplace.

Despite the motivation of patriotism, the essence of espionage is distrust and the constant testing of loyalties by all involved. It is inherent in the nature of the profession: How much trust can one place in a traitor? Further, the relationship between spies and their masters is strictly utilitarian or instrumentive: An exchange of information for money. It is based on advantage not attachment and there is always the potential threat of a higher bidder. The relationship between a spy and her master runs thick with distrust.

It is in this vein that Grant lies to Bergman when she asks if he knew specifically what her mission was—to gain access to Rains’ (Sebastian) villa by seducing him—before they left for Rio. Similarly, without warning he spurs her horse, and potentially endangers her, in order to create an incident to spark Bergman’s re-acquaintance with Rains. In a narrative sense it is this persistent interplay of trust and distrust amongst spies that creates the tension and suspense that the film features. Rains’ realization that the wine bottles containing ore have been discovered, and the inexorable pace as he identifies Bergman as complicit in it, is a brilliant example of Hitchcock’s prowess. In historical context, this subject matter would have had ‘box office appeal’ in the wake of World War II as Soviet/American relations declined and the Cold War emerged.

Of Tests and Torments Untold

Simply put, however, this is a red herring. Not surprisingly, in a Hitchcock film, this ostensibly utilitarian and political relationship between Grant and Bergman rapidly becomes more convoluted as their personal relationship intensifies. It quickly becomes apparent that Bergman seeks redemption through her relationship with Grant. However, it is not the political redemption that satisfying her expressed patriotism offers that she needs.

She seeks a personal relationship with Grant, despite her assertions that “Mr. Devlin doesn’t interest me.” She seeks the transformative power of love. When Bergman realized her father was a spy she cut herself off from him. She submerged herself in the milieu in which the film opened— drunken debauchery. She has been lost in a loveless world since she terminated her relationship with her father. When the film opens she is drunk, driving impaired and only able to remember the events of that evening hazily. In Grant there is the opportunity for love, for her transformation into a lovable person again a lover and an object of love.

Grant’s love for Bergman is revealed more gradually. Initially, it is not unreasonable to attribute his cool diffidence to the mask of the professional spy. However, by the time he finds himself on his way to her hotel suite with a bottle of champagne—that he significantly leaves in his spymaster’s office–it is apparent that he is falling in love with her.

At this point even his constant tests and stratagems become those of the lover not the professional spymaster. In a popular and narrative sense Notorious is a spy thriller to which Hitchcock applied his not inconsiderable talents for suspense. However, this atmosphere of constant threats and pervasive distrust is also brutally applied to the relationship between Grant and Bergman.

Consider the frustration and restrained violence of their love scenes. When he appears for dinner he is worried for her and we know he is falling in love with her as he has just left the champagne behind. However, when she quizzes him about his evident preoccupation, and jokes that he is about to tell her he has a wife and two children he perversely responds, “It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve heard that line.”

At the racetrack Bergman comes right out and says, “I see, some kind of love test.” Again, however, Grant is unable to respond without venom:

Bergman: “You never said that you loved me”

Grant: “Aw look you just chocked up another boyfriend…. Dry your eyes baby its out of character.”

On the one hand he is falling in love with her, on the other he responds to her emotional overtures with verbal abuse. He is forcing her to express her love by opening herself to his wounding. It is very much a sado-masochistic relationship in this sense. As a selection from Monogamy in the Course Reader states, “As every sado-masochist knows, nothing is more seductive than resilience.” 2 Essentially, she begs for salvation and he calls her a ‘slut.’ His testing, amounts to saying keep professing your love even when it only earns you scorn if you expect me to believe you.

This is similar to the boundary issues that Thomas Nagel discusses in “Sexual Perversion.” How could one doubt the love of another who is so devoted that they will suffer any pain or humiliation at your hands? The next questions are, however, more problematic. Who would offer that kind of slavish obedience and what kind of person requires it?

In this sense, also, Grant is not the only one who tests to torment. Bergman also plays this role frequently. She appears at the office to inquire as to whether or not she should respond positively to Sebastian’s marriage proposal delighted to put Grant on the spot. She hopes to hear him protest against it. Instead he only manages a feeble expression of concern that it will interfere with the espionage operation.

In essence, the two are waltz partners alternately teasing and testing, tempting and tormenting one another. Their relationship is essentially an exquisite itch, scratching it only makes one feel it even more. Even as their desperate desire for one another grows they continue to hit one another ‘below the belt’ as Bergman puts it. They are both psychologically dysfunctional.

According to Peter Lawtner this obsession with testing has negative practical consequences and expresses a deep-seated lack of trust. In practical terms, Lawtner states that testing “is rarely heard or acknowledged as other than antagonizing and disjunctive by the recipient.” On a theoretical level he notes “that testing comes from both a lack of trust and from a typically masked wish to reopen the issue of trust. Testing is an expression of mistrust, particularly in the context of a love relationship.

Consider the following simple but illustrative situation. Students at school are presented with tests. The purpose of this test is to ascertain the extent of their knowledge. It is a situation in which students are compelled to demonstrate the extent of their knowledge. In pedagogical terms testing can be a productive exercise—both in determining student standing and in facilitating learning.

Consider, however, this expression of testing in terms of love. Testing is a situation in which one partner compels the other to demonstrate the extent of their commitment/trust/love. In this context it is an expression of distrust to test. Moreover, strained efforts to have a lover demonstrate their position in particular ways at particular times often has precisely the opposite e effect as Notorious repeatedly demonstrated.

On Bergman’s part the psychological processes are relatively straightforward. Her trust in others was shattered by the realization that her father was a spy and she descended into a personal hell of alcohol and sex. To love and to be loved—to trust and to be trusted—is her ideal: The transformation that she seeks in a relationship with Grant.

His motivations are rather more complex. Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol identify a sadistic streak throughout Hitchcock’s oeuvre, culminating in his relationships with Tippi Hedren and Grace Kelly, on and off the screen.  The instances of men terrorizing and abusing women in Hitchcock’s films are innumerable. Further, if, as Nagle suggests, sadomasochism is ultimately about boundaries than a film about spies— operating at the amoral boundaries of loyalty and trust—seems a perfect venue for expressing boundary issues.

Alternately, his experience as a spy may have left him with nothing but cynicism, and incapable of accepting that Bergman can, and has, changed. In psychological terms, that their relationship commenced in the midst of an ongoing clandestine operation, would seem fertile ground for insecurity and fear. Regardless, rather more important than their motivation is the course of their relationship, and the clear evidence that it offers of the disastrous impact of testing on a relationship.


Notorious begins with a courtroom scene and it is not inappropriate to conclude this discussion with another courtroom image. It is frequently suggested that during a cross-examination a lawyer is unwise to ask a question that he does not already know the answer to. In this sense, questions posed in cross-examination are not queries for information but rather cues in a script. The cross-examining lawyer is not searching for new information but rather, reordering known information.

 In a similar sense, lovers cannot ask questions they do not know the answer to if they are truly and deeply in love. A question a lover asks their beloved that they do not know the answer to is a test: Particularly when that query is aimed at the heart of the relationship and the commitment of the other. True lovers already know the answers to those questions and, therefore, they need not be asked and when they arise in the course of the relationship the answer is already known.

This is the key point; lovers do not test one another because their relationship has, by definition, already passed through that stage. Shared life experience has taught lovers that they can trust one another and there is, therefore, no need for ‘tests.’ Finally, to love one must possess a sense of self-awareness and a self-image that includes completeness and satisfaction with one’s self. Without this sense one is incapable of loving another. Yet, with this sense of self the need for testing others evaporates. Therefore, lovers as individuals, and love as a relationship, cannot coexist with the distrust implicit in testing.

Testing, is something that occurs upon the commencement of any relationship—this is as true of one’s relationship with one’s employer and one’s mechanic as one’s friends and lovers. And, to be fair to Grant and Bergman, their relationship was newly minted. However, it is an oxymoron to speak of being in love, or being lovers, and continuing to test. Love is the product of trust and honesty: It is a consequence of the realization/decision that a given individual no longer needs to be tested, that they can be trusted. This is, by definition, a fundamental aspect of love. The testing that Bergman and Grant engage in throughout Notorious is not love, and is deleterious to the course of love.


  • Notorious (1946) RKO dir. Alfred Hitchcock; screenplay, Ben Hecht; Ingrid Bergman Cary Grant, Claude Rains 101 mins.
  • Agee, James “Notorious” in Focus on Hitchcock Albert J LaValley ed. Prentice-Hall Inc. NY: 1972, pp. 98-99.
  • Lawtner, Peter “Trusting and Testing in Love Relationships” in Course Reader, pp. 166-173.
  • Nagel, Thomas “Sexual Perversion” in Course Reader pp. 258-270.
  • Phillips, Adam Monogamy in Course Reader, p. 165.
  • Rohmer, Eric and Claude Chabrol Hitchcock: The First Forty-Four Films Frederick Ungar Publishing Co NY: 1979.
  • Taylor, John Russell The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock Pantheon Books NY: 1978. 

Joyce’s “Eveline”

In ;Eveline,; we see a love tale in which a young girl struggles to separate herself from her family in order to follow her love into the arms of her young boyfriend, Frank. She dreams of how he will rescue her from her tormented life. She thinks about how violent her father has been and how there is no one to defend her anymore. Frank represents her liberation.

This short story has very powerful elements of setting, symbols, and themes. Indeed, we see how the portrait of the priest on the wall represents the tradition upon which the family has been raised; yet Eveline does not even know who he is. Nonetheless, the values the Priest represented are a strong theme. We also see an overall theme of the desire to escape from life's circumstances. Eveline dreams of freedom and of escaping the captivity of her childhood.

The setting is, overall, of a seemingly typical local town. We meet many characters. We find out the details of Eveline's mother;s death and how her brothers are gone now. One of them still tries to take care of her and sends her money. Her father;s character has deteriorated, and he has begun to have Saturday nights that are not filled with pristine behavior.

The mood of this story is very dark and sad. Family appears to be a strong theme, but it seems to be more oppressing than liberating. Indeed, Eveline has been suffocated by her family and also oppressed to a very large extent. There is much tragedy here. There is a need for family, yet Eveline clearly needs to leave what is left of her family in order to re-invent herself.

Thus, the family theme can be seen in Eveline as she stays and, as a teen, takes over the role of mother in the household. In some ways, this sets up an incestuous situation, though perhaps not in a sexual sense. She plays the mother figure yet her father still has power over her, and threatens her. After her mother's death, she obviously felt that it was her duty to take care of the family, and she owed that much to her mother.

Overall, the concept of death seems ever present. Eveline's friends and family all die at some point. For instance, Earnest, her mother, and the priest have all died. To some extent, we begin to consider that her dream of freedom and of being with Frank will also die. Yet Mary Margaret Alacoque, a French nun, perhaps represents redemption in this story. Even though her dreams will be shattered, there will still be redemption.

This is also a story about poverty and how it has shattered a family. Money is so precious that it divides family. Eveline must walk to the market pressing her purse close to her body to protect it at all times. In the end, of course, love appears to be stronger than money;the love for family and community. Eveline ultimately gives up her chance with Frank so that she may return to her family.

More than anything else, however, this is a story about reality;the reality that, ultimately, people cannot escape who they really are. They can dream of a better tomorrow, but such a vision of a perfect future is unrealistic if it entails rejecting the reality of who and what one really is.;

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A Brief Overview of Key Elements In Sports Psychology


This paper shall investigate the general field of sports psychology in order to provide the reader with a brief comprehension of many of the key factors that compose this intriguing area of sociology and psychology. This paper shall investigate the elements of motivation, visualization, training, burnout, and relaxation through sports as a means of creating a general understanding of sports psychology as a whole.

Sports Psychology

Performance in sports has always been considered a combination of both mind and matter: While it is without question that the body must be finely honed in order to yield extremely progressive results, the mind must also be “trained” for the athlete to fully perform at his or her best. Over the centuries, many specific elements of this mental training have been ushered into the field of sports psychology, where athletes are able to assimilate mental techniques that will help their overall physical performance. (Cratty: 3 – 4)

One such example of a mental skill is found in the field of visualization. In the 1960s, a physical fitness researcher investigating new methods of fitness training found that an athlete improves their performance if they visualize themselves practicing the event, rather than simply physically practicing. Clark studied the results of mental practice, physical practice, and a combination of both in the accuracy of the Pacific Coast one-hand foul shot. This researcher broke 144 volunteers into three separate groups and found that the study group that both practiced daily and visualized making the shots in their nonpractice periods found themselves able to make the baskets a greater percentage of the time. This discovery demonstrated for the first time that there is indeed a conclusive link between physical performance and mental conditioning.

Similar to the technique of visualization, the strategy of motivation is also extremely effective in conditioning an athlete for a competitive performance. Rather than visualizing the accomplishment of the event, however, motivational strategies tend to focus primarily on the psychology of the individual. Motivational techniques encompass an extremely wide range of mental conditioning: one form of a motivational techniques shall be discussed in this paper in order to give the reader a better understanding of what these techniques encompass. The technique of positive perfectionism is often used in order to increase the overall performance of an athlete. Positive perfectionism is called by one source: "… a function of positive reinforcers." ((Terry- Short, et al.: 664)

This type of motivational technique involves the athlete continuously embracing their past achievements in order to achieve a state of future perfection – The concept is that the positive self- image that is constructed through constant encouragement will yield a better performance because the athlete simply expects that degree of success from themselves. This is a form of conditional positive approval and the athlete will accept that they are supposed to perform at a degree that is better than that exhibited by their peers.

In sports psychology, training can also be seen as a means of encouraging an athlete to compete at a higher level of competition. Training is a physical conditioning, but it does have an undeniable effect on the self- image of the athlete. In this manner, training and motivational techniques have a great deal in common: As the athlete continues to train for a specific event, they increase their sense of accomplishment. This is similar to watching an individual succeed at a diet, whereas their physical image improves, their self- esteem begins to improve in turn. Training therefore tends to yield a better athlete because the athlete is aware that they are capable of achieving a superior performance and they will then attempt to reach this goal.

Oddly, however, one source remarks that training might have the reverse effect on athletes, where the constant sense of competition generates the sense that the athlete will “… never be good enough”. The implication is that constant competition and the drive to “be the best” implies that any athlete is not the best and will never be the best, and that this serves to destroy the real self- image in all athletes. Because of this, all athletes are classified through: "… high self- expectations, a rigid and obsessional approach to reaching goals, difficulties in accepting less than 100 per cent performance, a high emphasis on emotional control, and an underlying sense of poor self- esteem" (Leichner: 66). This point – while perhaps founded squarely in common sense – is often overlooked in the literature.

Burnout is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to any athlete. Burnout is the term that is given to any athlete that has pushed themselves past their limit, either physically or mentally. A physical burnout is actually easier to recover from than a mental burnout, where the effects of a physical burnout depend entirely on the structure of the body and not the psyche of the individual. The overwhelming pressure that an athlete can place on themselves in order to “get back into the game” after a mental burnout will only prolong the problem. Finally, relaxation is a relatively underutilized aspect of sports psychology. Relaxation in sports psychology is similar to its colloquial definition, where the athlete is required to distance themselves from the activity and to address the competition in a more relaxed manner. Relaxation techniques promote a greater degree of acceptance in the athlete and this acceptance – when compared to the obsessive techniques found in motivation – might actually be seen as being more healthy for maintaining the performance of the athlete and in ensuring that burnout does not eventually occur. All types of writing tasks you can order at PhDify.com


This paper has investigated many of the more common elements found within the field of sports psychology. It is clear that sports psychology concentrates on the connection between the mind and the body, where the athlete is instructed to develop both mind and body in order to achieve a specific degree of performance.


  • Cox, R. H. (1985). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Publishers.
  • Cratty, B. J. (1983). Psychological Preparation and Athletic Excellence. New York: Movement Publications, Inc.
  • Leichner, P. (1986) "Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and exercise." Coaching Review. March/April 1986: 66-68.
  • Terry- Short, L.A., Owens, R. Glynn, Slade, P.D., & M.E. Dewey. (1995) "Positive and negative perfectionism." Personality and Individual Differences. Vol. 18, No. 5. 663-668. 

English, American Popular Culture and Canada

Canada has many definitions for different people. For new immigrants, it can be a land of culture challenges and language challenges. It can also be a land of opportunities and liberty. For many long time residents of Canada a large part of being Canadian seems to be not being American. However, for many short time residents of Canada the amount of American popular culture in Canada is remarkable. This essay will present a discussion of the impact of American popular culture in Canada.

The first thing that is important is that this discussion is different of French-speaking Canada and English-speaking Canada. The United States is mostly English speaking and American popular culture such as movies, television and books are mostly in the English language and some are Spanish. There is very little French-speaking in America. In this way I think that French-speaking Canada is further away from and protected from American popular culture.

Of course many French-speaking Canadians also speak English and also probably watch American television and movies. Also, they can be watching shows, where French is printed with the English language or the actors, are edited with French voices. Therefore, there is an American popular culture influence in French-speaking Canada and the language difference is making it less. Also, because the language of French- speaking Canada is not the English of American culture there is a bigger culture industry of Quebec.

This industry is producing French-Canadian programs and movies and French-Canadian books. Therefore, there is less American popular culture and more French-Canadian culture. Both of these situations make French-speaking Canada freer from the influence of American popular culture. So there are French writers writing about the lives of French-speaking Canadians like Gabrielle Roy and Roch Carrier.

Overall, in Canada however, culture is overwhelmed by the influence of American popular culture. Consider the follow statistical of 1998:

  • Of the films shown on Canadian screens, 96% are foreign, primarily American.
  • Three- quarters of the music on Canadian radio is not Canadian.
  • Four in five magazines sold on newsstands in Canada, and six in every ten books, are foreign, mainly American.

(“Culture Wars”, 1998)

This makes plain how much American culture there is in Canada.

The shows broadcast and the books bought are being watched and read and talked about. They are becoming part of Canadian society and culture and they are majority from outside Canada, mostly United States. This means that for every Canadian that reads a book by a Canadian one reads a book by an American and for every Canadian that watches a movie about Canada twenty-four watches a movie from America and probably about Americans. Also, Canada is not the only country that worries about this influence of American popular culture. Debates like this also occur in France and other countries. (“Culture Wars”, 1998)

American popular culture has many advantages in the world marketplace. “America has the advantage of a huge domestic market, a language that is becoming ubiquitous and a genius for marketing.” (“Culture Wars”, 1998) It has a large domestic market to make production profitable, its language is the most spoken in the world and growing, and capitalists marketing well and determined to sell products and make profits export it. In this sense Canada is like a mouse beside a cultural elephant.

Because of this situation there is a great deal of American popular culture in Canada on television, in movie and plays, and in books. However, at the same time it is interesting too that Canadian culture is very successful in the rest of the world. Canadian authors sell and Canadian films (like Atom Egoyan) are watched. According to the Chairman of the Ontario Arts Council, Hal Jackman (2000) Canadian culture has global influence:

Canada's artists and cultural entrepreneurs have made Canada one of the top exporting nations against countries two or three times its size. Books by Canadian authors in terms of both titles and sales have trebled in the past decade and foreign-rights sales are booming. In the 1960s only 5% of books sold in Canadian bookstores were by Canadian authors. Now the figure is over 30%.

Therefore, on one level we worry about American popular culture in Canada but on another level we are also exporting our own culture to other countries.

In conclusion, there is more to popular culture than books and magazines, television and movies. There are many other ways that American popular culture is also present in Canada. This is revealed in almost every chain and franchise operation in Canada. There are exceptions such as Canadian Tire and Tim Horton’s but they compete with Wal-Mart, Krispy Kreme and, of course, McDonalds. There are many American retail and fast food operations in Canada. Also, Canadian’s drive American designed cars built in Canada but by Canadian companies that are only subsidiaries of American carmakers. On this level of day-today living and shopping Canada is almost just like the United States.

However, on this level of day-to-day living there are also the biggest differences of popular culture. Canada does not have as many guns and violence as the United States. This is true in the countryside and also in the biggest cities. But then on television and in movies is all the violence of the United States. Also, overall Canadian cities are safer and cleaner and nicer than American cities. All types of academic writing you can order at PhDify.com


  • “Culture wars” The Economist 348: September 12, 1998.
  • Edwards, John Multilingualism Routledge New York: 1994.
  • Jackman, Henry R. (Chairman, The Ontario Arts Council) “Biggest threat to Canadian culture: Ottawa's billions” Canadian Speeches 13: February 2000.
  • Szeman, Imre “The rhetoric of culture: Some notes on magazines, Canadian culture and globalization” Journal of Canadian Studies October 2000, pp. 212+.

Social Science: Mass Media

Sex and violence

According to John Berger in Ways of Seeing, “publicity increasingly uses sexuality to sell any product or service…. It is a symbol…for the good life in which you can buy whatever you want.” 1 Berger says there is also an “implicit message, i.e. if you are able to buy this product you are lovable.” 2 Sex stands for desirability and lovability, of being wanted and needed and of being ‘somebody’. A product that is associated with sex is associating itself with power and influence and implying if you have this product you are lovable.

In the same way programs that feature sexuality are offering the same fantasy. The majority of television programs show people of above average income, wealth and beauty. The viewer imagines himself in their situation: The viewer imagines himself surrounded by beautiful, young women (because he is powerful and desirable). Men also get a sexual thrill from the images that gives them immediate appeal.

This same model can be applied to violence. Violence ‘is a symbol…for the good life in which you can do anything you want.’ The implicit message is if you are able to buy this product, or if you were this character, you would be living the good life in which you can do whatever you want: You are influential and powerful and in control is the fantasy that violence feeds into.

This analysis is patriarchal: It refers to male viewers. This is not necessarily because men watch more television programming and advertising than women. It is because men control more wealth and make more spending decisions than women. Television content, programs and advertising, are directed at men primarily because men control spending and the delivery of advertising is the ultimate goal of commercial media such as television, radio and many elements of the web.

Of tremendous concern is the impact of this sex and violence throughout media. It is undeniable that violence in society, in Canada and the United States, has also increased during this period, since 1970, that sex and violence have increased in the media. However, that does not necessarily prove that an impact of violence and sex in the media is increasing violence and sexuality in society. It could be the exact opposite.

Changes in the media could be an impact of changes in society. Therefore, the Vietnam War might be the reason for increasing violence in media (and in society). Other changes like the ‘Sexual Revolution’ and feminism might be the cause, and increasing sexuality in the media might be the consequence. 

That said it is impossible not to be concerned that children see hundreds of guns and weapons, and shootings and killings, animated and involving actors, before they spend a day in school learning to read and write. The impact of this violence and sexuality on young children is an issue of great concern. So is the whole system that ‘feeds’ children hundreds of minutes of advertising every day when they are very young and imprints the consumer mentality. Essay on Mass Media is a part of academic writing tasks. We know how to write it

Media Models

Models of the communication process are important to the analysis of mass media for many reasons. For mass media analysis to develop academic discipline it must evolve a methodology in terms of techniques that is scientific and consistent and repeatable. It must also identify the specific process to be analyzed and the questions to be asked.

These developments can only occur if theoretical models are being developed, employed and modified. This is true of any discipline whether it is scientific or social scientific. In this sense media analysis has a great deal of methodologies developed. There are the Nielsen ratings of viewers, advertising rates and all kinds of statistical tools.

However, theoretical questions about the meaning of all of this datum and analyses are less clear. Mass media is a very difficult subject to analyze in terms of culture and content. Analysis of advertising revenue, budgets and even viewer ratings provide a great deal of insight into the making of mass media and the economics of mass media. However, determining the impact of this mass media on its audience is more difficult. Even more difficult and arguably more important is identifying the processes by which this mass media content influences its audience.

The question of audience response and impact because of its difficulty has been a focus of much communication modeling. All of these models, in contrast with the earlier, historical models of mass media, acknowledge that any media message becomes multiple messages once it has been taken in and interpreted by each individual member of the audience. Historically mass media models looked for a ‘magic bullet’ an equation or theory that would identify how to transmit the message, perfectly and completely, from the media ‘into’ the viewer or listener or reader.

These simple models have been discarded. Contemporary models emphasize that a multiplicity of messages will result from given media images. This is true in two important senses. First, the individuals receiving the message represent different segments of society. Individual politicians are frequently more popular with men than women or vice versa. An advertisement for a male cosmetic product might be designed to make a man say I want that product. However, it might be more successful if it is designed to make women, who are more likely to purchase a cosmetic product, think I want my boyfriend/husband to use that product. These are the divisions that lead marketers to identify market segments, demographic cohorts and other groups and also determine political polling and campaigning.

However, even within these large groupings there are profound individual differences in the way media images and messages are interpreted. This is the most important point that communication models have made. Any message no matter how simple—‘I ♥ New York’—can and will be interpreted in different ways by different individuals. As recent events illustrated the meaning of the message can also change over time (i.e. post 9/11). Emphasizing the gulf between message and viewer is the key role of models of mass communication.

Communications: Political Economy View and the Cultural View

Comparing the two grand theoretical views of communications (Political Economy and Cultural) is like the question of the chicken and the egg. Is media a result of capitalism (political economy) commodifying information or is it a result of cultural expression, voices, spontaneously generating a media for transmitting these messages. In other words, is media principally a chicken, a product (the political economy view) or is it the egg, the idea or ‘art’ (the cultural view)?

In another important sense this argument is not at all like the chicken and the egg issue. It is not necessarily framed in black and white or extremes. Media could be both. However, that said, media might be both, but also be essentially or primarily one or the other. Nonetheless, the essential question remains is media a product seeking a market or an idea seeking a viewer or reader?

The political economy view, as the name implies goes beyond the simple argument that media is product and within the capitalist system driven by profit seeking and economics. While this is true media is also information and knowledge, itself a valuable commodity, particularly in politics. In this view media (as information) is still a product. However, power and influence not directly money, is the profit.

This is what the term ‘spin’ refers to. It is why politicians hire image consultants and speechwriters. In politics today a good idea is not enough: It must be presented, sent through the media, right. According to Edward S Herman and Noam Chomsky the mass media is used to ‘manufacture consent’. That is to say that it is not a forum for freedom of speech and debate but rather, one huge advertisement for the American way of life, from automobiles to attacking Iraq.

The cultural perspective argues that media and communication are culturally mediated processes and that socio-cultural factors not political economy are the fundamental elements of communication and media. In this viewpoint the fact that Michelangelo painted the roof of the Sistine Chapel reflects the influence of Roman Catholic theology at the time. In the same way Rembrandt’s portraits of the Dutch bourgeois speak to the Protestant Reformation and Max Weber’s ‘spirit of capitalism’.

A synthesis of these two viewpoints is necessary. This is true in terms of processes and practices and in theory. In practice, mass media is a cultural creation filtered through political economy. Even a program as simple as “The Simpsons” is a cultural product—its content and characters reflect our society. Its popularity also reflects its cultural relevance: viewers want to watch it because they identify with it. However, at the same time it is a political-economic proposition. If it were not appealing it would not attract viewers and if it did not attract viewers it would not earn advertising dollars and it would be cancelled. Simply put, mass media is both a cultural expression and a manifestation of the political and economic structure of society. A meaningful theory of mass media must recognize these dual perspectives. All types of academic writing you can order at PhDify.com


  • Berger, John Ways of Seeing Penguin Toronto: 1972.
  • Herman, Edward S and Noam Chomsky Manufacturing Consent Pantheon Books New York: 1988.