May 18, 2013

Sigmund Freud on the meaning of the umbrella.

We've been talking about Obama and umbrellas this morning — here, here, and here — and, as noted, I bought the Kindle version of Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams" so I could search for "umbrella," which I remembered as a famous Freudian symbol.
All elongated objects, sticks, tree-trunks, umbrellas (on account of the opening, which might be likened to an erection), all sharp and elongated weapons, knives, daggers, and pikes, represent the male member...

Small boxes, chests, cupboards, and ovens correspond to the female organ; also cavities, ships, and all kinds of vessels.
What then would Freud say about Obama's writing a book called "Dreams From My Father" in which he depicts a scene (perhaps concocted for dramatic effect) in which he is crying in the rain between the small boxes that are the graves of his father and grandfather and his brother is suddenly there holding an opened umbrella? To ask that question is already to see the answer.

And what would Freud say about the scene that has seized the public imagination — #1 on The Washington Post's most popular list — "Obama puts Marines on umbrella duty, irking conservatives"?



To ask the question is to see the answer! Indeed, to ask the question is to see innumerable phallic symbols in the photograph. Here, inspect this huge enlargement. Oh, my! It's a world of wonder. The shape of those windowed doors! Obama's 2-thumbs-up gesture. The lectern stands. The microphones. The medals. The arrows in the claws of the eagles on the seals. The umbrellas, one more erect than the other.

According to the WaPo article, the U.S. military might believe that umbrellas are effeminate. Dr. Freud says no, no absolutely not. They are quite masculine, especially when erect. Getting a rigidly erect male to hold erect umbrella over you and another rigidly erect male to hold another albeit slightly less erect umbrella over a world leader? It's the most masculine image ever seen!

It's no wonder the President's detractors are irked. In the Freudian analysis, we know the source of the anxiety that motivates them to drag him down with assertions that umbrellas are not manly.

91 comments:

Freeman Hunt said...

It looks good. Maybe he called on Marines because he knew staffers would have weaker arms.

pm317 said...

OMG, you and your imagination. I could see the Rs getting irked because Obama was making the marines do a menial job of holding an umbrella for their master. It is simply not their job and he forced them to do it. Why could he get his staff to do it? Is he that impotent?

Chip Ahoy said...

It's good to be king.

Michael K said...

In the Marine Corps, no Marine is to hold an umbrella unless it is sheltering a lady. I doubt Obama knows a lady.

pm317 said...

I doubt Obama knows a lady.

Maybe Obama IS a lady -- isn't that what Freud would say?

Astro said...

Indeed, to ask the question is to see innumerable phallic symbols in the photograph. Here, inspect this huge enlargement. Oh, my! It's a world of wonder. The shape of those windowed doors! Obama's 2-thumbs-up gesture. The lectern stands. The microphones. The medals. The arrows in the claws of the eagles on the seals. The umbrellas, one more erect than the other.

Hmmmm. Here, lie back on the couch and tell us more about your relationship with your father.

bagoh20 said...

They do look more like dancers dressed like marines in that picture. It is demeaning, and Obama has a long record of this kind of thing whether intentional or not.

Do you really think Freud believed all that crap, or was it just a great hook to sell his work.? The technique has been used to enrich a lot of writers since then.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Kirchner said...

Here's a HillBuzz post from 2011 showing Obama not holding his own umbrella juxtaposed with other leaders who did/didn't.

pm317 said...

Paul Kirchner said...
---------------

Obama is more suited to be a third world dictator in all aspects, corruption, incompetence and attitude (not getting along, unable to persuade and bring consensus), enjoying the perks as if there is no tomorrow, going after opponents using the govt and threats to silence opponents..

virgil xenophon said...

Chip Ahoy captures the essence of Obama as the tribal African "Big Man" PERFECTLY.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teri said...

What bothers me is that it couldn't have been much more than a slight drizzle, since no one in the audience seems to even notice it - no holding papers above heads or anything like that. The guy in front with his Blackberry isn't shielding it from the rain.

Perhaps it was a prophylactic action.

pm317 said...

OMG, Chip Ahoy.. well done. I burst out laughing. Ann has milked the topic for 4 or so posts so far but this should take the cake on the front page.

Palladian said...

A potent allegorical image of the impotence of modern "leaders", the Marine warriors must provide their sheltering phalli for these political men who have lost their own, like the wounded Fisher King whose land is made barren by his "wound", or emasculation. The politicians must be kept dry, like the barren desert, from the onslaught of the vital wetness of the rain.

The position of the lecterns and their erect, "glans"-topped shapes, make them read as surrogate phalli, the phalli of nominal power, yet they are false phalli, merely serving to hide the site of the politician's missing member.

The President, un-manned since being deserted (the psychic wound, like the fisher king) by his own father, himself surrounded and defined by women, having fathered only girls, wanders the earth in search of his missing phallus, surrounds himself with inauthentic dildos, ensconced in a city overshadowed by the towering white phallus of a great white warrior

I love Freudian analysis!

virgil xenophon said...

Boffo Palladian!

Palladian said...

A great white warrior who held his own hat above his head.

CEO-MMP said...

Ann, you're all wet here.

ricpic said...

Althouse: Dr. Freud, I don't know what came over me on my walk to the polling place. I started off weighing the pros and cons of Obama versus Romney, but then as I got closer and closer to the voting place it was as though I went on automatic pilot and then I voted for Obama...in a trance. I keep repressing the memory but it keeps coming back. What does it mean?

Freud: Vell, zees ees vat vee call ze reverzhun to zee infantzee. You zee, ze fear of doing zee ugleenezz, ze fear of, as eet vere, making ze doodee een poobleec, by ze vote not zo much for ze Romney az againtz ze magic negro, zees you could not do. Hey, not to vorry. Veez tenure you don't have to zplain nozzing to nobody, not even to grand poobah me.

Barry Dauphin said...

Although Freud said they represent the male member, that does not preclude the possibility that the act of holding them or displaying them in certain ways could be effeminate.

Perhaps the policy of the Marine Corps is that it is effeminate for a male marine to display this sort of phallic symbol when he is supposed to already possess the real thing.

Palladian said...

Perhaps the policy of the Marine Corps is that it is effeminate for a male marine to display this sort of phallic symbol when he is supposed to already possess the real thing.

For Freud, it wasn't about "effeminacy" as much as it was about emasculation.

The Marines have their swords.

CEO-MMP said...

Yes, what Barry said. I was going to wait and see if anyone got it.

One of my very favorite professors was a raving Freudian nutbag (I say that with the utmost affection, and also did say it to her face. She agreed), so I spent many an hour going around and around about Freudian meanings in art and literature.

By making the Marines hold the phallic symbols aloft, he's further demonstrating his contempt of them (as a group).

The photo is not a masculine tour de force, Ann--it's a symbol of how utterly feminized Our Leaders are--and how they're trying to feminize even the most masculine of us--the United States Marine Corps (for you Obama supporters, that's pronounced "core" it's not a misspelling of "corpse").

CEO-MMP said...

"The Marines have their swords."

But only Marine officers. No faux peckers for the grunts. Unless you really want to get into it and discuss the difference in size between the bayonet and the sword (and despite what Barry said in the debate, Marines still train with bayonets).

bagoh20 said...

I don't understand this stuff together with all the previous craptastic diplomatic buffoonery like the Ipod to the Queen of England, and a CD for the Prime Minister. Is that intentional assholery, or just incompetence. I find it hard to believe any career diplomatic aids would have done that stupidity themselves.

Jeff Teal said...

For Marines and Soldiers their hands are to be kept free so as to render the salute or to wield sword or rifle.You know the truly masculine things.Umbrellas in military parlance are for those who cannot wield sword or rifle.You know those who can not or will not protect others.

glenn said...

Having somebody else, especially a guy in a Gilbert and Sullivan uniform, hold your erect umbrella is kinda ummmm ..... ah never mind.

Barry Dauphin said...

For Freud, it wasn't about "effeminacy" as much as it was about emasculation.

Freud wasn't especially adept at making the distinction.

bagoh20 said...

Being a straight guy today, I prefer to be surrounded by as few phalluses as possible, real or fake. Especially if I know there will be photos taken, and I definitely don't want Marines holding phalluses over my head.

glenn said...

Or: Real men hold their own "umbrellas".

Amexpat said...

What bothers me is the poor planning at the White House. That no one planned in advance what to do if it rained during an outdoor press conference, which is not an unlikely occurrence.

Excellence should start at the top and inspire those below. If the white House can't execute a simple but important meeting with the Turkish Prime Minister flawlessly then its no wonder that other parts of his administration have blundered.

n.n said...
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Seeing Red said...

I am so glad I'm neither credentialed nor educated. It's so much smarter to stand in the rain next to something electrified instead of saying, "Ladies & Gentlemen, it's raining, please come in, give us a few minutes and we'll take questions in the _______."

Seeing Red said...

I didn't read the comments before AmExPat.

U think they would have learned from when they called off the outdoor rally in NC?

Jim Bullock said...

I'm enjoying the excursion into umbrella as phallic symbol. Yet, a couple comments suggest a different thrust of argument:

Next time have one of he Ivy League staffers hold the umbrella. That's what they were educated to do.

Don't forget ... having the WH Military Social Aides posed ... for the Oscars.

This. The point is, those Marines are there for something else.

The Marines at the White House aren't ushers. Yes, they are symbols, but of something quite different from personal service to The President The Man. They are in service to the office, serving The President The Man only incidentally to that service.

This administration and President can't seem to tell the difference. It's all props for the aggrandizement of this particular symbolic individual (tall, thin and erect), starting with Greek columns when accepting the nomination. Personal allegiance to Obama who will personally, magically lower the oceans and heal the planet. This is symbolism in aid of the personal, phallic power of the new God / Kind. (Had nobody read The Golden Bough?)

Politician Obama is free to have as many staged symbols in his photo ops as his permanent campaign can afford and, all the personal service his followers will provide.

Chief executive and commander in chief Obama is protected in role, for our sake, not his. Marines, visibly present protecting the President *represent* our interest, representing the fact that President Obama is servant, not ruler, and indeed can't rule much without our willing support. Because this is rather the opposite of Obama as God/King, I suspect that taking the Marines down a peg to butlers, is at least subconsciously calculated.

Head of state is another role, largely symbolic, that the President fills. This symbolism is also protected for its value to us, not for the convenience of the man filling the role.

Military resolve protecting the President as executive, commander and head of state shows value for the thing through valuing the symbol. It's not the least bit about the man filling the office.

One might get a tad "irked" when fighters, thrice-volunteered, are co-opted from the symbolism of devotion to nation and ideals to become stage props for a man.

What are they there for? Here's a couple rather different videos of US military resolve deployed for its symbolic value:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYCPbP_a46I

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/27/soldiers-guard-tomb-of-the-unknown_n_2364932.html

Meanwhile, if we're being all Freudian, my, aren't those some fine, long, hard rifles on those tall, erect men.

Dante said...

Freud's obsession with masculine and feminine doesn't make sense to me. I would suppose a submarine is more like a penis than a hole, but come on. Does women get excited when they sea a submarine?

Who knows, maybe it's all the seamen in side.

n.n said...

The human body is itself a phallic symbol. So, in effect, the abortion of a human life when it is an amorphous cluster of cells reflects misogynistic intent. Pro abortion/choice women have a sadomasochistic predisposition.

There is an emergent pattern in Obama's thought process. Women are the foundation of a tribe. It's not a simple coincidence that they choose to rape and eviscerate women. It is women who are principal determinants of morality and direction in a tribe. They can either poison or enlighten their children.

Seeing Red said...

"Come on, Big D, FLY!"

Fr Martin Fox said...

Just more narcissism and cluelessness from our President. I dont mind the President getting someone to hold the umbrella-- and it may be he called for umbrellas as a courtesy to his guest. but not the Marines nor the Secret Service. These are people who are there to guard him, and i fail to see how. Holding an umrella -- or doing any other small task -- doesnt conflict with that. Reagan had staffers do it.

These folks are ready to lay down their lives for him. They deserve better.

ampersand said...

It's a good thing those doors weren't wide open.

DADvocate said...

All the phallic symbols appeal to the homoerotic feelings of liberals while most conservatives seek heterosexual pleasures, even in symbolism, and are turned off by the homosexual milieu.

Liberals may attempt to define the conservatives' thoughts and feelings s homophobic, but that would be a serious error. A phobia is based on fear. Liberals fear their mere existence. They can't face the world without a world structured to carry them through life's daily challenges.

The want laws and government programs that prevent others from saying mean things to them and otherwise hurting their feelings. They want guarantees regarding income. They want other people forced to approve and accept them no matter what, and so on. Any accusations of homophobia by liberals towards conservatives is simply projection of their fears.

Real men are conservatives.

Ann Althouse said...

"The photo is not a masculine tour de force, Ann--it's a symbol of how utterly feminized Our Leaders are--and how they're trying to feminize even the most masculine of us--the United States Marine Corps..."

All I said was it's an image filled with phallic symbols, but we can go on to talk about what those phalluses are being used for... and why it's causing you such anxiety. You're openly expressing your anxiety over the masculine becoming feminine. This is castration anxiety, in Freudian terms. It can be a fear of homosexuality (literally homophobia).

Palladian said...

All the phallic symbols appeal to the homoerotic feelings of liberals while most conservatives seek heterosexual pleasures, even in symbolism, and are turned off by the homosexual milieu.

If "proper" conservatives don't like phalli, then there aren't any straight female conservatives, I take it.

And apparently you haven't been around many men, straight or otherwise, because men love cock, especially their own.

If you read Freud, you'd know that he called your desperate need to avoid homoeroticism and the penis a defensive mechanism against latent homosexual impulses.

lemondog said...

If we had a woman president with a visiting woman prime minister would we be obligated to point out vagina symbols?

It would it be more entertaining with a woman pres and male prime minister, I think, and interpreting the juxtaposition of objects.

Michael K said...

"Freud's obsession with masculine and feminine doesn't make sense to me. I would suppose a submarine is more like a penis than a hole, but come on. Does women get excited when they sea a submarine?"

Part of the problem with Freud is that he was living in Vienna during a period when it had a very large Jewish population and most were middle class or above. The women had a high incidence of hysteria and anxiety. His experience was untypical of most of the world at the time and time has not dealt kindly with Freud.

Psychiatrist now know that his observations are mostly useless in treating mental illness, even neurosis. The Nazis dealt unkindly with the Jews of Vienna.

Palladian said...

If we had a woman president with a visiting woman prime minister would we be obligated to point out vagina symbols?

There wouldn't be any. It would all still be surrogate phalli, as the female ruler must stil hold the scepter. Penis envy would cause her to employ as many defensive surrogate phalli as the castrated male would.

Chip S. said...

...the female ruler must stil hold the scepter

Don't forget the orb.

bagoh20 said...

Fear of castration = homophobia?

I wasn't quite sure why I was homophobic; it didn't make sense before. Now it's clear; the homos want my balls. I got to take a stand on that.

Baron Zemo said...

If we had a woman President she would be twice the man then the Jug Eared Jesus.

I take that back.

Four or five times the man.

DADvocate said...

Part of the problem with Freud ...

The other part of the problem is that Freudian theory is just bullshit Sigmund made up. A lot of it sounds good and seems to correlate with reality, but there's little if any evidence that it actually does.

AllenS said...

Sometimes and umbrella is just an umbrella. The problem is who has to hold an umbrella, when it doesn't prevent them from getting wet.

oneredquilt said...

This whole discussion of umbrellas and phallic symbols is interesting but my first open-mouthed reaction to seeing the picture was "My God, he's using the Marines as patio furniture!" The disrespect seems obvious.

rhhardin said...

Derrida in Spurs on the umbrella that Nietzsche wrote he had forgotten.

The book is on woman and the dogmatic philosopher.

Nietzsche is not the misogynist he's supposed to be.

Alternate English and French pages, short.

Skip the preface, not written by Derrida, pretentious and impenetrable.

Synova said...

They're effeminate because a manly man doesn't mind getting wet.

They're effeminate because, like a great deal of female attire, like purses, high heels, and clothes without pockets, as well as elaborate hair styles, they are designed to hamper your efficient movement and abilities. You've got your hands full so you can't *do* things. It's just about like being a voluntary paraplegic.

AllenS said...

I'm not sure why an umbrella would be a phallic symbol, but my big toe...

DADvocate said...

This whole discussion of umbrellas and phallic symbols is interesting...

I had one of those auto opening, collapsible umbrellas until a couple of weeks ago. I pushed the button to open it and all the little springs and wires virtually exploded. It was a very gratifying experience, but I couldn't get it up again for a week.

Dante said...

All I said was it's an image filled with phallic symbols, but we can go on to talk about what those phalluses are being used for... and why it's causing you such anxiety.

It doesn't cause anxiety. It causes anger. The Marines are standing in the rain, with an umbrella over Obama's head because he can't hold it up. And who here believes the guy really cares about those who protect us, and who thinks he is worthy of the symbolic protection by the marines. That's what they are doing, right? Our military which protects us, demeaned to the point of keeping a bit of drizzle off the POTUS.

I'd rather he just say "Thank you," and go on his way.

Baron Zemo said...

How is it that Obama couldn't call the Marines to save our Ambassador's life but he could call them so he wouldn't get his coiffure wet?

Synova said...

Granted, I can't remember for sure but I'm pretty certain that we could use umbrellas in the Air Force whenever we wanted to. The services differ and the Marines are sort of invested in being the bad-*ssest of them all. (Which they sort of are, so good on them.)

But I wanted to say that it's really not a male-female thing, even though I said that it was feminine because female things are often designed to make us helpless. For anyone guarding someone, they can't be ready if their hands are full. True, the Marines all tricked out in their fanciest uniforms are mostly there for show anyhow, but what would it look like to have the Secret Service holding the umbrellas? It would look just as bad. They'd be standing there with their hands full.

DADvocate said...

All I said was it's an image filled with phallic symbols,...

One things for certain, you're obsessed with phalluses. However, you left out the columns behind the flags, maybe because they're white.

Baron Zemo said...

"One thing's for certain, you're obsessed with phalluses. However, you left out the columns behind the flags, maybe because they're white."


They are also homophobic like all straight white things.

Synova said...

"Getting a rigidly erect male to hold erect umbrella over you and another rigidly erect male to hold another albeit slightly less erect umbrella over a world leader? It's the most masculine image ever seen!"

Okay fine... playing by the rules and what would Freud say....

Well, I've no idea what Freud would say but I'm thinking that he'd probably say that a rigidly erect male holding something rigidly erect is homosexual symbolism.

Synova said...

Going along with the Freudian symbolism... a woman holding an umbrella or a man holding an umbrella over a woman would be symbolic of sex... either she's fondling that staff or the man has got his staff in her personal space.


Freud sounds like the Al Qaeda thugs that would take over a little village in Iraq and outlaw women eating bananas or cucumbers or sitting on chairs.

mtrobertsattorney said...

From the photo I saw, it looks like the Turkish Ambassador was man enough to hold his own umbrella himself.

yashu said...

Re Obama and phallic objects, don't forget this image.

dreams said...

Obama is a prick.

yashu said...

And coincidentally (?), that image involved Turks too!

AllenS said...

I was an Army paratrooper. Here's what my umbrella looked like.

lemondog said...

Finding its inner woman...

Phallic symbol gone vaginal?

JAL said...

Oh. I see it is another Althouse Sex on the Brain Day.

Glen Filthie said...

I am not irked.

The Donks hate the military and always have. Freud has no place in this.

Obama is simply flipping the bird at his betters. What do you expect, America? You elected that baboon and now you are getting a banana republic to show for it.

Looks good on ya.

SaintCroix said...

It's manly to hold an umbrella over somebody, protecting them.. In his dream, he is the infant who needs a daddy. Now he is like a terrible infant, a boy king, a spoiled brat.

n.n said...

There is another explanation for Obama's request. While he is indeed mocking Americans, he is also demonstrating to Erdogan that he remains in control of America by way of controlling its military. This is especially important in the wake of revelations that Obama's administration selection of Americans for retributive change is accelerating a dysfunctional convergence. Obama needs to show his ally/competitor that he is not impotent. That his estate remains firmly under his control.

Coketown said...

Hahahaha!!! Oh my God!

Okay, to be clear, I don't give two shits about umbrellas as phallic imagery. What an uninteresting topic.

But come on! "Obama and the Umbrellas"?! Hahahaha!!! Sounds like a black singing quartet! Like Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Oh my God! It's too much! The deliciousness! Hahahaha!!!!!!!

Chip Ahoy said...

Do you think it would be funny if I extended the bottom and then inserted two lawn jockeys holding up lanterns.

You know those things were invented as part of underground railroad. They were markers. If they were unlit then it meant not safe keep going, I think, maybe I have it backwards. But called Jockeys because that is the Anglicized version of the French name of the underaged black soldier boy that froze to death on his watch at the river with his lantern in his hand, in the service of George Washington. It's a very moving story that I read a long time ago. At the Potomac maybe even, this is like 50%-75% of true fax.

Michael K said...

"The book is on woman and the dogmatic philosopher.

Nietzsche is not the misogynist he's supposed to be."

I think it was Bernard Shaw who said the Nietzche was such a wimp that, when he said ""If you go to see the woman, do not forget the whip" , the woman would have gotten the whip away from him.

Looking at Obama and Michelle, I can see how that happens.

sean said...

Nancy Mitford wrote about this, how umbrellas are considered effeminate. In her essay, she noted that the sort of men she wrote about (upper middle class English men) carried umbrellas when in city clothes, but never when in country clothes. However, clergymen carried umbrellas in the country, because they wore city clothes all the time.

yashu said...

But come on! "Obama and the Umbrellas"?! Hahahaha!!! Sounds like a black singing quartet! Like Diana Ross and the Supremes.

Heh, I was thinking Martha and the Vandellas.

ken in sc said...

Synova, I was in the Air Force from 1970 to 1994, both enlisted and officer. Only women were allowed to carry umbrellas while in uniform. I remember very well being chewed out for having one in the Pentagon parking lot one time.

lemondog said...

President Kelly

Synova said...

Ken, I just remember that the umbrella had to be dark blue or black.

I asked my husband and he said that the rule at Clark AB in 1990 was "only in your blues" and he didn't say it was a male/female thing. Chances are it was a local rule because the base commander didn't want to get soaked during monsoons just to make a point.

lemondog said...

Was It Against Uniform Protocol for the Marine to Hold Obama’s Umbrella?

Apparently he did not break with protocol.

ampersand said...

Surprised you didn't plug your Amazon portal for one of these

hillbilly said...

You forgot to mention the dickhead behind the lectern.

Clyde said...

The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust hath the just’s umbrella.

-- Lord Charles Bowen

AprilApple said...

No woman has ever considered inserting an umbrella in her vajayjay.

Obama is still a pussy.



Astro said...

Sometimes an umbrella is just an umbrella.

Not to Althouse. Everything is a symbol of something else, usually either a penis or a vagina.
That association is what drives the traffic on this blog.
And don't forget that Amazon portal. Talk about your symbolism.
(Go on -- talk about it.)

EMD said...

JESUS H. CHRIST. I JUST INVENTED A LECTERN WITH A CANOPY!

glenn said...

"If we had a woman president with a visiting woman prime minister would we be obligated to point out vagina symbols?"

Yes. Sexist if you don't.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I want to retract my criticism of the President on this one. After seeing pictures of other presidents in very similar situations, I can't justify focusing my criticism on Mr. Obama. I tend to think the Marines shouldn't be asked to do this, but that ship seems to have sailed long ago.

Melissa Clouthier said...

Or, he could be, you know, over compensating.

Melissa Clouthier said...

Or, he could be, you know, over compensating.