Odd Obsession Review

“Art is often the subject of philosophy,” (Katilin Balong, NYTimes). “Odd Obsession” directed by Ichikawa Kon, based off the book “The Key” by Tanizaki Junichirō . is set in 1959 Japan, delivers such a message of art representing philosophy by following two main protagonists Ikuko and Kenji as they each try to manipulate the other to get what they want. It allows for the audience to understand the manipulation and motivations for their actions through a third person omniscient lens. Even though the book being adapted to film is diary-entry based, the movie still executes the wants and needs of the characters well by keeping things secretive and under the radar for the characters.
Written and directed by Japanese director Ichikawa Kon, “Odd Obsession” was entered into the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and won the Jury Prize. It follows the life of Ikuko and Kenji, a married couple, with the husband wanting more out of the sexual lifestyle of the couple and thinks it will help in other areas of the marriage as well. The film allows for the audience to experience the thought processes of the characters, with not too much voice over to give away the actual thoughts, and follow the actions and how it leads to various consequences. It’s also shows how genuine people would react to certain problems directed their way, so creates a very realistic nature to the overall film.
The director creates shadowy shots and precise placement of characters in the scene to allow for the overall manipulation motif to be felt and seen while people are interacting, whether it pertains to a particular scene or not; as it becomes an overall feel for the movie no matter if there is someone at play at the moment or plotting behind the scenes. Ichikawa, by using close up and fixed camera angles, to emphasize the dramatic nature and skewing of morals throughout the movie. It makes it so the audience feels we are secretly walking in on something we shouldn’t be seeing. Using immersion to create this private viewing of a personal business of other individuals makes it so we feel we have to keep a secret as well and helps us also figure out who we are rooting for to overcome the obstacles put up by the other partner in the relationship. The darkened rooms could also be do to how the movie was shot in black and white so the blacks and the whites deeply contrast each other in every scene. By engaging the audience exclusively through these various schemes of the Kenmochi couple, it allows for us to question ourselves to see what we would do in a situation such as this and also feel the pain and the consequences that befall on the characters as they keep outdoing the other with reacting to situations.
The movie’s central theme is the morality of Ikuko and Kenji’s actions and how they ultimately feel in the end about manipulating each other. As the audience is following the scenes unfold and the metaphorical holes being dug as Ikuko and Kenji continue to lie to each other leads the audience astray from who is manipulating who – and in turn – how the director is manipulating us. Later on, Ikuko starts to have second thoughts about fooling around on the side with a man named Kimura, but also finds herself falling more in love with him than her husband. From this moment, the choices that Ikuko makes in regards to how Kenji manipulates her becomes more secretive and there becomes an obvious sense of struggle she battles as she continues playing the game her husband started. Though we don’t see much of the relationship before the manipulation of both parties of the Kenmochi relationship begin, maybe there was a more real connection when they first began and it might her something that Ikuko wants to get back to. What matters, to audience at least and maybe not as much to Ikuko, is that she is thinking more openly and seriously about if what she is doing is right and how she really feels for her husband.
Overall, Ishikawa creates a very condensed world through only following one couple throughout and seeing how a relationship can get very convoluted and twisted up in lies that the relationship under all the deceit is almost forgotten, as Ikuko and Kenji have a hard time reaching a final destination towards the end of the movie as it ends abruptly with a large death scene. Despite this abrupt ending, the entire movie should be appreciated for it’s intuitive nature in allowing the audience to see behind the eyes of the actors and understand the interior motives of the Kenmochi couple as they strive to battle for a sense of victory and pleasure in their lives and with each other.



Brotherhoods in Muslim societies play a huge role in people’s lives especially when it comes to the jnun. There are different brotherhoods that deal with different types of jnun. One that our class has focused on and that has caught my attention is the work of The Hamadsha. The Hamadsha Brotherhood is a distinct Brotherhood in the Muslim society that helps people who are being possessed or haunted by a particular jnun named Lady A’isha. This Brotherhood focused on using therapy to help people with are struggling thanks to A’isha. The goal of the therapy is not to restore the person to his prior state, but to provide a new social identity, new values, and new cognitive orientation (p. 5). These therapy treatments helped transform the individual by using symbolic forms in order to protect the person from becoming possessed by A’isha again. There won’t be a next time with A’isha because the man will be stronger than before and ‘a new man’ in sorts. The other form of therapy dealt with the person being haunted by A’isha to build a working relationship with the jinn spirit in order to continue living a successful and prosperous life without too much interference.

Many people think that the brotherhoods are amazing for helping people with their problems; however, I see the brotherhoods as just biding time until something bad happens to the person. I believe that even if the Brotherhoods help create a relationship between a victim and a jinn that the jinn could still turn on the person at any moment and thus return back to the brotherhood from which they sought out help the first time. There was even discussion in class about how the brotherhoods were never at fault if there was a failed case between a spirit and a person; that it was simply the person’s fault for doing something wrong to enrage the spirit.

There was even talk in the Kosansky article about how if a group of people can get a lot of supporters and money that they could have a potential political power – thus a powerful social organization. This meaning that if there was a chance that a new group of people were trying to invade the area like when Africa was being picked apart by the British and the French, it would be easy for the Muslim people to work together and stand up against the opposing force.

Good Ol’ Tuhami

So this week broke the shock value meter for me. I mean, Crapanzano’s experience in Morocco and meeting Tuhami and witnessing his life with A’isha, I mean you can’t make this stuff up!

Sure there was the fact that Tuhami and Crapanzano don’t share a common language and thus needed a translator, there is obviously still an overall understanding that Tuhami is indeed married to a dominating jnun. There’s also a huge build up to when Tuhami finally explains when and how he met A’isha for the first time. Before that all we knew is that men who refused A’isha’s love they were tied up and given no water until they finally gave in (Crapanzano 98). When Tuhami does get around explaining his encounter with A’isha over a period of a few years, I found it astounding that A’isha didn’t torture Tuhami too for refusing her. Being a psychologist at heart reading this and hearing Tuhami sort of reason for himself that all of this was not because he did something wrong and it was really because of his lack of male role models and bad communication with the females in his life that caused this connection to build with A’isha.

When we talked about Tuhami’s encounters with A’isha as a small class before heading to Spring Break it became an easier topic to understand. Since Crapanzano’s quotes Tuhami thinking logically about his history it links up almost perfectly with why A’isha is in his life now. The loss of his friend in the river (the friend was dragged into the water for cursing a jnun and not fearing their power). Being this close to danger and almost being dragged along into the river is a huge indication that A’isha is in his life and thus sacrificed him from dying so that she could have him later. Though they don’t seem to have a good relationship since Tuhami is slowly being driven insane by A’isha’s demands and also the other demons that tend to take over his body and torture him at night (Crapanzano 116), it’s still a very interesting relationship to say the least that is very real.

Crapanzano concludes Part Two writing that Tuhami is “a victim of this shattered mode of social life,” (Crapanzano 82). Saints and demons used to represent a coherent world view – but in modern context it’s not a coherent world view anymore and Tuhami’s caught between the old and modern views. This was the only time Crapanzano brings this up because usually the demon world does answer life questions in Tuhami’s life (though it’s not a definitive answer, it’s a definite question – how does this material relate to modern life?)

The Craftiness of Jinn

When first talking about the jinn many weeks back, I found the idea mystifying since I myself don’t believe in jinn. But to see the society of jinn being so vast and distinctly different but crystal clear as humans, it almost seems likely. Though then again, were these tricks made up to protect the society from getting into trouble? I have a theory, as most psychologists do, that there were people who took the “scary jinn” to a functional/safe living level and those who were deathly afraid of the jinn.

The jinns are very mystifying, as I said before, but not just because they live in the jinn world, but because how they interact with human kind. There’s many different kinds of jinn, even jinn that don’t go terrorizing people, that exist in the jinn world that almost reflect human type customs. There’s are jinn that live in the sky, or live underground, and certain ones that live in water (Westermarck, 264). However, what makes them very distinct is how they look. Jinn come in all shapes and sizes and even variations in colors (depending on the religion one views the jinn). Westermarck describes them as beings with no physical bodies or are barely more than a floating head that wanders the deserts, oceans, and caves. Even so, some jinn are known to take the forms of animals when encountering humans or take over animals to exist further in the human realm (Westermarck, 278). Even with the misleading disguises, a person may tell if an animal is actually being possessed or a jinn in disguise is by the “animal’s actions.” People who have encountered jinn in the form of animals say that some ask questions in a very human voice or there was one case when a goat was clapping his hooves together, which is uncommon to see.

Even if there are cases when the jinn don’t interfere with human life or cause mayhem in society, there are many ways that the society still views them as dangerous beings. If a person was to confront a jinn accidentally, like an example given in class if someone was to bump into a jinn on the street the next day their elbow might be swollen from the contact. There have even been cases when an army of jinn will appear to take vengeance on a civilization if disturbed and spread practically incurable diseases for the time period like cholera and the measles (Westermarck, 289). Through these examples, many rules or warnings have been put into place in some societies to warn people about committing certain acts to lead to further exposure to jinn or risk of being hurt by jinn.

From a psychological aspect, these warnings have very logical reasoning behind them but instead of making them rules, the use of fear was seen as more effective to get people to act with caution. For example, a person shouldn’t go wander at night down a road as they would most likely encounter a jinn. From this warning a person learns they shouldn’t go anywhere alone (and that stands true for today) as the risk of encountering jinn raises exponentially. There were also warnings of jinn coming in contact with someone if they were being rude to their elders or went swimming alone at any hour of the day (Westermarck, 293).

So though I see the methods of keeping people safe from harm’s way to be very important, I do believe that the jinn were a type of “scapegoat” to place blame upon so that the blame of bad luck or misfortune wouldn’t be placed upon a higher being like God or Allah.

Ugh, is it Mourning Already?

No on lives forever. So that’s why mourning is a very typical practice that people all around the world partake in. It would be abnormal if one didn’t mourn after the death of a loved one. But, does that give a person permission to mourn forever? I would believe not. I have had people pass in my family like grandparents, pets, and great uncles; I have even had classmates and teachers that have left this world. So I understand the meaning of loss but there are grieving periods that I have learned to go through to move through the mourning period and continue with my life.

There are guidelines both Jews and Muslims follow to properly practice mourning, though they do differ in some areas. But, why are there rules for mourning? Astren made it clear that in both Jewish and Muslim standards, if someone were to mourn their whole life, then they wouldn’t be practicing their religions fully. So both religions came up with a “rule book” of sorts for certain family members to follow. An example from class, a child mourns for a different amount of time and mourns differently than a spouse or sibling of the deceased. Overall, however, a family in the Jewish religion would practice “Shiva,” a type of mourning where the family doesn’t leave their house, doesn’t work, and people can visit them and give their respects to the family during a one week period. A person’s reaction to the death of a family member is important but how far a person let’s their grief control them is what The Talmud wants to prevent (Astren, 187).

In the Islamic religion, The Qur’an doesn’t specify regulation for the grieving period but a proper way for the burial ritual. However, there are things that one must not due during their time of mourning. Stereotypically these prohibited acts would be pulling of the hair, destroying property, and not practicing certain traditions. Participating in such acts is called the “Days of Ignorance,” which was created after Mohammed’s passing. This new way of grieving was established to separate the “Days of Ignorance” from the time of Islam (Astren, 189). Muslims also go to great lengths, similarly to the Jews, to distance themselves from polytheistic ways such as paganism. For example, praying near the grave site was too much activity in relation to the cult of the dead and thus strayed too cllose to Pagan traditions (Astren, 191).

Though Jews and Muslims give their take on how they each belief mourning should be practiced as they both stray from Pagan beliefs, Astren doesn’t mention the five stages of grieving which I learned about while studying as a psych major. I don’t know if these stages in particular are connected to another religion like Christianity or are just stereotypically for the world to know about. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear about the Qur’an and the Talmud or other religious texts mentioned didn’t coincide directly with the five stages I’ve come to learn during my academic career so far. The fives stages are Denial/Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. Though there are estimates as to how long a person would stay in a certain stage, there aren’t exact timelines the stages take place in or rules as to how long someone stays in those periods. This view understands that each person’s way of dealing with death is different from person to person, and especially depends on the relationship someone created with the deceased being. But there are guidelines that people can take to get over these stages, like reconnecting with family, speaking out about their feelings/inner turmoils. Personally I do not believe these five stages are related to Paganism, but find it curious that there aren’t more concrete ways that look at the person’s psyche through the process, though I understand that back in the early 5th century that psychology wasn’t a popular or existent topic.

Jinn and Tonic

Before reading Patai’s “Seeds of Abraham,” I had little idea about the influence the jinn (also known as spirits) had in the lifestyle in Morocco. The reason why the thought of spirits never entered my mind before is because I don’t believe in spirits and I think more psychologically. So when I first heard that there were people like fortune tellers that communicated the jinn, I was very skeptical. Even when watching the video about Moroccan Jews and seeing a fortune teller advising someone not to travel, I tried to think psychologically. Maybe the person beforehand knew something about crimes that were going outside the village they were in and knew from that alone that the woman shouldn’t travel, but that hypothesis faded fast as I continued to see that more and more fortune tellers were present outside temples.

What also made my skepticism rise was when I read about the dangers that the jinn can cause to the real world. To think that the fortune tellers would willingly interact with a source of pain and occasional suffering seemed risky and insane. Apparently the jinn could cause someone to have bad luck, like falling over “something that wasn’t there” would be blamed on a spirit (p. 153). What continued to surprise me was how both Muslims and Jews have a similar view on the jinn in Morocco. Being a Jew myself I never considered any type of spirits, besides maybe God, to play a role in the lives of the living world. The jinn world, a type of parallel reality, seems rather complicated. Patai even goes into explaining how there could be another “you” in this world and if something happens to this spirit, it could happen to the real you.

On top of that, there’s a lot of work a fortune teller or spiritual communicator has to do to stay in the good graces of the spirit(s) they stay in contact with. As seen in the video we watched in class about the Moroccan Jews, there’s an unofficial marriage ceremony that one must go through and it’s extensive. It involves a lot of strong smelling candles and fragrances, a physical sacrifice of a black goat or sheep and once the animal’s sacrificed the blood of the animal is draped over the white veil and the person in the ceremony goes into a trance, almost a drunken state. This trance leaves the person out of sorts and is almost hypnotized or has no control of one’s body as must be sat down until finally they are released and have made another type of “contract” with the spirit. And a fortune teller can get rejected, as there are apprentices to the current fortune teller position and retired fortune tellers that are present during the ceremony.

Overall, this connection with the jinn though to me personally seems out there and quite complex, there seems to be quite a cult following present as many people seek the advise of these individuals that have the gift to talk to the jinn. However, as I glance at this lifestyle, I wonder why these traditions weren’t passed on to other parts of the world. Sure there are probably other types of smaller religions with similar connections to the spirit world, but I wonder why these traditions faded out like in the United States. I wonder if there are places in Israel or parts of the Palestinian state that follow these traditions as well? Or if there are, how to do outsiders to the traditions view this section of the civilization? I mean, maybe if in my Hebrew school I was raised to believe in spirits out outer-worldly beings, maybe I wouldn’t be over-analyzing the jinn relationship. Though I understand that these type of ceremonies are quite private, if I ever had the chance to see a unofficial marriage ceremony in Morocco, I would love to take advantage of that to see if being there makes the atmosphere of the jinn world seem more realistic since of course seeing it and reading about it doesn’t do much besides letting the imagination wander.