Image for post
Image for post

American Psycho is a legend and Bret Easton Ellis is its prophet. It happens when violence becomes the normal expression of a repressed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in a human being, generally the result of some trauma in infancy or childhood. What’s more, Bret Easton Ellis’s style is unique in this shift from OCD to, in his case, complex nominal composition. Enjoy the trip in the films and some literary extension, and then a very close study of the Obsessive Compulsive Disordered nominal phrase complexity. Even Shakespeare would not have dared to go that far, even in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

AMERICAN PSYCHO

Bret Easton Ellis

Films 1 & 2

American Psycho (English audio. English subtitles) Uncut 102 min by Christian Bale From United Kingdom

5.0 out of 5 stars

What’s cooking in the financial Hell’s Kitchen

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 March 2005

Watch that film a second or a third time and enjoy the impossible meaning of it. The character is brilliant, cruel, inhuman, vicious, and perverse. He is a metaphor for the financial world of today: those who have the power of money can do all they want, including killing anyone who has the only shortcoming of being there at hand when they shouldn’t have been. Jealousy is the basic feeling and envy is the basic passion.

Image for post
Image for post

At the same time, this character and the film are a metaphor for the illusion this financial world is. The illusion that the world is their property, though it is not. They are ranting and raving about it but the world goes on revolving on its axis and evolving into its own future that has nothing to do with what these finance people want ou would like it to be. The world has its own history and no one has the power to kill all those who do not fit, to reject them forever, and to negate thousands of years of multifarious human struggle for collective freedom and progress.

This character, though he may have killed no one, is a criminal nevertheless because his mind is bent onto killing all those who do not accept his absolute domination. This character is a tyrant, a dictator, a perverted serial killer of the mind, and though he may not be using Weapons of Mass Destruction or even simple pistols and knives, he is using another Weapon of Mass Perversion: finance. With the power of finance, one can kill millions by starving them to death or locking them out of human progress, at least the human progress that money can bring which is a soulless material luxury and nothing else.

The film brings us a question that we cannot answer: what can stop these financial killers and keep them under restraint and control? The film does not want to answer this question, and the book behind did not try to do it either. History will answer the question within a couple of decades if we are lucky or more if we do not have any luck at all, but history will eventually and relentlessly answer the question and bring these financial feudal barons under the law of human progress. I do not think the character is psychotic.

In fact, he is completely schizophrenic and he cannot survive in this world if he is not. That is also a lesson that comes out of these images: one needs a personal life to survive and that personal life must not in any way be invaded by the financial circus. There is only one way out of this dilemma: to escape to the farthest and deepest desert in the world, which would mean suicide, or to join a human society in which money does not exist, which would mean going back to even before the Stone Age. Careful, you may have some nightmares after watching this film.

American Psycho 2 [VHS] By Mila Kunis

3.0 out of 5 stars

They stole the title of a good film

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 November 2007

Apart from a fast flying-by image of and reference to Bateman, this film has nothing to do with the film whose title it is borrowing. It is just what some call a slasher, others would call a thriller. But what is it really? First, it is a phenomenal picture of American society at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. A society that considers achieving an aim, a purpose as being the most important fact in anyone’s own life. It is the cult of the winner as opposed to the curse of the loser. If you don’t want to be a loser, you have to be a winner, at all costs.

Image for post
Image for post

This is an illusion if we don’t understand that winning or losing has to be a social fact: one can only win within the own winning of his full society. One cannot be a winner if one is surrounded by losers. And one cannot be a winner if one is surrounded by winners, lest that first one will have to eliminate all the other potential winners. That is schizophrenia based on a megalomaniac paranoid psychosis. The second element we learn is that a woman serial killer is possible, though we must admit they are rare, though we do not know why.

The third element we learn is that the best serial killer is someone who is absolutely unknown because that serial killer assumed the identity of someone else and eliminated that someone else. Hence the serial killer is past history, and yet alive and kicking somewhere in New York or Washington. The trickiest element of this film is that this insane killer only aimed at being accepted in the FBI Academy in Quantico and has actually been selected and is bound to be an FBI serial killer hunter. But this does not qualify this film as a sequence in any way of “American Psycho”.

One thing is missing: the particular obsession Bateman had about male fashion and beauty products, financial business, and amplified music. The second thing that is missing is the ambiguity of the book and the ambiguity of the unrated version of the film as for knowing if this serial killing is only a fantasized nightmare or a real thing if Bateman is a real serial killer or just a mental case of a serial killer.

But one thing is identical: the “killer” is un-prosecutable, will always be unknown and untouchable, because society has classified the murders with some reassuring explanation: the killer herself is dead. So after all this is a good entertaining film though it lacks some depth.

AMERICAN PSYCHO

Bret Easton Ellis

Literary Extension:

The Rules of Attraction

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis From United Kingdom

5.0 out of 5 stars

The monsters who invented milking the bubble economy

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 October 2009

We all know the masterpiece of that author, viz. American Psycho (please watch the uncut unrated video version: the extra five minutes make a real difference), and I was curious to see what he had become with time and age. This novel is situated in the same period as the one that made his fame, the mid-80s, under Ronald Reagan, the time of the emergence of financial capitalism, or shouldn’t I say the emergence of speculative stock exchange financial greedy deregulated adventure.

Image for post
Image for post

We are dealing here with the children of the first generation of these speculators who were inventing that golden boy and yippy/yuppy age that was just being born under our eyes. The children are all in college doing anything you may think of from drama to poetry, from art to just nothing. They do not plan on getting any real competence or skill in the social field of productivity and the economy. They are just expressing, satisfying, and even trying to satiate their unfathomable hunger and thirst for anything that is not advised by moral and ethical authorities in the American world or what’s more that is heavily not recommended and harshly rejected, i.e. drugs from cocaine to mushroom and all kinds of other grass, substance or concoction that could get you high or just wasted; then alcohol for the very purpose of being drunk as long as possible, forever if possible (And there they are creative like champagne on the rocks or rum diet coke, and some other barbaric mixtures); and of course sex, sex, and sex.

The book is in fact detailed only at that level and explores all kinds of possible orientations from plain gay to plain straight and all the variations, nuances, hues, and other shades in-between for both girls and boys. In fact, the book is becoming obsessive about male homosexuality with a few characters. Paul is all gay but has some non-gay adventures on the side. Sean starts very, very, very gay, and turns straight later on and anti-gay at the same time. And you have those here and there who condescend to have a gay episode provided it is not made public, and at times even take a second helping of that liquor. There even is a pregnancy that is terminated in a clinic of some kind, a revealed, accepted, celebrated, resented, rejected, hated, and finally gotten rid of pregnancy.

All that is pathetic if not even miserable. The future leaders and profiteers of this society of ours in the 1980s were just corrugated and totally spaced-out and learning nothing because they did not need anything, except poker and bridge: their daddies and their mummies were able to provide them with the means and the positions they needed to make money, and the only objective was to make money in society and to sexually milk the cow in college and of course not beyond graduation if ever reached. It is well written, and maybe even funny, though it is essentially sad and dramatic, essentially when we know it is these people who were the central actors and engineers of the 2008–2009 crisis.

They live in a bubble, their mind is a bubble, and they managed what they were supposed to manage in our society as if it had to be a bubble. Bubble after bubble we have a comic book that is not comical or funny at all. Gadoosh! And our dear traders are starting again, and will always start again because for them life is a party when they get high and drunk, then a hangover, then another party when they get high and drunk, then another hangover, and so on till the end of time, till some kind of God tells them: “That will do!” and throws the Tables of the Law to the ground and breaks the covenant to give it back anyway just one fit of anger later.

Image for post
Image for post

AMERICAN PSYCHO

Bret Easton Ellis

Picador

Linguistically this novel is the best example you can find on nominal composition and complex noun phrases. It is the main source of all examples and the subsequent grammatical exploitatiion in my dynamic grammar of english, unluckily in french since it is targeting French-speaking students and french teachers of english. Available in free open access on Academia.edu

Image for post
Image for post

https://www.academia.edu/28658747/Grammaire_anglaise_avec_exercices_corrig%C3%A9s

[Follow this address and check the first three “fiches” of the First Part of this grammar.]

Image for post
Image for post

Go there and find many hundred examples of such nominal compounds and complex Noun Phrases, all analyzed in detail. This type of writing is typical of great language-mastering writers and using their literary prose in grammar teaching is both PRAISE AND APPEAL.

Image for post
Image for post

Written by

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, PhD in Germanic Linguistics (University Lille III) and ESP Teaching (University Bordeaux II) has been teaching all types of ESP

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store