Bates Motel
What's Wrong With Norman?

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | 5 USERS: A
Luminosity Entails Numinosity

Norman: "Well, I bet they found something."
Norma: "Hmm?"
Norman: "I mean for sure they probably did not find something."


There is something eternally teenage-boy guilt about the way Norman tears his ass up the stairs the second they get home, like just launches directly up the stairs as if she's going to beat him to it and find his dirty magazines or whatever. Did you burst out laughing when he did this?

Norman: (Whoosh.)
Norma: "What's up?"
Norman: "I have to change clothes and lie down and take a shower and do homework!"


Sadly, no. The belt is gone. The duct tape, the flashlight, the handcuffs, all the rape devices and the belt they came on. Which is enough to send Norman scooting down onto the floor, breaking into tears like the saddest little ashamed-est guy, and it's dreadful to watch. He keeps asking, "What's wrong with me?" And it's enough that yeah, he kept a souvenir of the big rape/murder, and yeah, he probably should not have attached so much meaning to it or used it as a ceremonial object in the sex-torture-comic book ritual, but mostly it's both and mostly it's neither: He also feels very, very stupid for having left evidence lying around that could betray their secret.

The classic example of luminosity-entails-numinosity is Freudian in a way we're avoiding for the most part, but it goes like this: Why did the little boy steal his father's favorite pen and take it to school with him? Because it was a special object to him, it signified things he didn't have words for. He stole it to get power, which is why most stolen things get stolen: They glow.

Luminosity here, think about how the murder weapons on a Clue card glow with that weird glow: They are special things, the way Norman jumps out of the world to Emma or Bradley or the way Dylan can't keep his attention from swinging back to their weird connection. And then numinosity is the meaning of the glow: The thing acquires religious or spiritual or otherworldly import, because of the power, and because of the things the pen-stealer doesn't have words for. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Always radioactive. Another word we casually toss around, but has a real meaning that applies here, is taboo.

In fact there was a Jungian conversation around transvestism -- specifically, men (usually straight) who derive sexualized sensation from wearing women's clothing -- that had to do with one of the myths of Herakles, which has all kinds of degradation stuff that doesn't necessarily apply here, but basically that in this therapeutic formulation the man would put on his mother's clothing as a kind of armor: A way of taking her protective strength and power on for himself. Like little kids trying on their parent's clothing, but twisted into a kink as a grownup. Same luminosity, same numinosity, as anything else, but a hearty reminder that females of all species have been protecting their kids for a lot longer -- and a lot harder -- than males.

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Bates Motel




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