March 2008 Archives

The Dementor's kiss

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"We were producing a definitive edition of the poems of Kipling. I allowed the word 'God to remain at the end of a line." pg. 237 Orwell

Section three of 1984 is truely the most horrifying. Ministry of Love: intentional irony, considering it is a torture chamber. Ampleforth comitted a crime in the Party's eyes. He did think, but of ways to avoid printing the condeming word. There were none, so he sentence himself. Of course God could not be metioned. Big Brother is God. There is no one more powerful than BB; at least, there can't be. The thought that another supreme being was controlling, watching over us in some way would cause chaos; the people would respect him over BB. BB would be second, and BB is second to none.There cannot be any evidence of God,just as the people can never meet a foreigner and study their language, for "if he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies" (201). Any outside information undermines the Party.

Even Party Pieists are fallible. No one would have suspected Parsons would be guilty of thoughtcrime. I guess all the supression of independent thought got to him. It had to come out somehow. What is even more disturbing is that even though he's guilty, he still believes he is wrong and the party is right ('Thank you,' I'm going to say, 'thank you for saving me before it was too late' 240). Parsons wants to be saved before he actually starts to believe his independent thoughts. The thought, the motivation behind an action, is said to be more dangerous than the act itself ("the thought is all we care about" 261). Scary....

There is loyalty to only the Party in Oceania. Men teach their kids to rat on anyone opposing BB, and men are willing to sacrifice their wives and children to save themselves from being punished ("you can take the whole lot of them and cut their throats in front of my eyes" 243). The Party has killed that connection between parent and child; is there such a thing a a bond between two people (except Winston/Julia) in Oceania? No, because a bond with someone would make you loyal to them and not the Party. I am surprised the Party allows people to choose their own spouses and make their own children.

 I remember there was a book from elementary school about a bubble community that chose people's spouses for them, as well as employed women as 'birth mothers." it was called The Giver and to this day is the most frightening book I have ever read. There were no emotions in this town (only 'sameness'), except for one person called "the Giver" who passed memories, pleasures, and emotions onto one person to replace him. Parents were little more than babysitters.Colors weren't even allowed! Emotions were surpressed with pills! The truth was drummed out of consciousness by by chanting.I remember our parents had to sign a waver allowing us to read the book. Very Orwellian, the book turned quickly into a dystopia as the protagonist discovered what the controlling powers were really doing and how the world actually was. I'm getting shivers thinking about it.

Winston speaks the truth until he is tortured into submission. The reason Parsons could not control what he said while he slept was that memory is "involuntary. It is outside oneself" (256).

Reality is what the Party determines. Public opinion is Party opinion. There is nothing external. Everyone is the same. No one is different "Never again will you be capable of human feeling...you will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then we shall fill you with ourselves" (265). 

is a soul something that can be killed? a soul is our personality, reasoning, and emotions, what makes us different from others. But, if all of those things have been removed, are the Party-controlled people souless? are they shells? Oceania is what happenes when you are kissed by a Dementor.

"there are things worse than death, you know"-Lord Voldemort

(I had to make one Harry Potter reference)

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The value of the paper airplane

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"for many, there was also that startling first time someone's careful folding transformed a page from an exercise book and a newly created paper dart took flight across the room...it  merely underscores the widely held notion of the document as some sprt of paper transport carrying pre-formed "ideas" or "information"  through space and time" pg 105 Duguid and Brown

This metaphor never occured to me as my paper airplane, fashioned out of a page from the 8th grade Social Studies book, sailed into Dustin Erb's eye. But the metaphor does hold true.

Text allowed isolated individuals to communicate with one another. They were not alone anymore. Revolutions started because letters and pamphlets spread new ideas to previously unreachable parts of colonies and countries. Ideas were created when the documents planted seeds in people's minds. "it wasn't, though, simply the content that helped bind the nation. It was as much their wide circulation" (108). Reminds me of the Douglas reading wherein he would have never thought freedom a possibility had he never learned to read.

Drawing a parallel to my philosphy class, Bentham said that the community is not an actual object. It is made up of individuals. Widespread print communication allowed for an imagined community to form. There is a difference between "imagined" and "imaginary". Imagined exists, but just isn't tangible due to its size; imaginary does not exist.

As to the interrpretatrion of  documents, Stanley Fish claims that there is not a correct interrpretation; for this to occur, there would need to be some measureable standard for us to examine. The literature cannot talk back to us, so it is up to the readers to interrpret their own meanings. While a community may have some shared interests, they can never have all the same interests. That would be a utopia, where everything is perfect. Humans are not perfect, and we disagree. If we all shared the same ideas, there would be no need for any kind of government and police force. But as Hobbes proclaimed (another PL 210 reference), life among pure human nature is poor, nasty, brutish, and short. We would constantly be paranoid because we all have different conflicting interests. Different interrpretations for what is right (e.g. human nature) exhibit the need for government.  Anderson states that we can only have "general strategies of interpretation" (110).

"Between communities these must be elaborated, often to the exasperation of the original comunity, whose members can see the elaboration as redundant" (115)

This quote applies directly to my presentation for the humanities conference. My project was a costume design and analysis for a play called "The Rover" by Aphra Behn. My guess is that 85-90% of my audience has never read the play, which was not the case whn I originally presented it. In Form and Analysis 1, we all had to do a design from one of the plays assigned for class. When I wrote my companion paper, I had it in mind that everyone was familiar with the play. However, for my presentation for the conference, before I even delve into my costume design and analysis, I will have to give a (condensed) background and plot summary of the play and the elements included.

 

another thing I learned from this essay: Star Trek fans prefer being called "Trekkers" over "Trekkies".

 

I'm going to stop there; otherwise this blog will turn into two pages. The essay was inciteful and informative despite the fact it is undeniably out-dated. People standing outside at midnight for the launch of Windows '95 is now laughable, and I've never heard of CoNote. It seems to be an early ancestor of the blog. And the last time I used netscpae was probably back in 94/95 in my dad's old crecepit office in Lancaster City.

Reminds me of a line from the "Wedding Singer" where a character says, "who the hell's going to pay 3 dollars for a cup of coffee?"

Ahh, Starbucks...

super-retraction

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"as soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy  placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied...to every kind if literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or odealogical significance...in this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the movement, ever allowed to remain on record" pg. 41 Orwell

I read this book last semester for PS 228. Obviously I know what is to come, but this section disturbed and struck me above all other events in the book. It really calls into question the trust we place in the media to report correct information. Big Brother is capitalizing on people's trust in order to make himself and the rest of the party seem infallible. It got to Winston, spending day after day falsifying truth. In Oceania, it didn't matter if you witnessed or remembered what really happened; others didn't and you would have to back up your statement with documented evidence. Unfortunately, there is an entire industry of people continually tampering with documentation to make sure your point will never get proven.There are "elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs" and "teams of actors specifically chosen for their skill in imitating voices" (43). Then you will just think you remember, as if the truth were just some dream. You would just assume either that you were just imagining the thought or that Emmanuel Goldstein was using mind-control tactics to infiltrate the Party. Instead of printing a retraction, the Party seeks to eliminate all evidence that went against what they now believe. Admitting they were wrong would make the Party seem weak and challengable. Winston's job is sort of an extreme, super retraction. The Party would rather kill (which they do) than admit they were wrong. People are eased out of existence till nothing exists to remind all others that they had once existed.

Fortunately for the Party, thoughtcrime (the rememberance of contradictory material or formulation of new ideas that went against what the Party currently said) would soon be eliminated thanks to newspeak. The elimination of old words was essential to their plan. Rebellious thoughts could not arise because there would no longer exist any words to describe them.

not to be paranoid, but with 1984 and IANS last semester, I'm really beginning to believe what I read with caution...

and now for something completely different:

weird facebook coincidence: someone hacked into my account and sent a spam message to my friends. I went around deleting it and when I clicked delete message, instead of a "message has been deleted" notification, I received a "post does not exist" message.

also, up until I read the assignment blog, I seriously thought that Orson Welles and George Orwell were the same person.

Speaking of Orwell, does anyone remember U.S. Acres? It was a cartoon on Garfield and Friends about a bunch of animals on a farm and the pig was named Orson. coincidence????

 

 

 

Necessary separation

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 "Print assured the victory of numbers or visual position early in the sixteenth century. By the later sixteenth century the art of statistics was already growing" pg.181-182

McLuhan 181-end

This ties in to the discussion we had during the last class. People really didn't begin to have major concern with dating things until around the 16th century. The writing process was still manual at the time, and people desired to find a way to speed up the accumulation and calculation of figures and numbers. Sveral different numbering systems were introduced (Roman, Arabic). John Napier, a Scottish mathemetician, invented the decimal system, logarithms (number to the the tenth, twentieth, etc. power). and the "Bones" instrument (a precursor to the calculator). It was sets of multiplication tables written on wood or bones. It was used for multiplication, division, and roots.

Then something separated letters and numbers forever. Instead of subtracting and adding from left to right (the way we read, at least in America), it was discovered that results came about much faster when operation occured from right to left. The reading habit was reversed.

This split, says Nef, that led to the discoverey and separation of letters and numbers, which is why the arts and sciences are still separate today. Their developments depended on the separation.

With print came the desire to organize information. If it was to be written for generations to view, it had to be correct and not just a paraphrase. Thus mathematical figures became of great importantce. In trying to economize time spent on work, the split of science and art occured. We went off in different directions, using different methods to discover, all because of manuscript and literacy. "without modern literacy...we would not have science, philosophy, written law or literature, nor the automobile or the airplanes" (Biakolo 43).


Necessary separation

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 "Print assured the victory of numbers or visual position early in the sixteenth century. By the later sixteenth century the art of statistics was already growing" pg.181-182

McLuhan 181-end

This ties in to the discussion we had during the last class. People really didn't begin to have major concern with dating things until around the 16th century. The writing process was still manual at the time, and people desired to find a way to speed up the accumulation and calculation of figures and numbers. Sveral different numbering systems were introduced (Roman, Arabic). John Napier, a Scottish mathemetician, invented the decimal system, logarithms (number to the the tenth, twentieth, etc. power). and the "Bones" instrument (a precursor to the calculator). It was sets of multiplication tables written on wood or bones. It was used for multiplication, division, and roots.

Then something separated letters and numbers forever. Instead of subtracting and adding from left to right (the way we read, at least in America), it was discovered that results came about much faster when operation occured from right to left. The reading habit was reversed.

This split, says Nef, that led to the discoverey and separation of letters and numbers, which is why the arts and sciences are still separate today. Their developments depended on the separation.


A little egotistical

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“characteristic mode of manuscript culture. Not only did it foster minute textual attention, meditation in depth, and much memorization: adjusting the work to the preparation of each, they proceeded to condense and to simplify the matter taught in order to facilitate its study and to present it in a compact form.” pg. 98  Mcluhan 91-180

So maybe this is a reason that Socrates feared the change from oral into manuscript. Maybe he did not want his work condensed and simplified.

It is true that by re-writing the works of the masters, the student’s minds were opened to new concepts. They had to think about what they were writing.

Aquinas, comparing writing to the teachings of Jesus, said that the author’s words and thoughts should be so effective on the listeners that they would be imprinted in their minds. There would be no need, Aquinas thought, to write down the teachings because they would always be remembered by the listeners and spread to others.

Some considered speech “knowledge in action.” Socrates felt that his words would be profound enough that they would stick in his pupils’ minds. There was no foreseen need for him to write down his teachings. Does that seem a little egotistical? Thank God for Plato, though.

This is definitely going into my thesis paragraph.

!@$#^&^(%^&$&^%@#&!!!!!!

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my hardrive crashed last night. GGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Fonzie and Harry

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"(your house, can tell us the position books occupy in your life), if they are a defense you set up to keep the outside world at a distance, if they are a dream into which you sink as if into a drug, or bridges you cast toward the outside, toward the world that interests you so much that you want to multiply and extend its dimensions through books"
138 Calvino

it is interesting that books can mean different things to different people. Shy people can hide behind books; to others, they are escapes, sort of like therapy. The part about books as drugs is true. Many of us get attached to the characters in the book we are reading. At the end of the book, we are left with a melancholy feeling, wondering how the characters lives continue beyond the pages. Our addiction is fed with a series of books. There is a continous forward; everything is always changing. New surprises are around every bend, and we (carefully) race towards WHAT IS TO BE. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Nothing lasts forever. An author cannot continually churn out new books in a series. The story will get stale, plots will begin to repeat. This is why long-running series (plural) have to end. It is not the characters that people grew tired of watching; it is the fact that the characters cannot run into an exciting problem forever. Our minds are limited; the writers will run out of steam eventually. Under pressure to come up with ideas, some may think of outlandish situations that do not fit the character at all. In television, this term is called "jumping the shark", coined due to an episode of Happy Days wherein Fonzie waterskiied over a shark (while in his leather jacket, I might add). Jumping the shark means that a series is past its prime; increasinly rediculous storylines make you think,"what the hell?"

here it is; I know you were waiting for it: a Harry Potter reference:

the series, for me, was a bridge. Not into a world I wanted to be, but one that I knew never could be. While Harry's world contains a lot of things I would love to have in ours (flying brooms, invisibility cloaks, the ability to change our appearances at will), there are also a lot of problems with his world. Basically, everyone is walking around carrying a concealed weapon. With great power, comes along someone who abuses it. The abiltites that people in the wizarding world have can be very dangerous when put in the wrong hands. For seven years, Harry lived in constant fear, with knowledge that someone out there was trying to kill him and would keep trying until he succeeded. I would never want to experience that. Harry Potter is a fantasy: full of things that would be really cool to have, but things that would not be practical for society. People abuse guns, and they would probably abuse magic if given the oppourtuniy. For now, I'll stick to a Honda Acura Integra instead of a Firebolt.

Harry Potter had to end. Evil cannot go on forever; sooner or later something has to stop it. The boy could only have taken so much before he would have broken down. Humans cannot go on forever. Since Rowling was writing about humans (albeit fictional ones), she had to be realistic.

There was nothing left. The obstacle had been destroyed. There was a new stasis. The major force got what he wanted: Voldemort was gone, and would never come back. The balance of the world was restored. Without Voldemort, the series would have been about (sort-of) everyday people. No one wants to read a story where Harry goes to work in the morning, putters around the office, and then comes back home to Ginny. Novels are not made up of the ordinary.

After Hamlet died, there was no reason to continue; after the house burned down, Jane and Rochester settled into a normal life; Cosette and Marius got married and Javert was dead; Algernon and John both got their ladies; and Yank got crushed to death by the gorilla; and Alice woke up from the dream. No need to continue.

*Hamelt, Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Hairy Ape, Alice in Wonderland


There's no place like gnome

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"A Greensburg man accused of assaulting his stepdaughter with a gardem gnome early Wednesday was arrested"
Greensburg Man Attacks Daugther With Garden Gnome

I typed in local news in Westmoreland County and there it was. In a druken rage, the girl's step-father cut all the telphone lines, punched holes in the wall, and pushed his step-daughter. But why a gnome? The girl managed to push the drunken man outside onto the porch where he grabbed a garden gnome.

This story may seem trivial to many readers, but I think we can take some tips from it. For instance, the man arrvied back at his house at 4 a.m. drunk. Where did he get liquor at that hour? No person should be drinking during the prime sleep hours. Maybe we can take a cue from Charles Morrison; maybe the county should re-evaluate what the cut-off time for bars and liquor store sales should be. He shouldn't have even been drunk in the first place; this situation could have been prevented.

Moreover, the man could have killed somebody driving home. Maybe the county could start a "bar bus" service, where all customers inebriated at closing time are driven home safe and secure. But that still doesn't solve the problem of what would happen at home once the bus dropped him off.

The Setonian could springboard off this breaking news story. Since the focus is on community journalism this semester, maybe some of us could do some research (get ahold of some police reports and back articles) and examine how much of a problem (if any) drunk driving and alcohol-related crimes are in the county. Perhaps our students would have some suggestions as to how to apporach this problem. It would certainly involve the community. This article just peaked my interest; how many incidents like this one have occured?

finally

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"can I do a victory jig in the parking lot?" me to the DMV lady

 

at around 2:15 on Macrh 1st, 2008, I finally got my license.

I guess its true what they say: the 7th time is the charm.

and yes, I did do the victory jig.

"your dominant passion is the impatience to erase the disturbing effects of that arbitrariness or distraction, to re-establish the normal course of events" pg. 26 Calvino

The author seems to have the uncanny abiltity to get inside of the reader's heads. He is correct: I am wondering when the book is going to get back on track. What is the connection between that first chapter with the man in the suitcase and the rest of the story? Moreover, why is there an interruption of "real life" at the end of every chapter. At this point in time, I don't know where the story is going ("you don't know yet in which direction it will carry you" pg. 26). The only solid thing thusfar is that the "reader" has a thing for Ludmilla. More towards the beginning of the novel, I was thinking of how jumpy and scattered the direction the book seemed to be heading towards when Calvino wrote "a bit unfocused his way of telling a story, too much so for me" (28). There seemed to be hope that one of the stories had a bit on continuity, the one with the boy leaving the Kauderer's, but that hope fizzled out for me several dozens pages later.

What is going on, who is Jan, why was he killed, and what on earth does the man with the suitcase have to do with the man who lived with the Kauderer's or Jojo? Maybe in the end all will come together.

maybe.....