November 2009 Archives
"In a 1999 survey sponsored by the First Amendment Center, 53% of Americans
said they believed the press has too much freedom" (Haiman 73)
I disagree with 53% of America. But I agree with Thomas Jefferson:
"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being
lost. To the sacrifice of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding
that of peace of mind and even reputation" (Jefferson, qtd in Haiman 73).
I don't feel like I know enough about all the loopholes and difficulties of journalism to get overly opinionated about the state of the press. Things tend to get askew concerning journalism. For example, I know for sure that lying is wrong. Yet is misrepresenting a topic also lying? I'd say yes. But what if "the other side" refuses to comment or, as I feel is often the case, it's simply impossible to incorporate every viewpoint in an article? Is that misrepresentation still lying?
When these lines are blurred, as they often are, the public sharpens their pitchforks, heats up the tar, and gathers the feathers for some reporter hunting. Hey, I've been misquoted in the paper before, I know how frustrating that can be. And I agree with everyone who says reporters need to take heed not to abuse their power.
With great power comes great responsibility. In case anyone missed the Spiderman movie.
What bothered me about the aforementioned poll taken regarding freedom of the press is that it made me wonder what freedom would that 53% of America want taken away from reporters? What a slippery slope to stumble down. The public needs to also take responsibility for the news, because the public is what gives the news its power. Reward what's "good" news and watch discriminately.
*I'm not the only one whose spidey-sense went off at this message. For some more super-hero references check out Greta's blog. Michelle also talks about reader responsibility in her blog, and gives some ways to fact check our sources.
"Who are you?"
"Ask me who I was." (Dickens 20)
I enjoyed this exchange, and found Marley's retort to Scrooge to be fitting. I can stand in front of a group and tell them about the person I am, and they may or may not find what I have to say worth their time. However, the chances of them caring increase if I can tell them a little about the person I was before this point in time.
Really, the destination means very little without mention of the journey.
Marley wasn't so lucky as to be able to show off his destination and journey. Instead of a congenial, "So, who are you, buddy?" from Scrooge, Marley got a stricken, doubtful, "Who are you??" And instead of being able to reassure Scrooge with, "OK, this looks bad, but think about where I was before," Marley had to say, "If you think this seems horrible, just consider what I did with my life pre-chains."
-A more pessimistic sidenote: At this point wasn't Scrooge's journey about over? I have to agree with Karyssa on this point, the guy seems pretty old. Maybe that's because of all the movie adaptations, but he's going to redeem himself of a lifetime of miserly actions with a few years penance? Ah, well, people get attached to their Christmas tales, so I'll let it ibe.
"Mind! I don't mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of iron-mongery in the trade" (Dickens 9).
I'm a fan of the benevolent narrator, and it always excites me to read a story where we have one guiding us through a plot. Part of why I enjoy it is that it adds a new layer to the story, and it provides new opportunities for humor, like we just see above when the narrator wonders why a door-nail is deader than any other nail. When there's a benevolent narrator, the author gets a chance to direclty address reader concerns the way he/she couldn't straight-forwardly do if the pov was different. The asides throughout A Christmas Carol are enjoyable, and made the well-worn story slightly newer.
Well, that was my "hallo, whoop hallo" for the benevolent narrator.
I was surprised that, first of all, that the story was so short (yeah, this was the first time I've read it, sorry), and second of all, that out of all of the adaptations I've seen, many have actually been fairly accurate representations of the novel. I'm not saying there's not a lot going on throughout this story, but the plot is not one that major storylines need to be dropped in order to make it a watchable movie. Has anyone ever seen an adaptation of A Christmas Carol that has been waaaay off the mark? Just curious.
"First, an obvious external cause [for the drop of English majors]: money." - William M. Chace The Decline of the English Department
Yeah, my choice of majors earns sometimes earns looks of mixed amusement and sympathy, and the immediate follow-up question, "So what're you going to do with that degree? Teach?"
As Aja points out on her blog, many people majoring in English do so with the hopes of becoming teachers. Great, the world needs teachers. Sincere kudos to you aspiring teachers out there, because God knows I do not have the patience or the skill for it. When I laugh a little and shake my head at the "will you teach?" question, the interrigators then say, "Oh, so you want to be a journalist?"
"Uh, not really. I don't really know what I want to do. I want to write?" This last sentence always comes out as a question, a request for approval.
The questioners sigh sadly. "You're not going to make any money." And then they walk away, leaving me to my inevitable financial demise.
While the English major is technically versatile, it still has the two main doors people tend to walk through: Teaching and Journalism. I do not want to pursue a career in either field, and yet here I am, and the question I sometimes have to ask myself (when begging for loans or writing my final papers) is why. Well, the truth of the matter is I became an English major not because of any great talent I have for the field, but because of a profound lack of talent I have in all other areas of life. It's true, I am "less worse" at English. heh. So I was not originally as romantic about the field as those naturally talented people, however I found my respect and passion for English as inevitable as the bankruptcy I'm apparently going to suffer because of it.
Even though I was driven to this path paved with poverty, I can't think of anything else I'd rather do. It definitely saddens me that people are turning away from this major and demeaning its worth. Maybe the study of English is hard to defend, because its best attributes must be worded in a slightly philosophical way, and our world has become less appreciative and trusting of anything not purely factual. I can write until my hands fall off about how literature reveals common ground for us to walk upon, allows hard-won truths to blossom, and makes the aches and pains of life bearable, but people want dollar signs. Hey, I can relate, if for no other reason than the fact I've grown used to eating over the past 20 years. And yet, I can't help falling back on that old cliche, money isn't everything.
"The analysis of even a short poem, however, can grow long because of the need to descibe word positions and stresses and also to determine the various effects" (Roberts 197).
All the more reason to make sure your prosody explanation passes the tried and true "So What?" test. As with everything in literature, have a reason for what you write. For example, stating a poem has an A B A B rhyme scheme and leaving it at that does not further your thesis. Even if your professor specifically asks you to right about prosody, it still should be tied into a greater theme. What does the poet accomplish by applying those techniques? What mood is enhanced? Do the practices add to or detract from the tone?
Just make sure when you're refering to prosody, you're not just going through the motions. It's great to be skilled in scansion, but always make sure your observations are encompassed by your thesis.
I'm going to quote this poem and my reactions while reading this poem, just to see if anyone was on a similar wave-length. Begining from line 33:
"Prophyria worshipped me; surprise
Made my heart swell, and still it grew..."
Aww. The speaker's god complex is a little annoying, but they loooove each other.
"While I debated what to do.
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
Perfectly pure and good..."
Well, he appreciates her. How nice.
A thing to do...
He's going to buy her a gift? That'd be a thing to do. Kind of lame, but there might be a metaphor there somewhere.
"and all her hair
In one long yellow string I wound
Three times her little throat
And strangled her..."
Aw, how...wait...(rereads) Holy unexpected violent tendencies, Batman!
Despite Roberts' claims to the contrary in the essay on pages 201-204, I didn't see much foreshadowing in this poem, at least the first time through. The language at the begining, "The Rain set early in to-night/The sullen wind was soon awake..." etc. just served as a a type of juxtaposition for the atmosphere when Porphyria entered the house. That contrast did not strike me as odd, because how often in literature is love seen as the only bright spot in a dark world?
I truly think that in this poem the foreshadowing is interwoven so minutely into the poem that it needs to be examined on the second or third reading. Once I knew what happened, I could go back and find foreshadowing, but I didn't immediately recognize the weather or prosody for what it was. In this case, the subtle foreshadowing was clearly a good way to have that literal twist as the climax.
These are the links I've found so far. Also, today I just completed an interview with the Financial Aid department at Seton Hill, which will be a part of the story. So far there is some contrast between how Seton Hill is handling the economy crisis and how other schools are dealing with it, which I found interesting. Here's where I'm hoping the interactive part of the blogs will help me out: Is there anything about student finances and the economy that you're dying to know? -An article discussing the difficulty of landing a loan due to the credit crisis. States that of the federally backed loans, 40% of them are made through the government, and not affected by the market turmoil. -This website was listed as a source in the above article, as a website that tracks financial aid industries. -An article stating that when the economy dips, more students enroll in community colleges. -Lists the top eight part-time jobs for college students, factoring in flexibility, pay, and resume shaping. -Mayor Luke Ravenstahl proposed a 1% tax on college students. The proposal was rejected, but the Mayor wants to go through with the bid regardless.
These are the links I've found so far. Also, today I just completed an interview with the Financial Aid department at Seton Hill, which will be a part of the story. So far there is some contrast between how Seton Hill is handling the economy crisis and how other schools are dealing with it, which I found interesting. Here's where I'm hoping the interactive part of the blogs will help me out: Is there anything about student finances and the economy that you're dying to know?
-An article discussing the difficulty of landing a loan due to the credit crisis. States that of the federally backed loans, 40% of them are made through the government, and not affected by the market turmoil.
-This website was listed as a source in the above article, as a website that tracks financial aid industries.
-An article stating that when the economy dips, more students enroll in community colleges.
-Lists the top eight part-time jobs for college students, factoring in flexibility, pay, and resume shaping.
-Mayor Luke Ravenstahl proposed a 1% tax on college students. The proposal was rejected, but the Mayor wants to go through with the bid regardless.
I thought the Cavalier Daily was less overwhelming than the Harvard Crimson. I'm not a fan of the huge white space between the masthead and the "top stories" section, though that space may be what contributed to the neater look of the web page.
The pictures at the top were a good way to grab attention, but I like the Crimson's style of spreading out the images. Without that space, the Cavalier seems text-heavy, and it certainly isn't.
The article teasers at the top of the page are a good idea, but a little confusing, in my opinion. Especially since the first one reads like this:
All before a question is asked in a full sentence, which made it seem like the Cavalier was textually burping. Manners, Cavalier, manners.
The image of the print addition was a thoughtful touch. I don't know why this appealed to me so much, but I think it added visually to a page that was sadly lacking in images below the fold.
I'm going to have to go with Angela on this- I didn't find the Harvard News page that impressive. OK, the changing images at the top was pretty neat, but...Did anyone else think the pictures changed too fast? Reason #342 why I'd never get into Harvard; I can't read fast enough.
I guess I'm not really being fair, because I haven't said what I think would improve the site. Now, I am definitely not a web page master. I took a series of multimedia classes in high school, so I can sometimes hold my own in a conversation about webpages. However, it's been so long since I've used those programs (Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks...fun stuff), that I would need to take a class again just to remember everything. Anyway, the point of that trip down memory lane is that I know webpages can have animation (not just the kind that sits there and stares at you, but more interactive type images), but that can really add to loading time. After I complained about the loading time in my last blog, I don't think I can really suggest anything to make the site more interesting. Any thoughts?
My personal conclusion: The site did what it was supposed to do, but because it had the Harvard name attached to it, I, perhaps unreasonably, expected more.
The links in the article concerning Alan Moore's controversial comics serve to direct the readers to other articles or information pertaining to the linked phrase. For example, after mentioning a librarian who took some of Moore's comics out of circulation, Scott Thill links to an article that questions whether such moves are child protection or censorship, and covers the trial of the librarian who was fired for her act. Also, after mentioning a risque scene (among several) in the Watchmen graphic novel, Thill links to his review of the movie.
This observation is not link-related, but I would also like to comment on the tone of Thill's article. After reading several internet articles, I've noticed a trend in tone. The writers seem to be a bit freer on the internet to create their own voice and express their own opinions. In Thill's case, after warning his readers that the images shown below may be "shocking," he sarcastically says, "Please report your offense to the nearest God-fearing public library employee." Obviously not every web article will have the privalege of sharing the writer's opinion so clearly; it depends on the organization the writer is writing for, but I have to say I enjoy the bits of humor here and there, and the voice that marks the piece; humor and voice that are so often lacking in newspaper articles. I'm not saying you can't find them there, just that so far, it's been easier for me to find such attributes on the internet.
The multimedia feature from the Arizona Star showed me some of the perks of multimedia evergreen pieces. The ability to fit a lot of information under one topic was flaunted. The definition for a landfill was given, which in a regular news article may happen, but if words needed to be cut, you can bet this definition would be one of the first things to go. Also the videos and the pictures made for an aesthetically pleasing site, whereas a newspaper is more limited, because pretty pictures take up space, so 15 images will most likely not accompany one article.
Something I found hindersome about this site, though, was the number and length of the videos. Allowing that not everyone has an internet connection that causes videos to take ten minutes to load, watching the videos provided by the site was time-consuming--- a little too much so. Had I been just browsing the site, I guarrantee I would have skipped the majority of the videos, not for lack of interest, but for lack of patience. Greta speaks a bit more eloquently about this topic, and offers solutions in her blog.
The public's perception is that as reporters and editors discuss story assignments,
they typically have a preconceived notion of the story line and the sources to be interviewed.
This means that instead of taking a fresh look at the topic and casting a wide
net for sources who can talk about it authoritatively, the story is framed based on what
is known or suspected, or how the reporter thinks about what is known or suspected (Haiman 58).
This is more of a push for flexibility than a scolding for preconceived notions. I think it's natural to have an idea of where a story's going to go. No matter how unbiased you try to be, it's pointless to pretend that you don't have opinions or thoughts.
However, the public's problem is not that journalists aren't robots. Their problem seems to be that journalists pick the path of the story before looking at different angles. Maybe use the obvious sources as stepping stones to the less considered. Bypassing sources early in the intervieweing process because they will take your story a slightly different direction is not honest. Just remember, especially with investigative reporting, to think outside the box.
And what if, after all that digging there's no story? Sometimes that happens, and it's better to concede that a story did not exist than to print something biased and untrue.
In my search of the New York Times website, I found a slideshow titled "The Frugal Traveler Sails the Caribbean." The pictures on this slideshow range from a shot of the sun reflecting off the ocean, to a scene of a meal eaten aboard a ship.
Now, when searching the Times' website, there was no shortage of multimedia to entertain. Truly, I have no trouble understanding the presence of videos and audio clips, which could not be shown in the paper, but at first I was puzzled over the slideshow, pictures that could've been included in a publication.
It didn't take long for me to get a better grasp on the "why" of slideshows. First, while some people who read the New York Times may visit the website, the site can also be viewed by those of us who do not have such lofty reading habits, so even if the pictures could be included in a paper, the audience is also made of those who would not know if the pictures were there or not. Secondly, there were 12 pictures in the slideshow. That's a little excessive for one story, where room is limited. On a website, if one has 12 pictures he/she wants to include, space is not such an issue. Viewers can capture the beauty of a Caribbean trip in 12 photos instead of one.
"Indeed there is great benefit and pleasure to be derived from just savoring a work-- following the patterns of narrative and conflict, getting to like the characters, understanding the world's implications, and suggestions....Nevertheless, ideas are vital to understanding and appreciating literature: Writers have ideas and want to communicate them" (Roberts 120).
I know we keep coming back to this, but I think it's necessary to stress: Literature should be enjoyed. I know we all had issues with The Quick and the Dead, and some of us had problems with John Henry Days, because the books were difficult to follow, and even summarizing certain chapters of those books would have been a chore. However, I still enjoyed The Quick and the Dead (I liked John Henry Days, too, but I'm just going to focus on one of the books). Many of the lines were extremely poetic; some chapters read more like prose than an actual novel. The author interspersed some humor within the text, and the characters ,while strange, were fun to get to know.
If someone asked me what was going on at the end, I would probably excuse myself while I went to find the book, and never come back, but I can still say the book was one of my favorites this semester. Even while we search for meaning throughout text, let's not forget the reason most of us chose to study English in the first place: love of reading.
SMIRNOV: I'm offering my hand in marriage. Yes or no? You don't want to? You don't need to! (Gets up and quickly goes to the door)
MRS. POPOV: Wait!
MRS. POPOV: Nothing...you can go...go away...wait...No, get out, get out! I hate you! But-- don't go! Oh, if you wonly knew how furious I am, how angry...What are you waiting for? Get out!
MRS. POPOV: Yes, yes, go away! Where are you going?
This play reminded me of Wuthering Heights, with the love/hate relationship, and the declarations of devotion chasing the orders of exile. In Wuthering Heights, despite the two very unlikeable main characters, the reader know that the redeeming quality of Heathcliff and Cathy is their love...even if they are constantly making bad choices at bad times.
In "The Bear," love again has its work cut out for it. Between Mrs. Popov, who has already declared herself dead, and Smirnov, a hothead who hates all women, it really doesn't seem as though much of a relationship is possible. First, because any relationship would have to figuratively overcome death itself (since Mrs. Popov has said she is buried within the four walls of her home), and second because Smirnov wants nothing to do with the opposite sex. However, despite all of these obstacles, the two are surprisingly a good match. They've both disappointed by love before, and both claim to have given up on love; they already have a lot in common.
"It's a new begining, but by her sights it hasn't been paid for yet. There's some blood to be paid. John Henry spilled his, for the railroad, for his fellow workers, for Talcott and Hinton. Where will this weekend's come from?" (363)
Well, we know and we don't. We know some journalists end up dead, but we don't know which ones. I don't think there's any point in me speculating here on which ones died, or if J. was one of them, because there are going to be a thousand different opinions...I'm just going to comment on the blogs of other people who discuss that particular point. heh.
The question I'd like to ask here, pertaining to this quote, is why? Why is the price of progress life? To answer that, we need to look at what these stories are deeming progress. Several subplots are going on here, a few competitions, but the main two that keep coming up are Man vs. Machine and Black vs White.
The Man vs Machine scenario brings up a rather obvious answer. The reason blood is the price for this kind of progress, is we have to make room for the steam engines of our time. Some are willing to step aside for the sake of progress. Some aren't. Those who aren't are basically forcibly removed by the stronger force. How does one "remove" human beings who want to be immobile? Well, that's when some blood is involved.
The question of race brings us much the same answer. Some people are willing to integrate the races, accept the fact we're equal. Some aren't. Two different views, both sides considering themselves the side of Progress, and that is where blood is involved here.
Timeliness and Coverage:
-Imagery is so intricate in literature, sometimes we read it without even recognizing what it is. However, there are a few difficulties in creating our own imagery that this blog covers.
-Spiegelman writes with unflinching honesty, not sparing the readers the loss of humanity often suffered in the Holocaust.
-This entry covers one problem I initially had with Maus; Spiegelman airing his authorial concerns in the text.
-What happens when a reader doesn't recognize 3/4 of the words in the opening line of a poem? The confusion over allusions in "Cargoes" is discussed, as well as what makes this poem enduring.
-Poe's careful wordchoice guarantees that the moods of his stories stay consistent, even when he's talking about supposedly "pleasant" scenes.
-An extra entry, written because I reaccessed my previous entry concerning Maus, "A Bump in the Road." After class discussion, I changed my perspective on Spiegelman's inclusion of authorial concerns in Maus.
-An entry on an editorial where the author's stance is clear from the begining, yet the tone is not too forceful or insulting.
-Just an overview of what I planned to discuss in class for my oral presentation. This included a brief overview of reductive imagery, and a link to the article I found on the topic.
-A rather sentimental reaction to a poem by Keats. Why this poem reminds me of my own reactions to literature.
-Shakespeare writes about enduring themes, but a common problem discussed in class is that students are often fuzzy on what exactly the man is trying to say. Here I summarize a sonnet and opine that while Shakespeare gets criticized for using cliches, when in fact Shakespeare used these terms before they were actually cliches.
-In our class textbook, Roberts explains the importance of metaphors. I noticed a few examples he gave were over-used, and used this entry to remind myself and my classmates of the importance of originality.
-"Miss Brill" was a popular story with the class, and while I enjoyed the imagery, I couldn't help but feel the ending was somewhat contrived. This entry discusses whether that belief is supportable, and if it is, how much that contrivance takes away from the text.
-A technique for writing reports is keeping notecards of sources one is using. Here I also recommend the method, citing past experience.
-Just an overview of what I planned to talk about for my oral presentation, along with a link to the academic article that corresponded with my topic. Reductive imagery is briefly touched upon here as well.
-Why we love irony, and when irony is "appropriately frustrating."
-Hughes' poem "Theme for English B" takes on an interesting tone of respectful authority. How does Hughes manage to write in the voice of a student sharing some hard truths with his professor and never cross the line of cordiality?
-J.'s would-be death scene had me laughing. If that sounds insensitive, you really need to read this entry.
-John Henry Days reveals motive and exposition slowly. While I enjoy this style, it also leaves the reader to wonder about motive. Here I notice that Whitehead seems to name pride as a corresponding motive, but what is pushing the pride?
-We know about the shooting that takes place at the end of the book, but who is the actual shooter? This is my guess.
-When Roberts tells us images range from "river" to "hot dog," I note that imagery is a not the obscure technique students sometimes take it for. However, this doesn't mean imagery, a tool that is subtle and subjective, does not have it's own risks.
-Vladek tells his son that when the Nazis came for his grandparents, he and his family handed them over in the interest of self-preservation. This honesty is what I feel makes Maus so impressive. In this entry I explore the quesitons this type of truth can bring forth in readers.
-An inclusion of Spiegelman's authorial concerns interrupted my smooth reading of Maus. I list some reasons why I initially felt this section was unnecessary.
-Roberts states that "Cargoes" was written for a specific audience, one that would understand the allusions of the poem and be able to grasp the imagery. As I stated in several comments on my peers' blogs, I relied heavily on the footnotes of this poem. Yet I found it's theme intriguing. What kept "Cargoes" from becoming out-of-date?
-Why, when Poe places his reader in the middle of a party, do we still feel unsettled reading "Masque of the Red Death"? My theory is Poe's control of mood dominates other literary aspects like setting.
-I paid attention to my classmates' opinions, heard a little about part two of Maus, and did some research. All this led me to the conclusion that....I was wrong. This is an entry that reconsiders my original stance on a particular section in Maus.
-How can one be confident and convincing without turning away those whom he/she is trying to convince? Why even bother with the people who disagree with you in the first place? This entry answers those questions, and gives examples of how this can be done.
-Since most of the people who read my blog are interested in literature, I did not feel bad getting a little sentimental about literature. Sure, Keats beat me to it, but we all know how it feels to "discover" literature...Even if that literature has had a large number of readers for years.
-Here I break down a sonnet by Shakespeare (Shakespeare is moping, but he still has a friend!), and explain my belief that Shakespeare helped establish many cliches. Thanks, Will.
-Yes, metaphors are important. Despite Roberts' great work in the chapter concerning metaphors, I felt the need to question some of his examples, and explain why originality is important. "She was as happy as if she'd won the lottery" is a little overused. Surely we can do better than that.
-Irony celebrates our lack of control over situations, and invites us to laugh at our mistakes. You've got to love a tool that invites us to not take ourselves so seriously.
-An almost-death-scene in John Henry Days earned my laughter. It also echoes some questions my classmates and I have shared over the application of the term irony, and, more importantly, it is an example of the developing tone of the book.
-In a book set up like this, one has to wonder about the motivation of the characters. Whitehead mentions pride as an overall quality, but what is motivating this hubris? I wonder about the driving force behind this very powerful flaw.
-One creepy scene too many has me suspecting Alphonse as the culprit of the upcoming shooting. However, is Whitehead just throwing us for a loop?
Must Have More Historical Graphic Novels - Karyssa Blair
-Karyssa lists some reasons she loves historical graphic novels, especially Persepolis and Maus. I comment, first listing my own reasons, and then suggesting some other good historical fiction. This conversation lasts a while, as everyone seems to have a favorite type of historical fiction, and I can't help coming back and recommending different items.
The Authenticity of Mice - Melissa Schwenk
-A discussion about the necessity of Mala's character in Maus, a concept that I have a more encompassing view on: While Mala is important, the story could still be told without her. My comment tries to lace together some opposing views.
A Ghostly Alternative - Melissa Schwenk
-Melissa has a theory about the narrator in "Masque of the Red Death," but she's not entirely sure if it makes sense. My comment goes over several reasons why her theory fits perfectly within the logic of the story.
Want Pot? Get a Prescription - Aja Hannah
-Aja, Dave, and I have a discussion about how, depending on the author's intention, it may be prudent to be overly forceful in an editorial. Nothing attracts readers like drama. Yet, if one wants to do more than complain and insult, if one wants to persuade, it's best to keep a collected, calm tone.
What is True? Jessie Krehlik
-Here I give some examples of how Hughes' concept of begrudged unity still applies today. I also throw in my opinion on how our environment shapes who we are.
Whitehead's Writing is a River - Karyssa Blair
-My first comment is an agreement with Karyssa regarding the confusion the very extended metaphors are causing in John Henry Days. My second comment answers a question about J.'s line of work.
The Hitler in Every Generation - Jessica Orlowski
-Jessica draws some great parallels here between J. and John Henry, and a concert and Nazi Germany. I give my opinion that the sacrifices aren't over, and try to show how this belief matches with the theme of the novel so far.
A Ghostly Alternative - Melissa Schwenk
-Here I list several detailed reasons why I believe the narrator in "Masque of the Red Death" is a ghost. I attempt to answer the questions in Melissa's blog precisely.
Finding a Lifeline - Melissa Schwenk
-Gladys posts a comment that has some questions about editorials and our classmates' reaction to some of them. I give a little background on the purpose of editorials, and try to answer her.
Anned One More Mention - Karyssa Blair
-Just an example of comment primo, basically. Also, here I list some differences between the metaphor Karyssa gave, and the metaphors Roberts provides as examples.
Whitehead's Writing is a River - Karyssa Blair
-In a comment, Carissa questions the nature of J.'s career, and why, if he's relatively successful, he is so cheap. I share some of my knowledge about the nature of freelancing as a job, to try to clear up some confusion.
-Here I link to Cody's blog, since he also discusses the techniques Spiegelman uses to portray the Holocaust.
-Aja also writes about using notecards as a tool for research papers, so I link to her in my entry.
-Since J. is confused about irony, and a conversation that covers the same topic takes place in Karyssa's blog, I link to hers.
-This blog provoked discussion about honesty in Holocaust literature, and the enduring question, "What would I do in that situation?" Also, many book suggestions are listed here. We couldn't help ourselves.
-Dave, Aja, and I talk about tone in an editorial, and remembering one's audience.
-Brooke, Aja, and I agree that even though Shakespeare is sometimes a little over our heads, he knew how to pick enduring themes. We also question why the turn of the sonnet takes place so late and is so brief.
-First there's the initial bonding of those of us who have found our grasp on irony a little less stable than we'd like it to be. Then there's some understanding. Also, the discussion contains a choking anectdote, and some different opinions on J.'s character.
-A discussion of what motive the characters could possibly have for the things they do. What drives these people? My classmates have some very astute theories.
-This is an example of my willingness to go back to an issue that I've changed my mind about, and share my new thoughts. I actually felt so strongly about my change of heart, that some of these concepts are a part of my final paper for this class.
"Investigative journalism is finding, reporting and presenting news which other people try to hide. It is very similar to standard news reporting, except that the people at the centre of the story will usually not help you and may even try to stop you doing your job."
Ah, yes. The joys of investigative reporting. Actually, this is kind of a perverse fact, because in certain ways, it takes away some fun of journalism, but in others, it adds more fun to the process. Allow me to explain.
One of the things I really enjoyed about our previous articles was that my sources, especially the "experts" on my topic, were willing to provide quotes and very helpful. It's a win-win situation if you're talking to the right people, because you want accurate information from someone not afraid to talk into a tape recorder, and your they want a chance to share their knowledge concerning a topic they're passionate about. Teamwork is a beautiful thing.
Now enters the big brother of all types of journalism. Investigative journalism is the kind of writing most people initially think of when they imagine journalism. Sneaking into a cult and somehow avoiding the Kool-Aid; buddying up to a crooked businessman who is ripping off the workers of America; or tiptoeing through a factory to find out what really goes into hotdogs: Investigative reporting just seems exciting. Of course, now that we're attempting to write our own investigative reports, we know it's not all capers and fake names. However one thing stays the same: We may have to work a little harder to find sources.
It would be nice, but unlikely for someone to walk up to one of us and say, "Why, yes, I have been skimming off the top of the tuition funds at SHU, and I'd really like you to write an article about it." Ergo, the investigation. Also the need to really, really make sure you can back up the quotes you do manage to get. People are more likely to lie about this than SHU's homecoming, so this, my fellow investigative reporters, is a call for dilligence.
Good luck all, and don't forget your pseudonyms.
"He watches the locomotive pass, and he turns to face the mountain. The train will slither into the tunnel, the new tunnel that replaced the one John Henry dug a few yards over. John Henry's tunnel didn't stand the test of time, the roof gave in, and they built the new tunnel adjacent, according to modern specifications. Obsolete.
He can't help it; he looks up at the mountain and finally gets confirmation of his fate" (Whitehead286).
Though I'm not much of a gambler, if I had to bet on who the shooter was at this point, my money'd be on Alphonse. (Don't get excited. I have no money, so this is hypothetical in more than one way) Obviously there's the chance that Whitehead is purposely trying to mislead us, but I think it's safe to say that we're at least supposed to have our suspicions about Alphonse as the shooter. One example of Whitehead's leading is that Alphonse decided not to take part in a shooting game, because he thought it would be "perverse" in light of his planned actions the next afternoon.
The text quoted above provides partial motive for whatever action Alphonse is planning on taking "tomorrow afternoon." Alphonse feels obsolete; as though he's no longer useful/needed. His wife doesn't speak to him and he has no children. The not-having-children thing seems to be a sore spot for Alphonse, who thinks "he has smaller hands, but he could take a smaller hand in his own and lead," and also, "He has things he could pass on to someone, a message to communicate beyond tomorrow's dispatch" (282).
Obviously I'm not saying these are good reasons to go on a shooting spree, or that there are good reasons to do such a thing, but these are the motives we're shown. I wouldn't be surprised if the shooter turns out to be someone completely unexpected, but Alphonse is not sending out the sunshine-iest vibes.
"Moreover, another said, if you believe that having a diverse staff is essential to covering the news fully and fairly, then the fact ofdiversity itself is an important qualification to be considered" (Haiman 45-46).
I'm glad that this section was included in the chapter, because, frankly, there's a lot that can go wrong when trying to ensure one has a diverse staff. What happens when there is a white man is more qualified than minority members, but denied a job because he's not a minority? This particular problem is so frustrating, because I can see where it is necessary to have this safety net that attempts to ensure someone isn't turned away because of race or gender, but then...people end up getting turned away because of race and gender. However, the above quote shows why this practice is sometimes necessary. Diversity is a factor, too.
"But there also was a fear expressed that progress in race relations and in newspaper coverage of minority community issues might be leveling off as journalists lost enthusiasm for the effort"(Haiman 44).
This is more important, in my opinion, than any other potential solution. Yes, I am admittedly tired of having issues of race and gender brought up, because I think we as a society should be past that. However, we're not, and it's here the call for a constant, passionate awareness of justice is sounded. Journalists should always ask themselves if they are fairly representing minorities, both in the quantity and quality of their stories.
Coverage and Timeliness:
-For this entry, we were assigned to pick a breaking new story we thought would cycle. I chose three articles (better safe than sorry), one dealing with the investigation into the death of a child; the second concerning the trial of a young boy for murdering his father's girlfriend; and the third about a drug bust involving 29 people, the result of an 18-month investigation.
-This entry is a follow-up of the previous one. The article that cycled in two days was the piece about the investigation into the death of the child. I note in this entry that there was not much more to tell the second time around, except for more details into the investigation, which it seems the police were now able to give.
-Here I explain why journalists should avoid vague references to sources, such as, "many people say" or "it is a very popular belief." I also share some of my own frustrations while on the receiving end of such obscurity.
-A comment on Haiman's chapter, followed by a question of where responsibility lies. Haiman states in his book that the editors should make accuracy a higher priority, and I question why not start with the journalists.
-After my own forray into the land of anonymous sources, I read this chapter from Haiman and better understood why such quotes should be avoided. This entry is an explaination of the why's and how's of avoiding anonymous sources, and also an observation about why people may be more comfortable leaving their names out of things.
-How can a reporter be a compassionate human being and still get all the facts and quotes a story needs? What are the ethics of interviewing "the average citizen" and how should strategy change when these people are in vulnerable situations?
-How does one attain diversity in a newspaper? Have a diverse staff. But what happens when qualified white men get turned away from jobs because of race and gender? This entry explores the catch 22 of avoiding discrimination.
-This entry touches on the importance of conclusions: What should they be, as opposed to a summary of the thesis? Here I share some advice I was given about conclusions. The entry also advises against the use of "many, many people" as a phrase in journalism. The reasons this doesn't work, and the reliability that is lost when it is used, is discussed here.
-Though I agree mainly with a point Haiman makes, I question whether or not he is shifting responsibility away from journalists. Here I give reasons why accuracy should start with the journalist, and move up the ladder.
-Anonymous sources can be a quick fix to a big problem: What happens when someone is willing to give you a quote, but not a name? Anonymous sources can also sometimes be the only way to get a quote, especially if the topic of an article veers from traditional paths. However, the ethics of using anonymous sources are questionable, and the weight these sources put on the paper's reliability is not worth the gain. This entry discusses these problems.
-How do the goals of a journalist change in the midst of tragedy, and how can a person "learn sensitivity"? I read a little more into the text, bringing up these questions and answering them.
-While I agree that something needs to be done to avoid discrimination in the news, I also point out that there is no perfect solution. Is discriminating against white men any better than discriminating against minorities? And why should we still be talking about race and gender at all? This blog answers these questions.
Preaching to the Choir- Matt Henderson
-Matt outlines the importance of remembering your audience, especially in a persuasive piece. I agree with Matt's points about maintaining a calm, rational tone, because in an editorial, one goal is to convince the unconvinced. However, someone disagrees with my comment, and a discussion ensues.
Whether You're Complaining or Praising, Just be Nice -Derek Tickle
-Derek compares an editorial to an academic article, and while Matt agrees, he points out some differences in his comment. I add my views on the matter, and why some differences are very problematic.
Be Careful What You Wish For - Greta Carroll
-In this insightful blog, Greta points out the differences between literary papers and newswriting. I comment on a very interesting aspect of the chart Greta composed: There are many similarities between the two types of writing. This observation leads to a "writing is writing" comment, lest we lose sight of the obvious.
I Wish to Remain Anonymous- Angela Palumbo
-Angela intelligently points out that even though the Haiman books lists exceptions to the "never use anonymous quotes" rule, it's really better just to leave those quotes out. A discussion follows on what to do when a source won't share his/her name, and how to move on from there.
Getting it Right- Greta Carroll
-Greta talks about ways to ensure an article is accurate and quotes are correctly used. I comment on the fact that, despite the daunting nature of talking with an expert about one's article, it is sometimes necessary. Also, checking with the person quoted to make sure their quote is being used in a way that accurately represents them is a way to be sure the paper is not losing readers because of carelessness.
Bummer Dude- Aja Hannah
-Aja talks about times when anonymous sources are necessary--Those articles about drug and alcohol use, for example, when those providing the quotes would not want their names shared. She also brings up that not being able to use anonymous sources kills these articles before they can start. A discussion on whether or not the Setonian would benefit from these types of articles takes place, and I add my opinion.
The Experienced Always Win or Not? - Derek Tickle
-Derek brings up a point from the Haiman text about the diverse treatment of people when interviewing. I comment on why this concept can be difficult to wrap our minds around, but necessary nonetheless.
You Better Have an Explanation- Greta Carroll
-In this entry, Greta states that the public is often unaware of the motivation behind certain practices of journalism. I agree with this completely, and mention that this is also the reason behind much public dissaproval of newspapers.
Sorry Mom - Aja Hannah
- A problem with viewing the news, is it makes the negative seem normal. When someone sees coverage for a robbery, suddenly it seems as though the entire world is being overtaken by criminals. Aja talks about this difficulty, and I join in the conversation.
You Better Have an Explanation - Greta Carroll
-Since Greta's entry expressed some of the same concerns as an earlier blog of Aja's, I directed her to the blog in a comment.
Sorry Mom - Aja Hannah
-The problem Aja covers in her entry is one that has concerned me for a long time with the news: Misrepresentation- which is, I feel, the fault of both the news crew and the viewers. Since this issue is one I've thought about, I share my idea for a step that would help solve the problem.
Bummer Dude - Aja Hannah
-Would an entire paper devoted to issues like drugs, violence, and alcohol drive readers away? Possibly. Would a column devoted to these topics drive readers away? I share my opinions on this question.
-Greta wrote a reflection on this entry. The link is posted in a comment.
-Derek wrote a reflection on this blog, the link to which is posted in a comment.
-A discussion about conclusions throughout the comments. What's the difference between conclusions in an academic paper and conclusions in a news article?
-OK, so a few people disagreed with my point in this entry, but by the time the discussion ended, I like to think we'd all broadened our horizons somewhat.
-Can sensitivity be learned? Some said yes, some said no, some thought it was a horrible notion that sensitivity could be missing in the first place. Overall, we all had something to bring to the table in this conversation.
-Since this is my most recently added entry, it has not had the time to generate interaction that the others have had, however, I still think this is one of my stronger pieces. This entry demonstrates my ability to look beyond the text, while still applying what I've learned to come to my own conclusion.
"'You could always not go,' J. says. 'No one's forcing you to these things.'
One Eye clucks his teeth. 'You're going fo the record and telling me this.' J. doesn't say anything" (126).
As this book progresses, I find that I'm falling into the normal pattern of a reader. At first, I was confused, maybe a little annoyed, because for the entirety of Part 1, not much made sense. While this uncertainty does not occur for me at the begining of all books, the more contemporary novels I read, the more I notice the authors seem to be more patient in building their tales, and trusting readers to emulate their willingness to wait. By the time I'd read parts 2 and 3, I had more of a grasp on the characters, and more of an idea as to what was happening. I've been trying to infer each piece of the parallel between the John Henry story and the story of the other characters, but in order for this to actually happen, I still need that one snippet of information: Motive.
We don't have it for either John Henry or J. We're hardpressed to find it for the other characters as well. Though, unlike with our last reading, The Quick and the Dead, I'm confident loose ends will be tied up. So this isn't a critique of the novel for witholding information, merely a statement. We don't know why (or at this point, really even if) John Henry decided to challenge that machine. We don't know what's pushing J. to go for the record, J. who seems so aloof and cynical about other aspects of life. We don't know why One Eye wants off the list, though he seems ready to tell us through J., J. has of yet refused to listen. We also don't know why Pamela wants to keep the John Henry items her father collected. We can guess it's because they're a part of her father, but after her exposition about the sibling rivalry between her and John Henry, we're probably more accurate in assuming that getting rid of the artifacts would cleanse her pysche and preserve a happy memory of her father more than keeping the pieces would.
So far, I'm readily guessing pride as a motivation for both John Henry and J., maybe even for One Eye and Pamela. But I want to see what other strings are attached to this, because it's never just pride. There's more to it than that. The motivation for pride is what I hope we discover in the concluding sections.
Even though I was completely confused by what was going on in the first chapter with the man, I like J. When he started to choke and wonder if he was going to die (sidenote: I always thought choking would be a very unfortunate way to go. I imagine the spirits of the people who've died from choking go around for eternity with rather sheepish expressions), I was genuinely upset. Though his would-be last thoughts did make me laugh:
"Surely he isn't choking. It won't go down. He's going to die on a junket? This is some far-out shit, this is a fucking ironic way to go. Is he using ironic correctly? The copy editors are going to kill him. They are really cracking down on the misuse of the word ironic, it's like this global cabal of comma checkers and run-on sentences and fragments" (76).
Sorry, J., but as I made clear in my comments on Karyssa's blog, I tend to overthink irony, and will be no help in determining the truth-value of your last thoughts.
Another reason I chose this section to quote, besides the fact that J. shares my fogginess on the use of the term ironic, is that it really captures the tone of the novel so far (at least when we're seeing things from J.'s perspective). There's the disbelieving, but still distant tinge to J.'s thoughts, "He's going to die on a junket?" Even when J. was being driven on a backroad and was starting to suspect that the driver could be taking him to the woods to kill him, J.'s thoughts remained wry. He refers to the driver as "Caleb" (21), and states that the backwoods hillbillies who kill him and eat him, will probably let him boil while they watch tv, "entire public access shows devoted to dark meat recipes" (22).
You've got to love a man who can make a joke when he's dying. Though, I'm sure the fact that J.'s maybe-last thoughts made me laugh would not be a huge comfort to him.
So will my page be colored that I write? (26)
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you. (34-35)
In chapter 11 of Roberts, we're told that the author's tone often shows his/her attitude towards the reader. The examples Roberts gives are basically if a writer mentions a certain event, he's clearly expecting that his reader will know about the occurrence. However, the type of attitude displayed in this poem is really what I had in mind when Roberts mentioned tone in relation to an author's feelings towards his/her readers.
The blunt honesty and sharp sarcasm create a nice blend for this poem, because even though Hughes is adhereing to the assignment and being true, he still makes his point with a couple pointed remarks (such as those quoted above). Hughes' tone betrays wry frustration with racial situations, and a fierce belief in the unity of Americans: Even if he "[doesn't] often want to be a part of [his instructor]," he states that they learn from each other.
Did I steal my blog title from a facebook bumper sticker? Yes. Yes, I did.
Irony is one of my favorite aspects in literature. I love when writers convey the fact that things are out of our control, no matter how competent we are. I love when readers get to uncover the bigger picture along with the characters, and end up jointly taking their limited knowledge with them to a premature conclusion. I especially love when something goes completely awry, and the author gives us the figurative nod of approval, saying, "It's OK to laugh at this."
Sometimes, though, irony is appropriately frustrating.
"[Dramatic irony] happens when a character either has no information about a situation or else misjudges it, but readers see everything completely and correctly" (Roberts 169).
There are times it's difficult to sit through a book, play, or television show and watch a character routinely make an idiot out of himself/herself. I've sat through many movies with my face in my hands, suppressing a groan as the protagonist walks into embarrassment. While it's tough to watch at times, once it's over I can always give a laugh of appreciation, because I've definitely put myself in an admirable number of awkward situations.
**My own story of dramatic irony: To graduate from my high school, one must have all her books returned to the library. I was notified one of my books was long-overdue, and I went down to talk with the librarian. After being advised by my friends to check my locker, and responding bitingly that of course I had already checked my locker, I spent a half-hour arguing with the librarian, noting that I had never turned a book in late, so someone must have failed to rescan the book and improperly reshelved it. The librarian profusely apologized, and I smugly went back to my locker to pick up my books for my next class. Of course, there sat my library book. Proudest. Moment. Ever.
"Citizens thrust into the news by crisis or tragedy deserve different treatment
than politicians, executives or others who are sophisticated about dealing with
the media" (Haiman 32).
In cases where an accident has just occurred or a tragedy has just been witnessed, the goals of journalism differ from when one is interviewing the president on a new policy or a mayor about discovered affair in his office. Here, the reporter must remember that he/she is not trying to uncover a deep, dark secret, or hoping for the interviewee to slip and say too much; the job is to humanize a tragedy, to make sense of chaos, and to show the effects of unfortunate events.
It was interesting to read that "sensitivity can be learned." I agree with that, and I also agree with the practice of having journalists discuss ethical dilemmas with their editors, and undergo special training for such trying times.
When reading "Miss Brill," the imagery immediately jumped out at me. The last few pieces of literature we've read, have contained imagery that expanded concepts (Frost compares his loneliness to a desert, Shakespeare equates his age to the season, Poe uses a man to represent the upperclass), however in "Miss Brill," Katherine Mansfield has her character represent her surroundings in a comparatively smaller scale. Obviously, Mansfield is not the only author to take this route (using imagery this way makes things manageable for the reader), but this approach did bring up another question: What does this route mean for the story?
My search for an academic article yielded the piece, "Reductive Imagery in Miss Brill." The article touches upon the topics I've just discussed, and also mentions some problems critics have with Mansfield's story (over-simplification, a contrived ending). While I do think there are some problems with the story (mainly, my unhappiness lies with the contrived ending), Mansfield's language is very rich, and she skillfully paints realistic scenery. Hopefully, all of this can be fully covered in my presentation tomorrow.