Monthly Archives: February 2018

Calvino, Through Ch 3

As we begin our next unit in our Media and Culture course, I was pleasantly surprised as I read the first few chapters of “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” by Italo Calvino. The rare second person point of view immediately immerses you in the story and engages you as a reader. Also interesting about the novel is its structure, which is like stories within a story. In a way, the novel reminded me of the musical “The Drowsy Chaperone,” which is described as “a show within a show.”

Another interesting aspect of the book is how the first chapter describes the basic process in which most people read. However, the second person point of view writes this in a directional way, telling you how to prepare to read the book. Calvino touched on how books affect culture as well. One sentence that stuck out to me was when he said:

“Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears.” (8)

Calvino does not stray away from pointing out issues with culture in general in addition to reading, and as we move forward in this book, this novel will definitely help me achieve the course goal of learning how the book influences culture.

I also found it interesting that the main character (technically you as the reader) has faced similar situations as the protagonists of the three books the main character has read so far. I wonder if could symbolize the similarity between the plots of novels.

Source: Calvino, through Ch 3

Media and Culture Portfolio 1

Cover Post:

Throughout my first few weeks in the Topics in Media and Culture course, I have already thoroughly utilized my blog to demonstrate my knowledge. As I analyzed my blog posts, I was pleased that many of my responses exemplified one of the categories listed below. While there is still room for improvement, I am very content with the depth of my responses and the risks I have taken early in the semester.

Depth:

My first post this semester that I felt exemplified depth was Introduction to the Canons of Rhetoric. I dedicated a paragraph to each of the five canons of rhetoric and analyzed how each was important to giving a speech.

As I read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, my posts about each day of the book grew more detailed as well. My Eco: Fourth Day response was the first that I felt began to exemplify depth. I wrote a lot about one of the quotes from that section, including what that quote implied about the character of William.

I continued to add depth in my Eco: Fifth Day response. I wrote a few paragraphs where I analyzed different aspects of that section in the novel, especially the contrast between the characters of William and Bernard.

Similarly, I felt my final two responses for The Name of the Rose fit into the depth category as well. My posts for Eco: Sixth Day and Eco: Seventh Day each contained a few quotes and in-depth analysis of challenging aspects from the text. I take pride that my responses for The Name of the Rose grew as I read, especially considering the complexity of the novel.

Aside from The Name of the Rose, I would also include Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read in my depth section. Instead of only writing a paragraph or two about this article, I decided to write multiple paragraphs to demonstrate the application of the main points in my everyday life.

Riskiness:

Both of my responses to the two Plato assignments fit under riskiness. In Plato, “Phaedrus,” Socrates and Phaedrus’s dialogue was very challenging to engage with. However, I still tried to incorporate and interpret multiple quotes in my response.

I also think my Plato, “Apology” post was risky because this assignment involved listening to an audio recording that lasted over one hour. It was risky for me to choose which points to discuss because there was so much content. The content itself was also very challenging, so writing in-depth about this speech was a risk.

It was also risky for me to write about every section of The Name of the Rose, especially the first two. In Eco: Front Matter and First Day, I was open about my struggles reading the first portion of the text, but I also identified the importance of writing and the library in this post.

Eco: Second Day was also still a risk for me, as this was the first time I tried to incorporate quotes into my post about the novel. I felt similarly about my Eco: Third Day post, where I tried to move to deeper analysis and including more quotes. Despite the novel’s difficulty, I’m glad I began to take more risks with my blog posts, as this added to my comprehension of the novel.

Intertextuality:

For intertextuality, there were two blog posts where I incorporated our class discussion. In my DK Book and Our Online Habits Affect How We Read posts, I related their topics to Dr. Sasmor’s discussion with our class. I also related my ideas from the DK Book to The Name of the Rose. I hope to continue improving my intertextuality section throughout the semester.

Discussion:

Two of my posts that sparked discussion were my first two: My Blogging Experience at SHU and Oral Interpretation. A few of my classmates commented on both of those posts, and I commented on Laramie’s introduction to blogging post and a few of my classmates’ Plato: Phaedrus posts and responses to The Name of  the Rose. However, one of my goals for my next portfolio is to comment on more of my classmates’ blog posts and also to reply more when they comment on mine to have deeper discussions.

Despite my goal to improve on my blog, I’m pleased with my engagement on our Canvas discussions, especially with our first Name of the Rose discussion. I engaged with my classmates’ ideas and analyzed how they compared or contrasted with my own. Overall, I think my Canvas discussions with my classmates were strong.

Timeliness:

Although I am typically very punctual with my assignments, there were a few blog responses that I posted after their due date. Moving forward, timeliness for every post is something I hope to improve.

However, because there were certain posts I knew I rushed to post on time, I returned to them and made sure I added more depth to them. One of these posts was DiRenzo: “His Master’s Voice.” Originally, I had only written a paragraph or two about that reading to publish it on time, but I went back and added a few more paragraphs of analysis.

Coverage:

As I mentioned in my timeliness section, there were a few instances this semester where I was falling behind and simply completed my posts. Two of these included Can You Read or Write Cursive? and Twenty-Six Old Characters, which I wrote a few paragraphs each for, but mainly included my own thoughts on.

Conclusion:

After just a few weeks in Topics in Media and Culture, I am confident that I am moving toward achieving the course goals. One of these goals is to “develop the ability to analyze complex issues relating to knowledge, thought, and literacy; and to evaluate diverse critical perspectives on those issues.” Many of the assignments I have engaged with involved analyzing complex issues, especially the multiple in-depth responses I wrote for The Name of the Rose. Another course goal I have worked toward achieving is to “strengthen your critical thinking and writing skills.” The Name of the Rose and other course material I have read required me to think critically and demonstrate my knowledge through my writing. I definitely feel that I have engaged with the course goals so far, and moving forward, I am confident in my ability to continue doing so.

Source: Participation Portfolio 1

Eco: Seventh Day

And it all goes up in flames…

We’ve finally reached the end of The Name of the Rose, and it turns out that Jorge has been in control of the library for decades. I wrote about my suspicions of Jorge in my fifth day blog post, so it didn’t catch me off guard that Jorge was essentially responsible for the deaths at the abbey. The exchange between William and Jorge was intriguing, as they’re both equally intelligent men, just with very different motivations. As Adso observed their conversation, he said he “shuddered” because…

“…at this moment these two men, arrayed in a mortal conflict, were admiring each other, as if each had acted only to win the other’s applause” (Eco 506).

This sentence stuck out to me because it essentially describes a plot of the novel: two men aspiring to be the most intelligent person in the room. I also understand Adso’s concern because both Jorge and William are treating the whole situation like it’s a game, and they don’t seem concerned that people have died because of their actions. At this point, Eco makes you question William’s humanity and wonder if his desire to be knowledgeable outweighs his desire to do what’s right.

Another interesting part of the seventh day was when Jorge was explaining his reasoning to William and Adso:

“‘Every book by that man has destroyed a part of the learning that Christianity has accumulated over the centuries'” (Eco 506).

In this passage and the ones that follow, we see that Jorge is very concerned with keeping tradition. On the other hand, William saw just how detrimental Jorge’s point of view was:

“‘Jorge feared the second book of Aristotle because it perhaps really did teach how to distort the face of every truth, so that we would not become slaves of our ghosts'” (Eco 526-527).

Wow, what a powerful sentence. In the end, William is still confused about what the truth is, but this sentence showed his passion for learning and not becoming trapped in one way of thinking. In essence, he knew the truth was always changing, and so must our ways of thinking.

Source: Eco: Seventh Day

Eco: Sixth Day

It’s now the sixth day in The Name of the Rose, and it seems like the forbidden book is responsible for yet another death. But this time, the situation is becoming dire as the abbot asks William and Adso to leave the abbey the next morning. Needless to say, the suspense during the sixth day kept my attention as I read.

One of the most interesting parts of day six for me was learning about the hierarchy of the abbey, specially how the librarian is traditionally next in line to become the abbot. I’ve never heard of a hierarchy like this, but I think it shows how much the monks valued knowledge. Since the librarian is next in line, the hierarchy is essentially trying to set up the person with the most knowledge to become the most powerful person in the abbey. It may be different than what we’re accustomed to today, but it makes sense that these monks who valued writing and knowledge so much wanted someone intelligent in charge.

I also found it interesting how Adso’s “dream” was actually him placing people into a story he read in the past. Something Adso said stuck out to me:

“I was now realizing that one can also dream books, and therefore dream of dreams.” (Eco 467)

This struck me as one of the most thought-provoking phrases Adso has said so far, and I related it to the article we recently read about memory. If we take the time to reflect on what we read and truly understand it, we remember stories well and they become a part of our subconscious. Stories are always a part of us and influence how we think, and as Adso said, how we dream.

Since we’ve seen Adso struggle throughout the novel, I felt proud of Adso in a way for being the one to provide the answer to enter the secret room in the library. Ironically, Adso thought what he was saying was irrelevant knowledge, but it ended up being extremely important. It just goes to show that it’s beneficial to have a lot of knowledge, because you never know when you’ll need it.

There was also a lot of humor in this section of the novel, especially between William and Adso, which made for a more entertaining read.

“‘And what if the abbot finds us?’

‘We will pretend to be a pair of ghosts.'” (Eco 488)

Adso doesn’t think that’s a practical solution, but I give William props for at least coming up with some creative strategy.

I also appreciated Adso giving probably the best description of a facepalm that I’ve ever read:

“He gave himself such a great blow on the forehead that I heard a clap, and I believe he hurt himself.” (Eco 488)

Don’t feel bad William. I’ve done that quite a few times too.

Source: Eco: Sixth Day

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

As I read The Atlantic’s article about memory, there were a few places where I could directly relate to the article’s examples. Right off the bat, I agreed with the article’s headline; I tend to forget many of the books I have read. However, I never considered that the “forgetting curve” is the steepest during the first 24 hours after you have read something. As I think about this now, it makes sense; if I don’t review what I have read or watched soon afterwards, it’s harder for me to recall the information I consumed.

I also agree that the internet has changed our societal need for memory. What’s the point of remembering something if you can just look it up? It’s such a huge benefit to have so much information at our fingertips, but at the same time, it’s frustrating that we simply let ourselves forget information because it’s easy to obtain.

Similar to books, I could relate to the article’s point about remembering TV shows. Like many people, I’m guilty of binge-watching shows, but this blurs the individual episode plots together and makes it harder to remember. On the other hand, I remember a lot about individual episodes from “The Walking Dead,” the one show that I do watch weekly. My friends and family are often impressed by how much I remember from that show, and after reading this article, I realize that I’ll often give myself time to reflect on what happened in the previous episode each week. Because I put time into remembering what happened, I retain more information about the show.

I find that I need to do this with schoolwork as well. If I don’t take time after my classes to look at my notes or review what I read for homework, I usually don’t remember it well. Improving our memory definitely takes time and effort and going beyond just reading something once. The first step is simply recognizing that we need to put in that time and effort if we want to get better at remembering.

Source: Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

Eco: Fifth Day

The fifth day in The Name of the Rose was pretty crazy for everyone.

I was not surprised that Severinus was the latest victim, especially after he nervously told William and Adso that he needed to show him the “strange book.” Also unsurprising was how Bernard Gui immediately put Remigio on trial to convict him for the murders. Even though Remigio was innocent, Bernard did not care; he just wanted someone to serve as the guilty party. The fact that William still wants to pursue the truth of the murders after this once again shows his intellectual maturity, and also shows that he has a heart.

While books still played a role during the fifth day, especially the “strange book,” speech was very important during this day. Bernard relied more on fear tactics to manipulate Remigio, which opposes William’s way of calmly talking to people to obtain information and piece it all together. I gained more respect for William after the Bernard and Remigio scene, as he truly wants to arrive at the right conclusion in the most morally correct way possible.

Speaking of speech, Jorge also gave a pretty interesting one about the Antichrist. People may think he’s weak because he’s blind and an older man, but I’m still not sure why William and Adso aren’t investigating him more. He has the ability to maintain people’s attention and grip them emotionally with his words, which can be dangerous. Also, it seems like he’s thought about this speech way too much. If someone gave a well-thought-out speech about the Antichrist with all these murders going on, I’d be suspicious.

As we move into the sixth day, I’m interested to see if William and Adso can get their hands on this book. After all, the book seems to be very connected to the murders. I guess that’s the power of words for you. I think William described the plot of the novel best:

“‘Because of a forbidden book, Adso. A forbidden book!'” (Eco 420)

Yeah, that’s pretty accurate.

Source: Eco: Fifth Day

Eco: Fourth Day

The beginning of the fourth day of The Name of the Rose wasted no time getting right to the action with the discovery of Berengar’s corpse. While the third day centered more on Adso’s philosophical discussions, the fourth day was a little more exciting to follow along with, since the murder investigation was brought back in full focus. The tension can also be felt when the pope’s representatives arrive and attempt to take over the investigation.

William and Adso also continue to show off their inner Sherlock as they return to investigate the library. The books end up playing a very significant role because the layout and organization of the library is dependent on the types of books in the rooms. Once again, the knowledge that William possesses and Adso’s ability to learn quickly is impressive. If they didn’t have so much knowledge of the books and their authors, the duo might have never figured out the mystery of the library. I also had to keep in mind that this is only the fourth day that William and Adso have been in the abbey. All things considered, their progress is pretty impressive, especially in comparison to the tactics of Bernard Gui. While Bernard only cares about furthering his own causes, William wants to pursue the truth, which is admirable.

As William and Adso investigated the library, something that William said stuck out to me:

“‘Books are not made to be believed, but to be subjected to inquiry. When we consider a book, we mustn’t ask ourselves what its says but what it means, a precept that the commentators of the holy books had very clearly in mind'” (Eco 338).

I think this quote really highlights William’s intellectual maturity. Instead of taking the easy way out and blindly believing what is already written, William is not afraid to challenge ideas in pursuit of the truth, which is not absolute. It’s not surprising that this puts William in conflict with other characters, especially during this time period, who would prefer that people believe what they’re told rather than think about deeper meanings.

Source: Eco: Fourth Day

Eco: Third Day

The third day of The Name of the Rose was certainly an interesting one. Instead of immediately finding out what happened to Berengar after his disappearance, the focus is on Adso and his conversations. Adso’s discussions with people including William, Salvatore, and Ubertino were all focused on complex topics, so it took some re-reading for me to understand this section. Of course, it was pretty surprising to see Adso enter the library by himself and his eventual sin. Despite his naiveness, it was still evident to me from his conversations that Adso is self-aware of his weaknesses and has a desire to learn. It will be interesting to see how Adso’s character grows from this point on.

Even though the third day focused more on dialogue, Adso did include some of his thoughts on writing. After Beranger’s disappearance, Adso found many of the monks still working on their writing, which he was not surprised about. Adso said that “A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning for riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks” (Eco 196). The monks were so dedicated to learning and knowledge and writing that they were willing to die for it. Books were precious to these men, and as Adso said, “I was not surprised that the mystery of the crimes should involve the library” (Eco 197).

Source: Eco: Third Day

Eco: Second Day

After taking time to closely read and comprehend the first day of The Name of the Rose, the second day wasted no time grabbing my attention with the death of Venantius. The stakes start to get higher now that there are two mysterious deaths, and as the investigation started to unfold, I found myself wanting to continue reading. Even though William’s speech can be challenging to comprehend at first, it’s intriguing to see how he uses his words to uncover information when questioning the other monks.

During the second day, we really start to see the importance of manuscripts and writing. The monks dedicated so much time to writing, and one phrase that stuck out to me was when Adso said, “As an ancient proverb says, three fingers hold the pen, but the whole body works. And aches” (Eco 138). This sentence put into perspective how much time and effort the monks were willing to put into their work and really showed their level of dedication.

The manuscripts also play a large role in William and Adso’s investigation. Adelmo’s manuscripts had caused controversy among the monks, and someone is after Venantius’ materials as well while William and Adso try to investigate his death. Additionally, William and Adso discover that Venantius had essentially been using invisible ink and a secret code to hide information. So much of the investigation is dependent on what the monks wrote, and after discovering the confusing layout of the library, it will be interesting to see what William and Adso uncover in the manuscripts.

Writing is at the heart of this mystery. I think William put it best:

“‘It matters a great deal, because here we are trying to understand what has happened among men who live among books, with books, from books, and so their words on books are also important.'” (Eco 120)

Source: Eco: Second Day

Eco: Front Matter and First Day

As I started reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, I had no idea what to expect. The front matter and first day of the book took some time and re-reading for me to comprehend it well. Eco throws a lot of information at readers in the beginning, including a lot of historical background that’s necessary to understand the context behind the story. As I mentioned in our Canvas discussions, it took some re-reading for me to comprehend what was going on around the main characters and why that was important.

It also took some time for me to adjust to the way that one of the main characters, William of Baskerville, talks. He is very wise and talks in a somewhat philosophical way, so sometimes I had to re-read his dialogue. Adso, the narrator, also gave descriptions of his different observations that were full of detail and imagery. His descriptions definitely helped paint a picture in my head, but that also took some time because he gave so details.

Eco’s novel is definitely not something you can breeze through. It takes some time and effort to understand, but the plot of William and Adso investigating a suspicious death at a monastery is very interesting. We also start to see how manuscripts play a role in the novel during the first day. As William and Adso investigate Adelmo’s desk, they find elaborate illustrations on his manuscripts, which caused controversy among the monks. The library is also kept under close guard and seems to be a source of controversy, so it will be interesting to see what William and Adso uncover as they conduct their investigation.

Source: Eco; Front Matter & First Day