Category Archives: Topics in Media and Culture

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

DK Book

When looking through the DK Book, one part that stuck out to me was the “Manuscript books” section. The book discussed how monks would decorate their manuscripts to “reflect the glory of God,” which immediately reminded me of the monks inĀ The Name of the Rose. I was also impressed by how much detail scribes put into writing manuscripts, which included measuring the pages to not waste parchment. Scribes had to be skilled in a variety of areas, and it’s easy for us to take for granted how time-consuming and complex writing used to be.

The section titled “Words at work” also stuck out to me, especially because many of the topics presented were similar to what Dr. Sasmor discussed when he visited our class. Part of the reason writing was so time-consuming was because writing tools were not very advanced. I can’t imagine having to use a scrivener knife to make my own quill pin, and then have to continuously cut the pen so it could hold ink. The section on shorthand also reminded me of the text we read about Tiro and Cicero, and having a good memory was just another skill that scribes needed to possess to be successful.

Source: DK Book

Our Online Habits Affect How We Read

As I read Rosenwald’s Washington Post article, I definitely could relate my own experiences to his findings. Since I spend so much time online, whether it’s completing course assignments or browsing social media, I also find it difficult to dedicate my complete attention when reading physical books. My brain automatically wants to skim the pages, so I have to force my mind to slow down and read word for word. I find it easier to do this if I’m in a quiet place away from distractions, especially technology.

I also wasn’t surprised that when tested, people performed better on paper than on a screen. As Dr. Sasmor discussed when he spoke to our class, reading and writing on physical paper forces your mind to slow down and truly comprehend your words. I think part of the issue is also that technology makes it easier for us to multi-task and complete tasks faster. The downside is that we lose our ability to focus on one task at a time and do it well.

In general, it’s interesting to see how our brains adapt to changes in technology, especially when it comes to reading. However, despite the benefits of technology, I also do fear that we’ll lose our ability to read texts well. It already seems like we’ve generally lost the appreciation for it in our culture. I hope that people continue to value the importance of reading stories. After all, stories are what make us human.

Source: Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say

DiRenzo, “His Master’s Voice”

I learned a lot about writing from DiRenzo’s text, but also about history itself. For example, I did not know how much of an impact Tiro’s new method of shorthand writing affected society as a whole and brought about much controversy. Words can definitely be powerful.

I also found it interesting how even though writing was more controversial and complex back in Tiro’s time, there are some comparisons we can make to today’s society. When DiRenzo discussed the relationship between Cicero and Tiro, I often forget how in their time, people were hired to write down what other people spoke. However, while times are much different, I think this relationship relates to journalism in a way because journalists write down what other people say.

Another similarity I saw was how Tiro and other scribes would use different writing styles and tools depending on the type of document they were creating and if they were writing a draft or permanent document. We still use this tactic today, because we often use pencils for drafts and pens for permanent documents. Typing is now an option today as well to make our writing look more formal.

One other phrase that stuck out to me was when DiRenzo noted that scribes only kept track of “Rome’s finest moments, her acts and words of heroism.” I think this adds to the significance of Tiro’s shorthand, because it allowed more history to be documented, even the negative aspects. It makes sense that writing caused a lot of controversy back then, and it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come.

Source: DiRenzo, “His Master’s Voice”