February 28, 2005

Alexander Pope: An Essay On Criticism

In Alexander Pope's, Essay On Criticism, he critiques the critic. He examines the nature of the critic and critically analyzes the reasoning behind the critic.

"Some praise at morning what they blame at night;
But always think the last opinion right.
A Muse by these is like a mistress us'd,
This hour she's idolized, the next abus'd;"

Here he points out the ups and downs of critics and their love/hate affair with authors and their work.

"Some valuing those of their own side or mind,
Still make themselves the measure of mankind;"

Here in Part 2, he discusses how those who are critics have their own biases already towards author's work and yet they still unfairly judge. I think this is true. No matter what is being critiqued, whether it's poetry, literature, art, or music. Everyone has their own values and opinions, and if they choose to let these values come into play they are being unfair.

As a journalist in training, I know for a fact that it is imperative for a journalist to remain impartial no matter how they feel about something, they same goes for critics.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Technology over the classroom

Technology has advanced so much in the last 10 years, that it is hard to imagine life without a cell phone, the internet, and aol, for most people. In "What Socrates Said to Phaedrus: Reflections on Technology and Education." Author John Churchill asks whether or not technology will ever take the place of education in the classroom. I thought that this was a very interesting question.

First of all, I do think that technology has gone way too far already in replacing human to human contact. Email alone is enough. However convenient for distant communication with those far away. It can never replace the classroom enviroment with your peers around you and the teacher in front of you. I know I personally learn a lot from my peers and their perspectives. Also, a lot of times when I do and assignment I come to class with ideas that I thought of in the classroom that I didn't get a chance to express in my writing.

So to answer the question presented by Churchill; no technology will not replace in my opinion, the value of education in a classroom atmosphere.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Wilde and Crazy

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.” This is a sentence from the Preface of, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This sentence is one of the few sentences I enjoyed reading in the excerpt. It made me stop and think and then analyze not only my own writing but the authors I have read. After thinking about it I really thought this was a perceptive and intriguing statement; yet it’s so….simple. Unfortunately, not the entire excerpt by Wilde is this smooth.

I found myself trying to decide whether or not Wilde was a schizophrenic or just enjoyed contradicting himself. For example, take the sentence above and now compare it to, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are either well written, or badly written. That is all.”

Are you serious? He has to be joking. So basically what Mr. Wilde here is telling his audience is that, if a murderer writers a book on how he strategically drowned 500 children on their 5th birthday and danced in the water that it’s not immoral and nothing is wrong unless he didn’t edit properly? Or he wasn’t descriptive enough to capture his audience?

Wow. I almost stopped reading after that sentence. But being the “optimist” that I am I kept going.

And yet again I find something worth quoting, “Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.” Another interesting statement I agree with.

And then Wilde ends with the finale, drum roll please…………. “All art is quite useless.”

Well, to be honest I don’t what to think of Mr. Wilde. Is he making these claims to get a reaction and make others around him think critically? If that was his purpose than he has succeeded very well, if not than I am highly confused and I agree with some things and disagree with others.

Now to Oscar Wilde's essay entitled, "The Decay of Living" which to be honest sounds like a poem I would write...lol. Not meant as a hit on Wilde I just really love the title. I could write a how essay on that title alone. Excuse me.

Here Wilde argues that "Life imitates art far more than Art imitates life." To be honest with you I would simply argue that there would be not art without life and without life art would have nothing to imitate. Yet, I am not trying to argue that point. I am merely trying to understand his claim.

It seems that he is implicating that an artist looks at something in reality and then makes it more beautifull than reality, and then reality tries to imitate the art because the art is perfect and reality can't possibly be that perfect. (Yes I know that is a run on sentence, it came from a run on thought) That is how I am interpreting what he is trying to say in this essay.

The only thing I can say to this in defense of reality is that something created naturally even with it's flaws, will always be more beautiful than something artificial, simply because it's real. Reality may not be perfectly beautiful, but it's life.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 10:44 AM | Comments (2)

February 22, 2005

Is it talented to be traditional?

When you hear the word original what do you think? I think of the first, something innovative, never done before or said before; but by that one individual.

What do you think when you hear the word traditional? I think of Thanksgiving, something passed down from generation to generation. Maybe even something old or before my time.

The point I'm getting at here is, can a writer/poet be considered not to be creative if he/she has traditional concepts or ways of writing?

When I read of book or a story I don't usually sit there and look for something original by the writer or something never done before by writers before their time. However, I do normally find something about that writer that sticks out, that is simply them, their style or unique use of words. I don't go out criticizing ever piece of material that I read looking for the individualism or the resembalence to other pieces of writing. If it's there it normally finds me.

In his essay, Tradition and the Individual Talent, T.S Elliot explores these issues of. He points out that as human being we can't help but criticize such works. Elliot claims, that we look specifically for a difference between the poet of present and the poet's of the past. And he claims that within this writer's "most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poet's, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously."

However, he makes sure to point out that if tradition is copying and following those before you than it should not be encouraged. He says that in order for writers to have the mixture of tradition and individulalism, they have to have a "historical sense."

Historical sense is defined by Elliot as, "a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.....and "conscious of his place in time."

I agree with T.S Elliot. I think that you cannot be a writer and not understand your time period and the time before you. I also, feel that with knowing the traditions before you, doesn't prevent you from expressing your own original thoughts, passions, emotions, and perspectives. Therefore, as long as its your thought and no one else thought of it specifically like you, or went about explaining or describing it like you, its your individual thought and talent.


Posted by Denishia Salter at 10:57 AM | Comments (5)

February 17, 2005

More Poets

Contrary to Plato’s beliefs that poets are simply imitators and are thrice removed from reality; Aristotle exclaims in Part II of Poetics, which he believes that poetry is about the qualities that build human experience. So in other words poetry is based on the reality of humanity and not a mere imitation of it.

According to Aristotle, poetry can portray humans in a better light than what they actually are, portray them in their real state, or make them like worse. He points out that comedy usually represents humans in a negative sense and tragedy has the tendency to make humans look “nobler.” Why? I think it’s because the comedian is always the fool, the joker and therefore the fool is taken for exactly that, which is of course negative. And in tragedy well everyone always wants the hero to live or the happy ending. When the hero dies it just makes the hero all the more appealing to the audience because he died for a reason, was murdered by the villain, or didn’t get his or her happy ending; which in turn again makes him look nobler than what he was.


“A poet should the maker of plots rather than verses” Aristotle states in part IX that historians are the people who should simply record what has happened in human history. Poets are there to represent what has happened in history. I agree with Aristotle on this theory. The poets have to convey the underlining message (plot) to the audience and persuade us of the concept. Historians merely tell us what happened in chronological order. Would history be different if it were conveyed through poetry alone, or historians alone? I think we need the happy medium of both.

Aristotle brings up some good points and if I were placing his arguments for poets against Plato’s I think I may be successful in Aristotle’s more logical approach.

However, in part XXIV he confuses me, Aristotle states that, “They should speak as little as possible in his own person, for it is not this that makes him and imitator. Other poets appear themselves upon the scene throughout, and imitate but little and rarely.”

This statement confuses me because I thought earlier in the writing he meant that poets were not imitators. I’m not sure if I’m misinterpreting this or just not getting it. If anyone can explain it to me I will appreciate it. I normally understand Aristotle and from my experiences he rarely contradicts himself.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 10:35 AM | Comments (1)

February 15, 2005

Creator, Imitator, Interpreter, Liar

Do artist's create art? Do they simply imitate a half truth? Do they interpret reality?

According to Plato, poets are nothing but mere imitators of what they think is reality but is actually not. (Going back to the whole is it a chair, is it the real chair, or is it the chairness of the real chair?) Still confused on that, however, Plato continues stating that painters are only imitators of the “creations of artists.” It is shown that Plato firmly believes that poets and artists are simply creating art to manipulate and seduce the reader or viewer into believing that what they say or create is real or the truth. He believes that they do not have good intentions and therefore are improper influences.

In Book X of the Republic, Plato points out that, “Then the imitator, I said, is a long way off the truth, and can do all things because he lightly touches on a small part of them and that part an image. For example: A painter will paint a cobbler, carpenter, or any other artist, though he knows nothing of their arts; and, if he is a good artist, he may deceive children or simple persons, when he shows them his picture of a carpenter from a distance, and they will fancy that they are looking at a real carpenter.”

I actually like the poet Horace’s claims better, “that literature is “sweet” and “useful.” I think that this is a better analysis and a more impartial one than Plato’s. I agree with this dualism however, I do have one question that I would like to present. Is literature created first to be useful? Or is it created first to be sweet?

In my opinion, when I create my own poetry or short story I am simply putting my thoughts down on paper and getting rid of emotions. Every once in awhile it becomes an idea and then it becomes something I enjoy creating. After that it is entertainment, and then if someone gets something from it so be it, but that is not my intention.

“The entertaining and beautiful aspect of literary works acts in reality as part of the appeal and attractiveness which the work tries to attach to the ideas which it seeks to convey,” said Fidel Fajardo Acosta in Understanding Literature.

However, in other works those who write literature do write it to be of use, to explain their culture at the time, to bring up moral or racial issues? So the questions still stand. As for Plato, I can understand to an extent why he thinks the poets are a danger, but seriously it’s really not that deep to me.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)

February 10, 2005

Ions and Ions of Reality

During the time period of 380 B.C.E, there were people called rhapsodists. These rhapsodists were interpreters of poets. Ion, the main character of Plato's story along with Socrates, is himself an interpreter of Homer.

Early in the story, Socrates tells him is great at what he does and is happy that Ion won first place in a contest due to his talents. And of course this being Socrates that doesn't last long.

Socrates, in his oh so annoying, questioning way of teaching or whatever you call it. More like to me making people look like idiots and then manipulating them into thinking that your not as smart as you are and the answer was in front of them the whole time....or that's probably just how I see it because it's hard for me to understand, so just disregard that last opinionated sentence.

Anyway, Socrates does make Ion look stupid, because he can't understand how Ion can "understand" and recite Homer so well, but at the mention of another poet like Hesiod, Ion falls asleep and can't focus.

But don't worry good old Socrates comes up with the answer, "No one can fail to see that you speak of Homer without any art or knowledge."

Wow. That just hurts. Basically, he tells Ion to his face that he can't speak of other poets or really Homer because he has no real knowledge about anything. And only when he does acquire this knowledge of art as a whole, good and bad can he be capapble of understanding.

He also goes on to say that poets are not in their "right mind" when they write poetry. That they are possesed and are nothing but divine inspiration. So here I am going to assume that he is exclaiming that poets have no real knowledge either? Is he saying that all they do is see something get inspired and then go on this crazed writing spell? A little help on this one.

Melissa said, "At any rate, Plato says that artists blind us. They do not allow us to see Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. They have no knowledge of a good chair or a bad chair. They are simply inspired and play to our emotions. "

This helps me understand that concept of what Socrates is explaining. However, to be honest I don't agree. I feel like if the chair is sitting in front of me and I can touch it, smell the wood, move it and hear it, than it is obviously real. Not because of my senses alone. But it's just logical and human beings are seperated from animals and all others because of our ability to reason, according to Aristotle.

So why can't the artist see what he is seeing and use his reason to interpret it, and then his gift to explain to us through his eyes, and then let us also make a decision?

I will never be able to fully comprehend Plato, because even when I understand what he is saying (or I would like to believe I do) I still can't fathom it.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 10:35 AM | Comments (1)

February 09, 2005

Recycle Recycle

Hmmm, History of Philosophy with Dr. Atherton......hmmmm....uhhhh. Ah ha! Now I remember beginning of the year, The Age of Synthesis with Plato and Aristotle. Ok, now why can't I remember more about The Allegory of the Cave by Plato in his Republic.? Maybe its because I myself am a realist and therefore, when it came to writing a paper I sided with Aristotle, because I couldn't get past Plato's complete belief that our senses always lie to us. Or did I agree with that and disagree with his specialization theory. That was it. Either way, I'm more of a realist than an idealist therefore, I can never really completely grasp Plato's ideals.

However, in The Allegory of the Cave , which I admit I had a hard time reading and understanding during class, Plato uses the cave metaphor through his favorite character, Socrates, to explain his theory on the reality of man.

The cave is described as having prisoners who are shackled so that are not permitted any kind of movement. The only thing that they know and can see is the shadows reflected by the fire that is within the cave. These shadows are their "reality of man" according to Socrates and this is what they know.

Soon, one of the prisoners gets out of the cave and sees the sun (light), basically a different "reality of man." After seeing this light he at first turns away, but soon has a realization and wants to go back and share it with the others.

I myself found this to be the most interesting of the story. Because if all the others knew was the shadows of man, and this guy tries to explain something to them that they have never experienced, well it's sort of difficult. It's like when one of your friends has something really funny happy to them over the weekend, however, when they try to explain it to you, your not that entertained. Then they go, "Well you had to be there...."

These prisoners will never understand the characters knowledge because they haven't experienced it. Some things you have to see to understand for yourself or you will never be able to fully grasp it. That reminds me a lot about life itself. Probably mine in particular. Just like the baby bird, you have to learn on your own.

Posted by Denishia Salter at 04:56 PM | Comments (3)

February 03, 2005

Blind Man's Bluff

There are some things in life that I just cannot fathom. Ok, well there are lots of things in life that I just can't fathom. For instance, I cannot just mentally picture the world before God made it, or understand how the body was designed to work like clockwork. Those things I cannot fathom because I simply don't know or even know how to begin to explain them.

So when Dr, Jerz suggested we read Mike May's journal, where he writes about the experiences he goes through daily, based upon how he was blind from the age of three and then at the age of 46 received his sight back. I wasn't really sure I could even fathom something like being blind and going through life not being able to see.

What helped me at least grasp the concept, was the fact that I remembered playing this game as a child. We called it Blind Man's Bluff. It was a game sort of like Hide and Seek, but the lights were off and the person "it" had to have a blind fold on, which of course enhanced the darkness. We also played indoors, like a bedroom, living room, places like that because it would be easy to get seriously hurt otherwise and would also give those of us not "it" more space to work with.

It was a very fun game, because it was humorous to watch the person with the blind fold try and catch you when they couldn't see you. They were only allowed to feel their way around. Being that we are in closed spaces, playing with a lot of people, and always prone to making noise the person would usually catch someone eventually.

My point is, by brining up the memory of how I felt when I was "it", how I was scared of the dark, and feeling around for objects. I remembered, trying to smell the candy someone was eating and find them. Just things like that helped me atleast get some partial insight into what it would be like. However, I couldn't really imagine being blind that in real life and having the whole world to explore without seeing. Hell, I get scared if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed facing the wall...

However, Mike May did receive partial sight back and those experiences with his reborn sight, from his perspective are very interesting to me.

In one of his earlier entries he states,"This old feeling about fireworks flew directly in the face of the visual experience. There can't be any better contrast than flashing lights against a black sky. The bursting patterns were challenging at first to understand but with some explanation from my friends, I began to see the star patterns, the changing colors, the raining lights, the columns and the bursts overlaying each other. It looked like the circles of color were coming to embrace us."

We also have to take into consideration how scared he was after hearing the loud explosion and being used to the explosion coming first. I thought that he was very brave and patient here, considering he lost his sight thanks to an explosion and it was sort of a reminder of what happened.

I live right next to Kennywood Park and I see the fireworks every year up close and personal from my house, and I never seen the fireworks in so much detail or with so much depth. He just amazes me at how he sees things and doesn't take them for granted like those of us who have had sight forever.

What also caught my attention, was the affect Robert from the Cathedral had on the stubborn husband in the story. This story seemed like one of those stories that have a message at the end but can be interpreted a number of ways, which is of course what happens with all literary work. Still, I felt that at the end of the story when the blind man got the husband to draw the Cathedral and feel it in the way that the blind man could. That the author of this story was trying to tell the reader not to set limitations on yourself or others no matter what situation you are in, as far as blindness, or mental weakness, whatever. It's made me realize that I should not put limitations on myself or others.


Posted by Denishia Salter at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)