January 2010 Archives

Secluded & no cell phone = not dangerous.


As I read Howard Rheingold's chapter called "Look Whose Talking," from "Writing Materials," my immediate judgement of the Amish lifestyle is completely old-fashioned. As true as that assumption is for someone like me who enjoys using the internet and television on a daily basis is quick to "belittle" their lifestyle and list the technological advances they are missing. I chose a particular quote from Rheingold's publication:

"To the obvious question why allow Amish electricity but not public electrictiy, Amos answered slowly and deliverately, 'The Bible teaches us not to conform to the world, to keep a separation. Connection to the electric lines would make too many things too easy. Pretty soon, people would start plugging in radios and televsions, and that's like a hot line to the modern world. We use batteries and generators because you can use the batteries for only a short time and because you have to fuel and maintain the generator yourself. It's a way of controlling our use of electricity. We try to restrict things that would lead us to losing that sense of being separate, to put the brakes on how fast we change'" (Rheingold 382).

The Amish restriction to technology is not strictly negative. These people are able to engage in conversation and interaction on a personal level that our modern-day lifestyle has seemed to drift from. Compare an Amish child's people-skills to a child living in New York City. One can probably give a verbal, detailed answer and other has the ability to answer silently by using the keyboard on a computer. Each group of people can develop their own strengths and weaknesses.

One bad habit I think I as well as many others have developed is relying on constant & instant communication. I check my email several times a day and my cellphone never leaves my side. In the summer when I take a run on the trail behind my house, I leave my phone behind. When I come back I alway have several missed calls and text messages mainly along the lines of "Where are you?" & "What's wrong?" & "Are you alright, why are you not responding?" I'm always connected to everyone except out on that dirt trail. That is exactly how the Amish live. There is no way of contacting them out in the field and no one worries about it. Not one of them stresses if a cellular phone isn't permanently attached to their ears. The Amish seem to be content with their lifestyles with less technological communication. We just percieve the perks of our way of living differently.

Flash back to where you were.

Hard-headed Socrates Seeker

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As I read the dialogue between the characters of Socrates and Phaedrus, I couldn't help but think of the natural truth of language. It has multiple meanings.

"I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have te attiude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches, you would imagine that they had intelligence but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer" (Socrates 362).

In this quote, Socrates says that inquiring more knowledge about a certain idea or concept is difficult. Language and speech is so complex that it has multiple meanings and cannot be broken down into one solution like arithmitic. By not giving an answer, you're presumed to not know anything and can no longer carry on the conversation and interest.

I think this section relates very closely to the Bolter readings and blog. The knowledge is within the teller and withholding information is a power that can be enforced. The theory of language and it's mysteries/questions will never be solved because there is not one meaning. It is impossible for two different people to read/listen to the same exact story and recieve identical meanings and images from it. It is impossible to pinpoint exactness in language and it can be very frustrating to those (philosophers) who are stubborn and only accept their beliefs and conclusions.

The Verbal Iliad-More Spice

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As I read the Iliad translations from Lattimore and Fagles, I found Fagles to be more comprehendable as I read it silently to myself. The images were clearer and more distinct. In Fagles version, the very last line calls the boat a "deep-sea ship" (Homer 193). As for Lattimore's version, that same boat is called a "sea-going vessel." I think Lattimore's translation is better for the ear especially if a well-animated person presented it orally. "Sea-going vessel" to me is more strong and depicts a sharper image and will be enhanced with the proper verbal pronounciation.

I also think that if Lattimore's version was read aloud, I would be able to pick up more details that I wouldn't normally just by reading. If this makes any sense, I pretended that I was verbally listening to someone speak the lines from Lattimore's passage and I imagined this person emphasizing certain words in the last line, "...and Chryseis herself stepped FORTH from the sea-going vessel." I feel like if I were dosing off to this reading, that certain emphasized words that are placed accurately in the story would catch my attention and reveal finer detail than I otherwise would not have noticed.

In Maddie's blog, she also mentioned, "This sense makes me take my time going through the text, searching for any details I might miss if I simply read over the words like a bulldozer going over fresh dirt." Although she is referring to the older style of writing that the Iliad possesses, she too recognizes that much detail can be missed by simply silently reading a passage. That detail can be caught by an excellent storyteller who knows when to spice up the reading during the not-so-climactic parts of the tale.

Controlled Readers & listeners


During discussions of literature and stories, I have never been asked to think about my personal reaction to the structure of writing. I have been asked how I felt about this character's drama and that climactic event and how I responded emotionally. Until I began reading Bolter's essay, it never occurred to me that the way writing is presented could cause more reaction than the actual plot in the story.

"Expectations, explicit references, and allusions are also part of the purely oral arts of storytelling and public speaking. But the important difference between listening to a story and reading a book is that, while listeners simply allow the word to come to them, readers must themselves make the words move" (Bolter 77).

After realizing the power that you have as the reader, it is up to you to decide how in depth you want to take yourself into the story. A text is unchangable, that is by the reader. Without that control, does the reader quit trying or attempt to make the best of it and wait for an interesting secction? Text may not illuminate the power to change itself, but it has the power to contain information until the proper time, thanks to the a linear timeline.

As for a speaker who is verbally telling a story, they have the power to entice a rather bored crowd with a new and exciting concept. That person has the power to change the order of a story to catch attention or interest. That person also has the power to withhold information that a text would sooner or later reveal.

Perhaps from this ancient, philosophical concept of "power of the reader/listener" developed many of the biased and propaganda that we deal with in the modern world of politics. Ideally, knowing the mechanics of controlled storytelling will enable some people to cook up some crafty concepts.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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