English 495 ESM: Multigenre Literacy in a Global Context, what a mouthful. Similar to other people in the class, I had no idea what to expect from it let alone what the name meant as a whole. Even the scope of my expectations faced limitations because I didn't have access to the course Moodle page, which contained the syllabus, for the first week or two. Once I actually got to take a look at the syllabus, the workload seemed a bit overwhelming because it was an area of work, work associated with technology beyond Moodle posts, that I hadn't done before for school. I'd never even attempted to create a blog before. One might say that for the generation I was born in to, I'm a little technologically behind or out of touch.
The blog was the first assignment. For this blog, we were suppose to post a weekly reflection that, preferably pertained to the course, could be on basically anything, at least from my understanding. Unfortunately, between the other assignments, presentations, and essays, that weekly post was frequently forgotten. However, the posting I did do wasn't for naught. It was a really refreshing change to write an essay and be able to insert pictures, video, links, and pretty much any other form of media content available to us; the normal assignments suddenly became an avenue for more than just written creativity.
While I'm on the topic of creativity, the second assignment that was required of us was analyzing a poem (a relatively simple task merely because writing essays are so familiar), and the third creating two unique poems that would also be posted on our blog. This assignment, as I expressed in an earlier post, gave me nothing short of anxiety. I hadn't written a poem of any sort since sixth grade, and even know I don't know how I managed to do that. Even worse, the poems were going to be graded, which in itself put the cherry on top of my apprehension: People, whether familiar to me or not, were going to read and judge something creative I'd done. I don't even like my parents reading my essays despite my having written a countless number of them. To my pleasant surprise though, the poem received a good grade and positive comments, effectually boosting my confidence and willingness to try taking more advantage of this new creative avenue, the blog.
Next, came the first group project, a Collaborative Myth Presentation. For this presentation, each group had to create a presentation in which we explored some aspect illustrated in the myth we chose. My group did the Vietnamese myth about the areca tree and betel nut. Essentially, we used this myth to draw conclusions and do research about the Vietnamese cultural foundations and history. The difficulty of this project was the group aspect. Most of my group members were very competent, but our schedules conflicted a lot, so it was hard corroborating with one another.
The fourth assignment was a Collaborative Media Literacy Presentation, another group project. This project required us to teach a certain grade level a lesson on any topic of our choice as long as it used some form of technology (PowerPoint and Prezi excluded). By this time in my school career, I've developed quite the disdain for group presentations because I often do most if not all the work. This wasn't the case with this group though. Ironically, there were some technological obstacles: Mine and Amber's emails pretty much refused to cooperate with each other. However, it turned out really well because all of our members had no problem doing their part, and despite the bump in communication, our presentation was really fun. Everyone seemed to be really into the type of technology, video games, we decided to use to teach our history lesson on the Civil War.
Aside from this post, our last assignment was the World Text Essay. For this essay, we read some economically and politically inclined journal articles Moodle and then related it to the topic of globalization within the movie Lost in Translation. This essay was actually enjoyable to write about because I'd never seen this movie and I loved seeing some Japanese culture, at least how it is viewed through an American lens.
This class was actually the biggest relief of my chaotic semester. The work was fairly challenging, but not a complete infringement upon the time I needed to complete other assignments in less favorable courses. In addition, there was a distinct, at least in my opinion, for every assignment we were given, I benefited from each assignment in some way. Overall, this course taught me a lot about how so many different kinds of technology can be integrated into education.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Globalization: Cultural Dominance or Recreation?
Globalization has its benefits and consequences that make this concept, or perhaps also an effect, a controversial topic. Globalization tends to modernize through international influence, and repress cultural tradition as a result, pushing culture out of developing metropolises and into the rural countryside. Lost in Translation is about two unavailable strangers, Bill and Charlotte, becoming romantically acquainted in a foreign land, Tokyo, Japan. Bill and Charlotte’s story is less important than the experiences that their story reveals through the Tokyo backdrop. Lost in Translation demonstrates globalization, perpetrated for capital, through various forms of iconism that form barriers between an old, resulting in an acculturation, and a rising culture.
Tokyo, Japan itself is an icon as a globalized metropolis because it is a center for generating capital. One way Tokyo generates capital is through tourism. Examples of key elements that attract tourists are gambling, buildings, and monuments. During Lost in Translation, the audience sees examples and exhibitions for each of these three aforementioned components. For example, gambling is seen in mass quantity for such close quarters when Bob and Charlotte are running from a guy they and their friends are playing with. In fact, the room they run through is so packed with slot machines that neither the runners nor pursuers are able to move with their body completely facing forward; they all had to turn their body left or right in order to squeeze past the slot machine chairs. Gambling isn’t anything new to Japanese culture, but the multitude of in- public participation with which gambling in Japan is portrayed is unusual for the country’s more modest and frugal traditional history. Italy, Germany, and the United States, throughout different points in history, made public gambling wildly popular far before Japan undertook this marketable finance, and in effect created a new profitable market of revenue, tourism. Japan has taken a popular tourist attraction and placed it in a cross- cultural city; the open presence of gambling in Tokyo is evidence of globalization and demonstrates a specific purpose for making money.
The replica of France’s Eiffel Tower, viewable in the Tokyo skyline, is a building that serves as another example of the globalization of tourist attractions. The same is the case with the giant luminescent Ferris wheel. However, the Ferris wheel is not a solely Japanese globalized attraction, it’s one of history’s more light-hearted monuments; developing Ferris wheels as famous attractions has history across several countries, providing evidence for presence of worldwide globalization. According to David Harvey, in regards to cities as places, “Space is a construction and material manifestation of social relations which reveals cultural assumptions and practices” (Harvey, 2nd slide). All of these attractions have influence or inspiration drawn from other country’s popular icons. Japan’s adoption of these icons reflects Japan’s utilization of globalization and therefore the existence of it within the country, exemplified through Tokyo.
Globalization is further emphasized through the absence of it outside of the city. Charlotte travels outside of the bustling city where, through her visit, viewers can see another side of Japan: rooted cultural tradition. One of Charlotte’s outings is to a temple. The temple and its surrounding area are noticeably quiet and less populated; the countryside distinctly tranquil compared to the city. The temple’s architecture is notably Asiatic in origin, whereas the buildings in the city are fundamentally an “average” skyscraper, indistinguishable as uniquely Japanese. During another outing, Charlotte sees a Japanese couple involved in some part of a wedding ceremony. Their garments and the quiet, respectful decorum of the party’s demeanor are identifiably Japanese, or at the very least of Asiatic descent. Their clothing, especially, differentiates itself from the popular high fashion wedding clothing one would expect from a major city. There is one instance in Lost in Translation that Charlotte discovers Japanese cultural roots within the megalopolis that is the Tokyo city: Charlotte, feeling overwhelmed with one feeling or another finds herself in a room with a group of Japanese women, who are dressed in classical Japanese kimonos, and are creating Japanese flower arrangements. The reserved and soft poise these women maintain throughout this scene is obviously identifying. In addition, the difference in noise level between the modernized city and traditional country, and the parts that represent the traditional culture, is a primary way in which the two are purposely separated from each other in the film, further emphasizing the effect of globalization.
Globalization, as demonstrated in Lost in Translation, does remove a cultures’ ancestral roots from the main city for the purpose of producing income, consequently hindering the endurance of those cultural traditions, but it also creates a new culture by doing so. According to Fredric Jameson, author of “The Politics of Utopia”:
Perhaps the most momentous specification of this opposition between the country and the city – a shift into another register, which does not guarantee that the proponents of each term remain ideologically committed to the same position when they change floors, so to speak – is that between planning and organic growth. (48)
For example, language barrier aside, many Lost in Translation viewers would probably agree that the talk-show portrayed in the movie was spontaneous, complicated, and/or confusing; the combination of various colorful literal and figurative elements involved in the talk-show have made it distinctly Japanese. In addition, even though it’s plausible that Japan adopted certain aspects of other cultures or countries, the fact that all of these elements have been brought to a single city, even if it is for money, makes the city of Tokyo its own, brand new, unique culture; the combination of so many ideas and objects being brought to Japan and integrated into the culture has resulted in substantial culture modification rather than elimination. The cross- culture influence present in Tokyo has created an amalgamated culture rather than the isolation or corruption of other numerous cultures.
Similar to most things, globalization has its pros and cons, and the arguments for one side or the other are many. A person’s view of this concept and effect are individually dependent and, realistically, sort of a moral “grey area.” Globalization can destroy cultures, but it can also inspire new ones. Japanese culture, for example, was largely influenced by Chinese culture due to centuries of war and trade. Unfortunately, some cultural denigration, integration, and recreation must take place in order for any country to substantially progress economically in today’s world market. In an ideal and probably boring world, everyone would get along while maintaining all of their cultural differences, have a comfortable life in which they truly want for nothing, and politicians would be honest and as charitable as they propagate everyone else should be, but the present world is reality, and in reality everyone doesn’t “get their cake and eat it too,” the world is too big for large-scope applicable ideals. Like globalization, capitalism and socialism both have their individually dependent successes and failures. Historically speaking, neither capitalism nor socialism has proven to work with even a loosely relative minimal number of flaws, and yet people still rally behind one or the other, just as globalization and all of its positive and negative effects will continue to exist. All of these things are driven by humans looking to make money, and as long as currency and human imperfection are intermingled, all of these systems will be flawed.
Harvey, David. “Cultural Space and Urban Place: The New World Disorder.”
Jameson, Fredric. "The Politics of Utopia." New Left Review (2004): 35-54. Moodle. Web. 14 Dec. 2013. <https://moodle.csun.edu/pluginfile.php/1690811/mod_resource/content/1/http___www.newleftreview.pdf>.
Monday, November 4, 2013
There are two things I’d like to address in this post since it’s been awhile since my last one. To start off:
Last Monday, each member of our class, within their groups, delivered their myth presentations. The group I was in presented on sacred places. One reason sacred places are significant to a culture is that they establish a foundation of identity, moral fiber and whatnot. It was established during the presentation that sacred places do not need to be in tangible existence, and that they subjectively exist. We also stated that sacred places do not need to derive from religion, although they often do in many cultures. After some postulation and outside discussion, during which cultural versus religious foundations of a number of peoples were distinguished, we asked two questions: Does objective morality exist? Would morality exist without cultural and/or religious roots, and if not, where would it come from or would it be at all?
The second subject I’d like to quickly comment on is something I learned last week: The Course of Empire. As dictated by Thomas Cole, each empire, civilization, etc. goes through a number of stages ultimately leading to its fall. Those stages, from “youngest” to “oldest” (I put this in quotes because, in a sense, this is also subjective): 1. The Savage State; 2. The Arcadian State; 3. The Consumption of Empire; 4. The Destruction of Empire; 5. Desolation. If whoever is actually reading this post, and feels so inclined (assuming you don’t already know what each of these stages entails), click on the link (http://thevelvetrocket.com/2010/04/21/paintings-of-the-day-the-course-of-empire-by-thomas-cole/) and read what distinguishes these five stages. Then, post your answer telling which stage you believe the United States of America is in now. Posting about other countries is more than welcome.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Future in the Yard
The Wind blows.
He stirs everything.
Rhinos dance in the trees,
While a creature from myth,
The three-headed hydra sways,
Scraping lightly at the sky,
And a dog reaches to see the world beyond.
The Wind carries life with it,
Hearing the sounds of the world around,
Bringing all the world
To us in our sanctuary,
Promise and imagination
To the forefront of our minds.
Impending waters approach.
Refuge is taken on the beach,
In a Pink house; acceptance.
We watch Hope frolic on the shore
From the rocky bridge
Nervously trotted to,
Anxiety welling up from within;
Trepidation cries from the beach
As an omnipotent sheet swiftly
Sails forth seeking more ground.
A turning embrace as it takes us away,
A struggle beneath a pulling surface.
The bond is broken, but new life is promising; unexpected.
Water recedes, giving birth to a whole new world,
Its mysteries reset.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Freedom Through Poetry
*NOTE* I'm writing this with the preface that composing poetry requires more imagination than writing an essay does.*
Earlier this week, I posted a poetry essay assigned to the class. Then, in class, we were given the task of revising two of our classmates' essays, naturally laying out certain guidelines for what each person should look for when reading over each essay. In the same class, the professor asked us who had experience writing poetry. Many hands were not raised, my own included in this bracket. The very thought of having to create my own poetry to be read by a possibly large number of people, regardless whether I know them or not, produces anxiety and dread. I definitely prefer writing essays, I even enjoy it.
After reflecting on this class session I realized how sad it was that the idea of composing poetry made me so nervous; after so many years of writing essays, and being required to follow a certain structure, the freedom that writing in general was meant to grant has been virtually lost. Granted, I do feel structure within an essay is necessary for the sake of an instructor's efficient evaluation of it, but perhaps this well-practiced and enforced structure has stunted creativity. Yes, students are encouraged to produce new ideas and arguments to defend in their essays, but how many students, particularly before college, use the old ideas so they can simply get another essay out of the way? The "equal" essay to poetry might be a creative writing essay. But how many of those can you recall doing? Personally, I remember writing a single, one and a half page, creative writing "essay" in fifth grade. I can even recall what the premise of it was, whereas I couldn't tell you what the basis of an academic essay I wrote in high school, or even my first year of college was.
On this same class day, we were asked to create a series of alliterations, assonance, and metaphors. This being a class full of college level seniors, perhaps even a few juniors, majoring in English, none of these terms are completely unknown to us. Despite this, it took a substantial portion of class time before everyone was prepared to share. So, being a class addressing technology in the classroom, I postulate: Technology has obviously been utilized to accomplish structure, so how can it be effective in education for promoting creativity, perhaps even to create an amalgamation of formality and imagination? Not to eliminate one or the other, but to create a comfort with both; out of the box thinking can bring a great deal to an established structure. Opinions, feedback, input, etc. are very welcome?
Monday, September 23, 2013
Economic and Societal Concern through Naturalism
Thomas Hardy was born in 1840, during the second century of the Industrial Revolution, of which England was at the center of. He wrote “The Darkling Thrush” in 1900, on the brink of a new era, the end of the Industrial Revolution. Despite the significant innovations that resulted from the Industrial Revolution, the effects of this period were very controversial. These confusions about its effects are reflected in “The Darkling Thrush.” In his poem, “The Darkling Thrush,” Thomas Hardy utilizes tone, imagery, and personification to describe the nature of England at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth century, expressing his mixed concerns for his present time and the new era to come.
The glum tone of “The Darkling Thrush” is set through Hardy’s use of nature to describe the status of England, more than likely London, as he spent a good chunk of his twenties there. According to Cristopher Nash, editor of Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature, in which value is given to authors, Hardy being named specifically, in literature in regards to evaluating and correlating economic status through the use of naturalism, even in the primordial sense, is useful in terms of covering all bases of argument (Nash 181). Although he doesn’t name specifics, “The Darkling Thrush” is a reflection of his thoughts and feelings on the economy, and all those encompassed in it, before and following the Industrial Revolution through the use of the natural world. The poem begins, “I leant upon a coppice gate/ When Frost was spectre- gray,/ And Winter’s dregs made desolate/ The weakening eye of day,” immediately personifying elements of winter (Hardy 1-4). It seems he personifies the characteristics of this season in order to get across a certain cold feeling that he feels is reflected in London as a result of the Industrial Revolution; the coldness of winter has been allowed to dominate the land because it is in alignment with the author’s growing concern with the future the period has left the new generation. The last line of this passage further supports this as it contrasts with the typical signifier for day time, the sunrise, bringing light and warmth to the land. Hardy feels as if the cloud cover of English winters parallels the looming pollution that would have been over the London sky during this time, using the words “The weakening eye of day” as a symbolic reference for waning “light” of the country’s future and his lack of hope for it (4).
Another instance in which despair and ruin is shown is in the second stanza. The first half of this stanza reads, “The land’s sharp features seemed to be/ The Century’s corpse outleant/ His crypt the cloudy canopy,/ The wind his death-lament” (Hardy 9-12). Personification is used again here to reflect the narrator’s perspective of the country following a time of revolutionary innovation; Hardy feels the Industrial Revolution has ultimately left the country in ruin, a shell of its former self, a “corpse.” In addition, a marked cloudiness is also present in this passage, guiding the reader back to his previous parallels between the elements of winter time and the country’s state discussed formerly.
Another technique Hardy uses to express his concern is his continuous association between nature and death, as if the land itself is mourning. He describes the wind as being a song of lament for the features of the land the narrator is looking upon, which have been rendered “sharp” by the Industrial Revolution, describing it as relatively resembling a corpse (Hardy 9). The clouds seem to be symbolic of a tomb, as Hardy alludes to in line eleven, “His crypt the cloudy canopy” (12). This suggests that the Hardy believes the Industrial Revolution has entombed the country in two senses: literal and figurative. Literally, the sky above London was known for being rather smoggy during this period. Figuratively, the effects the Industrial Revolution has had on humanity, veiling it from morality, leaving it entombed in the resulting negative habits through the new era.
The same concept of lack luster and despondency is demonstrated again in the second half of the second stanza, but in relation to the effect of this period on the human spirit. For example, “The ancient pulse of germ and birth/ Was shrunken hard and dry” suggests the life of humanity has shriveled (Hardy 13-14). A pulse can be associated with the human heart and the rhythm it projects to keep humans alive. This is symbolic in both a bodily sense as well as a spiritual sense because of the ever-present affiliation with human livelihood and character of heart. In addition, this “pulse” is described as being ancient, hinting that perhaps Hardy feels as if people have lost the values that once made them a proud as a people; Hardy feels as if humans have lost touch with their roots as a result of this period of high inventiveness. To more simply put it, as artful as this poem is, Marjorie Levinson in her work Object-Loss and Object-Bondage: Economies of Representation in Hardy's Poetry quotes Kevin Moore saying that Hardy’s poetry “…imagines the imagination dead,” which perfectly describes the fear Hardy has about the soul of humans resulting from the Industrial Revolution (Levinson, 552). The last section of this stanza continues with, “And every spirit upon earth/ Seemed fervourless as I” (Hardy 15-16). In this passage, Hardy simply lends support to his feelings by globalizing the era’s negative effect on humankind, once again expressing how he feels that this period has only hindered the luminescence of the human spirit, not failing to point out that he has also been a victim.
Despite the gloomy tone expressed through imagery and personification, “The Darkling Thrush” is not completely without optimism, as limited as it may be among so much pessimism. The first sign of hope is found in words such as “weakening,” and “little cause.” Both of words suggest that a process is still taking effect; the snuffing out of this figurative light is incomplete (Hardy 4, 25). In the last two stanzas, the thrush is used to symbolize this glimmer of hope, even if the narrator himself fails to perceive it:
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast- beruffled plume,
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hoped, whereof he knew
And I was unaware. (17-23, 31-33)
In his failing to see hope, he admires this songbird because it persists in having the fervor, despite its decrepit condition, that he believes contrasts with how society used to be before the Industrial Revolution. This thrush is also the first piece of nature used in this poem that isn’t employed to draw deteriorating parallels between the natural world and the human world. So, despite all of the negative aftermath he feels surrounds him, this bird is symbolic of the tenacity the human heart and the capabilities within it to overcome and persist on against the odds.
Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush” is an example of Hardy’s reflections at the end of a paramount couple of centuries, as well as how it compares to those that came before it. Ultimately, his concern in this poem is in regards to what the Industrial Revolution has left for the generations of the twentieth century. What Hardy failed to realize is that change is just a part of life, and with it comes easy and hard times. It’s easy to sympathize with Hardy’s concern about the loss of connection to the peoples’ roots, but this is inevitable with change that he himself, like everyone else, has undergone; each generation usually finds it more challenging to truly trace back where they came from. In addition, his concerns about the Industrial Revolution directly correlate with the debate about the level of integration and role technology should have in education, for which, similar to the Industrial Revolution, there will be both positive and negative consequences for regardless of the degree of amalgamation.
Levinson, Marjorie. Object-Loss and Object-Bondage: Economies of Representation in Hardy's Poetry. 2nd ed. Vol. 73. N.p.: John Hopkins UP, n.d. 549+. JSTOR. Web. 22 Sept. 2013. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/30030023>
Nash, Cristopher. "How Primordial Is Narrative?" Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature. London: Routledge, 1990. 9+. Print.