Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Learning How to Listen

In What to Listen for in the World, Bruce Adolphe discusses the relationship among four components: ideas, images, words, and music. I have always had an interest in these elements, so I found Adolphe's work fascinating. 

These components are all present in one thing I've enjoyed for years: music videos. Well-made music videos perfectly combine all four elements to create a piece of artwork. And yes, some are more provocative and sexual than others; but there are some really cool videos out there.

Here are some of my favorites:

Strawberry Swing by Coldplay 

Firework by Katy Perry 

Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran

All of these started with a song, then an idea, then a person or a team of people came up with visuals and BOOM, AWESOME MUSIC VIDEO. Obviously, there are bad music videos out there, but the people who make them are still engaged in this creative process (in some way, shape, or form).

Adolphe also writes: 

Music is not merely feelings: 

it is the form and pattern of experience 
the space before words and after 
the echo of dreams  
the axis of energy 
the resonance of action: 
Music is the sum of all our memories, 
even those we have forgotten, 
reborn as gesture and inflection, 
the shape of memory itself (58). 

This really spoke to me. I often associate songs with specific feelings or experiences. For example, the song "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind makes me really happy. I don't know why, it just does. On the other hand, the song "Lips of an Angel" by Hinder makes me sad (for a really embarrassing reason that I am not going to explain on the Internet...) Music makes me feel like I'm not alone. It gives me hope. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel, period. And that's why I find it so important. 

Last, Adolphe comments, “By listening we cross boundaries, come closer to the guts of music, closer to our own music, and to the spinning mystery” (104). We need to listen in order to understand the world and be inspired by it; something easier said than done. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Freakin' S'Park, Man

All Park students (communications students) at my school are required to take a class called S'Park: Igniting Your Future in Communications, which is inconveniently on a Wednesday night. Because of the class, I missed a lecture that Stephen Greenblatt, the author of The Swerve, gave at our school. So now I'm  R E A L L Y   C O N F U S E D.

Stephen Greenblatt casually posing with his book, The Swerve
Hi Connie <3
Instead, I watched a video interview between Greenblatt and Connie Martinson, in which they discussed his book, The Swerve. The book is about Lucretius's poem, De rerum natura, or On the Nature of Things. From the video I got a very brief overview on the actual content of Lucretius's poem and the purpose of Greenblatt's book, and more of a history lesson on how some guy found the poem when he was book hunting in a monastery in Germany.

Anyway, here's what I got from the videos:

1. Lucretius said that "the world consists of an...infinite number of invisible, unbreakable...paritcles which the Greeks called atoms."
2. Sex is not bad, but you must have a relationship in order to have it (not really how it works now, but whatever...)
3. You should not be afraid of death. It has nothing to do with you; you'll live and die like everyone on this planet.
4. Don't expect infinite pleasures or infinite pain. You are limited.
My face after watching the videos. 
5. Understand that you are mortal.
6. You should experience the light and wonder that you exist.

·    I really wish I didn't have class that day, because I would have gotten so much more out of Stephen Greenblatt's speech than those videos. That's why I'm having such a hard time blogging right now...I'm not really sure what I just watched... I'm sure this will become clearer in class once we discuss it. 

It's ya boi Lucretius!!! #hollah


Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Feelings on Humanities

My class was asked to read On The Uses of a Liberal Education as Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students by Mark Edmundson, and As a Weapon: In the Hands of the Restless Poor by Earl Shorris. Both works talk about (one more directly than the other) liberal arts in education.

I read As a Weapon: In the Hands of the Restless Poor first, which made me confused. I thought it was supposed to be about liberal arts and its place in American education. Instead, it focused more on how the humanities specifically are important in American education. The piece opens up with the author, Earl Shorris, speaking with a woman in prison named Niecie about what makes a person poor. 

“Why do you think people are poor?”
“You’ve got to teach the moral life of downtown to the children. And the way you do that, Earl, is by taking the downtown to plays, museums, concerts, lectures, where they can learn the moral life of downtown.”
“And then they won’t be poor anymore?”
“And then they won’t be poor no more.” (50-51)

I think this is extremely true. Everyone needs some culture, no matter your social status, income levels, gender, race, or age. I was first introduced to this cultural experience by my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Cooper (whom I've blogged about before). When I was in 10th grade, I took a mythology class with her, and that's when I first learned "the moral life of downtown" as Nieceie calls it.

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in NYC
I took several field trips during the year with my mythology class. First we went to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. Growing up Jewish and going to Hebrew school, I was used to going to a small synagogue and occasionally small churches for weddings or baptisms. But that church...that was an experience. We walked around every square foot of the church, climbed to the top, took the tour, I felt so much smarter by the time we left. 

Next we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Unicorn Tapestries and again, it was really cool. The artwork in the museum was beautiful and as we took the tour around the museum, the tour guide taught us a little bit about each piece or made us see something that we didn't see before. Because we went to both of these places in the same day, we were all cultured-out at the end; but after this day, any time I could go into a city and "learn the moral life of downtown," I did. 

Unicorn Tapestry

Last year, my yearbook advisor offered me the chance to go see the opera Karmin with is AP European history class. Of course I said yes, I'd never been to an opera before. We sat in the very last row at the top (talk about nose bleeds) in Lincoln Center, and even though it was hard to read the subtitles on the seat in front of mine while watching the actors sing in Italian at the same time, the entire experience was new and unique. 

Afterwards, my friends and I talked about how "cultured" we were, and agreed to meet up in the city in the future to do something like this again. However until I read this article, I hadn't even considered how lucky I was to have these experiences. It hadn't crossed my mind that many Americans will never get the opportunity to visit the places I've visited. 

How we felt after seeming Karmin.

I was really happy to read at the end of the article that the people who completed the course had continued their education, or gone to nursing school. The whole thing reminded me of a movie I watched a few years ago called Freedom Writers.

On the other hand, I didn't like reading On The Uses of a Liberal Education as Lite Entertainment for Bored College Students by Mark Edmundson. Edmundson talks about how most of his students are not passionate and how "strong display of emotion is forbidden." He writes: “You’re inhibited, except on ordained occasions, from showing emotion, stifled from trying to achieve anything original. You’re made to feel that even the slightest departure from the reigning code will get you genially ostracized" (42). 

I don't feel this way at all. Or at least not in Ithaca. Everyone seems passionate here--I know I sure am. So when this guy writes about how we're all (we as in college students) clones who possess no motivation, consumed by pop culture and consumerism...I get annoyed. I like pop culture, and I recognize that I am a consumer and that people are always and will always be trying to get me to buy stuff, but I choose to ignore it. I am very passionate about what I do and I put a lot of hard work into it. Students at this school are pushed to be creative (especially in my seminar class) and encouraged to be original. So, as a student trying to do both of those things, I have to strongly disagreed with Mark Edmundson. 



Monday, November 11, 2013

My Collage

I used to like cutting things out of magazines and putting them up on my bulletin board in middle school. It was mostly celebrities that I liked, outfit ideas, products I wanted to get, or anything that looked cool and colorful. However while I was making my collage for my seminar class, I found that I didn't want to cut up my magazines.

I guess my appreciation for photography didn't kick in until after middle school. I didn't want to destroy these works of art. I mean, I consider them art--most people probably consider them annoying advertisements. But when I read a magazine I really look at every single photograph on every single page.

One thing I've always wondered was how much work goes into creating something. An advertisement, a movie, a TV show, a song, everything. I want to know who is involved, what they do, and how they do it. That's part of the reason why I'm a TV-Radio major: I enjoy the production side of things.

That being said, it was somewhat difficult for me to cut the lips out of basically every single person in the two magazines I used (Seventeen and Cosmopolitan). I felt like I was ruining these photographers' and editors' hard work, stealing it and adding it to my own piece. It just made me feel weird.

And so, here it is:


Here it is up close and personal.

As I made this collage, I thought about a couple of different ways I could interpret it. I didn't have one clear message that I wanted to express as I created here are a few different ones:

1. Making people smile makes me happy. I wanted to portray that with all the smiles. Pretty simple.

2. The importance of communication. What a person says means so much to me, whether it's online, over a text, or in person. I feel like many arguments we (I say "we" as in college students) have start with a communication error.

3. People will talk about you. No matter what, some people will like you, and some people will hate you. And you can either let it be in the foreground of your life (like what you see in my collage) or you can learn to accept it and move on, focusing on other things (like the background of my collage. Which is hard to see, yet it's still there).

You can decide which interpretation you like the best, or create your own.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Do I Really Need More Solitude???

In The End of Solitude, William Deresiewicz talks about how technology has taken away our privacy, concentration, and ability to be alone. Rather, he argues that it has taken away our want to ever be alone. I had a hard time reading this article because although I agree with some of his points, I love technology so much, and I felt like he was telling me that I am living my life incorrectly.

Part of me agrees with Deresiewicz when he says that technology is taking away our alone time, our oh-so-important solidity, but the other part of me--because of this technology and the culture I grew up in--doesn't want solidity. Sure it's nice to be alone at some times, but personally, I would much rather be around people, or at least feel like what I'm saying or doing is being received by others.

That's why I like social media. It gives me a voice I never really had. In my school I was my class's Vice President. (Yay student government). But our administration was so strict that whenever I (or anyone else for that matter) had an idea for an event it was shot down immediately. And if you know me, you know I have A LOT of ideas. It was always a no. Every. Single. Time.

That hurt. I was supposed to have a voice. I was elected by my peers to be their voice. And then I was denied one. Not okay. (And so I will never ever be involved in government again).

Here's an example: My friend Dustin and I (who was also involved in student government) wanted to start a Song of the Day at our school--we'd play one song at the beginning of each day right after the announcements to wake people up and put them in a better mood for their first period class. We made up a whole plan and then showed our Vice Principal, who we thought was open to new and exciting ideas (because he said so). He gave us big no.

Okay, I'm sorry for ranting about my high school administration...Now back to my point.

Contrary to what Deresiewicz believes, I'm not trying to become a celebrity. When I post a picture on Instagram, I don't think "if this doesn't get at least 40 likes, I'm going to delete it." I know some people who do think this way, but I'm not one of them. If people see it, they see it. If they don't, they don't. I just hope that by posting that picture I made at least one person smile or laugh or react in some way.

That's my personal goal when it comes to social media. I want to make people laugh. Perhaps that plays back into my biggest strength: woo. (which you can read about in one of my previous blog posts). I want to make people laugh so that they like me. I'm not trying to become famous.

So maybe I do agree with much of what Deresiewicz is saying. However, this was hard to read because I feel like I'm doing something wrong in my life. Do I need to spend more time alone? Deresiewicz feels that we need to spend more time in solitude in order to learn about ourselves. However, I learn the most about myself through my actions. I spend time alone each day for an hour at the least. And for me, that's enough. I need to be around other people to be happy. I'm a very social person. I believe that's the way I am just because. Not because technology has made me this way. With that in mind, social media helps me enjoy my life. It doesn't make it so that I'm scared of spending time alone; rather, it helps me reach more people than I ever could have imagined.