Monthly Archives: August 2012

Time and space for writing and speaking

I think that the discussion today regarding time and space when it comes to writing and speaking was rather interesting. It raised a great deal of questions and debate. When speaking to another person, everything that is said happens at that time. There is no way to replay it at another point in time, unless it is recorded by another means of communication. Also, there is feedback in the conversation. If something is said that raises a question to you, you can immediately ask a question. When it comes to writing, what is being said does not happen instantly. For example, if I were to write a letter to a friend, what I say would freeze in time until a later time when they read it. The conversation is spread out. Assuming we were to mail back and forth, our conversation could potentially stretch out days or even weeks, covering only one topic. As I stated before, with writing there is no immediate feedback. It is also hard to tell a persons reaction. When speaking face to face there is more body language that can allow you to tell how a person is reacting to what you are saying. You can give more meaning to your words by changing your tone and emphasizing certain words. An advantage to writing compared to speaking is when something is written it becomes recorded. People have real evidence of what you said. This could be very useful not only in the court room but also in business.

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Evolution of Technology

I found the video we watched in class called “The Machine is Us/ing us” by Michael Wesch extremely interesting. It made me think about how far we really have come as a society in regards to technology. I really liked how the video started with the person writing on the paper and messing up and having to take a lot of time to fix their mistakes. It astonishes me that just as far back as 30 years ago, everybody was using pencil and paper. Now, in 2012, you can range all the way from reading a book online to being able to access your friends via Facebook or Twitter. Possibilities on the computer are endless. If you have a question about how to upload a video, or how to fix your phone, or even if you just have a general question, we all have Google answer it for us. Like how we talked about it in class, Google is now capable to guess what you are trying to ask. Isn’t that scary? Even school is starting to be online. For example, here at the University of Iowa, we have ICON (Iowa Courses Online) where professors and TA’s upload our homework, our syllabuses, grades, and basically anything else that relates to the class. We can even take full college courses through the internet. It is truly amazing how far technology has come in society. Are we too dependent on it? Maybe. Is that bad? I guess we will have to find out.

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The Traveler’s Transfiguration

Reading Kafka’s story I think you could look at it in more than several ways, but I think the word “transfiguration” caught my attention in today’s discussion. I found the Traveler very interesting. At first with the apparatus, it seemed like the Traveler was not too impressed or had any feelings at all toward the Officer. He was just sent there to observe what type of governing body this society had and report back. When the Officer described what the apparatus did, I believe that is when the Traveler started to get a little worried. He eventually even started asking questions and was confused/curious. As well as, later he started to get anxious when the Condemned Man was put into the apparatus. Then, as the tables turned and the Officer went crazy and threw himself into the apparatus the Traveler was frightened and upset by the scene that was occurring in front of him. Finally, he races off to a boat and pushes off without the Soldier and the Condemned Man. I believe that this particular look at the story is Kafka trying to show himself to us, that the Traveler is Kafka. By what we were told in class, Kafka was anxious, confused, and frightened by the world around him and the injustice that was happening in the world. This story is his way of getting out of it, just getting away from all of the prejudice in the world. Like the Traveler he found this society uninviting and unjust. Kafka may not have consciously been writing about himself, but the Traveler is a rather good portrayal of what I think is Kafka.

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Cave Paintings and Sculptures of Women

While reading “The Mysterious Birth of Art and Design” by Nancy R. Mayer I found the images of people section extremely interesting specifically the way women were depicted.  The sculptures of women were just partial or headless bodies.  In some cases women were represented just as a vulva.  I wondered if this could be seen as oversexualization of women, something that is still an issue in today’s world.  The partial or headless bodies could be seen as objectifying the female body and somewhat implies that only certain parts of the female body are important.  Our media is often criticized for its depiction of women and these images were a form of media in that time period.  It seems whenever something is considered artistic it isn’t considered as pornographic but in a different context it could be.  The nude images could just be part of their culture as nudity was probably very common.  There was even an image of a man with an erection so maybe I am reading a little too far into this.


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Beneath the Lines

I found today’s discussion about “The Suitable Surroundings” by Ambrose Bierce especially intriguing. The uncut version of the title was especially enlightening. What was Bierce thinking by adding that his publication was an instruction of reading a ghost story by example? By adding this extra line to the title it adds a different dimension to the whole story. Maybe Bierce was trying to imprint the impression into people’s minds (who read the story) that because Marsh died reading this story on July 15, that anyone who chances to read this story in the EXACT surroundings he depicts, will die as well. So, if you look at it that way, in a sense, Bierce has not made an instruction manual in reading a ghost story but a guide to suicide. I realize this is an abstract way to look at the story and recreating the exact atmosphere is next to impossible, but it could be done….

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Young Woman or Old Hag?

This optical illusion is a classic example of how focused attention requires selection and rejection.  It is also a good example of how attention always implies a degree of “attention blindness,” since you can’t program your brain to focus on the young woman and the old hag at the same time. When you see one, you don’t see the other; your brain will not allow it.


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The Medium is the Message

I’ve always felt that Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s The Librarian (1566) perfectly illustrates Marshall McLuhan’s saying, “the medium is the message.” After all, does it really matter what is written inside those books?

Following up today’s discussion, think about this image in the context of McLuhan’s insights about media. Consider that the picture was painted in 1566, not that long after the invention of the printing press and at the very beginning of a thriving early book culture.  What do you think the painter was trying to convey?  In what ways does the image “em-body” McLuhan’s insight? And why does it matter that the man pictured here is a librarian? Or does it?

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