Monday, May 12, 2014

Final Reflection

       This semester we have explored many interesting  genres and mediums that we as aspiring teachers can use in our future careers. The group activities that we have participated in  have given me new insight into technological mediums that  I was previously unfamiliar with. One activity that stood out amongst the numerous group presentations was the one that instructed us how to create a short story with another classmate using Google Docs. I thought this would make for a great in class creative writing assignment for grades 9-12. The activity is interactive and collaborative while influencing students to think critically and creatively. More importantly in can be adapted to accommodate prompts for all sorts of assignments, ranging from reflections to debates on literary works. 
    Another activity that I at first dreaded but enjoyed participating in was the poetry slam. Poetry is never fun for me but  it was nice to see that many of my classmates were very talented writers that crafted some great poetry. This activity gives students a chance to apply the skills that we hope they learn from reading poetry to their own creations without many limitations or rigid guidelines. This was another activity that I would like to use if I end up teaching in the future.
    The group activity that I enjoyed the most this semester was our PowerPoint presentations on mythology. This genre was the most interesting one that we got to study and I felt that many of the students responded uniquely to the presentation requirements. Many groups used video and new PowerPoint media that I had not seen before to support and examine the depth and impact of myth on our culture. This class has given me an opportunity to not only apply the skills I have accumulated at CSUN, but also evaluate whether or not teaching is the right career path for me.

And it's gone (original)

 Here is a South Park clip from the episode titled "Margarittavile."Some of you may find it amusing  since we have been discussing capitalism and the economy these past few weeks.

World Text Analysis Final Draft

                                             Space and Status in Beijing Bicycle
    The film Beijing Bicycle explores the effects and influences of capitalism on Chinese culture. The characters Guei and Jian are contrasted in order to convey themes of social mobility and economic pressure. The environments in which the two characters are rooted, Guei in rural China and Jian in urban Beijing, reveals both the progress and indifference of urbanization. The exploitive nature of the capitalist market is also prominent in the film and can be seen in the disciplining of the laborer that is frequently depicted throughout the movie. Ultimately the film is an intricate depiction and criticism of the deep-rooted influence of capitalism on culture and social interactions.
    In the movie Beijing Bicycle, the bike that the young boys Guei and Jian fight over becomes a symbol of economic status that has significant but different meanings to the two characters. For Guei, the bicycle represents social mobility, as the bike is both a  literal and figurative device that relieves economic pressure. With the bike, Guei travels between the vastly different environments of rural China  and the city of Beijing experiencing the exploitive nature of the industrialized environment  first hand. For the character Jian, the bike is a symbol which represents status or wealth. In the film, Jian’s friends all have bikes of their own, suggesting to the audience that his family is poorer than the peers he seeks to impress. The economic pressure that Jian faces is psychological in nature as he is shamed by his families poverty and does everything he can to deny or deflect that image. When confronted by Guei, Jian is never willing to accept that this item he purchased  with stolen money is not rightfully his, and instead deflects the blame by getting his friends to beat up his accuser. This insistence on conveying a false image of ones self  and the theme of pseudo-ownership reveals  the negative aspects of  a capitalistic culture;  a culture comprised of individuals with items and products purchased with money they do not actually have. This is contrasted with Guei who not only pays off his debt in order to own the bike, but had intended to use the bike  to move up the social and economic spectrum as a laborer. This stark contrast between the two characters reveals two ways “risk management” can be assessed in a capitalist market (Randy Martin). For Guei, the risk of moving up the economic ladder is one of physical wear  and sacrifice, as he must commute on a bike into a hostile environment in order secure  a better life for him and his father back in the rural country. Jian’s risk is one of reputation,  predicated on punishment  or penalty in the future,  not in the present where reputation and  status supersedes financial means or ethics.
    Space as “a construct and material manifestation of social relations” is explored in the film and reveals “different cultural assumptions and practices” between rural and urban life in China (Cultural Space and Urban Place). While Durkheim viewed urbanization as “ a space for creativity, progress, and a new moral order,” the space of urbanization as depicted  in the film is one closer to Karl Marx’s view in that the city is “ both progress, productivity, poverty, indifference, and squalor”.  The film features beautiful shots of the commuters  and skyscrapers of Beijing, focusing  on the poverty, indifference, and squalor that exists in the city.  It is in this environment that his bike is stolen and Guei is confronted with the greed and exploitation of the city kids. Repeatedly he finds his bike but is unable to secure it due to the tenacity of the kids that have grown up in an environment where indifference and squalor is rampant, making them much more aggressive and hostile in maintaining Jian’s possession of the bike.  What is interesting is the cultural assumptions taken by Guei  who is the rightful owner of the bike but is the least  aggressive of the two boys in his demands for the bike. He is consistently depicted as humble, timid, and shy while Jian is overt, active, and subversive. These qualities could be included in order to convey the cultural expectations or norms of rural and urban life. These qualities suggests that the rural life of China is still that closer to a pre-capitalist transition whereas the urban culture of Beijing has already been influenced by the aggressive and exploitive nature of capitalism.
    Themes such as scarcity of work  and disciplining of labor can also be found in Beijing Bicycle. In the film, Guei is not accustomed to the city life and mistakenly receives an expensive massage that he is unable to pay for. The scene  portrays a vast disparity in wealth between laborer and the capitalist that holds all the power (China: A Century of Revolution). In the scene, the big business man tells his secretary that that Guei would never be able to afford such  a luxury on a messengers salary. Another scene which reveals that “ labor has no power in the market” is where Guei attempts to make his final payment on his bike, making it his own. After he pays, the cashier informs him that he still has another payment, despite his accurate calculations. In the scene Guei is forced to submit to those who have control over the capital, revealing his lack of agency and just how expendable he is to the company he works for. In many ways Guei is an immigrant worker brought in from the rural China to solve the problem of paying high wages to urban workers. This is contrasted with Jian’s Father who struggles to find consistent work each month, possibly because of imported labor from the country side. The disciplining and exploitation of labor is a theme that runs throughout Beijing Bicycle and displays the disparity between laborer and capitalist in a free-market economy.
    Beijing Bicycle is an excellent portrayal of cultural assumptions and practices which are  predicated on capitalist influences. The film explores  numerous views of social mobility in a free-market economy and critiques its effects on an ancient and humble culture. Through the characters Guei and Jian and the portrayal of the rural and urban environments in the film, the audience is given an intricate depiction of the human condition in a capitalist setting.

                                                                            Works Cited
Beijing Bicycle. Dir. Wang Xiaoshuai. Perf. Cui Lin, Li Bin, Zhou Xun, Gao Yuanyan,and Li shuang. Sony  
Pictures Classics, 2001 film.
Capitalism: A love Story. Dir. Michael Moore. The Weinstein Company, 2009. Film.
China: A Century of Revolution. Dir. Sue Williams. Zeitgeist , 2002. Film.
Jameson, Fredric. “ The Politics of Utopia.”  New Left Review 25 (2004) 35-54.
Martin,Randy. “Where Did the Future Go?” 2006. Web.

Poetry Explication Revision

                                        Desire and Sensuality in Marvell’s Coy Mistress
    Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress”  contains themes of love, lust, courtship, and sensuality. These themes are expressed through the manipulation of  figurative language, specifically the use of the objective correlative. Throughout the poem, Marvell uses numerous instances of suggestive images that convey an emotion or idea  that is not identical to the stated object or symbol of the text. Marvell’s execution of the objective correlative allows the speaker of “To His coy Mistress” to express sentiments of sensuous desire and the rejection of social convention through a call to action that is never directly stated but implied through symbolic allusions and  a logical argumentative structure found throughout the poem.
    The first portion of  Marvell’s poem establishes the convention of dating and courtship that would have been the custom of Marvell’s time. The convention of courtly culture would have dictated that the woman was to essentially be gazed upon from afar by the man that desired her, leading to a lengthy courtship, eventual marriage, and finally consummation.  The speaker of the poem rejects this convention through the conceit that time and the fleeting condition of the human experience are too grand a determiner of the quality of one’s life, therefore the courtly convention should be negated by indulging one’s sensuous inclinations.
    This sentiment of indulging in sensual pleasure is first established through the line, “Had we but world enough, and time,/This coyness, Lady, were no crime”( 1,2).  The line establishes that the speaker  understands  that there is a conventional design to be followed, and that any sexual expectation must be “coyly” concealed. The speaker goes on to express that given “a hundred years” he would continue “to praise”  and “gaze” upon “ every part”  of the woman , never breaking the convention of physical distance and sexual repression  of courtly culture (13, 14, 17). However the speaker goes on to reveal that although the idea of dedicating vast amounts of time to the object of one’s affection is a romantic notion, it is not a practical one and it ,making it illogical to wait for what may never come rather than act and make it happen.
    The second portion of Marvell’s work conveys  the inevitability of facing one’s mortality and serves to suggest that inaction and repression of one’s desires is a great tragedy in the scheme of existence.  The speaker states that “ at my back I always hear/ Time’s wing chariot hurrying near,”  creating a  personified image of time that suggests mortality is constantly  chasing or  approaching the speaker and the mistress (21,22).  The speaker goes on to suggest that if they continue the convention of concealing  their sensuous desires in a “marble vault,”   the “long preserved virginity” of the mistress will only be experienced by “ worms” ( 27,28).  The speaker concludes this premise with the ironic claim that “The graves a fine and private place,/ But none, I think, do there embrace” (31,32). The construction of the second portion of Marvell’s poem uses numerous instances of the objective correlative to convey a sense of urgency and creates a call to action. The images of preserved purity being experienced in terms of death  and decomposition suggest the futility of repression  while serving to further compel the mistress of the work to give in to inhibition.
    The final portion of the work insinuates that the speaker and mistress adhere to temptation and desire while they are young and “willing”  like “amorous birds of prey” (35,38).  This portion starkly contrasts with the second portion in that although time and death  is still approaching, it is the act of pleasure and sensuality that allows the two lovers  to transcend the fear of mortality. While the second portion expresses the absence of love and sensuality in death, the third portion highlights the beauty of passion despite the always impeding presence of mortality.  The speaker asks his mistress to combine their “ strength, and sweetness” into one “ball of pleasure,” enabling the two to experience a satisfaction that may not make time “ stand still” but instead “run” with all the joy and satisfaction that comes with sensual indulgence (39,40). Ultimately the third part of the poem functions to resolve the speakers conceit which was stated in the first portion. Essentially the speaker is saying that courtly culture is romantic, if you have all the time in the world,  but since they do not, they must experience all that they can with the little time they have together.
    Another aesthetical aspect that it is important to interpreting the poem is identifying  the logical structure that the poet adheres to. The poem is laid out as a logical argument to the mistress, enabling the structure to induce  “heightened feelings” and “indicates a subtle critique of certain modes of feeling”(Roll-Hansen). Each conceit  of the poem essentially  leads “to an impossibility of fact or formal absurdity” that is rhetorically valid (Reiff). The questions asked to the mistress are purposefully bold and distasteful in order to invoke a passionate and sensuous response to the speaker’s desires.
    Adam Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” is an excellent example of how the objective correlative functions in a poetic work. Marvell uses figurative language and objective symbols to insinuate the speakers sexual desires with out ever directly stating it in the work. Marvell is able to cleverly disguise the intent of the speaker by manipulating  the image of time in order to elevate the  notion of  satisfaction  through pleasure sensuality, and logic. 
                                                                            Works Cited
Reiff, Raychel. “Marvell’s to His Coy Mistress”. Explicator. 60.4. (2002).196-198.   
                     Ebscohost Web.

Roll-Hansen, Diderik. “ Logic and Illogic in Marvel’s To His Coy Mistress”. English     Studies.71.3.  (1990)   224. Ebscohost. Web

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Big Lebowski - Ashes Scene

Myth Reflection - Myhtic conventions in "The Big Lebowski"

While trying to think of modern narratives that follow mythical structure and archetypes, I found that most pop culture icons that have some childhood significance  to me have strong roots in the mythic tradition, specifically the Joseph Campbell  archetype of the  “rugged individual , leaving home in search of some new knowledge, over coming daunting trials and finally  returning home with  new knowledge and some reward for his endeavors.  Obviously comic books, science-fiction, and fantasy narratives enact this structure serially. From Bob Kane’s Batman to Frank Miller’s adaptation of  Wolverine, and even Tarantino’s character the Bride; the mythic heroes journey is a prevalent tradition and a somewhat required aspect of compelling drama.
    However I was able to think of one narrative that takes the Joseph Campbell model of the hero’s quest  and  subverts the essential plot conventions of  myth. The Cohen Brother‘s  film, “The Big Lebowski”  follows the heroes journey in the sense that it is a man taken from his normal environment who embarks on a series of extraordinary tasks that are supposed to lead to a reward and some sort of new found knowledge. However events of the narrative lead to no real resolution other than that there’s a quest that is completed but no real knowledge gained . All of the knowledge gained by the Dude’s  labors are usually some sort of misinformation leading one horrible choice into another which follows throughout the film.  While the  series of unresolved events is what drives the comedy aspects of the plot,  it is the persistent use of resolving and then deconstructing plot twists that makes the story of The Dude a unique mythic journey. In many ways it can be viewed as a type  of pseudo myth in that it relies on the deconstruction and subversion of  mythic archetypes. To understand  just what the hell it is I’m rambling about,  I suggest the next time you have 2 hours to yourself  you make a White Russian,  put on your most comfortable pjs and robe,  kick back and enjoy the “ Dude abide.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

poem 2

The second poem is a Star Wars themed paradoy of Whitman's  "Oh Captain!My Captain" . Couldn't help myself.

Lord Vader! Lord Vader! The Falcon is gone;
We have scanned each rock ,yet our prize we have not
The cloud city is near,  their leader I hear, overflows with an Imperial Fear,
Where Captain Solo seeks friendly port, he’ll instead be met by a corrupted cohort
    But O heart! heart! heart!
                Jabba the Hutt has no heart!
                  So my Lord in a carbonite casket
                    We shall deliver the captain
                       Fallen cold but not dead.

Lord Vader! Lord Vader! Young Skywalker shall fall,
Arriving- for you ,  His  X-wing has come, as expected alone as one,
For you Lord the trap has been readied, and lured will be Skywalker, slow and steady,
For him his captured companions will call, and with our elaborate snare he will end up in the
Carbonite lair
             Lord Vader! Lord Vader!
                This  button push beneath you
                       And in icy cement on Lando’s deck
                           Will Palpetine’s trophy lay
                               Fallen cold but not dead

Lord Vader does not answer, the silence settles  like some pale stillness through the ship
Lord Vader is not harmed, though he did re-arrange Luke Skywalker’s  right arm.
Aboard the ship the storm troopers come and go speaking of Michelangelo
From fearful trip, and the dark lord’s lethal force grip,
    Admiral Piett follows in silent tread
    For Lord Vader was pretty pissed that he did make Skywalker dead