Persepolis

16 Apr

One of things that I found particularly interesting in the second half of the book involving Marji’s teen and young adult years was her relationship with God.

We talked a lot in class about Marji’s childhood relationship to God, and how amongst other things it had a certain level of naiveté to it; with God seeming more an imaginary friend than religious icon. We also talked about her blending of religion with politics, which I think was probably an accurate assessment for someone to adapt in a theocratic country. What interested me more however, was Marji’s divergence from the God of her childhood. Why did she leave him behind? Did her countries continuing totalitarian Islamic theocracy make her viewpoint of God change? Did she begin to associate religion and God with a suppression of freedom?

I searched for answers to these questions in the second part and came to a conclusion, albeit it may not be right, that Marji associates her religion with her country. Subjected to religious politics her entire life, when she left the restrictions of Iran behind, she left God there as well, and the only time he appears in the second half as the image of her childhood, she utilizes her mother to speak to him, as if not being in Iran she does not have the right to contact him directly. When she again addresses him directly on page 283, she is back in Iran. Although his image doesn’t actually appear, just her prayer to him, this could possibly be related to a more mature relationship with God as her creator, and not so much imaginary friend.

Advertisements

“Got Milk?” Survey

12 Apr

serena-williams-and-got-milk-gallery thCADXW0JBathleteDo you find these advertisements depicting female athletes to be sexist?

football2073515613_89cee9a4fb_zAlbert-Pujols-Got-Milk

View again the female advertisements in comparison to the ones depicting male athletes.

If you answered no to finding the original female images sexist, do you still feel the same after comparing them to those depicting males, or has your opinion changed? Why?

rihanna-got-milk-admilk_ads_06got-milk-sheryl-crowDo you find these advertisements depicting female musicians to be sexist?

thCA1C10C2celebr111762

View again the female advertisements in comparison to the ones depicting male musicians.

If you answered no to finding the original female images sexist, do you still feel the same after comparing them to those depicting males, or has your opinion changed? Why?

hayden-panettiere-got-milk-adthCA9O48YQgot-milk-13-e1288022765678Do you find these advertisements depicting female television stars to be sexist?

1752tumblr_m665qtLTrf1qa9ofvo1_50000037650

View again the female advertisements in comparison to the ones depicting male television stars.

If you answered no to finding the original female images sexist, do you still feel the same after comparing them to those depicting males, or has your opinion changed? Why?

Please Choose Me

7 Apr

Heather Mann
923 Something Road
Somewhere, MI
hmann1@emich.edu

[Date]April 7, 2013
Prospective Graduate Programs

Dear Prospective Graduate Programs:

I am writing to let you know that I am interested in applying for acceptance for an MS in Information Science. My current position has prepared me well for this area of study, as I spend many of my working hours surfing the internet for information. For example, I know that “honey badger don’t give a —-“and Mod Cloth sells really cool vintage clothing. After 10 years with my present company, I have completely mastered ways to get around their URL blocks in order to access restricted areas and am ready for new challenges.

I am interested in studying in an area that will allow me to continue what I am presently doing, while obtaining a much higher rate of pay and feel that Information Science is the way to go.

If you love a student who loves information, I’m your gal. Nothing appeals to me more than a job that requires the absolute minimal amount of movement from my chair and I am dedicated to pursuing those things that will make this goal possible. Regardless of whether you want to admit me or not, I will continue to write letters begging for acceptance to your program.

Sincerely,
Heather Mann

Long Blog Two

29 Mar

I have been thinking a lot lately about the self in relation to literature, and especially how that applies to me. While I realize that we completed an autobiography in the first few weeks, originally I took an evasive and only partially true route to the task that left me with no real substance. There are several reasons why the word “autobiography” makes me cringe, most of which stem from a desire to keep my personal life exactly that, personal. However, I have realized that you do not have to “air the dirty laundry,” so to speak, to tell your story. I think this is important because literature is such a huge contributing factor to who I am and the things that I want to do.

Growing up we only had one television, mainly used by my parents, so for that reason as well as a few others, I often spent my time creating things to do and ways to escape. Before I could read, this escape came in the company of my imaginary friend Clown, who was always by my side and sometimes allowed me to score extra treats on his behalf! After learning to read I discovered the bookmobile, which came to my neighborhood weekly, and sadly, Clown was forgotten. Books became the places I preferred to be, and I spent hours on end frolicking in A Secret Garden and hanging out at the Little House on the Prairie. As I got older and continued to read, I went from crossing the Bridge to Terabithia to walking the halls of Sweet Valley High. I loved reading because it allowed me to be someplace other than where I really was. Words to me created vivid scenes better than any movie, and to this day I’m often disappointed with films if I read the text first. As most good readers, I also began to develop a love of writing and spent long hour’s journaling my thoughts in whatever format fit my fancy that day. I still have that box of journals and I’ve even shared some of the work with my own daughter since. The question now, the one I did not even attempt to answer the first time, would be what does this mean? How does this experience with literature and reading relate to me now as an adult?

Besides the obvious fact of being a better reader, my avid reading history has both helped and hindered me as an adult. I’m not sure if it’s because I found the majority of my happiness in books, but I feel that the relationships developed with the characters I encountered hindered, to a degree, my relationships with real people. I’m not saying that I didn’t have any friends or know how to make them, but I definitely feel my reading detracted from my social skills. Firstly, I actually enjoyed the characters in my books more than those of most people I met, and secondly, I became a sort of well-read snob. It boiled down to the book having more to say of interest than the person. I realize the standard response to that would be to get new friends, (or get over yourself) but the truth of the matter was, it wasn’t really them, it was me. I only knew people as things to be weary of and of showing affection as useless. So if you spend all of your time reading, you may become well versed, but not necessarily socially so. This problem continued to plague me, even through college, until I ended up joining the military in 2001.

Forced from within the tiny protected world that I had built, it was at this point that my reading experience ceased being a hindrance. Amongst the many skills I learned in the service, was the ability to communicate with and to others. My ability to read, digest, and apply knowledge in a speedily fashion, combined with the skills of communication, allowed me to flourish and advance quickly in rank. These combined skills continue to serve me as I pursue my second degree and perform my present job. This does not mean that I no longer have any communication issues, as I still struggle sometimes with expressing something exactly the way I am thinking it and often get irritated when I realize it has come across all wrong. The difference is, now I try. The wide range of literary material that I have read over the years has provided me with such a diverse knowledge base that I am now confident enough to approach new subjects, with new people.

I would like to think also that reading has made me a better, more tolerant person. It is harder to understand or sympathize with people on issues of which you are unfamiliar, and reading (if you allow it) can expose you to a multitude of topics. For example, take the novella ‘Men in the Sun,’ by Ghassan Kanafani, or even My Name is Red, by Orhan Pamuk; both are fictional pieces steeped in the “truths” of the Middle East. As a class we discussed religion, politics, and culture (amongst many other things) just dealing with this one text. Although fictional, the “truths,” as referred by Belsey, in the novel are numerous and provide the reader with a deep sense of cultural struggle. I hate to bring it back there, but these are exactly the areas of interest that Hirsch seems to be implying to in his quest for “cultural literacy.”

So, while books early on may have contributed to a stunting of my social skills, they ultimately have served me well. Literature allowed me to be someplace other than where I was, when I didn’t like being there and eventually likewise contributed towards me being where I want to in my adult life. Although I have a fairly good job, I hope that my literature studies and subsequent masters will continue to help me advance in my career. The value of reading and writing to be understood cannot be overemphasized, and it has so far served me well in both reporting and debriefing at work and in the military. My eventual hope is to use my skills, and understanding of what it takes to be a “world citizen” to spend about a month of each year working in Cambodia as an advocate for victims of sex trafficking. Till then!!!

Piecing it All Together

24 Mar

Bé rubé, despite spending a large portion of his argument on political affiliation and its role in the student life, also addresses the “self-selecting bunch who usually decide[s] to pursue a major in the humanities because they truly love the subject matter” (107). That’s us, the English and Literature Majors!!! We are the ones who “tend to take the world of ideas somewhat more seriously” (107) because we are drawn to a field that teaches such a diverse knowledge base. We are the realists, idealists, and pragmatists that Donoghue discusses (51). Through texts, we learn to gratify “the desire for knowledge and construe knowledge as a relation in which a subject respects an object,” “appeal to the privilege of experience,” and promote “the production of new writing, new gestures, new masks, new selves” (Donoghue 52). All this we tackle through literature in the forms of poetry, articles, novels, and novellas. Each day in class we are afforded the opportunity to talk over the issues of language, culture, religion, sexism, etc. in an environment where for the most part our opinions are respected, even if not necessarily agreed with. By reading materials across such a large spectrum, whether fictional or not, and discussing the issues of culture we are far less likely to become the person who will “protest a ‘political’ speaker only when the speaker does not share [our] politics” (121). Literature and the self, culture, criticism, and translation has led us to our discovery of the future of literature. I think that Bé rubé really sums this up when he talks about how we confront the issues, through texts, that most students never are exposed to. These are the “beliefs about abortion or feminism or race or terrorism or God” that are “the very fabric of the class” in the humanities. So much general knowledge, on such a variety of topic areas, hopefully enables all of us to view the world in a less closed minded way, and become the very “citizens of the world” that Nussbaum describes. Personally, literature has allowed me to explore and discourse on a wide range of subject matter, through a variety of courses such as; Women in Literature, Native American Literature, and The Bible as Literature. Not to sound too cliché, but every day that I go to school I learn at least one new thing, and I have already had more than one opportunity to implement what I’ve learned in my profession. The humanities truly involve all aspects of life and I believe that knowledge really is the key to combating ignorance and prejudices.

Citizens of the World

24 Mar

A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with two educated persons about religion in response to the History Channels new series, “The Bible”, when the dialog became quite animated (as often does with religion). One of the individuals, a middle-aged male with a master’s degree level education stated: “Christianity is better because its God does not promote killing like the Arab God does.” His statement was so riddled with “the ignorance that is often an essential prop of hatred” (66) that I felt I needed to correct him and pointed out that Arabs were people whose native language is Arabic, and that didn’t he actually mean Muslim? His response, “You know what I meant, people of the Middle East.” Hmmm. Actually no I didn’t know what he meant. How could anyone of his level of education, age, and experience be so blatantly ignorant? Furthermore, how could he continue to pile more ignorance on top of that he had already spewed forth? Obviously it was my duty to enlighten him and I restated the fact that no, Arab and Muslim are not synonymous! What’s more, the majority of Muslims happen to live in the East and that as little as 15% of Arabs are actually Muslim. My commentary did little to enlighten him, as he simply changed his argument, saying that what he meant was that the Muslim God taught to kill and that the Christian God would never sanction this and does not mention it in the bible. Geez, I wonder what version he has been reading! I reminded him that in the Old Testament the destruction of all those who stood against God when Joshua reclaimed the lands promised to Abraham was ordered, amongst many other things; such as no inter-marriage and the Passover deaths of Egypt’s first born sons (maybe he had really meant Jesus and the New Testament). I also informed him that the Islamic religion was actually one of peace and that even the concept of Jihad is usually misunderstood, as it is a striving and struggling for improvement, not a command to kill non-Muslims. What’s more, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are all monotheistic or Abrahamic religions, with several similarities. I realize I seemed to have gone off on a tangent here, but it proves the point that no matter what you say to a lot of people, they tend to defend their ignorance. In class we seemed to have come to an agreement with the Stoics that “we should seek out curricula that foster respect and mutual solidarity” (66). I completely agree with this proposal because I think it would curb ignorance like that from my example and “show students that what is theirs is not better simply because it is familiar” (62). Stoicism doesn’t have to mean teachers pushing their personal morals, but more so acquainting “students with some (emphasis by me) fundamentals about the histories and cultures of many different groups … [to] include the major religious and cultural groups of each part of the world, and also ethnic and racial, social and sexual minorities within their own nation” (68). How could this possibly be a disadvantage?

The English Language

17 Mar

Although clearly the larger message of Li-Young Lee’s poem “Persimmons” is the struggle of cultural identity, his reference to the words “that got [him] into trouble” (29) stood out to me the most. Sadly enough, the first thing I thought of when reading it was a hand-clap song we used to sing in elementary school at recess about Miss Suzy and her tugboat. For those of you who didn’t do a whole lot of hand-clapping (lol), it goes as follows:

Miss Suzy had a steamboat,

The steamboat had a bell (ding, ding)

Miss Suzy went to heaven,

The steamboat went to —

Hello operator,

Please give me number nine,

And if you disconnect me,

I`ll chop off your —

Behind the refrigerator,

There lay a piece of glass.

Miss Suzy sat upon it,

And broke her little —

Ask me no more questions,

I`ll tell you no more lies.

The boys are in the bathroom,

Zipping up their —

Flies are in the honey,

The birds are in the park.

Miss Suzy and her boyfriend

Are kissing in

The D-A-R-K,

D-A-R-K,

Dark! Dark! Dark

What’s so great about these lyrics is that they utilize the melding of words through sound to create a different meaning. Lee describes how he often did not know the difference of one word from another and confused words such as wren and yarn. This got me thinking even more, because yarn (as Lee referred to it as the string his mother used) can also mean a tall tale. So, while I was engrossed in my own thoughts about yarn and yarn, someone mentioned in class the words there, their, and they’re which got the wheels turning even faster in my mind. If even those people who were raised speaking English still misuse their, there, and they’re at a college level, imagine how hard it would be for someone like Lee whose native language is not English. Furthermore, how many words have multiple meanings, or sound alike but mean different things, or have different spellings? I guess the only thing left for me to do now, is create a list (without cheating and using the internet of course)! Feel free to contribute words or descriptive sentences.

My List of Multiple Meaning, Multiple Spelling, Multiple Definition Words

their/there/they’re      They’re doing their homework over there.

yarn      The yarn he spun was longer than the roll of it in his mother’s basket.

bat      I used my bat to bat at the bat.

color      I like to color with the color green

where, we’re, were      We’re not sure where they’re going.

accept/except      Do you accept their exception?

cup      I watched her cup the cup in her hands.

badger      The sign said don’t badger the badger.

roll      Can you roll me over a roll?

buy/bye      Bye, I need to go buy some gum.

Illusion/allusion

allude/elude

than/then

mat

mate

your/you’re

hamper

fly

way/weigh

bear/bare

hi/high

spot

spring

Belsey and Graff

26 Feb

First off, I have to admit that I misunderstood the whole Truth versus truths distinction that Belsey was referring to in her article and I’ll explain why later. However, that aside, I understood the main concept of truth in literature and after being explained the difference in class, it all came together. What I found most interesting is that it was assigned at the same time as Graff’s article on subjecting students to more criticism. Graff believes that by presenting students with more theory or criticism, it will allow them to discuss any piece of work in a more scholarly and less narcissistic way. I fully support this concept and believe that we were able to see the benefits of that in class today. After being subjected to Belsey’s theory, I came to class with an idea of what it meant, albeit not 100% accurate, I understood enough that through classroom discussion and teacher guidance I was to fully grasp the concept. I think as pointed out in class today, that any teacher is capable of presenting a student with an accessible text and slowly introducing them to literary theory and criticism via that bridge. A good example of this would be taking something like the Hunger Games series, which was quite popular recently, and introducing students to the theory of Marxism and terminology such as bourgeoisie and proletariat. Through small steps as these, a teacher can slowly introduce concepts much larger than what the student may be able to currently grasp, creating a foundation for further interpretive understanding.
Going back to the beginning, I want to talk a little about my misinterpretation of Truth versus truths. For me, I think a lot of the difficulty of distinction was in the opening spiel on the white student Wily Smith wanting to write a novel “about this black kid growing up in the ghetto” (1). I mistook Belsey to be saying that there could be no truth in a white male writing a black males story, but what was meant is it’s not the Truth. If every piece of literature had to be Truth, we really wouldn’t be left with much to read. I want to refer here to Mikayla’s long blog post (with permission from her of course) which was a wonderful depiction of her own self-discovery. To me that piece represents Truth as seen to her, but for the reader who may be male let’s say, it only represents truths. These are the truths that one might see if Smith wrote his piece, much like those truths we see when reading the text of a male author narrated through a female perspective. Although not necessarily the author’s Truth it still can contain truths.

My Name is Red

25 Feb

Death over art seems absolutely incomprehensible to me and I’m assuming this stems from my own westernization. My Name is Red reminded me a lot of the “Innocence of Muslims” film recently made by Jewish American Nakoula Basseley Nakoula that incited violent attacks throughout areas of the Middle East. The whole thing was hard for me to wrap my head around, for as much as I agree with freedom of speech and press, I do not agree with the slandering of another person’s beliefs. To me our freedoms are comparable with going from adolescence to adulthood, yes you are out from under your parents rule, but you must then become a responsible adult. On the other hand, by Muslim’s responding with acts of violence, they only prolonged the stereotype of Islamic aggression.

                Looking at the book from this perspective, I would definitely say that Pamuk has written an overtly political text.  As a Turkish citizen, he represents Turkey, which itself epitomizes the offspring of west meets east. This is so because while Turkey is a secular state with no state religion (west), it is also a country dominated by the Islamic religion (east). Growing up there it would have been impossible for Pamuk not be exposed to these two opposing ideologies, and much of whom we are tends to come through in our writing. We can see this with authors such as Theodore Dreiser and his referencing of “things” in relation to industrialization. What’s left after recognizing the battle between west versus east is whether a combination of the two can exist?

                While not stated directly, it seemed to me as if Pamuk addressed this in the last chapter when he says “the conflict between the methods of the old masters of Heart and the Frankish masters that paved the way for quarrels among artists and endless quandaries was never resolved” (450). What if he is really referring to the several issues that Turkey has faced since Ataturk, such as bans on the burka, fez, and Arabic language? Pamuk goes on to say that “painting itself was abandoned; artists painted neither like Easterners or Westerners … but like old men who quietly succumb to an illness, they gradually accepted the situation with humble grief and resignation” (450). Many Turkish citizens felt this same resignation when Mustafa Kemal changed the face of Turkey and they faced the challenge of learning an entirely new system of language and a world not governed by religious law. Like the characters in his book, Pamuk, as well as the citizens of Turkey, eventually mercilessly forgot they’d “once looked upon [their] world quite differently” (450). I could be way off, for maybe Pamuk didn’t intend to make his text political in nature at all, but it seems to be just the same.

Cool Comments in McCloskey

13 Feb

Although maybe not the main point, there were three statements made that I was particularly drawn to in the article “Storytelling in Economics”

Statement one: “Just ‘telling the story as it happened’ evades the responsibility to declare a point of view” (18).

A great story definitely has a point, whether it is as general as making the reader laugh, or as specific as relating the meat slaughtering process. However, it may not be what the reader reads. For example, take Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. One person may take from it a Marxist reading, another feminist, and yet another a psychological interpretation, but the author herself might have intended it as a horror story to scare people. The question is, had she not written it with any purpose at all, would there even be a story to read? Even with historical texts, the author tends to take on a certain viewpoint, all the other things that the reader takes from it, may or may not be other aspects of the author’s subconscious. I’m curious if anyone can name a text with no point whatsoever? If so I’d love to know.

Statement two: “What is unsaid – but not unread – is more important to the text as perceived by the reader than what is there on the page” (19).

I think this one relates a lot to what I said in response to statement one and Shelley’s Frankenstein. What is unread is the perspective the reader sees; feminism, Marxism, realism, etc.. Although maybe not even remotely what the author intended it to be read as, it was regardless. In Frankenstein references are made to several other authors, like the ones of the books that the monster reads. Now a feminist reading could focus on the fact that they are all males to make their argument for the text representing what they see, but it doesn’t mean Shelley intended that. For this very reason, what we assume from what we read, or the extra unwritten words we apply to the reading, can easily change the point of the story.

Statement three: “Novels do not imitate reality; they create it” (20).

This is a very philosophical type of statement and I can almost picture some karate kid instructor guy uttering it to his pupil. Basically, before this sentence the text said that what we bring to the reading or the interpretation that we take from it is what creates “an imaginary universe.” To me what it says is that we create imaginary out of reality through interpretation, but that what is written is what is real. If that is true, that means what is written is real because we make it that way by giving it life through our interpretation. Kind of a cool, inside-out theory!!