A Stranger in Fiction
Soka University of America
WRIT 305: Advanced Communication Skills
Table of Contents
II. Assignment #1: Toxic & Beautiful
III. Assignment #2: Twin Manifesto
IV. Assignment #3: Photo Essay & Writing Supplement: The American Woman: Beauty, Time & Space
V. Writing Workshop Responses: (5) Jazzy, Rachel, Cassie & Aubree, Nora, Noli
VI. In-Class Writing Exercises: (4) 10/20: Wrecking the First Person, 10/21: People Things: A FLARF Experiment, 10/15: “I’d Rather Be A Cyborg Than A Goddess”, 11/20: 4 SeriesPreface This portfolio of work is essentially an exploration of the body– full of my own musings and slight analysis’ of critical responses and probing from the academic community of writers, thinkers, and passionate believers of inquiry on topics of the body. This course provided me with such foreign ideas and interests about the body, that I often found myself inquiring within: what was my own reasoning for my sexual and engendered behaviors? Am I feminine; and if yes, can I still learn to appreciate and understand the fluidity of gender? How does the way I adorn my body (in this generation and culture) matter? And most importantly, how and why does the body seemed to always be informed by society, or by external influences? To emulate an idea discussed by Judith Butler that has been ever present in my mind: Does my cerebral palsy make me in possession of a lesser body? Never before had I truly explored these ideas at this caliber and focus, so it makes me appreciate the exposure to these types of critical thoughts about something so present in my life. While I found myself, at times, detached from some of the ideas that were presented (ie. homosexuality, trangenderism, racism) I always find value in learning from another’s life experiences. It makes me more aware, and probably more capable of acceptance and tolerance of a form of the body that I am not familiar with. As someone with cerebral palsy, I found these ideas and probings into the body to be immensely valuable to me. Our class discussions and ideas presented in this semester-long course taught me to be more critical about the way in which I present my own thoughts about my body/disability to my young CP blog readers. I am seeing the importance about always being aware of my body–not only its health or physicality, but also its ability to stimulate awareness about CP to others, and ultimately, the importance of consciousness and education about the body, so others can be just as observant, if not more so than I am in this generation. My own writings and thoughts about the body formed themselves around more central ideas: engendered bodies, disabled bodies, healthy bodies, self-conscious bodies ect… and yet I often found myself at a standstill. I enjoying being a woman. But what is it about my woman hood that I enjoy? I am still thinking…These topics are so supercharged with complex notions on the body that I felt somewhat uncomfortable exploring them through my own writing at times because of how little I knew or experienced alongside my classmates. Speaking simply toward my definition as a white, middle class, heterosexual female I felt as if I had no business being in the course and discussing such issues of minority or sexuality. What do I know? What could I contribute to the discussion that would not sound idiotic or explicitly ignorant? With that said, I believed there is always something to be gained from any experience under any circumstance. Navigating through new territory is not always easy, but I hope to have achieved some success and closure from this course, and to have provided my classmates/readers with some insightful musings about the body. I hope you enjoy perusing through my portfolio and find value in it. Thank you. Assignment #1 (Revised)
Toxic & Beautiful
The body. My body. Your body.
How much attention do you pay to the physical appearance of your host? What kind of language do you use to describe it? Beautiful words, toxic words; words that shake or drive your confidence? The adjectives are endless: short, tall, big, small, curvy, voluptuous, lean, muscular… yet there must have been a time when you find your body in its given state; naked, exposed, and undefined—suddenly, it is immune to your word-given descriptions and instead, insists on becoming itself. You like your body, its movement and all of its… all of its what?
Perhaps the body could be formed without knowledge of how or why, it just is and without question. Our host exists in this human form, but it is not the essence of our being. The body helps construct our vocabulary, our notions about the form in which we live, but it is not a set constitution, a definition. Yet, our bodies inform us as we grow into adults and even more so as grow culturally aware. We may hear things like, “I grew into my body” or “I am more comfortable in my skin now…” We give these words to and about the physical body in order to seek out the mystery of such an integral part of our identities in the context of our environment. However carefully or carelessly chosen, these words begin to give us meaning, they give us worth (or dismiss it) and quite possibly, these words become us for better or for worse.
Language creates a discourse that unpredictably stifles us into confusion; we fall victim to its toxic vortex of stifling meanings, lack of clarity and thus, we perpetuate the accepted behavior of ignorance and fear of the human body when it is beyond its normative state. In a brief interview on How Bodies Come to Matter, American feminist philosopher, Judith Butler, urges us to cautiously understand and address what we may tend to ignore or fear:
[The abject body as it] relates to all kinds of bodies whose lives are not considered to be ‘lives’ and whose materiality is understood not to ‘matter.’ So, we get a kind of differential production of the human or a differential materialization of the human. And we also get, I think, a production of the abject. So, it is not as if the unthinkable, the unlivable, the unintelligble has no discursive life; it does have one. It just lives within discourse as the radically uninterrogated and as the shadowy contentless figure for something that is not yet made real (Butler, and 275-286).
Under a more abstract, or negative definition of the abject body in its material form, Butler reveals how the abject body comes to life as a “radically uninterrogated…contentless figure”. Gradually, within our environment and individual life experiences we produce our own ideal human form and therefore, nearly everything in each extreme is potentially abject. Only we can make it “real” based upon our own relationship with the physical body and the intent of language used to describe it. I agree with Butler in that abject bodies do materialize just the same as a normal body would; they are not lesser, but we have been taught to believe some truth in the opposite. Language is the medium by which this process of delusion begins; conversely, language can also create an environment in which we express interest, awareness, and learn about the body—yet the patterns in the discursive discourse in which Butler suggests—we fall into a narcotic trance of external influences that filter our perception of the normative body in contrast to the abject body. It is the human tendency to viciously reject what we do not understand, and so the abject body becomes the target. This begs the question: do abject bodies matter less [than normative bodies]? How do we appropriate a language that informs the consumer about the normative body in a way that does not dismiss the abject body? One may unknowingly reduce the abject body to a lesser form without even realizing it. We say the body can’t do this or shouldn’t do that—yet we are so careful to use words like “crippled or handicapped” in fear of offending an individual, when it is more insulting to limit the potential of any body that is not your own.
Perhaps even in its purest form, the human body is not yet materialized to any standard because it is not predisposed to any sort of social condition or upheld to any cultural standard. In this more naked form, all bodies become both normative and foreign territory to us and thus, and in this condition we are blissfully uninhibited by language and its potentially futile discourse. We are exposed to all the different productions and performances of the body, of our own body. In my own personal belief, I feel that an abject body is not necessarily a body that is always of a lesser form; rather, it promotes the idea of this form as anything outside of what is deemed normative, or typical. As someone with a physical disability, who was raised by body builder -dad extreme- runner mom, with an able-bodied twin sister, I have questioned the body, challenged the body, and deemed my own body less than valuable at one point in this life due to my lack of physical normatively in a physically superior environment. Maybe I didn’t recognize it until later, but my teen angst and insecurity was fueled by this condition that I faced. I felt abject, in an abject body and let my body inform my identity. In May 2012, and again in May 2013, I spent weeks on crutches, in and out of casts and legs braces recovering from surgery and I have found that during the time is when I felt the most disabled, and the most abject. I was no longer independently mobile, and my body’s materialization lacked strength, and lacked worth. What made me feel worthless was not that I was temporarily “broken,” but more that I felt that I had deserved my pain and suffering. My previous lack of physical therapy and negligence of my body had resulted in this and abjection was the price I was paying. Every doctor’s visit ended with me crying in my car, alone. I didn’t feel sorry for myself but I just felt shitty and my body was intensely aggravated, time and time again—during my youth. That was, and still is most heartbreaking; the fact that I could no longer do the things I used to: hiking, jogging, and feeling like I had enough energy just to be with my friends at college. I blamed no one but myself and the consequences made me miserable. Having endured such trials with this body, I am forced to be more aware, more resilient and more in control of my imbalance, muscle fatigue, and lack of poise and grace. I adapted to my body, and in turn, learned to adopt a new vocabulary to survive well in this body and to confidently inform others about my body.
With this, let us broaden the meaning of the abject body to be just that: the human body that does not appear to be physically “normal” to varying degrees. In doing so, this definition could suit anyone from the physically disabled community, queer community—or even, the athletic community of professionals and body builders and beyond. As I write, I am brought back to my earlier considerations about how we use language to describe our bodies. I believe we strive to give our bodies meaning because our bodies are what drive our initial social and communicative experiences… body language. Is this why people go to extreme measures (ie. cosmetic surgery, extreme diet and exercise) for physical perfection if we did not long to be accepted by our peers under a certain favorable image? If we learn how to use impeccable language in order to better express ourselves, we may feel secure with the knowledge that we give our bodies meaning and we make them matter just by our own demeanor and esteem.
Furthermore, Butler stresses we must make the abject more “real,” and explore the foreign territory of the abject body. Could this be why bullying, and ridicule is often directed toward the immaterialized, abject bodies because they are feared and misunderstood for their atypical appearance? Possibly, but what seems to make more sense in this context is that it is important to explore these ideas and notions about the body and our experiences in our human form to better understand what abject, real, and normal means for you. Butler explains how “what very often happens is that people give their abstract theories of something like abjection, then they give the example, then the example becomes normative of everything else. It becomes paradigmatic and comes to produce its own exclusions. It becomes fixed and normative in the rigid sense” and so again, this discussion of the abject is yet another example of this discourse and the way in which we willingly allow language to “produce[s] its own exclusions” (Butler, and 275-286).
Most writers, readers, and thinkers fall prey to this because we are constantly using this global language which may contradict our own notions and awareness about such an abstract form as the human body. In doing so, I think it is impossible to avoid molding the body and its diverse forms into something more concrete. In turn, we enter a feared realm of unrealistic expectations, assumptions, and exclusions within the discourse and rhetoric of language that conceals what is real: the abject body.
The body. My body. Your body.
Butler, Judith, and Costera, Irene, Prins, Baukje . Personal Interview. May 1996.
The Twin Manifesto
Disclaimer: This piece is entirely subjective to my own experience as an identical twin, so I hope to express my sentiments wisely, and without any ignorance to the community of twins.
The human body full of surprises, it can be: fascinating, curious, healthy, unwell, forgiving, mysterious, vicious, peaceful, and perhaps, beautifully misunderstood. Typically, we do not see the body through the biological lens of genetics unless we seek to create this awareness within ourselves. As self-centric beings, we tend to assume that every human is in possession of only one body, one unique DNA strand that carries itself through the beat of a heart which pulses through the tunnel of each vein. But what if there was a replication of your body—is it exact? Or is it a copy, a facsimile of your host…What then? Are you a clone? Do you feel violated? Do you feel cheated; no longer an individual?
Because being an identical twin is everything (and nothing) like that at all.
I have a twin sister. We were born from the same genetic material, in the same womb. We have the same blood flowing through every crevice of our bodies, we share the same kind of eyeballs, with the same vision capacity, the same type of fingernails, hair cuticle, and we have the same voice. We are genetically the exact same. We aren’t even copies or doppelgangers of one another. In theory, we should appear as the same body. Yet we are made up of one person, appearing in two bodies who share a facet of their identity.
The same body has two hosts, two different identities. What an interesting inquiry into the body.
“Our, we and us”
We don’t know how to live any other way that this because our birth had bestowed upon us, this kind of relationship that is unlike any other. We share a birthday, and up until a late age, we were this shared identity: a yin yang relationship. We had the same daily routines, had similar interests, and were one another’s loyal forever friend. We complemented each other in ways that were not easily comprehendible by others. To our people, we were “the twins” “Sara and Katy” “The Fetters Twins” “2fetts.” This type of twinness has its benefits… we were, and still very much are so similar that we can appear to be the other sister to our acquaintances. We can share ID cards, deposit each other’s bank checks, and confuse people over the phone. To ourselves; however, we are not twins. We are sisters and old friends. We often do not see the striking resemblances or feel as though we are twins. That is the problem: Defining twinness for society’s knowledge. Letting people understand that to us, we are not the same; we are individuals and we have our own emotions, own levels of intelligence and awareness, likes and dislikes, personalities, and sexual preferences. So with this lack of deeper understanding, how does one gauge how “identical” we really are? Are there moments when we feel more similar than not? Surely any bond can create that illusion, or sense of closeness. Inwardly,we are as identical as we want to be, and as close as we choose to be. We seek to be individuals in a culture that thrives on the idea that twins are “practically the same person”, both internally and externally. That could not be farther from the truth and I aim to dismiss this idea. Imagine: someone who you hardly knew,(strangers, even) came up to you, gazed at your body for a full moment in time, and decided right then and there—to measure your existence as simply being physically connected to this other being, is that all you care to amount to? Doubtfully so! That feels quite objectifying, and disconcerting. Twins—no matter their closeness or interdependence, will ultimately strive to be their own person. Is that not what we all want? To be seen, and heard, and noticed for their own creation, formulation of identity and person within this mixed up world.
…So what is it like being a twin?
It’s not that I despise this question. I always accept it with the same tone and energy. Yet I wonder—with equal curiosity, why people need to ask this question. Do they truly believe that I feel different than they do, just because I have a sister who resembles me? Or are they just asking, because it’s the obvious go-to small talk to make when they are staring at two obviously identical faces.
It’s not like I feel cloned…and no, we are not “practically the same person.” We are two people, two souls that have been—by mere happenstance—indefinitely connected by our genetic materiality. I am K and she is S.
Me: “What is it like not being a twin?” Do you feel more special? You must feel so rare! There is only one of you in the entire world! See how ridiculous that feels? It is like I am pointing out something so physically and genetically obvious within that individual, that to bring it up seems rather silly. I understand the hype around twins; I’ll admit that I become excited whenever I see another pair of twins because it is like we are a part of this exclusive circle of humans. We just “get it” and I think that is something to be appreciated about the twinness of my being.
Let’s talk the twin talk
Everyone wants to know… do you feel each other’s pain? Do you know what each other is thinking 24/7? Who is smarter? Who is older? Do you have your own language?
These questions are all valid. But to what purpose do they serve? Who really cares? I would rather we explore deeper—let’s talk about cognitive development in twins, or about personality traits. The psychology and development of the brain is much more fascinating that these trivial insights. How does the environment nurture a set of twins to become either entirely co-dependent, or extremely distant? One more apt for success? What are the crippling effects of relying on one another for happiness and affirmation? Can twins truly ever become entirely in possession of their own bodies, their own identities? That is what I want to know—and those are the kinds of questions we should be asking (and trying to answer!)
THE MEDIA, OH THE MEDIA (read: The horror, oh the horror)
The mass media (film, fiction, print…) will continually perpetuate this problem: “the media” defines twinness and their bodies by their identical nature, by their exactness, and by their oneness. Yet that is entirely what twins try to avoid. I don’t want to be compared to my sister, let alone compare myself to her any longer. Of course, being sisters forever calls upon our unending love for each other, yet there is always something unhealthy within me that comes to the surface when I compare our bodies and their physicality’s. The way in which film often depicts the identicalness of twins: in form, style, personality, voice (everything) they make it seems as if twins are pure replicas of each other. (Refer to: White Chicks, 2004) In doing so, I used to wonder why we do not have the same exact bodies, and it made me feel lesser than she.
It is with this, that I urge us all to think more critically and slowly about the kinds of questions we ask identical twins, and force ourselves to question whether or not our curiosities are really worth considering. Only then can we demand a better time and place for twins to be rid of the surface conversations and preconceived notions that exist within society’s fascination toward twinness and identical bodies.
The American Woman: Beauty, Time & Space
In effort to compile my photo essay together for this assignment, I had intended to focus on my feet and my legs—as I have cerebral palsy on the left side of my body and they appear to me as a an aesthetic that’s displeasing to the eye from my years of physical strain and stress. As I peruse through my hundreds of digital photos; however, I realized a lot of photos that I take of myself are centered on my body: as a whole, as a feminine woman, and as shots of “beauty,” symmetry, aesthetic allure. Thus, these photographs and this lengthy introduction was produced under consideration of my transformed and womanly body.
Perhaps, these photographs are for me, selfishly…to appreciate the beauty that I strive to possess…or as a celebration of my body and what it has endured, as a feminine woman, as a woman with CP, and as a woman who has curves. Lastly, I would like to share them with you, as an expression of (American) femininity through photography—through time and space, through images that depict the woman’s engendered and sexual/sensual body. Enjoy.
(5) Writing Workshop Draft Responses
This paper is full of reflective, probing thought and maintains such a powerful voice as you move along your points. I really enjoyed the poem in the beginning because I felt like it set a very unique, strong tone/narrative for the rest of the paper. You explored your own experience/feelings in this moment of questioning and dialogue with the text and I think it speaks to your theme wonderfully. Your title is intriguing, and it wasn’t until after reading a few times through that I became aware of its significance; could it mean that this theme of cultural/historical influences (the “from you”) have shaped your paper as well as your (the “to me”) definition of mind/body/voice?
I enjoy your own reflections in italics at the bottom of page two, it speaks back to your poem without disrupting the dialogue. I am captivated by your thoughts (about gender/sex/race) because they make me relate to my own experiences and value system within my own bodily (un)familiarities. When you disagree with Bordo’s separation of nature/culture I think it strengthens your argument and its overall fluidity. You remain attached to your points and I think that is what makes this such a solid paper. I gather that you discuss 3-4 main issues within the body: how we define the body for ourselves,(who do we blame for our perceptions) how culture and history shape/influence these perceptions, the implications of the sexed body, biology (nature) and culture (history) are distinct “entities” but are not entirely separate b/c we have the ability to culminate ourselves in our minds (internal), among external influences like the media, upbringing, norms ect. While these points are ever-present, I find myself wanting you to dig deeper when you discuss why you “believe culture can develop/express essence…” (2) Just jump in and don’t be afraid to give more personal experiences—maybe give us another instance in which you believe this to be true. I like that you reiterate yourself throughout; always touching on the polar tendencies/effects that culture can have upon our perceptions of our bodies and the ability we have to make these choices and face its effects, however positive or negative. It’s very empowering because you force me to question its “potential to change and transform” and my own perception about the body in our mixed culture.
Favorite line: “We are shaped by culture, and culture is shaped by history, therefore we are inescapably shaped by history.”
I really enjoyed reading your paper! I was hoping someone in their paper, would address the use of language and its discourse in our culture because it is something so universal. I think your opening is very strong and creative and I can really pick up a conversational tone right from the start, which I think is a great quality for an exploratory paper.
I think the first sentence of your second paragraph could be stronger with a little rewording since you are introducing your main point of discussion here. Your rhetorical use of “but what if I told you…” in this paragraph is really interesting; you took a risk here with such a bold statement, but you are able to pull it off since the rest of your paper is so thorough and expressive. Your use of Irigaray is great too because the text never over powers your own voice and you make claims that correspond well to the text and are never contradictory, and that is hard to do! I never really found myself being confused by what you were saying (which I appreciate) but I do find that if you read your paper aloud, you may notice some small errors or awkward word choice that is super easy to revise.
I think what is a huge strength of your paper is your constant questioning. It tends to sound a little less academic, but you still hold true to your initial point about proposing a more matured version of the way in which we communicate. It reminds me of something I read in a self help book. “be impeccable with your word.” Or rather, learn how to use language to say what you mean, to speak eloquently and with clarity so that we can better understand each other. Does that go along with your topic? Anyway, I think it is great you leave your paper open to discussion and these types of categorical, established labels, necessity/absurdity of language ect…it allows me to reflect upon my own understanding of language and all of its enigmatic force! Thanks for sharing.
Cassie and Aubree:
I am so glad to see that you are both working on a piece like this, I was wondering if anyone wanted to address the athlete’s body in the context of our course! I really like it so far, I think it makes your site easy to navigate as you divide it into sections that all are geared toward solidifying a common theme: the body as a machine. I think you should keep these sections, but just add more to them, maybe additional resources, or links to certain organizations that work solely on nutrition, training, or rehab. If you want, I can give you some information on my parent’s gym because they offer a lot of nutrition programs and even hold nutritional seminars for people who just have questions or want to learn how to eat right for their body—at all activity levels! Just a suggestion.
I think the video is a piece of your site (maybe even add it to your homepage?) because it is something the viewer can just click on and watch to learn about your site before they navigate any further. It’s like an intro piece, and I think it would strengthen your blog’s initial impression. I find that this blog is very informative and I like that it is very minimalist while still expressing a more creative, experimental side with the poetry. I find that the poetry is very relatable for anyone who is interested in health and fitness and I think it gives such an interesting, very vulnerable perspective on the lifestyle and mentality of a dedicated athlete. Thanks for sharing! If either of you need help on the techy stuff on the blog, let me know and I’d be glad to help.
I think this is a really cool idea. I would never think to do something like a dance to interpret a cyborg and I think this project is going to have a really neat turn out if you execute it how you intend to: human, machine and animal. I think a dance would be very rich as a visual text and I am looking forward to seeing the differences in choreography. I wonder how you plan on depicting a “fractured identity” through movement, how interesting! On another note, when I think of dancing, I think of music as well, so I would like to know if you are going to incorporate any music into your piece and how this might strengthen (or weaken) your piece. What I like most about your idea is that it has everything to do with the body, in such a literal sense. With such a visual piece, I think you are presented with a challenge because it will be such an interpretive performance, in addition to it being an academic assignment. With that said though, what I find most thought provoking is that a cyborg, as a machine, can be interpreted through dance—it reminds me slightly of the more performative pieces we watched of that Austrailian man a few weeks ago in class.
Wow—I didn’t even know this could be done, or at least I didn’t ever thinking deeply enough about the ET in our world. What I like most about your manifesto is how well organized and executed it is. It reads so well (but I shouldn’t be so surprised).
I think what I found most interesting is the way in which you explored the idea/existence of the alien in our culture today—you moved from classic films like ET and Star Wars, to more recent films like Alien and Pedator that suggest a less human, more deformed or threatening life form. It made me think about the reason behind this progression or change… do we have humanoids in movies to resemble what we “think” we will be like, or what we “desire” to be in the future? Was ET so childlike so that we are taught not to fear the outside realm of life? I don’t really know, but I think you suggest this; the vast differences you present between ET and Star wars allows us to questions these sorts of things and I like that… a manifesto, in my mind a commentary, declaration, or remark of some sort that either suggests or challenges certain notions and I think you do so wonderfully throughout your piece. It is interesting to notice the transition from something so “innocent” as ET to the more modern depiction of the alien as something that would exist in a dystopian, or extreme universe. The point you bring forth about evolution adds a very powerful element to your manifesto, because it provides your reader with something to help process all of the information about how alien appearance (and function for the audience) has even evolved in film; additionally, how this species should really be looked at from a closer lens to understand what this all means in the context of our own evolutionary existence, as we are currently just a “functional permutation”. Thanks for this, it was a really neat read and I like all of the pics you include.
(4) In-Class Writing Exercises
Wrecking the First Person
I am a planet, I am one of many: I am red and I contain the goddess of fire
“I am Zelda Fitzgerald”
and who am I? (She might ask…)
I am the beautiful little fool who left the blue and green cool of the earth to dance with the cyborgs of another time in which I have not lived. My expensive pearls and loud voice once found life in the bar of the early city life that smelled of cheap colonge and cigarette smoke. It’s all a fog now but I daresay that I once knew a many of mystery–
I smoked a cigarette out in the foyer and he asked me my name… it was then I found my loud voice silent.
“I heard he killed a man…I heard he’s an Oxford man.” quiet whisper’s filled and echoed in the dense atmosphere and I knew
Why that’s Jay Gatsby!
And I am his friend’s twin sister. His ashy hair and inviting smile reminded me of someone much older.
But I am only 28, and I am a man of many rumors. I smoke to much and drive too fast. My parties costs too damn much, and my obsessive love for Miss Daisy got me killed once, shot right in the head. All is fair in love and war.
People things: A FLARF experiment
“We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.”
Things I want to punch in the face: Black Licorice
I can’t believe these disgusting sticks of distgustingness have infiltrated the candy aisle. They have no right sitting next to such delicious treats as Reese’s Pieces and the oh-so-famous Snickers bar.
As for seafood, just hand over to me your portion of lobster.
RELATED: RED LOBSTER WAITRESS GETS $10,000 DONATION AFTER RACIST FIASCO
By the way, I’m 26 years old, and I’ve disliked fish since I was about 3 or 4. I think it started when my parents bribed me to finish my (breaded flounder) dinner, and I have had serious hatred of seafood ever since.
This isn’t an isolated case, I’ve tried lobster a few times and had the same strong, unpleasant taste from it each time, even though everyone else eating the lobster said it was perfect and exactly as lobster should taste.
Also note that I think the concept of eating bugs (like mealworms or crickets) less disgusting than eating a slab of fish. What is wrong with me?
So you’re tempted to try home cooking for Bruiser or Muffy. What should you consider?
You can step away from the whole idea that ‘my animal has to have blueberries’ or ‘my cat needs to have fish.’”
Wondering how to give your dog mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Here’s your chance to learn
“If you have a cat as big as Garfield, it’ll be a little more difficult, just as it can be harder to work on a human who’s overweight,” Rettew allows. “You may have to do things a little more forcefully, or you may have to pick a different spot. These are all questions we answer in class” with the assistance of dog and cat mannequins that will give attendees a hands-on feel for the task.
So be proactive: get started today
“I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess”
Because a goddess is lost in romance; because a goddess, is beyond my own humanity and reality; she exists in the realm of impossibility and she becomes my fantasy. I do not dream beyond my potential, but I dream of confidence and fearlessness. Controllability. I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess because I would not participate in my emotions, or my tendency to enhance my bodily image and figure with the material world. I would be free of shame, stigma, or pain. I would not transcend anyone or anything; I would exist in the image of myself. Does this mean I would be without my humanity? A true “hybrid of machine and organism[?]” I would not be defined or confined to a standard of godly-ness, and spiritual soundness. There would be no need for my powers in a cybernetic world, I would obsolesce with each new cyborg and would simply behold my body as something objectify-able, deconstruct-able, and profoundly lost in the rise of technology and modern social reality that would only emphasis my womanliness and endanger my sanity.
The cyborg is something of fiction and reality, imagination and matter. As a cyborg and not a goddess, I would exist in the realm of possibility and promise. I would be the master of my own social reality. There would be no extension of the body for my tools, and in turn, they would not amputate my abilities. I would be intimately formed by new technology and aware of its insistent, unrestricted applications to my existence. It is as if the discourse of language, of communication, of all things political and cultural would not establish my place in the world. My form is not my only function and I am not restricted by race, by gender or by ability. I am a part of this new arrangement and hybridization of culture and my identity is sound.
A memory of writing…
My Aunt Elaine taught me how to write the letter “K” in cursive. It was then that I began to attempt to perfect my penmanship and my signature. I thought my name looked so pretty, there on the page in ink with a big curvy “K” followed by the rest of the letters in my name “a-t-y.” I was eight years old and still write my name with the same technique, and probably always will.
In 5th grade, I wrote a story as a spin-off of the lives of tweedle dee and tweedle dumb from Alice in Wonderland. It was meant to reflect an adventure about twins, like my sister and I. I wrote is for the “imagination machine” that was a group of people who would enact stories written by students in elementary school. I don’t recall too many details, but I remember the retelling of my story was much, much funnier and all of my friends and teachers loved it. We laughed at how outrageous and loud they were, and it was around that age I knew writing creatively—or storytelling, was something I like to do.
When I think of writing, I think…
About how it’s my art form…It’s my means of production, of release, of gravitational pull and balance. I know writing is very fluid and imperfect, but sometimes I just know when I have a piece that I enjoy, or that I am proud of. Word play is so fun, and the possibilities are endless. I love the way that words can fit together so well, the way they can glide seamlessly across a page, or be spoken or sung with such grace and magnitude. Everyone writes differently, but we all communicate through this mode of language. Writing is power, it is voice, it is part of myself, my digital culture, my movement and my ambition…
Most of the time, if not every day, I feel compelled to write. I write about my experiences, about conversations I overhear; about the things I see, do, and feel. I have hundreds of pages that consist of and tie together, or even disassemble my thoughts from the past few years of my life. I wonder if anyone does the same, and then I think, “of course they do—but they do so in their own form, in their own time, and for their own reasons, they must.” Our emotions and our experiences—however futile or magnificent—are what unite us as humans. Without expression, without wonder; without release and relief we would forever feel lost or frozen in a moment that persists to our dismay. That is why I write.
To my delight, I often feel pride in my writing, even if it is just two words placed next to each other or a sentence scribbled on a sheet of paper, I know I have begun a woven piece of language that is a fabric of my own history. Perhaps I sound like an egoist here, in my attempt to explain why I write—but I find it necessary to really think this one through; to really come to a conscious awareness of my own behavior as a writer, in the selfish hope that I will somehow become “a better writer” if I understand why I do my craft, and why I aim to perfect it and feel pride and joy in my product. Like any other craftsman may feel about his work, a writer will be even more critical of his own work, because language (of all wonders of man) is the cleverest of them all. It is never absolute and a writer must always proceed with caution and be merciful unto himself ; for his words may overtake him at any moment. This presents every thinker with the impossible task of producing something authentic, something toxic, narcotic so that his consumer may always have the insatiable thirst for his language. And then, he must do what most writers cannot… he must set aside his work for another day, and have faith to revisit is another day, or another late night when his mind is on the mend.
I believe writing has the power/potential…
To both construct and deconstruct one’s reality. Perception, attitude, and understanding is a make- up of one’s reality. Writing is an educational and creative tool that can manipulate all of these things that we experience and I love that. I consider myself a writer and find equal pleasure and discomfort in sharing my private thoughts on such a cosmic spectrum like the Internet, but yet I do so every day. Is that not power? We all have the power and potential of publishing, authorship ect… and that makes me uneasy, but it also makes me more excited about what is in store for this next generation of writers and thinkers in academia and society. Power and potential are two very different things and if I can access both through my writing, then I am going to do just that.
Writing I enjoy…
Because it is my privacy, it is my sanity and ultimately, it will be my livelihood. Writing I do not enjoy when I have something so passionately aggressive or savagely joyful that I write so fiercly, and with such intent that I can’t seem to collect my thoughts as well as I hope to, and so my writing becomes a play on the truth of my thoughts and experiences. I almost get lost in my own sea of entropy, that I become a less effective writer. Writing I enjoy when it moves people, when it changes the way something thinks, when it progresses my academic portfolio and understanding of something that was less clear to me before I began writing.
The writing/composing I have undertaken this semester reflects my belief is…
Not as good as I would like. These topics are so complex, so rich that I become less confident as I approach each new idea that I have thought about or undertaken….
Thank you to Aneil Rallin, of SUA for inspiring and challenging my thoughts.
In addition to my previous post about MIT’s involvement and questions concerning Swartz’ case, I am including several articles that I found worthy of investigating. The following information depicts Aaron as yet another human interest piece…a tragic, lost soul who committed suicide after a long and heart wrenching investigation that did not looking promising. Using Media Master Marshall McLuhan’s Theories of Media Control, we are left with a series of political, social, and cultural questions that we must probe in order to rise above the phantasmagoria of the media.
A series of accounts in reference to the historical moments that led up to Aaron Swartz suicide and free culture movement:
Cowritten by Swartz himself, read the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto (2008)
NY Times Coverage of Aaron’s Life & Death: A Questionable Narrative
Rolling Stone Magazine’s Coverage of Aaron’s Life & Death: A Tragedy
The Atlantic Wire Coverage of Aaron’s Life & Death: The Unknowable Truth
Newsworthy indeed… after an extended hiatus, I am finally enthralled enough to engage in dialogue on the free culture movement that began not long ago.
For those familiar with the death of Aaron Swartz, and his previous involvement with “illegally” accessing and downloading thousands of JSTOR academic articles to the public domain, his sudden death and the months leading up to it are full of both mystery and tragedy. JSTOR did not press charges against Swartz for releasing information. That much is true. So who is to blame? Was he targeted by federal authorities? To what extend should his actions been punishable? What role did MIT play in his arrests and prosecution & even his suicide?
The supposed “neutrality” of MIT in this case is upsetting…is this the money talking? What does the 180 page report on MIT’s involvement really suggest? What does Aaron’s death say about the rhetoric of news presentation? So many questions have gone unanswered. I feel a sense of duty to his free cultural movement, and to the Millennial Generation– we need to inform others about this suggestively abusive case. I know where I stand as a new media & free culture activist; I am under the impression that I have much to learn about the history behind this case, but I am still certain that as a member of the digital age, we are all entitled to share information. I am fulfilling that purpose.
“In an open letter, the M.I.T. president, L. Rafael Reif, applauded the “careful account” that he said set “the record straight by dispelling widely circulated myths.” The report, he said, “makes clear that M.I.T. did not ‘target’ Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution, punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain.” -NY Times
As unclear as everything may seem, it is imperative that we decide what is right….each of us have as much power as Aaron once did..
What do you believe?
180 page MIT Report: http://swartz-report.mit.edu/docs/report-to-the-president.pdf
Andrea A. Lunsford and Marvin Diogenes define writing as “a technology for creating conceptual frameworks and creating, sustaining, and normal performing lines of thought within those frameworks, drawing from and expanding on existing conventions and genres, utilizing signs and symbols, incorporating materials drawn from multiple sources, and taking advantage of the resources of a full range of media.”
In my [technologically disadvantaged] attempt to create content that “evokes [writing] as epistemic, performative, multivocal, multimodal, and multimediated,” I give you this:
WE ARE NOT A LOST GENERATION WE ARE AN EXPOSED ONE
naked-ness? complete-ness? open-ness? new-ness? self-ness? else-ness?
Thoughts from/about other people’s thoughts.
“You have not known what you are–you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?
The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;”
-Walt Whitman [Leaves of Grass]
“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” -WW
Millennials are the first generation to come of age during an era in which the internet has encompassed nearly all aspects of daily life. As Millennials are being thrust out into the “real” world, the “real” world is becoming faker—more digitized and impalpable. Everyone is on the internet and everyone knows that everyone on the internet. Given the large audience, poor state of affairs and the abundant platforms on which to express their feelings, people did the logical thing: They talked about the problems in the world, specifically those facing Millennials.
Prominent scholars and writers penned articles about the star-crossed generation. Networks broadcasted TV shows about Millennials. All the while Millennials flocked to Facebook, Twitter, WordPress blogs and other Internet locales to tell the world about their plight.
No other generation faced this as they entered adulthood.
….We’re naked in front of a computer, a tablet, and a smartphone and we’ll be that way for as long as we live. Our shameful issues, our glorious triumphs, and our ignominious defeats have been and will continue to be shared around the entire world day after day until our deaths. This burden is uniquely ours.
-Matt Saccaro [Thought Catalog 3. IV. 2013]
i want your life to be better because i’m in it
excerpts from CRUNK JUICE, thoughts and poems by steve roggenbuck:
THE MOON IS
QUIET I LOVE
EVERY TIME I READ CARPE DIEM
POEMS I DO SOMETHING I REGRET
i feel pain for everyone who lives
changing my facebook sidebar message to something else so i can
submit the current one to a literary magazine
HI. IT WOUDL
IF YOU WERE
THERE IS NO RESTRICTION OF
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN LIFE
I wrote this poem, as someone who experiences this burden that new media presents us with & all of its sublime glory and terror:
What is this burden?
What is this burden that is uniquely ours?
What is this burden that exposes us all?
We are the millennial’s
We are consumed
We are numbed
We are lost in translation
Digitized and mesmerized
We seek to know our burden
That is so uniquely ours
The millennial generation
But we live this burden
It encompasses us
It exposes us
It emancipates us from ourselves
But yet we are still human
We still wonder
We still desire
We still fear
We still feel
It’s just a matter of what is real
[thank you for experiencing my experience]
Please continue scrolling to view my own adaption of exposing ourselves through new media environments
In my [technologically disadvantaged] attempt to create content that “evokes [writing] as epistemic, performative, multivocal, multimodal, and multimediated,” I give you this:
This title is taken from a line of an online article written by Matt Saccaro on the blog, Thought Catalog. This video is a collaborating piece to a blog post under the same title. Song: My Body by Young The Giant
This is the second piece of my final work for “writing about new media,” a course I am currently taking at SUA. Please continue scrolling if you wish! Thank you.
(2012) published by steve roggenbuck, online in the public domain…. I find this compilation a peaceful yet anxious reminder that I am alive…. these are some of his own highlighted responses:
“THIS IS WHERE BEAUTY
GOES TO DIE.” – ANONYMOUS COMMENTER
“AS SOMEONE WHO ENJOYS POETRY
I CAN SAY THESE ARE SOME OF
THE STUPIDEST THINGS
I HAVE EVER READ.”
“THIS SHIT IS NOTHING BUT
YOU ARE A GIMMICK,
I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU TAKE
“I WISH I COULD EXPRESS IN 140
CHARACTERS HOW INCREDIBLY
TERRIBLE YOUR ‘POEMS’ ARE.”