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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Jean Baudrillard is known for his thoery that most things are misleading, nothing is really as it appears to be. While reading Baudrillard we came across his notion of DIsneyland. Meghan posts in her blog ” According to Baudrillard Disneyland serves as a distraction. It helps us think that we are escaping from reality when we go there to visit. DIsneyland is what is real while America is not”. Disneyland is completely predictable. You know what to expect, however America is not predictable at all. Disneyland is just one place not the whole world. That is why there is a notion that people from other countries may go to Disneyland and think that every place is similiar. Boy are they in for a surprise. In class Alison brought up the example of a “perfect ” family portrait. Ann expands on this idea and connects it to another in her blog. Ann talks about the theory of the vietnam war in her blog post. Ann goes a step further to say that the vietnam war is the family portrait. She expands on this idea by saying ” This family takes beautiful photos at Sears, matching sweaters, all smiling with their hair done. The Father is home for dinner, the Mother has it all ready to go and on the table. The children are good at school, there are only two. 1 boy and 1 girl. Everything is perfect! At least to everyone else. On the inside there is nothing but destruction and sadness. This family is the Vietnam war. There is an image of reason, of perfection, of being strong and put together. And maybe it started out like that, like the war (sort of) started out like that. But then it falls apart. Maybe there’s alcoholism involved”. This makes Baudrillards arguement of everything is not what it appears to be completely valid.

“The old idea of convergence was that all devices would converge into one central device that did everything for you”. While reading this piece it was something I could totally relate to. While that quote seems to be a great idea, it really isn’t all that. Yes it would be great to have one device that did everything that you would need 5 separate devices for. However we must thing about what we are losing when we only use the one device instead of the five separate devices. We must also consider all the things that could go wrong with that one device as opposed to the 5 separate ones.
I have a blackberry. I have phone, text, email, internet, Facebook, translator, dictionary, music, TV, radio, there are applications for literally everything on the blackberry. However because there is so much that the blackberry can do there is a higher possibility for things to go wrong. The blackberry is trying to do something that different devices specialize in however the blackberry is tying to specialize in everything which can make it go on overload. Then you have nothing. I have heard of something called a kindle. It’s where you can download tons of books at your fingertips and you read it online. I like the feeling of holding a book while I read. I can’t imagine looking at a screen all day. I like the tactile tangible feel of the book itself. In the future who knows, libraries and book stores will probably be obsolete.

In regards to our discussion in class on Baudrilliard I think it came as a shock to some of us when we realized that the piece was taking a different perspective on Disneyland than most individuals. Throughout the piece one of the main themes was that most things are misleading. Nothing is really what it appears to be. The notion of Disneyland being this happy place and magical things can come true is what it seems but that’s not what is going on inside. Nicole told us that she knew someone who was actually convinced that the characters in Disneyland were real, and referred to them as people. This could mean that on the inside the employees are being brain washed. But you would never imagine that from how things look on the outside.
Alison gave a great example of a “perfect” family portrait. THE family in the picture look amazing, like they are the ideal family and everyone is envious of them. But really on the inside the mother is being abused, there is tons of fighting. The whole nine yards. We also discussed the notion that Disneyland is more real than America. That is a serious statement. I guess that is because as much as Disneyland may have things going on we do not know about it is pretty much predictable. You can bet when you go you will find all the characters there; there will be rides, food, games, anything that you can imagine and more. However America is not so predictable. That is just one place out of the whole continent that is predictable. When you leave Disneyland you are in “America”. Disneyland is portrayed as its own country.

While reading this piece i felt that it was a lot easier to understand, and the main idea was something that everyone could relate to. “The movie-makers distrust any manuscript which is not reassuringly backed by a bestseller”. I think this quote speaks the truth about movies today. Take Twilight for example. The movie was automatically a hit because the series was a best seller, same thing with Harry Potter. Now a day’s Movie-makers want to guarantee a hit so they will produce nothing unless they can see it is without a doubt very popular. There are so many movies out there that have the same story line, or the same actress or actor plays the same part in every movie they play in. But because it sells familiar is good. No one wants to try anything new and put it out there for fear of failure.
In class we discussed reflection. I disagree with this article when the point that no one reflects anymore is brought up. I think everyone still reflects on every movie they see. Whether the movie is good or bad the individual still talks about and gives their opinion in regard to the film. I think we reflect even before we see a movie based on the preview that is given to us. Automatically from the preview can decide if that movie is interesting to us or something that does not look worth going to see. Reflection also takes place in regard to the people starring in the movie. We reflect on whether to see a movie with familiar people or to see a movie with no one we have heard of in it.

Walter Benjamin is a very interesting character. While reading his piece it seemed to be that his main ideas were focused around film, and the reproduction of art. While Benjamin discusses Art he brings up that Art can and is always being reproduced. However when it is a replica if the artist is unaware that the same thing exists somewhere else the piece is considered new. There is always a chance that someone is going to copy your work on purpose or by accident. However even so that work of art has a special meaning for the creator.
“The eye perceives more swiftly than the hand can draw, the process of pictorial reproduction was accelerated so enormously that it could keep pace with speech” Benjamin uses this quote to describe Pictorial Representation. The quote also suggests this was a positive outcome in the world of art. I think it is hard to capture everything with a drawn picture. There is something about the essence of a picture taken with a camera that is completely different, and seems to capture the realness of the environment. When you look at a picture taken with a camera it is more tangible, when you look at drawn or painted picture there is a more imaginary feel.
The last thing I would like to discuss is the feeling of accomplishment that overcame me when I realized I had comprehended the piece, and then the wave of disappointment that swept over me when I came to the end of the piece. Benjamin did a nice job of stating his main ideas and then it was like he threw them all away when he began discussing war. Like What? He spent the whole time on completely irrelevant topics to war, and then all the sudden BAM! Here is another curve ball. I don’t understand the purpose of the war discussion so I am going to pretend like it has been omitted.

While reading Gore Vidal’s book Myra Breckinridge, I could not help to find myself surprised at the text that I was reading. The book touched on all of the theorists we have talked about and it was crazy to see all of them at work. The first theorist I found had a major part in the book was Foucault. His notion of power according to sexuality is huge for Myron and Myra. On pages 97-98 Myron discusses his ideas about power. It is not fun for Myron, and he does not feel powerful until he humiliates another individual sexually taking away their dignity or making their worst nightmares come true. Starting on page 193 and ending on page 197 we get to see Myra’s notion of power. Myra I think is in the same boat as Myron. She wants to feel power by humiliating another individual sexually. Myra actually goes as far as to make Rusty’s worst nightmares come true. She ruins his life. But according to Myra she has achieved her goal, and now she feels superiority.

More ideas I found present throughout the text correlate to Levi-Strauss, and Derrida. The notion of the two categories and the binary in the middle. Throughout this book, Myron is a boy who desires to be a girl. He becomes Myra. Hence he fit into one category and then moved into another but is not in the middle. Then Myra must go back to Myron so the individual is put back into the category he started in. Derrida wins over Levi-Strauss here because Levi-Strauss would say Myron could be a man with woman parts and just act as a binary in the middle. However Derrida wins the battle in this case because Myron and Myra are in a selected category at all times. THey are not floating around in the middle.

In class Wednesday, my group discussed Foucault in regards to Gore Vidal’s book Mira Breckinridge. Foucault’s main focus is power according to sexuality. He stresses that certain situations make the individual powerful.
This is a huge part of the book. Throughout the book there is a huge power struggle between Myron, and Myra who are the same person but are portrayed as two complete separate individuals. My group chose the passage on pages 97-98 (this may vary according to book) “It is my view that the struggle to achieve power is the underlying theme to all of Myron’s work, even though he never formulated it clearly. …………………………..In fact once the man wish to penetrate him, Myron lost interest for then he himself would become the thing used, and so lose the power struggle. This section explains that Myron is power hungry. He wants to use individuals before they use him. When he can find someone and humiliate them sexually it is more of a pleasure for him, because when they want it, there is no fun for Myron anymore.
Professor Middleton makes an excellent point. When discussing our ideas with her she explained we were on the right track, but to consider that power does not last forever. In the book the true struggle is when Myron has to give up his power because he has found love. It is scary to him but he would rather lose power than his mate.