Fresh Out of Fresh Titles

In a fitting show of blog prowess, I definitely just got to the new post screen that I wanted on my first try, so, yeah, I have totally learned at least one concrete skill this semester.

Can't wait to see this thing up close and personal.

Can’t wait to see this thing up close and personal.

And, you know, I’m cool with that. Next semester, I’m hoping to expand this skill-learning to maybe two more skills, three if I’m feeling really teachable. And, hey, what better place to learn something new than in a foreign country, which is where, coincidentally, I will be. Hopefully merry London town (I’m pretty sure the Brits will L.O.V.E. (that just happened, and, yes, I am using parentheses inside of parentheses) that term of endearment) will provide me with ample opportunity to pick up some new skillz skills. I’m taking a class called Introduction to Old English (plenty of skills to be learned there), and I’m hoping that I don’t come to regret that decision. I’m also taking a course about American literature and art in New York City throughout the 20th century.  I’m pretty excited to learn about American lit from a British professor. My main goal for the semester is to pub crawl the bejesus out of Britain and most of Europe experience the culture–political, social, and academic–of a country that is not the United States and thus become more in tune with the various dreams and struggles of my fellow Earthlings. So we’ll see how that goes.

I think one of the coolest things about the concepts that we discussed in this class involves how easy it is to apply them to everyday life. I particularly liked the readings from White Space is Not Your Enemy. The outline of the rules and elements of design didn’t necessarily shake up the way I think, but I am interested in the Gestalt theory and its application to things beyond graphic design. Specifically, I feel like every time I look at groups of things–people, books, the carpets of various rooms around Trinity as I zone out in class–I am conscious of myself Gestalt-ing them. In the case of Gestalt-ing people, I am perhaps straddling a thin line between simple association and unnecessary judgement, but, hey, I calls ’em as I sees ’em. Moving on, I also enjoyed the reading from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics: the Invisible Art. I loved his discussion about the vanity of humans. We do see ourselves in everything! I am constantly look for the “face” of things. Not to mention the fact that I treat my possessions as an extension of myself. Typing these last couple of sentences has made me feel like I might have some sort of diagnosable illness.

You know, the fact that we survived this monstrosity gives me hope for the end of the Mayan calendar.

You know, the fact that we survived this monstrosity gives me hope for the end of the Mayan calendar.

As for our theoretical readings, I just have a lot of feelings about Chuck Klosterman (I also always feel like I’m spelling his name wrong. For some reason, I want to add another N at the end). His articles are engaging and easy to read, but he’s such a Debbie Downer sometimes. He has no faith in any of us. Like, I love Lloyd Dobler, but I think I, as well as the rest of America, has the common sense not to expect a fictional character to be a completely realistic presentation of reality. And I don’t think laugh tracks are the down fall of American civilization. That honor I reserve for reality television like Rock of Love and Millionaire Matchmaker. However, I agree that the principle of laugh tracks is kind of depressing. I also have a lot of feelings about Animal Man and Grant Morrison. I definitely like Morrison’s version of Animal Man better than I liked the other version that was posted as an optional reading. I think Morrison handles really big, open ended issues in a refreshing way. I loved the fact that Morrison decided to bring Buddy’s family back, even if Morrison himself was skeptical about how cliche it was. People write off endings like that as ridiculous, but I think there’s something to be said for happy endings. Mainly, I think Morrison’s decision to create a happy ending where he could have left death and destruction suggests that people have more control over their own happiness than they take responsibility for.

Given his feelings about Disneyland, I wonder what Baudrillard would say about Disney World...

Given his feelings about Disneyland, I wonder what Baudrillard would say about Disney World…

Finally, the package from our old buddy Monsieur Johnny B. (Jean Baudrillard, perhaps?) After Googling, and Gizoogling, the return address on the package, I discovered that West Ball Road in Anaheim, CA is actually the location of Disneyland, i.e. true America, according to Baudrillard. The more I look at the package, the more I recognize a whole host of things we watched and read in Media Interp and Criticism. I begin to suspect Johnny B. wants me to be aware of not just my surroundings but of my choices and what those choices say about me. It seems like he’s trying to tell me that simply going through the motions is no longer acceptable, and I need to branch out and reconnect, or even, as the post moderns would support, reinvent, myself. I must admit, though, that I’d be pretty creeped out that someone took the time to superimpose my face on a bunch of movie stills and pictures of Trinity. But I’d also be excited because it’s probably the closest I’ll get to a Hogwarts letter.

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