We Only Part To Meet Again

It’s hard to believe that the semester is already at its end! My plans for next semester, assuming that the world doesn’t end before then, are pretty normal. I am planning on taking 18 hours with courses that satisfy my Marketing and English majors:  American Literature: New Realism to Moderns, American Literature of the 19th Century, Financial Administration, Operations Management, Fundamentals of Managerial Accounting, and Intermediate Spanish II. I am kind of stressed about taking on such a heavy workload but I have faith that I can handle it. I don’t plan on studying abroad in the future, primarily because I don’t think that I would have the time to take a semester away from Trinity and still satisfy the graduation requirements for both of my majors on time. I don’t have anything special planned for the winter break so I will be spending the lovely, and much needed vacation, in my hometown, San Antonio (I know it’s so far away…). In the broader spectrum of things, I see my life heading towards a career as either a book publisher or a marketing agent. I guess we’ll have to wait and see where I end up, presuming the world doesn’t implode in December 2012, of course. 

Some of the most interesting aesthetic concepts that I learned about from the readings this semester came from the Bernard Dick reading, The Anatomy of Film and Rebecca Hagen and Kim Golombisky’s White Space Is Not Your Enemy. Dick’s notes about the strategic use of camera shots and different aesthetic choices in film production really opened my eyes to the fact that every choice in film editing is purposeful and works as a tool to influence the audience in a very specific way. I don’t think that I can ever watch a movie or TV show again without questioning the aesthetic choices of the director. Using Dick’s comments about how particular camera techniques, such as close-ups, fade outs, and subjective shots, tend to fit very traditionally into various genres of film so that audiences can easily recognize and categorize them as such. This concept really caught my attention because I never really questioned this before. It is fascinating to think that our mind picks up on these subtle characteristics and associates them with past memories, even subconsciously! I also found White Space Is Not Your Enemy extremely interesting and helpful for the future. When creating layouts and designs, I tend to organize the space in a very organized and clean-cut fashion that is, in all reality, completely boring. This textbook showed me several ways that layouts can be organized AND off-center (which really took my OCD mind a while to accept). I really enjoyed the concepts that this text presented because they opened my mind to an entirely new level of design that I feel will be extremely rewarding in the future.

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Darn you John Cusack and your radio-holding, teenage cuteness.

I also found a great deal of importance in the theoretical readings that we read this semester. My favorites included Blackmore’s Strange Creatures and Universal Darwinism, Klosterman’s This Is Emo, and Sobchack’s Genre Film: A Classical Experience. Blackmore’s discussion of the dispersal of memes as a parallel of the spread of viruses throughout the human population was astonishing. It is so awe-inspiring to think that any thought that we have may not really be our own but a mutation of some previous thought process that was a mutation of yet another. With the ability of the media to spread memes at such a quick pace to such a broad audience, it is extremely important to recognize the strong power that meme generators have over today’s society, and the thought that every single human being is a meme generator makes that thought all the more terrifying! In This Is Emo, Klosterman discusses the lack of reality in the relationship expectations of today’s society. I found this concept completely accurate (and excruciatingly heartbreaking) because we see so many idealistic relationships in movies where everyone meets their extremely attractive soul mate and lives happily ever after. I’ve known that these perfect notions of love are complete crap ever since I was old enough to realize that Disney movies were (unfortunately) not real life. And I would argue that most people do in fact know this. However, Klosterman’s writing opened my eyes to the fact that we still believe in extremely idealistic versions of love that our mind perceives as reality. Tying this in to Blackmore’s meme theory allowed me to see how memes such as proper relationship etiquette and actions that signify “love” have travelled throughout the population and created a virtual norm of romantic idealism that has made a realistic version of love kind of unattainable. If you’re wondering exactly what idealistic characteristics of relationships and love that I’ve been referring to, check out the plot of any movie listed on Us Weekly’s “30 Most Romantic Movies of All Time” index. I’m still struggling to really piece together what implications Klosterman is really getting at in this chapter, but because of this I took great interest and found a lot of importance in this reading. Similarly, I felt that Sobchack’s Genre Film was especially thought provoking because it questioned my previous belief that we categorize things based on unchanging, intrinsic qualities. Yet in this article, Sobchack points out that we categorize film into specific genres because of what we recognize in them from our past experiences. This also ties back to Blackmore’s meme theory, in that we have specific ideas of certain characteristics that apply to specific genres that are passed throughout society like a virus. I took a lot out of this article because it challenged my basic thoughts about film, and it was so fun to use these characteristics in an unconventional way to really exemplify what Sobchack was talking about.

As for the strange package, my immediate response was “I think Dr. Delwiche has lost his mind,” but seeing as that is not a valid answer, I tried to piece it out in relation to everything we’ve been talking about in class. Obviously, the return address to Anaheim, California references Disneyland, which is a central theme for Baudrillard and Shaviro. The package seems to be being sent from the realm of simulation and hyper reality that masks the revelation that the entire world is a simulation. The Polaroids sent by Johnny B. of Quinn Tulpa in various situations questions Quinn’s sense of his own reality. He may not remember being in those places and doing those things, yet he is staring at Polaroids of himself doing those things. What is real? Also, by inserting Quinn’s face into different scenarios, Johnny is acting as a God-like creator who controls a simulation of Quinn’s life. If someone walking through the “desert of the real” saw one of these Polaroids on the ground, they would take the photo as fact and assume that Quinn Tulpa was really there even if Quinn himself believes that he wasn’t. Johnny B. has effectively become to Quinn what God was to Crafty in Animal Man. Johnny B. is trying to show us that reality is what you make it. Everything is a simulation. Nothing is really real. Everywhere is Disneyland. We are all part of a working simulation of reality that actively tries to imitate an ideal real. So what do we do next? We keep on keeping on. Life is short and we can’t escape the realm of simulation, and although we may be exposed to the knowledge of this, we must continue to live and take joy in what we feel is real, regardless of the truth.

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