Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Splendid Visions

Having a childhood without imagination is nothing. With your childhood comes imagination. That's all the fun. Everyone has a different childhood and a different imagination. Some kids can have a boring imagination or kids like me could have a fun and exciting imagination. William Giraldi's imagination was creative. He would imagine a Greek god Pan haunting his backyard. "He dwelled behind the pair tree next to the garage and left his hoof prints in the dirt..." (A mediation of the childhood sublime) like Giraldi some kids imaginations can be scary but exciting at the same time.

Shopping picture

When I was a child I had a weird imagination but it was fun. Whenever I went to a store with my mom I would pretend that I was buying my own things. So if I saw something I liked I would point to it and say "zap" and would magically appear in my invisible shopping cart. Even if they didn't have my size I would still be able to put it in my shopping cart because I would just "zap" it and say the size. I also liked to play this weird game with my friends and we would pretend we were spy's. we used to use my basement as the place where all the action took place. Using your imagination as a child is fun. Once you get older you lose your imagination and technology takes over your life.

Children use their imagination to put themselves in a place that they cannot go in their real life. They use it when they are bored and want to have some fun. Now children are being corrupted with technology and are losing their imagination. This child uses his imagination to put himself in a war type of place.

"The Science of Monsters" by Matt Kaplin

Monsters. Do they really exist? Or is it just our imagination? Whatever you may believe monsters are real although it may be just in your mind. The thought of monsters freak people out. Now imagine if you actually saw what you think a monster is. "And when we do, the collective cultural baggage of these tales of ghosts, ghouls, and griffins is usually sufficient to make us put our hands over our eyes to block out what may just be lurking out there." (The science of monsters) Even if somebody doesn't believe in monsters in real life, the stories they read make them jump in and hide in a dark place if they hear a noise. What's that noise. Could it be a monster.
Monster photo

Personally I don't think that monsters are real. It is impossible for something like that picture to be real. The thought of monsters can be scary especially if you're alone in the dark. But I know that they aren't real. If I ever get scared I usually just think its not real and then I won't be as scared. I can only imagine what life would be life if monsters were real. I'd probably be scared every time it turned dark outside, or every time I heard a strange noise.

People have different perceptions of what monsters are. Monsters could be animals of they could be those freaky creatures you see in the movies. There can be good or bad monsters too. But when I think of monsters I think of the bad kind. In the movie Monsters Inc. up above the two main characters are good monsters. It seems contradicting. How can a monster be good? It all depends of what you think and your perception of a monster.

Of Monsters and Men

Tales of monsters and other mythical creatures have been around as long as humans have. Oftentimes, these tales are simply a way to pass the time, and other times, people imagine up creatures as a way to explain things they don't understand. In an review of an essay by Matt Kaplan, the author, Pere Stanfor, explains how "we like to put a face and a form to things we don't understand". In other words, when people are mystified by a natural phenomenon that is hard to explain, they create monsters that are easier to understand. In a way, mystical creatures help humans cope with difficult situations. For example, as this site explains, the Kraken is a monstrous creature that was dreamt up by sailors. When ships went missing for no apparent reason, the Kraken was blamed. In some cases, giant squids were mistaken for Krakens. In this instance, a monster is being used to explain a confusing situation. This site also explains how people dream up monsters to cope with something that is not easily understood. It also explains how many times, people pretend to have seen monsters to get attention and money. The author cites the example of the two men who "found" Bigfoot, and now make thousands of dollars selling Bigfoot souvenirs.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Paperwork Against the People" Synthesis

     The subject of the article "Paperwork Against the People" by Rob Horning is how annoying paperwork is. A man by the name of Gordon Bell agrees with this and has made a significant change in his life - he lives without paper. He does everything on his computer, including paying bills and reading newspapers. He claims that he "cringe[s]" when he gets a letter in the mail. His theory is that in the future, there will be no paper at all. This trend is already starting with the creation and usage of e-books. In an article written by Adam Hwang it says that " The development of e-paper is expected to eventually replace most printed media". Could this mean that Bell's theory about the paperless future will come true?

Nurturing Society, with Monsters?

Society often likes to nurture its fears by adding a face to them. Which is one of the things that is discussed in Peter Stanfor’s article ,The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan: review,  He,also, tells his audience about how Kaplan has reinvented his thoughts about monsters. Stanfor mentions how “we like to put a face and a form to things we don't understand."  Essentially, we has a society don’t like not knowing what something is or ,in this case, what it looks like. In the article, The Origin of Monsters: Every Society Needs a Boogey Man, by Philip Shore, he discusses the origin of well known monsters such as Frankenstein. Furthermore, Shore agrees with Stanfor’s idea of putting a face with the things we don't understand, the audience can see this when Shore says “Monsters help us express our darkest places.” Demonstrating that many can see the impact monsters have on our society, they help us compensate for the unknown. Another thing, that Stanfor mentions is Kaplan's use of movies and modern literature “to feed our appetite for being frightened by monsters.” Agreeably, Monsters part of American Culture, by Scott Poole, the article contains Poole’s perception of how monsters have cultivated our culture, despite the fact that monsters continue to scare many of us. In the ,Monster Culture, provided by the University of Baltimore a professor, David Schmid, states: “Monster narratives help us share an experience of horror and address our real anxieties.” He like Shore sees the psychological effects that monsters have continued to have on our society.
In conclusion, we can see the concept of monsters continues to roam in our culture, representing a symbol for our society’s continual fear of the unknown and maybe even the known.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Impact of Myths

As a young child many of us are told stories of the Lockness Monster, Big Foot, ghosts and ghouls. We grow up knowing they are myths but in the back of minds lingers the possibility they could be real. Peter Stanfor words it perfectly in his article The Science of Monsters by Matt Kaplan: review, Stanfor writes " we like to put a face and a form to things we don't understand." For years people have been telling myth or stories to explain things they do not have an actual answer for. It as if these stories gives them a peace of mind knowing something is not a mystery and we understand what is going on. In the article The Impact of Mythology Across Cultures the author writes " Myths help a man make order out of chaos or explain things in nature that he cannot understand." Myths give people a way to explain the unexplained. The picture below shows one of the most well known myths of Nessy the Lockness Monster.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wilderness, The Second Home

For many, the wilderness is a second home they feel free and safe. Similarly,  In William Giraldi’s article Splendid Visions, he states “na├»ve suspicion that Ethan would be safer, freer, better in the wilderness...” By doing so, he is demonstrating the bond he has acquired with the wilderness and also the trust he has acquired. The wilderness’s vast size, provides many with endless possibilities in terms of where they can go. Giraldi has a sincere admiration for the wilderness and what it has provided him but, since he now is in the city, he feels as though he is depriving his son. By not giving him the opportunity to experience the wilderness as he did. This is similar to Henry David Thoreau’s philosophy in, Walden , and that was the love for the outdoors among other things. Thoreau like Giraldi enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors and all the experiences he had in the wilderness. Thoreau is also to demonstrate the unimportance of materialistic things by using the wilderness has an example of the better things of life.  In the article, Freedom and Wilderness, the author gives in excerpt of Freedom and Wilderness (audio), by Edward Abbey who describes the beauty of the wilderness and how it is necessary for our well-being. One thing Abbey states is, “Every man needs a place where he can go to go crazy in peace. Which shows how the wilderness is similar to that of  a refugee from chaos or just to find peace.
With this is mind,  the wilderness provides tranquility and a feeling of warmth for those who view it has a second home.

(Here is a video of Edward Abbey, reading the final chapter of his book The Journey Home)

An Outdoor Childhood

          Many people feel that this generation of children is not spending enough time outdoors. It seems the allure of electronics is too powerful, and it prevents children from playing outside. Parents feel this new patten is causing their children harm. This is largely due to the fact that studies have shown that time outdoors has a positive effect on a child's development. This film explores the reasons why outdoor time is so valuable to young children. According to the film, not spending enough time in nature has contributed to "epidemics of child obesity, attention disorders, and depression". This article outlines the many health related benefits of spending time outdoors. Some of these benefits are reduced stress, better distance vision, and overall physical health. An essay entitled, Splendid Visions also explains why time outdoors as a child can be beneficial. In this essay, the author discusses the many fond memories he has of his time playing in the woods as a child. It is clear from these sources that children can all benefit from more time outdoors.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's For Your Own Good! by Cass R. Sunstein

Obesity has become a major problem in the US over the years. Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't taking it lightly anymore. He is so serious about stopping obesity that he is considering banning soda bottles that are bigger than 16 oz. "He believes that soda is a contributing factor to increasing obesity rates and that large portion sizes are making the problem worse." (It's For Your Own Good) People have become outraged by this. Why are they going to ban soda? Its' their chose if they want to drink a lot of soda or a little amount. But Bloomberg claims its for their own good and he's doing them a favor. But the people believe that "when they run risks, even foolish ones, it isn't anybody's business that they do." That is so true because its their business on how they want to live their live whether it is about soda or not.

How can something so crazy as banning soda over 16 oz even be considered? Anything bigger than 16 oz. is not allowed because it is said to be a factor contributing to obesity. But how many people drink 20 oz by themselves? Usually bottles that big are used for family gatherings or events. Even if somebody wanted to drink 20 oz all by themselves, its nobody's business. There are bigger problems in the world than drinking a 20 oz bottle of soda. Yes, obesity is a big problem in America, but it's really the obese persons decision. You can't tell them they have to stop eating KFC and Burger King everyday because they are obese. It is a free country and these people have the right to eat what they want. They aren't harming anyone but themselves  It's kind of like a drug addict. You can't make that person get help unless they really want to help themselves. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make them drink it.

Many people thought that New York's ban on soda would back fire. The whole idea of the ban was for people to drink less soda, but when they did an experiment they found that the soda ban would be less effective. They did a study of selling soda with a bundle deal of a "16-ounce drink, a package of two 12-ounce drinks and a package of two 16-ounce drinks."(Will New York City's large soda ban backfire?) , the 16-32 oz bottles, and a 16 oz bottle. "“These results show that businesses should earn significantly more revenue when bundles are offered than when small drink sizes alone are offered..." (Will New York City's large soda ban backfire) If businesses will make more revenue then they would definitely want to add soda bundles and people would actually be consuming more soda and the ban would backfire.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Government Boundaries?

When is the government overstepping its boundaries? Is the question millions of Americans are asking themselves. For instance, in New York after Mayor Bloomberg put a ban on sodas of a certain size. Many are wondering why this is allowed, and how effective this actually will be in reducing obesity. In the article, It's For Your Own Good!, by Cass R. Sunstein , readers can see that many New Yorkers were outraged that Mayor Bloomberg or the government for that matter felt they had the right to control their decisions; when it comes to what they can drink. Similarly, Our Views: Government overstepping boundaries, a newspaper article states its opinion in regards to the government, despite the fact that the reasons for their feelings for the government may different the concept still remains the same. Mayor Bloomberg's Ban on Sugary Drinks Works Where the Feds Failed , the article by Jerome Nathaniel ,he, also talks about Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on sugary drinks and also questions the effectiveness of the ban. In response, someone compared that ban to that of cigarettes saying:  that cigarettes affect others negatively while what the size of someones drink does not. Finally, in the image above, New York City considers ban on big sodas, the artist demonstrates how ineffective the ban may actually be, as individuals who have strong values many will find ways to get around laws. Likewise, the image shows, if someone cannot buy a large drink, one can just buy two to substitute for that big drink.
Overall,  the question remains and with so many varying opinions there many not be a concrete answer.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Childhood Friendships

Childhood friends are one of the most important aspects of growing up. Childhood friendships allow us to make the first real connections with someone else besides family members. Many childhood friends continue to be friends throughout life and become a part of each other. In the article Splendid Visions: A meditation on the childhood sublime by William Giraldi talks about a childhood friendship he still remembers. Giraldi recalls " We concocted waterproof forts by the river and then prayed for rain, raked mountainous piles of leaves to grapple in, buried Star Wars figures in the narrow graves in a field..." Giraldi still remembers these memories because they made a lasting impact on him , he recalls the good times surrounding his childhood. Based on the article from UCLA Health Tips childhood friendships are essential for social and emotional development. Forming early friendships can help children maintain positive influences and solid friendships throughout their entire lives. The picture highlights two children who are friends , representing the essence of childhood friendships.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Chasing the White Rabbit

The speaker once had a teacher that said dreams in books are bad.  A fictional book is already no true and so it is sometimes hard to feel empathy towards the characters.  To then find out that even the activities inside the fictional book did not occur just defeats the point of the book.  The story never happened and the story inside of that never happened.  All that happened was that the not real person had a dream.  That's not much of a story according to the teacher.,d.dmQ&psig=AFQjCNFpsJeKxHXAbW_4jqoFe_SRmcbvlw&ust=1368539611355918

This is a picture of a sleeping boy having a dream that he is a sleeping boy.  Supposing that in his dream the he who was sleeping is having a dream that he is sleeping, the paradox could go on forever.  If this were a story, the teacher in the first source would consider the story pointless.  If the story is about a boy having a dream then there really is no story.  Regardless of what is going on in the dream, the only real thing happening is there is a boy having a dream.,r:11,s:0,i:122&iact=rc&dur=376&page=2&tbnh=178&tbnw=144&start=8&ndsp=12&tx=45&ty=124

This is a picture of an old woman and a young woman but there is only one figure drawn.  It is an optical illusion.  Depending on how you look at it, it can be either.  Some people see one and others see the other.  Some people can see both.  This shows that people have different views and perceptions on things.

The speaker of the first essay's teacher may think that dreams within stories have no meaning, but the speaker does not seem to agree with her teacher.  And the two may have different views on the picture of the boy asleep and dreaming that he was asleep.  Just like in those two sources, some people see the picture as an old lady and some as a young lady.  That's what makes art, literature, and all culture interesting; everyone has a different view of it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chasing the White Rabbit

It was all a dream. Who would have thought such a simple phrase meant so much? Dreams do not only happen when you go to sleep at night, they also happen in literature. "Literature is full of dreams that we remember more clearly than our own." (Chasing the White Rabbit) Many books start and end with dreams, even movies do. As a reader it gets frustrating, you are so into this book and all of the details in it; you think everything wrote is really happen. But then it ends with "it was all a dream" or the main character will wake up in the movie as if everything was just a dream.
The Wizard of Oz is a perfect example. The movie has a bunch of crazy events taking place, like when she goes to meet the lollipop kids and follows the yellow brick road, or when she actually meets the Oz. everything happens and you think wow this is crazy. Then she wakes up and it was all just a dream. Could you imagine what it would have been like if it wasn't a dream? How would the movie have ended then? Although it is terribly frustrating that it was a dream, you realize at the end that the characters in her dream were also the people in her family and the town she lived in.
In Alice and Wonderland it was all just a dream as well. The story and movie took place inside her dream. The characters and phenomena of the real world mixed with Alice's unconscious mind.  Literature and movies that end up being just a dream tend to irritate people and that is why Prose's seventh grade teacher said "Never end a story with, 'It was all a dream!'" (Chasing the White Rabbit)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

There Are People Smarter Than You

Increasingly us as human beings want to believe that we have all the information in the world. We want to believe we know what is best for us to survive, but the reality is we do not know everything in the world. Numerous times doctors, nutritionists and various others have told the human population that being obese is not healthy for a person. As soon as congress acted on this information it resulted in a huge uproar. In the article It's For Your Own Good! by Cass R. Sustein , the issue of many people believing that should be able to do what they want even if it harms them. People will not listen to a law or rule if they think their beliefs are better. Various controversies have come up such as wearing seat belts, not texting while driving and banning sugary drinks in restaurants. The picture to the right is a way legislators are trying to promote seat belt safety and importance. Many people ignore these problems because they do not believe in the cause. A huge issue right now is global warming , many people do not think they are adding to global warming so they ignore new laws that are being made. Based on a recent study six out of ten Americans believe that global warming is not a serious problem.  The Washington Post shows a chart that shows that from 1997-2013 more people still believe that global warming will not effect their lives. Human beings need to start listening to the facts that we are being told , or else our own integrity
may kill us.

Freedom and Fat

New York City's Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban on soda has been the topic of much debate in recent weeks. The Mayor hopes to tackle the obesity problem of New York by limiting soda drinks to 16oz. Many people have criticized this proposed ban because they feel that the mayor is overstepping his role. In an article, "It's For Your Own Good!" the author explains how "Many Americans abhor paternalism. They think that people should be able to go their own way, even if they end up in a ditch". In other words, people should have the right to drink sugary drinks and harm their health. Another source argues that obese people end up costing tax payers money because of the added healthcare they need. This author believes that the ban is good because it will help the problem of obesity, and it will not lead to further restrictions. The political cartoon below illustrates how some people feel that the ban is not directly tackling the problem. Although the drink ban may not completely solve the obesity issue, it may be a crucial step in making America healthier. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

"An A from Navokov" by Edward Jay Epstein

Epstein walked into his European Literature class not because he was interested in it but because it fit the schedule he wanted and he needed it to graduate. But what he soon realized was it was a good decision on his part to stay in this class. His teacher told him on the first day that he "should under no circumstances identify with any of the characters in them..." (An A from Navabokov)  and they "did not need to know anything about their historical context." (An A from Navabokov) After taking a pop quiz he realized that you have to read between the lines and focus on how the book makes you feel and what it makes you think or see.

When I read the book "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau I realized that reading the words wasn't enough for me to completely understand the story or get into it. I had to read between the lines and think about how the book made me feel and what it made me think. Although I looked up historical context of the book and identified the characters I still got to understand the story deeper and have my own thoughts about it. Maybe if I did what Nabokov said to his European Literature class I could have dug deeper and really thought about what the words of the book make me think and feel.

We read literature to communicate and also because it is an interest of many people. When you dig deep it makes the communication greater and your enjoyment a whole lot better. This video explains why and how we read literature. It talks about how we read to communicate. I liked this video because it really got me thinking.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rules of Literature

Rules have been a part our society for so long , there are those who obey them and  those who do not. Similar to our lives, literature also has rules (not as serious) and of course there are writers who obey them and writers who do not. In the article,Chasing the White Rabbit, by Francine Prose, she remembers an event where she was introduced to a rule of literature from her middle teacher. Which was “‘Never end a story with, ‘It was a dream.’” Knowing this Prose could not help but think about books who broke that rule such as, Alice in Wonderland, which actually ends with it all being a dream but is extremely popular. Similar to the concept of rules, is the article,Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses: 18 Rants by Mark Twain, by Maria Popova , Popova provides a summary of an essay by Mark Twain where he list all of  James Fenimore Cooper's violations of the rules of literature. Like, Prose’s article Popova also demonstrates the exceptions to the rules of literature. Another article that speaks for the rules of literature is, The Rules of Literature, by  Jack Eason he mainly focuses on the mechanics of writers but he also makes a bold statement about the rules of literature: “who among the millions of readers actually gives a damn if we bend those rules to make them fit the story we are telling?” Ultimately, he is saying the rules of literature do not really matter as long as authors are able to create remarkable stories that readers love.
Which is all that people believe actually matters in most cases and that is how people respond to the book and whether the author was able to get their main point across.

An A from Nabokov

When an author creates a book in their mind, most of the events and descriptions are not written on paper. It is expected that the reader looks between the lines, and draws events from the words written. Nabokov, Epstein's professor, bases his tests on the literature by the descriptions between the lines. Writers, expect their readers to see what is not written. According to the 2005 ACT test, it was noted that few high school students are truly ready for college-level reading. Those high schoolers are not prepared for college because they did not learn to read between the lines. Also, this test analysis suggests that if a student does not learn how to properly read a book, generally, the level of their English class in universities will be lower than in high school due to the lack of ability. Moreover, according to a test performed by California 11th graders, it shows that more than half of the students are not ready to go onto English classes in college. Only a fraction of the students was ready for college-level entry.
What does this show? This shows that high schoolers are not at all ready to face college English classes. Since those students are not ready for reading in college, they lack skills in writing due to their low level of reading when going into college. This epidemic of not reading between the lines is deteriorating the English student's ability to perform other basic assignments that is required throughout college and high school. To fix this, students should learn how to analyze a book's content, and learn how to see something not written, just how Nabokov taught Epstein. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Dreams tend to fascinate many people because little is known about them. Some people believe that dreams reveal secrets about the past or future, and others believe that dreams are little more than our brain sorting out facts as we sleep. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's essay, "The Haunted Mind", he discusses how dreams allow people to step outside their lives. In this case, dreams would seem to be an alternate reality, where people can experience things they would never be able to in their normal lives. Although this interpretation of dreams does not mean that dreams tell the future, it does mean that dreams reveal the hidden desires people have. Another author, Francine Prose, also shares a similar idea. In her essay, Chasing the White Rabbit, she analyzes the different dream sequences that are found in various works of literature. Prose remarked that dreams in literature are "a novelist's attempt to signal that a character knows more about the present-and the future- than he realizes." This statement would mean that dreams do reveal secrets about the future. Other people believe that dreams are simply strange adventures in our minds. Wallace Stevens' poem, Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock discussed how some people's dreams are lackluster, while other people, like drunk sailors, have vivid, fantastical dreams. Although there is some dispute over weather or not dreams uncover certain secrets, most people can agree that dreams are interesting to think about.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

An A from Nabokov

       An A from Nabokov is an essay about a former college student who wrote down the description of a scene in a movie that was based on book instead of reading the book. He got lucky because his professor had never seen the movie and, even though his description was incorrect, it was an example of what Nabokov wanted his students to do, which was to think outside the box and visualize what you want to visualize. The author ended up working for Nabokov by watching movies for him. After seeing a film on a Russian officer (based on a Russian story), the author compared it to the book he just read which was written by Gogol (who is Russian). When he was questioned why he thought so he could only say it was because they were both Russian.
       This essay is a great example of misrepresentation. By describing what someone else viewed a train station looked like, the author was able to fake his way into becoming a trusted and listened to by Nabokov (who refers to students as numbers). He had shown himself to be a believer of what Nabokov teaches when in fact it was merely by coincidence. Nabokov took into account what the author had to say about the movies he had watched and made his decision on which one to watch that way. This essay is also a good example of someone getting lucky.
                                            This article is mainly talking about the misrepresentations in things or places, and not people but in context both of these essays explain why someone or something can be misrepresented.

Nothing but a Dream

After reading the article Chasing the White Rabbit by Francine Rose I realized how many children's stories, movies and music have to do with dreaming. In Rose's article he talks about the well known movie Alice in Wonderland that ends with just being a dream. Rose then goes on to name various other authors that have used dreams in their works like Shakespeare and Schwartz. Besides literature dreams pop up in other movies and music. The movie Wizard of Oz is nothing but a dream. At the end of the movie Dorothy wakes up and everything the audience thought was real was just a dream. Dreams also appear in music, the song row row your boat involves dreaming. The lyrics go " Row, row, row your boat,Gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream". The song is saying that life is just a dream, an illusion, nothing is really as it seams.  So maybe literature, movies and music is trying to teach us that life is nothing but a dream and we really do not know what is real in the world.  The image above shows a picture from the movie Wizard of Oz.