Here you can find one post from each unit. I polished it up and added some ideas/comments. At the bottom of this page, you can find one of my campus commentary posts that I also polished and added to.
Unit 1 Assignment 3
Pick ONE of the authors assigned for Tuesday (Fanon, Morrison, Davis). Choose one idea that this author writes about that is interesting to you and, in a paragraph state the idea and describe why it captured your interest. Then choose any two other authors that we have read so far. Now you have three authors. Imagine these three people are on a panel, and you’re the moderator. Write three questions that you could ask that you think would provoke a great discussion.
While reading “The Meaning of Freedom” written by Angela Davis, I became interested in her idea of racism being treated as “individual and private irregularities” in the present day, and comparing it to racism in state policy as it were in the past, as well as the problems that arise from this categorization. She first points out that although explicit racism in state policy no longer exists, racism has deep roots in our society and can’t be treated as private irregularities. We must not act as if racism only applies to certain outliers. In doing so, we fail to recognize some of the important factors when discussing the disproportionate number African American incarcerations. A figure that stood out to me was that 13% of the total population of black men in the United States are imprisoned, therefore meaning that 13% of the total population of black men have lost their right to vote. There is obviously something underneath it all, and when we ignore this deep structural racism, we’re allowing racism to thrive.
This idea that the same forms of racism still exists today can be a hard one to confront. We’d all imagine that racism is less widespread now than it was 50 years ago. That’s why I find Angela Davis’ idea so intriguing. The idea that racism is still very present in today’s society, it just shifted from public to private. I ended up writing an essay on this that you can find under the “Papers” tab. Now that the racism is privatized, it is much harder to target and fix. Furthermore, the racism is still somewhat common within the private sector. Since everything is individual now, racism can go under the radar much easier, giving the illusion that there is less of it. All of these factors contribute to the assumption that racism has been solved, when in reality, it is still prevalent and must be recognized.
Authors: Davis, Brooks, Maalouf
- How does one’s perception of their own identity affect how others treat them?
- We talked a lot about how other people’s view of a certain group influenced their actions toward them. For example, white people perceived black people as animals rather than humans. This made me question the victims’ perception of themselves. What did they believe of their own identity and what was the change that sparked the civil rights movement?
- What’s the most efficient thing we, as a society, can do to combat the deeply rooted structural racism that is affecting the lives of millions across the country?
- I think one of the biggest things we can do right now is to recognize the problem. As I said earlier, it’s so easy to overlook the issues because they’re hidden. Once we, as a society, are able to recognize the obstacles that people are still facing everyday, only then will we be able to take action against it.
- In terms of achieving racial equality, how much progress have we made in the past 20 years, and how feasible is achieving equality in such a diverse environment such as that of the U.S.?
- I asked this question with Angela Davis’ idea in mind; The idea that racism still exists, it’s only better hidden now. In asking this question, I also considered other countries, and why the U.S. seems to have bigger race conflicts than some others. I realized that the U.S. is racially diverse, more so than some other countries. Diversity sometimes seems to lead to conflict–cultural practices and ideas don’t always mix well. It can be a daunting task to try and tackle this problem.
Unit 2 Assignment 2
Option 1: “The technique of reducing the physical world into mathematical abstractions… played a key role in producing a new physics, and stands as a distinctive feature of the Scientific Revolution” (p. 73). Would it also be accurate to say that this is what’s distinctive of science, and in particular, what distinguishes science from the humanities? Explain.
Option 2: In a few sentences, comment on / raise a question about Thursday’s translation panel. This can be based on your !/? posts, or it can be something new. And it could be useful—though not required—to connect the translation panel to Plato or Borges (note for starters that both of these readings are translations).
Option 1: On the surface, science and humanities seem to be very different things. To me, explaining science logically through the language of mathematics is one of the key differences between the two. Humanities puts more of a focus on social issues that can be broad and opinionated while science studies facts and follows a set of rules to explain the world. That being said, I do believe that these two fields of knowledge can be related to each other. For example, reading The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction explains the world of science in the past. We read scientific explanations to understand society back in the 16th century. In this way, we are able to use science and humanities to compliment each other to gain a better understanding of both worlds of knowledge.
Looking back after defining humanities, I think there are distinguishable differences between science and humanities. Science focuses on explaining the world looking at natural facts, while humanities dives in to analyzing man-made history. Stereotypically speaking, there aren’t too many fields of science that focuses on what society does, or how humans interact with each other. Humanities, on the other hand, puts nearly all of its focus on that. I think that’s what I tried to say in my original post but I couldn’t quite describe it. I still believe that these two worlds can be very much related to each other and used to strengthen each other.
Option 2: One point from Thursday’s lecture that I found really interesting was the discussion of the responsibilities of the translator. Is it to preserve the language as close as one can, or is it to rewrite the text to cater to the reader? Both of these things are very different in their goals. In my opinion, I think these two tasks are equally important, especially when read together. One without the other cannot paint a full picture of what the author is trying to convey.
I’ve never thought twice about the roles of a translator so it was an interesting topic to confront. Both arguments can provide valid evidence to back them up. Some might argue that it’s more important to preserve the original text because it’d be unfair to the author for the translator to take their own liberties on the text. The translator’s job should be solely to translate text, not rewrite it. Others will argue that translators should also take the responsibility of translating the text in a way that makes sense to the reader. Language is complicated and most times, if you translate texts word by word, you might miss the meaning of the whole. The literal definition of each word usually doesn’t translate to the whole passage well. That’s why I came to the conclusion that both jobs are equally as important. It’s impossible to choose one over the other since they both unique, important roles.
Unit 3 Assignment 1
Research Hannah Arendt’s concept “Banality of Evil” and her book The Origins of Totalitarianism and facts about Adolf Eichmann (even in Wikipedia) as much as you can. List the facts you found in short bullet points. For each of your points include a citation or link to the source of facts.
- October 1906-December 1975
- Born in Germany
- German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist
- Bold in asking unpopular questions about the thoughtless embrace of science
- Believed human rights were not useful
- Questioned the racial integration in schools
- Defended interracial marriage
- Worked with Youth Aliyah to rescue Jewish youth in France
- First woman professor at Princeton
- Also taught at UChic, UC Berkeley, Wesleyan U, The New School
- Wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951 about the foundations of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes
- Wrote The Human Condition, her own account of retreat from public life
- Wrote Revolution in 1963 about American’s foundational democracy and political freedom
- Received backlash for her controversial views
- Coined term “banality of evil”
- Denied Eichmann’s evilness
- He wasn’t evil, but he was a thoughtless follower
- Upon first impressions, seemed like an ordinary man
- Denied Eichmann’s evilness
Arendt wrote the book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
- Argues that Eichmann (Eichmann was a Nazi official, responsible for the detention and transportation of Jews to concentration camps) was not a monster. She claims that his motives didn’t root from a place of hatred.
- Eichmann was a joiner. He feared to live a life with no direction and leader. The Nazi movement brought a sense of importance to him.
- Didn’t justify Eichmann’s actions by any means, just provided a different perspective
- Used the term “banality of evil” to describe this phenomenon
- She saw that modern society fears the “disorderly life of democratic freedoms and embraces the comfortable security of administrative bureaucracy.”
- Neither denies nor claims Eichmann was evil
- Believed Eichmann should’ve been hanged for his evil deeds
- She claimed Eichmann participated in the greatest evil act in the history of mankind because of his fear of being isolated overruling his ability to critically assess the devastating consequences of the Nazi movement
- Born on March 19, 1906 in Germany
- Died May 31, 1962
- A major leader in the Holocaust
- Worked as an ordinary traveling salesman prior to World War II
- Lost his job due to the Great Depression
- Initially resisted the violent movement against the Jews
- This proves Arendt’s “banality of evil”
- A man who was against the violence ended up turning into one of the major organizers of the Holocaust
- Joined Nazi Party in April of 1932
- Organized the identification, assembly, and transportation of the Jewish
- Named chief executioner
- Participated in the greatest evil act in the history of mankind because of his inability to think for himself
- Found and captured in Argentina in 1960
- Under questioning, he claimed he wasn’t anti-semitic
- Eichmann claimed that he actually sought to physically avoid the killings
- Hanged by the State of Israel
The Origins of Totalitarianism
- Structured into 3 essays: Anti-semitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism
- Discussed history and foundational role that anti-semitism and imperialism had in the rise of totalitarianism
- Racism was used a tool for imperialism and nationalism
- Seeks to explain why totalitarianism was more prevalent within Europe
- The mistake of equating nationalism and imperialism
- Slight difference between dictatorship and totalitarianism
- Dictatorships CAN be totalitarianistic, but doesn’t have to be by definition
- Appeal to giving in to totalitarianism is protection from isolation, danger, and insecurity
- Totalitarian regimes instilled fear with the inevitability of war
- More likely in bigger populations
- This fear was completely exploited in Europe
Hannah Arendt became famous for questioning societal norms. Her ideas were different from society, and she received lots of backlash for it. Almost all revolutionary ideas seem outlandish at first. The idea that Eichmann wasn’t an extraordinarily evil person did not sit well with the public, even though I think she describes a valid point. I think given the circumstances, Eichmann was fairly normal, relatively speaking. If people in today’s world were put in the same situation as Eichmann, I think there is a high chance that a lot of them would act somewhat similarly to Eichmann. No matter how high of moral standards they claim, it’s impossible to say how one would truly act merely because the situation has the power to influence more than people might realize.
Unit 4 Assignment 2
Choose an excerpt (page, panel, multiple panels, part of a panel) for close study.
Take a photo of the section you’re discussing and insert that image at the top of your post. (Pay attention to image resolution, size, alignment in your post.)
In your post — 300-400 words—describe how the pictorial depiction 1) helps convey accurate (or heightened) understanding of the event, and 2) affects you, perhaps to the point of conviction, by its use of graphic “rhetoric” (e.g., page layout including panel, gutter, and border size/placement; speech balloons, text boxes, and their relationship to images; and the artist’s style). Remember to tag your section leader under “category.”
As I was reading the book, the most shocking moment for me was on page 135. Usually, there aren’t pictures that take up a full page, so when there is a large image, there is a lot of emphasis put on them. Page 135 was especially disturbing for several reasons. For the first time in the book, they talk about injustice when dealing with innocent children. Since the book has mostly been about conflicts between adults, it was a change of pace when we saw a full blown image of an interaction between a white cop and a young black child.
Here, we see two completely opposite worlds clash together. The entire book portrays white cops as ruthless, violent people who have no regard for human life. When we see that picture of a cop interact with an innocent, young black girl who simply doesn’t understand why she isn’t treated as equal, it enhances the perceptual schemas of both the girl and the cop. Basically, it makes the cop seem more evil and it makes the girl seem more innocent. I think this image did an incredible job at capturing the type of emotions and tension that was being dealt with then. One of the reasons why this particular page spoke to me is because of the contrast between what appears to be a peaceful encounter with the cop and girl and the chaotic background of children getting arrested. The image in the foreground appears to be quiet and intimate, especially with the police officer on one knee to be on an equal level as the girl. This is the first intimate scene with both a white cop and a black person. When looking closer at the image, we can see the cop’s mean facial expressions brutally staring at this young black girl, who’s blank stare conveys the feeling of innocence. Overall, the strong emphasis on the contrasting nature of this image helps to give the reader an understanding of the tension that people were living under at that time.
After discussing this image in class, I realized how much I missed from my initial analysis. A big thing that was mentioned was the wedding ring on the police officer’s hand. At first, I thought that the ring had little significance and dismissed it as a coincidence. After further thought, it became apparent that it was intentional. The author took the extra time to actually draw a ring. The ring humanizes the white cop, who previously had no humanity. The ring means that the officer is married, meaning he’s capable of love, which is the exact opposite of what white cops were presented as. Furthermore, the ring increases the likelihood that he has children of his own. How could a father treat these children with such brutality?
Unit 5 Post 1
Birns: Ritualizing the Past: Ralph Lemon’s Counter-Memorials
!- “His work makes clear that any reckoning with the past must be both traumatic and incomplete.” (Birns 22) Analyzing the various methods to pay respects to the troubled past is something that I’ve thought more about, especially after the trip to Montgomery. The distinction between ritualizing and memorializing made here is interesting, and directly relates to Professor Bory’s unit. Birns talks about Lemon’s art is meant to be an experience, rather than a mere presentation of facts.
?- With the idea of ritualizing over memorializing in mind, what is the best thing that I, a student and observer, do to understand the past on the deepest level?
Schneider: Performance Remains
!- “Is it not rather mimetic representation, and somewhat bogus or indiscreet at that? Is the live bloater not offering a mimetic and perhaps even ludicrous copy of something only vaguely imagined as a bloated corpse?” (Schneider 103) This made me think back to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, specifically the scenes with the people in the jail cells. I remember Sam Van Horn bringing up the point that those people were actors. These people were told to present themselves in a certain way to mimic the struggles of those in the past. It’s an interesting perspective to look at these actors not only at what they’re portraying, but also see them as a person acting in attempt to preserve history.
?- “In the archive, flesh is given to be that which slips away. Flesh can house no memory of bone. Only bone speaks memory of flesh. Flesh is blindspot. Disappearing.” (Schneider 102) I don’t really understand this analogy. I think Schneider is trying to compare performance to flesh, in that they are both fleeing. I don’t understand the role of the bone and what that symbolizes in the context of this analogy.
Unit 5 Post 2: Black Girl Linguistic Play
After watching CABD’s “Black Girl: Linguistic Play”, it’s really opened my eyes to the different ways in which art can have meaning. Every little thing symbolized something deeper; There was never something that didn’t have a double meaning. One big observation that I had was the audience’s responses toward certain parts of the dance. For example, I heard some people giggle periodically throughout the show. Although I was a little confused from their laughter, I think that just goes to show how the dance has the ability to reach people differently. That’s a part of the beauty of dance; Everyone can interpret the performance differently and it can hold a different meaning to everyone.
When considering what the work actually does, another question comes to mind: Are all forms of dance/performance capable of being equally political? While primarily focusing on dance this unit, it can be easy to forget about things like music or drawing. Going back to earlier in this unit, I consider how overreading can be applied to all forms of art. In any form of self-expression, there will always be a deeper meaning if you look deep enough. Especially if someone creates a work of art with the intention of having a deeper or political meaning, no matter what their reasoning is, it’d be unfair to say they’re wrong in their reasoning. That being said, I believe any form of performance has the potential to be political.
Unit 6 Presentation
For this assignment, we had to create a presentation and slideshow about an abstract artist that we were assigned. Besides a basic biography of the artist, we had to explain how our chosen artist’s work were examples of abstraction. My chosen artist was famous abstract expressionist, Lee Krasner.Unit-6-Presentation-1
Unit 7 Post 1: Snow
?- “They give a pitying chuckle at the news of scientists who have never read a major work of English literature. They dismiss them as ignorant specialists. Yet their own ignorance and their own specialization is just as startling.” (14)
This makes me wonder what Snow considered himself to be. Snow provides criticisms for both and also talks about the dangers of splitting in to two groups. That being said, I still feel like there are some practical reasons why one would choose to categorize themselves. Furthermore, the solutions that he provides is very vague. I don’t quite understand what “rethinking our education” means.
!- “Compared with the rest of the intellectual world, considerably more scientists in this country and probably in the U.S. come from poor families.” (10)
I understand most of the generalizations that Snow points out between scientists and literary intellectuals. I feel like this statement comes out of nowhere. This statement doesn’t have much backing evidence. Not only that, but I feel like that’s just not true. I’d always imagined that people who are exceptional in the sciences come from a richer background.
Theories I Recognized
- Evolution by natural selection
- Plate techtonics
- Quantum theory
Experiments I Recognized
- Robert Millikan electron
- Pavlov’s dogs
Unit 8 Post 1
!- I found the ending of the movie to be the most interesting. The entire movie was building in suspense and really took the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster. When it ended with the suicides of the three main characters, I found that to convey such a strong feeling of hopelessness. I left with a feeling of defeat, especially after watching the original founders of RAF passionately fight for the entire movie only to take their own lives.
?- While watching the movie I found myself asking a lot of questions regarding the storyline. For example, why did the group go to Jordan? What exactly happened with Meinhof’s kids? Why did the fact that Meinhof was a journalist free her from the cops in the beginning of the movie? How was she writing all of her journals while on the run? Other than questions about the plot, I also wondered why the political prisoners were treated so poorly in some cases but still had some rights in others? I don’t understand how the government decided between what was acceptable and what wasn’t.
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
!- A repeated theme that I noticed was the constant harassment towards women. It seemed to be the norm at the time to constantly sexually harass women with remarks and physical advances.
?- I didn’t understand why Katharina Blum was so fond of Ludwig. She ended up going through so much just to protect him. On the same note, I don’t understand why Katharina didn’t say who her “gentleman friend” was. It seemed like she would’ve been treated much better and gone through a lot less trouble if she had just been honest about her friend. Was it just a statement of rebellion and resilience? I don’t know.
New Ghetto German Show
!- I thought it was interesting that 18 physicists signed a pact and agreed not to participate in the production of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, German politicians tried to dismiss these physicists’ professional opinion and showed a “lack of respect for scholarship.”
?- How exactly do we come together to prevent what happened in the past? There were obviously people trying to fight for what was right, but what did they do wrong and how can we act differently?
Hitler Within You
!- The line, “Even though the Eichmann trial is being held in Jerusalem, we feel it among us. We are all concerned, and some people–including those of social standing and renown–may be named as guilty of or at least complicit in the crimes” reminds me of the final scene of Katharina when the person doing the eulogy talks about how this fatal gunshot wound is felt by everyone.
?- Is the world capable of putting someone like Hitler into power in this day and age? In other words how much have we, as a civilization, advanced from the days of leaders such as Hitler and Stalin?
Everybody Talks About the Weather
!- I think it’s interesting that Meinhof wrote this article about the importance of women and children’s rights even though she chose to abandon her children.
?- What makes a protest politically irrelevant? How does a group form an effective political protest?
!- It’s interesting to hear her perspective on the responsibilities as a columnist. I’ve never thought about the importance of being the most efficient with your space. It’s also interesting to hear her talk about the opportunistic nature of the paper.
?- Are some aspects of print media losing their value because of the use of technology in media today?
Campus Commentary: Mind the Heart Project
Artists Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan spent the past year traveling across the country in their van, documenting their own public art works. They decided to completely let go of their past life and spend their time doing what they love. They talked about some repeated motifs and symbolisms in their artwork and how it related to real life. For example, the use of yarn in their works represent how one ages with time. My favorite part of their presentation was the story they gave. At one point, they were struggling to find meaning in what they were doing. Basically, they met someone who saw their artwork on a public beach and the artwork spoke to them. The old lady who saw the artwork explained her story and how the yarned words, “Don’t give up” meant so much to her. Her daughter was a drug addict and had been human trafficked for the past 2 years and on the verge of suicide. The phrase, “don’t give up” had never been more applicable. Seeing those three words tangled in a dead tree on a public beach had given her hope when she needed it most. When Roie explained the story, it gave me shivers throughout my body. I think art can often be overlooked as a valid form of communication. However, I believe art is a beautiful way to interact with other people; it can provide such a deep connection to one another that can’t easily be achieved otherwise.
The artwork that Maya and Roie create is an interesting medium of storytelling. Similar to some poems that we’ve read so far, the Mind the Heart project is an artistic form of communication. Through temporary art made from yarn, they spread positive messages in public spaces. I also find it astounding to see the amount of passion these people have for their art. They sacrificed their comfortable life to be traveling artists. This reminds me of perspective, and how valuable it is. A simple art piece they create has the power to touch everyone on a deeper level. The anecdote about the lady at the beach was so moving. It’s incredible to think about how what may seem like trash to someone can have the same power to touch someone else’s heart.
Preston Ito Campus Commentary: Russian National Ballet Swan Lake
On March 10, the Russian National Ballet came to Davidson College to do a showing of Swan Lake. While I’ve seen amateur ballet shows before, I haven’t been to a professional ballet performance. To my inexperienced eyes, I couldn’t spot major differences between the shows I’ve seen in the past and this one. This, no doubt, was merely caused by my complete lack of knowledge about ballet. One thing I was able to notice, however, was the elaborate stage set up. The props, costumes, and set design were so beautiful. I remember one particular moment in the show when they even used a see-through screen and a spotlight to create an effect that mimics a mirror. There was lots of creativity into making the most of the stage. This was one of the biggest things that made this show stand out.
One thing I noticed was the use of music to communicate a message or emotion throughout the show. Typically during ballet shows, no words are spoken. Everything is told through dance and music. I think it’s important to talk about the music as the dance and music go hand in hand. Both music and dance use their own tactics to work together in telling a story. A common misconception is that language is the most effective when it’s spoken language. I disagree. There are other forms of language, such as music or dance, that are at least just as effective. If we alter the way we view music, we give it power that allows it to stand on its own as a storyteller. A perfect example of this is Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit. This was much more than the average jazz ballad. Strange Fruit was a telling about the brutal story of racial terror in America. This song shocked the world, perhaps more so than a speech or anecdote. In the form of music, Billie Holiday successfully expressed herself, and this is no way the only example of this. We must recognize the validity of music as a storyteller to better listen and hear each other.