Sunday, April 30, 2006
After finishing this book, another main point reaches my interest. I love Vonnegut’s use of language to push ideas into his reader’s brain. He uses repetition of phrases to signal different events and tones. I wonder is he’s the genius that thought this up, or if some past author served as his inspiration. The main phrase that Vonnegut repeats is “So it goes”. Billy Pilgrim says that the Tralfamadorians say “So it goes” every time some one dies, to imply that death is an inevitable part of life. Billy picks up this phrase, repeating it after death is mentioned. In some parts of the book, I was simply overwhelmed by the amount of times “so it goes” was repeated. This is such a clever method, and reminds me of the way architects design memorials.
The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. serves as a prime example of how architects design memorials to affect viewers in specific ways. This memorial is a long black wall, a couple inches at the beginning, and angling upward to several feet in the middle. Names are inscribed in the black background, and viewers can see their reflection as they walk along beside the memorial. The viewer is amazed at the amounts of names, because the wall is narrow and spreads the names over a long distance. Furthermore, by seeing ones reflection in the shiny black surface, the viewer feels connected to the people who died. Similarly Vonnegut use phrases to trigger emotion.
“So it goes” is a simple three letter phrase. It is not decorated, lacy, or profound. In fact, if it was only sprinkled lightly throughout the text the reader would take little notice of it, and certainly not consider it significant. However, after a death scene Vonnegut repeats this phrase. Its interesting how that phrase reminds you that someone actually died. Death is so frequent an occurrence in this book that without the phrase, the reader would be numb to its forces. By repeating a phrase, Vonnegut reminds his reader that some one actually died. Furthermore, with its repition comes recognition of the vast multitudes of people that die as war tragedies. Such a clever strategy!
Saturday, April 29, 2006
The Things They Carried
After finishing this book, I am inspired to adjust the way I write to closer look like O’Brien’s. He writes with such vitality, with such a life force, that events previously foreign to bystanders come alive. Each event breaths with unique rhythm and volume, and the readers eagerly consume it. After admitting my reaction to O’Brien’s writing style, I am now interested in examining my opinion of war.
I am convinced that each human is born with this gut instinct that screams of the immorality of war. Born innocent to the world, a child looks encouraged towards his neighbor. As the Bible teaches to “love thy neighbor as yourself” so a person newly born into this world respects his neighbor. How unnatural it would be if an infant devised a scheme to destroy a play mate that refused to share a toy. However, children are undeniably quite capable of manipulation. In Bill Cosby’s stand up comedy, he does a skit where a child climbs to the top of the refrigerator, grabs a forbidden cookie, and then, as the adult enters the room, says “I got you a cookie Mommy”. Thus, are adults similarly driven, that they will deceive to get what they want? One passage in particular stands out to me in The Things They Carried:
War is hell, but that’s not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.
Evidently war is full of a multitude of ironies. For example, what is worse: idly standing by and letting people die at the hand of a dictator, or intruding into the matters of another country and determining the future of its citizens? What is more just: freedom to determine one’s own destiny, which means no interruption by other nations; or gaining freedom even if it means the invasion of countries such as America?
I suspect, in the near future, our nation has a lot of deciding to do. What does freedom mean to us? What does death mean? Is the loss of one life a justifiable cause for the loss of another? O’Brien means not to answer these questions but to raise them, challenging readers like me to do some serious soul searching on behalf of this nation.
Journal Reaction Part 1
As soon as I began reading this book I saw undeniable similarities to Tim O’Brien’s novel. Kurt Vonnegut begins by discussing the truth of his novel, saying that some of it is true and some of it is not true. Vonnegut uses lies to reach the truth, similar to other writers. That’s the beauty of fiction: the words used are inaccurate, but they paint accurate pictures.
Vonnegut uses time travel throughout this novel, not only as a means to transport his reader through the chronology of Billy Pilgrims’ life, but as a means to discuss different theories. For example, the residents of Tralfamadore have different ideas about the consistency of time. They view time as already determined, like a string of spaghetti or Christmas lights. To them time is tangible, unable to be manipulated, stunted, or changed. It simply is. I find this theory fascinating. Billy Pilgrim uses the Tralfamadorians concept of time to cope with his own life. For a reader like myself, I view these time travel theories as a literary move. I think it’s a genius method: use time travel not only as a way to move a character from place to place, but as a way to interest the reader.
Friday, April 28, 2006
The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral…Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is ‘So it goes’ (27).
Although Billy tries to use this method to cope with death, he constantly remembers the war. When he tries to go to bed at night he can not sleep, he explains “But sleep would not come. Tears came instead. They seeped. Billy turned on the Magic Fingers, and he was jiggled as he wept” (62). Therefore, Vonnegut speaks out against war by detailing Billy Pilgrim’s attempt, and ultimate inability, to cope with death.
Since citizens often absentmindedly allow war to become an unchangeable part of life, O’Brien and Vonnegut use their novels to speak out against war. Both authors illustrate the effects of war on soldiers in order to educate ordinary citizens about what is happening to combatants. In addition, these authors clarify that war continues far after actual battles, and becomes entrenched in the people partaking in them. Through these writings, hopefully general readers are called to activism against war.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
“There’s no place to go. Not just in this lousy little town. In general. My life, I mean. It’s almost like I got killed over in Nam…Hard to describe. That night when Kiowa got wasted, I sort of sank down into the sewage with him…Feels like I’m still in deep shit” (156).
All Norman wanted when he returned from the war was to embrace his home, yet like he said, he returned physically but not in actuality. The sewage of Kiowa sucked him up, consuming his soul. Although Norman imagines ways to reconnect with home, he never does, and ultimately commits suicide. Therefore, the war drives Norman insane because on his return home he can no longer relate to the people that enjoyed life while he was in a foreign country fighting a war.
Similarly to The Things They Carried, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House-Five illustrates the effects of war on combatants. The main character in this book is Billy Pilgrim, a man stuck in time. Vonnegut takes the reader on a journey involving Billy’s experiences with time travel. The core story is Billy’s experience as a prisoner of war in Dresden, Germany, but Vonnegut continually interrupts its chronology to insert past events of Billy’s life. These flashbacks (in the form of time travel) demonstrate the isolation that Billy experiences as a victim of war. Slaughter-House-Five provides countless examples of how the war effected Billy Pilgrims’ connection with reality.
In the first chapter of this book, Vonnegut addressed the reader directly, without the use of Billy Pilgrim as his character. By telling us a short story about who he is and how he came to write this book, he reveals how the war affected him personally. For example, Vonnegut explains that he tried to find an old war buddy:
I had the Bell Telephone Company to find him for me. They are wonderful that way. I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk, and I drive my wife away with a breath like mustard gas and roses. And then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years.
This introductory chapter shows the reader the difficulty Vonnegut had with recovering from the war enough to write a book. He persistently talks about the struggles he had writing this book, explaining that first he did not have any ideas of what to write about, and then did not know how to write about what he wanted to write about. Consequently, the reader gains a sense of the seriousness of the war as soon as the first page of this book, expanding their understanding of the outcome of war.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Eventually, after a week of this, the strain began to create problems. Jensen couldn’t relax. Like fighting two different wards, he said. No safe ground: enemies everywhere. No front or rear. At night he had trouble sleeping- a skittish feeling- always on guard, hearing strange noises in the dark, imagining a grenade rolling into his foxhole or the tickle of a knife against his ear. The distinction between good guys and bad guys disappeared for him.
Evidently, after fighting with the Vietnamese for so long he can no longer distinguish the enemy, and begins fighting not only with a man on his own side, but with himself.
One of the most disturbingly profound effects of war involves not only an inability to distinguish the real enemy, but an inability to distinguish oneself from the land. In chapter 9, O’ Brian tells the story of Mary Anne, the innocent blonde girlfriend of soldier Eddie Diamond. Because their squad was stationed in an area seemingly away from the war, Eddie Diamond paid for his girlfriend to fly to Vietnam. Eventually Mary Anne got sucked into the horror of the land. As Rat Kiley explains to Tim, what happened to Mary Anne “was what happened to all of them. You come over clean and you get dirty and then afterwards it’s never the same” (114). Mary Anne had only been in Vietnam for a few months before she started to go crazy. The war affected her intensely by soaking her very soul into the violence and destruction of Vietnam, leaving her hopelessly absorbed in the war. As Mary Anne represents a “soldier” unable to disconnect from the actual war, O’Brien tells a similar story of a soldier that cannot forget the war once he returns home.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Balanced sentence structure is the most important feature of elegant prose because it makes you sentenced balanced. Use words such as “and, or, nor, but, and yet”, to balance phrases and clauses. Second, elegant sentences end on strength, which can be created by ending with a strong word, ending with a prepositional phrase, ending with an echoing salience, ending with a chiasmus. Next, sentences should vary in length, but if they are longer than thirty words or so or shorter than fifteen, edit. While striving for elegance, understand that failure is common and keep persevering despite any initial difficulties.
Ultimately, to acquire an elegant style you must read writers who write elegantly, and then look at your own writing and understand the distinction between elegance and inflaion. Nonetheless, revise for simplicity of characters as subjects and actions as verbs, the complexity of balanced syntax, meaning, sound, and rhythm, and emphasis of artfully stressed endings.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Early in the war, soldiers would waste free time playing mundane games such as checkers. As O’Brien describes, “There was something restful about it, something orderly and reassuring. There were red checkers and black checkers. The playing field was laid out in a strict grid, no tunnels or mountains or jungles” (32). They played checkers to establish a set of rules in their lives. Living in Vietnam as soldiers during the war, where death could come at any moment; the war affected the soldiers by causing them to search for reality in such trivial things as checkers. As soldiers spend their free time engaging in checkers and search for reality, they react by losing their ability to determine right from wrong.
Post for Sunday. Blogger.com wouldn't work, I don't know why?
Anyways, Its the first paragraphs of my journal article.
Most people classify home schooled students as either belligerent smart nerds that sit cross legged on a spindly kitchen chair doing chemistry problems for hours, or deathly introverted kids that have no friends and when asked questions nervously check to see if their shoes are tied or what time it is. This story is about a once home schooled girl named Jenny. Jenny has twelve siblings, 5 sisters and 6 brothers. She grew up in the jungles of Africa because her parents were both missionaries with the Episcopalian church. Jenny is scared of animals because when she was 5 she almost died from a poisonous snake bite. Actually, she likes looking at animals from a distance, but as soon as she is face to face with one she starts crying. Jenny is bad at math and science but loves art. She spends a lot of free time drawing and painting. Her favorite is drawing people, mainly faces. She also draws flowers. One time she drew a flower that looked like a face. It was kind of a combination of face and flower and looked very abstract. She was 14 when she did that, and won an award of $200 from a local art competition. Jenny moved to the United States when she was 16. She wanted to continue being home schooled, but her parents objected; they thought she needed to be socialized. So Jenny went to school. So did two of her brothers and one of her sisters. Jenny’s parents kept home schooling the other children because they were still quite young. Transition? How do I do this?
Historically, education has gone through drastic changes and developments. Since the beginning of time, people yearn for knowledge. However, primitive education varies greatly from current education. Because society changes and develops, the purpose of education simultaneously changes and develops. For example, the purpose of the Spartan education “was to rear a physically perfect specimen, capable of enduring all kinds of hardships, well disciplined in militarily, and absolutely devoted to the state” (Bartky 21). Sparta as well as Athens considered education a public matter, and both had mandatory school attendance (Gwynn 27). Currently, schools are highly unique places with very specific goals, yet they are incredibly broad and all inclusive. Physical education, American history, world history, geography, math, science, English, foreign language, and electives in one category; then social skills, group work, test taking skills, writing skills, computer, extracurricular, and morals. What are schools really supposed to do? Furthermore, should there be a set rule of what schools do? Evidently, the work of schools goes far beyond the basics. According to Donald Arnstine, schools have three main jobs, education, socialization, and the aesthetic (Arnstine 5). Nevertheless, a historical perspective of educational agendas puts current educational practices into perspective, starting with religious influences on education.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Thursday, April 20, 2006
In Source Book in the Philosophy of Education, Kilpatrick examines philosophy and education, science and philosophy in education, the concept of experience, generic traits of existence, the nature of the human individual, social and individual life, democracy and education, progress, and the legal aspects of education. Rather than providing his spoken opinion on these matters, Kilpatrick consults various Philosophers of Education such as John Dewey, Morris R. Cohen, Thomas Darlington, Thomas Jefferson, and Walter Lippmann to create a cohesive collection of influential works on education. The quotations provided present material in the philosophy of education to further study the context of modern education in reference to the most prominent crafters of democratic education.
Pierce, Truman. Federal, State, and Local Government in Education. Washington: Center for Applied Research in Education, 1964.
This book traces the expanding role of government in education by examining the constitutional provisions for education, the impact of congress on education, the role of state legislatures on education, federal and state court decisions, the executive branch of government, and various issues such as responsibility and control. Truman aims to provide a brief review of the reasons which led to the founding of education in this country to present a better perspective of the role of government in education. In order to provide this perspective, Truman provides bountiful historical context concerning the Federal, state, and local government.
Sommer, Carl. School in Crisis: Training for Success or Failure?. Houston: Cahill
Publishing Company, 1984.
In School in Crisis: Training for Success or Failure? Carl Sommer presents solutions to correct educational problems and create successful institutions. Sommer introduces the educational crisis declaring that because test scores are so low, schools evidently have failed to educate students. He argues that many dimensions exist within this crisis, such as racial and moral. Through careful research, Sommer believes that in order to cure educational failures, schools need to be highly supervised and students must learn basic educational principles early on in their schooling career. Finally, Sommer argues that in order to create a progressive and moral America, schools must confirm basic moral guidelines for students to follow.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
April 19, 2006
In my journal article, I plan on covering several elements of the home schooling controversy, including different factors that went into shaping this controversy. I am going to introduce a specific character and follow through with that characters story. Perhaps this character will humorously portray a home school student in the way that most people stereotype homeschoolers. Then I will give lots of historical background showing how public education in America got to where it is today, and why none of these changes have ultimately been for the better. At the end of my essay, I will be arguing that education is going downhill because of a variety of factors, not just one exact factor. My goal is to get my readers to see that education, in the traditional sense, is key. I want to enlighten the reader so they are not forced to choose between home schooling, public school, and private school, but so they reevaluate education as a whole and begin inquiring for themselves about the education system in America.
I am aiming this article to be published in Educational Leadership: Improving Professional Practice. This is a magazine conducted by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and focuses on the quality of teachers rather than the quality of teaching. The magazine tries to define a “high quality teacher”. Most of these articles argue that teachers must continue to improve rather than apply some prescription to their students. The magazine asks questions such as should professional development be inspirational or survival oriented? Example articles that have been published include “The Satisfaction of Teaching” and “Transforming Practice in Urban Schools”.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
(Since this is all I've done with my life lately!)
Bartky, John. Social Issues in Public Education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1963.
In Social Issues in Public Education, John Bartky assists future teachers and citizens in their endeavor to find answers and solutions to various education problems. Bartky answers questions such as how education is organized, how it should be organized, how does education relate to other institutions, how might these relationships be improved, and the role of education in the resolution of social issues. Rather than directly answering these questions and providing a bias viewpoint, Bartky means to inquire deeper into the implications behind education in order to encourage thought. By examining the sociological and foundational approaches, Bartky looks at the nature, social purposes, political unit, finances, and government of public education. Furthermore, he examines the interaction between schools and other social institutions, including, church, family, universities, and community. Lastly, Bartky studies the school and social problems, including problems of moral, spiritual, and democratic values, school segregation, politics, juvenile delinquency, and demographics.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1926.
In Democracy and Education, Dewy explains that humans naturally look to be self-renewed, and that just as nutrition is essential to growth education is essential to growth. Because democracy is not set up for only individuals but for complex societies, one’s experience in education must supply skills to be an excellent individual as well as skills to be an active member of society. Thus, education is a social function, with the school as a unique and special environment ideal for social growth. Dewey seeks to strongly connect knowledge with moral development, arguing that information is only useful if it further expands the student’s character.
Dewey, John. Experience and Education. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938.
Dewey considers it his responsibility to reach a deeper level and of understanding than is represented by the practices and ideas of the contending parties. Before delving into explaining the modes of education, Dewey establishes that it is difficult to establish a philosophy of education because often, with change comes defense against other “’isms” (such as progressivism) instead of a survey of literal needs, problems, and possibilities. Thus, in Experience and Education Dewey attempts to call attention to larger and deeper Educational problems to assign them to correct frames of reference. In order to do assign these frames of reference, Dewey examines traditional versus progressive education, the need of a theory of experience, criteria of experience, social control, and the nature of freedom, the meaning of purpose, and the means and goal of education. Dewey’s final conclusion is that he means only to point out some of the conditions that must be fulfilled if education is to utilize scientific method to expand experience, rather than state that education must move one way or another. Because he realized that people want education, pure and simple, he devotes himself to finding out how to make education a reality rather than a name or a slogan, which is why he calls for a sound philosophy of education.
Monday, April 17, 2006
The Three Regions of Japan:
The Kanto Plain lies in the hinterland of Tokyo, around Nagoya is the Nobi Plain, and around Osaka is the Kansai District. Each of these regions are major farming zones and are at the heart of Japan's manufacturing complex, so they're under constant urban pressure. The Kanto Plain is Japan's dominant urbanization region and contains 1/3 of the population. The Kanto Plain is focused on the Tokyo-Yokohama-Kawasaki metropolitan area, with its natural harbor at Yokohama. This area is the central location for the whole country, and many businesses choose Tokyo as their headquarters. However, the Kanto Plain has a constant valcano threat and can't produce enough food for its population.
The sencond-ranking economic region is the Kansai District, which involves the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto triangle and is located at the Eastern end of the Inland Sea. Osaka used to be the major base for Chinese trade, but since World War Two Kobe has remained a busy port. This is an important farming area, mainly for rice, but it still needs to have food imported. The Kansai district is smaller agriculturally than the Kanto Plain.
Between the Kanto Plain and Kansai District lies the Nobi Plain, which is Japans leading textile producer. Larger than the Kansai District, its agriculture is better but still not as good as the Kanto Plain. This region revolves around Nagoya, whose port is not as good as Tokyo's or Osaka's.
The Koreas became divided because the Allied Powers decided to devide it for administrative matters after World War Two. North of the 38th parallel lies North Korea, which belongs to the Soviet Union, and south of it lies South Korea, which has had lots of US aid. At the end of the Korean War, a cease-fire line drew a de facto boundary. These two countries have regional complementarity, because North Korea has raw materials and fertilizer and South Korea has food. North Korea trades with China and the Soviets, and South Korea trades with the US, Japan, and Western Europe.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
In Lesson 8: Shape, Williams focuses on how to write sentences that are long and complex, but still clear and shapely. In accordance with previous lessons, Williams begins with a section on diagnosis and revision, guiding his reader on how to figure out faulty sentences and correct them. To diagnose, put a slash mark after every period and question mark of a sentence. Then pick out sentences that are longer than two lines and read them aloud. Revise the sentences if it takes too long to get to the verb in the main clause, if after the verb there are poorly tacked subordinate clauses, or if you hesitate at one interruption after another.
Williams provides a few rules of thumb for crafting shapely sentences. He advises to get to the subject quickly, and to get to the verb and object quickly. Readers like you to get them to your main clause quickly and past the subject to its verb and object. To reshape sentences that sprawl, cut relative clauses and change clauses to modifying phrases. When writing a long sentence, avoid tacking one relative clause onto another and try extending the line of a sentence with modifiers.
Lastly, Williams gives attention to coordination. Even well constructed sentences can be difficult for readers if they do not coordinate. Coordinate elements that are parallel in grammar and in sense. To close, Williams reminds his reader to write a long complex sentence only if the sentence is clear. In order to do that, punctuation is important.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
April 15, 2006
When I began reading Slaughter-House-Five, I instantly noticed a similarity to the Tim O’Brien novel that we just read in FYEC. On the first page of Vonnegut’s novel, he states, “All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true” (1). In The Things They Carried O’Brien also informs his audience that not everything he writes is true, although a lot of it is. The main reason both of these authors write in “lies” is because the plain truth is actually false. When writing on a topic as graphic as war and death, facts and bland illustrations fail to successfully portray what war was “really like”.
When first reading these books, I wondered why the authors admitted that they were not telling the truth. After all, the books are published under the genre of novel, not under the genre of historical account. After reading a good portion of Slaughter-House-Five I understand why Vonnegut and O’Brien must tell their audience that they are lying. War stories are meant to be true. However, telling somebody that one man died by gunshot, for example, does not grasp the reality of the event. In reality, the man who died by gunshot had a history, including a family, friends, and different experiences. That man is a person, a real live (no pun intended) person. That man felt things, believed things, and lived by things. Maybe he even lived for someone. Maybe he was in love. Now let me describe “one man died by gunshot”: Lying, strewn on the mushy salad forest, his arms lie haphazardly beside him. His right finger is frozen, tightly grasping nothing. From the left his profile gleams- a normal nose, thin rosy lips, and an unwrinkled brow. From the left his profile is partially in tact- the lower tip of his nostril is missing and blood gushes like juice squirting from a lime. A butterfly gently rests upon his hair line.
None of this is true. I just made it up. However, I realize that Vonnegut must make things up in order to reach the truth. In a matter as grave as war, people don’t just die, they are mutilated. I find this distortion of the truth compelling and life changing. Perhaps a lie is even truer than the truth. The truth is not capable of extending a hand into the hollow chest of a dead man and grasping the reality of his soul. The truth is up to interpretation. That’s how it becomes a lie.
Friday, April 14, 2006
The Things They Carried
In Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried”, my initial reaction is to say that O’Brien is a highly skilled liar. This book, which revolves around the experiences of several characters involved in the War in Vietnam, reflects on the affect of the war on different people. Like the title implies, the stories included in this book discuss the different things soldiers carried into war, both literally and figuratively. Furthermore, the book discusses the things soldiers carried away from the war, such as their experiences, fears, memories, and nightmares. Beyond telling compelling accounts of the War in Vietnam, O’Brien proves as an ideal example of a successful storyteller. For example, in the chapter “How to Tell A True War Story” O’Brien reflects on war stories:
“In any war story, but especially a true one, it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen. What seems to happen becomes its own happening and has to be told that way. The angles of vision are skewed…Then afterward, when you go to tell about it, there is always that surreal seeming ness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed.”
This example illustrates O’Brien’s intense understanding of storytelling. Throughout the remainder of the novel, he continues to reiterate that story telling is commonly untruthful. This untruthfulness seems extremely ironic in this book, because each story speaks with such vitality and life that a lie seems the opposite of what O’Brien is telling.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
In my journal article, I plan on covering several elements of the homeschooling controversy,
including different factors that went into shaping this controversy. I am going to introduce a
specific character and follow through with that characters story. Then I will give lots of
historical background showing how public education in America got to where it is today, and why
none of these changes have ultimately been for the better. At the end of my essay, I will be
arguing that education is going down hill because of a variety of factors, not just one factor.
Ultimately there is no real conclusion, except that change needs to occur within education.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I peeled the weighty wooden doors that swung like thick swaying giants, gracefully but forcefully. Two beastly men of age 45 sporting deeply sunken eyes, round barrel bellies, and laughing cheeks rested against stubby wooden stools. Hesitantly I enter. “Seven dollars for admission into ghost riders, the best line dancing for miles”, cooed one of those beer guzzling men with a hillbilly twang. “ I realize you don’t like country music and that it looks rough here, but its loads of fun”, reassured my sister, a junior at Grove City College, who line dances often and is smiling at me with over-enthusiasm. This place reeks of a country bar, with old-fashioned wooden tables, counters, and floors. The thick air hit my tongue with the taste of musty cigarette smoke and raunchy beer, cuddled among old mildew and hay. I felt different, foreign, intimidated.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
What strategies might work best to convince your readers to adopt your point of view on the chosen controversy, including content and rhetorical strategies?
For my controversy, which is the education system involving public vs. home school, a causal argument would work nicely. I would need to start with an effect and then trace back to one or more causes. My effect could be lazy students, an uneducated work force, or high school dropouts. I am particularly interested in examining a high school drop out and seeing the way school effected that decision. On the other hand, this research might likely prove me wrong, or lead me to a new conclusion, because the drop out could simply trace the causes to family matter, etc.
I also would like to craft my argument as a satire. Perhaps I could talk about what would happen if all students were home schooled, or what would happen if there was no choice in public school. I could craft a short story to open and close my essay, and then in the middle of my essay could be that juicy causal argument. I like the Jonathan Swift idea; craft an entire argument around a proposal and see how the audience reacts. In this essay I could create a proposal for some sort of education change (I still need to think about it) and then within that proposal just keep building metaphors. Then, at the end of my essay, I would admit that this surely would be preposterous. I only think this would be effective if my proposal were completely outrageous, and since I do not yet know of y any outrageous ideas, I will need to spend some time brainstorming this.
For evidence I plan on using mainly observations and personal experience. Because I am dealing with this controversy personally, my own views and experience plays a big role in my argument. Unfortunate this is exactly the problem. I need to find other evidence that my readers will believe as well. Therefore, I would like to include maybe a personal interview from a home schooled family, as well as secondhand research from books in the library.
Monday, April 10, 2006
In Style lesson 7, Concision, Williams discusses several principles of concision. He introduces the reader to five principles on revising for concision:
1) Delete words that mean little or nothing
2) Delete words that repeat the meaning of other words
3) Delete words implied by other words
4) Replace a phrase with a word
5) Change negatives to affirmatives
Williams encourages his audience to revise because readers think you write clearly when you only use necessary words to make a point.
Williams then begins discussing metadiscourse, which is language used to refer to the writers’ intentions and confidence, give directions to the reader, and imply the structure of the text. Avoid using metadiscourse to attribute ideas to a source or announce a topic. Also avoid excessive hedging and intensifying because it destroys the readers view or the writer as a confident crafter. Metadiscourse is necessary sometimes, but keep it to the minimum. We often use metadiscourse when we are inexperienced about a topic. Regardless of his instruction on concision, William’s tells the reader to not be so concise that your writing becomes terse. Although concise style is good style, realize that the reader wants to see something interesting as well as clear.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
My father, the president of marketing and sales at Mecco Company, works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sixty miles from where we live. An entrepreneur. My mother teaches us, purposefully and amiably. We have horses and chickens and dogs and cats and a sheep- on our ninety acres. My sister and I take ballet. My brother, four years older than me, takes classes at community college so he can graduate high school.
“Fuck that”, some grungy guy behind me with hair that reeks of old cat litter and stinky socks blurted boisterously. Ignoring him I fish through my outdated book bag and discover a neatly folded note. As I open the buttery document, springs of fragrant lavender, in its subtle purple ness, soar tenderly onto my rugged jeans. Neat cursive graces the page with a note from my mother wishing me luck on my first day at Mt. Pleasant High School. The dark bus seems odd. Occasionally I hear a cough, and a puff of cigarette smoke streams towards me. How revolting. Why I am even going here? I am stunned, shocked, that children like me do this everyday of their lives, and are ok with it. Why did I want to do this in the first place? This was so the wrong decision. I hate this, eww. Maybe this day will get better and I’ll have a good experience- I step off the bus with an energetic boost, which does not kill my nervousness. What will my teachers be like? Will I make friends? Will the cafeteria food be good? Will I lose my way and be late to class? Will I get lots of homework?
Saturday, April 08, 2006
As far as activism in the 3rd world goes, in Bodily Harm Atwood, referring to activism on the Islands, explains, “You’d never see a local woman wearing shorts or even pants, they think its degenerate. If they started behaving like that their men would beat the shit out of them. If you tried any of that Women’s Lib stuff down here they’d only laugh. They say that’s for white women” (140). Compared to 1st world anti sexist activism, the 3rd world remains tangled in the chains of female slavery. The 1st world experiences sexism through dismemberment, perversion, under acknowledgement, and strong gender roles, while the 3rd world experiences sexism through polygamy, limited female power, and extreme gender responsibilities. Despite the hopelessness that seems to encompass both worlds, anti sexist activism gradually gnaws through those stubborn chains and brings equality despite gender.
This is the final conclusion of my narrative.
The delicate flowers sway whimsically from side to side using their paintbrush-like petals to caress the creamy backdrop with transparent magic: blue, green, pink, and yellow watercolors. The dark bus seems odd. Occasionally I hear a cough, and a puff of cigarette smoke streams towards me. It reminds me of a circus, but not an extant one, one depicted in some artsy independent film. We will go and find boys we think are cute and talk to them about nothing and then they will feel us and we will go crazy wild with life; we will run through woods together, this Texas girl Kim and I, drunk but laughing and falling and oh, and oh we will cry and fight and hate and love and hurt. My 10th grade English teacher Mr. Clara: the man that taught me to love and appreciate writing and literature, Mt. Pleasant High School. The scent of weed resonates every taste bud in my mouth and I am suddenly awkwardly hungry. Shit, its 11 pm, I should go home soon so I’m not too tired for church. I am sitting on my bunk bead, buried in a pile of notepaper and text books.
It’s like angel hair, this memory.
Today’s lesson: all this; all me.
Varying, collaborative, and intact (color, color, color).
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
If I had a rat in my vagina, would it turn you on? Dead or alive? Said Jake. Me or the rat? Said Rennie. Feh, said Jake…El sleazo, he said. Come on, don’t confuse me with that sick stuff. You think I’m some kind of a pervert? You think most men are like that? Rennie said no.
As described here, 1st world sexism is more than just a view that men hold towards women, but a tangible act of disrespect and distorted behavior. Although Jake ultimately concludes that Renee is suggesting something perverted, he dabbles in the idea by asking her “Dead or alive?” (202). Furthermore, by asking “Dead or alive” Jake is setting his own terms, suggesting that he would only be turned on by this if it was exactly the way he wanted.
The last form of 1st world racism is exemplified when Renee exclaims, “Men were doctors, women were nurses; men were heroes, and what were women? Women rolled the bandages and that was about all anyone ever said about that” (48). Reiterating the idea of strong gender roles, this quote illustrates the undersized credit women receive for their accomplishments, in comparison to men. Although doctors and nurses are factually of equal importance, only men become “heroes” from their achievements. On the other hand, women do dirty work and then virtually disappear from the medical scene. In response to sexism, 1st world activists became fed up with men, “So we said, you want it, fine, we want it too, let’s get together, and all of a sudden millions of pricks went limp” (157). Here, Renee’s friend Jocasta elucidates women reacting to men who are only interested in sex. Rather than correcting men, women decided to start playing along with the rules males established, conforming to the “just in it for sex” policy and disestablishing meaningful relationships. Although this form of reactionary activism seems degrading, Jocasta believes treating men with equal disrespect ultimately caused them to realize that they too want meaningful relationships.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Similar to most social plagues cast upon humanity, sexism is a widespread epidemic in both the 1st world and 3rd world. Several forms of sexism occur in Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood and The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, dividing 1st world sexism from 3rd world sexism. Broadly demonstrated in the novel Bodily Harm, 1st world sexism revolves around perversion and sexual abuse. On the contrary, Emecheta argues that 3rd world sexism occurs through polygamy and strong gender responsibilities.
In the 1st world, men dismember women to make them consumable and powerless. Atwood uses Rennie’s boyfriend Jake to exhibit an all-encompassing view-point that men commonly share of women in the 1st world. Rennie expresses her acknowledgment of the disturbing view Jake holds of her when she realizes that, “Fragmentation, dismemberment, this is what he sees when he looks [at her]” (248). Jake considers Rennie a “piece of meat” capable of being carved and consumed. He looks at her and sees something he can control and dissemble, separating the body into digestible pieces. This is further demonstrated when Jake asks, “What is a woman…A head with a cunt attached or a cunt with a head attached? Depends which end you start at” (225). By dismembering the female body, men control and dominate women. As a segmented body, a woman looses her sense of whole self and becomes dysfunctional.
Monday, April 03, 2006
In Style lesson 6, Emphasis, Williams helps his audience understand how sentences end, addressing clarity and strength, and how placing the right emphasis on the right words can contribute to a global coherence. Using examples to illustrate how complexity must be at the end of the sentence, Williams shows us that there are two types of complexities in writing. Complex grammar is the first and complex terms are the second. The point of over viewing complex grammar and terms is that readers want to see long phrases and complex terms at the end of the sentence. Next Williams’s talks about stress, telling his reader to use the stress position at the very end of a sentence to emphasize words for your reader. Also, use the stress of a sentence that introduces an entire passage to establish the main concepts that the rest of the passage develop. Do this by repeating the main points as topic sentences, or repeating them as themes some where else in the passage by using nouns, verbs, and adjectives.