About Me

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Hello everyone! My name is Vanessa. I'm currently in school for my Bachelor's in Social Work with a minor in Juvenile Justice. Life is what we make it so why let "society" ruin it. If you are a part of society and allow it to influence you, this blog is not for you. If not, enjoy reading about hair and products, music, society, relationships, and anything else I can think of.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Punctuation Mark Would You Be?

Come to think of it...I'm pretty sure no one has ever taken the time to really think about what punctuation they would want to be. But, since I am given the opportunity...I'm actually stuck between the comma and the exclamation point. The comma is put when you want a reader to slow down, like taking a breather and preparing for the next clause. That's how I am sometimes. I find that I pause when I speak sometimes (mostly when I am having trouble explaining myself), like now. I would definitely be the exclamation because it provides extreme emotion to whatever it is you want to say...exaggerated or not. The exclamation point is describes different emotions, like anger, frustration, happiness, joy, excitement, and so on. The exclamation point does so much for an expressive sentence. It also describes my attitude. When I am excited, I yell or shout...just like one would react in a sentence with an exclamation point at the end.

Robin Blaser's "Where's Hell" Part A & B Posts

Part A

Ello everyone...I just wanted to say that this lecture by Robin Blaser was I should say...inter-est-ting...in its own special way...

I didn't really understand what was going on. I knew he was speaking in front of a crowd. He would speak and then change into reciting different poems by different authors, especially when he mentioned he was influenced by Franz Kafka and Borges.

I found it interesting how he brought up Sophocles' interpretation of the compostition of the soul. He believes the soul is like a spider web and that the soul responds to every single movement made on the web. At first I didn't understand why he would compare the soul to a web--and even now I still don't know. But, my theory is that a web is spun with delicate thread from a spider and isn't spun in only a moment. It takes time and possibly even days. When you think of a web, you see the origin, then how it expands, it's like ripples in a pond. It starts off small then bigger and bigger. This is what I thought about when I analyzed a web, but relating it to a soul is a bit out there. My question is how would you comepare this analysis to a soul?

I would also like to know everyone's thoughts on Charlamegne's Alquin when he says that life is the expectation of death and how death is established at one's will? It sounds confusing, yes, but I would like an elaboration?

Part B

I would like to apologize on my preivious post...instead of Sophocles, I meant Socrates. Please and thank you.

Anywhow, I would like to start by agreeing with both Cynthia and Tzivia about how the lecture was disappointing. I also thought that it would be more of a lecture based on different ideas people would have on the topic: "Where's Hell". Although on the otherhand, Blaser did mention some ideas that sort of intertwined with the idea of hell. Using citations from other authors, Blaser touched upon the subject of the soul and life's stages. The soul is what would normally be either damned to Hell or ascending to Heaven. I found that he got more into it at the end around the 55 minute mark. He brought up the Italian man Luigi with an extremely long name from Venice. In the poem, he asked the man where he was living and the man did not respond--until suddenly he said he was living in Hell, in which he demonstrated by raising his hand to his stomach and up to his heart. This part of the body houses the interior being--the soul. He himself, in his own body, was housing Hell within himself.

Now that Michaela mentioned it, about the fact that Blaser didn't come to a conclusion about the question...it could be that it was done purposely. If you look at the way Blaser's lecture was, you would see that he beat around the bush a majority of the time...he was never direct about anything, in my opinion. Also, it could left unanswered because he left it up to his audience [which includes us] to decide for ourselves where hell is, since also there are so many other opinions.

Peter Warshall's "Animal Sounds" Lecture


With the title alone, I wasn't sure that I could elaborate on this lecture as much as I would like to--required to actually. But, I'll certainly try.

I found this lecture to be a little more engaging and relative than "Where's Hell". He kept my attention going with the use of his sound recordings. The first thing that came into my mind was where did he get all of these sounds? But no matter.

I was actually able to agree with Warshall when he mentioned how the study of music is important to poets. This was my first bullet note. I'm pretty sure that almost all of poetry have some type of rhythm. Without rhythm, a poem just sounds boring and readers would just be reading it straight--not sure if I'm making sense...it's a bit hard to explain. For example, a poem can have an AA BB CC pattern--this pattern in itself is a type of rhythm--and this rhythm moves like a beat--and music has a beat! Hope I made it a little more clear? Basically, in order for GOOD poetry to be written, it needs "music".

Another point I would like to address is how he describe white noise--fearsome, awesome, and divine. This was an enormous exaggeration to me because usually, these type of words describe some type of higher power, godly even. But, I changed my mind, especially when he says how people thought that the white noise were from the gods. I compared this higher power to the evolution of sound. His whole lecture is based on how sound has changed and affected the planet. Sound has such a dominating role that it should be described as fearsome, awesome, and divine. Until this lecture, I never realized how sound had such an impact on Earth. From the beginning of time to the present.

I also wondered how sounds become a type of seduction and are intimate. But, it slowly became self-explanatory when he reached the subject of male and female--the time of mating. I found it interesting how much sound is put into this type of relation within the animal and human species. This might sound a bit clique, but the way an animal, like the frog example in Warshall's lecture, and a human try to attract a mate are similar. As society puts it, the man who has "more game" into courting a woman usually gets the her. The same way goes for the frog. The lowest and loudest grunt attracts the female frog's attention and he gets her. This is evidence enough to prove that sound alone has an effect on how we all (humans and animals) communicate with one another. One problem I experienced in this lecture was how at the end he states two poetic goals: 1) to take evolutionary history of assertive low pitches and to reverse the sound 2.) to stress high pitches and to turn that into beautiful sounds. What did he mean by this?

Frank O'Hara's "Having A Coke With You" Explication

In Frank O'Hara's “Having a Coke With You”, the speaker of the poem takes the reader into a journey of love through art, in which the purpose of the the poem is conveyed. Frank O'Hara's speaker of the poem uses allusion, aesthetic imagery, and first and second person point of view to bring out the the theme, which is how the everyday things in life can be utilized to express deep emotions, in this case of the speaker.

The speaker of the poem uses allusion in a sense to apply emphasis on his love for this special person in his life. These references to certain paintings, statues, and artists are meant to demonstrate how the simple, everyday things can be compared to such a complex sentiment of love. The art references of the poem are compared to love and it shows how significant these allusions are to him. He mentions specific titles, stating that the person he is writing about possesses greater beauty than most paintings. It's coincidental and interesting how he rather chooses to write “just as at home i would never think about The Nude Descending a Staircase”. This line seems to have a deeper meaning because the title of the portrait itself is a method in representing that he only has eyes and respect for this special person and that he wouldn't take a moment, even while away from her, to imagine “the nude” walking down the stairs. He would not hinder to worldly temptations such as this. It is also possible that certain allusions that he makes are references to other women that he used to occasionally notice. “...at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo and Michelangelo that used to wow me”. This again, is the comparison of the simple, everyday things in life. This quote and also the previous one link together because they express similar meanings of how deep he is in love.

Another technique O'Hara uses is the imagery that the words of the speaker reveal and create in the mind of the reader. The speaker mentions “orange” in the first couple of lines in the poem. This bright, burst of color is not a usual term to describe love, but instead, it is used vibrantly, to insinuate how much joy it is to be in love with this person. The speaker's allusion to the “Polish Rider” furthers this idea because the horseman is wearing orange. It is questionable why the speaker chose not to utilize “red” as the descriptive words because the color red is the most commonly used term when describing love and passion. But, the speaker says, “I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally”. As he uses “except” to break off his feelings, it demonstrates the limits that he has for this woman, which is evidence to as why he did not use red, but instead orange, a relatively close tint. The title, which is also significant, though it is somewhat irrelevant to the comparisons, holds greater meaning to the subject of love. Sharing a coke with someone is a type of communion, which deepens the sense of comfort and simplicity the author attempts and succeeds in conveying in the poem.

Finally, the speaker invites the reader to personally feel what he feels, using second person point of view, on a sentimental journey through art. In almost every line of the poem, the speaker says “you or your”, referring to the woman he loves. This point of view makes the meaning of the poem all that more obvious and relateable. Though at times he is not specific to the particular person he is talking about, the “subject” is left broad and open to whomever. He uses “you and your” as a method to make the purpose of the poem more engaging for the reader. The reader can imagine himself in the location of the “yous” in the poem, a technique O'Hara uses so the reader can see through the mind of the speaker, also known as stream-of-consciousness. First person is also used in the poem, referring to himself and at times inclusive of the woman. But, at the same time, the speaker closes this broadened opening as he says, “thank heavens you haven't gone yet so we can go together for the first time”. He uses both point of views in the same sentence. This line also enables the reader to experience the emotions the speaker is feeling.

Henceforth, Frank O'Hara uses aesthetic allusions, colorful imagery, and stream-of-consciousness of first and second person, to convey his theme of how the simplicities of everyday life, art and unyielding to temptation, can be compared to the most complex, yet also simple, emotions of love in “Having a Coke With You”.

Tom Phillips Explication: Page 186

Page 186

On page 186 of Tom Phillips' A Humument, Phillips creates a contrasting, short poem between the ability of “clairvoyance” and looking forward to a melancholy day ahead. Phillips utilizes imagery, irony, and intricate diction to portray the theme of the poem. He suggests that those who possess the aptitude of clairvoyance (the literal supernatural power to see things that normal people wouldn’t be able to with their given senses) are rare to find and how much easier it is to be more pessimistic, only seeing what everyone else can.

Tom Phillips uses simple imagery to further stress his point on the rarity of people with clairvoyance. In the first half of his painting, Phillips creates a splotch of words with the borders spreading in different directions. The speaker states, “Amplify your/ unhappy/ to-morrow”. In the spreading of the edges of this line, he demonstrates how the feeling of pessimism can be magnified and unknowingly sought out by almost everyone in the world. Also, the meaning can be interpreted as to look beyond the sorrows and the unhappiness that tomorrow may bring, which the speaker expresses by having the border of the lines stretching out. But, at the bottom corner of the painting, the speaker states, “clairvoyance”. This word is put alone, in isolation away from the rest of the poem, and it is also incomplete in thought. It is possible that Phillips purposely isolated the word or also that it was just coincidentally in this location. Not only does Phillips seclude “clairvoyance”, but it is perfectly boxed in, with its rectangular shape. Another interpretation of his use of imagery is how he purposely surrounds the poetry in black color. Not only that, but the lines of the poetry are in white, making it quite legible and visible to the eye. His use of black represents total darkness and the clear or white color of the actual writing in the poetry represents the light. People of the norm are not equipped with the ability to see through darkness, which creates an unpleasant feeling. Hence, the speaker states, “Amplify your/ unhappy/ to-morrow”. The speaker describes the future as unhappy, which relates to Phillips' use of black color to envelope the eyes of the beholder. Society, at some point of their life, will experience pessimistic anxiety for what lies ahead and not knowing makes it even worse. These melancholy views of the future reason with Phillips use of blindness through darkness in color. Spreading the edges suggests to look beyond what is usually given to a person, beyond the darkness.

Phillips' utilization of irony would seem rather questionable by the reader because one would rather seek the optimistic point of view of what holds tomorrow rather than what may or may not happen. Pessimistic human anxiety is a part of mankind that is so inevitable, which is why instead of discouraging the negativity in the future, he encourages it. But, out of random, the speaker includes “clairvoyance” which force the first half of the poem into a state of contrast. This term is supposed to demonstrate a rare power in which one can see what others can't with their normal senses. But, possessing this ability can enable one to see the optimism in the present and future. This is also emphasized with his use of isolation of the word—towards the bottom left corner. Here, his two ideas are those that only see the the negativity in which everyone else is capable of seeing while the other is looking beyond that, possibly the positivity in tomorrow.

Finally, Phillips applies intricate diction in his poem to help portray, literally, the theme of his poem. His use of sarcastic diction makes the poem more intriguing and thought provoking. The speaker of the poem is addressing his message to almost everyone on Earth because he refers to his subject in second point of view when he states, “your/ unhappy/ to-morrow”. Since this poem relates to normal society, it is only appropriate that he uses second point of view. The speaker also uses exaggerated terms such as “amplify” and “clairvoyance”. Amplifying an object or in this case, an emotion, is increasing its size dramatically. But, since that first half of the poem seems to be spreading in all directions of the painting, it is only right to assume that it could spread to clairvoyance. He is probably trying to send out a message that people should seek a way out of the normal, everyday feeling of pessimism to opening up and enlarging the ability to see the brighter side of things—which most others cannot.

Tom Phillips' theme is implied in the poem with his use of exaggerated diction, dark imagery, and irony. His message to society is that clairvoyance is possible to possess if people can only see outside of their negative ideas of tomorrow, though he seems to encourage it—only because society makes it so inevitable since most people think similarly. But, his message reaches a point where the surrounding edges of the lines is making its way to clairvoyance.

Reading Lolita In Tehran Post 5 (A & B)

In my previous post, I noted that Azi believes that she is irrelevant to society. I just wanted to add a quote that I think would branch off from it:

“I wrote, rather dramatically, to an American friend: “You ask me what it means to be irrelevant [I asked the same thing]? The feeling is akin to visiting your old house as a wandering ghost with unfinished business. Imagine going back: the structure familiar, but the door I snow metal instead of wood...Your office is now the family room and your beloved bookcases have been replaced by a brand-new television set. This is your house, and it is not. And you are no longer relevant to this house...” (169).
Before the quote, Azi would talk to anyone who would listen to her. She believes that others she has spoken to feel as if their place in the world was taken away. Though she applies this to others, it also relates to herself. She was living in a country where not all that mattered to a person were limited and she was able to articulate with that, but now, ever since she began wearing the proper Muslim woman attire, her life changed drastically. It seemed to really affect her. “The problem for me was that I had lost all concept of terms such as home, service and country,” (169).

Anyhow, Jenny, you wrote about Azi's visits to her magician. Before, I elaborate, I would repeatedly get confused about who this “magician” was and her relation with him. I did not want to go back to the text because I was hoping that the narrator would explain his importance. I also agree with you about whether or not Azi “invented” him or not, but I think he really existed because of the scene when she had an appointment with him and did not find him there. I don't think that his significance to the novel was all that vague as you put it. I looked at the name she gave him first, “magician—and at times, my magician”. A magician is a talented person who usually performs tricks, illusions, and provides an entertaining atmosphere to a crowd. In this case, Azi's magician put an air of hope and fulfillment. “This was what was good about him: people who went to see him somehow ended up with some plan or another, whether it was how to behave towards a lover or how to start a new project...” (175). The narrator mentions how he was able to fix situations and how people would come to him for advice. The magician was put there (especially notable during the times of the bombings in Tehran when most people lost all hope) to help bring Azi back on track on her teaching. She left Tehran University because of the veiling law that was passed. I found it interesting about how he described her. “He said later that when friends asked him after our first meeting, What is the lady professor [this is what the magician called Azi, the narrator] like?, he said, She's okay. She is very American—like an American version of Alice in Wonderland...it was merely a fact”, (175-176). He describes her as being very American, where most Muslims in Tehran would probably take as an insult. Instead, she thinks nothing of it—rather she agrees with his statement. He also believes she is like Alice in Wonderland. This movie was a story of a young girl who falls into an unfamiliar world with fictional characters unlike herself, that seem yet adapted to their environment. She travels in this fantasy world, different as can be, and befriends the most unusual creatures. She's lost in this land and must find a way back to her world; same as Azi. She is in a world where she is unlike the others, she's lost (because of the veil she's wearing) and tries to find a way back to her purpose (teaching back at the university).

Ashely, you asked if Nafisi could be a Christ figure. Like Jenny, I understand where you're coming from because, yes, she has disciples that like and don't like her classes that she teaches. I don't really see the relations of Christ within her except that she has followers. But, then again, I see that she represents Christ in other ways, too. She seems very devoted to her books, just as Christ was with the Bible, and doesn't seem to care what others think about her, just as Christ felt when others denied him as prophet and instead as a hoax. Then again, at the end, she conforms to wearing the veil because she has to in order to continue teaching, let alone walking in the street, which Christ did not conform to, instead he remained faithful to God and His plan, was crucified, and died, but rose again.

Jenny, to answer your question about losing contact with the other students, I just believe that it was meant to happen. Many of her students were either jailed or executed, and many just chose not to come to school or had joined the fight against Iraq, especially with the war that was going on. Even before the war, Azi was losing contact with many of the students As to it being a symbol of leaving the past behind, I see your point, and I find that I agree. She left for the United States in 1997 as she stated in the Epilogue. After all of her experiences in Tehran, Iran, I believe that she left to a land where she could be herself, her true self and not worry about what the Islamic regime had to say about it.

Reading Lolita In Tehran Post 4 (A & B)

I know in my last post I mentioned I was beginning to lose interest in the novel suddenly, but I must say that I take it back. The idea of the book turning into a war story in some ways forced me to disengage with the text only because it wasn't what I wanted to read or expect. But, I realized that the war between Iran and Iraq was actually significant to the book.

“So he had formulated an ideal of me as a Muslim woman, as a Muslim woman teacher, and wanted me to look, act in short live according to that ideal...No, I could tell Mr. Bahri, it was not that piece of cloth that I rejected, it was the transformation being imposed upon me that me made me look in the mirror and hate the stranger I had become,” (165). This was my first quote that I chose for the the fourth part of the book because I finally got a sense of what she really thought about the veil, what she really felt about being covered, head to toe, in a black chador...in her own words. It's pretty obvious that the veil is an extremely important aspect of the lives of Muslim women in Iran—especially the narrator, Azi. The idea that she applies about the veil was a way that I never thought of it before. I always thought she opposed the idea because she was a rebel and hated conforming to the government, and would rather live her life the way she chose to rather than the way “they” chose to.

Jenny you noted that Nassrin, one of Azi's students, lives in a society where women are considered to be subordinate and they mustn't show any trace of individuality or identity. The narrator is living in the same one. This world that the Muslim women are living in contradicts Azi's beliefs that wearing the “piece of cloth” would turn her into a stranger within herself, which I agree with. I can't imagine her in a thick black chador of endless layers that block her from personal expression. Wearing the veil would mean a dismissal to, according to Jenny, “her identity and individuality”, most of her beliefs, her lifestyle, and her behavior. In other parts of the book, she calls herself “irrelevant”. Azi's irrelevance to society is because she is so different. The university believes she is different, too. This came to be after the veil was required in most accommodations in the country. Also, most of her favorite book stores were closed down because they sold too many “Westernized” novels that they believed were poison to the country. “Sometimes, almost unconsciously, I would withdraw my hands into my wide sleeves and start touching my legs or my stomach. Do they exist? Do I exist...Unfortunately, the Revolutionary Guards and the guardians of our morality did not see the world with the same eyes as me. They saw hands, faces and pink lipstick...” (168). This relates to Azi's previous statements because as before, she is not the average woman living in Iran. I couldn't believe when I read over the passage that she was wearing the veil! I was shocked and a bit angry because I saw it as defeat, but then again, it was necessary in order for her to return to teaching at the University of Tehran. What she said foreshadowed this quote because the cloth did make her a stranger. She would walk down the street and question whether her existence was true or false. The Islamic regime only saw what their minds and eyes forced them to see. They did not realize how wearing the veil would rape these women of their individuality (according to few of the characters).