Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
This post should be easy (if you were in class on Friday): post your thesis statement for your film analysis.
On Monday, bring your introduction (at a minimum, for you can always write more) to class.
On Wednesday, we'll have a short workshop on transitions, and then we'll spend the rest of the time writing (or revising) your film analyses; the final drafts of those analyses will be due on Friday.
Take care, and have a Happy Halloween !
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
First of all, I apologize for the game of musical classroom on Wednesday. I thought our DDH classroom would be more comfortable, and who knew there would be a class that starts in there at 8:30 (I should have known, but still!).
Second, as we discussed on Wednesday, come to class on Friday having chosen your film and made a list of the important characters, settings, and plot of that film. This should be in your own words; don't resort to using a Wikipedia summary of the film.
And now, your blog . . .
Choose one of Eliade's concepts from Myth of the Eternal Return, and explain how it fits Sunshine.
Road to the Center
Abolition of Past/Concrete Time
Restoration of Primordial Chaos (Invasion of the Dead, Abolition of Norms, Sexual Excess, Indeterminate Unity)
Repetition of the Cosmogonic Act (Rekindling of Fire, Ritual Combat, the Erotic Element)
I'll give you an example...
The film uses the Abolition of Past and Concrete Time as one of its starting points; the crew has left Earth and in so doing has lost all traditional ways of measuring time: there are no seasons in space, and there is no night (since they're traveling to the sun, they live a constant day). Furthermore, after Mace and Capa get into their first confrontation and Mace has to get counseling with Dr. Searle, Mace says, "It's the time," to explain one of the causes of his losing control. This is also evident in his persona. Normally, men (especially professionals) shave and keep their appearance clean and neat, but at the beginning of the film, Mace has a scruffy beard and unkempt long hair, implying that he has lost touch with a man's daily rituals; this is another illustration of the idea of being disjointed and out of time.
Monday, October 25, 2010
As we find ourselves in the midst of the quarter, it's a good time to review the course.
As the course title --Advanced Writing-- declares, this course is designed to assist you in becoming advanced writers, but what does it mean to be an advanced writer?
Obviously, a writer is one who writes, and to be advanced, one must be proficient or even skilled in the process and technique of writing.
Advanced writing can be defined in many ways:
Italo Calvino, an Italian novelist, divides and classifies the qualities of advanced writing into six categories: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity, and consistency. (Read his Six Memos for the Next Millennium if you're interested in these, or read If on a Winter's Night a Traveller if you want to read his most famous work).
William Zinsser, a former writing professor at Yale, has seven principles: the transaction (the writer's connection to the topic), simplicity, clutter, style, the audience, words, and usage.
CSUB's Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) defines advanced writing as possessing five characteristics: tasks, reasoning, development, organization, and prose. (Here's the link to their explanation).
Advanced Writing as I define it in my English 310 course has the following criteria: insight, logic, organization, style, and adherence to grammatical/mechanical norms. In other words, a work of advanced writing should...
1. Be insightful (with an argument that moves beyond shallow or generic thinking);
2. Be logical (with a thesis, supporting arguments, evidence, and a lack of fallacies);
3. Be organized (with an overall plan to the essay and to individual paragraphs);
4. Have a style (with rhythm and precision through syntax and diction);
5. Be grammatically and mechanically correct (with an absence of errors).
In terms of English 310, the heavy foundation of reading complex texts is designed to assist students in meeting the first aspect of advanced writing. By reading and then synthesizing ideas from complex texts, 310 writers should be making more complex and insightful arguments. More specifically, I have emphasized the idea of archetypes in order to provoke more complex and insightful thought regarding contexts many people dismiss as being meaningless: popular music, popular film, and advertising. In other words, students in my Advanced Writing course will be finding and arguing a meaning that others may not see, which is the definition of insight.
The lectures on the parts of the essay and the rhetorical modes should assist students in organizing their writing more logically and effectively.
The lectures on syntax should assist students with style, and the grammar/mechanics lectures should assist students with understanding grammar and mechanics.
And now, your blog....
1. What is your strength regarding advanced writing? What would you like this class to include (in terms of advanced writing) before the quarter ends?
2. What film are you thinking of analyzing for your next essay?
3. One concept Eliade describes in The Myth of the Eternal Return is the idea of the Celestial Model. In the film Sunshine, we see that process at work in the names of the crew and the ship. Choose one of the following names, explain the name's etymology (this is one instance where you may use Wikipedia to find the name's word history, where it comes from, what it means), and explain how that name fits the person or thing in the film:
Icarus (the name of the ship)
Friday, October 22, 2010
As we discussed with the Eliade PowerPoints, focus on the ideas and concepts of The Myth of the Eternal Return, and don't get distracted by his allusions and references to specific religious and mythological figures. His core argument is that societies and individuals repeat the patterns (consciously or unconsciously), so the patterns themselves are what will be important to us.
In terms of those archetypal patterns, here are the concepts most important to Eliade's analysis of the Eternal Return:
The Road to the Center
Sacred vs. Profane Time and Space
Abolition of Past Time
Restoration of Primordial Chaos (Invasion of the Dead, Abolition of Norms, Sexual Excess, Indeterminate Unity)
Repetition of the Cosmogonic Act (Rekindling of the Fire, Ritual Combat, Erotic Element)
For Monday's post, choose one of these concepts, and explain (in a short paragraph) how that concept relates to J. Lisa Chang and Newton Thomas Siegel's short film, The Big Empty.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
As the syllabus notes, you need to read pages 2-48 of Mircea Eliade's The Myth of the Eternal Return for Friday.
This text is a bit more challenging than Ariadne's Clue; Eliade constantly refers to figures from world mythology. Don't get caught up in trying to research each of those places and names. We'll discuss some of them together in class.
Instead, focus on the the core concepts.
In pages 2-48, Eliade defines, describes, and gives examples of key archetypes:
1. the Center
2. the Road to the Center
3. Sacred vs. Profane time and space
For this blog, find one quote that deals with one of these three concepts, and explain what you think Eliade is trying to express with that quote. Be sure to give the page number with the quote.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
We are getting closer to our first out-of-class essay.
For Friday, read "Making Sense of It All: Reading, Interpreting, and Understanding Difficult Lyrics." (The essay is also linked at the class webpage under "Essay #1: Lyric Analysis").
Then, list the song you plan on analyzing as well as three symbols/archetypes you could use in that analysis.
For example, if I were going to write about Tom Waits's song "Whistling Past the Graveyard," I could analyze the symbols/archetypes of . . .
2. Light vs. Darkness
3. Movement vs. Stasis
As a final note, if your song is a love song, the archetype of the Syzygy is probably at work . . .
Monday, September 27, 2010
For today's post, write a paragraph analysis of one of Thomas Allen's photographs at the Foley Gallery. In this analysis, use at least one each of the following:
Friday, September 24, 2010
For this weekend's post, I want you to do the same thing you did in class on Friday; write one sentence that uses the third method of introducting quotes in an analysis of Tom Waits's song "I Don't Wanna Grow Up."
In other words, construct a sentence that uses this format:
Tom Waits's use of the symbol of ___________ signifies _____________ (Stevens, 1998, p. ).
The first blank should be filled with an image or quote from the song; the second blank should be filled with a quote from Stevens with the relevant page number.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Archetypes are by definition universal; that is, their meaning transcends any one given time or place. Thus, although it is difficult (if not impossible) to translate ancient languages (such as the Incan quipu), we can immediately recognize images of fertility in Incan sculptures. In this way, archetypal images convey a meaning we can immediately recognize, even though these images were created in a dramatically different cultural context.
However, not every symbol has a deeper meaning or substance. Think, for example, of the stop sign. This is a clear symbol that indicates to us that we need to stop our cars, but no one would stop and meditate on the idea of "stopping." That person would be crazy . . .
However, other symbols inspire us to do just that; we actually use these symbols to give meaning to moments in our lives (if not our life story itself).
As Anthony Stevens writes, "The vitality of a symbol depends on the conscious attitude with which it is received. In themselves, images are meaningless; they acquire energy-with-meaning only when we grant it to them, by laying ourselves open to their influence" (p. 81).
Because of this power, religions use and exhibit this symbolim. To continue the roadway motif, think of bumperstickers or rear windows with either the "Jesus fish" or "Darwin fish." In each case, a driver has made the conscious choice to align him or herself with this particular symbol. By itself, the image of fish would not mean much; however, when we use this image to project meaning, it achieves, as Stevens would say, "energy."
For this post, describe one symbol that has "energy" for you.
I'll give you an example from my own car. I have a license plate frame with a quote from the poet William Blake: "Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius." In my own case, I choose to give "energy" to the symbol of the crooked road because my own philosophy is that life is meant to be a meandering series of detours. We should be inspired by our distractions and not be so fixated on any single goal that we become blinded to all that life has to offer. (Or maybe I'm just rationalizing my own lack of concentration). In any case, the symbol of the crooked road is one with which I choose to align myself.
Describe one symbol with which you choose to align yourself.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I hope you're not too confused with our readings . . .
Don't fixate on all of the allusions (references to gods and religions); what is important are the ideas and concepts themselves.
On that note, on page 42, Anthony Stevens illustrates one root cause of our need for symbols and archetypes:
"Many of the symbolic rituals divised by our ancestors arose out of the anxieties that inevitably afflicted human beings living in the environmental circumstances in which our species evolved and lived for most of its existence [...] Our capacity to find symbolical means of dealing with these fears is one of the most striking characteristics of humankind When in need, we seek symbolical expression as well as practical fulfilment of those needs."
1. Reread pages 42-44.
2. Describe a symbol or symbolic ritual that you use to promote good luck (or blessings) or ward off bad luck (or evil).
I'll give you an example:
I have many good luck charms that I use depending on the situation. When I travel, I try to keep a St. Christopher's medal with me, and when I'm at home and feel like I'm caught in a rut (of depression or bad luck), I will burn some white sage to clean the air. Also, I have a nazar in my office, my car, and at home to ward off "the evil eye." I'm still alive, so these symbols must be working . . .
Sunday, September 12, 2010
For today's blog, we are going to play a little game called Truths and a Lie.
You need to introduce yourselves: tell us your major, your intended future occupation, your favorite novels, etc. Within this introduction, you need to embed one lie.
Once you've finished your introductions, you need to read others' introductions and see if you can spot the lie.
My name is Matthew Woodman, and I've been teaching at CSUB for ten years. I bought my first car with money I earned from raising pigs in a little town called Springville, and in high school my friends and I would go to the mountains to see if we couldn't find Bigfoot (we never did find him). I went to college on a Basketball scholarship, and I now have a one-year-old son named Bulut (which means "Cloud" in Turkish; my wife is Turkish). I decided to teach English because of my love for the written word and my desire to help others reach their potential.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Through reading Stevens and Eliade, we have seen how archetypes function on both the social and individual level, and in writing our analyses, we have explored how popular culture uses these universal symbols to entertain and help us find meaning in the world.
Our last text --The Hero and the Outlaw-- takes a different approach, one that definitely permeates our lives, whether we like it or not. In this text, Mark and Pearson (2001) argue that advertising uses these same archteypes to help "people to experience meaning in ordinary life" and "ennoble life by highlighting its meaning" (p. 21). Of course, this isn't done out of any sense of altruism; rather, the profit motive is the guiding principle. We could perhaps more accurately replace "highlighting" with "manipulating" with regards to advertisers and their relationship to these archetypal truths.
Regardless of our feelings regarding capitalism and our commercial-driven culture, we can still objectively evaluate whether or not a given advertisement may be effective. On page 13, Mark and Pearson divide and classify archetypal figures into twelve categories, each of which becomes the basis of a chapter.
Your assignment is this:
1. Get into groups of two;
2. Choose a commercial (the ones you posted will work);
3. Critique its use of archetypes (both from Mark & Pearson and Stevens or Eliade if they apply);
4. Use at least one quote from Mark & Pearson.
This critique should be a decent-sized paragraph (six-ten sentences).
Friday, May 21, 2010
Monday's post is an easy one.
1. Choose a commercial that appeals to you.
2. Provide a link to the commercial through youtube.
3. Briefly explain why that commercial appeals to you.
I'll get you started.
One of my favorite commercials is the Geico caveman. The tagline's fairly stupid--"Even a caveman can do it"--but the execution of the commercial itself never fails to make me laugh.
My favorite of all of these is the one with the song "Let Me Be Myself" playing. It's pretty funny that the song advocates individualism, but the commerical is trying to get everyone to be the same (by buying Geico insurance). Here's a link to it.
What gets me the most, though, is the satire of the "being true to oneself" narrative. This archetypal plotline occurs throughout television and movies as well as song: a person has adopted a Persona that isn't "true" and must reconnect with his or her roots. In this case, our caveman has tried to be someone he's not; his setting, clothes, and facial grooming imply that he is trying to climb the social ladder and has betrayed his soul . . . But in the commercial he is able to break free and return to his Self, which of course occurs in a bowling alley (I am also a fan of the film The Big Lebowski, so that may be another reason I like this commercial).
I especially like the visuals of this commerical: the lonely escalator, the scattering doves, the ripping off of the shirt, the buddy-bonding at the bowling alley. Again, these are all images that other films and commercials have used, but they are usually meant to indicate "deep" emotional connections and experiences. Here, of course, it is a caveman who is having this epiphany. The disjunction between the expectation (seriousness) and the reality (humor and caveman) is the perfect image of irony.
Finally, I like the commercial because it makes me laugh at myself. I, too, struggle with remaining true to my vision for my Self (i.e., "What should I be doing with my life?"), so this is a great way of making me laugh at myself as well.
...But I don't have Geico insurance...
Friday, May 14, 2010
1. Give me the title of the film you will be analyzing.
2. List the archetypes/symbols/concepts you will be using in your analysis. Remember that at least one of these concepts must come from Eliade's Myth of the Eternal Return.
Take care, and have a good weekend.
Monday, May 10, 2010
As Eliade discusses in the section titled "Archetypes and Repetition," one method people use to make meaning is to imitate a "celestial archetype," "primordial act," or "mythical example.”
As we discussed in class, this can take many forms (art, architecture, narrative); it occurs clearly in the process of naming: we give names based on the celestial, primordial, or mythical connotations the name suggests. Thus, we have New England modeled after England.
This process occurs on the individual level as well: my name, Matthew, is not original or unique. Rather, it dervies from the
"English form of Ματθαιος (Matthaios), which was a Greek form of the Hebrew name מַתִּתְיָהוּ (Mattityahu) meaning 'gift of YAHWEH'. Saint Matthew, also called Levi, was one of the twelve apostles. He was a tax collector, and supposedly the author of the first Gospel in the New Testament. As an English name, Matthew has been in use since the Middle Ages." (Behind the Name n. pag.)
My last name, Woodman, is compound: Wood + man. The name is a relic from when people took names from their professions; in this case, one of my ancestors was a man who worked in the woods (probably some sort of logger or rough carpenter).
The film Sunshine is filled with names:
Icarus I and II (the name of the ship)
Capa (or Kappa)
Cassie (or Cassandra)
Your assignment is two-fold:
1. Choose one of the names from Sunshine, and analyze its etymology (word origin). Where does the word come from? What does it mean? Does it refer to any specific religion or myth?
2. Analyze the etymology of your own name. Where does your name come from? What does it mean? Does it refer to any specific religion or myth? Were you named after a relative (i.e., are any of you "Junior")?
Here are a couple of sites to get you started:
Behind the Name
Oxford English Dictionary
Remember that Wednesday is a furlough day, so I'll see you all on Friday.
Friday, May 7, 2010
One concept Eliade elucidates is the "Restoration of Primordial Chaos" and the idea that society needs these moments and figures of chaos in order to rejeuvenate its "soul."
Our modern society has largely tamed these chaotic holidays ("Holy days"), but we still have one day that maintains its chaotic nature: Halloween.
This chaotic element is also why some religious fundamentalists oppose its observance: it is a day of "demonic energy" (which is just a synonym for chaos).
Needless to say, for many children, Halloween is the preeminent holiday: a day of excitement and breaking society's norms.
For this post, give one example of how Halloween embodies the idea of chaos. I'll start you off:
The idea of "Trick or Treat" is itself a threat; children are quite literally blackmailers: "If you don't give me candy (the treat), I'm going to do something bad to you (the trick)." This could be egging the house, toilet-papering the tree, or smashing a pumpkin. In other words, for this night (unlike the rest of the year) the kids are in the position of power . . . and they demand chocolate!
Monday, May 3, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
We will discuss the chapter "Archetypes and Repetition" on Monday (there will be a Powerpoint); there are many different examples and allusions to different religious figures, but don't be confused by that.
Instead, focus on the essential concepts:
1. Imitation or emulation of a "celestial archetype," "primordial act," or "mythical example";
2. "Symbolism of the center";
3. Chaos of "undifferentiated, formless premodality";
4. Road leading to the Center;
5. Profane vs. Sacred time and space.
The Center can be a literal space or object (as in holy sites), or it can be a metaphorical center: i.e., the core of the Self.
The episode of This American Life that we watched, "John Smith," features traditional symbols of the center: trees, the home. The episode also featured frequent images of the road: John Smith driving (or being driven) from one place to another.
Your blog question is this: why did the director/producer of the episode choose to feature so many images of the road, and how do these images of the road contribute to the concept of the Center?
Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Your last posts were excellent; good work.
1. For this post, first read Essay #1: Lyric Analysis.
2. Then, write a short analysis (one paragraph) of the song "A Series of Dreams." In this paragraph, use three different quotes (as you did in the last post).
3. Finally, just name the song you plan on analyzing for your essay.
Enjoy your weekend!
Monday, April 12, 2010
For today's post, repeat the same process as Monday's class: analyze the photograph's theme and how the artist/photographer uses symbols/archetypes to express that theme.
In this case, you are analyzing Graciela Iturbide's Mujer Angel.
As before, be sure to use three quotes (one of each type) in your analysis.
Today will be a group blog done in class.
First, view Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz's photography.
Then, in groups of two or three, analyze one photograph.
What is the theme/message of this artwork?
How do the artists use symbols/archetypes to convey this theme/message?
Your response must use three different quotes from Ariadne's Clue:
1. simple introduction
2. independent clause: quote
3. fragments of the quote in your own sentence
Monday, April 5, 2010
Based on this definition of artistic "greatness," describe a work of art (visual, literary, or auditory) that meets this standard and allows you (as the viewer, reader, or listener) to experience the eternal and universal or vicariously experience "those basic emotions which are common to all mankind."
For example, one of my favorite books of photography is called On This Site by Joel Sternfeld. Sternfeld revisits scenes of tragedy years after the events occured and photographs these sites that to the everyday eye look sedate and mundane. However, when we know the history, these photographs take on a much more haunted aspect and remind me of the mystery (and tragedy) that permeates every place (and everything) and of which we are so often unaware. If you're curious as to what these photographs look like, here's a link: http://documentaryworks.org/punctum/onthissite.htm
Friday, April 2, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
There are two components to any symbol: the physical object and the abstract concept the object represents.
First and foremost, the symbol must be a physical, tangible, material thing that can be perceived by the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, smell.
Freedom, therefore, cannot be a symbol. Love cannot be a symbol.
An eagle, on the other hand, can be a symbol (of freedom). A heart can be a symbol (of love).
Often, symbols are culture-specific. For example, for Americans, the Bald Eagle is a symbol of America and of freedom. For other cultures, however, the Bald Eagle is just a bird. Their symbol of freedom might be a horse (for nomadic cultures) or a dolphin (for seafaring cultures).
Archetypes differ from symbols in that archetypes transcend cultures; in other words, they are symbols that all cultures share. For example, a mother is a symbol of care, comfort, and life. These connotations are shared by all cultures.
If, as Stevens writes in Ariadne's Clue (1998), these "archetypal propensities [...] underlie all human thought and action" (p. 21), from where do these archetypes arise?
Many evolutionary biologists and psychologists believe this capacity for symbol formation is one of the hallmarks of humanity; thus, it was when we began to create symbols that we became more than ape. We became human. As such, the capacity for and pattern of symbol formation may be hard-wired into our brains, our genes, our very being.
Here is your assignment. I have three different photographs on the English 310 webpage (http://www.csub.edu/~mwoodman/english310/). One is a griffin from Apollo Temple in the city of Didim in Modern Turkey (what used to be Ancient Greece), one is of an elk sculpture that sits in front of the Walter Stiern Library, and one is of a graffiti train parked in Tehachapi. In each case, an artist went out of his or her way to create a symbol.
Your assignment is to choose one of these three symbols and post an explanation as to just what this thing represents. What does the griffin represent? What does the elk represent? What does the blue ghost represent?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
For today's post, find one quote from Eliade that you could use in your analysis. Be sure to indicate the page on which the quote can be found.
Note: Do not repeat someone else's quote. By the end of this post, there should be 35 different quotes (since there are 35 students in the class).
Friday, February 19, 2010
For this post, I want you to list the film you'll be discussing and the archetypes within the film you plan on analyzing.
For example, as you can see by the sample introduction, I would be analyzing the film Sunshine through the archetypes of 1. Regeneration of Time, 2. Divine Models, and 3. Shadow.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In class, we discussed different "centers" in the film Sunshine.
For this blog, explain how one of these centers is relevant to one of the following quotes from Mircea Eliade's The Myth of the Eternal Return:
"The object [or place] appears as the receptacle of an exterior force that differentiates it from its milieu and gives it meaning and value" (4);
"Being an axis mundi, the sacred city or temple [or place] is regarded as the meeting point of heaven, earth, and hell" (12);
"Attaining the center is equivalent to a consecration, an initiation; yesterday's profane and illusory existence gives place to a new, to a life that is real, enduring, and effective" (18).
Friday, February 5, 2010
1. Explain (in your own words) what Eliade means when he refers to "Symbolism of the Center."
2. Describe one or more symbolic centers that are important to you and your life.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
As we discussed on the first day of class, the best way to elevate your writing skills is to read more critically and often. As such, for this post, I want you to post the introductions to your analysis of the poem. After you've posted your introduction, read the introductions of your fellow classmates, and we'll discuss all of these on Friday.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Find five poems from Poem in Your Pocket you enjoy, and explain why you enjoy them. Just write a sentence for each poem.
For example, I like Donald Hall's "Self-Portrait as a Bear" because sometimes I feel fat and lazy and like to sit in the sunshine, too.
Today will be a group blog done in class.
First, view Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz's art. Then, in groups of two or three, analyze one artwork.
What is the theme/message of this artwork? How do the artists use archetypes to convey this theme/message?
Your response should be a paragraph that contains at least one of each type of sentence:
Friday, January 15, 2010
For Wednesday's blog, divide and classify the artwork/photography on the walls of your room or home; this should be a short paragraph.
After you have broken these items into categories and labeled/described each category, try to take an objective perspective and answer this question: What do these items seem to imply about your life and self?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
For today's post, reread the New York Times article "Making College 'Relevant'" and pages 3-35 in Ariadne's Clue. On page 16, Anthony Stevens writes, "Through evolution we have acquired the capacity to use symbols to connote concepts [. . . ] we can relate one concept to another and, through their interplay, create myths, arts, and religions and make new scientific discoveries. Like all psychobiological capacities, symbol formation has an adaptive formation: it promotes our grasp on reality. It enables us not just to adapt passively to reality but to master it, to adjust reality to our needs."
Your question is this: How do the ideas expressed in this quote relate to the purpose of a university education?