Individualism

November 16, 2007 at 2:10 pm (Uncategorized)

            In between drafts by Nancy Sommers has been the most inspirational piece of literature I have read for this class.  After reading the essay I feel that I have a better grasp on what it means to revise.  This piece may very well prove to be a key transitional point in growing as a writer.  This story was not only inspirational but can also be viewed as an eye opener.  When it comes to writing works of literature, young adults such as me tend to rely on our sources too heavily to find the words to write.  Sommers explains our fault in this excerpt: “Successive drafts of my own did not lead to a clearer vision simply because it was not my vision…I had surrendered my own authority to someone else, to those other authorial voices.”  In this quote she is explaining that while creating drafts she tended to inscribe the words of other authors and their writing styles.  Of course it is good to have ethos in our writings; it gives them credibility, but at the same time we tend to always agree with the ethos and that leads us to follow in their ideas.  As writers we should be producing our own works with unique point of views.

            Sommers does a great job creating a comparison of authority to her childhood.  By her parents trying teaching her and her brother German by tapes they were getting the uniform education on speaking German.  They were learning German as Americans would rather than through conversational aspects which would instill part of the culture and slang.  As a boy I can remember my parents always asking me why I wanted the same backpack, shoes, or supplies the teacher told me I was to get or that my friends had.  I am happy with the way my parents raised me because they have always taught me to be an individual rather that part of the crowd.  It is refreshing to look back and see that your parents taught you to question authority rather than conform like the masses of people around the world.

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Unethical Marketing

November 15, 2007 at 8:02 pm (Uncategorized)

The spoof advertisement provided by Adbusters, Tommy “Follow the Flock,” and Denizet-Lewis’ piece The Man behind Abercrombie & Fitch arouse interesting questions on modern day marketing strategies.  No matter who you are it is impossible to avoid modern day marketing throughout ones day.  We see advertisements everywhere; from the moment we get up and open up the newspaper until the end of the day when we lay down and watch television before we go to bed.  They are present everywhere; whether you see them in the form of a commercial, radio ad, newspaper ad, billboard, the list of different ways marketers get to us is endless.  Is it moral?  Have we as buyers lost the ability to choose what product we want to buy or are we predisposed to buy based on the most appealing advertisements?

                In The Man behind Abercrombie & Fitch by Benoit Denizet-Lewis brings about some interesting views on the problems in modern day marketing.  Denizet-Lewis states: “As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight, or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere.”  After reading this part of the excerpt I wondered why anyone would where someone’s clothes if the CEO had views such as this.  It almost lead me to considering Jefferies to be ignorant but then you think back on the prosperous change in Abercrombie & Fitch that is almost all the work of Jefferies.  In a way he could be seen as single-minded because if he were to target a diversity of people he would see more profit.  With all the money he is making he sees no need to change the way he advertises and runs his company.  I think companies like Abercrombie & Fitch deserve to be exposed for the unethical practices to the public and I praise Denizet-Lewis for doing so.

                The Adbusters Tommy “Follow the Flock” Spoof Advertisement does a wonderful job at portraying the message Tommy Hilfiger presents.  This ad reminds me why I do not choose what clothes to wear because of what my friends or peers are wearing.  We as individuals owe it to ourselves to create and cradle our own style.  I feel as if conforming to everyone’s style is to lose your identity and become part of a group instead of an individual.

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Street Paranoia

November 7, 2007 at 12:04 pm (Uncategorized)

I enjoyed reading both versions of Brent Staples Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space. Between the two versions of the same story I enjoyed the second, the one in his memoir, because it hits all of the key points that the first story does but in a more interesting way. He makes the stories come to life in his descriptions and word use in the second version. It seems almost that he has progressed that much over his years as a writer that he was able to make the second version, for his memoir, more enjoyable and not as lengthy.

While reading his essay regarding people’s paranoia of him walking down the streets late at night, it brought to mind a scene from the movie Crash. The scene it reminds me of is that of Chris Bridges aka Ludacris (the hip hop artist) walking down the street with an accomplice in an affluent area of town. They then near Sandra Bullock and her husband passing each other on the street. Once Sandra spots Chris and his friend she quickly grabs on to her husbands arm for comfort. Chris is angered by her sense of insecurity and preaches to his friend about how she sees to black men walking down the street and immediately gets the wrong idea. Of course after the conversation Chris and his friend pull guns on Sandra and her husband and steal their car. This scene from crash is still in parallel union with the essay on Brent Staples.

After reading this essay and thinking upon Mr. Staples views, I think this may change an aspect of my life. I have noticed before that people, older women especially, do become uneasy walking by me and my friends. I also do shy away from people I see could pose a potential threat. In the future I will try to stray away from these judgments and in the case where I am the threatening figure I will simply add a smile or maybe even whistle to let the skittish people know I am of no harm.

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Dynamic Advertising

October 26, 2007 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized)

Urban Warfare, written by Kate MacArthur and Hillary Chura, illustrates a dynamic marketing strategy performed by coca-cola and sprite. Teams of hip young adults travel inner-cities all over the nations handing out free sodas to certain groups of people. They attract these groups in a non-traditional way. They hook up vans with nice sound systems and appealing graphics in order to spark the attention of the demographic they are trying to persuade to use their product. This type of advertising has earned Coke products millions of dollars. One key phrase came to mind after reading this excerpt, opportunity cost. By forgoing a couple of cases of coke and sprite they are in turn receiving more sales from the areas that they advertise in. The customers in these areas are willing to buy the product after seeing how far coke is willing to go to support their product and in turn supporting the neighborhoods that these Coke/Sprite vans visit.

I have actually been a participant in one of these advertising gimmicks. When I was in high school I went to a Washington DC museum for a science product. While walking the streets my peers and I approached a van similar to the one described in the reading but it was for Dr. Pepper. They were promoting their newest flavor of Dr. Pepper. They also were giving out freebees such as shirts, bumper stickers and many other giveaways that in turn promote their company. I find this way of advertising to be very beneficial to these companies and in a very interesting, non-traditional way. It also helps these neighborhoods by keeping some of these children and teens out of trouble for a part of their day.

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The American Dream

October 24, 2007 at 10:28 am (Uncategorized)

I found this weeks writing assignment “The Cult You’re In” by Kalle Lasn to be very thought provoking. I had never looked at myself, a consumer, in the light that she has portrayed in the excerpt. Lasn states that everyone has the same dream, a dream of money, power, the limelight and all the amenities that lead to a breathtaking existence. After reading this I realized that she has a very practical point. I am a transfer to James Madison University and after reading about how many of us have the same dream, I was brought back to my transfer orientation last spring. During this transfer orientation I was in a group of transfers with similar majors and we played an icebreaker game to ease the nerves and make everyone comfortable. During this game you were handed two starbursts and depending on what color the starburst was you had to answer a corresponding question. The question for the yellow starburst was “What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?” The answer most students gave was around the parameter of “I want to be making lots of money doing as little work as possible?” This did not surprise me at all because I would have responded that same way. I feel as though Kalle is giving this dream a negative outlook but I fair to disagree. The reasoning behind my disagreement is simple, we are Americans. This dream of fortune, fame and endless recreation is loosely the American Dream. I disagree with Kalle that this dream we all share is a bad dream; not many people can say they do not wish to live this lavish life. I do however agree how we form this dream.

Before this reading I would have never considered myself part of a cult but the truth is we all are. Believing that might be a little hard to swallow but take a look at the shoes in your hallway or the shirts in your closet. It is impossible to go one day without being influenced to buy something or live a lifestyle a certain way. Advertisements are everywhere and influence our decision making in everyday situations. These corporations aim their advertisements at us because no matter how many billboards, commercials and subliminal messages we receive, at the end of the day we still have the purchasing power. So what cults do you belong to?

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Contact Zone

October 3, 2007 at 10:04 am (Uncategorized)

I enjoyed reading “The Art of Contact zones” by Mary Louise Pratt, although I had to use a dictionary quite frequently to decipher her wordy writing.  According to Pratt a contact zone is defined as, “social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of high asymmetrical relations in power, such as colonialism, slavery or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today” (pg.2, Para. 7).   I find the term “contact zone” to be very useful in describing these social clashes that have taken place throughout history.  Their are many instances of these contact zones but Pratt did a wonderful job in exemplifying a contact zone with the use of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala’s The First New Chronicle and Good Government.  Poma wrote this letter to King Phillip III of Spain describing the injustices his people were facing as a result of the Spanish conquistadors trying to assimilate the Inca’s to the Spanish ways of life.  Unfortunately the letter never was received by the king.  After reading Pratt’s description of The First New Chronicle and Good Government, I wish the letter would have reached King Phillip III; it would have been quite intriguing to see how the King of Spain would have reacted to this letter.   Spanish invaders were creating such a negative and irreparable impact on the Inca culture.  Could this letter have put an end to or contracted the dispute in South America?

Pratt  describes to us, towards the end of her essay, how times have changed and contact zones have become apart of the teaching curriculum at universities all over.  I believe these “contact zones” are an essential part of learning.  Given the vast diversity of people the United States has become it is absolutely necessary to show the relations of all the different student’s culture brought up in lectures.  Pratt describes this as “the students saw their roots traced back to legacies of both glory and shame” (pg.7 para. 7).  This gives the students the chance to see how their past effects who they are today and what role they play in their society.  This plays a very important part in our knowledge of who we are because in order to know who we are we have to know where we came from.

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History Revised

October 1, 2007 at 12:13 pm (Uncategorized)

Revisionism Revisited by Ian Mortimer sparks some interesting thoughts on “revisionist history.” Mortimer believes that in today’s time and age revision of the history has gained a negative association and looks for reasoning as to why this could be. He provides three key reasons as to why these revisionists might receive such a negative standing.

The first cause Mortimer believes is the fault of conspiracy theories that lack value. With all the prominent theories of revisionist work there are of course the absurd works that lack merit. Some of these new conspiracies are hard to believe because we do not wish to see the history that has been imprinted in our minds all these years just thrown out like an old pair of clothing.

Second, Mortimer claims: “We live in an age in which the most trusted information is that derived from professional quarters, and experience tells us that, more often than not, the professional’s advice is to treat extraordinary historical narratives with skepticism, if not a pinch of salt.” Ian is stating that when a revisionist publishes an out of the box idea of how a historical event could have been altered it is usually frowned upon or read with a bit of doubt. This is not startling because much of the decision making of us as humans comes from peer advice. Whether the peer is a friend, family member of authority figure, we soak up the words they speak and they stay in our minds, tweaking our decision making and views on various topics.

I believe Mortimer hits the third and final reason on the money. Ian describes that revision of history itself is a hard thing to digest. Most Americans go to school from the time they are five or six all the way until the end of their teenage years just to obtain a high school degree. Throughout these fourteen years history lessons are instilled in our minds every single year. These historical ideas become more than stories of previous ancestors they become the truth in forms of stepping stones leading us to where we are today. Many people cannot just throw these truths out the window because a revisionist has claimed that it may not have happened the way we were taught. People do not see the need for change to their cultural heritage they are so proud of.

Mortimer concludes that we revisionist have an important choice to make. They can follow history writers before them and repeat what has been written or they can challenge that history to provide all of mankind with an informative new argument. Who knows they could even discover factual evidence leading to the altering of previous historical evidence.

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Aspiring Young Writer

September 3, 2007 at 5:48 pm (Writer's Profile)

            A writer is a person who releases their emotions and thoughts onto paper in order to express the feelings or emotions they have.  All writers have different motives for writing depending on the environment surrounding them.  George Orwell speaks of this in his short excerpt George Orwell on the Four Reasons for Writing.  I agree with his four reasons but also with the excerpt before the readings starts.  As the editor makes this very good point, “You may observe that he doesn’t list the reason most college students write—to respond to an assignment.”  I can directly relate to this because almost every piece of literature I completed has been an assignment.

            The reason I never write outside of assigned work is habit.  When I was younger all I wanted to do was play outside; I was never this type to stay inside and read or write in a journal.  As I grew older writing assignments seemed to blockade the actual things I was interested in such as socialization with friends and family and sports.  The only time I was writing was when my father would assign me a summer report or assigned writing I was given in school.  It also does not help that some children think school is a forced task and not a gift.  In elementary school you would never see a grade lower than the high school equivalent of a B.  Once middle school and high school came around I noticed that my grades slipped.  I became more involved with my social life and would rather hang out with friends that waste time on school work.  It does not help that some children that age think it is cool to get bad grades.  I hung out with some of those kids and all though they thought it was cool I was forced to maintain decent grades or else I would be answering to my parents.  It was not until my final year of high school that I actually became fascinated with learning. 

I finally found writing intriguing because it became a way to express my inner most feelings with myself.  I know that sounds strange but sometimes in order to get clear thoughts out you need to communicate with yourself on paper.  I started writing as a therapeutic way of dealing with my problems and usually felt better after getting some of my emotions out on paper.  Although these writings were not good quality because I was not much of a reader, it was the spark to enlighten my desire to learn.

I would consider my writing skills to be that of a novice.  I plan on improving my writing skills through reading others literature, writing and the desire to better myself.  I decided to stay home and attend community college my first year after high school.  I did get accepted to a few schools such as George Mason, Radford and Old Dominion but felt I did not want to attend any of those Universities.  That year living at home I discovered that college would me out into the person I would be the rest of my life.  After discovering this it is no surprise that I chose to transfer to James Madison University in order to obtain this higher level of learning.

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