Wednesday, April 16, 2014

virtual traveler

The virtual traveler sees and interacts with bodies, not minds, and she must be inclined to deny the traditional hierarchy in which we are minds and merely have bodies. 
by Bolter & Grusin
This quote really has me quite confused.

thanks, Buzzfeed

I would argue that a virtual traveler (which I'm taking to mean, someone communicating online) interacts with minds not bodies.  I think this because you do not interact with someone physically online, you interact with what their beliefs and thoughts are.  They can tell you that they have brown hair, or green eyes, but that doesn't really change the interaction you are having.

However, sometimes the sheer amount of people talking (aka social media-ing) online could be considered bodies.  Their personalized thoughts/opinions don't really matter; what matters is the strength that they have in numbers.

So, depending on how personal this interaction is, and with how many people online she/he is communicating with, I would say that a virtual travel can communicate with minds as well as bodies.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

art is perception (perception is art?)

After the Party by Andy Warhol
via Artnet Galleries
Femme assis by Pablo Picasso
via Wikipedia
The Scream by Edvard Munch
via Wikipedia
The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
via Wikipedia

These are some of my favorite art pieces.

While each piece is different, they are all, undoubtedly, considered a r t.  At least, it has been commonly agreed upon that they are pieces of art work.  Although, I am certain that some people would not like to consider these pieces of art.  Maybe not because they don't particularly like them, but just because they do not fit into their personal definition of art.

And that's okay.  

Art should be questioned.  If everyone found beauty or admiration in the same things, what a boring world we would live in.  Art is made to be interpreted.  Or loved.  Even hated.  It is made to evoke emotions and to cause a change in our perceptions.
If art is so malleable based upon who is observing it, than absolutely something that someone created can be considered art by another.  Even if the creator does not consider her/himself an artist.

In not being able to define art, I would say that creates a definition in itself.

Wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I was reading A Clash of Kings the other night,
and didn't recognize a word, so I unlocked my iPhone and opened Safari to look up the word, I can't remember what it was, before realizing that I hadn't checked the fashion blogs I follow yet that day, which led me to click a hyperlink. And then, I was looking at the new clothes H&M had put out...


I'm somehow on Youtube watching interviews of Emma Watson? Not that she isn't flawless and it isn't time well spent, but jesus christ.  I only went online to look up a  d e f i n i t i o n

(Sometimes, I am amazed that I accomplish a n y t h i n g.)

While I love how vast the Internet is, and am astounded by the sheer amount of information available at our fingertips, sometimes it is overwhelming.  Especially when you realized how much time you waste just clicking around without ever accomplishing what you originally went online for.

Weinberger states that the Internet can allow our inquiries to be "free-flowing and uninterrupted," but I think it depends on the situation.  If I'm writing a paper, I can stay focused on finishing the task without allowing the Internet to take me on too many random tirades.  When I am simply wandering around online, I am always surprised at how much I can learn.  The information that is in place through hyperlinks does allow for a continuous wave of knowledge to pass through your computer screen.  And this is a valuable part of the Internet that has changed the way we think.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

“intimate connection tool” vs “broadcast medium”

In Too Big To Know, written by David Weinberger he states:

“ Twitter works perfectly if you and your five friends are following one another's tweets.  It also works if you're Ashton Kutcher and you have millions of people following your every bon mot.  It works if you have 100 followers, 10,000 followers, or 6 followers.  Twitter works differently at every scale:  If you have 6 followers, Twitter is an intimate communication tool, but if you have 1,000,000, it's a broadcast medium.

I find it very interesting that Weinberger thinks you need 1,000,000 followers to broadcast a message.  While it would make broadcasting a message significantly easier, all you need to do is get the attention of someone with a larger amount of followers than you have.  That is the greatness of the Internet.  If you can gather enough people, you can spread a message.  You dont even have to reach Ashton Kutcher for a message to be broadcasted.  

One of Twitter's best features is the trending topics bar off to the side on the home screen.  Currently the trending topics are:

This feature is especially awesome because it isn't about who is tweeting these subjects, just that a multitude of people are.

I think Weinberger discounts the power that people can have in numbers.  While he admits that obviously someone who has 1,000,000 followers can broadcast a message easier than someone with 6 followers, as long as the message is being spread by a large number of people, it can reach an audience.  The message may not be broadcast medium” material immediately, but it can certainly get there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

“The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas”

“The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas”
By Ursula Le Guin

With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance. Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows' crossing flights over the music and the singing. All the processions wound towards the north side of the city, where on the great water-meadow called the Green Fields boys and girls, naked in the bright air, with mud-stained feet and ankles and long, lithe arms, exercised their restive horses before the race. The horses wore no gear at all but a halter without bit. Their manes were braided with streamers of silver, gold, and green. They flared their nostrils and pranced and boasted to one another; they were vastly excited, the horse being the only animal who has adopted our ceremonies as his own. Far off to the north and west the mountains stood up half encircling Omelas on her bay. The air of morning was so clear that the snow still crowning the Eighteen Peaks burned with white-gold fire across the miles of sunlit air, under the dark blue of the sky. There was just enough wind to
make the banners that marked the racecourse snap and flutter now and then. In the silence of the broad green meadows one could hear the music winding through the city streets, farther and nearer and ever approaching, a cheerful faint sweetness of the air that from time to time trembled and gathered together and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells.

Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas?

They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. But we do not say the words of cheer much any more. All smiles have become archaic. Given a description such as this one tends to make certain assumptions. Given a description such as this one tends to look next for the King, mounted on a splendid stallion and surrounded byhis noble knights, or perhaps in a golden litter borne by great muscled slaves. But there was no king. They did not use swords, or keep slaves. They were not barbarians. I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singularly few. As they did without monarchy and slavery, so they also got on without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, and the bomb. Yet I repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians. They were not less complex than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to
admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy. How can I tell you about the people of Omelas? They were not naive and happy children--though their children were, in fact, happy. They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched. O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you. Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time. Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all. For instance, how about technology? I think that there would be no cars or helicopters in and above the streets; this follows from the fact that the people of Omelas are happy people. Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. In the middle category, however--that of the unnecessary but undestructive, that of comfort, luxury, exuberance, etc.--they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented here, floating light-sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. Or they could have none of that; it doesn't matter. As you like it. I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked trams, and that the train station of Omelas is actually the handsomest building in town, though plainer
than the magnificent Farmers' Market. But even granted trains, I fear that Omelas so far strikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, bleh. If so, please add an orgy. If an orgy would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, have temples from which issue beautiful nude priests and priestesses already half in ecstasy and ready to copulate with any man or woman, lover or stranger, who desires union with the deep godhead of the blood, although that was my first idea. But really it would be better not to have any temples in Omelas--at least, not manned temples. Religion yes, clergy no. Surely the beautiful nudes can just wander about, offering themselves like divine souffl├ęs to the hunger of the needy and the rapture of the flesh. Let them join the processions. Let tambourines be struck above the copulations, and the glory of desire be proclaimed upon the gongs, and (a not unimportant point) let the offspring of these delightful rituals be beloved and looked after by all. One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt. But what else should there be? I thought at first there were not drugs, but that is puritanical. For those who like it, the faint insistent sweetness of drooz may perfume the ways of the city, drooz which first brings a great lightness and brilliance to the mind and limbs, and then after some hours a dreamy languor, and wonderful visions at last of the very arcana and inmost secrets of the Universe, as well as exciting the pleasure of sex beyond belief; and it is not habit-forming. For more modest tastes I think there ought to be beer. What else, what else belongs in the joyous city? The sense of victory, surely, the celebration of courage. But as we did without clergy, let us do without
soldiers. The joy built upon successful slaughter is not the right kind of joy; it will not do; it is fearful and it is trivial. A boundless and generous contentment, a magnanimous triumph felt not against some outer enemy but in communion with the finest and fairest in the souls of all men everywhere and the splendor of the world's summer: this is what swells the hearts of the people of Omelas, and the victory they celebrate is that of life. I really don't think many of them need to take drooz.

Most of the procession have reached the Green Fields by now. A marvelous smell of cooking goes forth from the red and blue tents of the provisioners. The faces of small children are amiably sticky; in the benign grey beard of a man a couple of crumbs of rich pastry are entangled. The youths and girls have mounted their horses and are beginning to group around the starting line of the course. An old women, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men where her flowers in their shining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a
wooden flute. People pause to listen, and they smile, but they do not speak to him, for he never ceases playing and never sees them, his dark eyes wholly rapt in the sweet, thin magic of the tune.

He finishes, and slowly lowers his hands holding the wooden flute. As if that little private silence were the signal, all at once a trumpet sounds from the pavilion near the starting line: imperious, melancholy, piercing. The horses rear on their slender legs, and some of them neigh in answer. Sober-faced, the young riders stroke the horses' necks and soothe them, whispering, "Quiet, quiet, there my beauty, my
hope...." They begin to form in rank along the starting line. The crowds along the racecourse are like a field of grass and flowers in the wind. The Festival of Summer has begun.

Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing. 

In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window. A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the little room a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt, a little damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about three paces long and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a child is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucket and the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come. The door is always locked; and nobody ever comes, except that sometimes--the child has no understanding of time or interval--sometimes the door rattles terribly and opens, and a person, or several people, are there. One of them may come in and kick the child to make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened, disgusted eyes. The food bowl and the water jug are hastily filled, the door is locked, the eyes disappear. The people at the door never say anything, but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother's voice, sometimes speaks. "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" They never answer. The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, "eh-haa, eh-haa," and it speaks less and less often. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually.

They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas.

Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery.

This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve, whenever they seem capable of understanding; and most of those who come to see the child are young people, though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child. No matter how well the matter has been explained to them, these young spectators are always shocked and sickened at the sight. They feel disgust, which they had thought themselves superior to. They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the explanations. They would like to do something for the child. But there is nothing they can do. If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of that vile place, if it were leaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the
walls indeed.

The terms are strict and absolute;
there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child.

Often the young people go home in tears, or in a tearless rage, when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox. They may brood over it for weeks or years. But as time goes on they begin to realize that even if the child could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom: a little vague pleasure of warmth and food, no doubt, but little more. It is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy. It has been afraid too long ever to be free of fear. Its habits are too uncouth for it to respond to humane treatment. Indeed, after so long it would probably be wretched without walls about it to protect it, and darkness for its eyes, and its own excrement to sit in. Their tears at the bitter injustice dry when they begin to perceive the terrible justice of reality, and to accept it. Yet it is their tears and anger, the trying of their generosity and the acceptance of their helplessness, which are perhaps the true source of the splendor of their lives. Theirs is no vapid, irresponsible happiness. They know that they, like the child, are not free. They know compassion. It is the existence of the child, and their knowledge of its existence, that makes possible the nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science. It is because of the child that they are so gentle with children. They know that if the wretched one were not there sniveling in the dark, the other one, the flute-player, could make no joyful music as the young riders line up in their beauty for the race in the sunlight of the first morning of summer. Now do you believe in them? Are they not more credible? But there is one more thing to tell, and this is quite incredible. t times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or woman much older falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and
they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to
most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does
not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas. 


- - - -

I had to read this short story for a class at Suffolk University and while most things read for classes are forgotten after a period of time, this one has stuck with me.
The writing style is almost objective.  The narrator wants you to draw your own conclusions.
And while the conclusions drawn by the reader can be horrific realizations, or perhaps feelings of grudging acceptance, it undoubtedly causes you to question your own humanity and what you would do as a resident of Omelas.

Would you walk away?
(does it cause you to think differently about the reality of the world?)

Thanks for reading (if you got this far,) and I apologize for such a text heavy post.
I just had to though.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

spring has sprung

If we ignore the snow we were forced to deal with today, according to ...

by nicole franzen

I think this means spring is here.  
Either way, 
temperatures above freezing?  
I'll take it; 
even with the rain.


Every day, for myriad reasons, women are apologizing to me: for opening a door I am about to enter; for reaching over me at the salad bar; for standing in front of the open refrigerator and gazing at the variety of chilled milks. It's the same thing every time: A well-spoken, confident women will notice that we happen to be sharing the same space, cast her eyes downward, and mutter a quick and meaningless, sorry. Most of the time, I say it back. It's nothing more than a ritual, a salutation, a paper-thin pleasantry. But she's not sorry. And I'm not sorry. So why are we saying that we are? 
-Justine Harman via  ELLE

It was odd to see a link to this article pop up on my Twitter feed.  A few months ago I suddenly noticed how often I was apologizing for stupid things that I was not even remotely sorry for..  

When I accidentally bump into someone.  Or if I am in someone's way, even though I just need to grab some peanut butter off the shelf, and then I'll be on my way in the grocery store.  I say it when I'm working and go to place a coffee on the table and the customer moves her/his arm for no reason.  I apologize in the morning when my little sister is hogging the bathroom mirror above the sink and I need to brush my teeth.  It's ridiculous.

“Sorryseems to suddenly mean the same thing as Excuse me. 

And it bothers me that the two phrases had become interchangeable.  

I am not trying to say that apologies are wrong or bad in any way.  I am all for apologies and being courteous and polite, but most of the time I don't even feel apologetic in these instances.  By saying sorry rather than excuse me, it takes away from the real meaning of the word, and real apologies.
A co-worker (hi, Sara) and I have begun to correct each other when we say sorry rather than excuse me.”  I am determined to be rid of this habit, because what am I apologizing for,  r e a l l y?  Taking up space?  Sorry.  Not sorry.