Thursday, December 29, 2011

School and Creativity

I don't know why I've not come across this video before since I visit often but my friend forwarded this to me the other day.  This video hits very close to home with me.  Personally I think Sir Ken Robinson is hilariously brilliant but relevant in his critique on our school system in the U.S.   Creativity is as important as literacy is his main argument as well as the overlooked fact that we educate children to not be creative.  This all leads to students (children) being breed to fear being 'wrong'.  They fear raising their hand and attempting to engage critically with subjects because they think if they answer the incorrect way (or the way they think the teacher wants) they'll be ridiculed.  A lot of times this is the case but teachers need to start looking differently at this situation.  I believe this issue is one of the corner stones of revamping our education system which is currently in shambles.  I'm not saying to spend 90% of the class time on arts and crafts or 'creative' work; I'm stating that how we engage our students needs to be adjusted.  There are multiple forms of intelligence as well as multiple forms of learning.  It is here that we as teachers must start focusing our efforts on how we deliver lessons.  Do I have a be all end all answer to how? No, but I try to tap into the various creative aspects of my students in the hopes that I can help them find their full capacity as an individual.  Enjoy the video.  It's a good one.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Merry Xmas and a Happy Non Denominational seasons Greetings to everyone!!!  Hope everyone has a good holiday with their family/loved ones.  Time for Turkey, presents, and other stuff that I'm probably forgetting.  Anywho.  Cheers all!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holidays and Star Wars

Well, school is out.  Grades are in.  It's time for a well deserved break (for some of us).  And let the chaos of last minute Xmas shopping/festivities begin (or continue as the case may be).  Since I'm on break I'll be archiving some of my older work that I never got around, so hopefully I can finish consolidating the random school blogs that I have had to create over the pass few years.  I'm tired of having everything scattered all over the place.  Anywho.  I'll have something posted by tomorrow.  Until then I'll be enjoying SW:tor.  Enjoy the video I found. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

War of the Worlds (last part)

The failure of Geocentrism, its real monstrosity is from where the model stems from and its innate capacity for human’s ultimate demise. The narrator expresses his feelings in this regard that humanity is “yet so vain… and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer… expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far… beyond its earthly level” (4) which would be the causation for “the great disillusionment” (3) that would come. All these individual parts of the critique of these monstrous aspects originate from the fact that the narrator sees man as complacent. Going back to the first page “complacency” stands out within the first paragraph. After the first conflict with the Martians and as the information began to spread, the reception of the situation became an outside entity that had no immediate reaction to those that that come in contact with verbal renditions of the happenstance. The area surrounding the Martian landing event still showed that “people were dining and supping…[things] went on as it had done for countless years” (36-37). Even in Waybridge after further destruction, there was “jesting…that the Martians were simply formidable human beings” (67). Further away in London this complacent miasma seems to be ever present even after countless witnesses. Until there is direct contact with the Martians there is no deviation from a Geocentric lifestyle. Humankind is threatened by immediate destruction by their inability to discard this style of thinking in order to counter act a direct threat.

Out of this continuing line of interconnectivity of monstrous proportions, comes the description of the Martians. Terror grips the narrator as he relates the horrifying countenance of the Martians and their “Gorgon groups of tentacles… immense eyes-were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous… fungoid… oily brown skin. [He] was overcome with disgust and dread” (21). Yet within these alien features there are found more human traces. Their ‘bodies’ were heads containing eyes, with a distorted mouth/beak and they even had tentacles that were named ‘hands’. The element of the grotesque is monstrous because ultimately this brings up the possible future of human. Mark Dorrian’s journal “On the Monstrous and the Grotesque” brings up the concept of “Form and Copy” wherein “the Copy has the same name as the Form and resembles it, it is necessarily imperfect, a ‘moving shadow’”(311). The narrator posits the theory by a “speculative writer of quasi-scientific repute” (Wells 143) which discusses the potential future of man to evolve into a figure quite near to that of a Martian. The Form and Copy merging the imperfection is what is at stake. The fear then is that humanity becomes Martian, becomes the grotesque, becomes the monster, and becomes the destroyer but once again, in doing so; humanity retakes “center” and the hierarchy pinnacle. The price humankind has to sacrifice because of the Geocentric Model and its repercussions are to become the monster that removed them from that status in the first place, once again perpetuating a vicious cycle of “Center”.

Work Cited

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, Monster Theory, Minneopolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996

Dorrian, Mark On the Monstrous and the Grotesque, Word & Image Vol 16:3 Sept 2000

Wells, H. G. The War of the Worlds. New York: Signet Classic, 1986. Print.


Are over.  Sorry about the lack of postings but things got a bit nuts towards the end.  My research papers had me teetering on the brink of insanity.  I've never maxed out the amount of books I can check out from the library before.  I should have taken a picture of my desk and the mini desk I had to drag out to hold all the crap I was using :)    Okay on to more posts now that I have more time.  WOOT

Friday, December 9, 2011

War of the Worlds (part 2)

Sorry about not posting the second and third part sooner but I'm in the middle of Finals so bear with me.

Once the 'Center' has been established, the book begins to decentralize Geocentrism by highlighting hierarchal preconceptions. Two binaries come into play: human (intelligent)/human (inferior) and human/animal in order to show how the monstrous becomes the Geocentricity of humankind and the notion that we are central to all things. Wells begins to break down this notion through his insertion of the Martians into the Hierarchy of Man/Beast in a similar fashion to Jeffrey Cohen's argument in his article "Monster Culture (Seven Theses)". The addition of the Martian "as a kind of third term that problematizes" the hierarchy and highlights the instability through "a radical rethinking of boundary and normality" (Cohen 6). Wells sets the Martians as a third component to these binaries in order to fragment the currently accepted normative values. Ironically the reader is asked to withhold judgment of another species in light of human’s historical action that are “ruthless and [brought] utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals… but upon its inferior races” (Wells 5). However where Cohen uses this transgression of monsters as a method of escape, within War of the Worlds it is used as catalyst, one in which first incorporates into the current binary, redistributes the power balance, then destroys or distorts the system into a new formation.

With the Martians in the picture, men react to the first cylinder by “rapp[ing] on the scaly burnt metal with a stick” (13) and boys in turn “amuse themselves… by throwing stones” (15). These descriptions are early in the chain of events but the anxiety it causes, this return to a primitive description of man, shows the immediate distortion caused by the Martians entering into the hierarchy. They become propelled off their former pinnacle into an interstitial space of insecurity. But not only is there anxiety in this replacement at the top, but also of the capacity that if they could be replaced then what might also further change in the power structure. The question of evolution becomes relevant. Humans are seen as animals in comparison to the Martians and the fear of become actual beasts or their equal is a monstrous notion. Could human kind devolve and degenerate to the level of an animal?

The transition of the binary structure takes a complex route throughout the story. The initial binary as mentioned above are reduced to the focus on Human/Beast as the Martians land on earth. Here the binary structure incorporates the aliens, through the eyes of humans into: Human/ Alien=Beast (aliens and beasts become equivalent in the hierarchy). The narrator relates a discussion between the men at the pit where one speaker states that “It ain’t no murder killing beasts like that” (42). Wells is very intentional in his word choice so it is not a mistake in the word choice within the conversation. Yet the narrator shows his perceptive qualities as he describes the Martians lack of interest in humans being the same way humans would ignore “the lowing of a cow” (43). These repeated references to humans as being related in a Martian view point to an animal begins to restructure the hierarchy into Alien/Human/Beast, where humans become placed under the Aliens. Yet the repeated references to humans as beasts in the eyes of the Martians has a further disturbing effect so that as humanity is slowly being destroyed, the hammering of this view point redistributes the power almost to an equality between man and beast: Alien/ Man=Beast. All these possible categories that humans can slip within are frightening even though the circumstances are fictional.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

War of the Worlds

I'll split this into three parts since it's fairly long.  The essay is for a class I'm taking about monstrous aspects of books in relation to social theory using 18/19th Century for a comparison to modern.  This post is a copy of an essay that deals with H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds.


"War of the “Center”


The Geocentric Model, in which the earth is the center of the universe, may be an obsolete astronomy concept from ancient Greek philosophy, but the ideology behind Geocentrism has not been completely eradicated from human culture. The hierarchal scale of the Great Chain of Being, a concept that began to break apart in the 15th century, privileged nobility and certain aspects of the clergy and was a welcomed reinforcement of the medieval power structure; it still placed humans below the celestial beings such as angels and God. Humans were not the center. But in the late 1800’s when Fredrick Nietzsche brought into question God and Christian morality, culturally humans began to retake a centralized position. Once again we became the hierarchal privileged pinnacle. These concepts are highly simplified and may be a hypothetically sweeping stereotype of humanity, but in H.G. Wells’ “The War of The Worlds” one of the most monstrous aspects, one that branches out into other monstrous traits, is the notion of humankind’s Geocentristic attitude. He focuses on the hierarchal nature embedded within culturally normative values of European society in order to express the astronomy-applied-to-individual concept. Each idea leads to another monstrous claim that Wells uses in order to make a type of critique on social values.

The concept of humanity as 'Center' is established immediately as "with infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter" (Wells 3). The monstrous component on a general scale is injected right from the beginning in order to make apparent this core argument. In order to further establish a Geocentric Model of monstrous proportions, two examples are shown within the embodied of the characters: the curate and the artilleryman, both of who, through their actions, becomes a danger to the narrator. The curate is described as "lacking in restraint...weak creature... and careless" (149) which typify, in this example, the characteristics of a selfish individual who has become Geocentric. When the narrator and the curate find themselves stuck inside the half destroyed house next to the fifth capsule this 'Centralism' becomes dangerous.

The curate's spiral to madness and inability to see beyond himself threatens the life of his companion and requires the narrators "last touch of humanity" (156) to save himself by permanently silencing the curate. The artilleryman is similarly shown as a part of this spectrum of self-centered individuals, though in this instance does not provide the same type of physically dangerous element as the curate, instead his threat becomes that of his characteristics. The narrator "saw the man plain"(181), that "his quality"(182), or lack of, was diminished in his indulgence of food, spirits and card games in the midst of destruction. It is not so much these actions by themselves that shine a negative light on the artilleryman but the lack of action in comparison. The artilleryman spins a grandiose tale of conquering and saving the human race, yet these words prove to be hollow. These examples go beyond Geocentrism due to other arguments Wells establishes throughout the book, yet these characters still maintain a connection with the idea of 'man as center'.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cyborg + PostHuman Theory

Read Donna Haraway's “A Cyborg Manifesto” at least from pages 149-152 and 164-165.
What are the effects of a Posthuman society, specifically the cyborg, in terms of gender roles?

Cyborg Manifesto Link

Haraway's criticism and point is masked in a myriad smoke screen of undefined links of word play and diluted meanings bound to a meandering stream of conscious (I just got done reading another book by Haraway so maybe I'm burned out on this style). Haraway's meaning in her excerpt could be summed up in one word: subversion. This is a highly reduced form obviously but at the same time cuts away the massive amount of intentional obfuscation that she incorporates into her argument. In conjunction with the posthuman, this attribute is seen in play primarily in boundary issues: "class, ethnic and cultural differences" (Hailes 85). The act of subverting boundaries is a primary issue here even beyond that of gender roles; it is a questioning of how cybernetics and all posthuman properties effect current social paradigms. One could comment (for whatever reason I'm not sure) on how "bestiality has a new status in this cycle of marriage exchange" (Haraway 152) or one could focus on more important, clear questions as the one posed by Wiener: "Where should the cybernetic dissolution of boundaries stop" (Hailes 85)? A possible response to this would be to question if there even should be a stop to these types of dissolutions. It is here where rhetoric and politics step in. Which boundaries and who do they serve? In today's society there are many of these boundary/power/dissolution/cybernetic switches ( I mash these all together as they seem to be entangled). One good example would be of the recent UC Davis incident. Everyone has seen the police officer pepper spraying the students (if not go here: but fast forward to the end (6:10ish) of the video to where the cops are making a strategic retreat and Mr. PepperCop steps back to the forefront dual wielding can's like a Rogue out of an MMO but wait! Fifty hands raise up holding not signs but video cameras, IPods, IPads, recording devices of every kind and Mr. PepperCop stops dead in his tracks, decides retreat is the better part of cowardice and continues retreating with his fellow cops. These devices become an extension if not a part of the students involved in this incident. Multiple boundaries are dissolved at this moment: power dynamics, human/machine, device intended usage/ immediate utility, etc... I divert to this example because this is what is being spoken of (albeit not specifically gender) on a social/boundary level that is taking place centrally to our lives.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

100 Followers and Turkey Day

I was about to upload my most recent school project today since I have a little time before the big feast later and lo and behold: I'm at 100 followers!  I just want to take a moment to express thanks for everyone who supports this blog; I know at times the material can be boring (blame the professors for the prompts, I do my best to make it interesting).  This is especially an apt time seeing as though it's Thanksgiving day.  I hope everyone is having an adequate to extremely good day (hopefully its better then your average day).  I know holidays can sometimes be rougher then regular days; I know this first hand.  With that said, eat lots of food, veg out infront of the TV with family (if possible) or friends and take a day to just breath a little easier. Alright, putting the sentiments aside.  Thanks again for following!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Semper F.U?

As a veteran of the US military this appalls me to no ends.  My friend forwarded this Colbert report earlier to me and was just enraged by what I saw.

"We believe no constituency better understands the challenge America faces, and no constituency is better suited to, again, lead by example putting country first"

This is a response from the VA (who are supposed to support the veterans) to the Super committee who now wants to cut active and veterans military benefits including health services....    There's plenty of more reliable links out there but Colbert is funny so meh: 4:30 into Colbert report.  I love the rhetoric involved in that letter :(

Anyway just to summarize.  The super committee was created when Obama wanted to raise the debt ceiling.  They were remanded with the task to cut 1.6ish trillion and if not then an automatic deep cut would be taken out of the military defense budget.  So now they want to target veteran AND active military service members benefits (as mentioned above)  Cause you know... fuck them right?  Even if you don't agree with the war and what the government is doing, we should still be supporting the troops.    Just another travesty in a long line of injustices.

Movement to Posthuman

In the interview, Gibson states that he predicted cyberspace would become banal and commonplace. However, in his novel he depicts cyberspace as exciting. Bearing this in mind, in what ways do you think literature affects reality and reality affects literature?

The literature/reality dynamic is complex. In the 1950' era up to the point of personal computer/internet emerging this interaction used to have an external relationship insomuch that sci-fi predicted much of our technological advancements: rockets to the moon, cybernetics, etc. However, as technology today seems to advance not as quickly on the physical plane (although it does advance, just not at the same ratio prior) on the virtual/data reality there seems to be no boundaries. There has been a shift from physical advancement to the virtual. Strictly speak about sci-fi for the moment, the previous external focus that was seen, hasn't shift along with the technological 'shift'. The previous focus and flare for the external machine has not yet been fully realized for the virtual. This is not to say that there aren't authors writing about the virtual, there are quite a few, the point here is that there seems to be a reluctance that wasn't there for physical technology. Much of the sci-fi writing about 0's and 1's tends to be a current depiction with less of a "F"uture look.

Gibson talks about his reticent desire to move forward with the emergent technology so as not to lose his objectivity as well as the point that the banality of this technology comes not from the technology itself but comes from what we 'do' with it. These two issues subtext a possibly greater concern. As Gibson mentions that technology changes the user, the subtext concern could in fact be a concern for the literature/reality interaction. As new technology emerges, how we interact and how literature interacts with reality changes. All around us book stores are closing; more and more we see 'literature' moving from a physical state of being to a digital state. Despite how the words and content effect reality, just the fact that there is a shift of literature itself would demarcate an external change. This shift goes back to Gibson's statement of how the distinction between the real and cyberspace is eroding. We physically react to 0's and 1's much like Gibson mentions when he first viewed children playing video games and how what they were "yearning for was on the other side of the glass... [to] be in there with the color whirling data". With literature moving to a 0/1 existence there almost seems to be a loop forming. We interact with literature and literature interacts with reality but then with a move to virtual space and our 'physicality' with this data that was previously solid would then indicated a reality shift to virtual. This seems obvious but the change that this will bring isn't as clear. It's almost a posthuman move from human consciousness to a computer consciousness. With the medium changing so to will the data be affected.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

(post) Walkabout

Well this post is a bit late but I'll blame that on an insane work load this week.  Anyway, the walkabout was a very interesting experience.  The group (turns out a total of 5 of us showed up) met at a local museum that is the center for the arts district in my town.  Instead of going in we decided to just wander the area aimlessly to see what cool stuff we could find (hence walkabout).  Now I'm not an artsy person but we found places that had amazing objects aka art, inside.  I think the highlight was when we found a private studio that had a rendition of mount Rushmore done in cardboard but tweaked into a anti corporate message.  It's hard to explain but there was a old school Tonka truck with a 32oz bottle of ketchup near it.  Win.  Anyway, we closed the day with a meal in the little Ethiopia district that turned out to be very tasty.  All in all a fun day of randomness.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

(pre) Walkabout

So despite today's weather being unable to decide whether it wants to rain or not, a group of my friends decided to do a 'walkabout' later.  It's kind of an interesting concept based on an Australian origination of the word.  But today it's more defined as: "A person's desire to travel without a planned itinerary or set destination".  We're going to basically go downtown and wander around looking for inspiration for further writing adventures.  It should be interesting.  Hopefully it won't rain; or at least not too much so that we get sick.  I'll post my adventure later :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

College Library - interum post

So I was at the Cal State University in Northridge's library for the 3rd day in a row and two thoughts came to me.  A) UCLA's library is much better (but I'm not motivated enough to go out of my way on a non school day to go)  B) I'm spending waaaay to much time there.   It's like my home away from home.  I guess when your working on a research project/thesis it's a normal thing but my mentality hasn't caught up with the realities of Graduate work.  Oh well.  I'll have a new post up in a day or two, I've just been behind in everything this week.   At least it's raining today.  That always makes things better.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rhetoric of Influenza (creative assignment)

For part of my mid term I had to create a dialog on xtranormal outlining some of the rhetorical points of the h1n1 situation back in '09.   The voices are a bit monologue-ish but I tried to make it funny in other ways.

Xtranormal Link

This is just a small part of a larger project I'm working on.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Midterms - Zizek vid.

There's no official post this week due to midterms.  I'll try and post something of my own after all my turn ins on Monday.  In the mean time, here is an interesting video clip from Zizek (very interesting modern philosopher).  Only guy who can make me laugh while saying "My god, you call this porn?".  Good times.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Some of us might have assumed (I sure did!) that the discovery of DNA is a history of a singular, objective scientific breakthrough. Watson’s personal account of this experimental process, however, suggests a discovery story that involves as much politics and personalities as it does numerical data. How can Kuhn’s theory of incommensurability (attached) be applied to Watson’s account of the discovery of DNA? In what ways do Kuhn’s theory and the text itself, which both have implications of subjectivity, challenge The Scientific Method?

Standard empirical theory's, though transitory are usually built on what is available. It almost feels as though the Scientific Method is discounted due to the transmutibility of data and ideas over time. Science is built on this premise. Theories are what they are defined as. Data is as solid as what is defined within the given equations. It seems as though Kuhn is trying to make an argument that perception is the outlying factor on which theories take precedence at the time due to umbrella effect of whatever paradigm is in favor at that moment and that when the paradigm shifts so does the perceptions of 'good' theories. But this creates the idea of 'incommensurable; theories are comparable but not by common measures so different approaches have to be taken to view them together.

This being said with the DNA discovery, most of the commonalities between Kuhn's argument and the book are in regards to the political aspects and the paradigm/perception situation. The way the various 'sciences' came together or overlapped (such as biology, physics and chemistry) show an interesting problem that arose while the Watson and Co. raced to unravel DNA into a comprehensive theory. These schools incorporate both the idea of Methodological incommensurability and perception. Obviously perception differentiations are going to create non objective data. Perception is variable. The only specific aspect of this that truly matters is when it comes to the prevailing paradigm that is the ruling idea. Here perception can come in as a factor when it conflicts directly with the currently accepted "model". But for the various players within the DNA race they each brought methods that at times seemed not to share common measures or became an issue to the distinctions made by their perceptions. Rosy , Maurice, Watson and Francis were all studying similar xray crystallization patterns, yet they all approached it differently and their views and out comes, at times, were vastly different (helix vs non helix pattern for instance). This factor was a major component of the development of DNA. Further problems were created with the paradigm set by Bragg and at times the governing board that dictated what funds were going to be given to Watson. These political factors delayed and deterred both Francis and Watson.