My Intellectual Cosmos

Taking stock, a reflective exercise often assigned at the end of a class, is also a graduation requirement. This is my first draft. Tweaking to follow… although?references to?”navel gazing” and “mental masturbation” are definitely keepers.

The Collegiate Experience and My Intellectual Cosmos

Sigma Tau Delta Honor StoleThis reflective essay has been assigned to help connect my Senior Seminar experience, with its focus on pre-romantic poetry, to the greater Saint Rose experience and thus my intellectual cosmos. To be honest, I find this task rather difficult. My trouble stems from the Senior Seminar portion of this ponderance. Let me first say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual, in-depth conversation every class has offered and that I find significant value in the exploration of early literary theory and the ability to measure today?s ideas by comparison. Still, I struggle to kindle some sort of greater passion for the subject matter in a present-day application that brings new awareness to light.

In my ideal world, Senior Seminar should be more than an entertaining intellectual exercise. I had hoped for a topic that would engage my passion, inspire me to action in righting some contemporary wrong and raise my own awareness as well as the awareness of those who read what new discoveries my research has to offer. Instead, I am reminded time and again, as we jest about the many ways in which poets have continually pondered their navels, that the struggle of the human experience merely shifts at a snail?s pace. Looking to history offers little more than greater historical knowledge of humanity?s slowly morphing circumstances, faulty attempts at understanding through overly general categorization, and constant repetition of these mistakes. While history is a fantastic place to begin, traveling back in time is not necessarily the best place to finish, at least in the opinion of this Saint Rose senior.

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Looking at Quills

Available on Amazon

Available on Amazon

Having selected Philip Kaufman’s Quills (2000) as my ?Writers in Motion? film of choice, I watched it twice, first to take in the entire story and again to take notes. For further insight, I watched the DVD extras on screenplay writer Doug Wright’s commentary, costuming, setting and casting, searched for the text of the screenplay to read for sheer literary value, and hit JSTOR for some scholarly direction. I also found accounts of the Marquis de Sade?s real life on the Time Warner True Crime site and discovered another devoted to PVC fetish wear designed in the Marquis? name. Before I knew it, I had shoved so much material into my feeble little brain that my ability to create a single thesis ground to a screeching halt. I screamed, ?TOO MUCH INFORMATION!? and took a break. This is how I roll.

Reading Barsam?s last chapter of Looking at Movies offers the perfect springboard for this paper I have yet to begin. With graduation looming just 15 days away, that?s what I call salvation in print. One method Barsam suggests is a tracing of dualisms or binary oppositions. In Quills, that could include things such as:

  • nature/culture
  • good/evil
  • freedom of speech/censorship

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Objectivity: A Question of Perspective

In reference to whether or not the gonzo journalism of Hunter S. Thompson as portrayed in the 1997 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas offers any kind of objectivity, my classmate Catherine Dumas says:

Hell yeah, a lot more that the journalism that we get on a daily basis through our media. A lot of our media is controlled by some Australian dude, Rupert Murdoch.

While I tend to agree with Catherine on some level, I think we need to start with whether or not objective truth exists before answering this question.

Truth is constructed via the gathering of facts and means nothing without the connectivity of those facts through narrative. Since narrative is always written from a particular point of view, there can be no objectivity without the influence of culture whether it be race, gender, political affiliation, sexual preference, etc. That said, I say no form of writing offers objectivity. Regardless of any stated effort to achieve it (the phrase “fair and balanced” comes to mind), journalism is used to persuade the public toward a particular viewpoint.

Has anybody seen “The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of the News?”

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Kenya, Spiraling to Hell

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Today, rioters have followed the displaced to where they’ve fled. Morgues are filled with those who have been burned alive, hatcheted and clubbed. The original focus of the violent conflict overflowed into indiscriminate attacks upon two tourists and the military cannot contain the situation. If I were inclined to believe in Hell, this would be it – right here on Earth.

Rival factions clash again in Kenya
Monday, January 28, 2008
By Reuters

Riots erupted in the western Kenyan cities of Nakuru, Kisumu and Naivasha on Monday, as machete-wielding protesters torched buildings and erected barricades while police forces fired shots in the air.

Jacobson’s Whiteness of a Different Color

Matthew Fry Jacobson Traces Racial Constructs in Whiteness of a Different Color

Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race

Available on Amazon*

As the white race is somewhat new to scholarly examination, it provides a useful tool in determining how race is assigned and used to regulate the body politic throughout history. Rather than studying oppressed minorities and the effects they have suffered, the white majority holds far more control having dictated who deserves white privilege and why. In Matthew Fry Jacobson?s historical survey, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race, he effectively argues that race is a social construct rather than biological fact, particularly as he traces the shifting white privilege assigned or denied to the Irish as well as the interpretive operation of race upon Jews, and although he does little to address gender bias within racial categories or include immigrant source material and their own views of where they fit in, these shortcomings offer little dissuasion from his matter of point.

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January 11: ACLU Guant?namo Protest

From the ACLU:

Close?Guant?namoThis Friday, you can join thousands of people across the country in marking a sad anniversary with an act of hope.

The first prisoners arrived at the U.S. prison at Guant?namo Bay on January 11, 2002. Guant?namo quickly became an international embarrassment. It has made a mockery of our laws and values for six long years. We won?t allow seven; this is the year we are going to end the national disgrace.

ACLU day of protest to close?Guant?namoNationwide, the ACLU has set January 11th as a day of protest, declaring that it?s long past time that we put an end to illegality and close down Guant?namo. The ACLU and organizations across the country are asking people of conscience to wear orange to protest Guant?namo. I hope you will consider standing in solidarity by wearing orange on Friday as well.

Guant?namo is a reminder that fundamental values of justice and fairness can sometimes be violated by the very government entrusted with upholding them. That?s why we hope you will get involved in one of the following ways:

Pledge to stand up for American ideals and values. Sign the Pledge. And ask your friends to get involved.

Throughout this week, there will be events across the country- protests, prayer vigils, marches, and more – to bring focus to the injustices being perpetrated at Guant?namo.

Check out the materials available online: you can print out a poster and fact sheet, download a blog badge and get a toolkit with tools and tips on how to get further involved on January 11th.We?re running online ads on over 100 blogs to raise awareness and ignite further activism in new audiences. If you have a blog, please consider downloading and posting a badge, and blog about closing Guant?namo this week. Let us know about your blog and we?ll keep you on the inside track with updates, interviews and additional resources.

Guant?namo has become a stain on our nation?s honor. That is why it is so important you join the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are demanding the closure of the prison at Guant?namo on January 11th.

Thank you for standing with people of conscience to demand the US government close Guant?namo once and for all.

Thank you,
Anthony D. Romero, ACLU
Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director ACLU

P.S. There is so much more we can do to spread the word and encourage others to join in this protest. Check here for more ways to get involved.

? ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor New York, NY 10004