opening the coffin …

Posted by in Uncategorized

I was completely sure that after I finished Arts One, I would never use this blog again. Not so. Here I am, pursuing my dream degree (which is kicking my butt, by the way), and taking a class where blog posts are worth 20(!)% of my final grade: ENGL 491, a seminar on Media Studies.

This post will follow my Arts One posts closely in terms of format – I find it easiest to break down dense texts into ideas I can actually understand, using quotes from the authors so I don’t have to paraphrase their eloquence. So here are a few:

Michel de Certeau: “‘And I forgot the element of chance introduced by circumstances…'” (80) This follows along with the concept that much of life is pre-planned (by fate? A higher power? Some uncontrollable source?), leaving us with the startling realization that perhaps the mundane choices we make in day-to-day life are not really impacting us in a substantial way. Food for thought – do I agree? Sort of. I think it takes away from the beauty of life’s spontaneous moments, which is sad. On the other hand, it also leaves me with the feeling that our mistakes don’t necessarily define us, which is reassuring.

Michel de Certeau: “Words become the outlet or product of silent histories.” (84) This is really interesting. My takeaway is that every person has their own set of memories which may be brought up by the words of others. Words themselves are the active medium here, transmitting each person’s individual stories through shared emotions or experiences.

Joke Hermes: “Texts cannot impose upon readers how they are to be read.” (515) I think this sums up the way I sometimes feel as an English major. The texts themselves, the words strung together by the authors, are conveying a message which may not be interpreted the same way by each reader. In this way, the texts can’t dictate how they may be read, they can only suggest ideas. Later in this paragraph, Hermes criticizes de Certeau for “romanticiz[ing] everyday life” (515), which hit the nail on the head for me. I felt a certain disconnect from de Certeau – I liked his arguments, but something wasn’t quite there. Hermes points out that change is out of the question, according to de Certeau, and that the routine is and always will be the same.

Michel Foucault: “Isn’t power simply a form of warlike domination?” (72) Power is a tool that is easily abused, so yes, it can be a form of warlike domination. However, it can also be something almost like a currency (Foucault comments earlier on the “new ‘economy’ of power” (70)), traded and circulated around amongst people. Some of the recipients will deserve it, and some will not – this is life.

That’s all for now – hopefully will be back next week with some more (vaguely intelligible) thoughts.