Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

My Experience in Writing the Mind

14 May

Rhetoric has such a commanding influence on the mind. When something is effectively written we are drawn in. So in specific cases of exploring the mind psychologically and philosophically, rhetoric has the power to persuade our thinking. At the start of this course, Writing the Mind, I had only a slight idea of what to expect in the way of concepts. As I have progressed and furthered my learning throughout the semester in this class, I have come to understand that this class is nothing without rhetoric. It is very much the foundation of the subjects we cover in class and how they are presented to us.

From this course I have gained knowledge on what makes good rhetoric, the parts of rhetoric (exigency, audience, and constraints), how to write a manifesto, Carl Jung’s Model of the Psyche, existentialism, the postmodern condition, and much more. As a class we examined many powerful examples of the use of rhetoric (i.e. Letter From a Birmingham Jail and The Communist Manifesto) and all of those wouldn’t have moved us if we did not observe the rhetoric of those situations or the influence the words had on our minds.

Understanding the mind has helped me learn how to be a more emotionally moving writer. Until this course, all the writing I had done followed a specific set of rules. This class furthered my writing skills because it had a very limited number of guidelines. We were always asked to take rhetorical considerations into account and aside from that parameter we were able to let our minds wander. I would say that I feel like a better writer in the sense that I am more capable, now, of creating written work that is able to really speak to my audience. I know what it takes to get an audience involved in my writing.

Working with the theories of the mind has been particularly interesting for me. I do not have a background in psychology, so the ideas posed in this course were extra enlightening for me. Studying Carl Jung’s Model of the Psyche has helped me to understand how the human mind works and I now know a lot about the unconscious self. That was one concept in particular that spoke to me and I found it so fascinating.

Knowing what speaks to me and knowing what rhetoric is comprised of, I presently understand how important rhetoric is in writing and how that relates to the mind. What would writing be without the emotion, the persuasion, or the effective language? It would be words structured to form opinions and facts. Without rhetoric, writing would not be expressive. Rhetoric is essential, it changes the way we think. The reason any writing (a speech, a manifesto, or a paper) is effective is that is changes the way our minds perceive the subject matter. Rhetoric is what speaks to us.

The Simulator

14 May

What if everyone in the world made his or her own moral code? Would all the terrifying tragedies of the world suddenly be okay? Reading The Collector you are stuck within that question as John Fowles tells the tale of a Mr. Frederick Clegg and his victim Miranda. The story begins with a depiction of Frederick’s life, who he is and what he likes to do. He is a collector of butterflies. He captures helpless creatures and then kills them off to be stored in his jars, only to be seen by him. As a reader of this novel you are not so quick to judge that he captures Miranda to be a victim in that same way.

In the beginning he narrates that he has had his eyes on Miranda for quite some time and explains that he is planning to capture her. He then kidnaps Miranda and keeps her in a small room downstairs all by herself. He visits her and gives her all that she needs to be healthy and comfortable. Throughout the story, Clegg tries to offer to us that what he is doing is okay by creating his own sense of reality (with it’s own moral code). Frederick Clegg first narrates the plot and then Miranda tells the very same story through her journals. When Miranda has told the story in her way, Frederick then finishes the book and plot. After months of keeping Miranda locked up she finally gets sick and because Clegg does not want to risk others knowing about the situation he neglects to take care of her. She reaches her ultimate doom through death. The problem with the ending is that we very well know is it possible for Clegg to start the process all over again with a new woman.

Unfortunately Frederick Clegg is fulfilling the seeker archetype. He desires Miranda, someone he can control. He wants to assert his ambition and he wants total power. He obtains power by locking Miranda up. Constantly working towards an unattainable goal, he longs for Miranda’s love. He will never get her love…let’s be real, he kidnapped her. His biggest pitfalls are loneliness and alienation, which spring forth from the loss of his parents. His unconscious self desires an alternate reality.

Frederick Clegg designed a reality that made it okay for him to collect Miranda. Since he crafted his own reality, his capturing of Miranda seems okay to the audience (that is until they see the story from her point of view). His personal reality starts with the fact that he collects and kills butterflies and does not feel emotion through that. Before understanding his desires and how they change the way we view the plot, we have to understand what the collector character is comprised of.

The collector, Frederick Clegg, is not caring. He thinks that he wants to give Miranda what he feels is the best for the both of them but he obviously doesn’t want what is truly best for her. Real love cannot come from that. He keeps everything to himself and does not want anyone to know what he is up to. He has many battles within his mind of whether he should care for his victim or keep others from knowing the truth. In the end, he picks his own safety versus his “love”.

A large part of his character is the planning mentality. He goes through a lot of trouble to make sure that he plans everything out smoothly. He doesn’t want anything to go wrong. With that, he puts a lot of effort into implementing that which he has planned. Often times, though, he has to change his plans for his own safety. His ultimate goal is total control over Miranda and in that process he has to do what he can to make sure that he stays in power. He has a need for control. In the end, we understand that he goes far beyond his original plan when he decides to kill Miranda for his own well-being.

Through his character and actions he created his own set of morals that fit his desires. Rather than living by the rules of the society, Clegg changes the reality of the situation so he can make what he is doing with Miranda seem acceptable. He disregards the norms, which in any western society express that kidnapping is a deplorable act. He created a world where all his desires could be met and committed something that was truly selfish (and all about his wants).

In his reality it is okay to kidnap, it is okay to lock someone in a room all alone, and it is okay to act like all he wants is someone to love him. What he does not understand is that the situation he created is not the same as meeting someone and falling in love. On page 51 of The Collector Frederick Clegg says, “You think I’m mad because of what I’ve done. I’m not mad. It is just, well, I’ve got no one else. There’s never been anyone but you I’ve ever wanted to know.” He assumed he was going to get Miranda to love him back by the way he loved her but she could never honestly love the person who took her life away from her.

Clegg imagines that the world he creates will operate just as he plans. The reality that he crafts for himself leads us to understanding the idea of simulacra and how it plays a role in this plot.

Since he constructs his reality, the situation becomes fine to us. This is possible because of idea of simulacra. As a concept, a simulacrum is replacing the real with a representation of the real. In situations of simulacra our minds are able to believe that which is not real is actually real. This notion is formed and examined by Jean Baudrillard and other theorists. We tend to feel that we understand what is real in life and what is just a simulation. Like, for example, the shows on television. We know them to simply be representations of real life. Baudrillard thinks otherwise. He believes that simulation becomes a reality to us through the simulacra effect.

One of Baudrillard’s biggest studies of simulacra is Disneyland. It is the perfect hyperreality and imaginary place that entangles many simulations into one. Disneyland and Disney in general harbor a reality that is not real outside of the park gates. Being in Disneyland, though, we are able to believe that the reality we are in is true (i.e. Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Toontown).

Another example of simulacra (as a frame of understanding) is sports stores such as Cabela’s. Stores like this simulate real nature inside of a building. The store, though, is merely a place to buy outdoor sporting gear. Turning a store into the great outdoors makes the gear more appealing because the customers do not even have to go outside to find nature.

Thus, this idea of a simulacrum is what allows us to accept Frederick Clegg’s morals as right. It allows us to sympathize with him. It lets us see the situation as conventional.

In the text we can see that Frederick does everything he can to make Miranda’s room homey. He buys her clothing, nice furniture, entertainment (i.e. music and books), and purchases her an endless supply of food. He is trying to simulate to Miranda that he just wants her to be happy and comfortable. He really just wants his own desires to be fulfilled, so he goes out of his way to make her happy. Generally his tricks do not work because Miranda continually tries to escape and reject his food (to become unhealthy). She also tries to give him what she thinks he wants by way of sexual desires. She later learns that it does not get her anywhere because he does not solely desire that. On page 107 of The Collector Clegg says (to explain his feelings), “I’d be holding you, I said. That’s all. We would be sleeping side by side with the wind and rain outside or something.” The reality that Clegg makes for Miranda is one that she doesn’t fall for, but as the readers we do. Knowing that he has created his own reality by buying his way to Miranda we will, once again, believe that what he does to her is okay.
One aspect of this novel that allows the simulacra effect to work even more deeply in our minds is the archetypes. There are a few archetypes produced by Clegg’s narration. The way the novel is written makes Miranda into the temptress while Clegg is the hero and the victim of the tempting. This also changes our vision of Frederick Clegg and what he is doing to Miranda.

In today’s society, many people change their own reality so they can get away with morally wrong actions. For instance when a minor drinks alcohol, somewhere deep down they know it is morally wrong to do so but they change the reality of the situation to make their morals fit their desires. In cases such as that, the person makes it seem okay which allows others to believe that it is acceptable.

Understanding the importance of the simulacra effect is crucial. Through it we learn how our minds can travel to places we wouldn’t want to go. It is not in our nature to believe simulations are real but through the effect of them we will imagine them to be true. As the narrator of the novel, Frederick Clegg creates a reality for his audience that is completely absurd. Everything he does is so twisted and sick. We do not fully comprehend that until we take time to realize what he has done to his victim. When the story shifts into Miranda’s point of view, we see the horror of his actions. Before that point of the novel the reader is merely caught up in the world Clegg has produced. He has masked the storyline we see by his own reality.

The simulacrum changes our view of his nature.  His personal set of rules, and morals that he chooses to follow, allow it to be okay for him to kidnap Miranda and do the things he did to her. We now need to examine our minds…how many times have people in our lives or in our society done things that are morally wrong? Did we think it was okay?

 

 

Fowles, John. The Collector. Boston: Little, Brown, 1963. Print.

Self-Relfection on the Process of Inquiry

29 Apr

Looking back on the process of inquiry I traveled through to create my previous post (a cinematic inquiry presentation), I have realized that I learned a lot more than I initially thought I could. In completing my presentation, not only did I uncover aspects of the film I needed better understanding of, but I also apprehended quite about the research process.

In approaching the assignment, I started by making a list of questions concerning that which I did not comprehend in the film Being John Malkovich. I decided, in the end, to go in the direction of Jungian theory, which was the concept that most interested me. I appreciated that I was allowed the freedom in this assignment to explore the topic that most interested me. I enjoyed relating Jungian theory to the film and the characters within it because it revealed a lot about the film to me. It also helped me understand some of the deeper roots of the characters and the direction the film was going. It was a way to relate what I was learning in class to the film.

Using Prezi to create my presentation was something new to me, but in the end I came to love the creativity it allowed me to harbor. Different from a written paper, I was able to use media and a creative flow to get my research out there. I decided to use a tree being watered as my theme. I used the sources as the water, Jungian theory as the roots, and the application to the film as the tree branches and leaves. I felt that the theme was an important piece of how the information I obtained was portrayed. The multimodal Prezi gave me many options and modes to relay my research to my audience.

This process as a whole taught me a great deal about research. I am an indecisive person and I have always known that. I realized during this project how important it is to make a decision. It took a while to settle on a topic and I learned that it was important to do that in order to find structure. With so much freedom (regarding the topic and the direction you choose to take it) it is necessary to find some structure so you can create something that is directed. The quicker you pick the topic the more structured your thoughts and research can be.

For the sake of future research, I learned not to limit myself to just one method and also that I need to be more aggressive with my research. There is so much to learn and so many directions to take and I feel that I need to let myself dive into research much more thoroughly. I know if I allow myself to go deeper, I will achieve better results from the process.

The Shadows Behind “Being John Malkovich”

22 Apr

Have you ever watched a movie and been left completely confused?

Well….that is how I felt after watching Being John Malkovich.

After breaking down the movie with the concepts of the unconscious side of Carl Jung’s model of the psyche I have come to better understand this film.

If you, too, feel confused by the storyline and characters of this film, I hope this helps:

http://prezi.com/buzwtxhpj6tr/cinematic-inquiry-presentation/?kw=view-buzwtxhpj6tr&rc=ref-38065217

A Vessel to a Desired Reality

15 Apr

The first thing that came to my mind after watching the film Being John Malkovich is one question…what did I just watch? The plot of this movie was completely unpredictable and almost every thing in it was contrary to how my mind thinks it should have been. One of the most confusing aspects of this plot, that Charlie Kaufman created, is how the idea of the vessel (and it being John Malkovich) ties into the plot. There are many layers of the film that were left unanswered that led to my confusion. The movie has left me questioning many of the details.

Throughout the film I noticed that Craig and Lotte Schwartz were always struggling to change the reality of their lives, alongside a few other characters. I began to wonder, what is so bad about their reality that gives them the need to change it? Maybe it is not that their reality is bad but that they merely have a longing to reach the things that satisfy them. The shadows, as shown in Carl Jung’s model of the psyche, these characters are revealing are both explicit and implicit. In watching the film, you see Craig and Lotte’s desire for a different love, for Maxine. That is one aspect of the plot that is very clearly shown.

cusack_j1

Every time Maxine enters a scene she has a fierce and attracting nature about her. You see so many times that Craig sees her and immediately feels drawn to her. It is all in her nature too because Craig barely knows her (much like his wife who become draw to Maxine). So, why is Maxine the desired reality?

The main character Craig loves puppeteering as you discover from the beginning. Although we may come to understand that much, it takes a far deeper approach to comprehend that Craig fulfills that dream by going into John Malkovich’s mind. As any of the characters enter the portal to John Malkovich’s mind they not only gain access to his ways but they also come to find that they can control him.

Characters like Lotte work to live out their desires through John Malkovich but none of them fulfill that as well or as successfully as Craig does. Many of Craig’s complexes are shown directly in the film. His unconscious reactions subsequent from his desires are very noticeable (i.e. his initial interactions with Maxine, the puppet shows he preforms, and his lack of passion used in his interactions with his wife, Lotte). He desires a different reality and that is a clear example of existentialism. He works to change his reality because he has the will to do so.

As the film plays out we begin to see how the vessel, John Malkovich, becomes the outlet for many of the characters to fulfill the realities they desire. So, how does the vessel get chosen? Why is it John? Why does it become Emily? While watching this movie it became apparent that the vessel is this all-powerful archetype leading them to their desired realities. Even when I cannot understand how it made it’s way into the plot, I understand that it belongs, that the vessel creates purpose for the plot. It is their gateway. These characters desire realities that they themselves feel to be possible from the will they have as John Malkovich. When they go into the vessel the outcome is satisfaction.

Do What Makes You Happy

20 Mar

images

This is not just a blank space, this is a canvas and I want you to picture yourself within it. What is your dream career path? Where do your passions lie? Imagine yourself doing what truly makes you happy.

526328_4605463098364_876520307_n

This is me standing with one of my previous students. I aspire to be a teacher, with all my heart. I am passionate about working with kids. Some say…“you know teachers don’t make great money, right?” I know. Others say…“are you sure you have the patience to do that?” I am positive. Teaching is what makes me happy and it is what I want to pursue.

How many times have you spoken with someone who had a career they absolutely despised? Well, I don’t know about you but I have listened to one to many complaints. Take just one second and picture a world where everyone did what he or she loved.

I know, right now, you are thinking way too realistically. Yes, I understand that we need people working virtually every job to have a functioning society and there is the thought that that may not happen if everyone did what they aspired to. I am also guessing you are probably thinking, “Jasmine, that just doesn’t work.” At what point, though, does the functionality of society matter more than the happiness of it’s individuals. Please, look beyond those thoughts and take a few moments to see just what I mean.

Too many people in our world are not doing what they love. Our society is lacking passion and without passion, without happiness, where can we really go? I know that people are scared. We are scared that we will pick the wrong career, we are scared that if we do what we love, we will fail, and we are scared that we will be stuck without anywhere to go. Our passion is our happiness and it is our strength.

The thought that there are countless people in this world working at something they dislike is absurd. Every generation values happiness in life. My friend recently shared with me that her grandpa has always said, “If you do what makes you happy, you never have to work a day in your life.” If you love the career path you choose, you don’t have to call it work. Work almost signifies something that you trudge through, but if your work makes you happy, it is like it is not work.

When you envision a life of money that may sound great. You could have anything you want. As cliché as the saying sounds, money does not buy you happiness. These studies have shown that money will not keep you happy. What happens is that people create these highs for themselves like the “oh I just bought a new car” high or “did you see my expensive new dress?” high. Those highs don’t last long and the happiness, in essence, wears off.

Often times money causes us to change our minds. The idea that working some random position will get us more money leads us to take that job, even if it is boring or ridiculous to us. People worry about making a living. In some cases it is a rather stressful thought. No one likes the idea of being unstable. Money cannot make your life though. There is a constant battle happening of whether to take a job that makes you happy while only making a small sum or to take a job that keeps you stressed while making a rather large sum.

If you spend your life doing what you don’t like just to make a living, you will only be living to do what you don’t like. What if money didn’t matter? Your pay off in happiness will make all the difference in the end. Choose to do what keeps you passionate; choose to do what starts a fire in your heart.

On occasion it is easy to feel inadequate, like you are not good enough. We think we are not good enough to make it in the world of preforming, sports, business, medicine, or so many others. I think you are good enough. With a love for something, you are far beyond good enough.

How many times a day are people criticized for walking towards their dream, how many people are told they could never make it, how many are told that what they love is foolish, how many people wish they had support but didn’t? Remind yourself, what is it that you are passionate about? Think about what it feels like to be supported and think about just the opposite. Think about what it feels like to be happy and to want that happiness for other people. Follow your dreams and help others to follow their dreams as well.

We get our support from our friends, our family, our teachers, and our society. We also get our criticisms from our friends, our family, our teachers, and our society. It is too often that someone holds back from happiness, too often that someone walks away from their dream. That only leads to wonder and wonder makes you long for something better. You start to question what it would feel like to follow your passion. Sometimes you have to be your own (or biggest) support system if it means chasing your dreams. Do more of what makes you happy, do not to try to please others. There is one person in control of your happiness and that is you.

After our basic needs are met, our happiness will not depend upon material things, wealth, luxuries, or the “fancy” life. To be happy you have to live your life doing what you love because if you don’t love what you do, you are not really living. Looking back on your life, what will mean the most? Will it be the material objects or the life lived along the way? By chasing your dreams you feel fulfilled, by feeling fulfilled you become happy.

“And in the end, it’s not the years
in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.”
– Abraham Lincoln

There is a new branch in psychology called positive psychology. Positive psychologists are studying “the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.” This field of psychology is based on the idea that people do in fact hope to have meaningful or fulfilling lives. This field revolves around how to enhance lifestyles. The major topics that these scientists are concerned with are positive experiences, relationships, and institutions. There is the notion that being happier, doing more of what you love, will keep you positive, optimistic, and more productive.

When we are happy, we treat others better. We treat others how they deserve to be treated. When we are happy we work better with others and we work better in general. There are a number of reasons why happiness does well in our lives, but as previously mentioned, it boosts productivity.

Best selling author, Alexander Kjerulf, is one of the world’s leading experts on happiness at work and he shares with us the reasons why happiness boosts productivity:

1. Happy people work better with others.

2. Happy people are more creative.

3. Happy people fix problems rather than complaining about them.

4. Happy people have more energy.

5. Happy people are more optimistic.

6. Happy people are way more motivated.

7. Happy people get sick less often.

8. Happy people learn faster.

9. Happy people worry less about making mistakes.

10. Happy people make better decisions.

It is too often that people feel stuck in their situations. There is always a way to reach for your goals, your dreams. It is common that people say they want the best for you when they are really keeping you from ultimate happiness. Living and working in a position that keeps you happy will lead you to great heights. Forget about others opinions and chase your aspirations. If your friends and your family truly love you, it means they want what is best for you. If they want what is best for you, they want you happy and they will support you.

Happiness is a need.

Here are several accounts of people doing what they love. It is possible. People choose to do it. So can you! Are you unhappy now? Change your path. Are you uncertain of where you are going? Follow your dreams. In all situations, do what you love.

In my own path, I took the time to explore my happiness. Serving others and helping others has been a monumental piece of my life. The feeling of happiness I get from lending a hand and being there for someone is beyond explanation. I know that serving others makes me happy and I know that I have a passion for it, such a deep passion. I realized that the helping professions are for me and now, my dream is to teach and I am headed there. I have great support from my loved ones and I know they want the best for me. I will always do what I love because by being happy, as positive psychology hints to, I will thrive in all areas of my life.

It is important to live our lives in the way we hope to. It is important that we follow our own aspirations, be our own people, and choose our own beliefs. Our society would ebb and flow so much more smoothly if we all accepted each other for the people we are, if we all stopped being scared to do and be what we want to.

If we do what we love, wouldn’t the world be a better place? Imagine a world full of people who were doing what they loved, people who had support and not criticism. A world full of passion and hope, of optimism and happiness.

passion-quote5

If you are lost, don’t give up. Take a step in the direction of your passion. Confidently seek your happiness.

The world will be a better place.

The Value of Happiness

11 Mar

When I look at a child, I see their passion, their desire for knowledge, their curiosity, their imagination, and their free spirit. When I look at a child, I know I chose the right major. When I look at a child, I smile and imagine myself happy for the rest of my life, doing something I love. When I look at a child, I am positive that I want to be an elementary teacher.

There are good teachers…and then there are not so good teachers. That very idea leads me to think, if they do not absolutely love teaching, why do they do it?

So I have started to think what if everyone could be happy? Well, they can. I believe that we would live in a better place, a better world, if everyone did what his or her heart desires. Just do what you love.

There have been many people, places, and experiences in my life that have influenced the way I feel about careers. As a freshman in college I have settled into my Integrated Educational Studies major at Chapman University. I haven’t always wanted to teach. It is almost that it has always been in my view but I have not always acknowledged its existence. For quite some time I wanted to be a lawyer, I even got voted best attorney in my mock trial case. I moved into the social sciences and started thinking about Sociology, Anthropology, and Political Science. I started my freshman year at Chapman with a major in Sociology and soon there after, found my way to the College of Education. You know you are in the right major when you love your core classes. After all that time, I have found what I love.

I volunteer taught preschool religious education for two years at my home church, All Saints Parish in Puyallup, Washington. Along with that I did many other volunteer projects within my church. My religion, something incredibly important to me, has strengthened my heart for service. Throughout high school I did a lot of volunteer work and the more I did, the more I loved serving. The teachings of my faith have deepened my understanding of what it means to serve and it is something I love. Now, I am lined up for a career in a helping profession.

I love to help. I found what I love. I found my passion. I am following it. Don’t be afraid to follow yours.

My least favorite thing to hear is, “you know teacher’s do not make very much money, right?” I know and I can honestly, 100% say…I do not care. I know that as an educator, I will make enough money to live. I will make enough money to have a healthy and full lifestyle. I would much rather do what I love than take up space in another profession.

You have to understand that, as much as you might believe that money is important, it is not. You don’t need endless amounts of it, to spend on useless material objects, no matter how tempting that sounds. Like the famous phrase goes, money can’t buy you happiness. I am quite certain that there is a large number of people on earth that do what they do because someone told them that their dream wouldn’t get them anywhere. Money will not buy your happiness but passion can bring you to happiness. Just do what you love.

So my faith, my relationships in working with others, and my heart have all led me here. I believe that happiness will get me to places that money cannot.

If I am not passionate about teaching, how I am supposed to expect my students to be passionate about learning. All I know now is if the people of this world spend more time doing what they truly love, our world will be a better place.

“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” – Jack Kerouac