Saturday, October 5, 2013

We Don't Need Another Hero: Sci-Fi Clichés in Pop Culture

 Ok, I have a confession to make: I’ve never really loved science-fiction films. Whenever I’ve been dragged to the movies to see one, I always walk away with a slightly icky feeling. Susan Sontag in her article, “The Imagination of Disaster,” articulated why paying to see all those big budget sci-fi films always leaves me with the lingering pain of buyer’s remorse. It’s because, they suck. And Sontag agrees with me. 

                Now, before you come after us with your pitch fork and torches, all you sci-fi fanatics, please hear us out. Sontag does make some valid points. Have you ever seen that spoof on horror films, Scary Movie? Or that spoof on big Hollywood dance productions, Dance Flick?  Well, Sontag is making the same point about sci-fi flicks. Sorry but they are a little generic.  Seen one, seen them all. Want to get paid and make a blockbuster sci-fi film? Just turn to pages 318-319 of Sontag’s article, follow all the steps she’s written out and you too can have a sci-fi hit.  Better yet, find some “poor or trivial [sci-fi] novel,” (Sontag 322), and hire some out of work screen writer to write a script based on the book. Bam! Top of the box office! You see, the problem with that formula for sci-fi success is that films are art, right? So, it should be creative and innovative like any other art form. A one size fits all approach “strips [it] of sophistication… [and makes it] a naively and largely debased commercial art.” (Sontag 332) In other words, don’t hold your breath for any Academy Awards in any categories except for special effects and wardrobe. Oscar for best picture? I think not.               

Ok yes, I do agree with you, sci-fi is fun to watch. What’s wrong with a few hours of harmless fun? Movies are meant to be “fantasies [that] lift us out of the unbearably humdrum [of life]…by escape from exotic dangerous situations [on screen]” (Sontag 316), right?  Think again. Remember Stephen King’s article, “Why We Crave Horror Films” and how he said we all have a screw loose? Well, that’s what has Sontag so disturbed. Her issue is not that we enjoy sci-fi films, it’s the reason we enjoy them. Sontag warns us that watching meaningless mob violence and mass destruction only reinforces a deep subconscious fascination with dangerous anarchist ideals that finds psychotic pleasure in the “particular beauties… of making a mess.” Also, Sontag doesn’t come out and directly say it but these films reek of warped male patriarchal ideals. How many plots surround some macho “hunger for a ‘good war’ which poses no moral problems,” (Sontag 327) and omits the human tragedy and social ills war leaves behind. Add all this up and you have something that is at the very least, “questionable from a moral point of view”(Sontag 317).  Society has enough problems and we don’t need films that encourage “complicity with [the] abhorrent” (Sontag 317) by normalizing what in real life would be tragic and disturbing.


Oh, and while we’re on the subject of King and the subconscious, let’s talk about sci-fi mirroring our deeply buried collective social nightmares. In Eric Camarillo's "Vampires and Why We Love Them" he discusses how vampire stories reflect our deep seated fears. Sontag says sci-fi does the same with, “… [our] deep anxieties about contemporary existence.” (Sontag 328). From our greatest fears resulting from “…perennial human anxiety about death,” (Sontag 331) and invasion by some foreign "other" (Sontag 324), to our more modern preoccupation with the “the theme of dehumanization”(Sontag 330)  in relation to advances in science and technology (Sontag 326), sci-fi pampers all the phobias locked deep within in our psyche. All of these topics are worth discussing, but instead of marching us bravely into the psychological abyss to confront and analyze these fears, sci-fi falls flat on its face. As Sontag puts it, sci-fi films overemphasize “sensuous elaboration…by means of images and sounds,” (Sontag 320) with scripts that trump special effects over meaningful dialogue leaving us with “… [an] emblem of an inadequate response...” (Sontag 332). It’s like potato chips for your heart, mind and soul. It’s not good for you and leaves you wanting more.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Imagine Disaster!

This weekend, after you celebrate completing your rough drafts, read Susan Sontag's "The Imagination of Disaster" in Reading Pop Culture, about classic science fiction/horror films. This is easily the longest article we've read so far, so give yourself the weekend to digest it! After, post to the blog summarizing and answering the first two "For Discussion and Writing" questions at the end of the article Sunday by midnight! And don't forget to comment before class! Feel free to also offer your own examples of the types of films Sontag describes! Like "Hidden Intellectualism," this piece and blog post will prepare us for Essay #2, which we're going to dive straight into in two weeks, so don't blow it off!

Three-panel book review :-)

Also, the syllabus says to finish Dracula over the weekend. However, since we likely won't have time to discuss both it and Sontag's piece on Monday, don't stress it. Regardless, you do need to finish it before you turn in your revised Synthesis Essay!

Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Street Smarts VS. School Smarts

In Hidden Intellectualism by Gerald Graff, Graff is tackling the topic of street smart vs. school smart and its effect on human society. He uses himself as an example at times to explain his reasoning for saying, “street smart beat out book smarts in our culture.” As a child Graff would hide his intellectualism in fear of getting beaten up by the “in crowd”. Little did he know he was further preparing himself to better his intellect skills through debates and controversies with his peers about sports and such topics that they were interested in.
            I started out to read this piece in my room sitting on my bed, I got very sleep however so although the Hidden Intellectual write was only four pages long I had to put half of it off for the next day in a different setting. I finished reading it in the library at school. I took a nap in between my break given I didn’t get much sleep last night and read the story after that.
            I don’t remember coming across any part in the text I didn’t understand, the author did a good job at allowing the reader in and being able to see and understand what he meant. I took notes as I read on interesting parts in the story where I may need to come back and refer to in the future. I wrote all of my notes down in my notebook on a blank sheet of page. Being mixed in with my class notes is a good place for my notes to be. I noted some main points, or at least what I believe to have been main points. I looked at my notes to write my summary.

Ball is life.

Gearald Graff wrote a book called Clueless in Academe: How Schooling obscures the Life of the mind. One of his essays Hidden Intellectualism talks about how street smarts can arguably help students who do not have an interest in school. Graff talks about his childhood and how he was more interested in sports rather then his school work. He presents the idea that if teachers/professors were to include personal interest, such as sports, into assignment or reports then students would have more to say and say it more creatively. Graff also talks about how "the hoods" make people feel like they need to be street smart in order to be "tough". He presents this idea from his own personal experience of someone who would bully him. The pressure of being the "toughest" person around causes the need for street smarts. 

  As I read this essay I felt a strong connection to it. I also suffered from lack of interest in school work. I would rather watch sports or read sports articles rather then study or read a book. Because of my lak of interest it made my writing boring. As I grew older and was able to relate personal interest into my writing, it got a lot better and passionate. 
  I was reading this while In my colors hallways. I found a peaceful place to sit and read. As my friends pass me I found myself ignoring them inorder to continue reading. I felt that I had a connection to this essay because I am extreamly interested in sports. Sometimes I sit in class and read articles about recent sports news instead of what's going on in class.
 I completely agree with Graff because if you are not interested in what you are reading or writing you can not write  passionately. I also agree that street smarts can also help with real life situations. Being street smart enables you to talk about a variety of topics with a variety of people. Our different interest is what brings us together, although our thoughts may differ. As I grew up I basically lived by the streets. I would always be outside and I always knew how to keep up with people if not I knew how to one up them. It helped me throughout my life because I was able to adapt to different environments and in a way "survive the Brooklyn life style". If we a students can write more on personal topics then our interest in school may go up along with overall grades. 

Man..who needs Books when I got the Streets?!

"Hidden Intellectualism" by Gerald Staff has honestly been one of the most attention-grabbing piece of literature I have read in a while. The article begins by stating what we would say when we see someone whos intelligent about so many things do poorly in school just because he is "street smart".  We would assume its a waste of smarts or potential even though we dont seem to consider what exactly is going on that he cant perform well academically. Staff explains that schools and colleges overlook the potential of street smarts and because of that , its their fault for not expanding our intellectual horizons. He also offers his own experience as a case that will backup his points. I was able to relate to many of these experiences such as Staff trying to get approval from the "hoods" which were the working-class of the neighborhood.  He suggests that every student should read models of intellectually challenging writing. My favorite part of this piece is the last sentence where he states that he rather read a sharp argued issue of Source over a life-less explaination of Hamlet.

I took the time to read this article in the lunchroom once class ended because I knew I had many productive activities to do at home and I wasnt going to want to read it anywhere but school. ( non productive as well such as finish GTA ) . Once I started reading this article , I immediately thought of someone like this and he was sitting right next to me. My friend who I shall remain nameless has done his share bit of bad things in his life. He was previously in what our society would like to name as a " social club". He was a dropout in high school and recently had got his GED to return to school in the FALL.  Ive noticed that he has always been into technology and always talking to me about whats to come in our futures. I couldnt help but try to find a reason of why he has been failing school and yet he has so much potential and is clearly smart. After reading this article, I think about things different and dont blame him completely anymore. Thats not to say that its NONE of his fault since he has clearly made some bad choices in life. We need to take our nonacademic interests as objects of academic study. After rereading this article 2 times, I suggested it to him to read it and to tell me what he thinks about it. He claims to blame the school system for it all even though he knows that thats not true.

Hidden Intellectualism

In the article "Hidden Intellectualism" the author, Gerald Graff, talks about intellectualism and anti intellectualism, and whether  a person can become an intellectual from "street smarts" or "book smarts." The author gives examples of other writers and articles, and also supports the article with his own experience of being "unable to read with pleasure or comprehension and his alienation from  the intellectual ways of  talking that school and college rewarded,"  therefore he presented himself as a "typical child of the  anti intellectual fifties."

How I interact with the text. Well, usually I read at home and used to love reading in trains. However, this article I read outside. When reading at home I hardly can concentrate because it's either tv, phone, internet or my dog who steals my attention. So, I sometimes go to the library or to the parks (if it's not cold outside, of course), and as today is really warm I've done my reading out in the open air. The only distraction I had is the passing by people when I started, but in about half an hour I totally excluded myself from the surroundings and immersed in the reading.


Talk about hitting too close to home. After reading Hidden Intellectualism, I could not help but do some self-reflecting and re-evaluate the way I view certain subjects and topics of conversation. In the article the author, Gerald Graff basically breaks down street smarts vs. book smarts.  I could not help but think of that old saying I would hear a lot of older folks say regarding some over educated know-it-all “He’s so smart that he’s stupid”. One of the points made in the article was that real intellectuals can have a thought-provoking conversation about any subject no matter how lightweight it may seem, whereas a person without much substance will “drain the interest out of the richest subjects”.  I interpreted this to mean that a “dullard” as he called it is only capable of speaking on that which has been regurgitated over and over again. Which I can somewhat relate to because I’m kind of at a point where I’m tired of all the feminist-does hip-hop send the wrong message- sex sells-black men who only date white women-light-skin vs. dark –skinned debates…enough already.  Speaking of which…when I wrote my blog last Friday I did not think that there would be anything of substance to relate to how the four authors, Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan, Eric Camarillo and Stephen King would relate to each other regarding Dracula, because I initially felt that the subject of vampires was kind of trivial. However, as I began writing I began seeing parallels and different concepts. Instead of just wanting to reach 250+ words I ended up going over because I began seeing things in a different light; but even before that, just listening to the conversations in class regarding the reading made me realize that anything can be analyzed, debated, and intellectualized.   

Graff not only breaks down street smarts vs. book smarts but he challenges the school system as well.  Though I will not go into everything he wrote in detail because I am running on limited time (yes I am a slacker,) I think he says it best when he quotes college professor Ned Laff in which he states that the school systems responsibility “is not simply to exploit student’ nonacademic interest, but to get them to see those interest through academic eyes.”  For me that says it all because at the end of the day there is no greater education than the one that comes from the school of hard knocks.

Being that this article really appealed to me, I did not have to take notes. There was not anything that I found confusing and I read. I read the article straight through as I was sitting outside enjoying the ocean view.

"The Art of Immersion" for the "non-intellectual" fellas.

                   In Gerald Graff's Hidden Intellectualism, the idea of one being "only" intellectual through academics means is sillier than a clown getting smashed with a cake purposely (which i find it NOT funny at all).  This idea that existed even before Graff's teenage years is still going on, but at least not as gravely as the old times and why is that? because now many people that have realized this tragic matter and are getting into action.  For example what i mean is that i have noticed that many professors are using Graff's theory into their classrooms; immersing the students into their own personal interests and then "eventually get to On Liberty" (what a scam! how dare they lure us that way! Lol). 

                    In Graff's article he points out how difficult it was for him to "fit in" in with the hood in his teenage years (by the way did noticed how sad it is that people are STILL being separated because of social class) because he "looked" smart and was part of the middle class when little did they know that he himself thought he was not intellectual because he was into sports.  And little did HE know until he realized that he himself was engaging into an intellectual plateau with his arguing and analyzing about sports.  I mean think about it, no one likes to hang out with the ones who think they are better than you, but it doesn't stop there.  Through his "suffering" he noticed that he like many others "were not simply hostile toward intellectualism" but instead "divided and ambivalent".  By engaging oneself (student) in subject matters that interest us makes us think more, submerse ourselves more, be more openly thoughtful about the subject than the opposite when we frustrate ourselves because we HAVE to read something that we don't understand and to make matters worse, long.  I mean come on how many students don't i know that have passed philosophy classes with flying colors and don't apply it to the real world because they don't understand it, they just did what they were told to do.  Even many philosophers like the old old mentors we use now to learn from even said that there is not greater classroom than the real world.

                          So, in accordance to Graff's i can say too that being street smart doesn't mean one is "not smart" because he is not "intellectually and academic smart", its just that he or she haven't gotten their chance to show their skills. By using Graff's theory and polishing the gem through self motivation with personal interests, any teacher would get rich; not all diamonds are found perfectly cut and clear, they don't shine brightly when they are just found, as a matter of fact they are very ordinary.  They have to go through a process in order to become perfect and then go to the market.  So in other words, a street smart person is actually smarter because he already brings to the classroom tools that he learned from outside when others have to learn it in classroom.  The article reminded me of this example: "If in a job interview, who do you think would get hired? A person that has great experience in the field even though he doesn't have a degree or someone that just graduated with an amazing degree but has never put hands-down in the job?.

                 I somewhat felt a little of pressure when writing about the article because i didn't write about it with much time than what i could have.  Didn't have much distraction but because of the self pressure it was a little hard to hear my own thoughts but still tried to keep honestly as much as possible. Read it in one piece and took a few less notes than what i usually do in the margins. I felt the reading engaging because it was something that i talked about before.  Not many parts were confusing and when they were i re-read them again in a slightly loud voice and for the words i didn't understand, well i always have a dictionary next to me and write the meaning on the margins next to the words even though it pains me sometimes.  Didn't need to re-read this article, sometimes i need with others, other than all of this, i found the article to my liking; saw many greats examples that i've experienced and seen in the real world.

Street smarts vs. Book smarts, no competition

The article “Hidden Intellectualism” by Gerald Graff starts off by comparing street smarts to the more traditionally accepted book smarts. Street smarts seem to equate low intelligence, no schooling and delinquency. Graff then goes on to give a account of his experience with such things flipping the widly accepted view on it's head with the notion that society fails to accept the inherent smarts and intellectualism is various sports magazines and the like.

Since the bus was taking 4 days to come, I decided when it finally came I would love nothing more then to read my English 24 homework! Half of the article was read on the bus and the other half was read once I was home. I read it again this morning and took notes/ annotated a little this time so the reading would be fresh in my mind. I marked things that seemed especially interesting to me (like the fact the society of today and the 1950s almost pushes school aged people to be seem as “street smart” rather then book smart to fit it.), language I liked (“...'What you lookin' at smart ass?', as the leather-jacketed youth once said to me as he relieved me of my pocket change and my self-respect.”) and even words I didn't understand ( oneumanship, pedagogical.)To be honest, I don't normal read reading assignments over before writing my blogs, perhaps maybe a quick skim of certain parts or something but nothing more.

I really enjoyed this article because it gave me a vastly different perspective on street smarts versus book smarts and the inherent value of each. After all, it's that what a good piece of writing should do? Inform you, teach you and broden your horizons?   

Street Smart or Book Smart

     Gerald Graff has written an article called "Hidden Intellectualism" which talks about what people think about students who go to school, have a teacher teach them everything they need to know. Also about what people think if students are just naturally street smart and does real bad in school. No one has put the effort in to try and mix street smart and book smart together, which means the teachers would have to see what the kids are in to and relate it to what they are learning in the class. Graff's even explained a little of his life style behind it saying he was a  " teenage anti-intellect" up until college. All he liked to do was read and argue about magazines based on sports, that helped him learn how to start an argument. Graff's opinion about the article is that street smart is way better than book smart but they need to combine it together if they want students to learn better.

     I think that this article is great, I always have wondered the same thing. The teacher always know when you can or can not understand something but never knows how to get you to know it, which is pretty easy just use street terms and remarks. I think if we get more books or articles about what us kids, students, young adults think everyone would pass their classes and get what they want which is success.

    I read the book when i was on my way to work, on my lunch break, on my way home from work, all while listening to music also. I am a young man that have a busy schedule. I had to read it separately  because i get very bored just staying in one spot for a very long time, even a short period of time. I must be doing 2 things at once in order for me to understand more. If i am just reading the book, while i read i would just think about other things ii could be doing besides reading but if im already doing one thing then reading ii would not think about anything else. When Graff said " I have recently come to think, however, that my preference for sports over schoolwork was not anti-intellectualism so much as intellectualism by other means " sound like it means a lot and would help teachers use street life to help the students but i was confused by what it meant. So i had to read the paragraph over again, every time I stopped reading then want to continue again i start from begining of the passage or start from  the passage before. No i didn't take notes but when i think something is interesting i would repeat it in my head so I wouldn't forget it. Before i wrote this i had to read some parts of the article to remember what it was about, remember i was doing more than one thing at a time.

What vampire stands for?

Well, three interesting writing pieces come handy to try to explain vampire stories and the why? They are still in existence.

Why we crave horror movies by Stephe king brights the insight that every person is a little bit crazy in some way, the solely thing is that some people may be hid their craziness better than others. For instance, "We've all known people who talk to themselves." (King, 150) How many individuals have not done it. Sometime during a study session one finds talking to itself, how different is it from an  asylum patient whose mind visits mysterious places. Hence, one already has the little sparkle of craziness, one may use horror movies to dare the nightmare. To watch those movies is a way to demonstrate that one can overcome its fears, but it does not mean that one was not afraid in some scenes or that one did not have fun. The thing is "horror film intend to take away the shades of gray" that one has formed as one gets adult. (King, 151) Furthermore, those films help to release the brain from its adult format thus it can revisit its childhood imagination.

The vampire stands for the wishes that one has at certain points of its existence, says Camarillo in the article "Vampires and Why We love them." One thing may rich and poor desire equally that is immortality since death come to anybody. Yes, inability to die comes handy if one has with whom to overpass eternity. Consider the following, in the course of the Victorian period couples were supposed to marry once in their lives and cohabited until death. Here, life forever could be useful, otherwise not so much. Despite that vampires take the form of what one is most afraid of at the age when it is factored. Specially, books printed between social struggles. Shortly, vampires represent the heights and lows of the society.

Nobody knows where or when the term vampire appeared for the first time, mention del Toro and Hogan in the writing Why Vampires Never Die. But for sure it could make sense to assume that "vampire" existed in many cultures in diverse times. There is a hypothesis; "The vampire may originate from a repressed memory we had as primates."( del Toro and Hogan, 379) Once again vampire has the air of being part of past societies or alas their experiences. The vampire has the impression of offering something unique that strengths it to defeat other monsters. The promise to gift nocturnal life and eternal youth in exchanges of blood keeps the vampire within readers. Another factor that has maintained the vampires around is they are manufactured at the period when technology got its first picks into revolution. Today, one accesses to hundreds forms of data. One slowly is becoming afraid of technology as people did at the time "Dracula" unveiled its true self-being in London.

Eventhouhg one has read a vampire story over and over, one could find itself more intrigued to know if one can be a vampire someday. In occasions, while one is walking, its mind is far away visiting the land of vampires. Rose in the essay The Art of Immersion: Fear of Fiction suggests that one dives deep in the tale when one encounters the right ambience in which one had wished to dwell in. Nevertheless, one has the risk to lose contact with the authentic world where its body habits. Indeed, the above paragraphs come to consensus that vampires, divided in romantic and monster, provide the reader's unrealistic dreams. After all, vampires are unable to die, therefore, if one were a vampire, one could eat ice cream everyday and never get a stomach ache or better one could try out every daredevil game without fear to injure. Of course, not every vampire resembles happy moments since it is part of the society in which one dwells. Probably, all parents tell their kids do not neither speak nor get close to foreigners. One infers this from the chat between Count Dracula and Jonathan Harker in chapter one (Dracula). Dracula says that he wishes to practice English with Harker to lose the unenglish speaking accent, for he may know that people are afraid of outsiders. Then to announce that vampire vividly become what worry the society is not crazy talk, for if one has trouble with women who freely explore their sexuality, in fiction books they pay hard for freedom. Consequently, as society keeps some expectation like a snob life, gender roles, supernatural powers, prejudice against different individuals, and life forever, vampires and other fictional elements will stay around a society.    


Popular readings inside the academia

Hidden Intellectualism by Gerald Graff, some students are knowable in several cultural areas, though, they tend to fail in academic subjects. The trouble is textbooks whose content are not in the interest of every student, for they focus on narrow subjects that have passed generation after generation. Intelligence seems to be measured by memorizing historical events such the French revolution  and Plato, but current instances apparently do not reach the standards of intellectualism. It settles there because there have no been a connection between academics and popular culture. As a result, a smart one could make any piece of writing an embraceable topic of discussion, whilst a "dullard" may figure out the path to screw up any passionate topic. Then it is not enough to introduce the topic of student's interest, for some may take those subjects as an opportunity to expand their brains, yet  others may end up doing a poor job. It follows, then the challenge is to make those "nonacademic interest's" subjects to be understood through the scholar lenses, otherwise it will not work. In short, making those passions the object of study can pull back students' attention, and may or may not close to academia.

I read a particular piece of script by Graff, title Hidden Intellectualism, in my English class book, They say I say. Normally, I go through the writing until finding some picture. It often describes what is the text about, though, there is not drawn on this case. After staring at the pictures, I go ahead and read all at once or at least until someone or something interrupts me. I started the reading just after a put some coffee in the coffee maker when the alarm went off I stopped to take a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, I began to compare some school reading with the reading that I frequently do. Thus the content showed some sense of truth. Sitting back with the cup in one hand and in other the book, I prepared to continue looking through the sentences. It had transcurated several minutes since I passed by sentence after sentence. When door bass came, I went to see who was there it was my roommate whose keys forgot. I chatted with him for a minute or two and then each of us return to our respectable tasks. Going back to the same place, I quickly finished the last page.

Since the early reading was quick, I visited the pages again but this time I took extra attention in the sentence that stayed in my mind. For this type of sentences I used sticky notes where I annotated every part of the text that come across as significant for further study. Personally, I do not enjoy highlighting or writing on the pages. When I find a word that is new, I draw down and look it up to insight the reading better. While I type the summary, I make use of early notes but I also review part of the text where the notes come from. To sum up, the more I review the script, the more I relate some of the reading that I have done while riding the subway, and that I have not put enough efforts to see "through academic eyes."(Graff, 204)


Who Said You Wasn't Smart?

Since the age of 8, my step father and mother had me and my brother enrolled in many academic programs. From Kumon Education Program, Sylvan's Learning, and Princeton Review. It was embedded in the both of us that education is key. Neither of us had a problem with learning because we truly enjoyed it. We were the smartest kids in our schools. We probably could have been Valedictorian for our Class if we weren't "scholastically inactive" from time to time. For us, it was hard to relate to the "dumber" kids, not knowing that they were not dumb at all. Gerald Graff explains this in Hidden Intellectualism, how children who are not into the "books" are not exactly the kids heading for failure. Graff illustrates the opinion of society towards the youth inferring that if kids are out in the streets or playing games instead of doing word problems that they're not so clever. However, in many cases, this is false. It's not that children cannot read Tennessee Williams' Street Car Named Desire, but that they do not care about Blanche and her egoistical persona to go along with her undertone alcoholism. Graff believes that we shouldn't base students ability on the text but on how they interpret a piece of text (that being from a magazine or maybe even a tweet). Also, the idea of judging a student based on academic grades may alienate the student from those outside of the classroom walls, diminishing their success in lieu of enhancing it.

Before I tackled this piece, I first had to come home from work. I didn't get straight into the text but watched Teen Mom 3, relaxed then ate. Right after, I attacked the literature. I wanted to annotate but decided read into the text more while I answered tonight's blog. Although Paisley Harlem (my kitten) tried to distract me while I read, she caught the hint and laid down near my Laptop.

While I was reading the text, I tried to relate with the character that Graff was describing. I didn't take notes but when i came across words I wasn't familiar with, I used context clues to figure out the words purpose in the sentence if not figuring out the word altogether. One can say, I took mental notes while I was reading, like Graff's confliction with his school smarts and street smarts, or his point of view of the education system antics to get through to their students.

Who's the Dummy, Dummy?

       In the article "Hidden Intellectualism" Gerald Graff argued that a person can acquire intellect from subjects not taught in school. As evidence for his argument, he used his personal experiences. Graff referred to himself as the "typical teenage anti-intellect."Up until college, all he cared for were readings about sports. By debating sports with his friends and reading about it, he began to understand the basics of intellect. Without realizing it Graff learned how to create an argument, summarize others' views, and establish a counterargument. He also learned how to compose sophisticated sentences. In Graff's opinion, street smarts beat school smarts. He felt this way because the things outside of school interested students way more. And because of this interest students would be able to generate more conversations and analyze it on a deeper level. Graff goes on to give another advantage of having street knowledge which was that it created a sense of community. Unlike school conversations which were isolated, Street conversations such as sports could be talked about anywhere at any time to any one.
      Reading this was pretty difficult because of my lack of concentration. I started the battle of doing my homework in my room while was watching Futurama. Needless to say I didn't get much reading done because Futurama is such an awesome show. During the middle of the program i was forced to my brother's room in order to make room for my visiting cousins. I felt that this was a sign to do my homework. With books and Macalicious ,my laptop, in hand, I mentally prepared myself to actually get work done. As i entered my brother's room i could hear shooting and screaming coming from the speakers hooked up to his tv. He was playing Grand Theft Auto V. My attention was caught immediately and i watched in awe as he sped down the virtual streets of Los Santos. He eventually turned off the game but left the tv on to go to sleep. It was finally time to get started on my work. At least i thought it was until American Dad came on ( another awesome show). After the show ended i turned off the tv, turned on the Beethoven station on Pandora, and started doing serious reading. I had to keep rereading paragraphs because my mind would wander in mid sentence. I didn't take notes because i left my post-its in my room and the journey upstairs wasn't really worth it at the time. My laziness resulted in me having to reread the article over and over when i attempted to summarize. There were a couple of sentences i didn't understand because i didn't know what certain words meant. But that was no problem because i have a phone that can tell me what any word means. Thank you Siri. Only thing about using my phone for work is it distracts me too. Before searching for the definitions, i had to text people, go on instagram, take a couple of pictures, and read the Daily News.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Thank god for Dracula

          In the article Hidden Intellectualism by Gerald Graff, Graff explains to us the intellectual potentials of being "street smart" and "book smart".  He writes how one is so different from the other and how a lot more kids would be book smart if schools taught us about things we want to learn about and interested in, like cars,sports or fashion.  Graff was only an adolescent when he became an intellectual, not by books, but by the thing he loved the most, sports.  The only reading he became interested in was about sports, football basketball, baseball.  In his later years he still was hooked on Sports Illustrated and all sorts of magazines.   Reading those boring books in class was just not his thing.  "If a student cannot get interested in Mills On Liberty but will read Sports Illustrated or Vogue or the hip-hop magazine, this is a strong argument for assigning the magazines over classics".  Graff is saying how a persons interest strives them to be a better reader, or writer.  I think anyone would pick a magazine over some 400 page boring novel, I know I would.

          I was reading this while laying down in my bed.  After a long day at school the last thing I want to be doing is reading but I muted my TV and began.  At first I was a little confused as to what Graff was trying to say but then by the second page I was actually pretty interested and totally agreed with him so I wanted to hear more.  I underlined some main points that I thought were important and used those as a guise to write this blog post, if I didn't I would have had to read the whole thing over again because I would of forgot! I can actually really relate to what Graff is trying to say and thank god Dracula is interesting because then I would probably do really poorly on my blogs and essays because it's really hard for me to read and them explain something that I do not get or have any interest in knowing about.

Intellectual Equality for ALL!

Everything and everyone has value is the message delivered by Gerald Graff in “Hidden Intellectualism”. Graff asks us to assess the hidden and potentially destructive implications of what and whom we call “intellectual” and how our current definition indirectly impacts our educational system. Any discipline that requires “street smarts” or falls into the realm of “cars, dating, fashion, sports, TV and video games, (Graff 381) has been excluded from the definition of intellectual and consequently not taught in a school setting.
The problem with this narrow definition, according to Graff, is that it shuts out entire groups who have worth and value from the educational system. Using his own childhood experiences as an illustration, Graff claims that children interested in sports or other "non-intellectual" subjects
may find traditional school work dull and perform poorly as a result of their disinterest in what they are studying. Graff believes the unfortunate outcome of this scenario is that kids like him begin to perceive themselves as intellectually dense because the subject matter studied appears to have little personal value in their day to day life.
dunce-cap (1)Broadening the definition of intellectual, Graff argues, would reverse this trend by allowing groups wrongly labeled as underachievers to display their intellectual talents in areas where they have a natural affinity. Graff ultimately proclaims the purpose of the educational system should not be to make some people feel smarter than or intellectually superior to their peers. The goal should be to make the principle academic tools used universally by intellectuals easily accessible to everyone and applicable to every subject.

Now, since there is no easy way to transition into how I read the article assigned, I will just start writing about it. Since my schedule today was hectic, I did my reading in my personal library or what you might call the subway. I do a lot of my reading while riding the train simply because it is the one place where I am 100% focused on what is in front of me. I have no choice. It is the only way to distract myself from the winos, rats and other not so chic ambience that gives NYC transit it’s one of a kind charm. Even if others stare, I freely underline passages I find interesting and write notes in the margins because that is the best way I know to digest and understand what I am reading. (If it’s on my e-reader, I create an e-note). My method of reading works well enough that I usually do not need to re-read the text to create a summary, expect for pulling exact quotes that I want to include. That is basically it…oh wait a minute! I think I missed my stop!



Dummies Guide to Becoming an Intellectual

        “Hidden Intellectualism” written by Gerald Graff is an in depth look at intellectualism in “street” and academic environments. The essay starts off with Graff explaining how his adolescence molded him into becoming an intellectual, not by academic means, but by focusing on subjects of his interest. Which he believes is the way to help students become intellectuals themselves. Graff grew up caring only about sports. The only reading he would do was Sports Illustrated and Sport magazine. He realized after time all his life he was in training to becoming an intellectual through sports: how to make an argument, weighing evidence, summarizing views of others, and conversing about ideas. The point of his essay is that in order to become an intellectual, you must first start out with the things of your interests. College professor Ned Laff explains “it is not simply to exploit students nonacademic interests, but to get them to see those interests through academic eyes.” Which Graff then explains means to think and write about cars, sports, fashion in a reflective and analytical way. He ends off stating schools and colleges are missing out on an opportunity. That the only way to get a student interested is to have them do work on their own interests, then they will eventually get on to the academic work.

        I read this piece while lounging on my bed. I’m not going to lie I was very distracted while reading this. My dog was barking in the background, my brother was storming out of the house to catch the ice cream man (he’s 17 too), and the women in my family were all gathered downstairs getting their hair done and they were loud! And to top it all off my phone kept beeping. I had to reread many parts of this article many times to finally get it. It wasn't very difficult a few parts had me confused and a few words as well. I was inspired by our discussion in class today and busted out my cute new post-its that are in the shape of lips, and I was taking notes. I wrote down the words I didn't know and looked them up and I wrote down some key points to make it easier in writing my summary. I still had to skim through the essay to write up my summary though. But it was much easier with my notes reminding me exactly what i wanted to include.

Hidden Intellectualism

Hidden Intellectualism was written by Gerald Graff. Graff starts off by stating his opinion on whether being “street smart” as opposed to “book smart” is not necessarily a bad thing. In further reading, he goes on to describe why he feels this way. When he entered college, he wasn’t much of a reader. But when he did choose to read it was something sports related, most times a sports magazine. To most educators, reading magazines isn’t where they believe a student will learn. However, if you look at the flip side of things, we have to consider that regardless if it is a magazine or a book, the student is still reading and using other tools to gain knowledge. The author states, “Give me the student anytime who writes a sharply argued, sociologically acute analysis of an issue in Source over the student who writes a lifeless explication of Hamlet or Socrates’ Apology.”  This quote simply explains that students can thrive in becoming better writers and better critical thinkers if only they were reading something that is of more interest to them and something that they can apply to everyday life. I think every student reading this right now can relate. For example, Dracula is a much better read then most of the other nonsense English professors require.

While reading this article, I was sitting on my couch watching TV. I was in the middle of texting a friend as well. I was very distracted but also interested so I turned the TV off and put my phone on silent facing down.  The text was an easy read, I did have to reread a few parts just to grasp what exactly Graff was saying and the point he was trying to make. I highlighted a few things, such as the quote I used to summarize some of the article. Highlighting key points and interesting opinions that Graff shared made it a lot easier to summarize because normally I’d forget and have to reread the whole thing!

Reading Closely

I've asked you to read Gerald Graff's "Hidden Intellectualism" in They Say / I Say tonight before giving you the blog prompt because I want you to read the article before knowing how to respond to it. So if you still haven't read Graff's piece, take a few moments to do so now, before clicking on "Read More" below.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

To wish live in wonderland

The art of immersion by Frank Rose, Avatar immerses the audience into the magical world of Pandora, but it was not the first time that advance technology had dragged watchers to hallucinate. Ages earlier, Miguel de Cervantes brought the story of a man who entered an imaginary world because he had read too many adventure books. In addition, Murray in her book Hamlet on the Holodeck reported that modern medium has the capacity to lift the conveying narrative capacity, which could become hostile. Bradbury printed Fahrenheit  451 in which he wrote that TV overlapped books, and that watchers started to believe that books no longer inform and perhaps TV was the real environment which they trusted. Way before TV something similar happened in soundtrack movies, people immersed in the belief the sounded images were more real than the real world. As societies like England developed in technology and industry, paper and new forms of print became available for book writers who flooded society with fantaciouly stories. Every generation gets birth a new immersive medium. Today, internet blow up the mind of users in ways that books and TV could not do. Since technology is a finger print, authenticity gets small and small. But how to blame technology for it if the world has had identity problems always, rather technology provides what seems that one wish for.

Rose ended his writing saying, "We do not want ""authenticity"" what we really want is to go back Pandora." Why? One would want to wake up from magnificent images of a book or film if it is much easier to leave behind the authentic world, and perhaps enter to form part of the story's character. The world itself is a storybook in which one immerses and cannot stop dreaming. For instance, Indigenous in Ecuador have stopped wearing seed necklaces since oriental fashion started broadcasting on TV. A culture that for centuries kept its originality dived into the new era, but how to blame them for wishing to look just like one of the models. Now, they wear shiny necklaces made of silver and dress as the models do  on TV. They probably did not know that they wanted to flee the real world to form part of a dreamy ecosystem. Many readers could easily dream to replace Harker ( in Dracula) when he encounters three beautiful women who apparently want something sexusal with him. "I lay quiet, looking out from under my eyelashes in agony of delightful anticipation," says Harker (Stoker, 228). One can relate to Harker because deep inside one wish that it happens to one. If one finds the thing that helps one to feel well with oneself, why? One would want to leave it. In the end, everybody looks to immerse in something that reliefs one's anxiety.