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Saturday, April 30, 2011

You Just Got Goth Served and Gothic Monstrosity

Hello everyone!

I will be posting two entries today (one later) as I have a lot of catching up to do with so much going on lately. The two finals I had to write for philosophy and English 295 are very similar. I'm going to post them for you all to read (as well as the South Park video I use), although Rob runs the papers through Turn It In to make sure we didn't plagarize, so I am curious to know whether my blog would how up (Hi Rob! If Turn It In did direct you to my blog, welcome! I hope you read some more of my entries. =] ). Anyway, enjoy the read!

(The whole episode: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e14-raisins)



You Just Got Goth Served

Jessica Marie


“The only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt something really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I'm feeling is like a beautiful sadness.” -Butters

            Breaking up is hard to do and that feeling is universal. Usually in this confusing, painful, heartbreaking time people become creative and evoke their muses with pen and paper. In the South Park episode of “Raisins,” Stan goes through this confusing, painful time when Wendy breaks his nine-year-old heart. As Stan’s world is thrown into utter darkness, no one understands his pain besides the Goths. Stan becomes Goth and begins to write poetry to contemplate his feelings. According to the expression theory of aesthetics, the artist displays their emotional state from an “inward perspective” that becomes “less preoccupied with capturing manners of society and more focused on how they feel” (Carroll 59). The end result of the expressional aesthetic is that poetry, paintings and photography are captured from the inside and have a “charged” effect on others. When Stan wrote, “I miss you so much babe, I want to hold you in my arms” and the Goths tell him, “you can’t write about that!” The Goths are wrong: poetry and other art forms don’t have to be dark or depressing to be “good art,” but can express any emotion—sincere emotion—to be considered art.
            In “Raisins,” the viewers are presented by two problems: Wendy broke up with Stan and in his heartbreak he becomes Goth; and Butters becomes obsessed with the Raisins waitress, learns that “some girls only like you for your money” and is heartbroken in the end. Both problems lead to one theme, aesthetics, as both boys learn how to express their feelings. In theory, there are two forms of aesthetics and they are representational and expressional. Representational aesthetics is imitational art and as Aristotle’s analogy goes, that representational art is akin to holding a mirror up to nature (Carroll 59). Unlike Plato who thought poetry was evil because it was synonymous with excitement, Aristotle believed art should be cathartic. Expressionists think that representational art is akin to a scientist researching for a lab report because there is no reflection. In expressional aesthetics, on the other hand, is an inner look at oneself and their world. Expressional aesthetics, according to Wordsworth, is “the spontaneous overflow of overpowering feelings.” It is in the expressional aesthetics that the viewers see Stan thrown into with grappling feelings of his angst and is presented with conflicting desires; on one hand should he express his heartbreak and everything he feels inside of himself (expression aesthetics) or copying the Goths’ dark, nonconformist or outsider ideas  (representational aesthetics). 
            After Wendy breaks up with Stan, Stan spends a period lying in bed and listening to depressing progressive rock and in Kyle’s, Cartman’s, and Butter’s worriment, they take him to Raisins to meet new girls. Of course Stan didn’t want to go and I don’t blame him because the healing process takes a while and rebounding is not a good way to get over someone. Anyway, before I digress, Kyle, Cartman, Butters and the rest of the guys that drag Stan to Raisins, failed to fully recognize Stan’s internal feelings. To an expressional or Romantic (as they were called in the nineteenth century), this is unacceptable and would tell Stan to express everything he is feeling inside and put it into some art form.
When the Romantic Movement came to the forefront in the early nineteenth century, the world was then presented “from an emotionally saturated point of view, where the emotional perspectives of the individual poet are more important than what gave rise to it” (Carroll 60). We still are technically living in the Romantic period and it would seem that the Goths would embrace more expression than death, darkness and the sublime. For a Romantic poet, the artist was not devoted to an imitation of the outside world, but the internal subjective world. Although the following example is not from the “Raisins” episode, in “The Ungroundables” the Goths attack the Vampire Freaks because of their supposed imitation of their style. If the Goths were true expressionalists and “nonconforming pigs” then they wouldn’t have cared that these Vampire Freaks were shopping at Hot Topic and “stealing their style.” They would just go about their daily lives and examine their internal feelings, not external. This further proves that when the Goth girl and the Goth guys told Stan that he should not write, “I miss you babe, you ruined my world,” they were wrong and trying to suppress Stan’s feelings much like his own friends.
Leo Tolstoy likes to think of art as communication because man is capable of feeling from what is transmitted from another person’s expression. In a simple example, one man laughs and another who hears becomes merry; or a man weeps, and another who hears feels sorrow (Tolstoy 547). Of course with such a theory, Tolstoy thinks of it more in terms of human life and not so much in terms of pleasure. Kyle, Cartman and the Goths were preventing Stan from his expression and no wonder when Kyle suggests he join the Goths if he’s going to be depressive why Stan continued to feel depressed; it is depressing to be always surrounded by talks of darkness and not always being able to express your feelings or given a chance to search within yourself. The day after I had a dream about being a counselor to Stan and giving him a chance to express how he really felt (which was interesting because he realized he didn’t need Wendy anymore and he had other people in his life that loved him, which totally goes against what the Goths said), I found a poem on Writing.com that reminded me of what Stan was surrounded by with the Goths.

I am a b—and b— in the midst of subjugated war.
I have from my very beginnings battled each word—
Its sound, its rhythm, and its subjective meanings.
I have done irreparable damage and yet made hearts soar.
And yet I’ve got nothing, nothing worthy now to say.
I could write for days without sleep the true nature of demons.
But I don’t because it is dangerous. [1]

Although I hated this piece and rated it terribly because I didn’t really think it was expressing much of anything besides a pre-teen rant, to Tolstoy this would still be art. To Tolstoy, what the Goths were expressing would still be art. It was once written that “the feelings which the artist infects others may be most various—very strong or very weak, very important or very insignificant, very bad or very good, the feelings that are evoked…it is all art” (Tolstoy 548).
            Although Tolstoy said as long as the artist evokes feeling it is art, later he contradicts himself it seems when he says there are counterfeit arts. If anyone can evoke feeling, it doesn’t make sense that there would be counterfeiters. Yet, to Tolstoy if man doesn’t “exercis[e] effort and without altering his standpoint on reading, hearing, or seeing another man’s work, experiences a mental condition which unites him with that man and with other people who also partake of that work of art, then the object evoking that condition is a work of art.” But, if the work seems “poetical[ly], realistic[ally], effectual[ly] or interesting[ly]” and doesn’t “evoke” that feeling, then it can’t be a work of art (Tolstoy 549). However, Carroll claims that greeting cards can never be a piece of art because “they are generic emotions and that’s why they’re sold on a large scale” (62). Even if the poet does feel sad writing a condolence card or happy when writing a wedding, birthday and or birth announcement card, they can’t be called artists because their poems are too general. I don’t really agree with this because I think handmade cards written just for the receiver can be a work of art. It seems like on this issue Tolstoy and Carroll are taking the Goth’s standpoint of the greeting card artists “conforming” to a feeling that isn’t vague enough.[2]
            Yet again there is another stance of Tolstoy’s and Carroll’s theories that mesh with the Goth kids. Although Tolstoy doesn’t mention this problem directly in his What Is Art piece, it can ultimately lead to Tolstoy being against it. Poems that are inaccessible whether by language barriers or authors (like Dickinson and Kafka) wanted their work destroyed. Although many are unpersuaded by this argument (I am one of them), Carroll states that if “someone makes something that is truly incomprehensible to everyone else, it is extremely unlikely that we would regard it as artwork” (68) thus there is no communication. Carroll gives the example of someone who burns their work because they didn’t want it read. As an example, I think of one of my favorite songs that go:
erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn
kann man uns am Himmel sehn
wir haben Angst und sind allein
Gott weiss ich will kein Engel sein
Sie leben hinterm Horizont
getrennt von uns unendlich weit
sie müssen sich an Sterne krallen (ganz fest)
damit sie nicht vom Himmel fallen [3]

Although many people speak German (I am one), if one does not know the language and is too lazy to look at translations or get annoyed by trying to translate, then they would not want to listen to this type of music. In the same vain, if someone read this quote that was incorporated into a movie, they most likely wouldn’t think of it as art although the man who made the film though in his schizophrenic delusions that it was indeed art:

If the living space is able to maintain the crew’s life at a temperature of –45 degrees Fahrenheit, then the human body is alive in the NASA Space Shuttle. The human body isn’t alive in the NASA Space Shuttle, Thus, the living space isn’t able to main the crew’s life at a temperature of –45 degrees Fahrenheit.[4]

Yep, when I first read this and I’m sure your response was, “What? What is this person talking about? Such “psychobabble” could never be considered art, instead it a guarantee ticket to the insane asylum.
            At the end of “Raisins,” Butter tells Stan, “I love life...Yeah, I'm sad, but at the same time, I'm really happy that something could make me feel that sad. It's like...It makes me feel alive, you know. It makes me feel human. The only way I could feel this sad now is if I felt something really good before. So I have to take the bad with the good. So I guess what I'm feeling is like a beautiful sadness.” I really like Butter’s remark because ultimately that is what the expressional theory of art is: the incorporation of both the good and bad in life, the yin and the yang. Without the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, art would be dreary and depressing like the Goths portrayed. Think of Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky whom were music staples in the early Romantic period. Their music and work is regarded by most to be powerful and present great outbursts of feeling—not sad feelings, but sad (Fur Elise), happy (Ode to Joy, the Lullaby, Tea Cup Dance), angry (Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony) and a plethora of other feelings. We can still see this today as painters and poets try to get in touch with his or her feelings via the art movements of the twentieth century.
As I conclude this essay, from viewing the “Raisins” episode, I find art not in the terms of “good” or “bad,” but how they express feelings and social issues. I believe, almost like Aristotle, that we need catharses to make us human. However, I don’t believe it needs to be depressing like what the Goths wanted in “Raisins,” but aesthetics need to be what Butter’s told Stan about because the variety of emotion gives us a taste of what is human and human is a whole range of emotion. Without the range of emotion, you don’t get “conformists,” no, you would get a whole society of depressing, coffee drinking, self-centered people that would not progress society like many art movements have.


WORK CITED

Carroll, Noël. Philosophy of Art. Abingdon: Routledge, 1999.
Rammstein. “Engel.” Sehnsucht. Malta: Temple Studios, 1997.
Swift, C. A nasty letter to my muse. April 22, 2011. <http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1769994-A-nasty-letter-to-my-muse> Accessed April 23, 2011.
Tolstoy, Leo. “What Is Art?” A Journey Through the Landscape of Philosophy, edited by Jack Bowen. Pearson Education, Inc., 2008.

           



[1] This is a poem I reviewed the other week on Writing.com. It begins with “I am tired and I am weary of this self-induced cataclysmic microscopic mind f*** / I don’t know who, what, or where you are / Yet I stubbornly search, for without you in this cryptic cluster of desolation/ I am truly nothing. I need you.”  I personally didn’t care for this prose poem and thought of the Goth kids immediately.
C. Swift. A nasty letter to my muse. April 22, 2011. < http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1769994-A-nasty-letter-to-my-muse> Accessed April 23, 2011.
[2] Carroll explains and any artist can agree or disagree that normally a poem, song or painting will begin with a vague feeling. When the artist is done, his or her internal feelings will be brought to the outside world for us to interpret—internal becomes external and will effect our emotions if it’s a “good” piece of art. Thus, with the Romantics and expressionalists , the world was then presented from an emotionally saturated point of view, where the emotional perspectives of the individual poet are more important than what gave rise to it, which gave way to new look at art.
[3] First if the clouds have gone to sleep/ you can see us in the sky/ we are afraid and alone/ God knows I don't want to be an angel/ They live behind the sunshine/ separated from us, infinite expanse/ they must cling to the stars (very tightly)/ so they won't fall from the sky. “Engel” by Rammstein.
[4] Written by Jared Lee Loughner in one of his many videos about the “government mind control experiments.” Sadly, no one viewed these videos before the deadly shooting in January, but they were on YouTube since last October.

Now, the English final

Modern Gothic Monstrosity


            Robert Hume once wrote, “in the twentieth century most writers have accepted human limitations and uncertainty more easily than those writers of earlier centuries who believed that man is intrinsically a great and noble being” (Hume 6). However, the gothic today isn’t all about castles, ghosts, or the supernatural, but that of future shock and the ethics of cloning; whether robotics could have souls or if we should reap body parts for other beings rather than being evil “for evil is explained away sociologically today” (Hume 6). The gothic style of monstrosity that we can see in many media outlets like Lady Gaga’s music videos in the West, gothic music and subculture in Germany, and popular films such as Repo! The Genetic Rock Opera can all be traced back to Mary Shelley’s vision of “recreating” life in the nineteenth-century, yet sadly we see this as more of a reality than a fantastic nightmare like in Shelley’s day.
            When Mary Shelley authored Frankenstein in 1820, it was the height of the Romantic Movement. When the Romantic Movement came to the forefront in the early nineteenth century, the world was then presented “from an emotionally saturated point of view, where the emotional perspectives of the individual poet are more important than what gave rise to it” (Carroll 60). For a Romantic poet, the artist was not devoted to an imitation of the outside world, but the internal subjective world. The Romantic writer alike went beyond Aristotle’s philosophy of holding a mirror up to nature, but did embrace that art should be cathartic. Although Gothic art is a different genre because of the incorporation of the macabre and sublime, gothic and romantic writing are closely related chronologically and share some themes and characteristics, like psychological concern with interior mental processes.
In 1994, Kenneth Branagh remade Frankenstein and put what it seemed to be a modern twist to the movie. In Shelley’s Frankenstein, Elizabeth is the traditional feminist role—she waits for Victor and instead of visiting Victor in Ingolstadt like she does in Branagh’s movie. Also, Zakharieva points out that Branagh chooses to focus on corporality when Branagh chooses to have Victor be more aware of the body with the paradigms and charts that lie around his apartment. Branagh, according to Zakharieva, “juxtaposes to the old versions and the novel itself, Branagh’s film presents two scenes of birth. The first scene is of natural birth—Frankenstein’s brother is born and that causes his mother’s death,” (Zakharieva 421) where in the novel his mother dies of scarlet fever taking care of Elizabeth. Elizabeth in the novel has a “dual function” for it “completes the characterization of the mother as a charitable nurturer,” which sets up the Freudian framework that “foreshadows the substitution of the mother for the bride” (Zakharieva 421). The irony in which the mother dies from a disease contracted by the bride introduces the oedipal motif (especially in the dream where he sees himself kissing Elizabeth, but holding his mother). This motif, at least I didn’t notice it, isn’t found in Branagh’s movie. Instead Branagh chooses to show a scene of natural birth and does so in a naturalistic way. Zakharieva states that the episode is “on the edge between the representation of birth and death.” She argues that this needed because the scene is “functionally both because while giving birth to her child, the mother dies. The predominant colours in the episode are red (blood) and white (death)” (Zakharieva 421). These are smeared over everyone to show the corporality of lives of the Frankensteins.
However, in both Elizabeth is the virgin that gets murdered at the end. Both show her heart beating and throbbing in the creature’s hand. Why is that significant? Zakharieva explains this imagery in both places show that women are trapped by the cruelty of men and the “violation of the female body make the most engaging spectacle” (Zakharieva 428). In the movie, though, Branagh has Victor recreate Elizabeth with parts of Elizabeth and Justine because Zakharieva argues both love Victor and are “exemplary in their feminine devotion and submissiveness” (Zakharieva 429). Elizabeth commits suicide at the end of the film after falling in love with both the creature and she creates the ultimate act of “retribution for female desire” (Zakharieva 429).
Double Bracket: Mother Monster giving birth to her “Little Monsters.”I draw comparisons of Branaugh’s film to Lady Gaga’s video “Born this Way.” At the beginning of the video, Mother Monster (as Lady Gaga calls herself) gives birth to her “Little Monsters” (which during her last album, she called the fans by that name). The birthing scene reminded me of Branagh’s capturing of Mrs. Frankenstein giving birth and all the blood. However, when the placenta is expelled through Mother Monster’s body and the baby looks monstrous, I was reminded of when Frankenstein “gave birth to” his monster. Then the video progresses to another “evil” entity that gives birth to another monster that kills everyone. Since this video is only two months old, not much analysis is out, but to me it almost seems like Mother Monster neglected one of her children, then that child gives birth to a monster much like what Victor did.
“You guys are over the cliff. I especially liked the “onto the coffins and the dead rising.” Her new show starts with her “hatching” out of an “egg,” the birth of a new GaGa. People like you justify psychiatrists,” protests on a site dedicated to the occult meanings of Gaga’s older videos.  In the “Bad Romance” video, The Vigilant Citizen (VC) writes that at the beginning of “Bad Romance,” Gaga is deprived of her senses because either her eyes, ears and nose are covered. The site analyzes that this sensory depravation is a torture technique that is used on prisoners or mind controlled slaves in order to “break” them in order to re-educate them (6). Gaga’s character is compared to the Who’s Tommy who is dumb, deaf and blind until he looks at a mirror. However, unlike Tommy, Gaga strategically places her hands under the horned Baphomet heads.
Double Bracket: Lady Gaga strategically places her hands under the horned Baphomet heads, which is symbolic of her selling her soul to the dark side of monstrosity.VC argues that Gaga’s position references her “offering herself” at the altar of Baphomet in order to become initiated and accepted into the Order. She doesn’t want “to be friends” with the music industry, hence why she’s called “The Fame Monster” (9). In the video, we see Gaga is being bid on by Russian men, indicating she is a sex slave. Gaga brings the Russian guy to the room with Baphomet, but instead of sex he gets burned alive as an offering. “When the fire starts, another scene plays simultaneously showing Gaga and masked dancers dressed in red, the colour of sacrifice and initiation. The virginal white garments she wore during most of the video are replaced by a bloody red” (10); thus he was only a means for what Gaga wanted and that was fame, not love or lust. This is similar to Elizabeth and Victor before they consummated their marriage, but the monster is jealous and kills who is most precious to Victor—symbolizing the symbiosis between innocence and pure evil. Of course Victor doesn’t get his bride  only leading to curse his creation and how out of control it is.
Double Brace: Lady Gaga’s Luciferian Robe that suggests she is unsatisfied with God and is now a priestess.“Alejandro” also caught quite the stir for being racy and blasphemous. Taking place in a cold, Orwellian, militaristic setting, the concepts behind the video are “good vs. evil, male vs. female and domination vs. submission.” Of course there are religious symbolisms that also add to the shock value. “Alejandro” starts with a funeral procession and Gaga wears a black veil and holds the Sacred Heart or the bleeding heart of God for humanity. At first people think this Alejandro guy is a lost love, but VC believes Alejandro is something deeper—religion. This theory would be supported with Gaga donning a nun outfit and looking up at the sky saying, “Stop, please, just let me go.” Then she says as she reaches up into the sky, “Alejandro!” suggesting that Alejandro is indeed God. Yet, according to VC, God doesn’t seem to please Gaga’s spiritual tastes and becomes almost a Luciferian priest because her next robe has inverted crosses all over it leading to the connotation of black magic.
But, “Alejandro” isn’t only about religion, no, there is police state imagery and sexualization involved as well. VC sets up that “Gaga’s spiritual transformation is taking place in a dark, oppressive and militaristic backdrop because the public is currently being bombarded with militaristic and oppressive imagery, intertwined with sexuality in order to desensitize the public” (8). Thus, her gun bra symbolizes the agenda of sexualization of oppressing imagery (and the militaristic guys in the background are like marionettes of mind controlled slaves).
Double Brace: Above: Grave Robber getting the Zydrate gun ready for surgeries.
Below: Amber Sweet (Paris Hilton) had too many surgeries and her face is falling off.The movie Repo! The Genetic Rock Opera has similar themes to what Lady Gaga portrays. Taking place in the twenty-second century, we are presented with an image of a society that is essentially relies on Gene Co. to provide them with new organs to keep them looking young. Paris Hilton actually stars in this movie as Amber Sweet, a daughter of the owner of Gene Co., and has many surgeries. The song that summarizes this whole movie is when the Grave Robber and Hilton’s character goes back and forth:

Grave Robber:

I can’t feel nothing at all

Drug market, sub market
Sometimes I wonder I wonder why I ever got in
Blood market, love market
Sometimes I wonder why they need me at all
Zydrate comes in a little glass vial
And the little glass vial goes into the gun like a battery
And the zydrate gun goes somewhere against your anatomy
And when the gun goes off and sparks, you’re ready for sugery

Amber Sweet (Paris):

Grave robber, grave robber, sometimes I wonder I even bother

Grave robber, grave robber, sometimes I wonder when I need you at all


Grave Robber:
Amber Sweet is addicted to the knife
And addicted to the knife, she needs help with the agony
And the help comes in a little vial in a gun against her anatomy.

Amber Sweet:
I can’t feel nothing at all…
Of course at the end we’re presented with a problem, Blind Mag defaults on her payments to Gene Co of performing for them to pay for her surgery (to be able to see). Of course when someone doesn’t pay, repo man comes and she will pay for that surgery for her life (which when the repo man is shown, it’s very gruesome and hangs up the bodies to torture almost like meat hanging at the butcher shop). At the end, Mag commits suicide by poking her eyes out, then stabbing herself to death and the rest of the Pavrotti (Gene Co owner) family die (Amber’s face falls off from too many surgeries).
Double Bracket: Blind Mag (Sarah Brightman)            This movie was considered a B movie and wasn’t released to a wide audience. It seems like with Gaga’s videos and movies that are similar to Repo! The Genetic Rock Opera that my generation is quite unhappy. In Germany with the gothic subculture, they wonder the same thing, especially after reunification. In an article titled The German Gothic Subculture by Gabriele Eckart, the Goths in Germany are like the American, British and French Goths by dressing in black, painting their faces white and accessorizing in upside-down crosses, grave lamps, spiders, skulls and bats “symbolize their pain and protest against the hopelessness and lack of alternatives in Western culture” and a fascination with death (Eckart 547).
            Jerrold E. Hogle noticed that there has been an appearance of Gothic themes in the past two centuries in Germany. Well, it would make sense as Germany is filled with medieval landmarks perfect for the gothic and Hogle points out the Anglo-Saxon literature that capitalize on the themes. Of course, bands express gothic preoccupations in their own lyrics and some set their music to the texts of other German writers. Fans call this “sehnsucht” or longing. In fact, Rammstein has a CD by that name and the songs on that album present that longing of darkness and death. For example in the song “Engle”:
erst wenn die Wolken schlafengehn
kann man uns am Himmel sehn
wir haben Angst und sind allein
Gott weiss ich will kein Engel sein
Sie leben hinterm Horizont
getrennt von uns unendlich weit
sie müssen sich an Sterne krallen (ganz fest)
damit sie nicht vom Himmel fallen [1]

Eckart believes that the songs of most gothic bands in Germany, the music has perfect symbiosis with the illusory and the overpowering of music. Of course, most are just anxious about the future and scientific demands, which Charles Alteri states in his article about the avante-gard is how the gothic and romantic movements started.
            Maybe Mary Shelley was onto something about future shock when she wrote Frankenstein in 1820 because since then our technological advances speed up leading people to stress out more and feel anxious. Maybe instead of worrying about the Goths, we should look at our lives in the twenty-first century and realize we are being bombarded by future shock. 









WORK CITED

Altieri, Charles. "Avant-Garde or Arriere-Garde in Recent American Poetry." Poetics Today (1999): 629-53.
Carroll, Noël. Philosophy of Art. Abingdon: Routledge, 1999.
Eckhart, Gabrielle. "The German Gothic Subculture." German Studies Review (2005): 547-62.

Hume, Robert. "Gothic versus Romantic: A Revaluation of the Gothic Novel." PMLA (1969): 282-90.
Rammstein. “Engel.” Sehnsucht. Malta: Temple Studios, 1997.

Zakharieva, Bouriana. “Frankenstein of the Nineties: The Composite Body” in Frankenstein. Boston: Bedford Books, 2000. pgs. 416-431.

"Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance – The Occult Meaning." The Vigilant Citizen. 15 Nov. 2009. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. .

"Lady Gaga’s  Alejandro – The Occult Meaning." The Vigilant Citizen. 15 Nov. 2009. Web. 5 Apr. 2011. .



[1] First if the clouds have gone to sleep/ you can see us in the sky/ we are afraid and alone/ God knows I don't want to be an angel/ They live behind the sunshine/ separated from us, infinite expanse/ they must cling to the stars (very tightly)/ so they won't fall from the sky. “Engel” by Rammstein.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Scrapbooking Philosophy

Sorry I haven't been updating, between school work and the heat, I haven't been in the mood to sit in front of a computer. I also now have a 2nd job at WCU with the help desk! Woohoo!

I am going to share with you my revised scrapbooking philosophy that Rob is going to look at for me. :)


The Aesthetic Tradition: The Philosophy and History of Beauty (For My Website)
Jessica Marie

            Aesthetics is defined as the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty. In a broader sense, scholars define aesthetics as a critical reflection on art, culture and nature. Yet, when I read all the books on art, I never find anything relating to the art of scrapbooking. Maybe because it doesn’t have the depths, the contours and beauty as Fine Art does, but I disagree; scrapbooking is a personal art with emphasis on the personal and beauty on the familial level. Scrapbooking is an art that has saved my life.
            I remember the first time I scrapbooked; it was February 2006 and I signed up for a class at the place I would dedicate my waking weekend hours to shopping, participating in demonstrations and other events—Michael craft store. It was at this time that I was on a suicide watch at school and I decided that maybe scrapbooking would be a good outlet, as the counselors and relatives were trying to get me involved in something so I wouldn’t feel, well there’s no way getting around this, suicidal. Anyway, I signed up at Michaels one Saturday while waiting in line to pay for the pages, stickers and journaling supplies for the scrapbook I received for Christmas. In the catalog, I saw the scrapbooking class and decided I would love to learn more of the craft and better my skills (and to put that Christmas gift to good use).
            I was the only one in the hour long class that Friday night. Dumping the gold dust onto the blue sheet of paper, the instructor melted it down to a gold liquid similar to what Newton would do for his alchemy experiments. The bronze, silver and gold smiled at me, the hot pink background was bright, but cheerful. Then it was time to bring out the pictures I was asked to bring—a three-year-old me in the middle of the hot summer with the slip-n-slide. Cutting circles and ripping and crinkling blue paper, my pictures were instantly transferred to a beach scene. It was in this class and in the five years I’ve been scrapbooking, I keep discovering the precision of the cutting for frames, the journaling, and the craft and time going into designing the whole page layout is a beautiful, personal art in itself.
            In an article from The Chapel Hills News dated from September 6, 2008, Jean Harned interviews Carolyn Taylor, a grandmother live in Chapel Hill (North Carolina). It is Taylor’s birthday and is ecstatic and “thrilled” with the gift she has just received from her granddaughter. I’m sure local readers are expecting (I know I was) this grandma received a million dollars or the Hope Diamond or something of that nature with her response. Instead, she receives a scrapbook filled with “photos of Zac [her grandson] as a baby, playing ball, smiling at me and my husband, Grandpa Sam Taylor” (Chapel Hill News 1).
As I researched aesthetics for this piece, I came upon Islamic aesthetics and the philosopher mentioned that Muslims and many other religious communities leave their artwork unsigned to connect with God.  I feel as a scrapbook artist, that we do a lot of work that is unsigned. For me scrapbooking has become a lifestyle and it seems true for other artists.
            However, there are a lot of emotions—both negative and positive—involving scrapbooks.  In the same article from Chapel Hill News, Carolyn is taking classes to return the favor to her granddaughter to increase her happiness (Bentham would be proud). According to Real Simple (January 2011), we should remember whence we came from. Dan Buettner researched that nostalgia, especially when you swap stories “about that bad prom of 1989 or the Amazing Cross-Country Trip of 1971 with others you view yourself in a more positive light and form tighter bonds.” Hence, decorating your home with photos and memoriabilia you’re constantly reminded of your history and it’ll make you happier (Real Simple 109).
As Debbie Coplin, president of the Life, Times and Legacy Project in Chapel Hill concluded the article for Harned, scrapbooks are “a nice family Christmas or birthday present” and I couldn’t agree with her more. I remember when my cousins’ faces lit up on Christmas Eve and their birthdays when I made them scrapbooks of various times in their lives. In fact, on Easter 2011, I embarrassed my cousin by showing her boyfriend a scrapbook of our childhood. This is something you really can’t put a price on—memories, especially fond memories, are timeless and priceless.
As I conclude this essay, it saddens me that art books or aesthetic books don’t write about scrapbooks, but scrapbooking is indeed an important art that incorporates all the elements of Fine Art but on a personal level. And unlike Fine Art, scrapbook art is universal—anyone can understand and appreciate it.

Website philosophy: Here at Lilith’s Muses we strive for wonderful customer service and to capture all your happy moments in beautifully decorated pages at a reasonable price.

Tomorrow I have the joy of finishing two papers. I'll be with nan tomorrow night and Thursday night, then off to Kutztown with Hannah for Friday night. :) If I get a chance, I will update tomorrow.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Contest

Hey everyone,

Check out this contest: http://www.writingclasses.com/ContestPages/twitter.php

I submitted one and I am keeping my fingers crossed:


Early April Morning

The sun rises in pinks and yellows, their eddies intoxicating; waking up the dark blue sky of E Oak St. Soon you will be awake with me gone.

I will have a real update later. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great news!

It feels like a while since I said, "great news." I might have gotten the job with the help desk at the university. The manager e-mailed me today saying to call and when I called, I go in on Monday at 3pm to give a demo of me using Word 2010. I guess I did get the job. If I did, she knows I'm still going to be working at the library, so I guess she'll understand when I say Tuesdays are my long days to work. Then Thursday I can work a half a day. Would that look bad if I requested that?

Secondly, my poem "Eternal Arabian Nights" made it into Daedalus! I received this e-mail this afternoon:
Dear Ms. Cavaliere,

         Thank you again for your submission of the poem "Eternal Arabian Nights", which will appear in this spring's 2011 edition of Daedalus. As is tradition, we will be hosting a public reading and award ceremony to celebrate both the publication and the authors, and we hope that you will be able to attend. This year's ceremony will take place Thursday, April 28, at the Poetry Center on High Street. Light refreshments will be provided, and monetary awards for the best pieces in each category will be presented at this time.

          If you are able to attend, please respond to this e-mail and let us know ASAP. We would like to be able to form a rough estimate of how many authors will be reading and arrange seating appropriately. Again, we very much hope you are able to attend the ceremony and represent your work within the book!

Thank you,

Miranda Gipe, Daedalus President
 
My dad said he can take me, but I'll make sure again tomorrow and reply then. For those of you who don't remember when I posted this poem in February, here it is:
Eternal Arabian Nights
Jessica Marie Cavaliere


"Habibi, habibi, habibi," the sitars and drums roar;
haraam, but for one night the pulsing moves us—
pink lace, Persian white porcelain skin barely cover,
her purple veil and bells tempt us, exotic sweet flirts,
"habibi, habibi, habibi," furiously swinging hips,
trying to catch up to the ebb and flow
of velvet nothingness, their eyes fall on diamond sequences—
"habibi, habibi, habibi" swirling dirvishes, enchant the snake;
play the pulsing float, shake your arms and deliver the magic!
Lead us to Eden, habibi, habibi, habibi, make us eat the apple;
flirt with us, enchant us like that snake—we love you,
"habibi, habibi, habibi" your hips, your tunic, the symbols
and the women that dance vibrantly around you; we want you, not them;
you give us this world, this forbidden world, one night only—
"habibi, habibi, habibi" don't let the pulsing drums and smoke end!
 
Yesterday I gave my presentation on my aesthetic paper. Although I did have good ideas, they were too much for a ten page paper. Rob gave me some great ideas, so I'm going to be writing the aesthetics of poetry and use this South Park episode: http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e14-raisins

I meet with him tomorrow to talk about this and I am going to rewrite the scrapbooking piece for my site tomorrow morning before I meet with him; it'll only be a page or two. I'll update more tomorrow. :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mary's 80th Birthday

Today is nan's niece's, Mary, 80th birthday. We had a dinner for her tonight. It was nice to see family members I haven't seen in a long time or hadn't met before.















More tomorrow -- like writing. :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aesthetic Survey

Hey everyone,

Next week I have to present something for my philosophy class, I am doing a ten minute presentation on aesthetics. I am going to hand out a survey that I want my classmates to take 2 minutes on to generate discussion. What do you think of it (if you guys want to fill it out, feel free, it'll give me a better sense on the paper I will be writing)?


Aesthetics Survey

“Expression and the right to express is vital, anyone can be artistic.”—Kurt Cobain

1.)    How would you define art?





2.)    Take a look at these pictures below.






Which piece or pieces do you find the most aesthetically pleasing? Why?






Which piece or pieces do you find conveys the most expression? Why?








 

 

 

3.) When you walk into someone's home and they have tons of pictures (i.e. family photos, prom portrait, scrapbook collages) how does it make you feel?

 

 





4.)    Do you think writing poetry, taking pictures, calligraphy and scrapbooking is an art? Why or why not?

 




Monday, April 11, 2011

150 Years Later... and a poem

Good evening everyone,

I'm sorry I haven't updated since Thursday, between school and life, I just haven't written anything substantial besides starting some papers. Anyway, as Stephanie Anne posted in her blog it is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War! And you all know how much I love the Civil War! ^_^ I can't believe tomorrow it starts; I can't wait until the reenactment at Pennypacker's this year. I was watching bits of Birth of a Nation tonight and it gave me the idea of when school ends in two weeks, I want to write my own Civil War screenplay.

I wrote this poem, I am trying to think of a title. Of course feedback would be awesome. ^_^

How does one write a love poem?
Is it in the way my heart beats, skipping home,
the way the butterflies float, gliding along
from flower to flower; in the bird’s song?
Is it in the way you drive me crazy,
my concentration is kind of getting hazy;
sunshine of my love, the rays of your smile,
is it the tryst in my mind, should I wait awhile?
coming closer and closer, in our knees weak—
when my face is reddening, the way you speak,
the piercings you wear, the way you smoke,
is it the bi-polar feeling, the nervousness evoked?
Securing your feelings and mine, the anxiety and worry—
the red roses and turtle doves, I am sorry,
no more worry; let us run undercover at home;
this is how one writes a love poem.

I had an interview with the computer help desk at school, Friday is with Aramark. Of course this will be in conjunction with the library. These people know I'll still be staying at the library, so I hope the help desk looked at the hours I can work... I really don't want to lose my library job. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Waves of Chaos

I wrote this poem on Monday. I'm still searching for a title. I came up with the Jacob and Esau theme, for those who are familiar with that story. Please let me know what you think about this poem.

The fury in the flames
that engulf the amber roots of shore,
tan specks that fly, whirlwind of chaos--
almost make me dizzy, the lore
of white sand sparkling in the sun,
Jacob watching the beloved, young and innocent
Esau, the favorite, wise, no one will shun:
the waves draw him in, splish-splash
splish-splashing, furious monstrous waves
fighting against Laben, the white teeth nash,
splish-splash your way through, c'mon
before the soporific teeth close into the abyss,
dizzying eddies, blue, purple, gold, lemon--
sinister Jacob on lookout from land, praying,
hoping-- for the beloved is carried back...

Shrieking, laughter, dreams fulfilled, swaying
back and forth with red buckets of gold--
stack layer after layer, but be careful!
place the roof last, the salt water hold
the exalted sand castle, mix in resentment--
almost makes me dizzy, the childhood innocence,
the fury of the wind, the placement
of the white specks against the brown hair;
Jacob takes the bloody crown,
in the fire that engulfs the bare
shores once beautiful amber and gold,
deny me now what our reality holds.

Yesterday was Banana Day at WCU. Here are some pictures. :)




Sunday, April 3, 2011

Aesthetics and Scrapbooking

I worked on my scrapbooking website philosophy and the bit about aesthetics. Rob is going to be reading it tomorrow to give me feedback on it. I am going to attach some questions for him about adding some things or if I added some things if it would make the essay stronger. I might attach ideas for the memorial page I am doing. Here is the essay:


The Aesthetic Tradition: The Philosophy and History of Beauty (For My Website)
Jessica Marie

            Aesthetics is defined as the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty. In a broader sense, scholars define aesthetics as a critical reflection on art, culture and nature. The philosophy of aesthetics can be found in many cultures to preserve the past and rich history of familial, societal and historical ties. In ancient Greece, there were goddesses called Muses. The Muses were the goddesses of music, song and dance, and the source of inspiration to poets. They were also goddesses of knowledge, who remembered all things that had come to pass. Depicted as beautiful young women, the nine Muses were assigned specific artistic spheres: Kalliope, epic poetry; Kleio, history; Ourania, astronomy; Thaleia, comedy; Melpomene, tragedy; Polyhymnia, religious hymns; Erato, erotic poetry; Euterpe, lyric poetry; and Terpsikhore, choral song and dance (Atsma 1).
Islamic art is another example of beautiful and vivid artworks seeped in deep spiritual tradition and meaning. Muslims all agree that Islam is rich in aesthetic tradition that focuses on certain motifs and styles that incorporate quantitative dimensions of concern that is achieved through a process of pragmatic environmental adaptations to show the spiritual and physical aspects of Muslim lives that revolve around the idea of unity or tawhid (Ali 11). Trying to break away from the traditions of the Greco-Roman and Hellenistic societies, Islamic aesthetics looked at the spiritual and contemplative nature of their faith to reinforce basic ideology that reinforced the awareness of God and His “fulfillment was the be-all and end-all, the raison d’ětre, of human existence” (Ali 2). In fact, Islam does not consider art and beauty as a luxury, but instead a divine gift sent by Allah himself (Mystic 1). Art for a Muslim is used to attain “the highest form of knowledge possible” of the metaphysical world (Ali 4).
Islamic calligraphy, which in my opinion is very beautiful, reflects through the symbolism of its very forms the intertwining between permanence and change that is creation itself. Each letter is given a personality of its own and ultimately becomes linked with Allah. “صورة القلام (Surat al-Qalam)” or “The Pen,” is a chapter in the Qu’ran that deals with the order of creationism. “The Pen” opens up with the letter nun (ن) which resembles an inkpot in Arabic. Muslims believe the Allah first created “the pen, then the inkpot or nun” (Mystic 3). Alif (ا) symbolizes divinity itself and is also the first letter of Allah (الله). Ba (ب), the second letter of the alphabet, symbolizes the receptivity of the maternal and passive principles as well as the dimensions of beauty from ba’s horizontal shape. The esoteric doctrines enveloping the nature of calligraphy, combined with the beauty of its immediate presence, provide the key for understanding the intertwining of art and spirituality (Mystic 5). Not only are the writing important, but the sensible use of space, shape, surface, colour, and tradition. In an Islamic tradition, the combination of of reason, intellect, skill along with the ability of the artist to project his inner self while adhering to tradition is another facet of Islamic art. Lastly, in such a philosophy, the aim is the greatest possible freedom from oneself. In the traditional Islamic art, the artist was anonymous and rarely signed his name because it was the outcome of his work that mattered and not his person.
            All religions share the concept of the anonymity of the artist. It is a good question to ponder about why an artist would be willing to give up his/her rights of an artwork he/she worked so hard on, but the answer is simple: the artist is liberated from himself. In a Kantian sense, the artist by signing his name has the illusion of “I” being the doer, when in fact “I” is only the instrument of the real “doer” (Ali 7). Human individuality in this sense becomes a means rather than an end. For example, in Christianity, Jesus told his disciples that he “do[es] nothing of myself.” In Hinduism, Krishna said that “the comprehension cannot form the concept; I am the doer,” while a Buddhist believes that “to wish that it may be made known that I was the author is the thought of a man not yet adult.” Thus, any adherent to this philosophy would hardly ever consider signing his work.
            In an article from The Chapel Hills News dated from September 6, 2008, Jean Harned interviews Carolyn Taylor, a grandmother from Chapel Hill (North Carolina), on her birthday and was ecstatic and “thrilled” with the gift she received from her granddaughter. With such a response, local readers were expecting this grandma received a million dollars or the Hope Diamond or something of that nature. Instead, she received a scrapbook. Taylor is glowing as she is telling Harned about the album with “photos of Zac [her grandson] as a baby, playing ball, smiling at me and my husband, Grandpa Sam Taylor. I was so proud of her [for compiling this scrapbook]. It was such a joy to see all those pictures of Zac as he was growing up. I was so touched” (Chapel Hill News 1). I feel as a scrapbook artist, that we do a lot of work that is unsigned. For the scrapbook artist, scrapbooking has become a lifestyle. I polled a group of sixteen people and fourteen of the sixteen that were surveyed agreed that scrapbooking is an art and as one response put it “I think anyone can make a scrapbook but each unique page and every different scrapbook is where the art comes in. Whether it is good or bad doesn't mean anything.” Another surveyor added, “I think most things can be an art, just some people never delve into the possibilities of creativity. Scrap-booking in itself, being a creative process, is most definitely an art.” The other two said no because it is “not like DaVinci or Michelangelo,” but did say to be a scrapbooker “it takes skill, I'll grant you that, to achieve symmetry.”
            However, there are a lot of emotions involved with scrapbooks. In the same article from Chapel Hill News, Carolyn wanted to return the favor to her granddaughter and signed up for a class at a local scrapbooking group. Carolyn didn’t consider herself to be much of a craft person before that class, but she managed to make a scrapbook of her granddaughter’s recent birthday. Her granddaughter is quoted as saying, “I so treasure this book from Grandma and I’ll keep it forever and show it to my children.” In the survey I conducted, the sixteen people said that they mostly feel somewhat positive when they walk into a home and see albums and pictures hanging up everywhere. According to Real Simple (January 2011), we should remember whence we came from. Dan Buettner researched that nostalgia, especially when you swap stories “about that bad prom of 1989 or the Amazing Cross-Country Trip of 1971 with others you view yourself in a more positive light and form tighter bonds.” Hence, decorating your home with photos and memoriabilia you’re constantly reminded of your history and it’ll make you happier (Real Simple 109). As Debbie Coplin, president of the Life, Times and Legacy Project in Chapel Hill concluded the article for Harned, scrapbooks are “a nice family Christmas or birthday present” and I couldn’t agree with her more. I remember when my cousins’ faces lit up on Christmas Eve and their birthdays when I made them scrapbooks of various times in their lives and that is a feeling you can’t put a price on, which the surveyors thought was the most important aspect of scrapbooks.

Website philosophy: Here at Lilith’s Muses we strive for wonderful customer service and to capture all your happy moments in beautifully decorated pages at a reasonable price.

I know I have to work on a website philosophy. This is my first time ever running a business site. Tomorrow I don't have class at noon, so I'm going to be working on some writing for this blog. :)
I dyed my hair as well.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sheep Sheering!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2082267&id=1465830223&l=2493fb7d85

I will have more of a post tomorrow. I'm sorry, lately, I been so busy. However, I did go to Peter Wentz's Farmstead today for sheep sheering. The pictures can be found on the link above. :)