[Not] For Technophobes

         a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

April 8, 2011

David Abram Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 11:36 am

We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation.

“Certainly, the perceptual style of any community is both reflected in, and profoundly shaped by, the common language of the community” (pg 91).

I would agree that cultural perceptions of and reactions to emotions and experiences do differ vastly. It so happens that most of the examples I can think of speak languages other than English. Take Japan, their society and culture is based upon the internal self and external regard for others. When tragedies occur it is common and expected that the victim not express their emotions. this seems quite different from western concepts so let’s consider the example of England. Unions in England have great bargaining power because there is an overall understanding of group well-being, so a union will strike and stick through it until their demands are met. In the U.S. there has been very little group effort in the past 20 years, that I can recall, in which group well-being has been placed before individual interests. Recently, however, there have been movements and effort made for group well-being in the teacher strike in Wisconsin in defense of unionization and the Queens College walk-out on March 31, 2011 in opposition to CUNY tuition hikes and Chancellor Goldstein’s pay increase. These are efforts in which the west may be learning about the external “we” and placing the “I” aside.

April 7, 2011

Manga, Manhua, and Manhwa: Distribution and Globalization

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 10:34 pm

The title of this post will be the title of my speech.

It comes from part four of my thesis.  It will discuss the legal and artistic vantage points of distribution of East Asian comics. I will also look at the complications faced within the world of illegal/unethical distributions and translations. I think my speech would work best in the following categories:

Culture and Technology

Remaking Society

Here are a few key passages.

From the weekly publishing of tankōbon [anthologies] to seasonal publication of volumes, manga, manhua, and manhwa distribution goes beyond the physical and has moved onto the internet. Because of globalization, a new world market opened up to East Asian mangaka and manga companies. This resulted in the increased spread of East Asian culture and style into the western world.

Rampant states that the draw of independent scanlation (the uploading and translations of East Asian comics) is that it does not heed the naturalization that was evident in most “professional” translations; rather, independent scanlation worked more for a “foreignization” of the work. Meaning in their translations the group would work towards enhancing the otherness of the manga rather than trying to force American ideals and concepts onto the work.

Due to an increase in fan base and the increasing capabilities of the internet, the world discovers, or creates, the scanlator. Scanning, cleaning, type-setting, translating, editing, and proofreading, the scanlator provides the manga fan with English, Spanish, German, and French translations of the least popular to the most popular manga. These translations are posted on websites as often as they are published in hard copy. Though this is hard, free, and creative work, the manga publishers and mangaka alike are opposed to this method of distribution for reasons like production loss and copyright infringement.

It is quite prevalent in the online scanlating world for unknown groups to steal the work of a well-established group and post it to sites as their own work. In these instances there is very little the offended group can do.

Although there are copyright infringements these independent groups will not cease the translation of foreign work into their [the translator’s] native or learned language. It is a matter of spreading cultural influences and material without the input of publishers and governments that might seek to censor different aspects of the original material.

February 22, 2011

Forging Our Destruction

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 11:17 pm

“Hermes asked Zeus how he should impart justice and reverence among men:-Should he distribute them as the arts are distributed; that is to say, to a favoured few only, one skilled individual having enough of medicine or of any other art for many unskilled ones?’Shall this be the manner in which I am to distribute justice and reverence among men, or shall I give them to all?’ ‘To all,’ said Zeus; ‘I should like them all to have a share; for cities cannot exist, if a few only share in the virtues, as in the arts.'”

What this myth reveals about technology is that, in all forms, we need it for the progress and survival of mankind. What I find interesting are the steps to which humans have taken the necessity of this gift from the Gods. It has become an accessory in the everyday tasks of humans. This was not the original purpose. Technology was supposed to keep humans safe from disease, animals, and harsh weather conditions, but due to human misuse of this gift, technology and its uses to blast music into the ears of a listener in an effort to block out the massive noise pollution in metropolitan cities. Technology now alters bodies and the human ideal of natural beauty. Technology has turned us into monsters. The above selection from the reading supports my interpretation of technology in that it holds accountable the entire human race for the current state of the world. We all had a say. We all continue to have a say and yet we are still heading in the wrong directions. Knowledge should breed reason which would then give way to logic and eventual peace [look at me being idealistic] but human greed, pride and want of glory has sullied our pure honor and intent. When we are done ravaging our world, as Hermes meted out reverence amongst us, so shall justice be mete out in equal rations for our actions and inaction.

November 21, 2010

”Our nada who art in nada…” and Hopper’s Nighthawks

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 12:42 pm

The light in the painting is similar to the blinding daylight, unobstructed and glaring, but this light does not drive the customers away. The customers seem to lean into the light. It makes me wonder what metaphorical darkness they are running away from, or, rather, avoiding at all costs. The light creates a barrier in Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) that protects and shields the patrons from the dark light of the night. What is the dark light of the night? There is an example in Ernest Hemingway’s “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” (1926) that reads, “It was very late and everyone had left the cafe except an old man who sat in the shadow the leaves of the tree made against the electric light.” The dark light of the night is the shadow that something natural makes against the bright florescent lights. These three patrons are avoiding the natural darkness of the world and they find solace in Phillies, a very well-lighted bar. However, because of all the light and subsequent lack of darkness these patrons and the barista/bartender are finding peace in nothing. Everything is white and clean and void of all markers of the natural world. These people are making themselves invisible to the actual world, “Our nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada.”

So, why would Hopper create this painting? In my opinion this painting is the perfect representation of a technological world that had forgotten its natural roots; therefore, it knows not how to approach nature and natural cycle. Instead of going home at night they spend the entire night in a diner that is as bright as daylight. We have fast food places that are very much the modern representation of this painting. Papaya Dog in the village is always well lit, even in the middle of the day; there is also Five Guys Burgers and Fries on 188th St in Fresh Meadows and College Point. These artificially bright places provide a false comfort for the insomniac, or the city-dweller. What is most interesting is that even though many people go to these bright places and do the same things, they always seem to be alone and this does not change. There is loneliness in people who hide in bright lights and Hemingway touches on this aspect of humanity when he writes, “Each night I am reluctant to close up because there may be someone who needs the cafe.”

November 19, 2010

Noise and Silence in The Great Gatsby

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 7:11 pm

The characters Nick, Daisy, Tom and Jay/James are revealed near the middle of the novel to have come from the Midwest/South. Disregarding their differing affluence I chose instead to make note of the descriptions of their homes and hometowns. All of these major characters come from small rural/suburb areas; Jay from a impoverished farm, Daisy from a big country house and similar surroundings for Nick and Tom. What is the significance? Well, now factoring in the economic standing of these characters the reader can infer what they lived near. Since Nick, Tom and Daisy were from affluent families it is not likely that they lived near noisy train stations and bus depots. As for jay, there might have been a rail road in sight on his father’s farm but for this argument’s sake let us say that it was not close enough for it’s noise to become a huge factor in Jay’s perception of his home.

Looking at The Great Gatsby techno-critically I find that the characterization of the (earlier) LIRR and it’s noise make for a great element in the text. East Egg and West Egg, in their respective ‘silences’ symbolize an aspect of the hometowns that these characters might not be able to break away from. When driving in Gatsby’s car, the group has to ride alongside the train and there is an intense moment of suspense and yet still a sense of rushing headlong into an uncontrollable situation, because much like the train the personal issues will continue to rush forward until they reach their final stop. The train, therefore, can be seen as a technological representation of the novel’s plot.

Then there is the silence. Because the noise in the novel is central, in my opinion, towards driving the plot; therefore, the silences are moments in the novel when these characters can return to their hometowns (mentally) and be unable to drift off into a new mode of life. Technology has mapped out the lives and thus tortures the characters with events they feel they cannot control.

November 7, 2010

Soulless in “The Jungle”

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 12:11 am

“It was quite like the feat of a prestidigitator,—for the woman worked so fast that the eye could literally not follow her, and there was only a mist of motion, and tangle after tangle of sausages appearing. In the midst of the mist, however, the visitor would suddenly notice the tense set face, with two wrinkles graven in the forehead, and the ghastly pallor of the cheeks; and then he would suddenly recollect that it was time he was going on. The woman did not go on; she stayed right there—hour after hour, day after day, year after year, twisting sausage-links and racing with death. It was piece-work and she was apt to have a family to keep alive; and stern and ruthless economic laws had arranged it that she could only do this by working just as she did, with all her soul upon her work, and with never an instant for a glance at the well-dressed ladies and gentlemen who came to stare at her, as at some wild beast in a menagerie” (129-130).

Making sausages in the meat-packing industry

The beginning of this excerpt, from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906), depicts the female worker’s motion as magical and subtlety weaves the description from one of intense speed to that of other worldly powers in describing her fast work as a ‘mist’. The pressure for mass output of the meat packer and the necessary intense concentration and monotony makes machines out of the workers. Treating the workers like machines is killing them quickly by wearing down their bodies. Knowing that their current position in the work force would not develop to a higher rank or pay these workers are faced with premature death and/or morbidity. The image of the meat packer “racing with death” supports this assumption in that the worker would feel their body wearing down, or worse, become injured and no longer be able to work at their former pace thus making them obsolete in the quickening pace-setting meat-packing industry. The assumed pressure of her having to support a family would not be an incorrect assumption because of the dangerous conditions workers faced in the beef and pork buildings. However, there is a pressure to survive in a world that is being overtaken by machinery and thus forcing the limits of worker, effectually working them to death. The soul is generally thought of as the essence of a human being and in this excerpt the worker is giving it up to the work that she is performing; in no way does this better her as a human being. She, along with thousands of other workers, is disregarded by the law because there is no one trying to stop this overworking system.

These workers have no rights and that is what I find most disturbing about this excerpt. Because this worker has no rights she must work under grueling conditions. There are excerpts that might highlight the danger but the pressure in this excerpt is astounding. I do not find it hard to believe that she might have a family to support because of the lack of adequate pay it would not have been likely that one income could have supported a household. There is a fear in this character that is palpable, she could lose her job for any reason and be left in a society where it was every person for themselves, when in the more dangerous jobs, injury or death were more respectable reasons to lose a job. If she were to lose her job for a different reason a lot of guilt would accompany the loss. That her age is not given I find interesting because it could be a young girl who has been working from a very young age and has thus come to look older, a result of child labor; that and the loss of one’s childhood and the opportunity for an education, this to help support their family. There is a hopelessness in this excerpt that should disturb all readers.

October 31, 2010

Victor Frankenstein, Monster.

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 1:06 pm

Frankenstein, through scientific dedication and study, becomes the creator of life in the novel. Beforehand there were no referenced to God, but soon into the text the reader can see the similarities in Frankenstein and ideas of God, but rather as an unjust and as an imperfect creator. Though he is the maker of the monster Frankenstein is not happy with his creation and thus attempts to forget about its existence until he learns that the monster killed his brother. This is when Frankenstein wishes for the death of the monster and goes about to succeed in it.

However, the monster is a factor that is not looked at directly. He did not ask to be created but he exists, and of all the creatures on the planet he can find no companion. His existence has no meaning because he has no companion and his creator wants nothing to do with him. Created from need and discarded because of fear, the monster exposes Frankenstein’s real identity; that of true monster: a giver and taker of life, one who with the frightening meeting with his creation condemns it to a life of loneliness. Frankenstein becomes an unjust God.

October 24, 2010

Thomas the Tank Engine

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 1:14 pm

Thomas, a steam engine from the trains of Sodor, is based on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) E2 Class. These were a class of 0-6-0T steam locomotives designed by Lawson Billinton in 1913, intended for shunting and short distance freight trains. Thomas was created by Rev. W and Christopher Awdry in 1946.

LB&SCR E2 Class

I think that Thomas’ creation was a psychological response to the astounding advances in technology that occurred during World War II. Instead of tanks and bombers, society was presented with a happy and friendly steam engine. What harm can coal and water do to the people of Europe? This non-threatening image of technology served as a solace to a country directly affected by war.

Thomas can also be seen as a figure of the technological assimilation of children after WWII. These children would now be raised in a world full of destructive technological elements and it is understandable that parents and the greater part of society would want them to grow up accustomed to the idea of this shifting and developing world.

Being a blue, red and white train, Thomas can be associated with the Allied forces of WWII, mainly France, Great Britain and the U.S.A. He is a train we can trust. He is a symbol of technology as a good element in society. He is a helpful train, so of course children would grow up with the belief that technology is here to help us live and we need and should want it in our lives. Though he is a train that predominately smiles and laughs, he rarely frowns and I believe he has cried once in his steam engine existence. Growing up on Thomas I was more willing to ride on the subway and buses. I viewed them as non-threatening modes of transportation. I knew nothing of the second Industrial Revolution. Technology was simply a part of my existence.

So what is the affect of Thomas the Tank Engine? It is not so much what his character has done for children of the mid-late twentieth century but, rather, what his creation says about the adults of that same time. Books, toys and programs designed for children also have aspects that are directed towards adults, so that they may feel secure in allowing their children to be exposed to them. A docile tank engine was fun for children but it was predominately comforting for the adult. Thomas was built for short distance travel, so he would never go too far from home. Never in real harm and always finding someone who could help him or needed his help, parents now choose to believe that their children would be safe in a constantly developing world.

October 19, 2010

Penitentiary Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 2:46 am

Penitentiary (Adjective)

1.      Of penance

Relating to penance.

2.      Concerning punishment or reform

Involving or used for the punishment or reform of offenders

3.      Punishable by imprisonment in penitentiary

Criminal law punishable by a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary



Penal Colony

Labor Camp


In reference to the above definition the “new penitentiary” can be viewed as a new reform idea. A new method enacted under the reign of Elizabeth I and followed through under the reign of James I; the act of saving a life by sending a person to a rough and “uncivilized” country where they would have to fight for their own sustenance. This act would not only force them to have to learn how to want to live and find sources of nourishment, this would in effect force the punished to develop a civil society of their own. This is what Robinson Crusoe is forced to do. Crusoe is a man who rejects the comforts of life offered to him by his parents. Instead, he seeks the adventured offered to him by the sea. Though his first voyage is a failure he does not disparage the missteps in his new life, he quickly falls further into the abyss of a newer and more dangerous world.

The manner in which he ends up on his solitary island is, of course, purely accidental; however, his being stranded forces him to make a home from nothing. Having to make things from scratch and teaches Crusoe the value of working from the bottom up and does make him pine for the comforts of life that were once offered to him by his parents.  As Bender mentions, Crusoe is forced to start a regiment and a system in order to maintain his sustenance. He farms and picks fruit and takes care of his live stock. He is thus enabled to live a comfortable life now that he has accepted a mandatory structure and orderliness in his life.  This is much different than how his life as a gentleman might have been if he heeded the counsel of his father.

Crusoe, through his constant desire for adventure, is stifled at the height of his personal productivity; after having established a growing and prosperous tobacco plantation from his own hard work Crusoe slips into the mentality of the colonizer and seeks the advantages of slave holding. It is not completely lost on the reader that Crusoe’s subsequent shipwreck is another dashing of his plans to conquer a people when he has not even managed to conquer himself.  Imprisoned on the unnamed island having all the freedom that he was so desirous of while simultaneously having said desires crushed out by this revelation. He obtains his goal and realizes his constant dissatisfaction, leading to a life time of self enforced labor for the basics of sustenance.

Defoe develops a matrix of the novel and of the city in Robinson Crusoe. The words Bender uses that signify society “(justification, investigation, compilation, adjudication, letters, lists, receipts, journals, records, evidentiary details)” are all represented in the novel. Crusoe implements all of these elements of “civil” society into his structuring of the island: journal making of his first two years on the island, letters left to the Spanish crew who were to be expected, a mental list of all his goods and their non-monetary value to his sustenance. He narrates all of his years abroad by writing a full account of the trials he faced while in an unconquered land, which he proceeds to conquer when he established order and as Bender states, when Crusoe presents himself as the Governor of the island.  At his rescue from the island and his years following, Crusoe seems to have grown from a decidedly unaware self-saboteur to a man who seeks only what was already his and nothing that is new.

Works Cited

Robinson Crusoe. Defoe, Daniel. Ed. Shinagel, Michael. 2nd Edition. Norton Critical Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1994. 1-120.

“The Novel and the Rise of Penitentiary: Robinson Crusoe.” Bender, John. Robinson Crusoe. Defoe, Daniel. Ed. Shinagel, Michael. 2nd Edition. Norton Critical Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1994. 373-390.

October 4, 2010

The Affects of the Island in The Tempest

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 5:53 pm

Elizabeth Arestyl

Professor Buell

English 399w

4 October 2010

The Affects of the Island in The Tempest

William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest the inhabitants of the unnamed island observing a temperamental storm at sea; however, throughout the play the most unpredictable setting becomes the island itself, influencing Prospero and other characters. The island and its elements can be viewed as a technological shift in the lives of the characters, which few use to further their own personal aims.

Gonzalo is the first of the nobles to use the island to his own and Alonso’s advantage. It is in their best interests to remain calm and together on this alien island even though it is highly probable that Prince Ferdinand is dead:

“Beseech you, sir, be merry. You have cause

(So have we all) of joy; for our escape

Is much beyond our loss. Our hint of woe

Is common: everyday some sailor’s wife,

The master of some merchant, and the merchant

Have just our theme of woe. But for the miracle—

I mean our preservation—few in millions

Can speak like us. Then wisely, good sir, weigh

Our sorrow with our comfort” (II i.1-9).

Gonzalo tries to calm Alonso with the comfort of having their lives thanks to the island. The island is what they have that many other shipwrecked people lacked, which resulted in their untimely deaths. Gonzalo’s reference to common death at sea can be seen as his way to tell Alonso that Ferdinand’s death was unavoidable but their survival is then that much more profound and unbelievable; therefore, Alonso should not mourn for something that was very likely to happen at sea, rather, he should celebrate for his and his noblemen’s unlikely survival. Without the island’s existence, first off, Gonzalo would not be able to plead is argument to Alonso.

Antonio and Sebastian are the second and third of the noblemen who the island affects. When Alonso and Gonzalo fall asleep the seclusion of the island tempts Antonio and Sebastian, exposing their true selves, and they begin to plot the double murder of the king of Naples and his elderly counselor. At first it is Antonio who drops hints about getting away with murder and a title, “Th’ occasion speaks thee, and/My strong imagination sees a crown/Dropping upon thy head” and Sebastian is reluctant to take his line of thought seriously, instead choosing to believe that Antonio is dreaming, “It is sleepy language, and thou speak’st/Out of thy sleep (II.i.203-205, 207-208). One can argue that Antonio believes that if no one can find the island no one will find the bodies; that he believes the remainder of the crew to be dead or lost at sea and soon will be dead, therefore, there will be no differing testimony when Sebastian and he are brought up for question of the events of the shipwreck. The island’s magic is giving these two characters enough time to show their mercenary traits, killing for titles denied to them by secondary birth. It is just when Alonso and Sebastian fully commit to the murders when Ariel—the magical spirit on the island—returns and awakens Gonzalo with haste for his life, “If of life you keep a care,/Shake off slumber and beware./Awake, awake” (II.i.299-301). Ariel is only involved with the noblemen because he is indebted to Prospero, who promises his freedom after the allotted hours have passed.

Prospero, the Milanese Duke can be regarded as the most changed by the island seeing as how with its magical aid he was able to change the outcome of his life. At the end of act V proper has arranged a marriage between Ferdinand and Miranda thus linking the two houses closer than Antonio’s mere pledge of fealty, and in doing so forces Alonso to acknowledge their new relationship and its need for respect. However, one can argue that Prospero is negatively affected by the island. He is the hand that forces Ariel to put Gonzalo to sleep which places Gonzalo’s life in danger, it is Prospero who sends Ariel to separate the Neapolitans throughout the island; therefore, it is reasonable to believe that Prospero’s ‘rebirth’ is sullied by the many methods of reprisal offered to him by the island. One can argue that Prospero found no better way, other than controlling, to ensure the aid of the spirits of the island.(II.i.SD).

Proof of the island’s corruption of Prospero—and, indirectly, the spirits—can be shown by Caliban’s reaction to hearing thunder while gathering fire wood and wishing harm to Prospero:

“                      His spirits hear me,

And yet I needs must curse, But they’ll nor pinch,

Fright me with urchin-shows, pitch me i’ th’ mire,

Nor lead me, like a fire-brand, in the dark

Out of my way, unless he bid ‘em. But

For every trifle are they set upon me;

Sometimes like apes that mow and chatter at me,

And after bite me; then like hedgehogs, which

Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount

Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I

All wound with adders, who with cloven tongues

Do hiss me into madness” (II.i.SD, 1-14).

Having been educated by Prospero and Miranda, the reader must infer that Caliban had no knowledge of pain prior to Prospero’s arrival on the island, so it is not far to presume that Prospero does use the magic of the island to abuse Caliban. Prospero’s intense study of the island magic and what Caliban reveals about the island cause Prospero’s powers to become vast enough and make him appear to be an omniscient being. In giving Prospero God-like powers the island enables him to erase his past and alter his fate.

The further one reads into The Tempest the island is revealed a tool with incredible powers that can enable its wielder to do either good or destructive things. Gonzalo thought it a place of security and a god-send when they thought themselves fit to die; Antonio and Sebastian thought it would be a place to hold the secret of the disappearance of King Alonso and Gonzalo, which would have been a magnificent but deadly feat. However, Prospero manages to keep all life safe and take a title while skillfully wielding control over the island. His control over the different aspects and the outcomes of many events on the island portray the island’s full power and his learned grasp of the diverse elements of the island’s nature and its magic.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Sherman, William H. and Peter Hulme.

Norton Critical Ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2004. 1-77.

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