Monday, May 16, 2005

Fictional Magicians vs. Kostya

1.) I was very excited about the magic show because it has been years since I have seen a real one. The performance by Kostya didn’t let me down, rather quite the reverse, he exceeded all my expectations. He left me wondering, more like dying with curiosity, about some of his more spectacular tricks. How in the world did he rip out the dictionary page and put it in the envelope without us seeing him do it? Simply amazing! He combined his natural ability with magic tricks with his great personality to make for a very entertaining show. It has been a long time since I’ve been impressed with an on stage performance, that includes a few of Shakespeare’s plays, but he really awed me with his on stage charisma and ability.

2.) The magic performance given by Kostya Kimlat was more entertaining then the fictional magicians covered in class. His performance was a success not only because of his prowess with the dexterous art of card tricks but also due to his on stage charisma. In society, card tricks and illusions are prevalent ways used to impress people however the trick is quickly forgotten about as life goes on. Kostya was able to make a deep impression on his audience because his performance involved more then just doing a number of card tricks. He combined his expertise in the field of magic with his ability to relate to the general audience. In his performance, he accomplished this by having a general conversation or telling a story which climaxed in a trick. Kostya easily outshone the fictional magicians because he went the extra mile by making it a theater production, which involved magic tricks. In both Cranford and The Room in the Dragon Volant the magician characters either employed all tricks, Signor Brunoni, or were wrapped up into a theatrical performance, the magician in The Room in the Dragon Volant. Kostya went above and beyond all previous fictional magicians read in class because of his ability to combine both on stage charisma with his fascinating tricks.

The most memorable moments during his performance were some of the stories he was telling while incorporating the magic tricks into the plot. I have never been to a show where, through storytelling and regular conversation, the magician led to his next trick. The magic tricks were great, but in reality, they would have been forgotten however through his unique style and showmanship a lasting impression was made. I have always been awed by even the simplest magic tricks so for the performance given in class, there was nothing done that didn’t impress me. The only thing irksome about the performance was the magician’s partner, I think the guy was his partner, who was asking too many questions. I guess there will always be one unruly fan at every show. To bad we didn’t have security. I was very entranced by the performance and will hope to try in the future to see more magic shows

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Spirited Away vs. Harry Potter

1.) I found Spirited Away to be a great movie. I’ve only watched one other anime production and have been impressed with the quality of the work. I was amazed that an anime production could hold a collegiate audience on the edge of their seats. I was always under the impression that anime was geared towards the youth of society and so I never watched any until last year. I guess I was deprived. Anyway, I found Spirited Away to be a fantastic movie that held me on the edge of my seat throughout the showing.

2.) The English narrative, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and the Japanese film Spirited Away share many common ideas. The most obvious common ground, shared by the two respective masterpieces, is their employment of an isolated magical reality. In both works, the main characters find themselves involuntarily entering a magical world in which they had no previous knowledge. Not only are the settings in both works congruent, but also the main characters, in the two masterpieces, go through similar transformations. In Spirited Away, Chihiro begins the novel in a depressed state, believing that she doesn’t have any friends at her new home. Harry Potter also begins in the story as a boy depressed by his settings. Both Harry Potter and Chihiro, by the end of the story, have transformed their respective character’s moods from depressed to elation. In both stories, the main characters personalities begin transformation upon their entrance into the alternate magical reality. The entrance into the isolated magical world sparks the change in the characters, but it is the friendships made in the magical worlds that causes the drastic change in Harry’s and Chihiro’s personalities. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, upon entering the magical world, is reunited and thus consequentially transformed by his friends. He changes from a depressed byproduct of abuse to an elated youth because of his reconstituted relationships with his friends. The plot of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban also resembles that of Spirited Away because Harry, like Chihiro, finds someone special he did not know about before he entered the magical world. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry finds his Godfather, Sirius Black, while in Spirited Away Chihiro meets a forgotten friend from the past Haku. Even though Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Spirited Away were created in different cultures, their storylines and consequentially their plots are amazingly similar.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Judgement of an Uncanny Experience

1.) Before this class, I had never watched a psychic in action. I am, maybe due to my raising, completely skeptical of the uncanny experiences of the psychic. I believe that Jonathon Edwards is a fraud because he only hits 10 to 20 percent of the time. Why in the world would the dead lie? I think it is extremely doubtful that the dead would take the time to play a trick on Edwards. I would think that if he really was in contact with them he would be able to relate one hundred percent of the time, the truth about the dead relative.

2.) Judging other people’s uncanny experiences can be grouped in two categories. A person’s uncanny experience either is associated with other people or it is a personal moment. When a person has an uncanny experience in a personal reflection, the experience should not be judged on its validity. For example, when a dying women on her deathbed claims to have heard Jesus talking to her, no one in their right mind will judge the validity of the experience. There is no way to know whether the woman really did hear Jesus, and thus no one with any sanity should attempt to judge such an experience. Furthermore, there is no reason that any person should judge the validity of a personal experience. It is does not affect them in anyway and if they do attempt to pass judgement, they are being both intrusive and incompetent. An uncanny experience, that is personal, has no right to be judged by people isolated from the reflection.

The judgement of an uncanny experience that affects the lives of others should be judged objectively. For example, in the new and famous show Crossing Over, Jonathan Edwards claims to be in contact with dead relatives of the audience. This experience is no longer personal or isolated, and should be judged on its validity. The judgement on this type of experience is never subjective, rather it is objective. When he claims to hear the dead talking to him, an objective judgement should come from the audience member whose relative he claims is talking to him. If what Jonathon Edwards says is true or false an accurate objective judgement can be made on his validity as a psychic. In dealing with psychics, who claim to be in contact with the dead, there is no percentages rather he/she is substantiated or he is a fraud. When an uncanny experience touches other people’s lives, it should be scrupulously and objectively judged.

Buffy and the Questions surrounding her?

1.) To be honest, I was never a really big fan of Buffy the vampire slayer. Perhaps, I should have watched more then one episode. The episode shown in class though, was really good and almost peaked my interest. The only problem with the show is that it’s too stereotypical, especially with other shows out like charmed and angel.

2.) A person becomes a vampire slayer, not to become a celebrity, but to do his/her civic duty with his/her innate gifts. A slayer's job is to rid society of the evil consumed vampires. Where in the job description does it mention getting others to believe or understand what you do. In the real world, many people, like the mother Theresas of the world, go unnoticed in their work and success. They don’t complain about the lack of exposure, rather they are happy to be able to make a positive difference to the community. This idea translates over to a vampire slayer. It does not matter to them if they receive the exposure or understanding gratitude from society. What really matters to them is the end result, the protection they give to other people in the form of eradicating the vampire race. A vampire slayer does his/her job, not for the understanding or gratitude from society, rather because they want to expunge the community of vampires.

Buffy, the vampire slayer, does not follow the common belief, that slayers do their job for the good of society rather then understanding from the victims. The simplest explanation for this deviation is that, Buffy is not Mother Theresa. She is not able to work for the betterment of society, without their acceptance and gratitude. This character flaw is seen in a number of episodes when she confronts Gile, her mentor, about the lack of acknowledgement for her work by the community. The reason Buffy continuously quests for society to understand her incredible work, is because she does not have a perfect character.

Buffy, in many of the episodes, has perceptions about the imminent danger facing the group. Even with proven instincts, her ideas are continually questioned or even ridiculed by her fellow defenders. This constant degradation of Buffy’s estimations by her friends is due to her presented image, a ditz. The T.V audience, on the other hand, is led to believe, through the way the episodes are shot, that Buffy usually has the right instincts. For example, in the episode where Buffy claims that the dummy is the cause for all the killings, the audience is led to believe that her assumption is correct because of scene selection. The twist of it all is that blonde ditz stigma turns out to be true, and her assumption is wrong. The audience, through scene deception, believed in Buffy’s fallible assumptions.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Final Thesis

Final Thesis: The increasing wariness of magic and the dark arts holstered by many people in twentieth century society was manifested and spread by the media.

Argument: I will first proceed to define the fear of magic in today’s society, using Freud’s definition of the Uncanny. Next I will show a historical example of a cultivated fear of the unknown. Then I will show examples in modern times, where the media takes isolated events and exaggerates the problem of the dark arts. Finally, I will connect all the examples and show the culpable party, in the cultivation of modern day fear over magic, is the media.

Sources: I am looking at many academic essays, in which the author has some knowledge or experience in the subject matter. Most of the essayists have a negative opinion towards the press the practices of magic are receiving as of late. I also am using media generated periodicals showing examples of their exaggeration.

Favorite Source: My favorite source would be the essay on the novel by Bill Ellis. It is called “Raising the Devil: Satanism, New Religions, and the Media.” This is my favorite source because of the plethora of information in the text dealing with my topic. Just look at the title, it fits right in with my thesis.

Interesting Fact: That a wrestler, Tiger Boy, was accused of using the dark arts to win his fight, after the other wrestler appeared to be knocked down without contact. Oh, and the wrestler who went down without contact was 60 years old.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Thesis of DOOM

Thesis 1: Society has an innate dissent toward the realm of magic, seen in its bloody history and in modern pop culture entertainment.

I wanted to write a research paper, which incorporated past and present interactions between magic and society. The history part allows me funnel through the ample information on the witch hunts in the 17th century. At the same time I am able to examine the evolution of ideas involving magic, if there are some, from the 17th century to the present day, in the form of pop culture.

Thesis 2: Society has altered the perception of magic from an unknown evil to juvenile entertainment.

I have always been interested in the reason for the juvenility of magic books that I have read. I found that they lack the adult sophistication of other genres. Even the employment of practical magic in the real world, magicians and their show, has been tagged by our society as amateurish. The question I attempt to answer is why this open deification of a historically rooted subject.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Magic a Crutch?

1.) It’s about time! I usually don’t show that much emotion but my reading material, as of recently, has been saturated by hidden agendas and mini people. Now we are reading a first rate novel written without any controversial elements. First off, a controversial topic which has been floating around the class discussion must be put to rest. What gives me the right, or even the academia to act as an expert witness? This is my blog. The idea that has been passed around class is that The Prisoner of Azkaban has a hidden gay rights agenda and I’m sorry to be contradictory but Professor Lupin does not represent the homosexual community. I find that in our modern day education, every book we read has to have a secret meaning or stance the author is a proponent. Why can’t we just read a book and enjoy the story? When parents tell their kids a story, are they sculpting their ideas about certain social issues? NO, a story is designed for entertainment purposes. To wrap up I just want to say, I am a big fan of Harry Potter and that I am not against gay rights but I am against assigning social agendas to children’s books.

2.) The Prisoner of Azkaban revolves around a boy and his adventures in a magical world. In Harry Potter, magic was evident throughout but the resolution always stems from more mundane elements. When Harry was faced with a boggart, which transformed into a dementor, his magic failed him but the humanistic virtue which helped him succeed was persistence and bravery. Every time he faced the dementor he heard his parents being murdered, but when he attempted to just utter the spell, a “white fog obscured his senses” and then “Harry, Harry wakeup.” (178). This quote evidenced that magic was just the physical tool displayed to represent his warring mind. After he passes out, it was not magic that forced him up, rather it was the mundane human quality of never giving up. A flying horse, another example of magic, was used as the crutch for Sirius’s escape from imprisonment. However, this form of magical assistance wasn’t any different from a jail break in the 1800’s via a horse or in the 1900’s using a helicopter to extract a captive. The author in Harry Potter used the flying horse to enter into the realm of fantasy not to diverge from the practical.

The climax where Harry was fighting the dementors by the lake, he used the patronous spell to save the day. Harry relied on magic to attain the resolution to the climax however this wasn’t any different from a soldier relying on his weapons to save civilians. In “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban”, the use of magic was acceptable because it is just expressed humanistic tools or virtues as fantasy elements.

Thorin, The Hero?

1.) I want to take some of my personal time to comment on “The Hobbit”. I had previously stated its shortcoming but, unfairly withheld any laudations about the plot. Though the storyline was straightforward, bordering on redundant, it had an unique ability to keep the reader interested. I believe that the book was written for a culture who loves heroes and even though the ending of the story was far from deceptive, it had the attended effect of provoking the readers emotion. Who could scoff at the valiant, fearless charge of the undersized Thorin. The selfless heroics of the men and elves in their deadly battle with the goblins or even the clever and witty Bilbo, never to be outthought. “The Hobbit” is a book that when broken down, appeals to two emotions prided in our culture, bravery and intellectual prowess. “The Hobbit” gains mass acclamation by appealing to virtues treasured in our society.

2.) A hero is one who goes above and beyond his limitation or in this case, character complexion restrictions. Thorin was the hero of “The Hobbit” because in the final scene he was able to transcend his characters limits and help his friends win the battle. Thorin had two limits that restricted his characters appeal and heroism throughout the story, pride and greed. An example of Throrin’s unchecked pride was when he addressed the men in the village saying he was “Thorin son of Thror King under the mountain” (212). Throughout the story Thorin continually referred to his prided ancestry believing that bloodline was the determining factor of a man’s stature. He had a pompous attitude toward his companion dwarves, who he feels superior to because of his glorified ancestry. This pompous attitude towards his own friends was evidenced at Bilbo’s house when the dwarves were cleaning up but “not Thorin, he was too important, and stayed talking to Gandalf” (15). This quotes showed Thorin’s view on his superiority to the other dwarves. Thorin also had an immense disposition to the beautiful things of the world, gold. The whole storyline was based on Thorin’s impulse to retrieve the treasure from the mountain. This particular characteristic continually interfered with his reasonable judgment as evidenced when he was confronted by the men of the village, he said, “But none of our gold shall thieves take or the violent carry off while we are alive” (280). This quote portrayed the negative influence of greed on Thorin’s decision even when presented with the facts that there wasn’t any food and they were outnumbered by a couple hundred men. Another example of Thorin allowing his greed to conqueror sound judgment was when he discovered Bilbo gave his precious gem to the men, he proceeded to rant “As for you I will throw you to the rocks! He cried and lifted Bilbo in his arms.” (297). In this quote he allowed his greed to blind him from his true treasure, the friendship between Bilbo and himself. Thorin had many faults seen throughout the novel, however when the final battle took on a desperate appearance, one dwarf stepped up to the challenge by selfless heroic action. Thorin’s heroics were most clearly represented during the final battle when “and from the Gate came a trumpet call. They had forgotten Thorin! Part of the wall, moved by levers fell outward with a crash into the pool. Out leapt the King under the Mountain.” (306). In the most crucial battle, Thorin transcended his greed and pride and fought with selfless bravery.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

From Page to Screen

1.) I just want to take some time to talk a little more about the Harry Potter book. I believe that this is one of the greatest novels in previous years. I know there has been better literary structured novels or more sophisticated works but in succeeding in its purpose, Harry Potter takes the cake. The main goal of the Harry Potter series was to relate to the mainstream audience, and as evidenced over the past few years it has succeeded past anyone’s wildest dreams. One of the key components was the novel's uncanny ability to stoke the flames of imagination. It causes the mind to delve into the world of fantasy and to sculpt its own magical reality. This one feat has caused millions of fans to flock to the shelves upon the distribution of a new book in the series. The Harry Potter novel, in my opinion, is one of the greatest literary successes in recent years because of its unique ability to enhance the audience’s imagination.

2.) How does a fantasy movie compare to its base novel has been one of the most prevalent judges of a film. In general, especially with fantasy movies, the film never ascertains the same successful status as the novel. The book allows for the reader’s imagination to shape the fantasy reality in a way that is most gratifying to the specific individual. Fantasy films, on the other hand, severely restrict the ability of the audience to transform the story into their own fantasy reality. Fantasy novels in general will be more entertaining then films because they allow the audience to experience them in their own individual way.

Another reason why fantasy films are substandard in comparison to their base novel is because the movie cuts out many parts of the story line. The movie "Harry Potter and The prisoner of Azkaban" omitted many crucial details of the original novel plots. These included classic confrontations with Snape and Hermione’s magical disappearances. The greatest loss from the transfusion of a book to the movie is the atmosphere of the setting. For example, in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", the novel spends a good third of its story presenting everyday interactions in the castle that build up to the final climax. The movie was unable to implement this literary tool because of the restriction of time for the film. A fantasy movie will always fall short of its preceding novel because it can not be individually perceived and also because of its exclusion of many aspects of the plot.

Novels, historically, have provided a great source of imaginative escape for the reader. In twenty first century society however the majority of the population has become fixated on visuals such as TV and cinemas. Has the mass production of screen visuals taken away from the imagination? The first answer to this question is yes. Since the fixation of visual productions has occurred the amount of literary experience for a person has decreased and consequently so has the use of the imagination. Though visual productions have taken away from the amount of time allotted to the imagination, it does not negate the effects of a fantasy novel. Visual productions also can be beneficial to the imagination employed in fantasy novels. The visuals that are experienced on a daily basis fine tune the imaginative capabilities of a reader. The present fixation on visual presentations decreases the amount of time an individual can delve into the imaginary realm however it also sharpens the minds visual capabilities.