Gardella: Unit 8 Assignment 2

My portfolio is a general investigation of truth, which (as seen in my definitions) is closely related to humanities. Richter’s paintings challenge my ideas of truth, especially the way I view art as a translation. In Professor Tamura’s unit we studied the photograph as a translation of truth and in Professor Bory’s unit, we studied abstract paintings (far from the realism of photo-journalism) as translation of truth. Now, in Unit 8, we are examining paintings based off of photographs.

Why would Richter paint a subject that has already been expressed in a photograph? Which is the better* representation of Meinhof: photograph or painting?

*I interpret “better” as closer to truth.

I think that I can make two different arguments regarding the reality vs. representation of Meinhof:

The first, is that the painting is less accurate of a representation because it is one step away from reality and therefore, creates distance from what actually happened. This argues: truth –> gaze –> photograph –> painting. Because Richter’s paintings blur the images from the photos, the subject is harder to see/understand.

On the other hand, I could argue that the painting is more accurate of a representation because it provides abstraction of the image, which, like Rothko, brings us closer to emotion and the truth. This argues: truth –> gaze –> painting –> photograph. Because Richter’s paintings blur the images from the photos, they break down the clear subject into brushstrokes and colors which can evoke more accurate emotion.

Why would Kurt, as an artist want to paint a photograph?

Why would he want to reproduce an image that has already been captured?

Does Richter believe that mediums like photography/painting create a harmless distance or harmful representation of reality?

Gardella: Wed. April 15th Post

“Shadows of the Summit Pointing West” (1960)

! Immediate impression of Meinhof’s writing is that she is blunt and a bit snarky in tone.

? What does détente mean? Definition: “The easing of strained relations, especially in a political situation, through verbal communication”

“Hitler Within You” (1961)

! Lots of parallels to today in the way that Meinhof discusses generational differences following shameful history

? Who is Herr Stauss? I think this is a made up person but it hints at the Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Strauss, as the footnote says that he ended up suing Meinhof for libel but lost.

“Everybody Talks About the Weather” (1969)

! This column can be summarized by the general idea of “truth” in that “everybody talks about the weather” as an avoidance of discussing the real issues like the façade of the Iranian Shah and journalist Bahman Nirumund, German capitalism, as well as the issues of women and children and other “apolitical” topics.

? What does Meinhof mean when she says that women’s work is “as consumers”?

“Women in the SDS: Acting on Their Own Behalf” (1968)

! Her writing is clever, especially as she explains the importance of the tomatoes as not just a method of protest, but as a way to bring the private to the public and as a way to literally “stain” the clothes of men that women must wash.

? What does SDS stand for? Socialist German Student Union

“From Protest to Resistance” (1968)

! Important themes from this column: Resistance is stronger than protest. Nonviolence compared to violence. Symbolic/verbal violence versus physical violence.

? What is so special about Springer Publications? Gave allegedly biased coverage of student movement.

Baader-Meinhof Komplex

! Meinhof left her children/family and steady life for RAF.

? Did the film romanticism terrorism? Who are the heroes of the film? Are there any?

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

! Balance between malicious yellow journalism and freedom of press. (Well displayed in epilogue at funeral)

? How similar is the film adaptation to the book? Did either have any effect on journalism at the time?

Gardella: Monday March 30th Post

In my AT discussion with Alec, Nick, Luna, and Prescott, there were a lot of thought-provoking ideas comparing Anderson’s and Thomas’ translations of Requiem. When I first read the two versions, I felt that because Anderson had a rhyme scheme and a clearer plot, this text sacrificed the more intentional word choice that was seen in Thomas’. I am curious if the original work had a rhyme scheme and if Anderson chose to preserve this or to take artistic liberties and create a rhyme. Thomas’ translation had looser rhyming and thus, more impactful diction. It felt less like a summary and more metaphorical in retelling the narrative. As a group, we differed in personal preference of translations, however we agreed that Anderson seems to translate for a native English speaker, while Thomas seems to translate directly from the Russian. It’s an interesting debate which is more effective or closer to the original. Is it better to interpret a text and translate it according to what fits the confines of the English language? Or is it better to directly match the Russian vocabulary to English words, neglecting the overall meaning and instead focusing on diction? I ultimately think that each translation emphasizes certain elements of Akhmatova’s Requiem, so depending on what a reader is looking for, they can choose between the two. In the end, the truest translation of Akhmatova’s Requiem is her experience itself. Each translation is a further step away from the truth.

12/4 Post: March Book Two

On May 2, 1963, an organized protest took place in Birmingham, Alabama. However, this nonviolent march was unlike the civil rights protests that had preceded it, and instead, it was predominantly made up of children. The book, March Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell uses graphic “rhetoric” to convey this event. The full page illustration on page 135 is particularly impactful due to its intentionally designed size, characters, and speech balloons.

The most obvious yet effective strategy used in this illustration is its size. The drawing takes up an entire page of the book. This allows for the reader to pay closer attention to the details of the image, and spend more time absorbing the image’s information. Smaller panels in a graphic novel create a faster pace for the reader and often imply movement. This large illustration creates a stillness and pause that fully impacts the reader.

The two main figures of the illustration are clearly separated from the background. Because of their darkness in shading, this contrast brings the figures forward on the page. The reader sees a young black girl and an adult white police officer. What is most striking to me about these characters is their body language and physical stances. The young girl is standing upright, with her shoulders back and head lifted. This expresses power and strength. The police officer is lowered onto his knee to become closer to the girl’s height. Usually, criminals are met with intimidation by the police, yet here, the officer has lowered himself. The officer recognizes that this is just a child, even so, he will arrest her, due to the racism that the police upheld at this time.

The text in this illustration is also effective. The conversation between the officer and girl is short, emphasizing the innocence of the girl and the simplicity of her demands. The final statement at the bottom of the page reads, “It was an embarrassment to the city.” Because this sentence is at the bottom of the page, it naturally forces the reader to look at the conversational speech bubbles and the characters before reading this line. Bolding the word “embarrassment” emphasizes this word and the madness of the police forces’ actions. The final line summarizes the illustration, convincing the reader of the racism and injustice within the police force in Alabama.

Unit 4 Assignment 1

Grace Gardella

Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells were both black activists, writers, and reformers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Researching their religious backgrounds was difficult, however, Wells is confirmed to be baptized in the Methodist Church. Both the daughters of slaves immediately before emancipation and the Reconstruction period, Terrell and Wells were educated and affluent, becoming successful, earning their label today as part of the “black elite.” Having this privilege, these women used their abilities and opportunities to speak out and fight racial discrimination and violence. In particular, Terrell brought attention to the suffrage movement, emphasizing the importance of allowing black women to vote, and Wells researched and wrote about the unjust practice of lynching in the South.

Mary Church Terrell focused her solution on “racial uplift.” This is the concept that blacks must take advantage of opportunities to advance themselves through education, work, and activism. If one black person becomes successful, this helps to elevate the race as a whole. This concept however, is based on the idea that all blacks have equal opportunities as whites, which aligns with Terrell’s background, as she took advantage of opportunities, received an education, and advanced past her parent’s lives to become successful.

To expose the corrupt punishment of lynching, Ida B. Wells researched and wrote reports, creating solutions to this racial violence. Wells believed that lynching was practiced not to ensure punishment for criminals, but to enforce “economic subordination” on blacks. In her research, she found that lynching was often justified by the myth of black men raping white women. However, this was not usually the case, but instead it was a way to protect white economic power during the Reconstruction period. To combat this practice and ensure black economic advancement, Wells “encouraged black residents… to leave, taking with them their labor and capital.”

Peebles-Wilkins, Wilma, and E. Aracelis Francis. “Two Outstanding Black Women in Social Welfare History: Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.” Affilia5, no. 4 (December 1, 1990): 87–100. https://doi.org/10.1177/088610999000500406.

National Women’s History Museum. “Mary Church Terrell.” Accessed November 17, 2019. https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/mary-church-terrell.

Ugarte, Rodrigo. “Ida B. Wells and the Economics of Racial Violence.” Items(blog). Accessed November 17, 2019. https://items.ssrc.org/reading-racial-conflict/ida-b-wells-and-the-economics-of-racial-violence/.

Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “On Violence in the South: Ida B. Wells-Barnett,” July 11, 2016. https://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/on-violence-in-the-south-ida-b-wells-barnett/.

Unit 3 Assignment 3- Grace Gardella

These two texts both discuss the act of looking at suffering. However, Sontag’s text is more general, with a focus on photography, while Gourevitch’s text is written within the specific context of the Rwandan Genocide. The assigned readings from the two texts connect around the witnessing of tragedy and the implied distance in observation. Sontag argues that photos have an innate distance in nature and that while they may “seek our gaze” with “terrible distinctness”, ultimately, the viewer can never accurately understand the depicted tragedy (63, 135). Gourevitch argues a similar idea, describing the disconnect and lack of action between the broadcasted images of the genocide and the viewers watching from other countries. The perception of the Rwandan Genocide from outsiders was inaccurate. There was confusion as to who was the victim and the murderers and even whether to even classify the conflict as a genocide. This disconnect between image and viewer from Sontag’s text is a similar reasoning for the lack of action in response to the Rwandan Genocide that Gourevitch reported on.

Grace Gardella

Unit 3 Assignment 2- Grace Gardella

Chapter 1 explains war as an unelimatable evil that results in a unified abhorrence.

Sontag’s first chapter of Regarding the Pain of Others begins by establishing that even though war is gendered as masculine, all moral humans have a unified hatred towards it. In taking photographs of war violence, the suffering of war is made more real to a large “we”, who are not simply those who care, but includes those who are unconcerned with war as well. Even arbitrary depictions of war, with limited information produce the same reaction, as war is generic and does not rely on identity or specific facts to produce a response of horror. To this, Sontag concludes that war is ever-present and even as we respond to photographs of war, we can only hope to ensure justice unto perpetrators, lessen the amount of death, and suggest alternatives to war when it arises in the future.

Chapter 6 explains the desire to look at suffering and violence as natural and fulfilling of human needs.

Sontag makes several points about the human desire to look at the grotesque. Repulsive images often allure us, yet this causes self-conflict as we feel morally wrong for having this desire. However, this want to look at suffering is natural. Sontag even explains how extreme suffering can be interpreted as a type of transfiguration. In answering how we should respond once we have seen a violent image, Sontag explains that indifference is a common reaction. Once the eye has gazed upon violence, if we ourselves feel safe or feel helpless to the cause, our reaction will be indifference, as the initial compassion fades without a following action. In fact, responding with sympathy is wrong, as this implies a privileged perspective towards the suffering.

Chapter 8 explains that because we are helpless, the act of watching and simply looking at suffering is an acceptable response.

This chapter begins by emphasizing the need to acknowledge that suffering exists. Even though photographs lack the ability to perfectly duplicate reality, suffering can be depicted in photos as reminders of future possibilities of violence and war. These photographs are an invitation to think about and question suffering, not simply to remember it in memory. Sontag brings up an interesting paradox in this chapter as well. She points out that it is the inability to act in response to suffering that makes us care, for this creates frustration and emphasizes the indecency of a situation. With this in mind, the passive act of watching and the nature of sight is not wrong or immoral.

Passport Workshop — Grace

Citizenship is physically represented by passports. We, as a society, have agreed to place importance on government created regulations and borders, and thus, place importance on passports. However, the act of making my own passport emphasized its actual insignificance. In reality, passports are just paper, much like other important documents, like money, for example. In a short time, I handmade my own passport. Tintin Wulia asked me, “What is citizenship?” To which we eventually agreed that it is a membership, and thus, has the capability of not only including members, but excluding those who are not members. Citizenship is arbitrary, yet creates identity distinctions and limits humans. Hannah Arendt created her own document of identity, to conform to government regulations, despite being stateless.

Unit 3 Assignment 1 by Grace Gardella

Hannah Arendt

Born 1906 in Germany, died 1944 in New York

Political scientist and philosopher

Born in Germany, moved to Paris, fled to the United States

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hannah-Arendt

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Written by Arendt (published 1951)

Analyzes Nazi/Stalinist regimes and works to understand the causes of totalitarianism

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/

Totalitarianism definition: a form of government that limits individual freedoms and gives power/authority to the state

https://www.britannica.com/topic/totalitarianism

Arendt’s definition of totalitarianism: the “outcome of disintegration of the traditional nation-state”

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hannah-Arendt

“Banality of Evil”

Can be understood as “insight into the commonplace motives of perpetrators of evil”

Revolutionary idea: individual humans responsible for acts of evil are “mundane”, not “demonic”

However, Arendt is not trying to understate the tragedy of the Holocaust

https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/02/07/hannah-arendt-the-banality-of-evil/

Eichmann in Jerusalem

Report published in 1963 by Arendt

1961- attends trial of Eichman as a reporter working for The New Yorker https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/

Critics thought that Arendt’s report on Eichmann was too lenient

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hannah-Arendt

Adolf Eichmann

Nazi war criminal

Organized/led deportation of Jews to be killed at concentration camps

Trial was in Israel. Found guilty in 1961.

Hanged in 1962

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/adolf-eichmann

Unit 2 Post 3

In section 9.4, Appiah argues that the distinctive features of formal philosophy are not possible without written language. What are these features? How convincing is Appiah’s argument? Is he being unfair to nonliterate cultures?

Appiah defines formal philosophy as “modern western philosophy” which contrasts to what he calls, “folk philosophy”. Folk philosophy is informal, often conversational, and made up of beliefs of central questions to human life. Appiah believes that formal philosophy is superior or at least, more complex than folk philosophy, much because of its ability to be written. Formal philosophy makes more general claims because it must be relevant beyond a singular conversation. Therefore, it must provide context to a wide audience of readers. Formal philosophy can not just assume cultural understandings. This allows for more consistency in formal philosophy as well as the ability to compare and argue written philosophical statements. I don’t believe that Appiah is being unfair to nonliterate cultures, simply because I feel that his definition of formal philosophy naturally relies on written recordings. I believe it is possible however, for nonliterate cultures to make convincing arguments in a method that Appiah might classify as folk philosophy. While I think that formal philosophy’s relationship with writing is crucial, I am not convinced that formal philosophy is inherently superior simply because of this difference from folk philosophy.

What’s the most effective way to reduce the amount of bullshit in contemporary discourse? Be sure to use Frankfurt’s specific notion of bullshit—so in that sense, the question is really asking: What’s the best way to get people to care about truth when they speak or write?

Frankfurt understands bullshit as a lack of concern for truth. Bullshitters are not necessarily wrong, but they are fake. This difference between a liar and a bullshitter is important to understand so we can define truth and understand how people can care more about truth and therefore, stop bullshitting. Bullshit must be stopped at the root cause of the issue. We must avoid placing people in positions that they are unqualified for and that they must speak or act upon. If unqualified persons are removed from public positions, they will not be forced to bullshit. However, sufficiency and knowledge are hard to qualify, especially in an effort to preserve truth. If a relativist point of view is taken, we could understand that everything is bullshit in someway, because there is no universal truth. However, to simply provide a solution to Frankfurt’s fight against bullshit, I think we need to encourage humility among humans, so that we will not be over-ambitious and selfish in taking roles that we can not best serve.

Unit 2 Assignment 2

What exactly are hrönir (pp. 29-30)? See if you can give your own examples to illustrate this concept. Do hrönir appear in Plato’s narrative? Explain.

Both the Borges and Plato readings were difficult to fully grasp, however, the videos and Dapia’s analysis were useful in uncovering meaning. One concept that Borges discusses is “hrönir” which are described as “secondary objects”. Literally, we can understand hrönir as duplications of lost objects. However, a quote from the Dapia reading enlightens a deeper understanding. She says, “We cannot access reality without conceptualizing it, so perhaps our ways of conceptualizing do not duplicate reality but simply create it” (95). In this way, hrönir are imperfect duplications created by the mind. A hrön is an attempt to recreate reality, however, it is always flawed and inaccurate. Similar to the way humans try to understand reality, their conceptual schemes create lenses which distort the ability to ever perfectly duplicate what is real. In Plato’s narrative, we can understand the concept of the shadows in the cave as similar to the hrönir. These are reflections of “real” objects which are lit by the fire behind the prisoners. The conceptual scheme of the prisoners believe that it is these shadows which are reality. However, once a prisoner is released, he slowly is able to grasp more accurate representations of reality, ultimately seeing the sun directly. The hrönir are the shadows of humans who are mislead to believe falsehoods because of their conceptual schemes. According to Plato, it is philosophers who are able to find the truth of reality, and truly see the sun.

In a few sentences, comment on / raise a question about Thursday’s translation panel. This can be based on your !/? posts, or it can be something new. And it could be useful—though not required—to connect the translation panel to Plato or Borges (note for starters that both of these readings are translations).

As we learn more about conceptual schemes, translation can be understood in a similar way. The lecture on Thursday discussed how translators seek the most truthful or accurate translations. Following the lecture, I asked if the best translations are more literal matches of words or if they emphasize the tone and general ideas of the language. However, regardless of the translator, we can never really have a perfect translation. Plato’s and Bourges’ views of reality say how our conceptual schemes interfere with our ability to create accurate understandings of reality. In a similar way, language is just an attempt to understand reality. Translations bring us farther from reality, just as the hrönir become less accurate as they  are duplicated.

DCSO Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5

On Tuesday September 24, I attended Davidson College Student Orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. While I’ve attended my high school’s music concerts, I’ve never experienced this level of orchestra, which was much more advanced and sophisticated. Not only did the music sound amazing, but the conductor, concertmaster, and musicians were very cohesive and formally well practiced.

I enjoyed how the conductor provided background information about the piece and composer before the music began. In particular, she mentioned how we can never know exactly what Tchaikovsky’s thoughts were in creating his music, but that we have clues from his notes. This made listening to the concert more intriguing, as throughout, I would ask myself, why did the composer chose to do? What emotions could he be trying to elicit? Also, 19th century compositions often tell a story, which is a type of music called, Program Music. With this in mind, I tried to visualize the narrative that the music was telling.

I’m happy that I got the chance to attend this performance. While I don’t listen to orchestral symphonies often, the music was beautiful. It was also great to see my classmates who were playing in the concert.