Ian Rolls – Unit 4 Post due Dec 4th

In this picture, the shadowing and light placement make it seem like Martin Luther King Jr. has left the light of the world and has been transported to the darkness of prison. However, the light seeps into the jail cell, and it makes it seem like he is supported by the light that shines behind him, that the prison cell was completely dark until he walked in. This, coupled with the text that posits that willingly acting against the law to better the community shows “the highest respect for law.” Although MLK acted against the law, and is shoved into the darkness of the prison, the lightness seeping in the cell demonstrates his respect for his community and willingness to break the law to solve injustice.

This emphasizes the effort that prominent civil rights activists put into fighting injustice, even one of the main figureheads of the movement was willing to face jail time to create the change that he wanted. The black borders make it seem like he is being swallowed by the jail, but at the same time his posture, with his fists curled up and head held high-hand at the waist in a pose that exudes courage and strength. This gives me hope that his sacrifice is meaningful, and it stresses MLK’s ability to inspire people and stay strong in the face of opposition. The fact that this panel takes up the entire page also emphasizes the historical importance of MLK’s imprisonment and choice to sacrifice his own wellbeing in order to oppose unjust laws. The panel gives me a heightened understanding of the bravery it required to march in protest of segregation while knowing one could be arrested.

Ian Rolls – Kasich Event Commentary

I thought the Kasich event was really good, especially during the moderated discussion and student questions section. The questions prompted some good discussion and forced the speakers to stay on track. However, I thought Kasich’s monologue was very cliché, and it didn’t really offer a good message. It was definitely not worth the $40,000 that the school paid to bring him to speak. The message of “politics doesn’t matter as much,” was really concerning to hear from a politician, and his fatalism about the government, which has large amounts of power despite its potential to use it negatively, was not particularly encouraging to hear for a crowd of motivated college students. His monologue was almost solely based on the stories of individual people who wanted to make change, with the idealistic message that “anyone can do anything they set their mind too.” While this sounds good in practice, we all know that individual acts of kindness alone cannot change the world on their own, and the political system needs to reflect the interests of people who want to make the world better. This was an event that was definitely worth going to, but I left feeling a little disappointed after hearing what was little more than a generic motivational speech.

Ian Rolls – Unit 4 Post 1

Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell , reconstruction era black, female, and educated journalists, both encounter unwritten laws that cause different types of violence against African Americans. Wells writes about how lynchers become self-appointed judges, juries, and executioners of an unwritten law that causes this violence and discrimination. Similarly, Terrell encounters discrimination that seems to force white people to avoid employment and service of black people, and notices that nobody can explain why black people aren’t allowed employment or service. This unwritten, innate law seems to lead to both discrimination and lynching, which seem to be the implementation and enforcement methods that uphold Jim Crow. Both tried to combat this violence with journalism to increase awareness as well as advocate for the equality of black women. They also held prominent positions in organizations like the NAACP and NACW and used those organizations for advocacy and initiatives to push for equal rights. Although, in their published work, Wells and Terrell don’t advocate for a specific plan of change, their actions in journalism show that they believe education about equality and rights is the next step needed to improve equality.

Ian Rolls – Macbeth

The first detail that jumps out at you is the incredible set design, with the platform extending into the front row seats. As the show started, I really liked how it allowed the actors to be close to the audience while still keeping them within the scenes. The trapdoors and curtains under the extended platform was another really nice touch because it helped create an eerie feeling with the slamming of the trapdoors in tune with the drums in the back and the sudden unexpected appearances and disappearances. The cast did an amazing job replicating the dark and twisted plot of Macbeth and making me feel scared and a bit uncomfortable, and the lighting and sound just helped enhance those feelings. I really enjoyed seeing it, nice job to all the fellows and Humesters in it!

Ian Rolls – Unit 3 Post 3- Sontag and Gourevitch Connections

In Chapter four of Regarding the Pain of Others, Sontag discusses how photos of dead/dying individuals are more widely spread when the subject is not white. She talks about how “the more remote or exotic the place, the more likely we are to have full frontal views of the dead and dying” (70). The farther and more exotic the place, the more differences we can see between us and the subject. Sontag discusses how photos of American soldiers dying always have their faces blurred, or disfigured, so the viewer cannot make out a distinct person. However if the subject does not look like the viewer, it is easier to view a direct photo of a dead person. Gourevitch talks about how Americans faced away during the Rwandan genocide, but had lots of photography about the fleeing Hutus, the Cholera outbreak, and the dead bodies that were being cleared in the aftermath. Gruesome, personal images were widely produced in America because Americans had little to no connection with the murdered Tutsis.

Ian Rolls – Passport Post

The make your own passport workshop experience made me realize how important it was to have a place of belonging and how many people didn’t have a place that they officially belong to. It was quite odd to make a passport that represented a different nation that I belonged to, and although I created the passport it didn’t feel like it was mine. It never occurred to me how important the passport is as a physical representation of belonging. What was mindboggling was that there are an estimated ten million people who are stateless, who don’t have an official place they can call home. We discussed how alienating it must be to feel like you don’t belong anywhere. Overall an interesting event and good forum for discussion about citizenship and statelessness.

Ian Rolls – Unit 3 Post 2 – Sontag

The first chapter of Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others describes the way in which photographic representations of suffering affect emotions which ultimately determine actions. Sontag disagrees with the popular notion that images of suffering are a mode to decrease future suffering. If one sees images of people in positions of pain, they are less likely to cause pain to others. Sontag argues that the problem with this notion is that photographs can be used in many different contexts. For example, she brings up the example of the Palestinian and Israeli children dying, showing how for each the photo carries revenge along with the empathy of seeing one suffer. Photos like those can actually be used to motivate war and strife instead of limiting it. 

            In chapter six, Sontag describes the detachment that people can feel after being exposed to images of suffering. Sontag argues that after seeing a gruesome image, without action being taken we become desensitized to the violence. The more and more photos we see without taking action, the more and more normal seeing pain feels, and the more we are able to replicate that pain. Suffering can also be beautiful and entertaining: when we see a car crash on the side of the road, we are intrigued with what took place, and we can have one of three reactions. The first is to say: “how horrible,” and look away. The second is to stare at the crash; to become fascinated and entertained by what happened. The last is to see the crash and take action to help solve the pain. The problem is that there is not just one good outcome from seeing images of suffering, there can be ways in which the suffering produces negative consequences.

            In chapter eight, Sontag discusses the value that images of suffering have. Although they can be used to perpetuate war or cause indifference, they also instill powerful human emotions into their observers. Emotionally reacting to a depiction of pain and trying to empathize with the person in pain is an ethical act. Looking at pictures of pain also makes us understand that humans commit atrocities towards each other, which Sontag thinks is a key understanding that marks psychological adulthood. People think there is something morally wrong at observing pain from such an abstract point of view, but in fact it is ethical to use depictions of pain to spark emotions of change and empathy within people.

Sentence Descriptions:

Chapter 1: Photographic representations of suffering instill different emotions in observers based on the context of the image.

Chapter 6: Violence can be beautiful and entertaining rather than shocking, and people who feel safe from that violence and pain can become detached from those images.

Chapter 8: Although images of suffering can never encapsulate the actuality of what occurred, they are necessary to make us feel emotions and take action.

Ian Rolls – Wednesday Post

Banality of Evil – from source 1

  • Report on Eichmann’s trial in Israel, seen as controversial because it did not label him as a murderer, and therefore people thought it made him look less guilty
  • Eichmann had neither killed anyone nor ordered people to be killed (he just directed the transportation of Jewish people to concentration camps)
  • Eichmann was pretty normal because he did not fully understand what he had done, so he was unaware of his own wickedness
  • Murder was impersonal and abstract
  • Eichmann had no personal convictions or hatred towards the Jews because he was simply concerned about his own personal success in the ladder. Lived only for the enhancement of his own career
  • Banal evil is even more dangerous because one would only feel personal guilt if they did not achieve their goal of furthering their career. They would feel no guilt whatsoever for atrocities committed against people

The origins of totalitarianism – from source 2

  • Describes preconditions and the rise of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany
  • Traces the emergence of racism as an ideology
  • Totalitarianism is unique and separate from tyranny and dictatorship. What made Germany totalitarian was that it was about terror and consistency to entire populations, not just adversaries
  • Colonialism and imperialism and the nation-state -> racism

Adolf Eichmann – from source 1

  • Nazi official who organized the transportation methods of Jewish people to ghettos and concentration camps
  • High ranking Nazi member who fled to Argentina after the war ended
  • Israeli covert operations used to extract Eichmann out of Argentina 
  • Hung in May 1962 after a trial in Israel for war crimes against the Jewish people
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/493684?seq=2#metadata_info_tab_contents
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism

Ian Rolls – Unit 2 Post 3

Option 2

During our afternoon discussion, we tried to define bullshit more accurately by coming up with its antithesis. Since the goal of bullshit is to change a person’s perception of the bullshitter according to Frankfurt, that the opposite is to do or say something without the intent to change someone’s perception. Another important facet of bullshit is that regardless of someone’s perspective not changing, if there was intent to change the perspective, it is classified as bullshit. So, the antithesis of bullshit can help reduce the amount of bullshit because we can shape our discourse around the antithesis. If we change our discourse by speaking without the intent to shape other people’s opinions of ourselves, that will reduce bullshit. The problem is that everything we say has an intent behind it to change someone’s opinion about us. We discussed that everything we say or do has a selfish motive behind it because everything we do is for personal gain. For example, we make friends because they give us a sense of belonging, we are nice to people so they do nice things for us in return, etc. So, I think under Frankfurt’s definition, it is impossible to reduce bullshit because everything we say is to put ourselves in a better position.

Option 3

The question that confuses me the most, especially after listening to the translation panel, is what makes a good translation? There seems to be people on the side that an exact, word for word translation is the only correct method of translation, and there are others that think that translating the essence of the work is what is most important. The problem is that both the meanings of the words and the feelings they invoke are equally as important to the original text, and since each language has a completely different conceptual scheme, there will always be pieces of each that are lost in translation. So, is it even possible to find a middle ground in which there is a bit of both? It seems to me that so many people think they know what a good translation looks like, yet there are critics of both sides.

Ian Rolls – Unit 2 Post 2

Option 2

            What I found really interesting during Thursday’s lecture was the presentations about how certain words from languages have no translational counterpart from other languages. My dad used to live in Germany for a long time, and sometimes he will be talking to us and will say: “there is the perfect word in German for this, but I don’t know how to explain it in English.” It’s as if language is a paradigm for knowledge production, and different languages do not have words to describe ideas/concepts because under that linguistic paradigm there is no consideration for that. Also, that is why in different countries with different cultures and languages, there are different types of knowledge produced. Chinese medicine, for example is specific to Chinese language and culture and no other language has the vocabulary and understanding to describe the significance of those practices. It is a possible explanation for why the European philosopher (whose name I cannot remember) thought that all of the knowledge produced ever in the Middle East is only as valuable as one bookshelf of European books. Although Arabic nations were producing incredibly significant academic work for the time, the European philosopher could not understand it from his conceptual paradigm.

Option 3

            Remember professor Quillen’s lecture on how history is produced in Unit one? She talked about how all of history is like a hurricane in that there is so much going on that we could never possibly understand the world just by looking at it. History gets filtered through specific narratives which is how history is presented in the way we know it. Things get lost because narratives and experiences are left out and only certain ones are passed down. I think that the reason certain narratives exist to create history is because of the paradigms that are normally accepted during any given time. Only narratives that adhere to what Kuhn would consider “normal science” would be passed down because those were the stories that were valuable under specific time-frame’s paradigms. Anomalies in the time-frame that did not cause a shift in the paradigm are hidden while the only anomalies that we know about are the ones that actually caused a paradigm shift.