Isabel Nowak Monday 4/20 Post

In the film, Kurt talks about how photos are unique in that they elicit a specific response from the viewer, different than that of a painting. He is trying to replicate this emotion with his paintings. Like all of Richter’s paintings, Ulrike Meinhof’s portraits are copied from photographs but blurred. In the film Never Look Away, Kurt often puts his hand in front of his face to blur his focus. I think he’s doing it in order to not look away. Maybe blurring difficult images retain their reality, but make them easier for audiences to look at. Therefore, these realities are presentable to a wider audience. The reality of Meinhof’s portraits remain consistent, but makes so that we don’t have to look away. Maybe the blur allows for our minds to fill in the gaps.

Isabel Nowak Wednesday 4/15 post

“Shadows of the Summit Pointing West” (1960)

!: Meinhof must have paid very close attention to current events.

?: Why does America have so much sway in international organizations?

“Hitler Within You” (1961)

!: Underlying structures of power are usually to blame. 

?: How has the shaping of history changed now that the internet allows people to access so much information?

“Human Dignity is Violable” (1962)

!: It’s weird how we only ever really hear of nuclear weapons when it comes to Russia and the U.S.

?: How would the US be different if our Constitution was as recent or malleable?

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

!: I once read that the great thinkers of the Enlightenment and Renaissance wouldn’t have had time to accomplish what they did if women hadn’t been taking care of so many responsibilities.

?: How much of an impact does making a private matter public have?

“Columnism” (1968)

!: I’d never thought about the logic behind editorials.

?: Is the press ever truly “free?”

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

!: I was surprised how someone was able to openly admit that they had been a Nazi.

?: At what point is journalism no longer considered free speech? 

Baader-Meinhof Komplex

!: It was interesting how divisive the RAF was to the German public despite being branded as terrorists.

?: Is violent protest ever effective?

Isabel Nowak Monday 3/30 Post

My group agreed that we liked the Anderson translation of Requiem better, for a variety of reasons. My group members said that they found the Anderson translation more modern and easy to understand, which allowed them to appreciate the poetry itself better; they weren’t as confused by obscure words, and the subject of each line was clearer. Personally, I preferred the Anderson translation as well. I thought that it did a better job of invoking more nuanced emotions, and did better with the “show don’t tell” philosophy. I can’t help but wonder which is the more “accurate” translation.

!: It was interesting how Ahkmatova got a say in her own memorialization.

?: When did poetry start holding so much weight in Russia?

2/17 Post Isabel Nowak

In the article, Snow states that “it is the traditional culture, to an extent remarkably little diminished by the emergence of the scientific one, which manages the western world” (11). I found it surprising that this was stated outright, as the Western world typically views tradition as primitive, often using the word in reference to other cultures. The Western world likes to imagine itself as progressive and civilized, but really, it is just as governed by tradition as the rest of the world.

Snow also states that “I said earlier that this cultural divide is not just an English phenomenon: it exists all over the western world” (16-17). Snow is referring to the cultural divide between scientists and literary intellectuals. Why does Snow believe that this is a Western phenomenon? In what ways are other parts of the world different? Is this statement born purely from ignorance?

Scientific Theories I knew:

  • Plate tectonics
  • General relativity
  • Quantum theory
  • Evolution by natural selection
  • Heliocentrism 

Scientific Discoveries I knew:

  • Eratosthenes measures the world
  • Mendel cultivates genetics
  • Newton eye optics
  • Curie’s work
  • Pavlov’s experiments

Isabel Nowak Black Girl Linguistic Play

I feel like the performance showed the different multitudes of black girls, and how the same types of movements ran through all of them. It was easy for me to see the kinds of relationships between different dancers in different scenes through movement alone: friends, sisters, a mother and daughter. It might have been a way to thwart the stereotypes that only a certain kind of black girl moved like that, or the surface interpretations of that kind of dance.

I’m curious about many of the added sounds in the performance, like the voices in the beginning, or the swooshing sounds of the legs. What did they represent? Were they a reflection of finding the right movements to connect with one’s self? With one’s past?

Unit 5 Post 1 Isabel Nowak


!: I had never considered defining performance as that which vanishes. 

?: What does Schneider mean by retroaction? She defines archives as “social performance of retroaction.”


  • Flesh vs bone
  • Value of “original”
  • Death in disappearance and remains
  • Counter-memory


!: WE have the power to construct the past. It isn’t static. It isn’t an archive. (Is claiming so a way to banish unpleasantness to another plain?)

?: What does Birns mean when he defines neutrality as neither unanimity nor transcendence?


  • Banality of the present
  • Memory-sites
  • Premature past
  • Art and the burden of history

Mind the Heart! Project Isabel Nowak 10/7

Yesterday, October 7th, I attended Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan’s presentation of their Mind the Heart! public art project. The artists described how they left their home in Tel Aviv, donated their possessions, and travelled to the United States. Since then, they’ve traveled 365 days and 40,000 miles, relying only on the direction of strangers and documenting their art pieces as they went. 

Letting go was a recurring theme in the presentation. In the beginning, Maya and Roie let go of their possessions and old life to come to America, but later, Roie shows a picture of one of his pieces that contained the phrase “don’t let go.” At the end of the presentation, I couldn’t help but ask “let go or don’t let go?” In response, the artists showed me one of their pieces: a wall covered in birds made of yarn (a material used in all their pieces) all connected to a large mass of yarn at the left side of the wall. They explained that this piece was meant to be interpreted multiple ways; you could see it as a ball and chain, or you could see it as a connection, something that moves with the birds. That piece was my favorite; I think the question “let go or don’t let go?” has haunted me for a while, and I was glad to be given more insight into it.

Isabel Nowak Unit 2 Assignment 3

Option 2: According to James, bullshit occurs when someone’s opportunity to speak about a subject outweighs their knowledge. Therefore, the simplest way to counteract bullshit is to counteract ignorance. However, a lack of information is not the only source of bullshit. Bullshit can also be born from the desire to project a favorable image of oneself, or employed as a means to a different end. This particular use of bullshit is much more difficult to counteract. The most effective way I can imagine is to change the values of society as a whole; American society pushes the belief that the ends justify the means. I believe that restructuring this worldview, although a difficult process, would decrease bullshit.

Option 3: How do different paradigms of different disciplines relate to one another? We have read works about both scientific and humanities oriented conceptual themes, but we have not discussed the connections between these works at length. Are we attempting to gain a holistic understanding of conceptual schemes, or do the disciplines connect to one another? Is there a logical progression between them?

Unit 2 Post 2 Isabel Nowak

Option 2:

I like to think of translators as the statisticians of the humanities; statisticians are able to tell any story they wish with what they have at their disposal. I believe the same is true for translators. Therefore, I pose the following question: are translators aware of how much power they wield? I can think of several examples where specific translations have altered the course of history, among the most notable being from the Christian Bible. In the Bible’s original Latin, a certain sentence most closely meant “man shall not lie with boy/child.” However, the sentence ended up being translated as “man shall not lie with man,” which, of course, had serious consequences. How intentional was this? Is it possible not to bring our personal worldview to a translation?

Option 1:Hrönir are represent the concept of an object after it has interacted with humanity. They represent the idealistic “copies” humans form after interacting with something, because humans can never have perfect memory. Borges describes the different degrees of hrönir in the reading: “[hrönir] of the eleventh degree have a purity of form which the originals do not possess.” This describes how the flaws of things can be gradually eroded over time as the idea of them is passed through memory. For example, modern Americans idolize the country’s founding fathers, however, they were just as flawed as any human, and were not loved by all when they were alive. In The Allegory of the Cave, the shadows represent hrönir. They are mere reflections of reality, yet they are believed to represent reality, just like human perceptions.