Preston Ito Monday Post 2/17: Snow

?- “They give a pitying chuckle at the news of scientists who have never read a major work of English literature. They dismiss them as ignorant specialists. Yet their own ignorance and their own specialization is just as startling.” (14)

This makes me wonder what Snow considered himself to be. Snow provides criticisms for both and also talks about the dangers of splitting in to two groups. That being said, I still feel like there are some practical reasons why one would choose to categorize themselves. Furthermore, the solutions that he provides is very vague. I don’t quite understand what “rethinking our education” means.

!- “Compared with the rest of the intellectual world, considerably more scientists in this country and probably in the U.S. come from poor families.” (10)

I understand most of the generalizations that Snow points out between scientists and literary intellectuals. I feel like this statement comes out of nowhere. This statement doesn’t have much backing evidence. Not only that, but I feel like that’s just not true. I’d always imagined that people who are exceptional in the sciences come from a richer background.

Theories I Recognized

  • Heliocentrism
  • Evolution by natural selection
  • Plate techtonics
  • Quantum theory

Experiments I Recognized

  • Robert Millikan electron
  • Pavlov’s dogs

Preston Ito Unit 6 Post 1: Black Girl Linguistic Play

After watching CABD’s “Black Girl: Linguistic Play”, it’s really opened my eyes to the different ways in which art can have meaning. Every little thing symbolized something deeper; There was never something that didn’t have a double meaning. One big observation that I had was the audience’s responses toward certain parts of the dance. For example, I heard some people giggle periodically throughout the show. Although I was a little confused from their laughter, I think that just goes to show how the dance has the ability to reach people differently. That’s a part of the beauty of dance; Everyone can interpret the performance differently and it can hold a different meaning to everyone.

When considering what the work actually does, another question comes to mind: Are all forms of dance/performance capable of being equally political? While primarily focusing on dance this unit, it can be easy to forget about things like music or drawing. Going back to earlier in this unit, I consider how overreading can be applied to all forms of art. In any form of self-expression, there will always be a deeper meaning if you look deep enough. Especially if someone creates a work of art with the intention of having a deeper or political meaning, no matter what their reasoning is, it’d be unfair to say they’re wrong in their reasoning. That being said, I believe any form of performance has the potential to be political.

Unit 5 Post 1: Preston Ito

Birns: Ritualizing the Past: Ralph Lemon’s Counter-Memorials

!- “His work makes clear that any reckoning with the past must be both traumatic and incomplete.” (Birns 22) Analyzing the various methods to pay respects to the troubled past is something that I’ve thought more about, especially after the trip to Montgomery. The distinction between ritualizing and memorializing made here is interesting, and directly relates to Professor Bory’s unit. Birns talks about Lemon’s art is meant to be an experience, rather than a mere presentation of facts.

?- With the idea of ritualizing over memorializing in mind, what is the best thing that I, a student and observer, do to understand the past on the deepest level?

Schneider: Performance Remains

!- “Is it not rather mimetic representation, and somewhat bogus or indiscreet at that? Is the live bloater not offering a mimetic and perhaps even ludicrous copy of something only vaguely imagined as a bloated corpse?” (Schneider 103) This made me think back to the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, specifically the scenes with the people in the jail cells. I remember Sam Van Horn bringing up the point that those people were actors. These people were told to present themselves in a certain way to mimic the struggles of those in the past. It’s an interesting perspective to look at these actors not only at what they’re portraying, but also see them as a person acting in attempt to preserve history.

?- “In the archive, flesh is given to be that which slips away. Flesh can house no memory of bone. Only bone speaks memory of flesh. Flesh is blindspot. Disappearing.” (Schneider 102) I don’t really understand this analogy. I think Schneider is trying to compare performance to flesh, in that they are both fleeing. I don’t understand the role of the bone and what that symbolizes in the context of this analogy.

Campus Event Commentary: Preston Ito

On November 11, Mercury passed directly between the Earth, also known as the Mercury Transit. The Physics department had set up telescopes on Chamber’s Lawn at around 10 am to show different pictures of the transit. I’ve seen total eclipses before, but other than that, I had no idea what to expect of the Mercury Transit. When I looked into the telescope, I saw the tiny black dot that was Mercury in front of a huge red background (the Sun). It was somewhat exciting to see, especially since the next Mercury transit will occur in the year 2032. This can be tied into the theme of revolution, when applying the scientific definition to the word. Revolution describes the motion of planets around the sun. Planets like Earth will revolve around the Sun, giving us our sense of time. Relating something like physics to humanities is always nice in that it gives us a shift in perspective. You’d think that it’d be hard to relate physics to the social revolutions we’ve been discussing in class, but just in the word “revolution” itself, we can discover clear connections between the two subjects.

Unit 4 Wednesday Post 12/4: Preston Ito

As I was reading the book, the most shocking moment for me was on page 135. Usually, there aren’t pictures that take up a full page, so when there is a large image, there is a lot of emphasis put on them. Page 135 was especially disturbing for several reasons. For the first time in the book, they talk about injustice when dealing with innocent children. Since the book has mostly been about conflicts between adults, it was a change of pace when we saw a full blown image of an interaction between a white cop and a young black child.

Here, we see two completely opposite worlds clash together. The entire book portrays white cops as ruthless, violent people who have no regard for human life. When we see that picture of a cop interact with an innocent, young black girl who simply doesn’t understand why she isn’t treated as equal, it enhances the perceptual schemas of both the girl and the cop. Basically, it makes the cop seem more evil and it makes the girl seem more innocent. I think this image did an incredible job at capturing the type of emotions and tension that was being dealt with then. One of the reasons why this particular page spoke to me is because of the contrast between what appears to be a peaceful encounter with the cop and girl and the chaotic background of children getting arrested. The image in the foreground appears to be quiet and intimate, especially with the police officer on one knee to be on an equal level as the girl. This is the first intimate scene with both a white cop and a black person. When looking closer at the image, we can see the cop’s mean facial expressions brutally staring at this young black girl, who’s blank stare conveys the feeling of innocence. Overall, the strong emphasis on the contrasting nature of this image helps to give the reader an understanding of the tension that people were living under at that time.

Unit 4 Post 1: Preston Ito

Mary Church Terrell

  • Born on September 23, 1863 and died in 1954
  • Daughter of former slaves
    • Father, Robert Reed Church, was one of the South’s first African American millionaires
    • Mother, Louisa Ayres Church, was owned a hair salon
    • Parents divorced early in her childhood
  • African American activist
  • Conservative & religious household
  • Graduated from Oberlin College with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree
    • Parents valued education
  • Activism started after her friend, Thomas Moss, got lynched in 1892
    • Joined Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s anti-lynching campaigns
  • Believed that African Americans could end racial injustice by uplifting themselves through education, work, and community activism
    • “Lifting as we climb”
  • Founded and became president of NACW (National Association for Colored Women)

Ida B. Wells

  • Born on July 16, 1862 and died in March 25, 1931
  • Parents instilled a strong Christian conscience in her
    • Highly motivated through Christian ideals
    • Racial injustice didn’t follow Christian values
  • Brought awareness to African American treatment in the South through journalism and activism
  • Born a slave in Mississippi during Civil War
  • When Civil War ended, parents became politically active
  • Dropped out of Rust College, a black liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church
  • Lost both of her parents and a brother to yellow fever
    • Got a job as a teacher to support herself and her siblings
  • Focused on white mob violence, investigating several cases
    • Publication of these cases sparked threats toward her, causing her to move from Memphis to Chicago
  • Confronted white suffragettes about ignoring lynching
    • Wells was often ostracized by suffrage organizations
  • Helped found NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells were civil rights activists with different ideas for achieving equality. Terrell put more of an emphasis on “uplifting” African Americans while Wells focused on fixing the way white people treated African Americans. That being said, they both were obviously working towards a common goal: racial equality with a focus on women’s rights. They had similar means of achieving this goal through activism and journalism. Both Wells and Terrell joined and founded organizations that advocated for civil rights, including the NAACP and the NACW. While Wells and Terrell both focused on women’s rights, Wells did more in confronting the white women who ignored lynching. Wells became somewhat of an enemy towards white women while Terrell was advocating for all women. All of this racial injustice has been deeply rooted in America’s history for as long as settlers arrived. Right from the start, white people believed in their superiority over everyone else, giving them the mindset that it was acceptable for them to completely take over every aspect of another’s life. As for a proposed solution, Terrell believed the path to success was through African Americans themselves, meaning that they get an education, job, and spend time advocating for their rights. Wells’ solution was slightly different, focusing more on the wrongdoing of white people and attacking the attacker rather than helping the victim.

Unit 3 Assignment 3: Preston Ito

Both Sontag and Gourevitch touch on the disparity between reality and what is portrayed. Gourevitch mainly focuses on the legalities of war. He mentioned the various reasons for which different nations outside of Rwanda refused to get involved. Some countries, like Belgian, tried to get involved but in Belgian’s case, withdrew their troops after losing the lives of 10 soldiers. In other cases, the mere diction that certain countries used indicated their specific stance on getting involved. “But the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights still favored the phrase ‘possible genocide,’ while the Clinton administration actually forbade unqualified use of the g-word… Shelley was a bit more to the point when she rejected the denomination of genocide, because, she said, ‘there are obligations which arise in connection with the use of the term.'” (Gourevitch 152-53) I find it interesting to see people investing so much time and thought in the technicalities of it all, especially when there were literally thousands of lives being brutally murdered. Even though it most definitely was a genocide, officials across the world were afraid to call it one due to the “obligations” that follow. They tried to convince the public of a story different from reality. In Sontag, she talks about the use of images to frame certain opinions. Countries choose which pictures their citizens are allowed to see. In doing so, there will often be a discourse between citizens from different countries of the same story. Sontag and Gourevitch both recognize the role that governments play in creating a gap between reality and what is perceived.

Unit 3 Assignment 2: Preston Ito

Chapter 1: In addressing the roots of war, there must be acknowledgement of the differences in perspectives of genders as well as the power of photography as an effective form of communication.

Susan Sontag opens with a conversation between a London lawyer and Virginia Woolf in which the lawyer poses the question: “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?” Virginia analyzes the definition of “we”, and she mentions how it’s hard to define “we” due to the differences in gender perspective on the issue. She also talks about the power that photography’s role has in portraying the image of war to the general public. Sontag especially talks about the oddly fascinating nature of disturbing images.

Chapter 6: This chapter talks about the importance in recognizing why and how images can evoke a wide range of simultaneous emotions such as attraction, disgust, arousal, and awe.

The main idea in this chapter is various emotions an image can evoke. An important recognition is the fascination humans have to gruesome images. Suffering images can ultimately remind us of our powerlessness in today’s society regarding violence. Also, with the tremendous access to information available to the general public, we have become desensitized to disturbing images. In this day and age, some might even see mayhem closer to entertainment rather than shocking.

Chapter 8: As convenient as it is to turn away from something upsetting, it’s important to have a memory of important events, especially gruesome ones.

There has been too much wrongdoing in the world for humans to be constantly surprised by the horrible acts committed by fellow humans. According to Sontag, memory is a sign of “psychological adulthood.” Yet, forgetfulness has it’s values as well. In order to make peace, there must be some degree of ignorance.

Unit 3 Assignment 1: Preston Ito

Hannah Arendt

  • October 1906-December 1975
  • German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist 
  • Bold in asking unpopular questions about the thoughtlessness embrace of science
  • Worked with Youth Aliyah to rescue Jewish youth in France
  • First woman professor at Princeton
    • Also taught at UChic, UC Berkeley, Wesleyan U, The New School
  • Wrote The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951 about the foundations of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes
  • Wrote The Human Condition, her own account of retreat from public life
  • Wrote Revolution in 1963 about American’s foundational democracy and political freedom
  • Received backlash for her controversial views

Arendt wrote the book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

  • Argues that Eichmann (Eichmann was a Nazi official, responsible for the detention and transportation of Jews to concentration camps) was not a monster. She claims that his motives didn’t root from a place of hatred.
    • Eichmann was a joiner. He feared to live a life with no direction and leader. The Nazi movement brought a sense of importance to him.
  • She saw that modern society fears the “disorderly life of democratic freedoms and embraces the comfortable security of administrative bureaucracy.”
  • Neither denies nor claims Eichmann was evil
  • Believed Eichmann should’ve been hanged for his evil deeds
  • She claimed Eichmann participated in the greatest evil act in the history of mankind because of his fear of being isolated overruling his ability to critically assess the devasting consequences of the Nazi movement

Adolf Eichmann

  • A major leader in the Holocaust
  • Initially resisted the violent movement against the Jews 
  • Participated in the greatest evil act in the history of mankind because of his inability 
  • Hanged by the State of Israel
  • Worked as a traveling salesman prior to World War II
  • After being captured and questioned, he claimed he wasn’t anti-semitic
  • Eichmann claimed that he actually sought to physically avoid the killings

The Origins of Totalitarianism

  • Structured into 3 essays: Anti-semitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism  
  • Discussed history and foundational role that anti-semitism and imperialism had in the rise of totalitarianism
  • The mistake of equating nationalism and imperialism
  • Appeal to giving in to totalitarianism is protection from isolation, danger, and insecurity
  • Totalitarian regimes instilled fear with the inevitability of war

Preston Ito Campus Events: Mind the Heart Project

Artists Maya Gelfman and Roie Avidan spent the past year traveling across the country in their van, documenting their own public art works. They decided to completely let go of their past life and spend their time doing what they love. They talked about some repeated motifs and symbolisms in their artwork and how it related to real life. For example, the use of yarn in their works represent how one ages with time. My favorite part of their presentation was the story they gave. At one point, they were struggling to find meaning in what they were doing. Basically, they met someone who saw their artwork on a public beach and the artwork spoke to them. The old lady who saw the artwork explained her story and how the yarned words, “Don’t give up” meant so much to her. Her daughter was a drug addict and had been human trafficked for the past 2 years and on the verge of suicide. The phrase, “don’t give up” had never been more applicable. Seeing those three words tangled in a dead tree on a public beach had given her hope when she needed it most. When Roie explained the story, it gave me shivers throughout my body. I think art can often be overlooked as a valid form of communication. However, I believe art is a beautiful way to interact with other people; it can provide such a deep connection to one another that can’t easily be achieved otherwise.

Unit 2 Assignment 3: Preston Ito

Option 1: Suppose that after finishing the reading, a student says: “Any belief, however unlikely it may appear, can be saved from refutation if you’re willing to make enough secondary elaborations.” Is the student right? Defend your answer. (For the term “secondary elaborations”, see p. 346.)

In my opinion I think the student is right. Although unsatisfying, anyone can always use secondary elaborations to save their argument. We don’t know enough about the world to be able to completely rule out anything. Using the Azande’s logic, if the oracle gives a wrong fortune, they can easily use witchcraft as a secondary elaboration to explain the mistake. There is so much that we don’t know about the world, it’s nearly impossible to completely discredit anything. I think witchcraft might be a stretch, but in any case, one can always think of secondary elaborations as an explanation for their beliefs. While it is important to be aware of how much we know, it’s almost more important to be cognizant of what we don’t know. There could very well be something that could explain every mystery in the world today, but we just don’t know about it yet.

Option 2: 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?

In all honesty, I don’t think there is one, solve-all, solution to the problem of bullshit contaminating our knowledge in today’s society. Especially with technology and social media, the exchange of information is incredibly easy and widespread. So many people have access to the internet, the largest collection of information in the world. On the other side, people also have easy access to throw out information. A lot of that information isn’t always super accurate, making it hard to distinguish between facts and other. Furthermore, there are people who have learned to take advantage of the system and gain from tricking people. That being said, I think the best thing that can happen to get people to care and put in the extra effort to distinguish between fact and fiction is for a threat to be posed. For example, climate change is endangering those across the globe. Since so many people’s lives are at stake, there has been lots of attention and care put towards this subject. People are starting to care more about the truth about climate change because it’s a threat. Another reason that some people might not care a ton is because they feel like their voice doesn’t matter. Even with all of these people speaking up about the climate change, there will always be people in power who benefit from ignoring this issue that will deny it. It can seem impossible to create change from the general public’s perspective. To them, the people in power have all the control, regardless of the public’s opinion. One way to change this is to make sure that the general public knows that their voice matters. As soon as their voices get shut down, they get discouraged and don’t care as much.

Unit 2 Assignment 2: Preston Ito

Option 1: It can be difficult to distinguish between the difference between science and humanities. To me, explaining science logically through the language of mathematics is one of the key differences between the two. Humanities puts more of a focus on social issues that can be broad and opinionated while science studies facts and follows a set of rules to explain the world. That being said, I do believe that these two fields of knowledge can be related to each other. For example, reading The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction explains the world of science in the past. We read scientific explanations to understand society back in the 16th century. In this way, we are able to use science and humanities to compliment each other to gain a better understanding of both worlds of knowledge.

Option 2: One point from Thursday’s lecture that I found really interesting was the discussion of the responsibilities of the translator. Is it to preserve the language as close as one can, or is it to rewrite the text to cater to the reader? Both of these things are very different in their goals. In my opinion, I think these two tasks are equally important, especially when read together. One without the other cannot paint a full picture of what the author is trying to convey.

Unit 2 Assignment 1 Preston Ito

The main paragraph on p. 35 is a nice illustration of what I called (at Sapere Aude) the “Principle of Charity”. It’s also a good example of how you can be charitable toward a view without agreeing with it. Here’s an exercise: pick a Unit 1 reading that you disagree with and, using the Principe paragraph as a model, write a (brief) charitable account of that reading

“Principle of Charity” on Diderot and slavery

Part 1: Since Diderot wrote in such a radically different time period, it is easy to dismiss his ideas as invalid. For example, Diderot justified slavery by saying slaves are incapable of reasoning, therefore are subject to slavery. Basically, he thought slaves didn’t use reason, because if they did, then they would free themselves. Since they don’t reason, slavery becomes acceptable. Obviously, we now are able to acknowledge all of the flaws in this reasoning. However, I don’t think that means we should completely dismiss Diderot. Instead, we should analyze the context in which he said it. He lived in a time when slavery was normalized and accepted in society, despite the countless moral problems. We can take this and apply it to our society. What problems do we have with our society and that we are blindly accepting of? What can we do to identify these problems, and more importantly fix them? Although I don’t agree with Diderot, I still believe there is value to what he said, and there are lessons we can take from it to improve our society today.

Part 2: How important is the studies of science in understanding humanities and how can we relate them to each other?