Unit 6 Assignment 2 by Simon Cheng


This is an amazing linking passage for science and writing. The first is “shallowly optimistic” (Page 5) in the latter’s mind, while the latter’s social attitudes are recognized as “contemptible” (Page 7) 

“Each of us is solitary: each of us dies alone: all right, that’s a fate against which we can’t struggle—but there is plenty in our condition which is not fate, and against which we are less than human unless we do struggle” (Page 6)

“Literature changes more slowly than science. It hasn’t the same automatic corrective, and so its misguided periods are longer” (Page 8)

“At one pole, the scientific culture really is a culture, not only in an intellectual but also in an anthropological sense. That is, its members need not, and of course often do not, always completely understand each other.” (Then literature will be more “cultural” than scientific for more of them do not completely understand each other, Page 9)

“…more scientists are in religious terms unbelievers…slightly more scientist are on the Left in open politics” (This goes back to the science against the “traditional”, Page 10)

Music is an important exception in art for scientist. (Page 13)


I don’t think two cultures are “self-improvised” in terms of other cultures’ books (Page 13~14)

Top 10 scientific theories and experiments: Second Law of Thermodynamics, mass, and acceleration (Page 15); refraction and polarized light (Page 16)

On “Black Girl Linguistic Play”, Simon Cheng

It is the first time in my life to watch a dance show like this. It is not too long or too short (1 hour), and there is even a Q&A section at the end of it (which is kind of subjective for the “what do you think” and “correct”). But the performance itself is pretty hardcore—it is an art to let audience be involved into a (almost) speechless and plotless (at least not explicitly) dance. The performances have amazing skills in dancing, and I could get the point that this is about the revival of the childhood. However, some questions are hoovering around my mind as I watch through it—what is the meaning of chalks and mirrors (although it is already answered in Q&A part)? And is there a deeper meaning of the graffiti on the wall of one of the platforms? My personal understanding to the latter question is that the graffiti serves a better representation of the childhood playground environment than just a performing stage.

Unit 5 Assignment 1 by Simon Cheng

I have to be honest here that these readings are not easy. Both of them reach a high enough philosophical level.

Schneider’s reading is about history of performances. The first few quotes just below title in the first page is about performances as history and how they disappear, which is what the passage talks about in the first half, and I want to talk about it more here. (the rest of them is how history/performance remains as living or death on the stage)

“If we consider performance as a process of disappearance, of an ephemerality read as vanishment (versus material remains), are we limiting ourselves to an understanding of performance predetermined by our cultural habituation to the logic of archive?” This sentence on the bottom of the second page is a topic question through the first half. One interesting point is about the equation of self-annihilation of the performance (“Too often, the equation of performance with disappearance reiterates performance as self-annihilating”, page 101, bottom left corner). The fact that performance can never be re-create through any means prove that it is self-destructive. Someone may say the retell of oral history or the video of dance ensemble are replays of the original performance, but “flesh can house no memory of bone. Only bone speaks memory of flesh. (page 101, bottom left corner)”

It is in my opinion true that performances of any kinds cannot be re-created. Every performance by different artists, even though the same theme (take theater of Macbeth from last semester) means different ends to different circumstances. (college students as actors versus commercial actors) And this is more appropriate for oral history. Folktales and legends have been past for thousands of years and even different regions have completely different version. Are they still the same tales? Definitely not, though they share a common origin.

For Birns’s passage, it first introduces Lemon’s work, and the part I like it very much is that “Lemon avoided both exoticism and a self-conscious status as an outsider in an investigation of cultural difference that, in being both sociological and spiritual, was able to view India, China, and Japan with a percipient clarity.”(page 18, second paragraph) Such achievement is very hard to accomplished, and this reminds me about the movie Crazy Rich Asian. As a Chinese, I found many stereotypes and scenes in the movie very insulting. But when one of my high school English teacher talked to me about it, he understood it as perfect representation of Asians. There is no wrong answer here, I suppose. But there are plenty of much better representations out there than this one.

“Lemon seeks to ritualize the past, but not to monumentalize it.”

theatre: Macbeth

The performance is great, greater than I would expect. It could be my bad English that I did not understand the plot in the beginning, but as soon as Macbeth started to kill, I got it. I watched the show on Oct.25, so actors and actresses could be a little bit nervous because it was a debut, and there were several misspoken lines, but did not influence the performance as a whole. It actually made the performance better in a certain degree—at least that made me felt that they are still Davidson student as I am, not some arrogant stars. The quiz in the brochure is very interesting, as well as the “WHO’S WHO” part. The theater department really present a majestic play. And the stage is also good—performers pop up and down so very naturally, and the sound of slamming the doors adds on the whole intense atmosphere. Our humes people are really amazing!

The stage

DCSO Tschaikovsky No. 5

There is a huge difference between high school level orchestra and college-level orchestra. I remember once going to an informal school concert on Vivaldi’s winter, I was so shocked by the fantastic performance of only four violinists. They did try their best to show the soul of the music. However, there is one thing in common: the audience are entirely enjoying the language of music as soon as the concert started, and such language is shared throughout the world. Differences between races, sexes, and ages gradually fade away as instruments continue to speak. People from all over the world are united by this magnificent language, and that is the reason why I see some of my friends in the international student orientation are performing on stage. The piece of the music itself is quite classic, especially one movement (I forgot which one) that the conductor pointed out in the beginning is really exciting.

Unit 2 Assignment 3 by Simon Cheng

Option 2: To let everyone understands how effective the discourse may be after removing all the bullshit from it, or add penalty on having bullshit in any punishable discourse, like essay or Sunday post.

Option 3: Kuhn defines different science in its revolution as “paradigm,” which means “their achievement was sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity. Simultaneously, it was sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve.” (Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) However, I think this concept also works in fields other than science. For example, the modern general thinking mode (which is also the mode I am writing now) is also a paradigm, let us call it as “paradigm of thinking” for convenience of later reference. The development of the way of thinking is gradual, and some people do think in different ways, and the “paradigm of thinking” is unprecedented and open-ended, which satisfies the requirements of being a paradigm. The question may be an existential one: Can we define different scientific paradigms in revolution only using our current “paradigm of thinking?” The link between science and philosophy that Kuhn made really interests and puzzles me. After all, science used to be natural philosophy. I think the definition now may be inadequate, but once people try to categorize different paradigms, the move itself is also in a modern “paradigm of thinking.”

Unit 2 Assignment 2 by Simon Cheng

Option 2: Being a multilingual student, I am very interested in the topic of translation. I have noticed that the different languages and their relationships discussed on the lecture are somehow more closely related to English than my first language do, like sharing a similar alphabet and a closer origin. So what about languages all around the world, do they all share the similar characteristics? Different languages, even different dialects, reflect unique local culture in different places, and some of them operate totally different from others because of various reasons. This is only personal opinions, but I think discussions on translation should be more inclusive.

Option 3: More about translation: professor Jankovic said that there are no wrong translations in her part, philosophically this question may be right, but practically this question may be wrong. In Chinese translation, Yan Fu raised the general requirements of Xin, Da, and Ya (which are faithfulness, understandability, and elegance in order), and this serves as goals in almost all Chinese translations. Although it could be very general, but there is a requirement or rule for translation.

Organ at Davidson

This is the first time in my life to listen a real organ in church. I used to listen to this instrument on my music theory class, but that is in the form of electronic mp3. This experience is amazing—the combination of the majestic view of the church and the loud music from the organ make me sit still for a minute. The instrument is similar to a grand piano, but the organ has a much bigger size, and the music comes out from it is somehow similar to the music of FC (Family Computer, or Nintendo Entertainment System) games. I have the image of some classic games whose time setting is in the middle of a stormy night in the Middle Ages for some pieces of the program. It is the great organ playing skills of Mr. Andrew Scanlon that enable me to link the beautiful music to my memory, and the experience of enjoying a calm evening in church may be one unforgettable time in my life.

The booklet given in church

Unit 2 Assignment 1 by Simon Cheng

“The technique of reducing the physical world into mathematical abstractions… played a key role in producing a new physics, and stands as a distinctive feature of the Scientific Revolution” (p. 73). Would it also be accurate to say that this is what’s distinctive of science, and in particular, what distinguishes science from the humanities? Explain.

In my opinion, this is indeed an accurate description about science. The realm of science is similar to the realm of the real world, almost everything is presented as a result. One cannot see the history of any object by the first glance, even if the individual does, like an expert in a specific area, he or she must automatically analyze the object in the head by employing predispose knowledge, which is another way of saying “reducing the physical world into mathematical abstractions”. And this kind of analysis pattern also exists in humanities, but in a not so obvious way. Because humanities not only requires much more knowledge or predisposition on many aspects, but it also needs an individual’s own thinking, which differentiate from science because the latter does not require that much throughout the field.

What is the relationship between the field of science and the field of humanities?