Week 11 (In-Class Final)

Greg Vinson
September 24, 2014
Analytical Writing
Week 11 In Class Blog

Analytical Writing is very different from research writing, report/essay writing, and creative writing so they are definitely not to be confused with one another. When it comes to Analytical Writing the simplest way to describe it is writing in which you analyze a given piece in great detail in order to find the underlying message behind the piece. In analytical writing you want to break down the piece you are analyzing as much as possible in order to try to and find significance and meaning to cover in your writing. An example of this is a story about a group of soldiers stranded and surviving in the enemy’s territory. The story will undoubtedly include a great deal of war and violence, but the underlying message behind the story is a message about loyalty, teamwork, and friendship instead of simply just a “war story”. This is analytical writing.
My personal approach to analytical writing is slightly tedious but in my opinion is the most effective way to write an analysis essay. What I like to do is find the given piece that I want to write about and read or watch it (depending on the media) at least twice in attempts to not miss anything important. A lot of the time I’ll watch a movie once and miss several things that I definitely catch after watching it the second time. When it comes to a piece that can be short and extremely complicated, such as a poetry piece, I will read it over and over and break it down line by line in attempts to understand it completely. I will also make notes while reading/watching that way when it comes time ti write my paper, I remember all the points that stuck out to me while analyzing the piece. After this process I begin writing a rough draft and have a couple people proof read as I take the steps towards finalizing my paper.
I would have to say that I enjoyed one of our first assignments the most, which was our movie review paper. The movie I chose to analyze was Fight Club, which is a cult classic and is packed with several very powerful subliminal messages. I love to watch and talk about movies in general so I think i was definitely bias to this assignment before I even started, but I can literally talk about movies for hours. I have seen Fight Club a number of times so I know it like the back of my hand and it has been one of my favorite movies for several years now. My second favorite assignment would have to be the Artwork Analysis in which we visited the Frye Art Musuem her in Seattle and chose a piece to write about. Art has been my life ever since I can remember, and now that I am at the Art Institute for Graphic Design, critiquing art and design has become second nature to me. I greatly enjoy seeing new artwork and attempting to understand what the artist was going for and trying to say through their piece.
Analytical Writing can, and is, commonly used in my career field because everything we do when it comes to design has to have a concept and purpose. We use imagery all the time that doesn’t necessarily direct relate to the subject matter, but it is up to the viewer to quickly relate the two and see the connecting message. When we have to critique each others design work, which is all the time, we have to effectively break down the piece and figure out what is working and what isn’t. This process obviously isn’t the exact same to Analytical Writing, but the two are very similar and can absolutely be related. In my opinion it is crucial to be able to look at something and fully comprehend the true meaning of what you are seeing, rather than just taking it for it’s surface value and continuing on throughout your day.

Week 11 (Extra Credit)

Greg Vinson
September 24, 2014
Analytical Writing
Week 11 Extra Credit Blog

Please briefly analyze or review some work in an artistic medium you like: a song or musical piece, a game, a tv show or animation, a specific fashion collection, etc. Be sure to give identification details on the piece you choose and use graphics or media.

“Following the popularity of the Abstract Expressionists, Pop Art’s reintroduction of identifiable imagery was a major shift for the direction of modernism.” (Wolf) The Pop Art movement began to start blurring the invisible line separating “high art” and “low culture” through its subject matter being so innovative, relatable, and modern. This particular movement is commonly known for its use of vibrant colors, graphic/screen printed aesthetic, and high relatibility to popular culture. This art movement originated in the US  during the 1950’s and began to continuously grow until its peak of activity in the 1960’s with a lot help from an artist named Andy Warhol.
Andy Warhol created several iconic pieces using images of well known people with a modern impact and extremely simple and commonly relatable subject matter such as Campbell’s Soup. Warhol was a genius in his concept by taking images of highly famous and glorified personalities Marilyn Monroe and repeating them in a similar style over and over again until her portrait loses it’s uniqueness and glory. This is the same idea behind bringing “high art” into “low culture” to the common people and the large majority of the world. In being so visually striking and relatable, Pop Art became increasingly popular which then leads to an increase in demand and skyrocketing monetary worth.
“High Art” had been previously seen as requiring a large amount of talent, time, and technique before Pop Art but Warhol quickly changed this way of thinking. Warhol showed that highly respected artwork can still be loved and appreciated as “high art” while using relatively simple techniques and extremely simple subject matter that everyone including the “lowest” classes of society can still enjoy and relate to. He also proved that you can depict something as basic as a famous can of soup while thinking and working at the same (or higher) conceptual level as any other “high artist” out there. After all is said and done, Pop Art quickly increased in popularity, demand, monetary value, concept, technique, etc. eventually blurring the invisible line separating “high art” and “pop art”.

Week 10 (Frye Art Musuem)

Greg Vinson
September 24, 2014
Analytical Writing
Week 11 Blog

Write a blog about your visit to the museum. You might include the overall “ambiance” or style of the museum, the arrangement of the exhibits, the information available about specific artworks, and what you liked and what you didn’t.

Instead of having a normal class period, we spent the afternoon exploring the new exhibits in the Frye Art Museum. I have heard about this museum before from other students that have gone, but I had never taken the time to visit for myself. It has a slightly strange location, and was tricky for me to find at first, but there is free parking and free admission so you have nothing to lose by checking it out. It’s a fairly small museum so it doesn’t take too long to go through the whole thing, which in my opinion is much better than being to huge venue and getting bored of the exhibits they are presenting. They also has a great variety of works, making each room a new surprise and experience within itself.
After walking into the museum you can either go start down the hallway full of Curtis Barnes’ work, or you can go left in which you will find a room with a set of three large pieces that include what looks like Arabic writing. The museum was laid out in a way that you can slowly move throughout all the exhibits in a large clockwise circle more or less, this being one of the first rooms in the sequence. In my opinion is was an effective layout, but I found the museum to be very cold overall. It seemed like there was just a lot of grey and white making it seem very cold, which is understandable considering you want the attention of the exhibits instead of the building displaying them. There were also several students present from other schools which you could tell didn’t have the same respect and appreciation for what was being shown because of the way they were joking around about everything and being loud and obnoxious. Unfortunately people like this take away from the overall ambiance of the exhibit but they were in and out of the museum fairly quickly.
I really enjoyed the Curtis Barnes exhibits, probably more than any other of the exhibits, although I really liked the stuffed Gorilla and Wolf pieces. I fell like I relate the most to Curtis and his work so that might be a major part of my favoritism. I enjoyed the fact that each of the pieces has a tiny bit of information in regards to the pieces and their artists, it seems like they definitely understand that viewers want to learn about the artist and pieces, but don’t want to stand there reading 8 paragraphs worth of information. I also really enjoyed the variation of pieces shown in the exhibits because every room becomes a new experience. I had no idea what was being shown in the museum, and every room was so different and had such a different feeling that I had no idea what to expect throughout the whole experience. This is the first gallery I have been in since I got back from my summer trip to Europe, so it was hard to go through this museum and not think about all the monumental artwork I saw over there. One room reminded me of some of the artwork I saw in France and was made to feel very elegant and classy but unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the artist. It was a room full of portraits, landscapes, and still lives painted with oil on canvas and mostly framed with wood of gold frames.

Week 9 (Kindred Summary)

Greg Vinson
September 10, 2014
Analytical Writing
Week 10 Blog

Write a brief review of Kindred for someone who has not read it. Include all the basic information and a brief plot summary that does not give away the ending (no spoilers). Include your points of critique and your overall opinion.

Kindred is a science fiction novel based on a couple, Dana and Kevin, living in the past and the present simultaneously. Dana and Kevin are living in Southern California during 1976 and one day Dana discovers her ability to time travel back to the 1800’s in Maryland. This ability isn’t something she can necessarily control, so she never really knows when it’s going to happen until she starts to feel dizzy and strange. Dana is a young black woman and Kevin is a young white male so during the 1800’s this can determine your place in society as well as what you “deserve and don’t deserve”. Dana realizes that she keeps being pulled back to the south when a man named Rufus is in a life threatening situation which all begins when he’s a young boy drowning in a river.
The novel is divided into several sections in which Rufus gets himself into a situation, for example: The Fire, The Fall, The Fight, and so on. Each time Dana is transported to the south, she never knows what type of dramatic situation she is going to be thrown into, so she starts to prepare for her travels back into the past. In one of her first trips she finds a home on a plantation where there are several white men, slaves, and free black women, one of which is a woman named Alice. Over time Alice and Dana become good friends due to their endless similarities and I think Dana sees a lot of herself in Alice. She definitely sees what her life could have been if she was born in the 1800’s just for simply being a black woman, through both Alice and her own personal experiences. After several trips back and forth, Dana ends up bring Kevin to the south and then leaving him there unexpectedly. She struggles throughout the story to maintain her independence, her self-worth, and overall freedom as a young black woman while somehow maintaining a life and relationship with her husband who now has become part of her travels into the past.
When it comes to my critique of the novel, I honestly have nothing negative to say about this story and Octavia’s writing. After learning a small amount about Kindred before reading anything, I definitely thought it was going to be a boring and tedious read but I was pleasantly surprised. Normally I wouldn’t be interested in this type of story but since it was required for our class I was forced into reading it, but I’m glad I was. Octavia’s style of writing seems very slow and she breaks everything up into little bits, but like I have mentioned in previous blogs, I enjoy this fact. Her style of writing is very simple making it a very quick read, but since she breaks up the content into shorter sentences and sectioned parts so she doesn’t give too much away all at once. I have also mentioned the fact that this story has many strong themes and is relate able to all types of people instead of just one target audience. If I had to change one thing about the book it would be that  wish Dana would have been able to do a little bit more exploring throughout Maryland in the 1800’s. Given the circumstances of this story, it would be extremely difficult to make that possible and part of the story but that would be one thing I would have added. Overall I thought Kindred was a great story and I will definitely be passing it along.

Week 8 (The Call)

Greg Vinson
September 10, 2014
Analytical Writing
Week 9 Blog

Put yourself in a position similar to Dana’s. Think about your life and relationships. What type of scenario do you think might “call” you? Why? (Try to think of something other than the “saving the ancestor” story.) If you knew you were getting zapped back into the past, or forward into the future, what would you do to prepare yourself?

Immediately when I think of what type of scenario might “call” me back into the past, I think about something that happens to me quite often and I’m pretty sure also happens to most people. What comes to mind is the moment when you randomly smell something familiar to you in a distant time and brings back all types of fond memories that you thought you had forgotten. If you have never experienced this it probably sounds very strange, but this seems to happen to me at least once a week. I commonly walk to and from school in downtown Seattle, where you see and smell all types of interesting things, which is true of most cities I imagine. The other day I walked past a woman who had way too much perfume on, but I immediately noticed that it was the exact perfume that my aunt permanently smelled like and the same perfume that I have literally never smelled except for on my aunt.
I have always been fascinated by the senses, the human brain, and the interaction between the two so I have always thought it was interesting how our brain stores information that you thought was gone forever. I find it amazing how completely random scents can have substantial meaning to certain individuals and they can bring about old memories and emotions relating to that scent. Another example of this is the smell of a wood-burning fire. Whenever I smell a wood fire it reminds me of the several amazing family camping trips and bonding around the campfire. Whenever I catch a scent like this I feel like I am for a split second transported back to one of these trips where I have a rush of fond memories and I feel calm and relaxed, as if I’m actually out in the forest camping. This all happens in about a maximum of 10 seconds and then I am obviously snapped right back into the reality that’s in front of me. This is obvious not anywhere near as crucial and/or demanding as Dana’s “call” was in Kindred, but this is the best way that I can relate to the moments when she time travels.
There is one thing that I would definitely carry on my person at all times if I time traveled like Dana. It might sound cheesy but I think I would try to prepare a small bag of essential items, similar to what you would pack for a hiking trip. I would most definitely carry a map with me, a small notebook that I could write contact information and locations on in case I needed to contact certain people, some sort of weapon for protection (you never know what to expect), and so on. I would also use the notebook to write personal notes in regards to my travels and tips to myself that might make my travels and/or survival a little bit easier. It seems pointless to take much of any technology into the past because most of it would function without the service providers of the current time. One of the most important things to have also seems like it would be money, because currency is and always will be important when it comes to trade and surviving (considering I won’t be sent too far back).

Week 7 (Kindred Structure)

Greg Vinson
September 1, 2014
Week 8 Blog Post

Analyze how Butler uses structure to let the story unfold. Why do you think she uses a prologue rather than beginning with Chapter 1? How do the chapter sections relate to the sequence of the story?

    One way Butler uses structure to let the story unfold is that she tends to write relatively short sentences where one thing happens at a time. Through this style of writing, I feel as though it breaks up the story well so that you aren’t sharing too much information all at once and it builds the suspense for what’s about to happen next. I also think this adds dramatic effect and intensity to almost every sentence (especially in intense situations) because each and every one is short, sweet, and packs its own punch. The type of storytelling also seems to help me to remember details in the story later on which I would normally forget because of the overload of information in each sentence.
    I thought Butler’s use of a Prologue instead of a Chapter 1 fits perfectly for her story as well as her style of writing. In the Prologue she basically using the technique of telling the “end of the story” at the very beginning making the novel a story about how the characters got to that final point. In my opinion she does this because she again, is telling the story of how Dana ended up in the hospital after having her arm “crushed” and amputated above the elbow. She uses the Prologue to quickly introduce the characters, the interestingly dramatic plot, and at the same time intriguing the audience to continue reading to find out what happened to her without starting her novel with the typical introduction of “Chapter 1: Once upon a time…” I personally on the fence about this technique only because later on in the story you always know that they are going to make it relatively safely to the end no matter what kind of situations they get themselves into. I feel like this takes some of the suspense and intensity out of the story.
    In each of the chapter sections, their title’s directly relate to something happening in relation to Rufus and another trip back to the past for Dana. Dana keeps getting sent back in order to aid Rufus when he needs help and/or gets himself into trouble. Her ultimate goal is to keep him safe and to keep the future (her present life) unaltered and each section tells about her experiences going back and saving Rufus from sort of pickle, while the plot thickens and things get complicated during her visits. Each time she goes back, time of course continues without her and the sections tell the story of her travels.             

Week 6 (Gender and Color Issues)

Greg Vinson
August 30, 2014
Week 7 Blog

“Gender Cluster”

How does Butler address gender and color issues in Kindred? Obviously these are main points, but go beyond the fact that Dana is a modern African-American woman who is experiencing discrimination in her visits to the past. Consider Dana’s color, gender, and marriage in relation to the short essays in chapter 5.

    Butler addresses gender and color issues in several ways throughout her novel, but in my opinion does so most commonly and effectively through the characters and the interactions between characters. Dana, who is the main character, is a young black female who happens to slip in and out of ranging time periods but is ultimately from the current time period (when the novel was written) making her more relatable to the reader as she experiences the past first hand during some very difficult times. Not only is she experiencing the discrimination strictly based on skin color, but she also see’s what her life could have been through seeing Alice and her life.
    Through Dana’s trips into the past, she really learns what it’s like to be seen as unequal, not taken seriously, and among slaves as well as slave owners but must basically adapt to survive while constantly saving Rufus simultaneously. After going back and forth between past and present, her lives begin to blend together and she starts to bring feelings from the past into her present and future. Small things start to really irritate Dana such as her husband trying to get her to type his story. During her trips to the past, she is constantly fighting to maintain a free status and to conform to the submissive and subordinate “gender roles” women had during the time. Dana also is wanting Rufus to be the good man she thinks, or thought, he could be but must accept that he is going to make his own decisions and there is nothing she can do to change it. This relates to one short essay in our textbook about the empty milk glass on the counter. The husband leaves the glass out night after night and it drives his wife insane, but no matter what she does, he won’t change.
    The short essay about the wife finding out after being together for so many years, her husband has always secretly wanted a very specific kind of lemonade but for whatever reason has kept it a secret for several years. This now makes the wife wonder what else he might be keeping a secret, no matter how small. This relates to Dana keeping her own secrets from her husband about what all she is experiencing during her trips to the past. It goes to show that no matter how long you spend with someone or how well you might know them, they could be keeping private secrets, no matter how small. Small things start to slowly add up and fester into larger problems later on in your relationship which seems like it might be happening to Dana in her present life. The emotional strain she experiences she has to deal with in the South starts to take a toll on her relationship, again causing her to get extremely irritated when Kevin asks her to do something for him, like typing his story. Him asking her to do so brings up negative feelings and unpleasant memories for Dana which have nothing to do with Kevin but unfortunately effect him and his relationship indirectly.