William Shakespeare, Meet William “Bill” Gates Wednesday, Dec 16 2009 

William Shakespeare, Meet William “Bill” Gates

The poignant beauty and nature of literature evokes great enlightenment; the effectiveness and resources of the Internet evokes great attraction. William Shakespeare wrote rich sonnets and William “Bill” Gates launched a technologically advanced world that made these beautiful sonnets accessible at the click of a button; 1600s, meet the twenty-first century. Through deep enchantment and appreciation of language, audiences are provided with golden gateways to explore the dynamic world around them. Through websites, blogs, text messaging, Twitter and other live feeds, audiences are provided with multi-laned intersections to immediately share their world. George Orwell’s 1984, Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are prime literary examples of the value that language endows upon society as a whole and, moreover, passionate literary audiences. These texts magnify dystopic societies in which misery and oppression prevail due to the lack of language and individual expression. Bradbury’s novel and its inspired film directed by, Francois Truffaut, inadvertently bring light to a dystopian society that is void of knowledge on account of literary immaturity. While many academics, philosophers and broad audience members of the literary world have openly embraced this notion, the twenty-first century has somewhat denied its warm and promising embrace. Through leaps and bounds in advancements, our rich and sweet language is being over-ripened through heavy applications of the Internet, state-of-the-art technology, modern avenues of communication and, remarkably, pop culture; it is a bittersweet hybrid. Bradbury’s dystopic novel foreshadows the Internet phenomenon through irony, politics and society and a bold salute to literature and language.

The firefighters in Bradbury’s novel do not extinguish flames, rather, they ignite them with the intention of destroying evidence of expression through art and writing. The irony in these actions represents the great value in these books. Desperate times call for drastic measures. The advancements in technology continue to develop and flourish in our consumer-driven economy. Applications become more user-friendly, more productive and more fast. This “more” sensation, however, does not give more of what is essential, time. Gone are the days of letter-writing and eagerly waiting for the mail carrier to joyfully say, “You’ve got mail!” Gone are the days of mom and pop shops where everyone knows your name. Gone are the days of seeing the expression on your neighbor’s face when you walk next door to share exciting or entertaining news. These are the days of emailing, text messaging or “Facebooking” friends and relatives from around the world. These are the days of ebay and searching for authentic and rare merchandise. There are days of “tweeting” your every thought and move to the entire world, for as we know, nothing on the World Wide Web is private. The movement has gone from sitting under the warm and enriching California sun with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 in our lap to busily clicking away on our BlackBerry in traffic on the 405. The irony is in the principle that language and communication are the unifying and golden threads that have been spinning since the beginning of time. At once, this figurative literary thread was created by hand and woven with precious golden strings, and now thread can be created from fibers from recycled plastic bottles through an innovative company called Bionic Yarn! This shift from the 1600s to the twenty-first century has unquestionably been dictated by the time and space of our thinking, what we think in relation to when and why, in other words: popular culture.

Popular “pop” culture can be distinguished as a genre of mass culture as directly affected by modern and everyday elements: trends, movements, advancements and innovations or a “contemporary economy” as Michel de Certeau argues. De Certeau states, “The operational models of popular culture cannot be confined to the past, the countryside, or primitive peoples. They exist in the heart of the strongholds of the contemporary economy” (Brooker 105). In our burgeoning economy and technology fields, it is fascinating to recognize the multi-lane highways of communication that serve as transits for the masses: web surfing, email, text messaging, picture and video messaging and so on, all accessible from our compact mobile phone. From businessmen and entrepreneurs to irresponsible adolescents, masses are easily able to access the Internet and its resources. Rapidly growing social networks allow users to effortlessly communicate with audiences around the world ranging from discussions of current events to “tweeting” who was seen doing what, with whom, and where last night. While some of this information may be entertaining, the fashion in which language has the capacity to inspire and educate is easily replaced by modernity. Without a society that begs its neighbors to effectively communicate and engage language, our reality becomes imaginary and dystopic.

Fahrenheit 451 exemplifies a society that fears the challenge of change and the knowledge that inspires it. At once, the characters in Bradbury’s novel had the freedom to explore literature and share this brilliancy with others. From these revelations, they became cognizant of their surroundings and began to challenge authority. Soon enough, the governing officials found it necessary to eradicate these liberties. Bradbury illustrates this cause and effect through a conversation between Montag and Clarisse.

“No front porches. My uncle says there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk … Sometimes they just say there and thought about things, turned things over … My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porches … they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much and they had time to think” (Bradbury 63).

As we navigate the Internet, we shrink away from the traditional socialization that is necessary for development to become viable and competent human beings. There is surely an element of productivity that is a benefit from the efficiency of communicating via email or Internet communication, however the loss of language and identity is a high price to pay. Harvard studies have tracked the pop culture movement of the Internet Age. “The more time people spend using the Internet, the more they lose contact with their social environment … the more they turn their back on traditional media … the more they spend working at home and at the office” (Stanford.edu). This phenomenon was expressed through clear and loud warnings in the dystopic novels, Fahrenheit 451 and 1984.

British scholar and novelist, C.S. Lewis, captures a mirroring semblance to Bradbury’s theme when he wrote, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become” (Thinkexist.com). This powerful quote embodies the notion that literature is a bright flame to man’s philosophy of intellectual dormancy; hence the flame ought to never be extinguished. The firefighters in Fahrenheit 451 ignited flames to all traces of literature, stripping society’s paths to enlightenment and free-thinking. Not only is the flame of quality literature and language flickering, but seemingly more attractive avenues of entertainment are being exposed to malleable minds on account of the bright phenomenon of technology. This illumination on the savvy world has the potential to blind those in eyesight whether the view is being funneled from themselves or from governing authorities and hegemonies. The premise in structure versus individual agency could potentially rid man’s ability to independently and uniquely construct powerful ideas, therefore eliminating any challenges to authority as Bradbury illustrates.

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other, then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man. … If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.” (Bradbury, 58-61)

These powerful passages in Bradbury’s novel illuminate the grave importance and appreciation of literature in the hands of man and in the minds of thinkers. Although some fear the endless possibilities of rebellion where this highly valued free-thinking might lead, one ought to appreciate the energy that is recreated and dispensed into the world through the vibrant collision of thoughts. Even the greatest philosophical minds have been accused of presenting avenues of rebellion.

“Consequently there was a long period during which nearly every thinking man was in some sense a rebel. Literature was largely the literature of revolt or of disintegration. Gibbon, Voltaire, Rousseau, Shelley, Byron, Dickens, Stendhal, Samuel Butler, Ibsen, Zola, Flaubert, Shaw, Joyce in one way or another they are all of them destroyers, wreckers, saboteurs.” (O’Finn, 608)

Historians and academics have also examined the strong ties between literature and society and found that they are certainly closely-knit and instrumental to each other’s existence. In correlation with Bradbury’s distinct premise of capitalism, censorship and self-thinking, Orwell’s arguments are similarly clear. In J.P. O’Flinn’s piece titled “Orwell on Literature and Society” he grapples the notion of language’s undeniable stake in society and individual thinking.

“The relationship between a writer and his society moves on two obvious levels: society both influences and is influenced by its writers. … The great mistake is to imagine that the human being is an autonomous individual. The secret freedom which you can supposedly enjoy under a despotic government is nonsense, because your thoughts are never entirely your own. Philosophers, writers, artists, even scientists, not only need encouragement and an audience, they need constant stimulation from other people.” (O’Finn, 604)

This passage mirrors Bradbury’s platform in Fahrenheit 451 that boldly argues against the extinguishing of books. These precious books do not only contain language through literature, but also language through art forms and various ways of artistic and personal expression.

Bradbury’s fascination with the importance of language and the potential demise through a lack of language represents a clear ideal for any society. There are absolute products of the Internet and the near-future expansion of this technology phenomenon, however society needs to be cognizant that there are prices to be paid. These prices may be at the cost of traditions and cultures of our generation. Perhaps these movements may be fair representations of what and who we are as a nation in the twenty-first century, but are we ready to forgo the traditions that paved the way for us today? Barbara Tuchman, an American historian and author, beautifully illuminates Bradbury’s argument. “Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” (Thinkexist.com)

Works Cited

Brooker, Will. The Audience Studies Reader. Routledge, 2003.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books, 1953.

“Literature Quotes.” Thinkexist.com. Thinkexist.com, n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2009.

O’Flinn, J.P. “Orwell on Literature and Society.” College English, Vol. 31, No. 6. (Mar.,

1970), pp. 603-612. Web. 13 Nov 2009.

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The Age of (Mechanical) Reproduction Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

I appreciated and enjoyed Walter Benjamin’s discourse on “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Benjamin’s argument of artistic reproductions (literary, photographic, film and art) and their perfect “originals” or Forms mirrored my studies of two philosophers and their distinguished philosophies; Plato’s doctrine of the Theory of Forms (or Ideas) and Hegel’s Historicism approach to interpreting aesthetics. Over time, artistic expressions have continued to meet the senses of masses driven by new developments and cultural adaptations contingent upon their time and space in the world. The distribution of these artistic expressions engages a mode of mechanical reproduction in order to parallel the advancements of the present.

I valued a statement in Benjamin’s discourse in which he identified the remarkable progress of the reproduction of art. “Historically, it advanced intermittently and in leaps at long intervals, but with accelerated speed.” Once upon a time, writers solely symbolized their thoughts with words pressed onto paper with ink. In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, the printing press now makes it possible for words to be shared universally. Similarly, art, photography and film have also been met with flourishing advancements in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.

Reverting to the aforementioned philosophers, Plato and Hegel, Benjamin shadows their analyses in his discourse of mechanical reproductions serving as mere reproductions of productions. While there is indeed an art in reproduction itself, the art that is being reproduced is, in fact, a copy (or form) of a Form that has already existed and can only be valued with full comprehension of this definitive, changeless and flawless Form.

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. … The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction. … The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity.”

Eugenics vs. New Genetics Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

I do not believe that there is strong agreeance or acceptance in the application of eugenics. The dictionary defines eugenics as “[T]he study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, esp. by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits.” Through a simple or naive interpretation, this theory might seem to promise a healthy and thriving future, however in a historical context (as magnified during the 1920s-1950s), eugenics represents science that is politically distorted, producing an exclusive and prejudiced gene pool constructed through strict governmental declarations (as witnessed in Hitler’s Nazi regime).

In contrast, new genetics exercises individual rights through the forbearance of pseudoscience and totalitarian systems, as commonly linked to eugenics. The overarching concepts are distinguished between nature vs. nurture, knowledge vs. application, government vs. individual, and most distinctly, science vs. society.

Anne Kerr’s account of eugenics and new genetics provides the hypothetical notion that although we are not yet on the treaded path of tailoring future generations with high intelligence, desirable height and weight, seemingly attractive traits, and so on, modern science might not be too far off track. Up till this point in history and science, I am in near agreement with new genetics, however the idea that bars me from expressing absolute concordance is an archetypal principle related to the Constitution’s “pursuit of happiness.” Happiness is subjective to the individual; a family might genuinely findhappiness in sharing their life with a child whose DNA’s traits and related behaviors are generally undesirable to society and vice versa. As an early childhood educator and advocate, I am passionately committed to developing young minds and providing immeasurable experiences, not excluding children with undesirable DNA (according to the general population). In this case, although I understand and value new genetics in relation to eugenics, I am not in absolute harmony with the direction new eugenics can potentially follow.

Orwell’s 1984 – Apple Computers Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

Interesting to see how Orwell’s novel was used to represent Apple’s “breakaway” from conventional companies like IBM. The director of the commercial utilizes the principles of government and restriction as expressed by Orwell in his dystopic novel.

Advancement in Technology = Loss in Language … ? Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

“How do you know who you are?” Thoughts, relationships, interests and language all contribute to an individual’s self-concept and performance. The latter, the notion of language, served as a segue into Orwell’s novel, 1984, and spurred an interesting debate during last week’s discussion about the loss of language haphazardly paralleling the present age of technology. The idea that a loss of language and its words can infinitely lead to a loss of self, culture and history mirrors one of Orwell’s encompassing themes in the novel.

Similarly, our era of advanced technology and rapid communication via text/instant messaging, email, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking communities, has the potential to heavily influence a decline in the English language and traditional modes of communication. Personally, I find myself on both sides of the fence depending on which hat I am wearing at the moment. As a few students identified, our generation often times uses abbreviations comprised of numbers and a few letters to communicate rather than exercising prescriptive/”proper” grammar. In addition, technology savvy individuals even use a combination of symbols to express feelings: smiley faces, wink faces, sad faces, confused faces, etc. While the efficiency of this sort of communication is high, it nearly eradicates the need or desire for users to have face-to-face interactions that exercise and develop one’s skills (social, emotional, cognitive). A professor once told me that they’re baffled by the amount of papers that have included a variety of abbreviations that are generally used in technology-based communication. Yikes! As mentioned above, I find myself on both sides of the fence. (I actually own the device above, my beloved Crackberry.) The ideas that I have chosen to express in this post are purposefully addressed and emphasized in order to support the theme found in1984.

I find it controversially interesting that our field of communication-based technology continues to widen, at the same time that society and employers beg for forward-thinking, educated, well-spoken and well-rounded individuals. While we, the consumers, continue to pour our interests into these modes of advanced technology, we place aspects of our culture (language, personal interactions and sharing of ideas) towards the bottom of the list in order to manage our time, through technology, to be first in the race … the rat race, perhaps?

Fahrenheit 451 Banned From Reading Lists!? Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

Fahrenheit 451 Group Project Feedback Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

My experience in this group project was actually better than I could have imagined! To be honest, I’ve ALWAYS dreaded group projects because my group member(s) have always seemed to lack one important thing: participation!!! I have always seemed to lead the planning and developing aspects of group assignments since I consistently aim for a satisfying learning experience and assessment/grade. During this experience, however, I believe that each member contributed uniquely to both the process and product of our group project representing Fahrenheit 451.

In addition to frequent email communication over the past month or so, our members met on two occasions on the school campus. At the first gathering, our group brainstormed ideas that we individually believed were significant, and then narrowed down our ideas by combining several points as a whole. At this time, I weighed in on what might be most appealing to our audience (following the assignment’s guidelines and objectives) in a creative and interactive presentation. After we identified the key techniques utilized in the film and their relation to the book, we broke till our next meeting the following week. For our next meeting, I contributed to the filming of our presentation and volunteered to facilitate a portion of the presentation. My area of focus was Montag’s reading of literature to Mildred and her friends (and their subsequent crying and display of emotions). I reflected on this part of the book by paralleling it to the film’s scene of Montag reading David Copperfield to the women (and provoking similar behavior as noted in the book).

I believe that the success and enjoyment of our group project was, in essence, due to each member’s full participation. I hope our audience appreciates our group effort during the presentation tomorrow!

Bradbury’s Ignitable Passion for Literature Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

The poignant nature of literature evokes great enlightenment. Through deep enchantment, appreciation and application of language and literature, audiences are provided with invaluable gateways to accessing and exploring the dynamic world around them. The brilliancy of literature drives thinkers to blend their personal and past experiences with those of writers’ and essentially construct even more powerful and stimulating ways of thinking. George Orwell’s 1984, Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 are prime literary examples of the remarkability that literature endows upon society and literary audiences. Bradbury’s novel, its consequential film by director Francois Truffaut and accompanying scholarly articles, greatly emphasize the potency of literature’s affectuous presence in society.

British scholar and novelist, C.S. Lewis, captures a mirroring semblance to Bradbury’s theme through the following quote. “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” (Thinkexist.com) This beautiful quote embodies the notion that literature can be a bright flame to daily life and man’s philosophical and proactive dormancy; hence the flame ought to never be extinguished. The firefighters in Fahrenheit 451 ignite flames to all traces of literature, stripping society’s paths to enlightenment and free-thinking. The intention in this outrageous act of censorship is to rid man’s ability to independently and uniquely construct powerful ideas therefore “eliminating” possibilities of rebellion against those in government-like positions.

“We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other, then all      are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man. … If you don’t want a man unhappy politically, don’t give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none.” (Bradbury, 58-61)

These powerful passages in Bradbury’s novel illuminate the grave importance and appreciation of literature in the hands of man and in the minds of thinkers. Although some fear the endless possibilities of rebellion where this highly valued free-thinking might lead, one ought to appreciate the energy that is recreated and dispensed into the world through the vibrant collision of thoughts. Even the greatest philosophical minds have been accused of presenting avenues of rebellion.

“Consequently there was a long period during which nearly every thinking man was in some sense a rebel. Literature was largely the literature of revolt or of disintegration. Gibbon, Voltaire, Rousseau, Shelley, Byron, Dickens, Stendhal, Samuel Butler, Ibsen, Zola, Flaubert, Shaw, Joyce in one way or another they are all of them destroyers, wreckers, saboteurs.” (O’Finn, 608)

Historians and academics have also examined the strong ties between literature and society and found that they are certainly closely-knit and instrumental to each other’s existence. In correlation with Bradbury’s distinct premise of capitalism, censorship and self-thinking, Orwell’s arguments are similarly clear. In J.P. O’Flinn’s piece titled “Orwell on Literature and Society” he grapples the notion of language’s undeniable stake in society and individual thinking.

“The relationship between a writer and his society moves on two obvious levels: society both influences and is influenced by its writers. … The great mistake is to imagine that the human being is an autonomous individual. The secret freedom which you can supposedly enjoy under a despotic government is nonsense, because your thoughts are never entirely your own. Philosophers, writers, artists, even scientists, not only need encouragement and an audience, they need constant stimulation from other people.” (O’Finn, 604)

This passage mirrors Bradbury’s platform in Fahrenheit 451 that boldly argues against the extinguishment of books. These precious books do not only contain language through literature, but also language through art forms and various ways of artistic and personal expression.

Bradbury’s fascination with the importance of books and language and the selfish demise in which a society can hazardously stumble upon represents a clear need and ideal for the human race. Barbara Tuchman, an American historian and author, beautifully illuminates Bradbury’s argument. “Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” (Thinkexist.com)

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books, 1953.

“Literature Quotes.” Thinkexist.com. Thinkexist.com, n.d. Web. 13 Nov 2009.

O’Flinn, J.P. “Orwell on Literature and Society.” College English, Vol. 31, No. 6. (Mar.,

1970), pp. 603-612. Web. 13 Nov 2009.

In My Mind … Thursday, Dec 10 2009 

“In my mind …” In my mind I can do it … In my mind I cannot do it. “What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.” Denis Waitley

A few years ago, a friend of mine titled one of his most personal projects “In My Mind.” Although I will bashfully share that it initially met me with a faceless distinction, I was apt to presume that a purposeful representation must have been in place when he adopted the phrase. In my mind, he never failed to organically and beautifully express the thoughts in his mind with a harmony of rich colors and textures. This case was sure to be no exception. In this particular project, he tightly held onto the idea that the creation was a personalized and self-reflected representation, with the most reliable critic and competitor being his own mind. Soon after this intrigue, I frequently found myself prefacing my train-of-thought with “In my mind …” as I, too, embodied an individual approach to each avenue of expression I ventured upon.

Not surprisingly, when it was time to create this blog as an assignment from one of my professors, I instinctively found a sense of comfort in the phrase and an effectual pride in the thoughts that overwhelmingly dwelled in my mind … it was only a matter of time till they’d break through and design a shape and sound of their own. This is an exercise of mind, body and soul. Take a walk with me …