Monday, October 28, 2013
When terrorism-themed episode "Isaac and Ishmael" aired in 2001 on the popular Show The West Wing, fans of the popular show, as well as people simply looking for answers were graced with a decent amount of clarity after viewing. Usually following the democratic administration of Josiah Bartlet, Sorkin decided to shift the scene to possibly answer some of the burning questions all of America had after the devastating September 11th attacks. "Why?" "What did we do to them?" "Do they hate us?" were some of the questions answered during this extremely instructive episode. The constant strive towards rationalism is seen very clearly in this episode, from the hour-long attempt to grasp "a terrorists perspective" to the thought-provoking analogies brought on by characters. "Muslim extremists are to Islam as ____ is to Christianity" one character asks, followed by blank faces. The answer (the KKK), or lack thereof, highlights the bias that Americans put on people of Middle-Eastern descent, one that is clearly demonstrated in this episode. Through this, the apparent rationalism of The West Wing gives not only a fairly unbiased look at 9/11, but a great amount of understanding to the devastating attacks and aftermath. Fast forward to today, society is in what Rushkoff explains as a "Present Shock", an immobile state filled with doubt (in this case, regarding terrorism). This "freeze" that we are in, has caused us to jump to conclusions, to fall back on stereotypes, and push blame on ones who are undeserving. Ever since the attacks on the Twin Towers, concluded to be the doings of middle-eastern terrorist group "Al Queda", Americans have jumped to the safety in which the "Present Shock" resides in. We must understand that terrorism does not stem from just one people, but can come from any corner of the Earth. The rationality and unbiased attitudes Sorkin brought us with "Isaac and Ishmael" shed light on the still fragile topic in 2001, and still shed's light on it today, exuding a rational explanation for the attacks and how us, as Americans, should respond to the tragedy that changed our country forever. The West Wing broke the traditional idea of entertainment ("...'to hold within,' or to keep someone in a certain frame of mind" (Rushkoff 21).) and sparked thought and a new perspective, to consider all sides of the story. "Isaac and Ishmael"'s impact changed Americans thoughts on where to go next, even just for a moment, by not just standing by a group who would be condemned for all time because of an extremist group whom they share a race with, but by promoting rationalistic values for all of its viewers to see, consider, and implement in one another.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The clear tone and style Hemingway employs often through his writing is demonstrated in his memoir, A Moveable Feast. About his years in Paris in the 1920’s as a writer, it is clear that with this underlying theme of in a way, a autobiography, that there would be a very casual feel to the writing. Hemingway’s writing style can be seen as very conversational, as he keeps his use of words and grammar to an easily-understood level. One specific element of his work that stood out to me was his inclusion of quoted conversations very often in the memoir; these conversations of quotes would sometimes continue for pages, supporting the previous idea of a very direct and conversational tone employed throughout the memoir. With this in mind, Hemingway’s direct use of language and time causes the work to flee from a strong example of form following content. One chapter in which both Hemingway’s casual and direct tone as well as his continuous quoting of conversations is demonstrated in is With Pascin at the Dôme. A casual conversation goes on with Hemingway, Pascin, and the two model sisters for pages in this chapter:
“‘You have to go?’
‘Have to and want to.’
‘Go on then’...” (Hemingway 109).
This comfortable writing style makes the literature very easy to read and digest. Besides his large usage of quotes, Hemingway’s bias shines through often in many chapters. One moment stood out to me in Ezra Pound and His Bel Espirit when Hemingway first encounters Wyndham Lewis. Hemingway’s very strong opinions are very notable here and alter the opinion of a reader, as bias often does: “Lewis did not show evil; he just looked nasty” (Hemingway 115). Hemingway’s constant repetition of Lewis’s “nastiness” exemplifies the very prominent element of bias Hemingway uses in his memoir.
Overall, I think we read this book as a part of our AP Language study to get a peer into the daily life of one of history’s greatest writers and the environment he wrote in. It gives you a great perspective on the influences he had of other writers like Ezra Pound and Stein, and helps us further understand how they affected his writing and style. The text does not necessarily present any problems to solve as there is not a concrete plot (as it is a memoir), but readers are still required to make connections between the different authors Hemingway encounters and how his relationships affect him as a person and writer.