MEMOIRES OF A RAVENCLAW

This should technically be my tenth “lengthy” blog post, but I’ll probably post an epic farewell post tonight when I get home from work. Now… as obsessive as I may have been within the past couple of days, I’m going to obsess even more about it and discuss the “rhetoric” of film with an emphasis on the recently golden globe nominated film, “Black Swan.” I’ll attach the trailer for those of you who have yet to see the previews for this film. And if you’ve seen the trailers, and haven’t seen the movie — SEE IT NOW! Its currently only released in select theatre and in Austin, you will only find it playing in the Alamo Ritz and Regal Cinema 8. All theatres will be playing this film December 22. Its phenomenal. Just throwing that out there…

Okay so this film has been in the works for a hella long time now, and is based off of the ballet “Swan Lake.” With an original concept to feature off-broadway actors and their understudy’s, the director (who also directed The Wrestler), changed his mind due to his fascination with ballet and thus “Black Swan” was born. Okay so every work of art has a purpose, right? It’s not just rhetoric and writing that is trying to appeal to a certain audience in pursuit of persuasion. Every play, every action, every film and dance is rhetoric in itself. A creator formulates this idea that establishes a stance. And through their art, and with the help of those who support their art, they form a bridge between creation and an audience in hopes of achieving something.


Now, as for “Black Swan”, when evaluating this film, it’s a little hard to establish what the overall message is. I mean - yes it’s a beautifully artistic film that is completely character driven and will more than likely award Natalie Portman with an Academy Award nomination IN THE LEAST, but there is something more to it. Something that does not necessarily meets the eye. In the art of ballet, in the art of performance (generally) the competitive nature in some people is so overly driven, it can drive a person insane.

As a performer, work out there is hard to get as it is. And with time, age, and youth creeping behind those of us who may have been in the business longer, competition only gets greater. For an actor, unless you’re well established, reaching 30 years old is like reaching 60. For a dancer, reaching 25 is reaching 70. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s totally true. Also, I’ve heard of taking a “role to heart” but the character portrayed in “Black Swan” takes it to a whole other level with her obsessiveness and intricacies trying to “be perfect.”


Perfection does not exist, in yet we constantly strive for it. We fight, we strive, we compete to be the best. But what does that accomplish? Sometimes - greatness. Most times - nothing. A lot of the time, as it is depicted within the film, Natalie Portman’s (who’s character goes by the name of Nina) strive for perfection leaves her going crazier and crazier until her perception of reality and insanity is so blurred, we as an audience aren’t really so sure what is going on.


The entire film takes place in Nina’s mind. So whatever she sees, whatever she feels, we see and we feel. So the goal for the audience is to be taken on this journey with this dancer who is reaching her age peak point, and was finally cast as the lead, the Swan Queen, in one of New York City’s most established ballet company’s production of “Swan Lake.” We are taken through her childhood, through her insane mother and her obsessions, through her perception of the other dancers, naivety in sexuality and sensuality, her youth at heart and her overall ambition towards being perfect - no matter the cost. 


This film truly makes you stop and think for a minute, especially if you’re a performer. Sure, this film can be reached towards and touches anyone who strives for perfection, but for a performer, it hits a little close to home. Sometimes, our best really is good enough. Sometimes, we have to stop and acknowledge that we are never going to be “perfect.” But that’s how we live, grow and learn. That is the key to greatness and success. And it is through our imperfections that make us, in a sense, as perfect as we can possibly be.

3 years ago / 1 note /

So this is Christmas…

Today has been perhaps one of the shittiest days of the semester. I mean — I know there’s been worse. But this one is right up there. I have a concrete group of four individuals. We vary from different colleges throughout the university, but we are all second years, we’re all gay, and we all love each other. This isn’t relevant… but we sort of had this fall out today. Or, well, it’s more complicated than that really. Point being, I’m just gonna talk about the rhetoric of one of my favorite christmas songs of all time. John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War is Over).

So this song is in response to, particularly, the vietnam war but can be directly affiliated with any war. Around the time of the Vietnam war, there were billboards posted that read “War is Over! If you want it, War is Over NOW!” These particular phrases from billboards were used in the actual song, and leaves the audience with a sense of realization, and potential hope. When I hear this song, I feel like shit, personally. I think that’s the intent John and Yoko were going for here. Sort of a slap in the face. Almost like, “happy christmas… look at this fucked up world. Happy christmas.”

The opening line in itself is harsh and sharp. He sings, “so this is christmas… and what have you done? … so this is christmas, I hope you have fun. the near and the dear ones, the old and the young. a very, merry christmas - and a happy new year. let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear. so this is christmas, for weak and for strong. for rich and for poor ones, the world is so wrong. and so happy christmas - for black and for white. for yellow and red ones, let’s stop all the fight.”

And the lyrics go on and on and on. John and Yoko were trying to make an ignorant country see the results war was putting American citizens through, and the same happens today. The funny thing about war, is that it always has been and always will be on a scale that is greater than one country versus another for resources etc. War stems from even the most intimate places. There is war in family. War among friends. War among races, religions and sexual orientations. There is always some sort of war going on, and it affects everyone.

In my cultural anthropology class, we spent a whole lecture discussing war. We talked about what it means to some people, and what it means to others. He asked us if we thought America was a country that encouraged murder. Almost instantly, we all answered ‘no.’ He then quickly challenged us to think a little deeper, to think a little further. To look at our video games and to think of concepts like the death penalty, abortion, executions, etc. He said it did not matter what our personal stances were, but he asked the question again. Is America a country that condones murder? What do you all think?

I hate war. I think its silly and un necessary. I support our troops 100% because they’re risking their lives… but I am not okay with what we, as a country are fighting for. My brother and grandfather are both Veterans and I am so very proud of them for standing for what they believe in. But I cannot fully support a country who does not fully support me, in several aspects of the word “support.” But now I’m getting a little off topic.

"A very merry christmas, and a happy new year. Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear." All we ever hope for is a little more hope. That’s what we strive for. Something to keep us going, especially when we don’t feel like going any more. It’s hard. It’s tough. Some days are indescribably unbearable and the only things I can ever think of is giving up all together. But its so much easier to give up, isnt it? "War is over, if you want it. War is over… now." What does that say? What does that mean?

All the pain, all the sorrow, all the suffering — is over, if we want it to be. We choose our perception of things and we follow what we believe in. I know in my heart that one day, someday, I will be able to walk outside with my lover without any fear of hate from the world around me. I will take my spouse to church with me, hold his hand, and kiss him and we bless each other. I will be able to hold his hand in broad daylight in the middle of the barrio that I live in, and everything will be okay “… without any fear.”

"Another year over, and a new one just begun…"

Happy Christmas. War is Over.

3 years ago / 1 note /

Um I love you both. That’s my contribution. And its posts like this that confirm that this really was my favorite class this semester :) It’s nice to be pushed in ways we’re not used to being pushed before. Foley - you talk about how getting students to write about hostile audiences is like pulling teeth? Imagine what its like for us. Most of us, myself included, are still in that auto pilot mindset of a “research paper” mode when writing these arguments instead of being assertive, intelligent and argumentative. I know I have to remind myself, and when I don’t - you do a good enough job at reminding me yourself. I also know I’m not the only one … just saying…

As for Hitler - whatevsies. you both have solid points here. i had like a whole epic entry planned out and then my supervisor ruined it by actually making me go back to work! :( let me see if i can sum up what i was going to say…

Triple R has got some solid points. I mean, I obviously don’t know enough about rhetoric to completely comprehend that entire entry, but I think I know enough to come up with my own conclusions on the matter. I will argue to the ends of the earth that not ANYONE is “smart” enough to understand what the Germans were feeling, and to utilize that empathy to successfully win over a group of people to help take over the world. Also, not everyone is courageous enough. Especially after all the shit that just happened, self morale was hella low and I’m willing to bet Hitler’s life on it (whoops) that people were too scared to do/say anything. I’m not defending Hitler in any way, shape or form — just merely pointing out that what Hitler did was not a “oh, well anyone could have done that” kind of situation. It had to take someone smart, cunning, and just plain mean.

I do not think Hitler’s rhetoric was “good” in the sense of “good vs evil” (thanks to Foley for differentiating, nor do I think it’s “good” as in ‘A+ on your rhetoric paper good’, but I do think and I do stand by the fact that Hitler just knew what to say, when to say it, and how to say it out loud. As an actor, performance is EVERYTHING. We are ALWAYS acting. We are ALWAYS performing. Those of you who say you could never act? Bullshit. You do it every day. Every time you skip class, lie to your parents, boyfriends, friends, professors and the like — you are ACTING. Welcome to the stage! Hitler was a badass actor. When I hear some of the shit he had to say, I’m not gonna lie - I was scared. Let’s not forget that the Jews weren’t the only victims in this war. My ass would have had a pink triangle on it, and would have been left for the guards to humiliate and publicly shove their uncleaned dicks in my mouth on the train to my concentration camp. All because I could never live up to what “Hitler expected me to be.”

Again — I’m not defending his ass nor am I agreeing with the statement that “he had good rhetoric.” All I’m saying is that even for people who are hella vulnerable and easily manipulated, I’m pretty sure it took a lot more than a wink and a smile for Hitler to persuade the German nation. A lot more, actually.

foleymd:

It should also be noted, RR, which I did in class, that Hitler didn’t write jack, which means he was neither fantastic nor genius at anything but performance.

Hitler was an evil, lying, manipulating little twerp that was fabulous at getting what he wanted. The rhetoric he used to do so was awesomely effective, which was my only point when I said it was “awesome.” Effective rhetoric does not necessarily relate to “good” in this world, and the point of our exercise in reading Hitler was to ensure that, at the end of the semester, students unfamiliar with that concept could have it ham-fistedly driven into their heads by my Hitler spiel. Rhetoric is suspect. And rhetoric that seems to make sense and to play to your needs is not necessarily sending you down a good path. Remember that WMD shit in Iraq?

Trish is a genius. And deliberative rhetoric is a wonderful idea, which is why 306 has a controversies model, and why I, in the simplified nature of this course, ask students to write to hostile audiences. My hope is that doing so will help students understand the multitudes of opinions out there and generate better arguments in a deliberative setting. And, of course, I hope that they’ll be more open-minded.

The problem is, as some of you might have noticed, that getting students to write to hostile audiences is like pulling teeth. Like pulling a lot of teeth. Because it can be very hard to make the transition from writing opinion papers to actually considering that there are other ideas out there. Other opinions out there. Other solutions to problems out there. High school curricula encourage, in my experience, solipsism and the privileging of individual opinion as a right (FREEDOM OF SPEECH!). Which means that open minds, in the vast majority of the population, are few and far between, if not nonexistent. Because solipsism is so ingrained at the individual level, and because solipsism plays out at the national level in the form of blind nationalism (See, for instance, Hitler!), deliberative rhetoric is next to impossible for a large percentage of the population.

Try deliberating abortion. What. Try convincing someone who believes that all Muslims are evil that all Muslims are not, in fact, evil. Whew. I just broke a sweat.

But we’re talking at cross-purposes, I think, which is why I think you were so frustrated in class. There’s a difference between being good at rhetoric and being good at world domination. I can figure out this rhetoric stuff most days, but I can’t win at Axis and Allies.

There’s also difference between being good at performance and being “good.”

I also think that not recognizing Hitler’s speech-making/performing/whatever effectiveness is dangerous. Calling it effective rhetoric (it’s really just pandering, but it’s effective) is not meant to offend people of any race or faith that were harmed by the Nazis. It’s meant to call to your attention that rhetoric that is effective is not necessarily good, so that you evaluate rhetoric that encourages you to do things that may be morally wrong. The purpose is to bring to your attention that lots of people suffered and died at the hands of “good rhetoric,” and that you should be wary so that you don’t become the next Hitler.

My political point, if it’s not yet obvious, is that our government sucks. Parenting that doesn’t teach open-minded analysis of political opinions sucks, because then we get people falling in lock-step, goose-step, behind Halliburton.

And if that doesn’t make it clear: End American wars that kill people for 1) political gain, 2) economic gain, 3) assurance of white supremacy. Stop this bullshit Arizona illegal immigration crap. Stop locking up minorites because they smoked a dimebag of pot when white folks with boatloads of cocaine get off with a slap on the wrist.

This country has real problems, RR, because we don’t engage in deliberative rhetoric. You’re right. How do we begin to change that except by talking about how evil rhetoric can be?

Nice post, btw. The kids still say props? Props.

Holy crap, it’s 3:30 a.m. and I haven’t finished my paper yet. Later.

rreilly:

Okay so I’ve been meaning to talk about this for a while and since I’ve been mentioned by name in at least two posts, I guess I should get on it.

I will concede that Hitler knew exactly what he was doing. He said all the right things that would make the German people feel justified in exterminating those not of the “chosen race”. Kenneth Burke, who wrote about Hitler’s Mein Kampf (trans. My Battle), named the specific strategies Hitler employed in persuading the masses. A good summary can be found here. I know it’s from Wikipedia and I know you’re probably not going to take the time to read it, but it’s worth it and it will give you a better idea of why Hitler was so successful.

On the other hand, I refuse to agree that Hitler was a genius, rhetorical or otherwise. Anyone who was smart enough to figure out how the audience (the Germans) was feeling could have done exactly what Hitler did. The fact that no one else did makes it seem like Hitler was awesome at rhetoric. I’m not saying anything about his character because that is a completely separate thing from his rhetoric. What I want people to realize is that Hitler was shameless. His goal from the beginning was world domination and he was going to stop at nothing to achieve it. He just didn’t let everyone know all at once. He wanted to keep the crazy in until he had Germany under his thumb. That’s why Mein Kampf was such a huge deal—it revealed his hunger for power. Unfortunately no one except Churchill actually read it, so no one except Churchill knew what Hitler was actually after. 

Prof. Roberts-Miller said in my class that a lot of people see rhetoric as having an idea and getting that idea into others’ heads. It’s one speaker with lots of listeners and all the listeners eventually agree with the speaker. (This type of rhetoric is called asymmetric/instrumentalist discourse. The goal is to gain the audience’s compliance.) Hitler was fantastic at this type of rhetoric. However, he was horrible at deliberation, which is discourse where the better argument is supposed to win. Deliberation is far more effective than instrumentalist discourse because your audience is not always going to agree with what you think and someone might have a better idea. If we would engage in deliberation, which requires an open mind, we could make more beneficial decisions and constantly be discovering better ways to do things. The reason why Hitler was so terrible at deliberation is because he never believed he was wrong and he was never willing to admit he made a mistake.

Hitler believed in the triumph of the will, even against concrete materials and resources and information. He believed that because he wanted world domination so badly, it would just happen, even though his armies were running out of food, clothing, and warm weather, and even though his generals kept telling him that his tactics were failing. I think Hitler knew how to get people to agree with him, but once people tried to suggest better ideas, he shut them down because he didn’t believe in deliberation. That he wouldn’t deliberate became his downfall. Hitler knew how to use rhetoric to a point, I will grant you that. Yet I can’t help but think that if he were so great at rhetoric, why did he fail so miserably?

Rhetoric requires an open mind and the ability to change our minds. The world is constantly changing around us and if we don’t keep up, we are bound to fail like Hitler did. I know not everyone in this class would consider themselves a writer, but with the capacity to have an open mind and the power to change it, you are well on your way to becoming a better writer and a more informed member of society.

I realize the way I reacted in class was pretty intense. I’m like that, especially when I can’t say what I mean. That’s why I like writing so much. I can edit and edit and edit and get super precise with my words and meanings. The point is I felt like I couldn’t say what I meant and everyone else was convinced of Hitler’s genius (or so it seemed to me), so I just shut up. Not the greatest plan, but that’s how I usually react. Anyway, this video I posted is a comedian, Eddie Izzard, doing a bit about Hitler. Izzard’s language is a little harsh, but it’s enjoyable. You really only need to watch the first three minutes or so, but this guy is hilarious. Also, he’s a cross dresser. 

via foleymd / 3 years ago / 4 notes /

Just want everyone to know…

That I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth. I’m only like three blogs short of completion, and that’s only because I’m being generous ;) Expect some blogs from me soon! <3

FYI FOLEY

I have a dumb mandatory geology lab at 11a.m manana that’s NOT on campus. It’s “allegedly” supposed to only last half an hour but we’ll see… just letting you know if i’m running late: this is why.

3 years ago / 1 note /

Reflection

So as the semester is coming to an end, I tend to do a little bit of self reflection as I try to figure a couple of things out. And here’s what I’ve come to conclude about the rhetoric of harry potter - RHE 309K. Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:30 - 2:00. Foley.

It’s so funny because my mentality for going into the class was far from what it really was, and my mentality about it all as a whole has changed completely. I’m not gonna lie - I did walk into this course, like the many of us, thinking and feeling like all we would do would be sit around a table, talk about harry potter and when we DID write, we’d be writing what I would learn to be literary criticisms and that would be that. I pictured Foley to be a middle aged female professor with an unconventional wardrobe, a dreamy air in her inflection and a class pointer in the shape of a wand.

As Foley entered the class, however, she was wearing a cute yellow summer dress with a white under shirt, far from middle aged, and had the cutest smile in the world. She didn’t bear a wand and was very blunt about what would be the contents of this class — this is a rhetoric of Harry Potter class. We would geek out every now and then, but we would mostly be writing. Mostly about arguments RELATING to Harry Potter. Foley kind of intimidated me at first, but I shook it off and said, “this is going to be a good semester.”

So as time progressed and I turned in my first paper. I got a TERRIBLE grade on it. Foley was right — she’s a tough grader. I was immediately discouraged and knew I had to work harder. I’m a good writer. I know I am. So this was very unexpected and I just knew I had to step it up more than I ever have before. Every paper after the first one was good. I proved myself a good writer, a good thinker, and a hard worker when it came down to this rhetoric class. Like many of you all, I did not have the greatest RHE 306 class. It was easy, limiting, and I got away with bullshitting EVERYTHING.

Foley, you have taught me so much. In terms of rhetoric, I have been exposed to more types of writing this past semester than ever before. From different styles, to different purposes - it was amazing to be the kinds of influence a person can have by the words they write and the arguments they make. When analyzing the rhetoric of Hitler’s speeches, you were write; rhetoric is a scary thing. It’s so influential and when pitched to the right person at the right time, you can literally change the world.

The biggest challenge for me was trying to progress as a writer. Sometimes, I felt totally stuck and because Foley’s expectations were so high, I was never really sure if I was on the right track. But Foley, you helped me get there. I’m not just saying all of this to blow smoke up your ass, but I mean it. You really have taught me a SHIT LOAD of crap I never thought I could use. Terminology and ways of writing that can make people feel certain ways, it was crazy to me how influential this class was to me in an every day basis

This class was far from what I expected it to be, but more than I could ever expect for it to be. I thoroughly enjoyed finding the little arguments I could relating to Harry Potter and challenging myself to pick a side, and prove my point. Foley, yes you may have been harsh at times, but for me (personally) that’s what pushed me to push myself. I did not want to disappoint you, and I wanted to do well. And if you had to get on my ass about it a couple of times, I was thoroughly appreciative of it. But mostly, you allowed us to express ourselves in every way we possibly could. We could write about what we wanted, how we wanted (so long as we met the assignment’s objectives) and you were more than okay with that.

I could completely “gay out” in your class without fear of judgment or harsh looks and you’d laugh and pat me on the back. It’s refreshing to be able to be myself in the few places I can be. I’m not gonna lie — this really was my favorite class this semester. If not for Foley, then for my classmates; if not for my classmates, then for harry potter. If not for harry potter, then for the writing; if not for the writing, then for the acceptance.

I love to write. After taking this course, I think I love it even more, now. Aside from performing, I want to be a playwright. I’ve recently come to that conclusion. Ah, to be a young writer in Austin, Texas. Born and raised in El Paso, and bound for New York.

3 years ago / 2 notes /

harry potter

WAS FUCKING AWESOME! <3

3 years ago / 1 note /
the women of hogwarts; why kids should read harry potter

the women of hogwarts; why kids should read harry potter

3 years ago / 1 note /
besitos &lt;3

besitos <3

3 years ago / 1 note /

Isaac: “I can’t come to class — cough, cough — I’m sick”

Foley: “Boo, you whore.”

Or at least that’s how I hope it goes. Guys I’m feeling like uber shiz today so I will not be in class :( Please someone keep me posted to what we discuss etc? I’m still turning in my paper like a good boy.

3 years ago / 4 notes /
 
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