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Japanamerica March 13, 2009

Posted by jr4024 in anime, cultre, manga.
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            The reading that we had on Japanamerica was very interesting because I feel that the United States and Japan are countries that tend to often be compared when it comes to power, marketing, and who is ahead in the industry. Although the states may have a ‘cyborgian’ mix culture where we work together in terms of production, I do not think of our relationship with Japan as one of simple friendship. In fact, I find it obvious that there are many times when Japan and America butt heads when it comes to norms such as sexy vs. cute, emphasis on violence vs. emphasis of the consequences of violence, grudges from World War II, and opinions based on form of education.

            On the topic of anime and manga, I find it funny that America does not want to market certain types of anime because of their content. In the United States, we deal with the many disturbing situations where we blame the media and video games, and I don’t seem to hear of men in Japan sexually abusing a tree or octopus. Although I do not agree with all of the raping situations, if they made it so the woman wanted it, then I would side more with the Japanese. The biggest kick out of all this is the fact that in Japanese culture, where their minds are supposedly ‘always in the gutter’ and highly disturbed, it is in America where women are the most exploited/subjugated to daily oppression. In the reading, it mentioned that women are rarely seen as the sexual objects they play in anime. It states that these fantasies are strictly related to imagination and creativity, and I find that very interesting.

            Another fun fact in the reading was the anime artists’ inspiration of Walt Disney. In relation to porn, I immediately thought of all of the sexual innuendos that are in Disney’s films. I did not notice these until recently, yet although hidden, Disney productions should be ashamed of themselves hiding pornographic messages/images in “classic, children’s movies.”      

            Lastly, I know I am running out of space, but I wanted to mention a few things about the other readings. In Evocative Objects, I found that the story of Murray the stuffed bunny was interesting with its aspect of creator/creation. In addition, the Ford Falcon seemed to have crossed dimensions when she took her physical experience, applied her mental images, and created a website where the falcon crossed into cyberspace. Last but not least, the text in the Gendered Cyborg was thought-provoking with their concept of the woman becoming a model of the perfect machine. To play devil’s advocate, doesn’t the man machine also produce a stereotype that men are supposed to be strong, intelligent, and quick-thinkers? I know that the ideas of reproduction and motherhood have a lot of significance, but I just wanted to throw that out there. 

Laplacian? February 18, 2009

Posted by baimeeker in cyborgs, technology.
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Professor Burcar asked me to post this.  It’s about “The Raincoat.”

In “The Raincoat,” Matthew Belmonte reflects on his childhood raincoat, an object that represents the tension between himself and his environment, including other people. He compares this tension to the abnormal obsession with controlling the world that is associated with autism. I was particularly struck by his use of the word “Laplacian” to describe himself. I have searched in vain for a definition of Laplacian other than the mathematical term. Why would someone call themselves a “budding Laplacian”?

Although the actual definition of the Laplacian is based in differential calculus, one way that it can be described is in terms of its usefulness. In particular, the Laplacian is used to find equilibrium points in a system. Equilibrium points are points at which there is no movement. These points reflect the feeling Belmonte describes when wearing his raincoat, as though “immersed in the outside worlds flood yet insulated from it.” The areas around these equilibrium points may be moving in several different directions. They may be approaching the equilibrium point or even flying away from it. But the equilibrium point itself is not affected.

In addition, Belmonte discusses how his compulsion to understand the world, and thus reduce it order, pushed him to study science and creative writing, and in particular to describe the world in a mathematically tractable way. As I continue to study applied mathematics, I become more aware of the simplifications that must be made in order to study the world in this way. In the same way that a mathematician studies equilibrium points, Belmonte is looking for stationary rules that describe the best human knowledge of a system. Yet we must always leave things out of our equations for the sake of tractability. Otherwise we would not be able to find solutions. Because of this, equations that try to describe humanity prove to be difficult to create or to analyze. Belmonte tries to find and to convey the equilibrium points of human interaction through science and art. It is due to his participation in this struggle that he can be described as a Laplacian.

Response to readings February 17, 2009

Posted by jr4024 in cyborgs, monstrosity, poetry, technology, writing.
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The readings for this week were from Evocative Objects. The first story was about a woman and her bracelet. She discussed that her jewelry box is set up into different sections based on properties and categories. For example, she had shells and stones in their own separate spaces. When I first read this, I automatically made a metaphor connecting with society and how we categorize and group different people based on similar stereotypes of identities and characteristics. In addition, within these different groups lies the same definition for each “member”. We can relate this labeling to societal notions about monsters/deviants and why they are placed in the “Other” group based on appearance and with no correlation to what is considered normal. Her bracelet also had a past, which can be linked to the history of what monsters look like and are supposed to “be”. If we consider ourselves cyborgs, then why does that not make us a monster?  

            The second reading was about a man and his yellow raincoat. I found this story very interesting because I immediately linked some of the author’s ideas to those of William Blake. In the story, the yellow raincoat symbolizes his protection from the outer world and creates a sort of barrier from which he created binaries. As we have read, Blake uses this system of binaries to contrast Songs and Experience. He states, “These conflicting denials of life and death are attached to the coat.” In addition to this binary, the author mentions: self and external world, rocks and people, playing an active and inactive role, and order and chaos. His binaries also tend to have a childhood vs. adulthood aspect to them because he analyzes his raincoat as an adult looking back on what it meant to him.

Love Connection on Instant Message January 29, 2009

Posted by yakshi in communication, technology, visual culture.
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The above is an article entitled “Instant Message, Instant Girlfriend” by rising college sophomore Roger Hobbs, written for the New York Times’ Modern Love college essay contest. I thought of this essay instantly after reading “My Laptop” by Anna Newitz in Evocative Objects. As in Newitz’s reflection, Hobbs discusses how our internet aliases provide anonymity that allow us to share more about ourselves and our emotions online. Because we do not have to worry about physical interaction while chatting or flirting on the internet, we can be more candid with our thoughts and take time composing our responses. The internet also opens a virtual forum for dating, providing many more prospective boyfriends and girlfriends than in everyday life. Instead of happening upon your crush at school and talking for five minutes in the hallway, their screenname provides a direct, informal connection to them. Talking online expedites a normal relationship, and provides a certain distance that makes people more prone to sharing their secrets and life stories. As Hobbs eloquently remarks, “The Internet is the real world. Only faster.” 

Is the internet an operator that allows people to fall in love? You could argue that an all-night instant message conversation is comparable to a five-hour phonecall, but what about the lack of human connection. In an IM conversation you cannot hear inflections in a person’s voice or hesitations in their speech. Instead you develop an imaginary sense of their physical qualities as Newitz did, her crush’s body was “the feel of slightly concave keys nestled in a brushed stainless steel tray. His breath was the sound of  a fan cooling the CPU.” Now whenever Newitz turns on her laptop, she sees “a shadow of him flicker past.” Our we developing relationships with machines or with people? And if we are building relationships with internet aliases, will their online counterparts match up to their genuine personalities? As young people, are our relationships deficient of human interaction? With more and more substitutes for communicating in person (IM, gchat, text messages, email, BBM, facebook and facebook chat, twitter…), I think the best solution is relying on operators that allow you to talk in real time. Conversation should not be so composed or deliberate, and as Hobbs learns their are severe disadvantages to establishing artificial relationships.