Phoenix, Arizona Blog Response

“Human groups nearly everywhere tend to regard their own homeland as the center of the world.” This is one of the many excellent points that Tuan brings up in the chapter “Attachment to Homeland.” Human beings tend to feel a personal connection with their homeland. To many people, their home is the only place where they can be safe, comfortable, or free to act as they desire. This is evident with many cultures within America, namely Native Americans. Throughout their lengthy history in North America, Native Americans have reserved themselves to a specific location, with a tribal chief, a substantial law system, and a community fully integrated with one and other.

In Sherman Alexie’s story, we are exposed to a character that has spent his whole life within a specific Native American reservation. He finds out that his father has died, and elects to go to Phoenix Arizona in order to recover his father’s ashes. Tuan comes into discussion when Thomas goes to the tribal chief, with intent to loan money for his ‘journey’ to Phoenix. They give him one hundred dollars, but that seemingly wasn’t sufficient enough. He then meets his cousin, within the reservation, and he offers to pay for his trip as long as he partakes in hi trip. Victor (his cousin), was secluded to this Indian reservation for many years. He felt a strong desire to leave for a change. While on their trip, they felt a certain sense of home sickness, or pity for all other lands but their own.

This correlates with Tuan’s chapter in several ways. One of which is the two main characters ability to reflect on past experiences on the reservation, while embarking on a long trip to Phoenix, Arizona. They both seemed to reconnect while discussing their past experiences in their homeland, but it took a journey away from their home, to realize how special it was. Another way the short story agrees with Tuan’s chapter is, “Attachment to the homeland is a common human emotion, its strength varies among different cultures and historical periods. The more ties there are, the stronger is the emotional bond.” Indian reservations have survived in America for countless centuries. Their lengthy history truly attributed to the societies keen sense pf unity, and attachment in relation to their bond with their homeland.

“This is what it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” was an exceptional short story. Alexie truly succeeded at showing the bond of man with their homeland, and I can directly see how this relates with Tuan’s chapter.

Lit and Place Essay #2

Essay #2 (Draft) “Young Goodman Brown”

Lit and Place Response #6 “Babylon Revisited”

In Yi-Fu Tuan’s chapter, “Time in Experiential Space,” he discusses the various differences and similarities of “time” and “space.” “The experience of space and time is largely subconscious” (Tuan 118). The notions of Space and Time should be viewed as figurative terms, opposed to their literal translations according to Tuan. In F Scott Fitzgerald’s Babylon Revisited, the main character merely needed patience in order to satisfy his well being. He wanted his child back, but had to first recover from his bitter ways.

Charlie, the main character, understood that he had gone awry, and had to shape up if he ever expected to be the primary care taker of his child. Subconsciously he believed that the time would never pass, his space between him and his daughter was growing further and further apart throughout his long days. This was what he believed. His mind forced him to believe that “time” was in fact never ending, and that his figurative space between him and his child was never to be how it used to be, or how he envisioned it would eventually be.

Fitzgerald’s short story depicted a life of a rather depressed individual, unable to alter his personality. He couldn’t understand why his family could not forget about his past transgressions. As bad as they may have been, he was under the impression that he had changed, but what he failed to realize was that time will inevitably heal all of his figurative wounds.

Tuan states that our subconscious discerns the difference between time and space. As difficult as it may be to understand, our mental state decides what we will do, become, and believe our selves to be. It also conceptualizes our views of the world. Babylon Revisited was a great story. It truly shed some valuable light on several pressing issues that so many face on a daily basis. I sympathize with Charlie; he wanted what’s best for his child. Was he able to give what’s best for her to her is a completely different story.

Lit and Place Response #4 “Young Goodman Brown”

In Yi-Fu Tuan’s chapter, “Mythical Space and Place,” he gradually discerns the difference between “myth” and “reality.” He states in his opening paragraph, “Myth is often contrasted with reality. Myths flourish in the absence of precise knowledge (Tuan 85).” An individuals fear, or the term in general, can act as a focal point in Tuan’s discussion of “myth vs. reality.” Fear can often be confused with myth, because fear is defined as; a subjective notion, that may defy reality.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “Young Goodman Brown,” Goodman brown succumbed to his fears. He believed that all of the townspeople had in fact turned their backs on the righteous and embarked on the route of evil. He assumed this “belief” because of the alleged encounter, or dream, he had the night before. His fear of everyone else’s wickedness reaching him, negatively affected his subconscious. He began to believe in myth, or a “skewed view on reality,” rather then justifying his viewpoint based on mere facts.

Myth, as well as fear, can easily obstruct ideals. A common example would be to say; one fears to go on an airplane because of the possibility of death, but would drive in an automobile instead, because there is less of a chance of injury. This is clearly not the case statistically, while facts show that automobile accidents are substantially more prevalent than airplane related instances. This is a common example of someone giving into their fears, and not looking at reality with a realistic point of view.

Young Goodman Brown believed that everyone was ill hearted merely because of his strong moral stance on “good vs. evil.” Being that he is a religious man, who seems rather adolescent, or naïve, his moral values hindered his mentality, allowing for his fears (Mythical beliefs) to forcefully grasp his subconscious.

Lit and Place Response #3 “Cathedral”

In the chapter “Spatial ability, Knowledge, and Place,” Tuan cautiously dissects the infinite notion of human knowledge, illuminating the numerous forms, or stages, that mingle with an individual’s ability to reflect and operate. Tuan states, “Walking is a skill, but if I can “see” myself walking and if I can hold that picture in mind so that I can analyze how I move and what path I am following, then I also have knowledge(Tuan 68).” “Knowledge” can act as a transferable entity, transmitted from one individual to the next. With specific knowledge, a human being can function consequently, complete with intent and schemata. Illustrating what “knowledge” truly entails, can pose as a task of great intricacy, but Tuan’s chapter certainly discusses the term effectively.

In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” we examine a story through the narration of a rather ordinary man. He encounters a blind gentleman, whom his wife invited to sleep by their house after the passing of his wife of eight years. The narrator explicitly states that he had never encountered a “blind man” before this visit. With this in mind, the narrator seemed a bit troubled by the presence of the blind man, somewhat disconcerted.

The blind man would appear to be one’s essential focal point when attempting to agree with Tuan’s principles regarding “space” and “place, but focus on the narrator is critical as well. The narrator identifies with the ability of sight. The comprehension of blindness would pose as a near impossible task for him, as he has never been bound of sight before. He has the “knowledge” of vision, unlike the blind man who does not. The narrator has the ability to describe certain fixtures to the blind man (the cathedral on T.V.), thus passing over “knowledge” to another individual, but he cannot envision blindness as a lifestyle. Throughout the story the narrator attempts to relate with the blind visitor, but is seemingly rendered incapable of doing so, therefore agreeing with Tuan’s principles regarding “Spatial ability, Knowledge, and Place.”

Human Knowledge is somewhat subjective. One may claim they can relate with another, but that’s seldom the case. Rather than veering towards a more philosophical approach, I will end my discussion on the topic of “Space” and the blind man. The blind man could not see, therefore one would believe he has no sense of space or place, but that is not the case. Tuan speaks about an individual’s ability to reside and navigate in their own “place” in previous chapters. Weather it’s their home or elsewhere. The blind man still lives with the general concepts of “space” and “place.” He may not have a literal sense of sight, but he does contain the knowledge, or memory, of how to regard certain places. He remembers distance and states in “Cathedral” that he has the capability to be comfortable in an environment, even a place he is not familiar with. This stems back to my opening paragraph where I state; ability comes partly due to the ‘passing of knowledge from one to another’.

Essay #1 (Draft): “The Metamorphosis”

Yi-Fu Tuan establishes his rationalization towards the “Experiential Perspective” by loosely interpreting the ever intangible notion of human experience. “Experience is a cover-all term for the various modes through which a person knows and constructs a reality (Tuan, 8).” Human beings are comprised of certain tendencies, namely the propensity to adjust to certain situations by means of physicality. Our physical nature contributes to the way we, as individuals, view and “construct” our own realities. It also refines our understanding of Tuan’s idea of “Space” and “Place.”

Literal interpretations coincide with physical contact, or face to face interaction. When alluding to “experiences,” Tuan asks, “What sensory organs and experiences enable a human being to have their strong feeling for space and for spatial qualities? Answer: kinesthesia, sight, and touch (Tuan, 12).” “Sight” and “touch” are two descriptive expressions that undoubtedly correlate with the human body. In Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” the main character, salesman Gregor Samsa, becomes increasingly pained by his families lack of physical affection, and physical care towards him.

In Kafka’s story, Gregor wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a repellent insect. He is troubled by his odd transformation, not because of his health or well-being, but rather due to a financial standpoint. He knows he is unable to go to work, and as the primary source of income for the Samsa family, he feels as if he has let his family down. Once his family found out about his sudden shift in physical appearance, they gradually discard him as a member of their family as well as their household. It was clearly evident that Gregor was only appreciated for his wealth, or means of supporting his family. Other than for his responsibilities to his house, he seemingly had no other reason for existence.

When attempting to associate Gregor’s tale with Tuan’s book on “space” and “place,” one can immediately draw a parallel between the literal, as well as figurative, notion of space in regards to Gregor and his family. As he progressively began to lose the ability to help his family, his Mother, Father, and in some instances his sister, started to shift steadily further away from him. They left him with a plethora of “space,” of course this inordinate amount of figurative as well as literal space, was not how Gregor envisioned he would live the remainder of his dreary life.

Tuan points out in his chapter “Spaciousness and Crowding,” “Solitude is a condition for acquiring a sense of immensity. Alone one’s thoughts wander freely over space. In the presence of others they are pulled back by an awareness of other personalities who project their own world onto the same area (Tuan, 59).” In relation to “The Metamorphosis,” Gregor’s family can be viewed as “other personalities who project their own world onto the same area (Tuan, 59).” They seemed to desire too much from Gregor, ostensibly leading him to his demise.

In one of the book’s opening scenes, we find Gregor in his room, attempting to get ready for work. His family relied on him so, that they became outwardly frustrated with Gregor’s slight tardiness (missing the early train), ultimately dismissing the possibility that he may be sick and unable to work that morning.

“…and already at one of the side doors his father was knocking, softly, yet with a fist. “Gregor, Gregor,” he called, “what’s the matter?” Before long he called once more in a deeper voice, “Gregor? Gregor” From the other side door came the sound of his sister’s voice, gentle and plaintive. “Gregor, aren’t you feeling well? Is there anything I can get you?”(Kafka, 304)

Gregor is instantly bombarded by his superficially deprived family the moment he is found to make the slightest blunder. His personal “space” appeared to be attacked at that specific point in the story. He felt as if his family was surrounding him, depriving him of his “space.” Although, Gregor was locked inside of his bedroom, he could not escape with fear of showing his revolting physical evolution to his family. Tuan’s opinions regarding spaciousness and crowding are clearly witnessed in this scenario. Gregor is crowded by several personalities (his father, mother, and sister), but seems to be placed in a certain state of solitude as well.

The scene following the one previously discussed, has Gregor’s boss intruding, rather aggravating, his “space.” Gregor is quite perturbed by the unannounced appearance of his Office Manage in the Samsa household. He exclaims, “Wouldn’t it have been enough to send an office boy to ask- that is, if such prying were necessary at all (Kafka, 305)?” The term “prying” almost always implies a certain negative connotation. To “pry” means: to make an impertinent or an uninvited inquiry. In a certain sense, “prying” refers to the unwarranted invasion of “personal space.” Gregor did not wish for his Office Manager to come into his home and demand his where-a-bout’s first hand. He viewed this needless act by his manager as an invasion of space and property. Tuan argues the case that, when an uninvited visiting entity welcomes himself into your “space” (which is surrounded by a specific “place”), one can’t help but feel discomforted and self-conscious.

As the plot commences, Gregor’s family begins to forget entirely about his ultimate existence, as well as their reality alike. The Samsa family discovers a way to survive without Gregor’s income. After this point in the story, Gregor is thought of as an irrelevant entity, rather a burden to the household. All but his sister continue to visit him in his room, leaving Gregor in a state of solitude, with all the “space” he will ever need, but not what he desires.

Throughout “The Metamorphosis,” several troubling events had transpired, especially to the main character Gregor Samsa. The plot appeared to follow the ultimate downfall of Gregor as he slowly faded away through space and time. He could no longer reflect on past experiences, nor could he escape the daunting state of solitude and spatial seclusion.

Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and the writings of Tuan seem to effectively intertwine with one and other. Tuan’s notion’s regarding “spaciousness and crowding” regrettably affected Gregor as an individual as well as his actions in the stories narrative, leaving him helpless, blindly scuffling through this vastly profound world.

Lit and Place Response #2 “The Metamorphosis”

Yi-Fu Tuan’s chapter on “Spaciousness and Crowding” sets apart the certain differences between Solitude and company. He refers to the company of others as “crowding,” and uses it’s meaning in a relatively discourteous manner. “But primarily people crowd us; people rather than things are likely to restrict our freedom and deprive us of space.” (Tuan. Space and Place. 59) Restriction of freedom and deprivation of space are two unsightly scenarios, both associated with the term “crowding.”

Solitude, rather loneliness, can significantly alter the characteristics of a human being. In regards to “The Metamorphosis,” a short story by Franz Kafka, solitude (loneliness/ isolation), led to a mans ultimate demise. Gregor, the main character of Kafka’s work, finds him self alone, discarded by his family because he could no longer aid them financially. Gregor’s association with his family was merely superficial. They simply desired his fiscal responsibilities to them as their primary source of income. His seclusion to the confines of his bedroom affected him a great deal.

“…as people appear in space, for every one a point is reached when the feeling of spaciousness yields to its opposite-crowding.” (Tuan. Space and Place. 59) Gregor was in fact placed in a state of solitude, both mental and physical. He fell victim to the “crowded”, overbearing responsibilities towards his family, overwhelmed by their demands. Gregor’s subconscious was in no way at liberty throughout any point of the stories narrative. He was bombarded by his boss, his sister, his parents, and seemingly every additional character in the story. He was “crowded” at times, but resided in solitude as well.

Tuan may belittle the terms “crowding” and “solitude” to a certain degree (or merely define them in his own words.), but he establishes a fine line between the two. I agree with Tuans translation of the terms crowding and solitude. Both words appear ostensibly equivalent to one another. They both signify a certain sense of vulnerability, or feeling of hazard. “I must leave this crowed room. I can’t live in solitude any longer.” Gregor had a taste of both “solitude” and “crowding” throughout “The Metamorphosis,” showing that his life was not one of undemanding nature. Neither crowds nor solitude were the answers to Gregor’s predicament, only death had the ability to truly set him free.

Lit and Place Response #1 “The House on Mango Street”

Time may diminish our child like sense of wonderment, but our subjective knowledge of past events undyingly remains within our subconscious. Memory, a notion that far surpasses biological teachings, shapes our well being, as well as adjusts our sensitivity towards the world.  “Biology conditions our perceptual world.” (Space and Place, 20) Yi-Fu Tuan masterfully discusses “memories” from the perspective of an adolescent child, in his literary work, Space and Place. Tuan’s honest effort, regards the eager development of a child, beginning with the exceedingly vital stages of infancy.

Tuan asks several significant questions, “What is the feeling tone of the child’s world? What is the nature of his attachments to people and to places?” (Space and Place. 19) Most importantly, Tuan asks, “How does a young child perceive and understand his environment?” (Space and Place. 19) This meticulous inquiry significantly correlates with Sandra Cisneros’s, The House on Mango Street. In her short narrative account, a young adolescent, similar to Tuan’s primary focus, struggles to find a “substantial” perceptive focal point. At least from the reader’s perspective, the child in Cisneros’s story does not have an appropriate gauge on the immense disposition of the World.

The child in The House on Mango Street perceives the World as a rather diminutive “place”. She states, “That’s why Mama and Papa looked for a house, and that’s why we moved into the house on Mango Street, far away, on the other side of town.”(An Introduction to Fiction. 518) “Far Away”? An intellectually developed individual should recognize that “the other side of town,” is in actuality, not so distant. A child’s sense of Space substantially varies from that of an adult. This excerpt from The House on Mango Street stems back to Tuan’s writings regarding a child’s relationship, rather, knowledge of space. A child has not been properly familiarized with a rational position towards “space” as a means of distance. Their pubescent naivety limits their understanding of “place” and “space.”

“Space,” in relation to The House on Mango Street, refers to the child’s tendency to move from “place” to “place”. While “Space” refers to the distance, the “place” refers to her various homes. In the child’s mind, home is just another “place.” Mango Street may have been imagined to be a lavish paradise, but to the child, the “space” between her homes would pose as the root of her predicament. Tuan states that the knowledge of a child is limited. Concepts that would be considered obvious to the naked eye do not apply to the infantile personality of a child. Ideas such as “Space” and “Place” would unquestionably fall under that explicit category.

Film Analysis #2 (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

If there is one film that could truly define science fiction/Horror cinema of the 1950’s, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) would be your choice. The film was directed by Don Siegel, and was a Walter Wagner Production. It starred Kevin McCarthy, as Dr. Miles J. Bennell, and Dana Wynter, as Becky Driscoll. The films plot followed a small-town doctor, who soon discovers that his humble town has been overrun by emotionless zombies. The film was made in black and white. Color was in fact available at that time period, but the black and white effect added an additional sense of gloominess to the film. It also said a lot about what message the film attempted to convey. The people of America will live in a seemingly “black and white” world, with no spark or excitement, if the communists take over.

The film has impressive special effects, considering its relatively low budget cost. Siegel doesn’t try to flash the audience with intense camera work, but gets the job done none the less. He succeeded in telling a productive story regardless of the cost or innovation of the film. Sometimes experimentation can be the wrong route in film-making. Thankfully Siegel did an effective job directing the film without any drastic technical ideals. The music in the film was wonderful as well. The score was done by Carmen Dragon, who added a sense of suspense and thrill with his musical scores.

Themes of the cinema tend to diversify from generation to generation, especially horror films. The 1930’s witnessed the foreign monster film, such as Dracula (1931). This  theme was meant to signify the fear of foreigners, a panic caused by the fright of war time with neighboring countries. The 1960’s dealt with racial conflicts and the Vietnam War. A prime example of this kind of film would be George A. Romero’s Night of the Living dead. A film that dealt with various racial issues (An African-American protagonist), and depicted assorted Vietnam War imagery. Shortly after, came the 1970’s, which dealt with feminism in film, specifically horror films. The notion of the “Final Girl” became popular in the 70’s. The “Final Girl” refers to the last character standing in a particular horror film, which ends up killing the monster, or escaping herself. This method was popularized in films such as, Halloween, Alien, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Horror films of the 80’s dealt with a powerful, “new wave” cultural issue, the fatal disease AIDS. This is where the vampire film revitalized itself. Vampires are meant to suggest a rather sexual nature, drawing blood from their victim’s neck. Being that this particular disease was known to be sexually transmitted, vampires thrived as the cinematic focal point of this genre.

The 1950’s saw a different type of horror film (or science fiction film). Amidst this specific decade the American people feared the idea of communism, and radioactive materials. Both themes are covered in War of the Worlds and various other fifties films, but communism takeover plays a vital role in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The fear of foreigners taking over our way of life is clearly evident in the film, as well as many other daunting themes.  In the film, the townspeople are plagued with an epidemic like no other. When they wake up, they evolve into mindless robots, with the inability to live freely, which happens to be the ideals of the American dream. This is all thanks to certain “pea pods” that hatch new born human beings into the world.

One particular scene, rather lengthy, that truly uncovers the films hidden message was when Becky and Dr. Bennell find themselves in the Dr’s office looking out the window at the townspeople. They look out the window to see a crowded town square. The roads were swarmed with cars, and the sidewalks with people, but it was only seven o’clock in the morning. This seemed unusual to Dr. Bennell. Shortly after, a police car drives around the block, blasting its siren. As is makes its way back around the block, a swarm of people proceed towards the police car. Becky and the Dr. stare in disbelief. Then a truck pulls up, carrying loads of these mysterious “pods.” This portion of the scene, when they stare out the window, is considered to be a long-shot. They watched, from a distance, a police officer direct the mindless townspeople to carry their pods into their cars and drive off. This was meant to signify the demanding personality of communism.

This scene takes place both indoors and outdoors. Although, the outdoor portion of the scene is to have been from the points of view of Bennell and Driscoll. After the cars filled with the pods drive off, a medium close-up of the door knob starts to turn. Bennell hears a familiar voice, and yells “Thank God!” The mentioning of God, at that particular moment, was another slap in the face of Communism. America is predominately a God fearing country, why let communism barge in and interfere with a seemingly American tradition? The power of choice is a powerful notion, and communism would tangle the thought.

As the scene commences, we hear how the pods came about. Shortly after, Becky and Dr. Bennell are politely asked to be content with the situation (just like the mindless drones), and fall asleep, to wake up in a society were everyone is equal. The word “equal” may not be the best word to describe communism, but the townspeople all seemed to have the same identities, which acts as a rather convincing sign of equality.

The entire scene is done during the daytime, and was arguably the most frightening scene of the film. This was odd because more frequently then not, horror films tend to single out night time as there means of terrifying the viewer. I understand that the film fell under the science fiction genre as well, but to have a scene fright an individual so, or at least cause an unsettling effect during the daytime(which the scene undoubtedly succeeded at), was a credit to the film and its contributors..

Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a great film. It “subtly” discussed the impending doom of communism effectively, while still maintaining its cinematic integrity. There were no giant radioactive monsters in this film (as seen in countless other 50’s films). It was just a studio’s “straight forward” opinion concerning the effects of communism.

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