Thursday, May 8, 2014

Class Reflection

Throughout the semester, we all did a lot of writing. I know I did more writing than usual for any of my other classes.  The blogs every week forced me to rehash and remember all that we had discussed in the week before, and is probly the reason I remember so much from this class. The term paper I wrote not only introduced me academically to a new concept (social power) and gave me new insight in how I and others interact with people. I learned a lot this semester, mostly through the point of this class. Since this was a sophomore interdisciplinary seminar, it introduced a wide variety of topics. I feel like this was the main reason I learned so much. I would have never thought to look at gender roles in the Hunger Games, but  now that we have covered it, they make so much more sense.  The idea of using a single common element everyone has knowledge of and using it to branch out and teach other subjects is incredibly effective. This new material was challenging because I had never dealt with it before, and it took me out of my comfort zone on some topics, which is somewhat necessary for learning. I feel like I spent enough time reading the material, as I never was at a loss in class during discussion. Overall, I really enjoyed the class, and relished the opportunity to discuss a series of books I personally enjoyed with other members of our academic community.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Critique of "When Technology Goes Too Far"

               I could tell that the presentation was very well prepared and researched. Kat was confident and clearly knew what she was talking about. The PowerPoint was well made, organized and easy to follow. The handouts were likewise. They allowed for easy reading, were not too packed full of information as to take away from Kat presenting, but still guided you along if you got lost.
               There were only  two problems I had with the presentation. The first was how fast Kat was talking. Maybe it was just excitement over sharing her work or trying to pack a lot of information into a short time period, but the speed at which she spoke made it difficult to understand. She also did not really pause between slides, so differentiating between topics was difficult. The other problem I had was with the music she played. She did not introduce, so at first I was distracted trying to figure out where it was coming from. And then once I did, I wondered why she was playing. I recognized one of the songs as the hanging tree song from the book, but that did not occur till late in the presentation. This could easily be a positive if the music had been introduced and explained at the beginning of the presentation.

               Overall, I thought the presentation was very informative and I appreciated that take on the Hunger Games. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Nature of Evil

             What I took away from Dr. Baron's lecture and Rubin Sztajer talk is that evil is a very slippery term to define. You know it when you see it, such as the actions of Hitler or Stalin, but the overarching meaning of evil is hard to pin down. For example good things, with the context stripped away, can seem evil. I thought it interesting that Dr. Baron used the method of defining the opposite of evil to come up with a definition of evil. To be good is to care for people, To be evil is to harm people. To be good is to have concern for others, to be evil is apathetic towards others humanity. To be good is to make decisions that helps everyone, to be evil is to act only in self interest. When we take these traits we can see how Hitler fit in  so easily. Mr. Sztajer's account of the Holocaust really drives home the point. Hitler reveled in destroying the Jews. His propaganda constantly made them out as less than human. And why did he do it? To further his own agenda of the Master Race and the band the Germans against a visible easy enemy, as anti-Semitism was already popular in Europe.

               I also think it worth mentioning what Mr. Sztajer said about evil. It is like a cancer that spreads. I see that in how even the other prisoners treated each other. Which so much dehumanization coming  from the outside, even they begin to see each other as less than human. You see this in when they would come across another prisoner who had died, they just take their clothes if they are better, and move on. The outside pressure of evil causes them to act in their best interests.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The End of The World...Or Not

Whether or not I believe in the end of the World depends on who is asking, because I have two answers. If we are having a religious discussion, then the answer is yes. Being a Christian, I believe in the Rapture and Tribulation, but then I would not exactly be around for the end of the world if that occurred. Assuming I am wrong, and as I think most people would see it, approaching the End of the World from a purely logical or scientific point of view, then I would say no.

Based on my first answer, my view is Apocalypticism. An outside force, God, will bring about judgment of the Earth and eventually remake it, but the earth will be destroyed nonetheless. One could argue that end of the world described in Revelations is allegorical, and that the end of the world is some sort of social revolution or climate destruction that forces such, but that would take on a Millennialism view. But speaking of Millennialism, the Rapture and Tribulation could also as Christian Dispensationalism, but I would disagree as it is all the Christians are taken and then the world is destroyed, not necessarily that everyone non-Christian affected by it and Christians are not.

My second answer to whether I believe in the End of the World is no because of statistics and order of magnitude. In recent history, nothing has really truly threatened mankind’s existence and I feel the likelihood of something doing so is small. Statistically speaking, an extinction level meteorite strike is not likely, and I doubt the ability of humans to significantly alter the climate of the earth so much as to make it uninhabitable. Even nuclear winter would not exactly spell the end as humans love to adapt and survive. I do not really consider social revolution to be an “End” so I would discount form of social upheaval.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Children of Men and the Hunger Games

               Children of Men and the Hunger Games trilogy cover the same ground thematically, but their presentation of the themes differ. Both stories use children and a dystopian setting as the centerpiece. Both stories also only feature one functioning government that is a police state. In both stories, control of the children shows control of the future. The Capitol's Hunger Games shows the Districts that they control every little part of their lives. In Children of Men, the lack of children shows the uncertainty of the future ,and thus the government is trying to control everything else and expel the immigrants. In the Hunger Games, control of the children is basically the embodiment of political power. Children of Men shows the same effect. The Fishes want to reveal that Kee is pregnant so they can use the baby as a source of power for their revolution. Theo also notes that they cannot go to the government for the same reason, they will use the baby for their own ends.

               Another similarity between the two is that the governments method of control proves to be their downfall. In the Hunger Games, Katniss's hero status and popularity is a direct result of winning the Hunger Games and foiling the game makers plans. In Children of Men, the government is trying to get rid of illegal immigrants, and yet the only known pregnant women in the world is an illegal. In an effort to gain control and fix their problem, the government is in fact making it worse.

The Hero's Journey

              Dr. Mazerof's lecture on the Hero's Journey resonated very well with the story of Katniss in the Hunger Games. Not only do the Hunger Games follow the over arching patter of the Hero's Journey, but it also involves the secondary elements as well.  The Hero's Journey follows the pattern  of Departure, Initiation, and Return, with each section divided into more detail. We can either evaluate the entire trilogy as a journey, or the individual book. I have picked top just do the first book.
               In Departure we have the call to adventure, refusal of the call, and crossing of the threshold. In Katniss's story, she and Gale discuss leaving District 12, but she refuses. This is the call and refusal. Her sister being picked as tribute and Katniss volunteering is the force that drives her out. The train she leaves on is the crossing of the threshold. Once she boards that train there is no way for her to go back.
               In Initiation we have the road of trials, apotheosis and ultimate boon. Katniss's road of trials is  quite easy, it is her time in the Arena. She struggles not just with the other tributes, but with herself and how she feels. Her apotheosis comes when she and Peeta are the last ones left. She "dies to self" when she decides it is better to die than let the Capitol win. Her ultimate boon is the survival of both her and Peeta, considering most would have considered that impossible beforehand.
               In the Return, we have crossing the return threshold and the freedom to live. We see Katniss return to District 12, and because she is a victor, she should never have to participate in the Games again. She has freedom to live now, but that threatening that is the impetus for the next book.

               The secondary elements are also in the Hunger Games. The "Old Mentor" role is filled by Haymitch. In later books, we see the Shapeshifter in Plutarch.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dr. Casey on Leadership

               Dr. Casey's life story and his lecture on leadership actually ties in quitew well with successful leadership in the Hunger Games. In regards to his life story, his is a classic example of working his way up from the what would be considered the bottom of the socioeconomic scale to a successful business career. He was the first of his family to go to college and his accomplishments were because of his own efforts and ideas. This similarly lines up with Katniss in the Hunger Games. She is from one of the smallest and poorest Districts and is a nobody at the beginning of the story. At the end she is a celebrity and hero due to her actions, even though her ending is less than ideal.

               Dr. Casey's style on leadership also has correlation to success in the Hunger Games. His style of leadership is to focus everything on how it affects his followers. His guiding question when making decisions for the College is "How does this help the students?". He puts those under him first. In the Hunger Games we see the difference in leadership styles. Katniss is only ever effective at leading when she is not thinking of herself, but of those she leads. Her acting in propos is only encouraging when her acting comes from genuine emotions she feels towards those she has chosen to be a figurehead for. We see ineffective leadership from President Snow and President Coin. President Snow only ever focuses on himself, removing all rivals and making all decisions himself. This sets him up for failure as he has no one to rely on to help fight the rebels. Presidents Coin's power plays in the rebels also alienated her from her compatriots, thus causing distrust and dissension in the ranks.