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.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dr. Shibley Telhami on the Arab Spring and my relation of it the Hunger Games

               One particularly interesting point of Dr. Shibley Telhami's lecture on the Arab Spring was the topic of a dictator's relationship to his people. In most Western or free world thinking, people assume that a dictator operates in a vacuum. He does not need to worry himself with public opinion, because he is a dictator, he does whatever he wants. Dr Telhami's example was President Sadat of Eqypt. He was a dictator, but in his negotations with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin he made it clear he could not give in to certain demands because his people would revolt. Prime Minister Begin thought as most do and questioned why he could not just ignore public opinion. The fact that he could not do that is blatantly clear as his unpopular treaty with Israel resulted in Sadat's assassination. The truth of that situation parallels in the Hunger Games. Even though President Snow is a dictator, he still must keep control of the Districts. He cannot do anything that would incite all of them at once, because the Capitol relies upon their goods, and if the Districts band together they are more powerful than the Capitol alone. Therefore he must maintain a balance, and cannot act as if his decisions have not consequences.

               Another topic in his lecture was that one of the causes of the Arab Spring was the loss of the governmental monopoly on information. Most people in the Arab world now receive their news from outside sources instead of state run news agencies. This switch caused people to become dissatisfied now that they knew what others had, and thus revolutions began. This is much the same in Hunger Games. Once the Rebels started hijacking broadcasts, the Districts started banding together and fighting the Capitol. The loss of information monopoly caused the real rebellion.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Music and Dance in the Hunger Games

               Music and dance are very important to both the Hunger Games and in Appalachia. Both the fictional and the real rely upon music and dance to bring the community together, and both focus on the same topics.
               In  the Hunger Games we see dance and music specifically mentioned at the wedding of Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta. After their ceremony, a fiddler from District 12 begins to play. This leads to many people  from District 12 including Gale and Greasy Sae getting up and dancing along. It is also noted that as Katniss and Prim are dancing that they had plenty of practice dancing on the cold nights back in District 12. This ties in with Appalachia in that one of the themes we discussed in class was family. If Katniss and Prim danced often, that indicates that it was a family event used for entertainment. This is often when dancing is done  in Appalachia as well. Large family gatherings or community gatherings will probably be accompanied by singing and dancing. It also talked about how Katniss's father taught her to sing and the songs, thus reinforcing the family ties to music.

               The topics of the songs in the Hunger Games and in Appalachia are also similar. The song Katniss sings to Rue as she dies ,"Deep In The Meadow", talks about  a nice safe place to rest that is located in a secluded meadow. The central theme in this song is the connection to nature and safety that brings, which is also a theme heavily used in Appalachian songs and ballads. The song "The Hanging Tree" 's theme is the separated lover's struggle, and struggle is of course a common theme in Applachia.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

TV and Society

Based on the discussion we had in class and the readings we did, it seems that television and texts are a sounding board for society. When the subject matter is satire it is very easy to see to the connection to society. In the book Brave New World, written in the 1930s, the idea of test tube babies is very prominent. This mention is basically pointing to eugenics, or the genetic advancement of humans through selective breeding. The theme of eugenics was very strong throughout the world at the time, with both the US experimenting with it, and then Nazi Germany in Europe(on a side note, it is often overlooked that a great deal of the world was interested in eugenics, not just the Nazis).

                The other way we can see it connected to society is how popular the types of shows are. In the early days of television, the most popular programs were informative news and the like. This would show a society looking to learn and stay informed. Turning our gaze to more recent programming, we see a move to more dramatic television. With reality TV and “breaking”news, it appears that society wants something different. The way I see it is that we now want life to be interesting and have a story. This means news must be gripping, which leads to a focus on the sob stories and the negative. Our regular television must dramatic, and nothing is more dramatic than fighting or emotional arguments. By watching these shows, we reinforce the ideology pushed by the show in society. We start living our lives like a reality show, because that is what we expect. As is referenced in the reading, we allow ourselves to be distracted from news elsewhere with created drama at home.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My least favorite Book.

               Which of the three books is my least favorite? Well I hate to go along with the status quo, but I, like most others, have a major problem with the last book, Mockingjay. Since I have to used specifics to back up my intense dislike, the point I will focus on is Suzanne Collin's use of pacing.

               In regards to the pacing of Mockingjay, I think that the book makes a sharp departure from the speed of the other two books. In The Hunger Games the total time elapsed during the book cannot exceed a month. The characters are introduced a short time before the Reaping, the reaping occurs, a week of training and showmanship before the games, and then 15 days in the arena.  In Catching Fire, I can understand glossing over the Victory Tour, as the day to day events would not make for good storytelling. Regardless Collins still does take an entire third of the book to describe the Quarter Quell. When it comes to Mockingjay, it feels like Collins takes all sense of pacing out of the book. A war is fought day to day, not in quick decisive battles, but we only catch highlights while reading. We have whole months and operations just glossed over to move the storyline faster. The only time she slows it down is the actual assault on the Capitol, but even then it is rushed. Immediately after the assault, pacing is out the window again. The book and ends and the epilogue skips 15 years. This lack of pacing leaves you wondering what just happened and why, as the usual amount of exposition is not there.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Catching Fire Caught Fire

               The differences in Catching Fire the movie and Catching Fire the book are much the same, but I will try to focus on a bit different of areas. The book and the movie differ on the use of Plutarch Heavensbee, the Peacekeeper presence in the Districts, and the nature of the uprisings.
               In the book, there is heavy foreshadowing for Plutarch Heavensbee. It is almost obvious that he is on Katniss's side from the readers perspective, even though Katniss does not realize it. He foreshadows that the arena is in the shape of a clock by showing her his pocket watch, while it flashes a mockingjay symbol. This foreshadowing does not occur in the movie, but still comes to the conclusion that the arena modeled after a clock. Another way the movie uses Plutarch differently is you see him and President Snow often having conversations about how to quiet the districts or eliminate Katniss's influence. This makes Plutarch's betrayal all the more personal than is portrayed in the book, but it also leads us away from thinking he is on Katniss's side during the movie. This lack of sympathy also shows in his willingness to kill off Peeta when he says "ready on the cannon" after Peeta's heart stopped.

               The Peacekeeper presence and nature of the unrest in the Districts is  also different between the book and the movie. It is distinctly shown in the movie the increased presence of Peacekeepers in the victory tour, and that people are being dragged away mid ceremony. These events don't occur during the book, and lend more of an air of open rebellion to the movie, rather than the independent uprisings in the book.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Hunger Games versus...The Hunger Games?

               To start off, I have a funny story about the differences between the movie and the book. Both my younger sister and I had read all the books fairly recently, and I thought it would be nice to see the movie together. Being a nice older brother, I bought tickets and we went to see the movie at a unpopular time so that there would not be a lot of people. We sat in the middle of the theater and just counted the differences from the book. "1: she doesn't say that in the book", "27:her shirt is the wrong color" and on we went back and forth the entire movie till about 50 or so.

               But back to the point, the book  and the movie do differ on some key points, such as how information is presented as a whole, the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, and the relationship between Katniss and Gale.

               The book is written from a stream of consciousness first person perspective. This perspective means we only get information from Katniss's point of view. If she does not think about it, hear it, or see it, we do not know about it. Obviously creating a movie with the same effect would be difficult if not impossible. But the movie takes more liberty than just following Katniss around in third person the entire time. In several instances the movie shows a scene completely unmentioned in the book, such as Seneca Crane with the gamemakers or with President Snow and the reactions of the districts to the Games. This gives a more informed approach to the story, but I feel it takes away from the stress you feel from Katniss in the books. In the movie you can see the big picture, but the book is a personal struggle, both inward and outward.

               The relationship between Katniss and Peeta in the book is much different from on-screen. In the book, Katniss is never really sure if it's an act or if its real. She has no idea whether or not she can trust Peeta. This plays through the entire book. However in the movie, the relationship seems more real. In the cave, it does not seem to be an act of Katniss kissing Peeta. She shows genuine concern for him then, and when they are out foraging.

               The relationship between Katniss and Gale also is played out differently. In the book, Katniss just thinks of Gale while she is trying to survive, but it does not really carry a romantic concept. In the movie, it seems the producer were blatantly going for a love triangle set-up. Whenever we see a development in the Katniss-Peeta relationship, it always has to pan away to Gale looking jealous.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tributes and Gladiators

                 The parallels between the Hunger Games and Roman Gladiators are quite obvious. The Romans called the system “panem et circenses,” which means bread and circuses. The parallels exist in location, style, and purpose.
                The Hunger Games and Gladiators both take place mostly in the same place as each other. The Hunger Games are held by the Capitol, and are usually quite close to the Capitol. The same is true of Gladiators. Most of the arenas were either in Rome, the capital, or around the ring of the city. Both events also occur in the same type of venue. The Hunger Games take place in specially made arenas, as do Gladiator Games.
                The style of both of the games is also similar. Pure and simple, they are blood sport, pitting humans against each other in a fight to the death. Even the manner of acquiring the contestants is the same. In the Gladiator Games, there are slaves, criminals, and volunteers that fight for either survival, freedom, or fame. The Hunger Games, being a bit more morbid, picks from all the children, who might as well be slaves, and there can be volunteers as well. Even the goal is still similar, as that you only survive if you win, and the result of winning gets you a version of fortune, fame, and freedom. Both games also employ use of a gamemaker, one is in charge of coordinating and putting on a good show.

                Even the purpose of both Games is the same: Control. The Gladiator Games, by using food and entertainment(“panem et circenses”), swing public opinion in favor of whoever is hosting the games. This means it is quite possible to buy political power being a sponsor of an event. The Hunger Games exerts control by forcing all citizens to watch the Games, thus reminding them that the Capitol has complete control over them. They also it as food and entertainment, as the winning sector gets showered with gifts from the Capitol.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why you got to class me like that?

The reason I decided to take this class is because I wanted a chance to discuss a book I actually wanted to read and enjoyed reading. Every other class I have been that has been literary analysis is always books that are a slog to read and the meanings buried under the color of a flower or some equally annoying symbolism. Considering I have traditionally had a small peer group to discuss books with, as it was generally my brother or sister who might have read the same book, I think it will be refreshing to discuss a larger group of people.
As for my goals in the class, I am curious as to how the Hunger Games stacks up against other dystopian literature, even though I am not a fan of the genre. I would like a deeper understanding of themes in the book, and would also appreciate my peers’ insight into any small details I may have missed. I am hoping the class will serve as a refresher on the series as well, since I read the books over three years ago.

My favorite character in the Hunger Games is none other than Haymitch Abernathy. I mean what’s not to like? Sure he may be a drunk, but would not you be one as well in his position? He’s clever, deeper than you think, and a functioning alcoholic. Maybe I just have a soft spot for people who are sarcastic and bitter. Probably because they are just like meeeeeeeeeeee