Monday, January 31, 2011

Honey, Digital Media Shrunk the World!

Digital media has shaped my understanding of place and space in how it brings together my international acquaintances. Having grown up overseas, I have a particular connection to the concept of the “shrinking world.” And having served part of my mission in the Chinese communities of New York City, I agreed, to an extent, with Eric Liu’s “Chinatown Idea” in The Chinatown Idea—the Chinatown communities do not change a bit. As a missionary, the nature of your work demands you to live in the “place” of your mission, and as a result, you become intimately acquainted with the areas in which you serve.

Over the winter break I was able to travel back to my mission area in New York City with my father, who happened to have business meetings in Manhattan. In the year that I had been gone from China from the summer of 2007 until the end of 2008, Beijing had undergone massive changes. I expected the same from the Chinatown-style communities of Dyker Heights/Eighth Avenue, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens after having been away more than two years.

But, just as Liu wrote, the communities never change. The streets are the homogenous streets of downtown Hong Kong recreated on American soil. The same eateries and stores hadn’t changed at all despite the dynamic nature of New York and the incredible quantities of transient Fujianese immigrants.

Indeed, serving there, it often felt like the communities existed outside the typical ebb and flow of the rest of America, and my return trip only validated this feeling. There was no rush to build bigger, better, or newer, merely to keep the satisfactory status quo.

What was also interesting with the trip was that with a quick message via facebook, I was able to notify most of the people that I knew that I would be coming into town. The medium has become so popular that Chinese immigrants manage their profiles, albeit usually in Chinese, and international and multilingual dialogue can take place in the virtual world.

Facebook has allowed me to keep tabs on my friends from high school. They are currently scattered from Hong Kong to Belgium, from UCLA to Oxford. With the slightest effort I can find out where they are, what they’re thinking, and can check out photos from their latest vacation to Rome.

Not only has social media played a part in my tracking friends across the globe, but also digital technology and software has allowed me to communicate in real-time with them.

When I worked in an office in Beijing, in the first half of 2009, I was doing remote research for the Genealogical Society of Utah office in Hong Kong. With the advent of Skype, I was able to chat directly with my supervisor, free of charge. I could update him on my recent findings, receive feedback for the resource analyses that I sent him, and chat about what was going on our lives.

Another example of the how technology has changed international communication for me: when my family first moved to Beijing in 1995, calling Grandma on her birthday was a process. We kids would sit on the floor and wait for ten or fifteen minutes for Mom to finally connect through to America. Nowadays, we have a Vonage line that has a local Utah number. Time zone permitting, I can call home to my family in Beijing whenever I please and not have to pay a long-distance charge. A continent thousands of miles away is no longer so far away.

Payment in Full

As a kid, my idea of place and shape was dominated by emotion. Granted, shows like NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles painted my imagination of big cities in shades of prison gray, money-driven green and the general sprinkling of colors of moving masses. Movies like Enchanted persuaded viewers of the magical power of cities like the Big Apple, and their ability to break into genial song at the drop of a sparkled tiara. My first couple of visits to the city, however, convinced me of its realities. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the city; there was too much poverty, too many problems, too much world for a kid to impact. As I’m growing up, I’m learning to love the mixture of people, taste, experience and culture found only in the city. I’m still not convinced that the city is for me, but I’m learning to appreciate it. My staunch resistance of the lure of city “space” is probably due in large part to my frequent visits to my grandmother’s old farm in Idaho, my own upbringing in a small town, and one particular moment I experienced as a young, muddy soccer player, rather than any direct media influence. Our team had just beaten Mapleton’s group of eager girls, keen on grass stains and battle wounds; I paused before hopping into the “Mormon assault vehicle” (Mini Van to those outside of Utah), taking in the beautiful view and sweat-free air. We had played on a field that rested nearly at the base of breathtaking mountains. I begged to take a quick drive to look at the homes of those privileged enough to live in Mapleton. When we reached the area, we discovered that the inhabitants were indeed privileged, millionaires to be exact. When I found out the cost of such beauty, and its inaccessibility to my sweat and mud encrusted person, I cried. I rarely cry. I could blame my tears on exhaustion, but I believe it was the realization of an insatiable hunger for beauty, peace, reflection and ease, things introduced to me through nature and media. Nature called, tantalizingly; Media promised, and then delivered the reality check. In retrospect, however, I am grateful for the experience. It is, quite honestly, one of my favorite memories; I experienced a remarkable beauty, and lesson. I think God gives us moments of beauty to sustain us through the difficult times. While life may deliver a reality check, I’ve a million more memories of tender mercies. I find I have no debt to the disappointments of reality.

Time, Space, and Place

Through digital media I have found that I am able to see a bigger view of the world I live in today. I would see blog posts just like this one about other people living in a different part of the world and seeing that place through their eyes, not just relying on network TV for that world-view perspective. It is amazing to me that we are now able to not rely on TV so much thanks to new media and that the new media provides regular people with a voice. I see this all the time with Facebook. There I see different statuses of friends that voice their opinions on issues and also about news happening where they live or how they see that. Youtube also does this by letting anyone make videos about things they are passionate about and want to get across to masses of people all over the world. I think Facebook has shaped me by letting me connect with people in my hometown and connect better with people who are already living in Provo. Like last night I planned out an event there and it just makes things easier on me by doing that once instead of contacting all 30 people I was planning on inviting. There is a downside to this in terms of how personal our interactions are with one another. I probably have less of that by logging on there, but it somehow just makes it easier for our fast-paced lifestyle in this city, state, and country. The readings helped me reflect more on this idea of place and lifestyle and media. When I read the piece on Chinatown I saw that there can also be a culture within another culture. People in Chinatown, NY, have just a wide history as any other kind of minority group in the U.S. I see this in my own life because I was born in Peru, but mostly raised in Utah. I have troubles finding my own culture because somehow I have a new one and do not even know it at times. I can do, think, and say things like a regular Hispanic person would, but sometimes I can also be American. Sometimes I feel like I`m too Hispanic for the Americans, or too American for the Hispanics. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, but somehow I have learned to appreciate it. Media has helped me get to that point. I have access to news, or shows from my native country, but then I also have a gratitude for this place because it provides my family and I with great opportunities to grow and make a difference. When I saw the pictures of the Golden Gate bridge, it reminded me that even photographs have a great impact in terms of how we view a place, whether it is one that is unfamiliar to us or that we have visited or lived in before. I have never been to San Francisco, but I can tell that it is that place by looking at the pictures because the bridge is a famous landmark I have seen in the news and in movies, like "Homeward Bound". I really liked the photographs, it gave me a different perspective of how a place that can be so famous can kinda morph into different settings.

Home is where the space is...

This week's reading made me slightly homesick. But homesick for what exactly? The home and town I grew up in, for sure. The home I used to own here in Utah and had to sell? Yes.
I loved Metro Bus Shelter...To read the quotation attached was powerful. Seeing the image invoked the feeling of how close Yetta was to a building in which she could have gotten shelter. Also powerful to me was the image of The Former Bryant's Grocery, Money, Mississippi. I grew up in the south and have seen so many buildings like this, abandoned grocery marts. In fact, there is one not too far from the house I grew up in. I could tell stories about that place when it was still in business. There are even similar stories to the one related to the Bryant's Grocery.
My favorite reading was the website for the Invincible Cities Project. I love how in the Harlem photos, the Grocery Candy Smoke Shop was in business for 10 years! The images of Camden, NJ made me think of the movie "District 9". The houses or buildings were so close together and not in good condition. It looked like the alien district camps from the film that were over-crowded and dirty.
In "Homeplace", I thought of how restless I get living in the same place after a period of time. For me it's because I feel bored. But is it boredom of the same landscapes? I fall into the category of people that will live somewhere and then move on. However, I've only lived in 3 states, the majority of my life in 1. And although I've move from house/apartment to another in Utah County, the landscape is still the same. In this way, am I trying to belong to this landscape?


Favorite quote from this section: “Setting out in this world, a child feels so indelible. He only comes to find out later that it’s all the others along his way who are making themselves indelible to him.” - Eudora Welty

As I read in Eudora Welty’s essay “The Little Store,” I thought of how people identify with where they are from, and I thought about where I am from. When I was younger, I always considered myself to be from Arizona. The first day of class in Michigan, every year, I would stand up and tell everyone that Arizona was my homeland. But, that isn’t true. I barely remember living there, my only memories are of a hot desert sun and watching my brothers play T-ball. Hardly a place I can claim identity to. If people questioned my affinity with Arizona, I had a back-up. North Carolina. Now here was a place I could somewhat claim. There, I remember so many stories. It was in North Carolina that I had my first best friend; it was there that I was introduced to reading, music and art. So many funny moments, hard times, and grand adventures happened in those Blue Ridge Mountains. But North Carolina was only my home for three years. I was five years old when we moved away.

I’ve always said, “I hate Michigan.” It has been my mantra since the moment I learned that Michigan was a place and not a beverage. I said it as we drove away from my beloved mountains, I said it as I started kindergarten, I said it as I graduated from high school. I hate Michigan.

I don’t know exactly when that statement turned from fact to fiction, but it did. One day, as I sat in my dorm room talking with my dorm friends about our homelands, I freaked out. Somewhere, sometime, my revulsion turned to adoration. My comments turned from, “there is weedy green crap that infects every orifice of the land,” to “in the spring, the sunlight makes the leaves and grass glow like emeralds.” It kind of scared me, but I realized that it was a long time coming, I lived in Michigan for thirteen years. I made some really good friends and some pretty weird enemies. Most of my memories lie in Michigan. Summer days, chillin’ on the triple slide with my best friend, watching the clouds roll by, biking down the “rail trail,” camping at Sleeping bear dunes, making friends with random kids on playgrounds, so many memories.

It’s funny how an opinion of a place can hold for so long, and yet be so off. Even now, with all of my fond memories of my hometown, I have a love hate relationship with the place. The truth is, I am from Michigan. As I read Eudora Welty’s essay “The Little Store,” I realized this, I identify with the place and I know its stories. I know how to drive when there is a foot of snow on an inch of ice over the road, I know the smell of the evergreens after a three day rain shower, I know the feel of black soil and 99% humidity. I may not like it, but I am from Michigan.

I feel like digital media expands my existence in space. Media such as texting, emailing, skype, and Facebook connect me to people who are not physically accessible to me. In many ways I love this—the way that I am able to maintain ties with people who are important to me. In other ways, I abhor it. I don’t like the way some media refuses to let me flow with the pattern of times and seasons. It seeks a sort of absoluteness in a vacillating realm. Sometimes, I will look at the Facebook pages of people I haven’t seen or talked to for a long time and it makes me feel uncomfortable. Our lives have diverged, the nature of the relationship we once had has changed, and I don’t want to observe what their life consists of now. It feels like looking at something that doesn’t belong to me. I want to let them live their lives and I want to live my own. If we meet again, then I will embrace that new season, and if we don’t then I will love the seasons that have passed and seek out my new ones with excitement. I feel like Heavenly Father takes great care in placing me with the people I need the most at any one time. Who am I to try to go around this? At the same time, action proceeds faith and faith proceeds the miracle . . . have you ever found the person you need through digital media?

I also want to talk briefly about The Chinatown Idea. I went to a Chinatown for the first time over Christmas break, which I spent in San Francisco. I expected something somewhat touristy because from what I heard it is a common place to go when traveling somewhere where a Chinatown exists. When I got there, I wondered how the idea of tourism could be associated with it. To me, it felt so Chinese. I was with two of my brothers who speak Chinese (one Cantonese and the other Mandarin), and because of that I felt like I could get away with being there. I felt justified in moseying around the spice and food markets, as they told me about different foods and translated nameplates for me. But what of everyone else? I wondered what brought these modern immigrants to this place and why they sought out their former home in their new one. I also contemplated America’s subheadings: the traditional “melting pot” and the rival “salad bowel.” Is one better than the other? And how do we establish home—and maintain our genealogical identity—in this place of such diverse cultural heritage?

Place and Space

Digital media shapes my understanding of place and space by giving me a context I can better understand the text that I am viewing. As I have gotten older I have learned that there is great value in contexts or our surroundings. I found the first ten pages to be a nostalgic look back at the view I grew up to. I grew up in the Bay Area and to see the Golden Gate Bridge in many different lightings and weather was a heartwarming visual kiss. We do place a lot of value on our backgrounds, especially when we are meeting people for the first time and I was happy that our reading emphasized this as well.
The painting of the children in the projects I found to be quite reflective. The colors and composition all seem pretty happy, except for the child who is curled up in almost a ball. I know the artist wanted to portray this area as a place of happiness and sorrow. I liked learning about the Watts riot because I had heard about it and not known what it was about.
The article about Chinatown brought to my mind the many times I visited Chinatown in San Francisco. Growing up we were taught about the injustices that the Chinese received when they immigrated to America. I am glad that the Chinatown in San Francisco is still vibrant and a part of the Bay Area’s culture.
Other things that shape my understanding of space and place is the time that the space and place take up. A great illustration of this is Camilo Jose’s pictures of a street corner in Harlem across almost thirty years. The pictures are taken in the same place but the surroundings change across time. The time this photographer has put towards documenting those in poverty is noteworthy.
Why people decide to stay or to move are important issues brought up by both of the essays at the end of our readings. Some people stay because they do not want to flee and they don’t want to fight. Other people are expatriates, exiles, immigrants or repatriates. Their interpretation for being in a certain place is important to me. Not everyone can choose where they live.
-Jeremy Ashworth


As I began reading the assigned sections, I have to admit that the governor from Oakland’s quote made almost no sense to me upon my first reading. I can’t say that I understand it completely now but I do think that I’ve been able to glean some sort of new meaning from it. The discussion of space versus place raged on in the reading and although I was presented with several new and interesting insights on what the relationship between the two was, I can’t say I agree with it completely. I think that because I love to create, my views on what space and place are slightly skewed. I think my preconceived notions about what the two are actually influenced how I read the selections. Basically, I see space as just that: space. To me, space is like a blank canvas. It exists but it’s waiting to be populated and used. As the spaced begins to be inhabited, I believe this gives it greater potential for life experiences to occur in that space. But the moment at which space becomes a place is when that particular unit of space houses an event that means something to somebody. Take a house for example. It’s more or less a neatly connected series of wood with insulation. It’s hardly a place, it’s just taking up space. However, once a family moves in and begins to have memories (ie where Dad accidentally stepped on the overturned shower drain cover and had to get stitches or where the baby drew on the wall) then it becomes a place. All place is space but not all space is place in other words and all space has potential to become place. In the article about China town, I saw that place was kind of the focus and that the experiences that one had in the specific space transformed it into a place. China town is a place because we know that people inhabit it and experience real life within its boundaries. But before they settled in that particular plot, was it anything more than just a place? Here’s a question that’s interesting to me: Does a location become more and more place-y over time? Imagine the evolution of a plot. This plot gets bought up and a family store is built upon it. After it’s built, the family has several meaningful experiences with it. A son inherits it and sells it to another owner. This owner is an extortionist and imports indentured servants, who each have their own experiences which in turn makes a new sense of place for each of them. So can ‘place’ evolve? It seems to me almost like it’s a living entity, a character to a certain degree with a past, potential for improvement and something that the audience can identify with. I look at a lot of social media like this. Youtube or facebook is essentially just memory waiting to be filled with data which can be interpreted to say something. These sites can evolve in their own way and help show us something about them and about ourselves.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I made a place from immigration.

The way digital media shape my understanding of place and space is by the way it is presented to me. For example, the pictures of the Golden Gat Bridge by Richar Misrach. Each of them are different. Each of them give me a different perspectives and ideas of the very same bridge. They are taken from the same point of view. However, it is not the same feeling. Each time of the day has different colors with different experiencse inscribe in them.

Thanks to the readings I was able to open my mind to the differences and similarities of places and spaces. For what I understood, places are where people root themselves. Places are spaces, but spaces seemed to not be places. As I was reading Homplace by Scott Rusell Sanders, a lot of ideas came to my mind. It was humbling because I didn’t know this about me, but after reading I realized that I had the idea that moving around is much better than staying in a single place. I guess that idea is not as right as I thought. I need to learn how to appreciate places and spaces better. In the past 10 years, I have moved 9 times. That is without counting the many times on my mission or few apartments here in college. I guess I have become numbed to moving. Place and space for me are so insignificant sometimes. I feel that we all the new technology the world keeps getting smaller and smaller. Only this summer I hope to visit Chicago, Alabama, California, New York and Hawaii. If finances allow it of course. I do not feel that those places are far at all. They are still in the States, anything oversees what I define as far.

This chapter really hit home for me. Chinatown and Imagining Homelands describe many things that I have felt before. I am an immigrant. I know what is like to be in the line of two cultures. Mrs. Mukherjee and I have a lot of common. Immigration can make or destroy places. I think that a space is made into a place when people decide to make it a place. I have decided to make the United States a place for me. I was very young when I took that decision. It is a place I appreciate and respect. I have learned what America is because I looked at it from outside, then I was able to root into it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

War, huh, what is it good for

The images and stories from chapter 3 and 7 had a very real impact on me. I loved the paragraph in "The First Thanksgiving" when she says, 'It is curious that we Americans have a holiday--Thanksgiving--that's all about people who left their homes for a life of their own choosing, a life that was different from their parents' lives. And how do we celebrate it? By hanging out with our parents!' Every year I'm asked what family I'll be spending Thanksgiving with. Will I be going home? I'm 28 years old. Isn't my home where I live now? Am I forced to spend the holiday with family from where I grew up because I'm single and don't have my own children to make a dinner for?
I had a difficult time looking at the war images in chapter 7. Children Fleeing a Napalm Strike, Vietnam was especially hard to look at. I don't read books about war, I don't watch film about war, and I don't look at images of war. My grandfather served in the Korean War and instilled in me many horrifying stories that allowed my imagination to produce an image of what war is. Being from the south I've seen plenty of Civil War reenactments to last me a lifetime. I try to avoid war at all costs.
I loved the Vodka ad. Probably one of the funniest things I saw in the images. I especially loved the second ad in which the orange asked who the tomato was the vodka was talking to. If I were someone that drank, the ad would be appealing to me. I also enjoyed seeing the "This is your brain on drugs" image. It brought back memories for me. I was 5 when that ad campaign came out. It's probably one of the first things I remember seeing on television. It was even shown while I watched saturday morning cartoons!
My favorite reading was probably the "Ghetto Haiku". It said a lot to me about how people are treated in the world. Stereotypes are everywhere. No matter how hard we try, we all have certain stereotypes we place people in at one time or another. Perhaps we should take a second to put those stereotypes aside and be courteous to everyone. Except everyone and be a friend to everyone. It would make the world a much better place.

Challenging Media: Memory Shorthand

The readings explore poignant moments in the life of the authors and photographers. They do this with their detailed treatment of the events. In “Flag Raising on Iwo Jima,” Joe Rosenthal does not build up the moment that he was in, but rather speaks about how the moment had significance in the grander scale of events. He talks about how ordinary his actions were, contrasting with the iconic status of the photo that he took. His quote, “What difference does it make who took the photo? I took the picture, but the Marines took Iwo Jima,” sums up his opinion on the series of events—he was nothing more than an ordinary person doing ordinary things, albeit in an extraordinary situation.

The transition of pieces in the text to that of “Ground Zero” flows nicely, as 9/11 is my generation’s Iwo Jima, our own Pearl Harbor. The account of James Nachtwey is extremely visceral. I felt like I was there. He took me with him through the collapse of the towers and his narrow escape by using powerful imagery and describing all the sensory details of the moment, like “…just as if you were in a closet with the light out and a blindfold on,” and, “The scene was burning and filled with acrid smoke; my lungs had burned all day long.” With this exploration of the senses, whether or not I want to, I am pulled into the nightmarish reality of the 9/11 attacks in New York City.

But most importantly in my interaction with the text and accompanying apocalyptic photo, I am taken back to where I was when it all happened—I will always remember looking around at the several classes of seventh graders huddled outside our temporary classroom buildings in Beijing, China, shivering on a chilly September morning, wondering what the fallout of the attack was going to be. The descriptions in Nachtwey’s text are augmented by my own even-further detailed memories. Such is the power of effective challenging media—it forces readers or viewers to connect with their own forgotten experiences and come to terms with them.

In “This American Life,” the anecdotes about babysitting brought back to mind the many times I was stuck at home to tend my siblings. But the anecdotes went a step further; they brought to the table the difficult experiences of others and how they have come to terms with them. I was taken to my own memories and then presented with “what if” situations. I found myself contemplating how I would have reacted in those situations and ultimately decided that I would never have to know. But in encountering challenging media, be it print, picture, film, or audio forms, the onus is on me to decide how I will incorporate it into who I am.

9/11, like the photo of Omayra Sanchez, will never leave me. It was a pivotal moment in my life, as the events that followed have gone on to define my generation. But I do not resent it. Instead, I see it as a necessary point of evolution for both my peers and myself. As young kids, we came to the startling realization that life was not a Disney movie. With realizations like this, one can either let it destroy their faith in the world or empower them to be even better. I have chosen to let it help me grow—an approach I have come to take for all obstacles I encounter, challenging media not excepted. If I don’t adapt to challenging new information, what good am I to anyone? I would be an intellectual Luddite. I would be a useless appendage awaiting amputation to prevent psychological gangrene. I would be the obstacle that I could not overcome.

Holding My Own

I found the episode of This American Life to be unsettling to listen to. I don’t think it was the stories themselves, I think it was how they were presented. The music made me uncomfortable and planted a creeping feeling inside of me. I didn’t like it. It felt invasive and manipulative. These are not comfortable stories, and I don’t think they have to be. But I felt defiled by the music and the way it tried to get inside of me and dictate my opinions about what I was hearing. I felt like I needed distance from the stories in order to think about them, and the music wouldn’t let me do that. It was trying to do my thinking for me.

What is interesting about the third prong of the episode is that after all the twisted images of the mother, we find out that the daughter speaks to her daily and visits her twice a week. I don’t think the episode did credit to that revealing moment. It is so easy to miss, especially if you are letting the music think for you. There is no music through that section indicating that it is negligible.

Does something have to be dogmatic to be challenging or evocative?

Memorable Moments/Challenging Images

The readings mainly focus on how photography is used to capture important moments. In every generation there seems to be an iconic moment that all in that generation share together because of the gravity of a situation. The situation that my generation will always identify with is September 11th. I love how this is reflective in looking back at other generations. I know my grandfather would tell me about the pictures he saw take place. My grandfather fought on Iwa Jima and he saw the famous flag raising. He told us how it was actually the second flag raising, yet because of the composition of the shot it was replicated and used as an image to represent patriotism and overcoming of obstacles. Having an eyewitness to such an amazing time in history has been meaningful to me.
I am largely drawn to visual images. What I see and hear that is meaningful to me are stories in texts (both written and visually captured) where I can learn a true principle of life that I can apply. In Amy Tan’s Fish Cheeks the author reflects upon her family’s devotion to her only realizing this after she has been humiliated by the cultural difference between the Chinese and the Americans.
The poems I identified with where the Ghetto Haiku and Dear God. Both have emotionally powerful word usage that stayed with me after I read them.
One of the most haunting photographs from the reading was Frank Fournier’s Omayra Sanchez photo. This was an example of a challenging photo for me. When I encounter a challenging photo I try to figure out what about the photo makes me uncomfortable. I was not sure if I was looking at a picture of dead child or if she was still alive. I think that picture will stand with me for a long time because of how it represented how the Columbian government did not prepare the people for the inevitable volcano explosion. The government simply called the whole area a cemetery and washed their hands clean of trying to rescue many people who were trapped.
One thing I liked from the radio program was the frozen iguana story. Airlines become the babysitters are a hard statement against our society. The story about the kids having a fake family really created this family as a way to escape their own family. The children were actually babysitter their mother. This is a unique role reversal.
-Jeremy Ashworth

Sucker-Punch and Milk Cows

I guess I’ll start with some honesty; these chapters came at me from a very unexpected angle. While I was reading about various means of interpreting the world, I was led to examine how I personally respond and react to life. Growing up, my family was not sympathetic in the conventional sense of the word: we were very much a “suck it up and move on” kind of family. (This was due, in part, to my dad growing up milking cows at 4 a.m. No matter how you may be feeling at 4 in the morning, you simply must get up and milk those cows. Period. Otherwise they’ll explode. Literally.) This upbringing led me to be what I am today: a stubborn optimist. I believe that no matter how dire the situation, something good can always come of it. The trick is having a determined positive attitude. This isn’t to say that being stubbornly positive prohibits you from ever feeling sad; the stubborn optimist takes time to feel sorrow, disappointment, etc. but then immediately looks for the good (or the lesson), trusting that it will be there. All of that said, I had mixed feelings about Dorothy Allison’s “This Is Our World”. It’s a marvelous essay, but I didn’t agree with the negative view at the end. Yes, the world is full of absolutely terrible things, horrific tragedies and untold sorrows; however, there is an equal amount of good, of the miraculous, and the inspiring; there has to be, it’s the law of opposition. So, while I was feeling all “up in arms” about my decidedly positive outlook on life, my views were subsequently challenged by the images in chapter seven, specifically the picture of Omayra Sanchez. I can of course apply gospel principles and talk about the eternal perspective, which are all good and true, but my initial reaction: this picture frightened me. Perhaps the reminder of the injustice that does take place in the world, and my own inability to save it, to save a friend, to save the already deceased young girl in the photo, was disheartening. As stubbornly optimistic as I wish to be, there is a reality in the other side of the law of opposition. And while my rather iron-willed optimism will continue, these chapters remind me that reality can sometimes sucker-punch my surety.

On Photography

Every once in a while we see something (usually a movie since that's the art form I've invested my soul in) that moves us and changes how we view ourselves and the world. As I mentioned, for me, these riveting experiences are usually films, but Susan Sontag's article came pretty close to being one of these earth shattering experiences for me. Honestly, I was anticipating that the reading for this week would be a few interesting articles and a few cool pictures that I could take in in order to prove that I was diligent and did what I was asked to do this week. But this article actually kind of pricked my heart and my consciousness and I had a mini awakening. I seriously doubt that anybody else experienced this but for some reason this article caused me to take a step back and ask myself what my role was as a filmmaker. As I tried to remove myself from my situation and take a purely objective standpoint in determining what my role was, I found myself questioning what my motivations were in deciding to be a filmmaker. This article literally concerned me as I realized that I'd kind of slipped into that role of being a 'casual photographer' that just uses photography as a means to relieve stress and escape the banality of real life. Similarly, I've discovered that I'm exactly like Jimmy Stewart's character in Rear Window in a lot of respects where I've taken a passive role in capturing events instead of using a camera as a means of conveyance. Sontag fairly and unfairly accused many of being in two classes: those who bring about great things and those who document these great people using their cameras. Unfortunately, there haven’t been nearly enough people to justify setting up a third class, which would be those who bring about great things with their cameras. I hope to one day join this elite and barely mentionable third class, which I’m sure we all aspire to do. This article kind of bled into what the latter half of the reading talked about which was challenging media. For me, this article was challenging because it forced me to take a good look at myself and determine what exactly I stood for as a filmmaker and how I was going to achieve my goals in spite of my inevitable challenges. After reading the article about challenging media, I became grateful for the fact that it was indeed challenging because I honestly wouldn’t have evaluated myself and my goals if it wasn’t for the fact that it challenged me to do so. In short, I think I’m starting to grasp why it’s so important for some media to not be passive and be aggressive in challenging us to become better than we already are.