What do all of these posts have in common? All of these posts address aspects of identity that depend on social construction and regaining control of the narrative. Oftentimes, we ascribe an ‘otherness’ to different cultures, distancing ourselves from their experiences, but it is important to include everyone in the narrative to better understand the human experience. But, this advanced understanding can only come if these ‘others’ get to control thier own narratives and not be subjected to the opinions/stereotypes of the privleged.
“These days, we frequently hear that most people that have unconscious bias they think they don’t discriminate, but in real life they actually do. The laPiere study supports the opposite idea. People are more hostile to others in the abstract than when they meet them in person. As a rule, theretial discrimnais, when they come face-to-face with an actual person, actually don’t discriminate. Is much easier to dehumanize the “other” when you don’t see a human face, when someone is reduced a demographic identity. When you meet actual people and learn a little of their human story, you feel connection–and connection destroys dicrimination.” (chapter 5)
This passage is complicated because it brings up the idea that people are less likely to act on their implicit biases in real life, which can be refuted by many individuals who have first hand experiences of discirnation. Because of how prominet discrimnation is within our society, I chose Brooks’s section on human connection as a disturbance to instutional discrimination because it went againist my preconceived notions. One idea that this section made me really think about was how exactly we act on implicit biases in real life. To me, this sounds like it would hold true, just because based on my own personal experiences, I have acted on my own flash judgements and preconceived notions about an individual. To me, Brooks is writing about a revolutionary idea, something that upsets our very own conceptual schemes about how society functions. How does it work that a human connection can actually break our implicit discriminatory actions? Just like LaPierre said, I’ve always thought that people are more likely to discriminate in person. On the news, my feed is full of stories showing these types of in person discrimination–a black woman denied services, a gay man beaten on the streets–showing that people are more likely to act on our biases when they are confronted face-to-face with the person who represents the sterotype. In fact, I know I’ve acted on these biases many times, like when I’ve crossed the street to avoid a ‘sketchy’ looking black man, these personal experiences would point to a contradictory stance towards what Brooks is describing. To me, human interactions actually provide us the opportunity to act on our subconscious biases. After looking at this section, I realized the difference between a flash judgment of a person based on implicit biases, and an actual human interaction / getting to know someone’s story. Reducing someone to one characteristic or stereotype is what allows society to assume things, and openly discriminate, but this connection allows us to see them as a human. I think that Brook’s says that “people are more hostile in the abstract” because we dehumanize and reduce person to a stereotype, which was already preconceived in our minds. This passage blew my mind, because it emphasized the importance of recognizing the complexity of humanity. It’s clear that only once you interact with a person who is labeled an ‘other’ your biases with be destroyed; this is an instance of reaching across borders and connecting with those who are foreign to us. This passage means that genuine human interactions can outweigh our biases, since most interactions will oppose stereotypes. Brooks says that it’s easier to discriminate when someone is reduced to a geographic identity, because this affirms what we know to be true about a group of people, even if the bias isn’t true.
How can transcribing something be viewed as an art? What constitutes art? One idea I struggled with from Thursday’s lecture was with how translation can be an art; translators are picking and choosing the words while at the same time making artistic decisions about exactly which word to use. Some translators try to translate exactly what the author is saying, while others choose to use a bit more artistic freedom. Pure language and the intentional meaning of an author can be difficult to discern since in a direct translation, even then there are multiple words that mean the same thing. I thought this was confusing because technically both versions (literal and artistic translation) could be seen as ‘true’ — a word for word translation is ‘correct’ because those are the authors’ raw words, but also this is an interpretive translation because it’s closer to what the author means when they write these specific words. However, it’s impossible to get inside an authors’ head and decide whether or not they would want a literal translation, or something that is closer to what they want to say.Furthermore, how can there ever be an ‘accurate’ translation? One thing I hadn’t considered was how each word can have many different translations / options that are all technically a ‘correct’ translation.Translation is clearly an interpretive and creative art, since even the translator has to choose words wisely, and this act of choosing is what makes the process creative. The translator needs to consider the direct definition of a world, as well as what the author intended to say (words can change meaning), which gives translators an immense amount of power, and imagination about the authors’ original intent. This power of interpretation ties back with the politics of translation and the authority of those who get to control the narrative. If a translation is performed by someone with a dominant identity, this could change how exactly the piece is translated. Literature has an extremely important influence on society, and especially people’s thoughts and opinions. So, therefore translators are also influential. This goes back to the question: who controls the narrative? Even if the text is written by someone on the margins of society, the narrative can still be diluted by these western influences and power dynamics, which can change the meaning of the original text. However, there is hope in the realm of translation because there are many different translations, so the original meaning can be upheld.
As Sontag puts it, the camera has a unique ability to capture history’s gruesome moments and modern media can spread these shocking images with increasing speed. Because of the readily available and fast spreading images, many become immune to horrific pictures depicting pain. Because of this, the audience is able to recognize / understand the atrocities of war with a certain easiness, since these images are so normalized as a part of mainstream media. However, some people are unable to empathize with the people in the photos because these atrocities are happening so far away and we mostly emphasize with those who are close in proximity and resemble us. Sontag writes about how the media exhibits the horrors and pain happening in third world countries (mostly about those with “darker complexions in exocitic countires”). Sontag describes this as a type of exhibition because for some reason the audience is drawn to these images of the ‘other’. Clearly, the audience is more drawn to these exocitic images, inspiring a sense of compassion, and connection with those who are different from them, allowing them to see the humanity in everyone. However, photography also creates a superiority complex because the audience to see themselves as better than those in the photos because these pictures cannot help but “nourish belief in the inevitability of tragedy in the benighted or backwards — that is, poor — parts of the world (71). When Gourevitch discusses how the media spreads images of dogs eating the corpses on the sides of the road, this highlights how the media spreads these images, trying to create a sense of empathy between us and those being photographed. This is also an exhibit of these people deemed the ‘other’ and their lives being put on display for anyone to see. Also, Gourevitch relates to Sontag because it shows that the phrase “if it bleeds, it leads” is correct. Sontag and Gourevitch both emphasize the point that photographers and the media are concerned with drawing people’s attention (and keeping them interested) and doesn’t have the victims interests in heart; these sources are both obsessed with telling a captivating story. So, people will take these gruesome images and present them to the public, solely to get attention. However, the press does some good things with these images because they call attention to the atrocities at hand and spread the coverage. But, as always, the media makes things come across in “two ways” and it’s up to the general perception of the public to use the images at hand and press to make their own views on the issue.
This panel portrays a more accurate vision of the March on Washington because it explains the events from a different perspective than it is usually recounted from. Usually, we associate the March on Washington with only Martin Luther King Jr. and the “I Have a Dream” speech, but here, Lewis allows the audience to see it from his perspective, inserting his own experience into the portrayal. This series of panels illustrates the effects of the march and how it was able to influence a large amount of people. This series of panels influences me because it shows the magnitude of the different events of the Civil Rights Movement. It also serves to humanize Lewis and highlight how even these heros were just regular people who managed to do amazing things. One of the interesting graphic techniques that is employed is the use of three different perspectives in each of the different panels. The first panel depicts a broader third person perspective, which presents John Lewis going up to speak during the march on Washington. Another interesting aspect of this panel is how the figures behind John Lewis are blurred out and indistinct, thus putting the focus on himself before going to speak. Here, there is a clear contrast between black, white, and gray, which makes the three individuals standout. The second panel is from the first person perspective, which helps the audience see from Lewis’s perspective. This panel was intriguing to me because it helped humanize lewis. As a person who has studied the march on washington, this helps to lessen the idealization of those who spoke. By showing the text of his speech and the microphone in front of him, this highlights how he was just a normal person just like those he is trying to reach out to. The last panel is also from the observers’ perspective, but it focuses on Lewis’s eyes, which show his inner anguish and pain at the horrific violence against leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. Also, an aesthetic aspect that stands out in this third panel is the man in the background with an NAACP cap on. This represents the broader ideas of the movement
One of our posts from unit 5 dealt with the form of remembrance and how performance can be a way of contending with past oppressions/understandings. Birns, one of the authors we read, explained that dance can express “proximal emotional challenges” (17) meaning that those affected by historical oppression/subjugation can use performance as an artistic/political representation of their identities. Furthermore, performance can be a way to understand historical and current oppression. This author noted that “inhumanity cannot be chronicled in a conventional narrative” (22) so individuals turn to performance to understand their histories. However, unlike physical documentations, dance can be lost because it is part of a physical tradition. How can you remember performance? Oftentimes, our perspectives shape what we see as important. And since performance cannot “reside in its material trace, and therefore it disappears,” (101) so culturally we lose the importance of those who rely on performance as a means of documentation/understanding.
But, performance can be more than a traditional dance, social movements are choreographed as well and are a way to contend with past/ present oppressions. Social movements are choreographed and a way to make the stage accessible for all those willing to participate: it is a mobilization for cultural change. Like more traditional forms of dance, social movement protests like the Greensboro sit-ins were choreographed and designed for a specific audience. Because many were mobilized to participate, this gives the choreography legitimacy, meaning choreography can certainly be revolutionary in the sense that activists engage in ways that are culturally impactful based off of ideas that would shift cultural schemes.
Identity can be very divisive: those who focus on the scientific and the literary tradition. This reading focused on the divide between these two factions and how “even on the level of emotion, they can’t find much common ground.” (4) I was shocked by this point: even if people do not understand one another, shouldn’t they be able to emotionally connect on some level? Emotions are universal in my opinion, so I could not grapple with the fact that these two very separate communities couldn’t understand one another at all. Furthermore, how can you reconcile those who are so diametrically opposed? This reading helped me understand how different groups in society lay the foundations for differences from the beginning: science or literature. However, simply put, this is a “social condition” (6) and one that we must look past in order to build bridges amongst the two factions.
Like all forms of art, translation has clear personal biases in it. While reading Akhmatova, it was apparent that Thomas was the translator that had taken more artistic liberties with the text. But, even though this might have strayed from the original meaning, we believed that the translated text actually represented the original text better due to these artistic liberties. Because all translations lose some of the intrinsic values of the text, a more authentic translation is an attempt to represent these same original creative liberties. So, through this translation, the audience is able to see parts of the translator’s identity being represented. By choosing to be inspired by the creativity of the original text, the translator is bringing new meaning and highlighting the importance of bringing new perspectives on the original work. Comparing the two forms of Akhmatova was an interesting experience and definitely one where the audience could see clear differences in the way the two translators decided to contribute in their own unique way to the narrative. While a literal translation is more accurate, to many the piece seemed to lose poetic value and therefore authenticity and sticking to the author’s orginialintent. But at the same time, how does one even decide what the author’s original intent is? Who gives translator’s the power to do this? Comparing these translators reminded me of the power we give to translators because they get to control the narrative. Because one of these translations appears to lose the intrinsic value of the original piece, this could make the original appear to be less valued by a different audience.
Poetry, like Akhmatova, is extremely important to Russian national identity but poets oftentimes faced extreme danger for speaking their truths/realities. But, this form of art is a way to construct a cultural understanding of a dark past and understand contemporary politics as well. However in many ways, Russia has not been able to confront their past due to the political restraint and suppression of expressing negative thoughts about the government. In Russia, the government has used explicit forms of violence-based oppression against their citizens expressing their true thoughts, emotions, and identities. There has yet to be a direct confrontation with their violent past because people are unwilling to accept it. Although poetry is certainly one step towards accepting the state terror against Russains, the government needs to contend with this past/present occurrences as well. So, the cultural memory of Russia has yet to develop in a way that fully contends with their violent past.
One connection is the presence of blurriness. In the film, Kurt covers his hand with his eyes, putting his hand in a sharp focus, making his sense of reality distorted. When he moves his hand away, the reality of the scene is blurry and transformed into his own unique perspective. A common theme in the photography series is blurriness/distortion. But, this brings up the question of reality: who’s view of the scene is correct? In both of these cases, it’s up to the artist to allow their unique experiences/perspectives to shape the art they create. When there is distortion, the audience is forced to reconcile the perctional slant of the artist and how they are trying to make us feel. Because artists choose their subjects and how to present the material, oftentimes there is a personal bias because art cannot capture everything, or the entire reality of a situation. Do artists use distortion as a way to escape harsh cultural/societal realities? At the time, Germany was plagued with violence and deaths, and blurriness was a way to contend with this newfound reality.
To me photography is a representation of aspects of reality. But, the unique technique of blurring the images creates a separation between reality and art. Is blurriness a representation of an alternate reality or an improved reality? Where do you draw the line of the extent of reality? By using bluriness as an abstract art feature, this is how German artists contended with their past and a new way of partaking in cultural memory. A photo of a dead body is so shocking to an audience, but if the artist uses the technique of blurring, somehow this creates a form of separation between the photo and the reality of the situation. For a country like Germany, that has experienced extreme trauma and violence, constructing a cultural memory of this violence is important. If countries are not willing to face their dark histories and grapple with the past, how will you move forward? For photos revealing violence, there is often discomfort, but the effect of blurriness can be used to lessen the complicit violent nature of the image. Is photography a way of facing the past and constructing cultural memory?