To v. At v. About – and a (slight) topic change!

I have shifted my focus slightly once again.  After writing for a few hours, I found myself naturally arguing for something I did not intentionally set out to argue – Isn’t interesting when that happens? I decided to follow this gut feeling (writing) and change my topic slightly (the day before the paper is due…). Originally, I had planned to re-purpose an essay I wrote in my English 125 class. Which I am still doing – thank goodness.  This essay discussed the gross over-use of the stereotype “JAP” in modern society. It went into great length of the history of the stereotype, it’s use throughout campus, etc. I even interviewed Jewish and non-Jewish students on campus and used some quotes for evidence. I was planning to re-purpose it by, well, I’m not 100% sure….and I guess that was really the problem.

I began writing a few days ago and it was a mental road block of sorts. Nothing was making any sense whatsoever. Today, I went about it from a different approach. I began writing a letter to friend that has been referred to a as a JAP before, when I know and she knows that she is not one. I discuss this for a while – why has this happened? What are the social ramifications? Etc. etc. I then bring in the point it is up to her to change this stereotype – and is that fair? No. But life is unfair.

I am also planning on writing a second letter, to a JAP who is most definitely a JAP in every sense of the stereotype.  I am going to explain to her from a critical yet empathetic perspective that she is bringing everyone down with her, her actions, her decisions, are not okay.  (This part is still in the works…)

As for who I am writing to, at, and about…

To: I am writing to two direct groups of people – the girls who are constantly thought of through the eyes of this stereotype when they should not be, and the girls who are when they should be.  I want to have a conversation with both groups of girls, not because I feel that I know better, but because I want to learn about both standpoints and because I feel that I can have an influence on both groups.

At: I am not 100% sure who I am talking at – it is not my intention to come off condescendingly at all because I know that will not produce any change – which would be the overall goal.  I would potentially say younger girls who are entering college.

About: I want to talk about the population of students, faculty, etc. who are being influenced by the actions of these women. I want to let them know that they are not going unnoticed by society and they have an impact, regardless if these women see it or not.

Gains v. Losses

Last week, we were tasked with writing two separate paragraphs about our upcoming re-purposing assignment – one in first/second person and one in strictly third person.  I initially did not think anything of this instruction, and was equally excited to begin work on both paragraphs.

I was able to quickly finish the first paragraph and, in my opinion, get my necessary points across to the reader. It “flowed” as I would say.  When I completed that paragraph and made my way down the page to begin work on the second, my mind went blank. Wait, what was the point I was trying to make? Who am I trying to get this point across to? How is it even possible to write this in the third person? 

I stared at my computer for over 5 minutes until I began typing words onto the empty white page in front of me.  The act of writing my thoughts and expectations about a paper without using the words I or you was exponentially more difficult than I would have imagined. Although there are potentially many reasons for this, I believe there was a specific reason for my personal struggle.

I have yet to fully choose the topic/purpose for my essay (although I have been thinking about it all weekend). Writing in the first/second person allowed for my exploration, experimentation, etc. and did not make me feel tied down in anyway to the topic that I chose.  When I switched to the third person, however, I felt as if I was writing an academic response paper and, because my topic is not fully concrete yet, the writing did not feel concrete either.

I enjoy writing in both tenses – but I do believe the final choice of tense leads to a very different experience for the writer, which in turn leads to a very different piece of work in the end.

A House Fire No More

After reading Rebecca Solnit’s piece, “By The Way, Your Home is on Fire” our class discussed the inadequacy of her analogy.  To be specific, Professor McDaniel stated three aspects about the house fire which did not sum up correctly to the radical climate changes of which she was actually trying to refer to.

1. By saying “Your Home” it makes it sound like it is just the reader’s home, when in reality it is everyone’s home that is in trouble, i.e. Earth

2. When your home is on fire, you can (hopefully) walk out of it safely, when that is not a possibility on Earth

3. We do not know what caused the home to catch fire, but it is partially your fault that Earth is “on fire”.

We were assigned with the task of coming up with a new, applicable analogy to replace Rebecca Solnit’s. In class, we broke up into smaller groups and began working on this task. My group, unsuccessful, focused on the first aspect – that we are all together in the same home.  After I got home from class, however, I started re-thinking the entire thing. Climate change happened very slowly, over time. We did it to ourselves, all together. And now most of us are complaining about it, while very few of us are actually doing something about it. There are no real quick fixes, only some long-term ones that take commitment and time. To me, this actually sounds like Obesity.

Maybe that sounds a little strange at first – comparing climate change to obesity, but if you take a second to think about it, it makes sense.  You did it to yourself, no one really forced you to eat that extra piece of chocolate cake at your sisters graduation party, but you did. It happened slowly, gradually over time. And now, even though its our fault, for having all the McDonalds, BurgerFi’s, etc., etc. etc., we are all looking for quick fixes when there really isn’t one. We have to just suck it up and go to the gym. Commitment and time. Or we can keep eating and eating until our bodies can’t take the extra weight and fail to work properly.

Arguing for the Argument’s Sake

In class last week, we spoke at great length about arguments. What constitutes a “good” v. “bad” argument? Can someone ever win an argument? Is there one way to win or lose an argument? At the end of the discussion, I was left with many open-ended questions and went back thinking heavily about my own arguments and how those and the following questions apply.

Is arguing ever necessary?

Whether or not an argument is every necessary is completely subjective to the person who is choosing to create the argument.  An argument is a choice, in my opinion. It is a reach to another person or group of people in which you are trying to make them see your side of a given position or situation.  Take out the circumstance of a given class assignment, etc. and you are never forced to argue your position. You can easily walk through life neglecting to attempt to press your views on anyone else.  In reality, however, many would find this boring and rather uneventful. But I do not believe arguing is ever truly necessary. 

2. Is arguing ever a mistake?

Again, I believe this question is almost entirely subjective. The arguer can feel as if they have made a mistake by opening up the argument and in turn not enjoying the way the conversation develops. However, if both participants are mature, respectful of the other’s opinion, etc. then arguing should not be a mistake, but in turn should be an opportunity to learn how other’s think, feel, and view the situation. Arguing should really be the opportunity to learn, if one is able to take out their personal feelings.

The only time I would claim that an argument would be a mistake is if you are 100% sure the person you are attempting to argue with is 100% not going to shift from their position – then it is simply a waste of everyones time.

3. Can both occur at the same time.

I believe an argument can feel necessary and a be mistake. In the case where one is very passionate about a position they may hold or a cause for which they believe, they may feel that it is necessary to argue for that position/cause often.  However, if they themselves are not educated on the cause (to a point at which they sound ignorant) or the collected group of people they try to argue with do not care/are 100% on the opposing side, etc. it may be a mistake to argue with them.