An Analysis of Community-Oriented Writing

Hello everyone!

My name is Evan Mack, and I – like you – am nearing the resolve of my college career. It’s hard not to talk about graduation in these types of introductions (the impact of your major, the timeliness and stickiness of job placement, et cetera…), but I will do my best to eschew that temptation in the hope that our conversations will nourish more permanent thirsts. For example, there are many questions that I find myself still unable to answer, even after battling with them for four academic years: Is purpose self-created? If so, is purpose arbitrary? Are we ever actually objective in meaningful discourse (re: political and social commentary)? The list goes on, and I hope I will be able to discuss some of these questions with you all in this class.

In our first meeting this past week, I named two different writing communities I had been a part of: the more creative realm of “creative non-fiction” writing, as well as the more linear and pragmatic community of “business writers.” Most of us described two writing communities of similar structure. I discussed the tension between the two communities by using the oft-mentioned phrase “show, don’t tell.” This platitude embodied the great differences in our writing communities. In creative writing, the writer was expected to show their truths through metaphor and dialogue. In more professional writing, the writer was told to “get to the point,” having frequently been told that dialogue was pointless.

As much as these two writing communities appeared different, more time spent in these writing communities revealed similarities that were at first dismissed. Both had a very important effect on the other. For instance, my “creative non-fiction” community was often infatuated by the nuanced differences between word choices; however, these nuances – when actively embraced – became quite useful in my business writing. I realized that perhaps “hacking the path to purchase” was a more meaningful description of the customer’s routine, rather than saying “chasing sales. Similarly, when I dealt with busy executives, one truth became inescapable: they were busier than I was. The task of minimizing words was prioritized in my writing. I brought that to my more creative circles.

Despite the core similarities between the two communities, one glaring inconsistency between them reveals their dissimilarity: the writing’s purpose. For most, using creative non-fiction as a genre permits a sort of fleshing out of subconscious ideas. The story being written is true (in that it is not fiction), yet artistic liberty is granted to its interpretation, which in turn justifies and remedies the author’s emotions. By juxtaposing stories, the author is not creating new stories, but threading a needle between them; thus, “from the ashes,” as they say, a version of a “true” story has been born. This is an entirely meditative process – largely, written for an audience of one. On the other hand, business writing is entirely focused on the audience of many. Its purpose is less reflective and more prescriptive.

Bitter-Sweet’s Taste, and What You Eat After

Congratulations to us – we have finished the coursework of Writing 220. Sometimes it was excellent, sometimes it was merely acceptable. “The Maestro,” has sent the email regarding the completion of his portfolio assessments, so our stories (grades) are written.   For all intensive purposes, we are no longer a class.  Admittedly, I am STILL finishing some assignments for participation points.

But we are the winter 2015 cohort, and that’s why I decided to post something today.

The sadness I felt, combined with the inexorable wave of relief associated with all last-day-of-classes, says a lot about this particular class.  The latter is common, the former is not.  I thank you all and Professor McDaniel for eliciting that response in me.  It’s amazing to see the importance of a class manifest in an emotional form.

That feeling associated with us leaving is the longing to have the community, the support and the progress that we had during this class. Very few classes build that type of community and they should be cherished when they do.

This may seem a lot more sappy than I mean it to be.  I promise I’m not too bothered by eschewing homework for a while.  All I’m really trying to say is that this class was pretty cool.  And in whatever way this occurs, encourage and support one another.  Say hey when you see each other around (except for you, Joseph – I get you and your twin mixed up every time).  Like and support each other’s work on Facebook.  Run into each other at parties.  There were too many interesting and important moments in this class to not.

So cheers to the winter 2015 cohort.. I’ll see y’all around.

p.s. Professor McDaniel’s twitter is straight fire.

p.p.s. Don’t let him catch you smoking cigarettes.

Phoebe Gloeckner Follow-Up

Maybe it is a happy coincidence that I am discussing the Pheobe Gloeckner after the remediation, or maybe it is God forgiving my huge workload (and subsequent late submissions) by giving me an easy way of discussing her interview.

Regardless, it is fitting that I am just now discussing Pheobe Gloeckner’s interview.  This is because when she was describing her work process, her brilliance and, at times, what looked like insanity, was something that I thought I understood until I finished my Remediation.  When asked how she does what she does – dabble and immerse herself in various mediums – she always paused before explaining her process.  She would say things like “I don’t know, it was very stressful, but it would kind of just come together.”  When trying to discuss my remediation project, I felt the very same.  It was as if there was an intuitive way of handling mediums that you would discover as you went along.  I am not saying my remediation is noticeably impressive.  I am saying that I had a journey of discovery about how my medium – creating a podcast – should be used.

Lastly, Pheobe Gloeckner provided a lot of encouragement about the process of starting to use mediums.  For someone who is so proficient and excited with her work, it was amazing to hear how overwhelmed she seemed when she would start using a new form.  It was certainly an inspiring conversation.

American Sniper: Lose/Lose Situation?

The recent debate about whether “American Sniper should be shown on campus has been a fascinating conversation to see unfold, no?

Prefacing this post with the fact that I have never seen American Sniper (a fact that should probably stop me from writing about it), I still thought I would ask any and all of you what your thoughts are about the topic. Like most points of contention in commentary about social issues, I believe the root of the issue is an inability to listen to the concerns of both sides. Listening to the concerns of each party is very different than listening to the arguments of each party. To hear each other’s concerns is to appreciate and realize the context in which the concern is created.

In this instance, I believe, both outcomes harm at least one party involved.

Those who rallied against the showing of American Sniper were concerned with the Islamophobic tendencies of American war propaganda. Though it may not be a conscious decision to alienate Arab and Muslim populations while watching a movie like American Sniper, the overwhelming research about subconscious judgments in film suggest that we are, in fact, heavily influenced by these depictions. In the set of American war movies historically, the protagonist is almost always a handsome, white male and the enemy (since the mid ‘90’s) has been middle-eastern and has been depicted in a barbaric fashion.

More importantly, a majority white campus has once again overruled concerns of safety raised by the Arab and Muslim populations on Michigan’s campus. That, in itself, is concerning.

That is not to say that I believe the movie shouldn’t be shown. In fact, to not show the film would be a marginal threat against free speech. The film is a huge success in American cinema and was a piece of work that did not explicitly put anyone at risk. Those who are against the showing of American Sniper may say that it did put them at risk, due to the nationalistic and racist response found in certain viewers nationally, but that discussion is one that I don’t believe merits discussion. I would simply ask: When is the last time that a movie didn’t catalyze a bigoted response from someone, somewhere?

It’s been sad for me to see the response made by those who are proponents of the American Sniper showing, and though I think their prescription is the best one, it seems to entirely neglect the marginalized and threatened voices on Michigan’s campus.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Trois Listes

Re-Puropsing

History (40%)

Economics (25%)

Psychology (20%)

Philosophy (10%)

Sociology (5%)

Re-Mediating

History (30%)

Psychology (30%)

Economics (10%)

Philosophy (10%)

Sociology (10%)

Visual Arts (5%)

Music (5%)

 

Further development needed:

For my re-mediation, I need to learn how to better formulate an exceptional narrative arc, in the truest sense. Considering the piece is an auditory one, I need to study effective psychology-based podcasts that have an effective hook at the onset of the program, yet have a meaningful resolve whereby the listener has acquired a new appreciation or understanding of a topic that they didn’t previously have. The goal is to educate. Therefore, I need to learn how best to teach, not only the specific material but broader material, as well. With that comes learning about effective transitions, voice variation, duration of periods of the podcast.

For my re-purposing, I still need to study more history of the topic at hand, but more importantly, psychology of decision-making, as well as group-psychology and the psychology of being uncomfortable.

Remediation Process

I have never actually produced a podcast.  However, I have managed the production of one, so I’ve seen how organic, quick and easy it can be to edit and construct a podcast.  In the past, my peers have rented quality recording equipment – both big and small – and have boasted the efficiency of the instruments involved.  The ISS office in the MLB, for instance, offers a whole range of camera’s and microphones.

For my podcast, I will only have to use a microphone and the multi-media rooms in the Duderstadt in order to edit the audio clips.  Final Cut is an incredibly easy program to use for audio edits and for mashing various sounds.  I will be editing the audio interviews that I obtain, as well as the extraneous sounds meant to enhance the reception of the message in the podcast (certain water sounds to enhance a consistent metaphor in the piece and other assorted noises).  In my past experiences, microphone added to an iPhone is sufficient for quality recording.  Anyone else creating a podcast should feel free to ask any questions or give any recommendations.

Remediation

Maybe I’m paranoid from Tuesday’s discussion, but is the font on the blog different now?

Anyways, I am planning on creating a podcast about my topic.  Though part of me is doing this because I love podcasts and am fulfilling a desire of mine, I also believe it is the most effective means to illuminate my argument.  My repurposing is not even close to being finished, but at it’s core it is illuminating the hidden, psychological determinants of both injustice and privilege.

Though some are justifying the use of audio/visual elements of their remediation, I believe it is the best way to remediate.  Especially with topics that involve experiential, social elements, using those means of communication are crucial to emphasizing a point, or even revealing any level of the truths you claim.  For instance, the great difficulty of discussing privilege is that it is a blind spot, but when you force others to face another set of circumstances, you begin to reveal the truths of privilege; swim up the proverbial river, not down it.

I have yet to figure out exactly what I will do in order to illustrate the point I’m making, but it must be unbiased and story-oriented.  That way, it will indirectly convey the core of the message.

Einstein Was Right (A Review of Audience)

The topic of racism is complex. In discourse, it requires advocates for the “racism is alive and well” viewpoint to take two steps for every one that the “racism isn’t still around” viewpoint (the irony of my ‘two-steps-for-every-one’ reference in relation to racism is not lost on me).

With that in mind, I am writing to both of these audiences. Hopefully, my argument and exploration allows for those who vehemently disagree with the existence of racism to realize why it is still a possibility that racism exists, temporarily disassociating the audience from “white guilt” and a justification that no racist laws (technically) exist. I also want to support and provide arguments for the other group – those who believe that racism is still around, that it is an impossibility that it isn’t

However, I am writing “about” and “at” the group of people that deny racism. The reason I feel I cannot control aggressive sub-tones is because of the repercussions of such beliefs. When people are losing their lives and values because of another’s, it is not only unjust to actively commit these injustices, but irreprehensible to not say anything.

As Einstein once said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

This concept is the motive for my argument. This concept is indicative of whom I’m writing “about,” “at,” and “to.”

The Sad Truth of Explicit Perspective

The paper I am repurposing is an analytical, economic perspective of inequality in the lens of race relations and poverty.

This topic is especially sensitive as it explores the roots of economic inequality, which is a conversation that often has a lot of guilt or anger associated with it. Even more troubling is that the paper categorizes the inequality in terms of race – arguably the most indicative component of identity.

With this in mind, the explicit reprimanding of groups of people on this topic is highly accusatory. It backs the reader into the corner and aggressively shouts at them. However, this approach is often the most truthful and important to use. The truth is that inequality and racism tangibly affect the lives of so many people, and neglecting this reality may merit a more aggressive approach to the discussion.

On the other hand, implicit conversations about the topic allow for the most change. When you appeal to the guilty from an objective and researched background, you allow for paradigm shifts. They may not always agree; they may not always change; they may not always feel the necessity like others; they are more likely to change from an implicit conversation, though. This is the most important realization.

So even though a sick, malicious part of my subconscious was overjoyed writing a vindictive letter to those people that are either racist, or ignore racism due to capitalistic ideals, it is probably less effective in bringing about the necessary change.

A House And A Bike

“The house is on fire” is a faulty analogy in that it fails to incorporate the willing dismissal of an inevitable, destructive end.  Undoubtedly, the end will come, as ends always do, and it will be destructive.  But we are not nearing the end yet.  The reality is that we still have time and resources to both avoid “the end” and create a sustainable solution.

A house that is on fire poses immediate threats to the safety of those inside.  Falling scraps of wood and insufficient oxygen are two examples of how a house on fire is immediately dangerous.  As I just said, we are not in immediate danger so the house analogy is insufficient.

Sadly, this duality of ignorance and lack of action is the proverbial nail-in-the-coffin of our world and its resources.  Until it is the case that we both 1) realize the imminent doom of our world, and 2) still have time to change it,  we are sure to perish.

Coming up with an appropriate analogy for this scenario is difficult because of this characteristic of the situation.  The earth, as a whole, is a public good.  Though it has been separated into various regions and countries, the earth is shared.  It is also excludable.  This means that by using a part of it, it becomes less valuable as a whole.  For example, if I take a bite of an apple, the apple is less valuable to anyone else who is interested in it.  These two combined cause the “tragedy of the commons” phenomena.

The most appropriate analogy incorporates the “tragedy of the commons” characteristic – recognizing that the “house” is not owned, it’s not on fire yet, but we are the reason it will be.

Imagine a bike were able to be used by a house full of people.  You have rights to the bike to use it any time you want for a tiny fee of 1 cent.  The bike is used frequently and the house gets all of their chores done because of it.  However, the house of people also suspects that there are a limited number of rides before the frame cracks – a frame that is no longer produced. Once the frame cracks, no one gets to use it, yet no one offers to pay for an alternative because the 1 cent payed to ride the bike is much cheaper than paying for any alternative.

The biggest problem is once the bike breaks, the house has no transportation to purchase another means of transportation.  Thus, the house uses the bike even more than they had before because they fear it will soon break.  No one in the house pays to repair the bike and once it is gone, there will be no means to replace it.