My long journey down the road of semiotics has encouraged me to ask questions: why is my English 202 teacher sitting in a back desk with a wig on, dig deep into readings: proper annotation and reaction, analyze just about any situation: take notice to underlying gender codes, predetermined notions of femininity, or paradoxes at play, and somewhere along the road, everything began to click. From my first disastrous conference which enlightened me that I had no idea what a topic sentence even was, and that I was advised to get a tutor, I knew my journey down the semiotics road would be a bumpy one! Despite the fact that I did not take Jim’s advice about the tutor, I did in fact annotate every reading, and re-drafted my class drafts until they were acceptable not only on a scholarly level, but on a semiotician level. Which brings me to something else I acquired in this course, my semiotician thinking cap. I used to be able to take it on and off, but now, it’s permanent. I used to be able to observe other’s behavior, or watch tv without readings popping into my head, or saying to myself "that’s funny this show embodies a clear American paradox", it’s a bit exhausting and somewhat disappointing to see that everywhere I go reaffirms my initial perception of modern day America. Whether I find myself questioning why does our nation value the messages, blatant or hidden, in the television shows we religiously watch, or I am confronted with gender codes at my work as I handout all the blue, green, black and red crayons to the boys, and pastel colors to the girls; semiotics is constantly with me.
My writing style has immensely changed throughout the duration of this course. I have cleaned up my tendency to throw in unnecessary verbage (verbal garbage), I have learned how to clearly state my argument or opinion in a topic sentence which allowed my paragraph, or blog post, to flow nicely, and I also believe that my writing style has improved a tremendous amount! Before this semester I did not have a clear writing style, nor did I know how to compose a simple topic sentence. My writing has improved to such a level, that I believe I have the ability to succeed in any writing assignment I come across because I now understand what I am capable of, what is expected, and I can read my drafts and understand what is missing, what is clear and what is unnecessary from the reader's or grader's perspective. For example, through my understanding of what a blog post is supposed to be comprised of I drafted my "Celebration of Contradiction" blog post from nothing more than a simple story with out of order details, to a short effective summary of an event, with striking detail including the environment in which I was surrounded, to the look on my face, and the contradicting values behind it all. I connected this blog and its values to two readings from the book and I also clearly stated what those values revealed about America. Due to my ex-love of verbage, I would have never been able to tell a short, effective story before taking this course.
Aside from the reasons I just stated, "Celebration of Contradiction" was my favorite post because not only does it embody consumerism at its finest, but it is also very telling about American culture and its paradox of values. My first two drafts of this post had absolutely no striking detail, and followed more of an essay format: topic sentence, summary, connection to reading, and interperetation. My final draft of this post is completely different from my two previous drafts: its former topic sentence is now located toward the bottom, I presented striking detail from people's "full paced runs" to the "amatuer look on my face" and my integration of quotes flowed very well, I think this post truly has all the components of a good, successful "A" post.
Thank you Jimbo for expanding my bloging (and writing) horizons to a land where the "A" students frolic and graze in their scholarly worlds of ecstasy.
Post #3 Going Green's Dual Identity
Post #4 A Celebration of Contradiction!
Applying real life experiences to what we read and analyzed in class was a very interesting and eye opening experience. It has helped to improve my critical thought process, and my ability to understand the nature of our society. Now every time I see a commercial or advertisement on TV or youtube, I must ask myself: why they are torturing me and attempting to convince me that this product will not only be self-fulfilling, but connect me to the greater American culture? Like an onion, one must peel back the various layers of these topics in order to find their true meaning and impact, stressing critical thought of not only one topic but many others like it.
Previous to this class I had done very little revisions of my own work, I mostly relied on friends and family to handle my revisions. However, I found that when I revised my own work it was much more helpful, because I could edit it according to my thoughts and opinions, rather than an outside source interpreting my writings and changing it based on what their interpretations which may not be the same as my own. I didn't change any of my posts drastically, however the one that I changed the most would probably be my first post, The Movie Scene. After reading this post towards the end of the semester I realized how far I had come as a writer; my topic sentence was very unclear and had no thesis, I had less of an active voice, no hyperlinks, and I even added a catchy title rather than just “blog post 1.” Although the changes might seem minor to most, I believe they greatly improved the posts quality and clarity.
Out of my four posts I would consider my last post, its a bird, its a plane, its superman the best because it combines all the elements of our blog posts in a clear and concise manner. I believe that I connected the comic book world to the warrior fantasy that we read about in class, in a very simple yet effective way, and brought in a good quote and outside examples to support my claims. This particular post really helped me realize how common outside influences are portrayed in everyday life; comic books are popular worldwide, and I had never realized that things as commonplace and old as comic books had a hidden meaning behind them. I liked this post in particular because comic books have been around in our culture for decades, and I don't believe that they are commonly analyzed for their semiotic value despite their widespread popularity. Bringing forth this obviousness should make anyone who reads this post think more deeply about aspects of our society that may at first seem commonplace or just ordinary, and realize the subtle tones that these aspects have on our culture.
My experience as a reader of Semiotic Analysis has been tremendously instrumental to my learning. I never thought a little Barbie doll could be like someone who “got her start at the Playboy Mansion” to promote the need to fulfill masculine desire (Prager 613). I also did not think a female who does not care about her hair style “[would] subtly diminish…as a person” (Tannen 622). Barbie has always looked like a cute doll to me because of her beautiful appearance and her nice additional possessions she owns. I never thought that by neglecting my hair I would belittle myself as a person. Thanks to Maasik and Solomon who enlightened me, maybe now I will be able to change my life in a better way by learning the real meaning of “Signs of Life in the USA.” But now I note these brain storms have turned to hurricanes in my mind. Also my friends’ attitudes have changed towards me without reason. I wonder if my significantly more educated brain, after studying in Jim’s class, makes me appear so different now and people around me have simply not grown enough to understand me. One instance was while I was driving in my car with my friends listening to Enya. I personally enjoy Enya’s quiet lyrics that subliminally get me to relax, but at that time, I started to talk philosophically and discuss how this music subliminally affects our culture’s desire of listening to it; and I also talked about what stood behind the message of the music. My friends in the beginning of my monologue supported my sharing of enthusiasm, but soon asked me to not interrupt the composition and enjoy the soothing music. I have revised my blog New Friends, talk and Frapucciono several times. Our discussion in class about “communal egalitarianism” helped me think deeper in my thoughts and see the bigger picture of what’s going on in the Starbucks’ “community” (Solomon 525). For my rewrite, I have divided my Starbucks Blog Post into short pieces and analyzed each piece by thinking from a semiotic approach to make a connection to my reading. In the part of the Blog where I talked to a new friend, I referred to the Braxton article, where he talks about the friends’ support (668). Following this, where I talked about face to face conversation, I applied the Johnson discussion about Web connection (447). To make my blog more meaningful from the point of our reading, I added more related citations to integrate connection into my discussion. It makes my blog look more meaningful and at the same time, lets me demonstrate my familiarity with articles studied in class. The next step I took to improve my writing for a more precise expression of my ideas was adding some details to help the reader better understand the connection between places of discussion and the American values I chose for my blog. For instance, when I convinced my new friend to go back to school to study in spite of her middle age, I made a connection in my blog to Starbucks‘s “communal egalitarianism;” I added the sentence that customers looked like college students of different ages, race, and social level. I mentioned in my blog a Frappuccino name to make my post look more vivid. I tried making a little improvement toward development of my introductory skills. I know that my blog # 4 is not perfect, but I think the main idea of the blog now is clear enough. For my favorite blog, American Dream or American Dreamers, I made up a psychological scenario for the situation I have described later in my blog, and I realized my plan in real life and how it was planned in advance. My blog’s writing process, as a result of an analytical practice of the class reading, provoked me in a sense to become a journalist, a psychologist, or even criminalist. In different situations when I collected the information for my blog, I placed myself into one of the roles. In real life I did not upset people with these sorts of experiences such as being kicked out from a habitual environment and how this will make people pissed off. The purpose of my experiment was to analyze in practice the real idea of American values such as communal egalitarianism and later to discuss the vivid result of that in my blog which has an integrated connection to the discussion of the reading. Even though my American Dream or American Dreamers post was my favorite blog I also enjoyed There is No Unmarked Men. I noticed later that several other classmates took the similar subject to discuss, so it seems that the subject is common to think about. I like this post because I thought it was funny. I took this scenario from real life at the Mira Costa College Cafeteria. At that time, I played a journalist. I went to the cafeteria for the purpose of finding a subject for my blog post story. Our semiotic discussion about American myths played in my head at the time when I observed and analyzed the environment of the student cafeteria. I had a good time at the cafeteria. In one moment when my mind opened, beyond definitions, beyond images, beyond traditions the funny story was born.
Pretty, Funny Women, a comedy show at Q Restaurant and Sports Bar displays a contradiction to the common view of a woman's role in what it generally a male dominated society. Comedians performing in the show used satire to poke fun at the common stereotypical views of how women are perceived in our culture. The contradiction lies within the fact that stand-up comedy is generally a male dominated profession, and although these women are using jokes that would appear to undermine women, they are doing it in order to make a place for themselves in a male dominated society. Most if not all the jokes alluded to a preconception of women as being promiscuous, and although this humor might at first seem demeaning to women, they are ultimately using it to empower themselves much like a comedian version of Madonna. As Aaron Devor points out, “Persons who perform the activities considered appropriate for another gender will be expected to perform them poorly; if they succeed adequately, or even well, at their endeavors, they may be rewarded with ridicule or scorn for blurring the gender dividing line” (Devor 568). So I must commend the women who performed in the show; not only did they do what is routinely a males job, but they preformed it well. Female comedians are one of many professions where females are gaining a foothold, and fighting for equality in American society.
Devor, Aaron. "Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes." Signs of Life in the USA. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. 567-72. Print.
Shames, Laurence. The More Factor. Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Maasik, Sonia and Solomon, Jack. 6th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 86-92. Print.
Thanksgiving is upheld in America as a day of togetherness, to look aside from the chaos of life and be humbled to know that friends and family will always be by your side. After eating a quaint Thanksgiving dinner with all of my relatives, I naively joined them for their traditional “Black Friday shopping trip” with absolutely no idea that I was entering the lion’s den of consumerism. I had amateur written all over my face from my expression of shock at how many people were lurking, I mean shopping, about the night, to not keeping up with everyone (silly me, I never knew you could shop to the best of your abilities at a full paced run!!). Black Friday allows us to increase our culturally “opposing tendencies that make American culture extraordinarily complex, perplexing, and contradictory” (Maasik and Solomon 477). I mean, what kind of American Holiday would Thanksgiving be if we didn’t rid ourselves of superficial thoughts, only to wrap up the night with such an escalated level of consumerism that we can’t even practice it during the day? American tradition of Thanksgiving values family, love, holidays that celebrate these values, and of course, huge sales that enable us to shop till we drop! American’s have become so consumed in their “whoever dies with the most toys wins” (Shames 86) mentalities, that the meaning of Thanksgiving has morphed into a Holiday of contradiction: a celebration of what “really” matters.. as long as those importance’s do not override an opportunity to increase our material things. So, jump for joy, jump for sales, and make sure to jump out of the way to dodge the real meaning of Thanksgiving, or else, satiation might not feel good.. or at least, AS good.
Maasik, Sonia & Solomon, Jack. “American Paradox: Culture and Contradiction in the U.S.A.” Signs of Life in the U.S.A. (2009): 477-486. Print.
Shames, Laurence. The More Factor. Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Maasik, Sonia and Soloman, Jack. 6th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 86-92. Print.
While I was partaking in my regular workout at 24 Hour Fitness, I began to take notice to the environment in which I was surrounded: a large gym, open ALL day EVERYDAY for workout fanatics , workout regulars, those who sporadically workout, the young or old, swimmers, yoga goers, cyclers, basketballers etc! As I was observing the workout community to which I am a part of, it dawned on me that the gym is a radically individualistic, public place. From the men huffing and puffing in the weights section, to each person on their own machine, to the multiple televisions in which many people are engrossed in; there is minimal, to no conversation taking place. Granted, it is difficult to converse while simultaneously partaking in a rigorous workout, but at the gym, it’s each to his own, with each person who passes by, it is extremely rare to receive a courteous smile, much less a glance of eye contact. Maasik and Solomon referred to this behavior as “privatizing the public sphere” actions that “effectively deny the existence of all other people who occupy the same public space” (485). The community of a gym is contradictory in itself, but I was also an act of contradiction, as I processed all of this information while walking on the stair master, in my own little world: just me and my ipod in my “singular auditory realm” (486).
Maasik, Sonia & Solomon, Jack. “American Paradox: Culture and Contradiction in the U.S.A.” Signs of Life in the U.S.A. (2009): 477-486. Print.
I am employed at Grand Pacific MarBrisa Resort in Carlsbad and I work in the activities center with children. Last Thursday, I had a 4:00pm sand art activity, and six young boys showed up to participate. As their Mother’s exited the room to return when the hour was over, all of the boys smiled angelically, said bye to their moms, and began to do the craft. I initially gave all of the boys a lot of attention and assisted them, but once they got the hang of it, I stepped back and allowed them to create their own sandy masterpiece. After sitting peacefully with the cooperative boys for about 7 minutes, someone asked for my assistance in the gym. After turning my head for one moment, one boy yelled out, “SAND FIGHT ” The activities center that previously was humming in peace quickly turned into a war zone! The six boys were running around, hiding behind chairs, throwing sand, and pretending their packet of sand was a gun and firing it while verbalizing amazingly accurate gun noises! I was naïve to assume that no childish acts of rebellion would take place, after all, Deborah Blum says that boys will be boys and "bite their toast into the shape of a pistol hoping it will blow away, or at least terrify their younger brother" (574). Despite my shocked expression, and strong self-control to hold back a burst of laughter, I made all the boys sit down and we continued the activity, disregarding the beach like floor we were all standing in!
Blum, Deborah. The Gender Blur: Where Does Biology End and Society Take Over? Signs of Life in the USA. Ed. Maasik, Sonia and Soloman, Jack. 6th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 86-92. Print.
Every time I went out to take notes on people around me, I felt like a stalker, but also a person that saw everything and knew everything, kind of like the Oracle from the movie “Matrix.” Doing these blog posts more than once has taken the fun out of viewing simple humor such as the commercials during the Super bowl, but has helped me to pay attention and exploit the hidden meanings in these couple seconds of glamour. When I simply walk around the beach or sit at a restaurant, I automatically start to analyze the communal egalitarianism taking place at the pier or the elitist values that rise up while ordering food. The walk through the Valley of Death run by the semiotic Gods, Sullivan, Solomon, and Maasik was one that I will never forget, but is also one that I would never again take.
The experience I got from revising my four blog posts, I would say, was a handful, but then again made me feel accomplished when I was done. The first drafts of my blog posts were all very broad in a sense that I was lacking in vivid, striking detail, connection to the American values, and the use of concision. For example, in my 2nd blog post, “Competitiveness of the Ballers,” I did not give any description of the people in the gym so I went in and fixed it by adding what the people looked like, what kind of people they were, and so forth. In my 1st blog post “Welcome to Teri Café,” I did not have a clear connection to the American value and had two ideas of conformity and individualism confusing the reader. Therefore, I thought over what the real value was (individualism), and connected it by using a quote that a customer said. Lastly, I needed some work on concision for my 4th blog post, “Hot Beach,” since I had many unnecessary words that extended my blog. I fixed this problem by taking out couple of words that did nothing, but take up space such as “On a hot, sunny afternoon.”
My best post out of all four would have to be my fourth blog post, “Hot Beach.” This is because I took a lot of descriptive notes on this particular location and overall spent more time on this post than the others. What I thought was good about this post was that it has many vivid details of the people that were around me at the beach to show the clear social distinction that these people had with each other to help convey my connection to the American value of communal egalitarianism. This post is also effective because I only use one quote, but it successfully gets the point across that people going to the beach is like a trend in the summer. All in all, this post has helped me the most to understand how to revise correctly and helped me by being able to use it to revise my other three posts.
As summer creeps up, going to the beach becomes “the thing to do” in the city of Oceanside. Noticing this, I mingled in with the wave of people like an undercover agent and saw that communal gatherings occur at the beach starting from the bright sun and sweaty tired people turning into “trends” that “ripple through society” (Simpson 469). At the Oceanside beach right next to the pier, there were many kinds of people minding their own business and enjoying the free time which they all savor. To the left of me, there was a high class looking family of four that was relaxing, playing with the sand, and conversing. To the right of me, there was a fairly good looking high school couple that was tanning and sleeping at the same time. Lastly, diagonal to me, there was an extremely scruffy homeless man sitting on his flipped over shopping cart gazing around and observing everyone just like I was. The beach is a place where people come and escape society to experience the natural environment. Therefore, everyone comes to the beach for basically the same reason which can be looked at as communal egalitarianism as everyone comes together to one location.
Simpson, Joanne. “Multitasking State of Mind.” Signs of Life in the USA 6th Ed. Sonia Maasik
and Jack Solomon. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 469-472 Print.