Communications Collection

Ideas | Words | Images
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Common Book 03 | Rick and Morty

    Posted on September 17th, 2017 adennison No comments
    image_pdfimage_print

    One of the more compelling animated series to come out of Cartoon Network over the last few years has been ‘Rick and Morty’, the brain child of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. The show has become a cult hit since it’s debut in 2013, now in its third season, the shows popularity has grown with each successive installment.

    The show was originally a short spoof of the Doc and Marty dynamic of ‘Back to the Future’ created by Roiland. Although that’s as far as the similarities go to the current iteration of the concept. Rick and Morty, a grandfather and grandson duo, don’t (typically) participate in time based adventures- but jump through dimensions throughout the multiverse. There are infinite realities and infinite versions of the two main characters (and secondary characters) whom they encounter throughout some of these slightly realities many of which are slightly different from the one that the main characters presumably originate (C-137).

    The ongoing, Inter-dimensional adventures of Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith.

    The ongoing, Inter-dimensional adventures of Rick Sanchez and Morty Smith.

    However, these inter-dimensional adventures are not the true appeal of the show, they only operate as a framework in which the characters may engage the world(s). It’s Rick complete indifference to the consequences of his choices, and the implication that many of his actions in the past may have been the reason behind the destruction of various Earth realities, operates as a subtext to the interactions we see. Rick cares for no one, not even his grandchildren, as he states innumerable times that there are an infinite number of Morty’s which he can pluck form the multiverse, although at times we do see some indications that his feelings for Morty may be more substantive than he lets on.

    Of course, that could also be a ploy by the creators to lull the viewership of the show into a state of narrative familiarity which they have done form time to time within the arc of the show. We’ve seen Rick lay waste to Morty’s original reality earth (C-137) as he attempts to create a potion which will attract Morty’s high school crush but ends up creating a disease which turns all of human life into deformed mutations which they henceforth refer to as ‘Cronenbergs’, as an homage to the filmmaker David Cronenberg. They then ditch that reality and arrive at a reality in which they are about to die and take the places of the two iterations of themselves that they arrive upon just as they die in the explosion of a faulty device that realities Rick was tinkering with.

    The creators don’t shy away from showing the brutal demise of their main characters, as they have innumerable realities from which to draw more. However, we are always led to believe that we are following our ‘original’ Rick and Morty (C137) although there have been many suggestions that this is not the case. The primary Rick Sanchez whom we are following throughout the series, the ‘Rickest Rick’ of them all, is often seen body and consciousness swapping in the show and so his reality of origin isn’t clear.

    Rick and Morty search for seeds on an alien planet in the first episode.

    Rick and Morty search for seeds on an alien planet in the first episode.

    But, it’s precisely these types of narrative uncertainties and paradoxes which is a large part of the appeal of the program, I would guess. We don’t know what to feel when we see characters destroy a reality and high tail it to an identical reality where the mistakes they just made are non-factors. We are given the impression that Morty is a commodity which is just as easily replaces as a pair of shoes or a lost smartphone, the only real value being the utility of ‘the Morty’ to offset the genius brainwaves of Rick, which he uses to hide from the intergalactic federation. The fact that there are infinite realities from which to pull loved one’s makes caring for any one, unique individual pointless or at the very least, worth questioning. It is our perception of one another as unique and irreplaceable (or difficult to replace) which endows us with our intrinsic value, without that circumstantial distinction, what value do anyone of our lives have? Rick and Morty dares to ask the question.

  • Common Book 02 | Representational Ratios

    Posted on September 15th, 2017 adennison No comments
    image_pdfimage_print

    Ratios. There’s something that’s very compelling about them. When we determine the relationships between numbers, especially between numbers of men and women in a particular area of society, they reveal something.

    Some would argue that ratios of men and women in a given field are indicators of predisposition others would argue that they’re indicative of the favoritism afford one group over another.

    I came across two advertisements that made use of statistical data in two fields of employment. The advertisements focus on the sex of the majority of people within each field and the implied connotation is that the people within a professional field are not represented in the correct proportion.

    '89% of Creative Directors are men'

    ‘89% of Creative Directors are men’

    The first advertisement targets the total number of male Creative Directors are men. The first observation that came to mind is who made the determination? Were they using numbers based on self-identified Creative Directors or was that number based on Creative Directors at certain agencies?

    The tricky part about this sort of distinction is that anyone can be a Creative Director; you don’t need a degree or a license or any sort of permit- you can just start referring to yourself as a Creative Director. While there are certain assumptions that go along with characterizing oneself as such, they are not prerequisites.

    However, if that number is referring to the declared Creative Directors at the top 100 media companies, then we can look at the numbers from something more measurable. Since the ad doesn’t determine how it arrived at the figure (89%) we can’t know.

    At any rate, the implication is that that the majority of Creative Director’s are male and that ratio is somehow unjust to female Creative Directors (or potential female Creative Directors who are not being afforded the opportunity to direct creativity due to a boy’s club. This is what I’ve gathered from the phallic allusion of a limp pencil.

    So the first question this sort of advertisement begets is,’What is the correct ration of male to female Creative Directors?’ Should it be 89% female and 11% male? Should it be 50/50 because that’s the ratio of males to females within the population? If so then does that suggest that ads targeting females should have a female Creative Director and ads targeting males should have a male Creative Director? What if the product being sold is gender neutral, like bottled water? Should the Creative Director be a hermaphrodite?

     

    'About 9% of RN's are men.'

    ‘About 9% of RN’s are men.’

    In the second advertisement, we see that 91% of Registered Nurses are female. While the exact number of Registered Nurses can be more readily determined by a firm criteria, as you need to meet certain qualifications to refer to yourself as a Registered Nurse. Can we confidently state that this number indicates some unfair business practice directed at male aspirational RN’s? Are male’s being denied the opportunity to become nurses?

    The issue is not a plain as stating a ratio that is skewed in favor of one sex and claiming that this dynamic implies some sort of opportunity bias.

    Prejudice and preference all al manner of biases do exist and they do play a part in many professional fields. The question is that before we can attack or take corrective action against prejudice, we have to look at exactly what the ratios would be in an bias free world. Also, are we to assume that there are no distinctions in preoccupation between men and women? That gender is a social construct? That there are no physiological or emotional differences between the sexes?

    Well, that’s a popular assumption among post modernists, progressives, feminists, etc. and it may be true- but I’ll need to see the scientific research before I jump on board with that.

     

  • Common Book 01 | Dr. Jordan Peterson

    Posted on September 9th, 2017 adennison No comments
    image_pdfimage_print
    Dr Jordan B Peterson, Professor of Psychology & Clinical Psychologist

    Dr Jordan B Peterson, Professor of Psychology & Clinical Psychologist. University of Toronto.

    I’d like to share a portion of a lecture by Dr. Jordan Peterson who is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

    I came across Dr. Peterson’s work as a recommended video on YouTube* about a year ago. Since that point I’ve listened to his lectures and interviews regularly, each time being challenged, enlightened and entertained. The message in this particular video is one which reinforced my choice to embrace the challenge of higher mathematics. Avoiding the challenge of higher math in high school is one of the things in my life which I’ve always anguished over not having attempted. Simply put, when I made the choice not to move on to higher math and just take a rudimentary mathematics course just to get through school as easily as possible, I was opening myself up to a way of thinking and an approach to life that would affect me in several ways in my life.

    “If you can teach people to stand up in the face of the things that they’re afraid of– they get STRONGER.”

    Once you make that decision for the first time to do what is easy, what is facile, rather than what is difficult, you’re developing a habit which becomes easier and easier with each successive opportunity to make a difficult, yet more rewarding choice or an easy one, albeit ultimately less satisfying.

    Regarding Dr. Peterson, he has recently entered into the public eye after a deconstruction of a piece of Canadian legislation which resonated with many Canadians and thousands (now millions) of people across the western world. Dr. Peterson has taken it upon himself to defend western tradition against the post-modern deconstructionist movement which seeks to supplant and devalue the historic traditions which have created the society which we now  live within.

    Of course, there is a lot more to the man than that, but take a look at the video and see if you can take something of value away from it. Peterson has a tonal ease and speaking style which engages and challenges the listener without coning across as threatening. I think that is one of his greatest strength in terms of his rise to cultural icon.

    Dr. Peterson is someone whom I’d truly enjoy meeting and if  the opportunity presents itself, I think a speaking engagement at FLC would be a great service to all of the student body.

    *This is the algorithm that offers suggestions based on what you’ve previously watched cross-referenced with what other people have watched who have watched the same video as you. 

  • The Journey

    Posted on September 8th, 2017 adennison No comments
    image_pdfimage_print

    Change can create all manner of psychological and chemical responses within us, like exhilaration, confusion, fear, aggression, sadness, despair etc. depending on the degree and type of change we’re faced with. As I’ve begun this new journey as a Computer Engineering student here at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado I’m keenly aware of the heightened awareness to the changes occurring within me.

    While this isn’t my first foray into higher education, I feel it’s the most important one. My initial experience as a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh was not as fulfilling as it could have been as it was something of a compromise between circumstances and professional aspirations. While I did complete my Associates Degree, I’ll never forget what happened on my first interview after I’d graduated.

    I was interviewing with a small advertising firm in Pittsburgh and I’d shown my portfolio, taken a few computer skills tests and in the cordial discussion following these efforts, the company representative asked me if I was considering going back to school. I was a bit taken aback as I’d just graduated from AIP less than a month prior. The question was asked, not because I was incompetent in any way, but only that his perception of someone with an Associate’s Degree was that of someone with an ‘incomplete’ education as he would later state.

    Suffice it to say that I did not get that job, but the memory of that exchange stayed with me. This feeling of being an ‘incomplete’ product informed so many of my choices from then on, or I should more accurately say ‘lack of’ choices. I felt that I was less valuable and less capable than people who had their Bachelor’s Degree. Granted, this drove me harder than I may have otherwise been driven. I mastered page layout, design and all the skills that I felt would serve me in my journey as a Graphic Designer.

    Still, there was always this lingering sense of inadequacy. To be fair, that feeling didn’t originate with that interview or even at the Art Institute, that’s something that I’ve carried with me since childhood. I suppose making choices which, on some level, reinforced that perception about myself was my own doing. I had an opportunity to go to a number of different schools, but due to my own stubbornness or pride or lack of long-term thinking I undermined those opportunities in the name of… what? Self-determination, self-loathing? Perhaps a bit of both, I never took guidance well as a teenager and I always had this lingering feeling that people didn’t have my best interests in mind, that I was being deceived somehow and the best choice I could make would be to withdraw from engagement or make a contrary choice, whether it was better or worse was less important than the fact it was a choice I’d made for myself.

    A photo of a bridge taken in December of 2016. © Copyright Antoine Dennison for aden media group

    A photo of a bridge taken in December of 2016. © Copyright Antoine Dennison for aden media group

    I’ll explore some of these ideas in future posts, but that’s sufficient context for the moment.

    At any rate, the choice to enroll in college here at FLC was wholly and whole-heartedly my own decision. In the light of my experience, my regrets and hopes for my life, I can safely say that this was the best decision I could have made in consideration of all of the facts at my disposal. The Computer Engineering program is, as I’ve come to understand it, the culmination of all of the challenges and interests I’ve pursued over the last few years, as well as lingering fears and regrets.

    When I arrived at the campus for my first ‘Friday at the Fort’ experience, I’d met Dr. Ryan Haaland as well as  a number of other professors. However, it was Dr. Haaland who made the greatest impact on me. First off, he looks like the archetypical college professor- Imagine Indiana Jones in The Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dr. Haaland stated that the Physics and Engineering department was, ‘the marines’ of FLC and it’s statements like that that really get my blood pumping. All the acceptance policies aren’t particularly restrictive, I still wanted to believe that I could receive a challenging and rigorous college experience.

    Of course, college is what you make of it. Choose to be challenged and you will be, choose to take an easier route and you can do that, too. Each person has their own interests and values and that should be the primary determining factor in terms of what type of experiential path they’ll choose.

    For my part, I wanted the challenge. My goal in coming to FLC and choosing to enroll in the new Computer Engineering program as my major was to really push the envelope in terms of my own capabilities. I wanted to take on the greatest challenge I was capable of and to explore the field of robotics, artificial intelligence development, electrical and structural engineering was that thing.

    I’d already been moving toward developing a greater understanding of the frameworks and development tools used to create all of the Apps, games, desktop programs and interconnected experiences that we have classified as, ‘The Internet of Things’ (IoT).

    Further, this new challenge would allow me to address some of those areas of my life and personal development that I’d been hiding from, ignoring or carrying around as my personal cross. My objective in coming here is to be challenged, fail, try again, fail, try again and eventually, with persistence, perseverance and a good dose of stubbornness- succeed. I’m tired of being afraid of failure; using it as a justification for ideas about my own inadequacy and intelligence.

    I start this journey from a place of resignation and anonymity. Resignation in that I can’t bring myself to care anymore about my failures and fears, I’ve got nothing but the road ahead; no apologies, no excuses just forward movement. Anonymity in that I don’t care about the man that I hoped or feared I was or thought I should have been or was ashamed to admit I was, only forward movement without using the past as a justification or defense.

    That’s the mandate.


    I’ll use this blog as a mechanism by which I’ll  share my thoughts about the world, the challenges I’m facing as well as original content and commentary on life, ideas and various media.

    Antoine Dennison
    antoine.dennison@gmail.com | adennison@fortlewis.edu


Hit Counter provided by laptop reviews