New Blog

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For my final project I have begun a new blog to research the connection between language and spirituality.

New Blog!

Feel free to check it out, I’d love for you guys to comment on my content and design. I’m working on my first post currently, so there isn’t much going on yet but I feel very inspired by this topic so there will be plenty to look at soon!

Outcomes Achieved!

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The learning outcomes as per FLC and Bill (Learning Outcomes) require experience with critical thinking, rhetorical knowledge, writing conventions, and research methods.

During our class discussion July 3rd, we proved that sitting in a half circle and blogging can fulfill these requirements, and probably more so than you’d think.

In the classroom, during our discussions, is where the critical thinking and recognition of various rhetorical knowledge has occurred. Bill pushes us to give thoughtful comments with in sites to personal opinions and experience. This is what, I think, has been the most beneficial part of Comp 250. Our conversing allows us to grow as scholars in ways that essays cannot. With papers, you get no feed back on your thoughts until after the paper has been turned in, and often times students don’t even read the feedback their professor gives. However, with our in-class discussions, we are able to get the input of 11 other scholars, and our professor before we even have sat down to write. With this being said, I also want to comment on the success of blogging.

The blogs serve to help us understand and develop the use of multimodal discourse, as well as writing conventions beyond the breadth of essays. The accessibility and casual nature of blogs allows me to feel very comfortable about the style and content of my posts. In the past I have felt that my writing reflected not my own opinion, but rather the opinion that I thought would best fit my writing prompt, or my professor. With blogging, this has never been a worry, the opinions and expressions on this blog are purely mine, and I am proud of the work I have done.

I think that as a class, we have more than fulfilled the learning outcomes, and I love the fact that we have such passion that many students are moving toward a group project that just may end up impacting the future of FLC Comp classes forever.

Resonance

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A vibration that stays loud, clear, and deep for a long time…

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To me, these are the qualities of thought that let me know I have taken in something truly meaningful. When I can’t get something out of my head, and it continuously resurfaces in my day to day interactions and dreams I think of this as resonance.

With this course, I’ve definitely experienced this phenomena. In everyday conversations genres have popped up, and I’ve been far more aware of my use of language, whatever its form.

I think that everything we take in, through all our various senses, has a resonance with us. This our experience, and it’s all we’ve got to base our perception of the world off of.

Language is our source of sharing our experiences, and connecting to our fellow humans. It is our lifeline in the darkest of times, and expression of love in the lightest.

This class has opened my eyes to the possibilities of language and they ways in which it can be manipulated to better suit the needs of others or myself. This is a truly significant lesson, which will stay deep and clear with me for the rest of my life.

GeoGenrology

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I love the Geology department here at Fort Lewis. The subject is great, the professors are amazing, and my fellow geologists have become some of my best friends.

We frequently do Geo Dinners, where we all get together to eat, drink, complain about assignments, and sometimes talk about subjects unrelated to rocks. As time has gone on I’ve invited various friends to partake in, what i think, is an amazing time that no one could refuse. However, time and time again I’ve heard “You guys are great, but I just have no clue what you’re talking about.”

And it’s true. We go off, we love our major! How could we not? And it certainly doesn’t help that our subject is littered with innuendoes and punnable words: cleavage, thrusting, cummingtonite, joints, bedrock, schist, gneiss, granite, stress, dike, apatite, orogeny. The list literally goes on and on!

Exhibit A:

typical geology humor

typical geology humor

Since this Comp class has begun I’ve noticed genres everywhere. It’s amazing how upon breaking down everyday conversations you start to understand how social groups form, why cultures can be immiscible, how to effectively communicate, and why my “regular” friends can hold a conversation with my geo friends.

We have our own culture, our own language. We learn all of these terms that really only exist within the boundaries of geology, and when you try to use them in other situations, they become awkward and inappropriate.

If I want to try to explain what I learned in class to my mom, I have to drop the terminology and use metaphors or other means of conveying my thoughts than the way my professor originally explained it. Often there is miscommunication or misunderstanding, because she doesn’t have the background context for these ideas.

Recognizing this I often just change the subject, seeing a wave of relief wash over her face. I think she regrets asking me about school more often than not…

This recognition is significant though! It’s incredibly important to meet our audience on a common ground. If there appears to be an uneven playing field people will check out, and miss your message, assuming its either above their heads or that you’re just a pompous asshole.

Language Vs. Communication

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Our discussion in class Tuesday June 17th about the difference of language and communication sparked this memory of a book I recently read: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.

I am here not only to evade for a while the clamor and filth and confusion of the cultural apparatus but also to confront, immediately and directly if it’s possible, the bare bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which sustains us. I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities, anti-Kantian, even the categories of scientific description. To meet God or Medusa face to face, even if it means risking everything human in myself. I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a nonhuman world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock. [6]

 

Arches National Park, where Desert Solitaire was written

Arches National Park, where Desert Solitaire was written

We mentioned this idea of placing human emotions on animals and objects (personification), and that this may cloud our understanding of the world. This is exactly what Abbey was writing about.

By continuously classifying and categorizing everything we see, we feel as if we have control of our environments. However, this puts the world in a box. How can you truly get to know a thing when it is totally consumed by the shadows of your preexisting experiences and interpretations (which, by the way, were sculpted by your cultural upbringings)?

In the context of language vs. communication: this implies that we may not ever entirely understand if animals or trees have language or can communicate because the very act of analyzing the situation through our human perspective alters the reality of its being.

There are many things that we do not, and may not ever understand in this world but the important thing to remember is that just because you do not understand something does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

Alas, it is far more interesting (or perhaps easier?) to think that your dog rushes to the door to greet you because he loves you and missed you while you were out running errands, rather than assuming this communication just boils down to “OMG I need to piss/eat/shit/run soooo bad!”

Words as Weapons

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Words as Weapons

Words as Weapons

Chapter 8 of Language titled “Fighting Words” contains a collection of articles which aim to prove that words can and have been used as weapons.

A weapon is defined as an object, skill, or idea that can be used to either defend or harm oneself and/or others. By this outline, words certainly can be viewed as weapons. Racial slurs, bullying, gender bias, condemnation, are just a few of the multitudes of examples in which words are used in order to trigger a specific emotional response. The emotional response itself, however, is generally not the end goal of this tormenting.

In order to get someone to do what you want, there typically needs to be some sort of incentive or persuasion. By breaking someone down to a state of emotional instability, it is often far easier to convince them to say, do, or think as you desire. Herein lies the attraction of this idea to politicians, corporations, the mainstream media, teenage girls, religions, and significant others.

So, how can verbal abuse be achieved?

There are many approaches to verbal manipulation, to name a few common strategies:

Withholding: refusing to share thoughts/ideas in order to gain leverage in the situation.

Discounting/Trivializing: minimizing thoughts, feeling, perceptions, experiences, and/or the accomplishments of others.

Threatening/Ordering: implying harm as a display of dominance over another.

Accusing: usually in an attempt to excuse oneself by shifting the blame.

With all of this being said, why is verbal abuse proven time and time again to be so effective? What is it about words and their power over us that makes us cringe, cry, scream, and submit?

 

Lost Knowledge

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“You Can’t Google It and Get It Back” by Joanna Eede the second article of the 10th chapter in Language discusses the implications of loosing a language (let alone thousands) to the human race. It is estimated that a language is lost about every two weeks.

I agree that the ramifications of loosing these languages is immense. The languages of indigenous cultures have this raw connection to the land that has nurtured and protected them, and is unique to each region.

For example, there are many tribes in Alaska that have hundreds of words to describe the nature, texture, and significance of various types of snow and ice. This comes out of necessity; by understanding and being able to describe these differences in crystal structure, or freeze-thaw patterns and the resulting formations, something can be understood about the conditions of the area at the time. Temperature, strength of structure (whether the ice is safe to cross), time of year (seasonal cycles) are a few that come to mind.

By loosing these languages we are really loosing our connection to nature, and an understanding of the world as it was before technology drained our brains and trapped us in doors with all the lights and sounds of our never-ending pile of gadgets.

 

 

We’re loosing these original “insights–ideas about what it is to be human; to live, love. and die” (315.) So many answers to our problems may have once existed out there, conceived in the minds of native cultures, long turned to dust.

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How do we counter this loss? Can we ever regain these insights again?

Perhaps this cycilical birth and death of languages is as inevitable as the fate of every thing else that has ever come to exist…

 

“If Words Could Kill”

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The first article in Chapter 8; “Fighting Words” in Language,  is written by Rebecca Solnit and is titled “When the Media is the Disaster.”

She begins by describing a horrible scene playing on the news. A reporter tells of the aftermath of a great disaster, say a hurricane, where a “looter” has been tackled and bound for taking a case of evaporated milk from a broken and abandoned market.

She goes on : “The perpetrators go un punished…they act without regard for consequences. Im talking, of course, about those members of the mass media…” (237.)

Here she states that the crime is not the looting but rather the reporting. It suddenly all flashed back to me, some how I’ve missed this in every report on natural disasters I’ve ever seen. Reporters are always concerned more with the damaged and “looted” property than the human lives that that property just might have saved.

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The police are the victims…

I realized now that a disaster is a genre that these reporters have failed to recognize. Disasters are defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “an event that happens suddenly and causes much suffering or loss to many people; something that has a very bad effect or result; a complete or terrible failure.” I like that last phrase “a complete failure.”

By changing the circumstances of these peoples lives, the rules change too. What may have been socially unacceptable last week just might be the act that saves yours and other’s lives today.

So why make these ordinary people, who are just doing their best to adapt to this traumatic event into criminals? I just can’t figure this one out…what agenda is the media serving by reporting this skewed view??

Solnit quotes Woody Guthrie’s line “Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen” (242.) How appropriate, the system continues to work itself like a thirteen year-old boy.

 

 

Genre’s soo last season…

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Genre; this word will never again be as simple to me as hipster, sci-fi, indie-rock, or soft-core. After a two hour long discussion in class, it turns out that filling out your tax forms, entering a password, hash-tagging, and high-fiving are all genres too, of language specificly.

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A hipster for reference

Carolyn Meller defines genres as “typified responses” to social and/or rhetorical situations. This means that as a culture we have come to define what we deem as “socially acceptable” responses to the various reoccuring situations that we encounter. By conforming to these unspoken rules we are able to effectively communicate and function in a multitude of different social environments.

For example you may, as do I, curse like a sailor and lay a thick coat of sarcasm over literally everything (no, just me?) when you are speaking with your home-dogs. However, this would not be appropriate communication to use to engage a professor, client, or your grandmother.

As I began to think of all of the various genres we discussed, one came to mind that no one brought up. Fashion!

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Dirty vans *no socks*, my favorite accessory

Im sure everyone realizes this, I’m certainly not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, and I really don’t have any astounding or even original thoughts to share here. I would just like to call attention to this genre of our social language.

There are obviously very specific occasions for certain articles of clothing, others can pass in several situations. For example, your furry boots, bra, and glitter might be appropriate at last night’s Bassnectar concert, but it wouldn’t be even remotely appropriate to wear to an interview, class, work, or any hour between 6am and 10pm (probably not even then!)

In case you were having a hard time visualizing

In case you were having a hard time visualizing

What you wear says a lot about you whether you want it to or not. Some people care more than others and this can depend of a lot of factors: location, age, gender, position, time of day, season, event and thousands of others.

Just something to consider, another form of communication you can either choose to use to your advantage or not.

 

Writing/Designing, So What?

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Chapter 9 “How Do We Use Sources Responsibly” in So What? written by Schick and Schubert (2014) speaks of the importance of citation, and the responsibilities that we have as scholars to properly and appropriately cite the resources that we use to help shape the arguments we form.

“We create arguments from sources by responsibly borrowing and building on the words and thoughts of other scholars…to support your arguments; dont let them dominate your writing” (Schick and Schubert 209.)

Taking this knowledge, and now applying it to another text Writer/Designer by Kristin L. Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl E. Ball, which is essentially a guide to interpreting and creating multimodal arguments.

Anything that is “multimodal” is exactly how it sounds, something that occurs in “multiple modes” or medias, for example using visuals and music within a speech (three modes.) We can use multiple kinds of resources to help strengthen our arguments by displaying that their importance and influence extends beyond the lecture hall.

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To effectively do this, we must be able to “articulate a text’s rhetorical situation” (Arola et. al. 4), which is defined by its audience (primary, secondary, and tertiary), purpose, context, author, and genre. These components will drive design choices that an author makes in order to most effectively reach out to, and ultimately pursued, the audience(s) in question.

Design elements to be considered include emphasis, contrast, organization, alignment, and proximity. When used correctly, this elements can be a powerful tool. They can allow you to make certain points stand out, or to help the audience draw connections between points of evidence to easily reach the desired conclusion. Colors, sounds, pictures, and words with known connotations with your audience can be targeted and emphasized or contrasted.

Contrast being used to support an argument

Contrast being used to support an argument

These elements are also used to strengthen your argument, so it will withstand the criticism it is inevitably going to face.

This knowledge is significant because people are tapping into our values and thoughts everyday, trying to pursued us to buy, vote, attend, or stop using things. By recognizing how and why this occurs we are able to become an active member of this multimodal battle, rather than passively buying and doing things that we do not understand the repercussions of. We can even use this understanding to become a voice for our own opinions, to maybe even change the world!