Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

It seemed somewhat apropos that one of my favorite stories has a perfect title for my ending piece.  Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, by Joyce Carol Oates is a great story I suggest you read it.  It is just downright disturbing, and it is definitely somewhat sublime.  I, at least, find that I understand the the main characters action's on some instinctual level and can find no rational reason for them, this disparity in my mind produces all sorts of strange emotional responses.

Where Have You Been?

The Landscape of the Mind and Emily Dickinson

This blog originally started on the subject of the Emily Dickinson and the Landscape of the Mind, which admittedly is a wonderful topic.  I hope to come back to it at sometime in the future, because internal landscapes bear an innate characteristic of the sublime, they are like our ideas and thoughts, we can never seem to get them completely across to other people.  (Notice that the divide between people is obliquely stated in the word across.  If you are trying to get your ideas across, you are noting the divide between you.  You are trying to cross the gap that you see between you.)  I am completely aware of this because I have no talent at most forms of art and so little outlet for the images that I see in my head.  I am sure that we all have some element of this problem of communication.  I have a few ideas for what I might do with this in the future, but we will get to that in the next section.  One of my classmates, Neal, actually did his blog on landscape, and it merits further reading if you are interested.

New Media as a Medium of Intellectual Exchange

I also wanted to to incorporate new media. This at least I was able to do.  I actually throughly enjoyed being able to create a more interactive experience with my reader.  One of the great benefits of blogging is the ability to add new content.  I think I seized upon this idea almost immediately, this is most likely because I love imagery almost more than anything else in a text and the ability to show my audience even more directly what I mean is a glorious opportunity.  There are also new mediums of communication that we can use and that we as a class used to some extent, such as Diigo, commenting on each others blog, and I suspect that most of us emailed those we tried to get involved in our projects, though commenting on the blogs of others can sometimes also get them to respond.  There is a great little article on the effects of New Media on the Old Media that I pulled the picture to the right from.  If you look at it the end of the article it might give you a sublime experience.

 The Sublime, In the Beginning...

 I actually switched from the idea of Emily Dickinson and the Landscape of the Mind to the sublime after I started doing research.  I was no doubt somewhat inspired by the project of one of my peers, Katherine, who has done her project on the perception of the sublime in the Digital Age, as well as simply the sublime nature of the internet as an accomplishment, you should read more about it.

I found that abundance of the sublime in her writing to be incredible until...  I think it hit me that the sublime just is a part of the human experience.  We as human beings cannot get away from it as long as we have a finite perspective.  At first I thought it would be more difficult to find depictions of the sublime in popular media, and while it certainly does take time, usually I will have a movie or two that I want a clip from and the hardest part is finding that exact clip.  Sometimes I find something else that I like as much or more as what I was looking for in the first place.  My point, that the sublime is everywhere, and that I think is what I have taken the most out of this experience.  However, I think I need to keep going.

I explored a few ideas on my way to actually discussing my topic in a more argumentative way.  I explored, for example, the counter sublime, and the dark sublime.  Both of these altered how I looked at the sublime later.  The counter sublime, which is the attempt to make the sublime understandable, is inherently a paradox.  If you can make someone understand something then is it really sublime anymore?  However, we as humans cannot help but try to explain, and sometimes we will even manage to convey the sublime.  Most of the time, though, we find something that makes us feel the sublime and try to show that same thing to others.  I have kept this idea in mind through out my project and it has made me more aware of the method by which we try to convey the sublime.  The dark sublime did not enter as much into my discussion, though it was helpful to know how far Emily Dickinson went into the range of the human sublime.

Analysis and Transfiguration

This reference is probably one that noone will get, but I am referring to a lovely musical piece called Adagio and Trasfiguration, by Elliot Goldenthal.  I am not sure how to load a piece of music or I would do so here.  However, suffice it to say that music often is a sublime experience to me, with my skin getting goosebumps that rise from my arms and I get sensation of cold that goes up my entire body.

And here my project also gors through a transfiguration, which is. "A marked change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis." -  I can also hope that it meets the second definition, a "change that glorifies or exalts," but time will tell.  This sections main movements are mainly composed of contrast and exploration of aspects of the sublime.  Usually I examined a particular element of the sublime and showed its presence in both modern media examples and in Emily Dickinson's poetry.  As aspect of the sublime is something like faith, which I explored in relation to the conversion in Contact and Emily Dickinson's "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —"  Overall I am fairly satisfied with where I have gone in this blog and have stayed mostly on track, though there have been some minor diversions into other things like the Emily Dickinson conference (which I still think was a good idea, maybe someone else will be able to tell me how it goes).

 Where Are You Going?

Potential for Landscape in the future.

I have a few examples of landscape that I think would work well for the sublime and for internal landscapes.  These are two depictions of the afterworld.  One is What Dreams May Come, which is in reference to Shakespeare's Hamlet "To be or not to be" soliloquy.  This is actually very relevant to the story as the story is about what happens after death, and Hamlet's contemplation of suicide is also relevant.  I would also like to take a look at the landscape in The Lovely Bones.  Both of these films have the landscape as a changing and very dynamic player in its own right.  I would also like to look at dreamscapes, which appear in a number of films, though I think that the Youtube video "Her Morning Elegance" would be one especially appropriate example.  This exploration could become another whole subject in itself. 
Upholding the Status Quo 

One option is simply to continue to do what I have already been doing so far.  Emily Dickinson's poetry is vast and I am not likely to run out anytime soon.  The gamut of human emotion and experience is also vast, just look at how many books have been written, the realization of how vast human experience is can be a sublime experience.  If you wanted to live one day in the life of everyone else, assuming there are six billion people it would take almost 16.5 million years.  There is still much to do with this subject.

Distilling the Sublime 

It hit me when I was doing my blog about zombies and sickness, that we exaggerate human emotion in modern media, especially video.  Disaster movies are another great example.  We can see the peaks of human emotion in a simple drama, but there is a part of us that craves something beyond.  We desire the exceptional and the unimaginable.  And movies deliver this to us, they give us what we are looking for.  I think that this might be a worthy topic of discussion for the future.  

The End 

And just because I can, I also want to include a picture from wordle of my project so far.  I am even going to post this first and then create the wordle as a full summary of my project.  It has been wonderful, I might even can it sublime, to share with you.  I hope to continue in the future.

Andrew Morris 

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