Class Notes: 9/23/10

rachelr's picture

 9/23/10

Anne: talks about web papers, highlights ones she has read since last class. And JMac coming?? Upcoming class schedule, etc etc. Watch Johnny Cash’s Long Black Veil. Is Solnit’s description of this true?

TyL: overdramatic.

ckosarek: yes for genre as a whole, not every song.

veritatemdelixi: these have pieces of the blues, and they are picked to illustrate her point.

Anne: every experience can be told in different ways- extenuate what is lost of what will come next. Amanda had question about being lost.

TyL: “only way to live is to get lost” becoming lost becomes the norm and then you don’t get lost anymore.

Anne: she’s saying we should seek out getting lost, but then it becomes predictable.

ckosarek: mapped unknown shows you what you don’t know and it somewhat becomes known. Limitations of Solnit’s ideas.

Anne: loss can lead to discovery

Anne: map that first convinced me of the fictionality of maps was 2004 map of red/blue states. Divides voters up by counties, not by states. Less divisive, looks purple. Class centered around arts of “loss.” Book encourages us to get lost, end of book is a guide to loss. Is loss recuperated?

SandraGandarez: the way she talks about artists seems dismissive because they don’t solve or find anything.

TyL: I think she dismisses science because scientists get rid of unknown.

Anne: scientists get rid of the joy/mystery of the unknown. Religion raptures in that, don’t need to understand everything. Let’s look at images of sites of loss, starting in ruins.

TyL: could have poked around ruins in Greece all day- alluring. Not so much old as ancient- the idea that people lived there but can’t imagine that now, living there and using the ruins.

Anne: is that what Solnit is saying?

TyL: I couldn’t imagine even though I was trying, so it did have a sense of the unknown.

ckosarek: Richmond the burning. Image of people walking was horrifying.

FatCatRex: Abandoned house, as kids wanted to play there because alluring w/ creepy factory and forbidden. Had life at one point but now doesn’t leave space for life to go on from it. Can be emotionally connected to a place.

Anne: Gap between the habitable and the inhabitable

SandraGandarez: opinion on ruin would be based on how it became ruined. If it was ruined by age, that’s different than destruction.

Anne: images of mentally ill hospitals shows incredible loss.

ckosarek: abandoned sanitarium, about what had happened there, both when open and when druggies and homeless people would squat there.

FatCatRex: most striking are ones that have faded out, on a road to nonexistence, not when its been obliterated.

pfischer: Nazi Architect letter about Olympic stadium to be a “good ruined” and designed on how it will look when ruined.

tgarber: Search through ruins at  CA mission, for Native Americans it was a sign of torture, would buy catholic memorabilia. People still pray there, but knowing Spanish history changes outlook.

TyL: Intense events may leave “active cosmic residue,” like ghosts at these spots. Ruins like sanatorium give sense of delicious creepiness.

kgould: doesn’t believe in supernatural, but loves to read that stuff. Why do I like that?

tgarber: Feel the same way, find it fascinating.

platano: it’s the unknown

Aya Seaver: safety net, you know that you don’t believe it. People who don’t believe in it probably have a more mystical experience because they are surprised by their reaction.

Anne: Solnit quote. When people build cities they are building a landscape and the mind. As it decays it becomes interesting because less about consciousness and more about unconsciousness.

TyL: A map of my mind would need teleporters. I get distracted when talking to someone and then I have to build bridges to connect these ideas to what I was talking about.

Anne: I agree- new quote. What would our mind’s look like inside?

Sandra Gandarez: a maze. When I’m looking straight ahead I can see what I know but sometimes I know nothing about something else and I can’t see it.

pfischer: Mine like a web. Web less structured than a maze, changes more fluidly.

TyL: top (conscious) is a projection room, and the subconscious (cavern), subterranean expanse of rooms.

FatCatRex: two rooms (zone). Academic has a framework of an organized setting, with file cabinets. A few steps beyond is a space w/ no gravity, slow motion zone (maybe underwater?) movement slowed, things float.

veritatemdelixi: mind like a monkey swinging through the branches, remember the branch only when you’re on it.

kgould: The way we connect neurons in brains it never-ending, like a galaxy.

EVD: currently taking neuroscience. I think mine would be similar, can label every neuron connection as you learn something and see it connected. Label as much as possible but it would be impossible, so as many labels as possible.

tgarber: Like an amusement park, lots of things going on, people walking through.

platano: bunch of rooms, the more familiar it is, the bigger the room.

Owl: Hogwarts, the inside. The stairs would move- confusing because don’t you get on to go to a specific place.

jaranda: Taylor registrar’s office- a filing cabinets. Fairly organized.

kgould: Julia has an amazing memory.

veritatemdelixi: I forget that people don’t think the same as me, we are having the same conversation, why don’t you understand it?

Anne: what is the relationship between the inside and the outside, physically?

Aya Seaver: when I think of my mind it’s non-spatially represented. We don’t fit into the physical reality with our mind.

FatCatRex: but our imagination is real because it’s based on the real world

veritatemdelixi: physics conversation: deep down we all believe that we are going to live forever. Our minds can’t think about our own mortality.

Anne: who thinks that we will live forever?

SuperMarioGirl: think like Aya- all I can think of is the actual physical description of a brain, the connections and neural pathways.

rachelr: changes every day

maht91: chaos, but slightly organized chaos. It’s more organized outside than inside.

Anne: Solnit says space inside head is growing as space outside shrinks. We all know so little and we can get lost on that space. Naming a space that shaped us. Can we name a place that is who we are?

tgarber: I couldn’t just say one. My grandma’s house, my schools, places I’ve been.

SandraGandarez: my first home, my now home, Bryn Mawr. Each one has given certain aspects about myself.

Anne: less what places made you and more what places represent who we are.

SuperMarioGirl: I understand that. First place is Austin, TX, I fit in there, I understand those people. My grandparent’s house, I feel like a piece of my is there, and Utah, I resonate in the mountains.

TyL: wondering about loss that can shape you. Grandparent’s beach house in Massachusetts. Sold went 13, lost Madison, haven’t gone back because too painful.

Anne: yes places you lost might be more who you are.

kgould: moved across the country, hard for me to do. I used to have an internal compass about where home is. When went back to hometown to visit bf had a panic attack because lost orientation.

Anne: contrast between geo and egocentric. Some people always know where they are because they are focused on N, S, E, W. What would Solnit say about our discussions about “fictionality” about fact.

EVD: thought about Shields when reading the dreams sections. Shields: memories are all fictionalized. Solnit would say all our thoughts come from us and inside us and comes from our experiences, so no fiction.

Anne: shaping or construction of fiction because of how dreams, etc are constructed.

Aya Seaver: if we dream about a father after he dies we are in contrast to what we have accepted as real- wish fulfillment. But it comes from part of our brain.

Anne: what else would Solnit say?

Aya Seaver: Shields somewhat against creativity, she says wander to find new things. Shields would say we are wandering around public construct.

FatCatRex: similar- if wandering around it doesn’t matter who said what- it’s your experience that is relevant. What does what Shields say tie into his experiences?

EVD: shows that because she says she felt lost when went to childhood home

veritatemdelixi: getting lost a factual experience on some level.

Anne: still stuck on what Aya said- unknowns that we don’t know that we know etc. etc. Also things we cannot know. Shields would say no we know everything, already said it, just mashing it up.

Aya Seaver: Solnit full of reference, name drops. Shields would be opposed. Didn’t enjoy book.

Anne: I pick books I love but I’m 40 yrs older.

Aya Seaver: I feel a wall between who she is and how I read.

Anne: can you describe this wall?

Aya Seaver: I can post…

kgould: talked about deciding to get lost and become comfortable doing so, maybe need to find a new way to get lost. You need to keep pushing. I would be more comfortable if I was dropped in the middle of the forest than dropped in the middle of the ocean. I would be completely lost (screwed).

Anne: (talks about Solnit, Julia reads quote, Marina reads quote). Main point- Solnit calls nonfiction photographic, has ethical obligation to what is out there. She became a historian to find the “truth.” Photographs are eminently mutilatable- pictures don’t tell the whole story. Photo of jumping, can’t see the people below to catch. Solnit draws claims from own experiences, shows lessons we should all learn based on what she has done/learned. Advocates that everyone should get lost and passes judgments on people today for both getting lost and not getting lost.

 

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Owl's picture

Continued notes for 9/23/10

We started off the class by listening to a country song (“The Long Black Veil”) that Solnit pin points to express and depict her own experience of “ irrecoverable loss and error.” Most class members felt the song to be over dramatic. Furthermore, as veritatemdelixi stated, she used that certain song of that particular genre, similar to how she used Tanya Tucker’s Delta Dawn in another part of her novel, to illustrate her own experience. This led us to the conclusion that “every experience can be told in multiple ways- it can be mapped in many different ways” (Anne). But when we talk about “mapping” something we automatically assume it is found. Therefore, “getting lost” becomes a paradox in which “becoming lost becomes the norm and then you don’t get lost anymore” (TyL). This goes contrary to the path that Solnit is trying to guide us in, in order to get lost, because loss is supposed to lead to discovery, from her perspective.

We continued the conversation then to discuss Solnit’s opinion on artists and scientists. Although one person believed   Solnit to be dismissing artists, the class concurred that in fact, Solnit is for the artists, for the artist explores the unknown more than science does. From here we went on to discuss images of ruins. Thinking of images of ruins, through the “getting lost” lens, we were left with a question as to what ruins teach us about loss. Some felt that ruins are alluring because you want to imagine the unknown, you want to imagine what used to be there, but you can’t seem to because a ruin is supposed to be inhabitable, that is the definition of ruin. Some felt it to be horrifying, for thinking that a place of ruin once had life seems inconceivable in the sense that it is inhabitable. If it is not rebuilt than how can life exist there anymore. This reminded me of the story behind the Buffalo Creek Disaster of 1972. A coal mine slurry impoundment dam ended up exploding, ruining the lives of the people that inhabited the small village in Virginia, and flooding their entire town. Unlike the disasters that occurred in New York on 9/11 or with Hurricane Katrina, the people of that village were incapable of regrouping there and living there because the disaster had been too much for them. They realized that they were being controlled and manipulated by the Coal Mining Company, and therefore they were lost; they lost a sense of who they were, because it was as if they were puppets being controlled by their master. This I think elaborates on SandraGandarez’s statement: “my opinion on ruin would be based on how it became ruined. If it was ruined by age, that’s different than destruction.”

So what is fact or fiction? We shape it and construct it to fit into our mind and the physical aspects of life. Can we ever be lost if even our dreams are constructed? Can something be fact in your mind and fiction in the physical world?

 

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