It seems that Sontag's point was that we should experience things for what they are. She doesn't want us the try and pull content from them, but rather to hear, see, and feel. This relates to the tool of writing organically following what you are curious about. By ignoring how the content might be "meant" to be interpreted we can instead look at what seems important to us and from there we can write about that, as it appears to us.
My assignment for Play in the City II would be to go view a work of art, or a performance, or listen to a live piece of music or a book reading and write a stream of consciousness. There would be no analytical goal, you should just write what you are thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing as it happens. From there you can follow what you are curious about and examine it more closely in your essay. This follows the idea that we talked about in class that we should use Sontag's practice to experience, but our tools to analyze and write.
Play In The City
How Should We View Art?
In my viewing of The Postman at The Barnes Foundation, I experienced two different ways in which to experience the painting. After writing my paper, learning more about the history, and participating in class discussion, I have begun to question those two techniques. More importantly, I began to question which method was better. Is the experience of viewing art, and learning, through feeling and emotional connection better than through analyzing the details?
My automatic reaction to The Postman led me to view the painting through feeling. I made an emotional connection with the painting and I let it speak to me. I did not try to think about certain things, nor did I try to become thoughtless. The thoughts that ran through my head contained a range of emotions and resulted in the urge to cry. I felt like I truly saw the real beauty in the painting, and without any outside influence. I was aware of the experience I was having in a way not unlike deep play. Surely this was the best possible way to view a piece of art, the best way to learn.
Knowledge about the Barnes Foundation's history has changed my outlook on the new Barnes Foundation and the art within its walls. I have a high respect for Albert Barnes that I didn't have before. He spent his life collecting all of these amazing pieces of art so that he could protect them. He didn't care about their worth. He cared about the works for the pieces of art that they were. He wanted to guard them from the people of the art world that cared more about their monetary value than there inherent worth. It makes me very happy to know that there are people that really do care about these works and wanted to give the most common citizens access to them. And importantly, he didn't just wants to see the art, he wanted us to learn from it. I feel like I tried my best to do this during my viewing of The Postman. I'm still figuring out how I want to improve my essay, but these are some thoughts I had after class on Thursday.
Play In The City
I have never really had an emotional connection to a painting before. I found the notion of crying simply because of a painting ridiculous. How could a simple canvas inspire do much emotion? At the Barnes Foundation I learned exactly this.
As soon as I saw one of the famous Postman paintings, off in a corner, neglected by the crowded room, I was drawn to him. Having gone round in the wrong order, this was the last room that I had left to visit, and I still hadn’t decided what work of art I wanted to view for half an hour. As I made my way over his eyes drew me in. The brilliant light blue contrasted with the rich royal blue of his uniform and hat. They seemed to have a gleam in them, like he was on the verge of tears. As I stared into those eyes I found my own eyes watering too. This surprised me. What was making me so emotional? It could have been influenced by the emotional day I was having outside of the Barnes, the Postman did not look like my granddad, but I found my mind wandering to him and the funeral that was taking place on the other side of the world. Even so it was very strange to me that I had to suppress the urge to cry in the middle of Room 2 of the Barnes Foundation.
17 Broder Crossings contained many aspects of deep play in many ways. The most obvious deep play was Thadeus Phillips and his performance. It was clear to anyone in the audience that Thadeus was in the moment and was exhilarated, with adreneline flowing through him. His was not only physically engaged but also mentally engaged in his performance, and I truly believe he was experiencing deep play. But deep play was not only was found on the stage, it could also be found in the audience. From the very begining we were all enthralled. By having us close our eyes and imagine we were in the train, Phillips pulled us into the performance. From then on I felt like I was in every location and imagined experiencing all of the crossings he recreated. I felt very invested in the crossings, I realize now that I was experiencing some of the aspects of deep play.
Play In The City
Deep Play in Critical Writing
Play In The City
Solitary confinement. Two words today known as one of the worst types of punishment. However, back in 1829, solitary confinement was thought to be the solution to crime in America. Reformers thought that they could help criminals rather than merely punishing them. They hoped this brand new prison system would be the start of a great reformation across the country. However, human nature is not made for solitary confinement. The conditions of the prison began to cause a huge detriment to both the prisoners and the workers. Both groups had to struggle to keep from growing insane, causing an even bigger tension between the two groups. However, once the prisoners and guards realized that they weren’t all that different, they were able to work together to create a better environment for the both of them.
Eastern state penitentiary is an exemplary pioneer in the pursuit of reforming prisoners through isolation. Eastern state was a place for prisoners to come to terms with what they’d done, and to pray in solitude for forgiveness. It should work [be]cause the nature of human beings is kindness, so as long as they stay alone and contemplate, they will eventually find the way to their true heart. Upon their release they would live more wholesome lives.
Eastern State was more torture or prison than reform center. Eastern State tried to mentally break me down with silence and darkness. Eastern State Penitentiary is an unusual prison where inmates rarely have the chance to communicate with others, which makes me try to find ways to talk to other inmates more. Solitary confinement was not a situation to be accepted without a fight. Eastern State was an eerie place, not necessarily having the effects on its prisoners it hoped to. It is a place where prisoners try to fight against isolation, which is meant by the builders in order to make the inmates contemplate and reflect towards reformation. The prison would seem useless-does it really do anything for reform and penitence? The methods were so damaging to the human spirit.
Play In The City
The Sole Author: Keisha's Identity through Existentialism
Child birth was not quite what Keisha expected it would be. She had heard the stories of countless others. She seemed to think she might experience some sort of epiphany. Instead, Keisha experiences it almost from a third person perspective, detached and candid about the whole thing while under a haze of drugs. There is a sense that something is missing. And in fact there is, “the brutal awareness of the real that she had so hoped for and desired…failed to arrive” (Smith 323). She had been told it would be “like meeting yourself at the end of a dark alley” however giving birth is very uneventful for Keisha (Smith 323).
Throughout NW Keisha seems to be searching for something. She keeps looking for opportunities and ways in which she can define herself. Keisha even hopes that giving birth will be what she is looking for. She wants a life altering experience, one that is “large or brutal enough to disturb” what she calls “an image system at work in the world”, but “this moment never arrives” (Smith 322). There is one moment where “she almost thought she possibly felt it” (Smith 323). This ‘it’ being some sort of life changing moment in which Keisha ‘finds herself’. Where she can finally define her identity. What she gets instead in that ‘almost moment’ is a reminder that the “entity Natalie Blake” does not exist (Smith 324).