Where Are We Headed?

30 04 2010

It is impossible to guess a completely accurate account of the far off future because there will be circumstances that have not occurred yet that will help shape it, however not as distant future is more possible to see because of current common trends.  With the influx of new technology, the world has become a global village.  News travels within a few seconds it is discovered.  This sets us about from other generations in the past.  The internet has already shaped modern day by its availability to have knowledge with a click.  Also, it connects the world in a way that has never been possible.  Whenever I’m on the internet, I’m able to communicate to people almost anywhere.  Since I would consider myself a normal American citizen, the accessibility to internet and a computer is almost encompassing everyone.  The internet can be used as a tool for an immense amount of data and research.  The quickness of discovering what you are looking for (the majority of the time) creates the mindset that everything needs to be as quickly efficient.  Things need to be done in a timely manner… more than a timely manner.  They need to be done early.  Quick quick QUICK!  This is both going to be a positive and negative personality traits.  The positive influences are that it will cause a higher expectation of efficiency with businesses and governmental departments.  I believe that it will help make local and state governments more competent and resourceful.  Higher expectations can and will help various governmental agencies and those who need their services.  Also, I believe the average person in the future will be asked to perform tasks in a shorter amount of time which will make it harder in the work field.  This will cause successes, however, I believe it will take a toll on the workers.  Because there will be so much expected of them, their stress level will be higher than generations before in the work field.  Another negative effect of this current mindset which will only increase is that quality of items might continue to decrease.  I think it will continue to decrease in the food industry because the customers want the quickness of having the meal instead of the quality.  Most Americans do not want to wait for a meal when it takes awhile even though it can be a nice time for conversation.  That is one of the things I really enjoy about Europe.  Dinner is an event.  It’s all about the conversations.  I feel that for many Americans going out to restaurants is taken advantage of by both the customer not wanted to wait (I want it NOW!), and the staff wants to make more money so their goal is to work as many customers as possible.  Living in a society where things need to be done quickly and a race for money is so important, it’s only second nature for this to be true. When you can make something cheap and quickly, it’s often the first choice of employers.  In Europe, I wonder if they will head towards a more Americanized view of eating in restaurants, however I feel that having a long dinner is such a part of their culture that they have a chance to not fall into this certain aspect of quickness.  Life does move more slowly in Europe, however, I feel that it will begin to speed up.  Not to the American standard, but much more than how it is currently.  Global communication and a unity (because of the communication) will arise even more in the future.  Future history won’t look at those time periods as completely separate as histories from country to country as we do now looking at, for example the 1600s.  Our histories will be more combined because we aren’t as isolated from each other as we used to be.  The world is becoming everyone’s.  This is true today, but in the future it will become increasing more true.  Music has begun to take influences from around world and combined styles.  It is getting difficult to differentiate where some music comes from in this modern age.  The internet is becoming more and more prevalent, and in turn it is causing easy exposure to music from anywhere.  The world’s music is influencing each other, and by doing that, it is allowing building creativity.  There is so much access to types of instruments (easily able to produce their sounds from technology programs like GarageBand).  It’s even relatively easy to become a citizen in another country.  The cultures are in a melting pot, and it’s influencing many aspects of daily life.  We are beginning to see a history with the world that is combining us all.  I think it can be a positive thing; however, the main qualm I have with a merging history is national identity.  I think it’s a bit of a tragedy that a lot of countries are slowly losing their customs and traditions.  We’re all becoming similar, and the things that separated us culturally are beginning to shrink exponentially.  Being different doesn’t have to be a bad thing, and when it comes down to it, we are all different regardless because none of us have come from the same backgrounds.  On the other hand, it can also be a good thing because now we are able to have more of a chance to relate to others from various parts of the world. There is a certain aspect of this unity that I could never imagine happening, combining of languages.  I believe that although some national identity has lessened, it won’t lessen to the point of switching to English.  The only thing that this unity will help is the learning of new languages.  I hold a belief that more Americans will try to learn new languages in the future.  I think the availability to access other countries and communication with them will cause many more Americans to explore other languages.  We are not the closed off world we used to be.

Turned in at 10:00PM on April 29.

The Feast of Knowledge

1 04 2010

What is the proper way of learning?  More importantly, which way is the most beneficial to our mind, soul, and heart?

To be a human is to be curious.  And with curiosity is the urge to learn.  A quote that was given in class for all the students to think over was, “We learn not by being told but by being puzzled and excited.”  I’ve thought over it, and this is what I would like to say:

This quote is talking about the ideal mindset of a person when learning.  With that mindset, the best sort of learning occurs.  It causes a passion behind the knowledge.  With passion, the knowledge learned has infinite directions it can lead.  Everyone knows what it is like to be forced to learn something that they weren’t puzzled or excited over.  A lack of passion doesn’t mean it is impossible to learn when told.  However, that knowledge without a spark will only lead to a stagnant end.  Being human is all about discovering and being in awe and amazement.  That is what most people desire most in life.

I believe everyone has a passion within himself or herself to learn about something.  What a dull and unfulfilled life it would be without a spark.  The infinite amount of knowledge in the world of astounding.  It would be stupid to not explore any different facet of the world.  I believe the desire of knowledge begins in everyone at a young age.  It needs to be nurtured so it will be able to grow.

My first vivid memory about a spark while learning was when I was near kindergarten.  I became fascinated when I finally understood the concept of “the world”.  All of the sudden, I wanted to travel everywhere, and to experience every culture.  I couldn’t believe that my little world in New Mexico looked differently from other people’s worlds.  I loved the concept of other countries and different languages.  I used to just stare at world maps.  I even would draw my own.  For such a little child (being the shortest student in my grade all through elementary school), I had very large dreams of traveling.  In my childhood home, there was the beautiful, hardback world geography book.  I would just stare and read every page.  Each country was mentioned with a map and quick facts.  Since elementary school, I see successes in the places the person travels within their lifetime.  When someone tells me they have never traveled out of the US, my heart hurts.  I feel that everyone should see something larger than his or her comfort zone and to be immersed in a different culture.  When you travel, though you might be different than the people around you, you will begin to understand more about yourself and the world.  It will even surprise you how much in common you might have with people who are so seemingly different.  Truly, it changes your perspective.  I’m not sure why I think traveling is so utmost important, but it’s been such an obsession since I was younger that I think it might be irreversible.  I will not be fully content until I travel and experience the world.  In order to do that, I have to make it a priority in my life, which I have, so I have full confidence that I can make it happen.  It excites me to know the future knowledge that I will learn through traveling.  I will get to learn about other cultures, traditions, people, thoughts, and landscapes.  Maybe even by my traveling, someone will learn about my culture and they will have a spark ignite.

The term “spark” is fitting when talking about knowledge.  When I think about a spark, the image of a match comes into my mind.  The moment a match becomes lit, it makes a small cracking noise and the fire seems to have come from nowhere.  First there is no fire.  The next instance there is a nice size flame.  I think the noise when a spark is first created is significant.  It is such an instantaneous moment, almost to the point it is a little unnerving.  When someone first gets a spark in some realm of knowledge, it is a little shaking how instant it becomes.  It doesn’t necessarily build into a small flame, but rather the flame just appears.  Almost as if the brain turned on a switch.  Just as with a match, this knowledge spark needs to be protected to keep it going at first.  Once this spark is cared for, and with the right surroundings, it can grow bigger.  The fire of the match has to venture outside of itself to become larger, just like as humans we have to venture outside of our spark to make it grow.  We need to add more outside knowledge and the spark will grow into a large fire, which is much harder than a small spark to stop.  As long as there are beneficial surroundings that keep the fire burning (trees, grass, oxygen etc with no oceans, wetlands, or rain), the one spark could burn such a massive expanse of land.  Boundaries in the mind can try to stop the fire from building, but as long as you nurture it, the growth will be overwhelming.  This is an exciting thing about life.  Unlike the environmental and atmospheric boundaries that can stop a fire, our mind is controlled through us.  We are the master’s of the flame.  And we can only hope that through our passion, that maybe someone else will find their spark, or someone can help us build ours.  A wonderful thing about a world as vast as ours, is that our options are also as vast within our minds.  The mind is precious, and it needs to be taken care of.  Most importantly, it needs to be USED to its POTENTIAL.  A mind that has been wasted is a truly tragic thing.  It all starts with a spark, and it needs nurture to grow.  Without the nurture, a spark will just disappear.

I don’t know why it has the time wrong again… I turned it in on March 31, 9:48 p.m.

Is the Enlightenment Dead?

1 03 2010

Modern generations have always compared and contrasted themselves to the older ones.  It’s always good to know where we are currently and how we got here.  That’s an aspect of history.  Universal questions like this can be difficult if not impossible to completely settle where all parties agree, but I suppose that’s human nature.  Usually a question like this ends up creating more confusion than answers.  The Enlightenment was a period in time that most people look at with pride in the human development, so it is only natural to compare the living generations with these past successes.

What makes the Enlightenment important?

When someone mentions the Enlightenment, usually the first word to describe it is “reason”.  This reason really is the theme of the Enlightenment through different facets of society and geographic locations.  Even religion and politics were affected by reason.  They moved towards individualism.  Religion in particular focused on the power of reason, sensibility, and emotion.  People began to have freedom of choice and travel.  This time period’s goal was to recognize and accept individuality.  Oh, and of course be reasonable why doing so.  Science was also booming with these new methods of reason.  All of this background on the Enlightenment is nice and all, but the overall question is if the Enlightenment still exists in some fashion, or if it has ceased completely.

I understand the arguments for why the Enlightenment is dead in the world now, but I truly think that the Enlightenment, in some forms, exists in our present society. Rather than continuing scientific beliefs from traditions, scientists began to start asking questions and so did the civilians.  People were more willing to hear and agree with ideas if they were founded in reason and individualism.  In current day, I feel that the basis of many the ideals of the Enlightenment still exist.  Scientists still operate in the same means, religion focuses on individualism, and the common man desires understanding for others and their search for truth.  There are still ongoing issues that go against what those in the Enlightenment believed, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t events occurring then that they also didn’t support.  I believe that the Enlightenment helped change the way the general mind worked, which in the case of the French eventually turned to cause the revolution.  The intent of the revolution was not necessarily against what the Enlightenment taught (they probably would have preferred no violence… but, not much that could have been done), but later the killings of those that didn’t believe exactly how they thought was very much against it.  This time period wished to embrace the differences in others, but the beliefs of the past still seeped into groundwork to taint it a little.  That’s a problem with people.  It’s impossible sometimes to be unaffected by past beliefs.  This held true in the Enlightenment.  So regardless of some of the atrocities that have occurred within recent years, I think that we need to understand that hatred and fear are an aspect of human nature.  By understanding that, it can be looked at as an Enlightenment goal.

An essential thing to know about the Enlightenment is its immense influx of knowledge.  In my opinion, human culture and understanding really flourished during this time.  Science, religion, and politics took a step in a more positive and eye-opening direction.  Since then, we have continued with these steps and have made some altercations to them.  To better them of course.  Some of the ideas in the Enlightenment were too idealistic towards society.  As nice as they sounded (for example: the noble savage), they had little value in truth.  At this time, idealism was needed for hope with many people.  The class system was so incredibly divided and difficult to permeate another, which left many people dissatisfied at the situation.  A shiny idea of hope was what they needed.  They needed to believe in individualism, freedom, and the goodness of human nature.  Today there are still those ongoing beliefs, but there is more caution behind the thoughts.  Many believe in the innate good of humans, but they also realize that it is not always the case.  In such a society with the fears surrounding terrorism, it can be difficult to understand that men are good, like those who were a part of the Enlightenment period did.  I think that is a main difference about the mindsets of the current generation versus those who lived during that time.

The main explanation why I can’t believe that the Enlightenment is dead is our current flood of knowledge using reason.  The speed that we’re learning and growing in technology is absolutely astounding.  By using the scientific method and sharing knowledge, more and more discoveries have been made. The limits are truly endless.  I feel as if reason is the leading advocate nowadays when searching for new knowledge and ideas.  With these new technologies other principles have been met.  The thought of having a more global understanding and communication is more prevalent than it ever has been.  This is thanks to communication outlets like telephones, televisions, and most importantly the Internet.  This all creates a global village and it is more than easily accessible to be in contact with someone from another culture but also to learn more about any given culture at almost any given time.  With such a vast amount of knowledge at our literal fingertips, our acceptance for other cultures and beliefs are more possible.  The Enlightenment thinkers wanted unity through acceptance of others from everywhere.  Although, there are still qualms with that in current day, it is more easy to obtain and more prominent than it was back then.

To say that the Enlightenment is completely dead, in my opinion, is incorrect.  Maybe certain areas of it no longer exist in our culture, but there are ideas that still exist and are still practiced.  Although there are a lot of things that are wrong with the world (let’s be honest, when has there NOT been?), I think that we’re getting closer to what the Enlightenment thinkers desired for people.

For some reason this blog has the wrong date on when I wrote it.  I finished editing this on March 1 at 9:15 p.m.

The Lens of a Story through a Book or Film: Martin Guerre Style

1 02 2010

The differences between something portrayed in film and how it’s originally written on pages or manuscripts rests very much on how the audience reacts to their preferences on imagination or how their brain reacts to visuals and audio.  Everyone is different and so their preferences on whether they enjoy the book or the movie more shows natural relativity in all humans.

So, what did I actually think about Martin Guerre in terms of the movie versus the book?

I feel that since the book contained very little dialog, it was hard to picture the full extent of emotions from the characters.  Even though it was known to be a true story, it was difficult to relate to various aspects of them because the book was written in a very “matter-of-fact” manner.  Of course, the more academic students will swear by the book and always do (honestly, it makes you look more intelligent!), but there are some legitimate arguments for the film.  The wonderful thing about films, when done correctly, is it has an ability to make a powerful connection with the audience.  The simple details that are too trivial to include in the book, unless it’s any novel written by JRR Tolkien, are there in the film.  The soft wind and how it affects the trees, the grass, the sounds, the clothing and hair of the characters, is so much easier to present on film rather than making a lengthy and boring paragraph describing the exact descriptions of the scene.  However, it’s really not the small details that can make a film much more intriguing, it’s the reactions and facial features of the actors.  Their reactions are those that as humans we connect with.  Frustration.  Anger.  Jealousy.  Happiness.  Love.  Frailty.  Confusion.  And the list is truly endless on the amount of emotions and expressions we would really recognize.  Even at times, we don’t even know how to verbally explain the particular emotion we witness, but rather we relate to the “feeling” of it all.  Being able to visually see the story acted out on film makes the tale feel so much more REAL.  If humans had always believed that books were enough for entertainment, plays would have never been conducted.  Plays have the same basis of film, which is to help the audience relate more effectively.  Visuals are embedded in our mind, and humanity often needs them to fully (or partially) connect with the story.  That’s why people say, “Well, it doesn’t make sense when I tell you it, but it’s one of t

The Film in its Glory, "The Return of Martin Guerre"

The film in its glory, "The Return of Martin Guerre"


hose instances that you should have been there.”  Seeing really does make all the difference.

However, the story of Martin Guerre was put in a book through findings of documents and knowledge about his time period in relationship to where he lived geographically.  This makes it different than the average storybook.  Even as I mentioned above, the one thing that bothered me about the book was the lack of dialog.  I thrive on dialog when I read something.  That’s what makes me interested in the characters and truly takes me into their world.  Naturally, when reading this book, I was having a bit of difficulty to forget that I was just sitting on a couch in my living room in Waco, Texas rather than be thrust into France during the 16th century.  Obviously, the latter would have been much more interesting place to be, but it was hard to get fully enveloped in the story.  But who can forget that the movie isn’t completely historically accurate?  Oh yes, that small thing.  Well, I suppose if maintaining historical accuracy is something that you strive, you would be squirming in your seat from indignation because of certain issues.  The most notable being that Arnaud di Tihl and Martin Guerre met during Martin’s years away from his family and home.  As mentioned in the book, it cannot be ruled out that the two met, but it is not documented either.  The means in which it is revealed that they met in the film was during the courtroom scene, so naturally if the proclamation had been made, it would have most definitely been documented.  Also, Arnaud never recoiled his original defense in the courtroom whenever he caused a continuity error in his story.  Something I found interesting about the film was towards the end after Arnaud lost the case, and Bertrande was being privately interviewed.  She was then asked an “off the record” question.  Bertrande was honest in her answer about her knowledge of Arnaud’s fakery.  Her response was exactly as I had imagined her intentions while reading the book.  Even though the book never clearly stated her part on the falsity, due to lack of mention in the found documents.  I believe there are two explanations on why this particular scene was included in the film: The first being that films need drama to keep the readers attention. Films rely on theater sales and VHS/DVD sales.  So even though they want to stay historically accurate, they want to make a profit more.  The second possibility in this inclusion is that maybe the historian Davis believed it to be true.  In her book, she could not include any unnecessary or unfounded drama since it is based on historical accuracy.  Just because Davis thought that it happened was not enough reason to include it in her book.  Since she did help during filming, why not add aspects that you believe to be true?  It’s important in a film to have a wide scope of reasons behind actions so the audience doesn’t get irritated with the lack of motives.  People constantly want to know WHY some action has occurred and loathe being left in the dark on certain subjects in a movie.  In a historical book, it is acceptable to leave out motives because it is unwarranted if the true motives are unknown.  Fabrication isn’t looked highly upon in the book realm.  Films are allowed to fabricate whenever they feel.  Yes, they will make the historians angry, but it doesn’t exactly matter if they constructed a nice, overall film… and if they make money.  Lots of money.