JLayne

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

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Voices Invisioned

One image that interested me was on The Banner of Hope, which depicted a red, white, and blue streamer bunting getting caught in a sewing machine. The picture is conjoined to a description that explains how a Catholic girl was fired from her job in a linen factory because she cut the bunting that got tangled into her sewing machine. It surprises me because, even though red, white, and blue are symbolic colors of British Unionism, the Protestant Orange Order didn’t really reason with the practical purpose of cutting the bunting.I find it silly how the Orange Order associated their entire political agenda to a simple thing like bunting.

This reminds of the time when we had Freedom Fries instead of French Fries just because the French disagreed with our decision to invade Iraq. Though this is a negative example, it still shows how powerful memories can be to associate themselves with seemingly insignificant things like the color of ceiling designs and food names.

Star Trek and Halbwachs

Anthem by Ayn Rand is a book about a young boy called Equality 7-2521. In the society he lives the people have no knowledge of individualism. The people do not know the word “I” or”Mine.”

After our classroom reading of Dana’s memory book entry about Ayn Rand’s Anthem, I had Proustian moment. The first three sentences in her blog entry evoked my memories of my favorite episode of Star: Trek: The Next Generation. The episode I’m talking about – “I Borg” – is just one of many that focus on the story of the Borg.

In The Next Generation, the Borg are an advanced race of cybernetic organisms that travel  from planet to planet with the purpose of adding the “biological and technological distinctiveness of other species to their own” in pursuit of perfection. The Borg, like the society in Anthem, have no knowledge of individualism. They are an technologically  interconnected collective that think of themselves as no more than just a part of a group mind. Unlike the description of the society in Anthem, though, the Borg are equipped with neuro-processors and transceivers that are always connected to the collective consciousness of the Borg; they’re always transmitting and receiving data to and from the collective.

In “I Borg,” the crew of the Starship Enterprise discovers an abandoned adolescent Borg and brings it back aboard the starship. Initially, the captain wants to implant a virus in the Borg’s programming so that it may destroy the rest of the Borg once it’s returned to them, but this decision changes with the newly discovered behavior of the Borg they retrieved. During the process of bringing the Borg back to health and studying it, the Borg experiences moments of free, individual thought since it’s cut off from the Borg hive mind. Instead of addressing himself by his former ship designation (third of five), he begins calling himself Hugh; the name that two of the crew members gave him. By the end of the episode, Hugh suddenly understands the word “I.” The crew concludes that they could use Hugh’s newly found sense of individualism to imprint upon the collective consciousness of the rest of the Borg. By the end of the episode, Hugh is sent back to the Borg collective.

When I reflected on this episode and connected it to what I knew about Halbwachs’ idea of collective memory, I was and still am slightly confused. According to Halbwach, collective memory only acknowledges the memories shared among an entire group. This is separate from the notion of memories that may only be known by one individual within a group. The thing confusing me is how “I Borg” suggests that both collective and individual memory could be on in the same. If Hugh acted as a virus to impress individualism upon the rest of the Borg, wouldn’t that mean that individual and collective memory would become one in the same?

If Hugh indeed spread the idea of individualism like a virus through the collective consciousness of the Borg, that would mean that each Borg would then be able to act on its own. But at which point do their individual thoughts and actions ever only belong to themselves? They’re still always connected to the hive mind and that would mean that each individual Borg would still know what everybody else is doing in almost real time. Everybody would know everything about everyone without ever needing to meet face to face since the communicative neuro-tranceivers are still installed in every Borg.

These are some clips of the episode…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QhsmXG5ngU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1fJdmHrnSk&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4BiwDRwM5k&feature=related

11/30 post pt. 2: My growing connection to glowsticking

Glowsticking is an art and dance similar to fire poi (or fire spinning), except the person glowsticking (glowsticker) uses glow sticks. I first found out about this dance on youtube where there are popular glowstickers that I have developed a love for watching. I’ve seem some glowstickers dance to music I’d never imagined myself enjoying until I watched them dance to it. The awesome visual memories of glowsticking attached themselves to music I never thought I could appreciate. As I recurrently watched these videos, my appreciation for both the dance and music grew until  I began to learn glowsticking myself. Out of all of this, though, the thing that interests me the most is the thought that I might do it until I’m physically inept. Most of my family members think of it as a childish activity, but I see it as a fun way to recall visual, aural, and muscle memories as well as create new ones. This art has become an integral part of my lifestyle.

11/30 post Pt. 1: Thanksgiving Disappointment

Unlike all the other boring family get-togethers I am forced to attend, Thanksgiving is slightly different. My family usually celebrates at my cousin’s apartment and that was the case this year around also. As most people came together to celebrate by socializing about who knows what, I try to be as elusive as I possibly can. I have almost nothing in common with my relatives, but the one thing  I seek positive feedback from on this holiday is the reactions I see when everyone tastes my pumpkin pie. I bake pumpkin pie for every Thanksgiving and people love it. I am known for baking pumpkin pie for every holiday feast actually. The memories of their positive feedback WERE the driving force for me to keep baking more, but on this thanksgiving I overheard someone saying that they didn’t like it. I felt very bad after hearing this and concluded that the negative emotions that I felt at that moment have forever spoiled my passion to bake more pumpkin pies.

Prescriptive Forgetting: Post-Civil War Reconstruction

I think the reconcilationist movement of the Post-Civil War period would be categorized as prescriptive forgetting in that the North and South had to forget their differences in order to celebrate the Civil War as a national memory. The reconcilationist movement developed a narrative of a war without racial or sectional tension. For instance, in the 50th commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech in which he honored the mutual valor of both northern and southern soldiers who were on the battlefield. He didn’t mention anything about the ideological struggles between the two sections; nothing about how the North fought for the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery or how the South fought for the opposite.

Memory Book: Reflection of 9/11 recollection

Considering what I’ve learned so far about memory in this class, I think I have a better idea of why I remembered 9/11 the way I did in my earlier post. Firstly, I affirm that I barely have an emotional link to the memory because the first retrieval cue for it since was this class’s earlier blog-post assignment. Recalling my 9/11 memory for the assignment was merely an intellectual recollection and not very emotional. The emotion that made that memory significant though was the guilt of loving my parent less than I thought I did:

“What stands out most to me about my 9/11 memory is how emotionally disconnected I was from the situation. My mother might have been harmed or even killed that day and I didn’t even worry when my dad mentioned how close she worked to the towers. There were videos already on the news of the burning towers and the people jumping from their windows, yet I was glued to my computer chair that day. To this day, my mother tells me that I’m coldhearted when I respond to her stories of people dying around the world or even in our family. I wonder if my response to tragedy is THAT abnormal.” (9/9/10 blog-post)

(^block quote isn’t properly indented due to blog spacing difficulties)

According to Daniel Schachter’s “Building Memories,” from Searching for Memory, as we try to remember an experience, “a retrieval cue will induce another pattern of activity in the brain. If this pattern is similar enough to a previously encoded pattern, remembering will occur.” (Schachter 71) Based on knowing this and my 9/11 memory’s specific emotional encoding, I managed to hypothesize a premise in which I would recall the memory emotionally. It would have to involve the pattern of brain activity that stood out most to me that day, which is the emotion of discomfort caused by caring less for my mom than I initially thought. With this said, I would probably remember 9/11 when I don’t cry during my mother’s funeral or the funeral of any other person I supposedly have an emotional pretense of love for.

11/9 (pt II)

a. In the beginning, Nabokov spoke a lot about how the sleeping car looked. He also mentioned a lot about his liking for Colette. I found it odd that he left out details about how the Bolsheviks shot his dad’s valet. I also found it confusing how his talk about different travel agencies relate to the shooting and then goes on to talking about food. I don’t see where he relates anything to each other.

b. He uses a lot of italicized language which looks like French to describe food and to simply recall the name of a travel agency. I think he speaks this way to show his understanding of his childhood and the French culture that surrounded him.

c. He displays meta awareness most of all in the last part when he talks about Colette, her dog, the souvenir penholder, and Colette’s farewell present. He explains the extent of his awareness in each case and how he can or can’t remember certain details like Colette’s dog’s name or how the microcosm in the penholder stimulated his memory of the Colette, her dog, and beaches in Biarritz.

What does it mean to “attach a cultural memory of a song to a caller or callee”?

The cultural memory of a song includes the musical history behind it; this includes the community of people that introduced the song or song genre. The meanings and experiences of the community behind a song or song genre can be added to and or redefined by those who listen to it as time passes. With this considered, it’s readily seen that a caller or callee with a certain ring tone can be perceived as being part of the ring tone’s musical/cultural background.

11/4 Musical Madeleine post

Pt. 1: Thesis

The author’s thesis is that modern cell phones act as mnemonic devices in that they contain many features that assist our memories; they potentially contain call histories, pictures, videos, and, notably, musical ring tones. To be precise, a ring tone links musically induced memories to notions of self and identity, inasmuch as Proust’s madeleine cookie is an example of palatably induced memories.

Pt. 2: Response

I thought this passage was very clever because I never thought about ring tones as more than just alarms that precede conversation. I don’t think I ever consciously analyzed a ring tone insofar as to make assumptions about ones entire cultural identity because I know that people of so many different backgrounds listen to so many different genres of music nowadays. After reading this, the fact now concretely remains in my mind that simply listening to a sliver of music may tell more about a person than just their musical taste.


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