Below is the link to my final project
This is a chart made using the Google Charts API (https://developers.google.com/chart/) in order to represent how I gathered all the literary resources necessary for our class. Now I will do a very brief breakdown of each category.
Sakai – As displayed by the graph, a majority of our class resources were able to be accessed through Sakai. This is good because Sakai is as we all know free and easy to access. The only con I can see is that it is Sakai.
Apple iBooks – My accessing of Pierre through this resource was a personal choice. It gave me both a free platform and I did not mind reading the quasi pdf version of Pierre.
Online Resources – Similarly as displayed by the graph this was another hot resource bed for our class. It likewise has the similar pro of being free and and easy to access.
YouTube – Another personal choice as again it was free and in my opinion was an improvement to the audible app (I found it to be a bit buggy as far as going forward and back).
Netflix – Possibly my favorite media platform and who doesn’t have Netflix (or some way to get on an account) which basically negates any price negative.
Steam – This platform was only used to play Life is Strange, although in it’s short tenure it has easily elevated itself to my least favorite. I originally thought price would be my issue with this but I actually ended up getting everything we need for under $5. My main issue comes with when I play the game, as my laptop sounds like it is going to explode when it tries to run the game.
S-Town without fail followed true to exposing the recurring concepts we have seen throughout our class such as ambiguity and time. I do not have an issue with the way time is depicted and actually rather enjoyed a certain poeticism seen in its portrayal throughout the podcast. John’s statement that “time is fleeting and brief”, followed by him taking his own life, therefore making his time even more brief screams poetry to me. Then lets not forget all of the classic literary elements like the symbolism and foreshadowing that go into the witness marks in horology, which are seemingly all recursively tied back to time.
The ambiguity is where I begin to draw my frustrations with S-Town. In the early episodes of S-Town there was a glimmer of unambiguity, as the result of the supposed murder in S-Town was wrapped in nothing less than a neat bow. Although, this safe harbor from ambiguity was quickly ripped away in episodes two through seven. This is somewhat understandable as the plot line transitioned from a simple investigation of a murder to an investigation of a man’s life as a proxy for an environment. Inherently the latter is more complex because an investigation of an entire life is far from a singular event. Although, I think Brian Reed’s presentation/ methodology of storytelling is the root of a lot of my frustration. I think the way he sets his stories lend to foreshadowing and leaving the listener anticipation. Though seemingly immediately after we are lead to this cliffhanger, the topic gets dropped like a bad joke and is never spoken of again. As we have said time and time again in class, the prestige is missing and that bugs me to no end.
Moving from Brian Reed’s story telling method to his telling of the actual story, I would actually like to stand in his defense. I think in class we spent a lot of time discussing how Reed’s presentation of the two sides of the story was biased and how prevalent his outsider bias was. In a purely critical examination of the story solely based on facts bias is a massive issue. Although, I interpreted our in class discussion as more of an indictment of Reed. To my knowledge (I hope I’m not wrong), neither Reed nor NPR promised a completely unbiased account and I believe they themselves did not coin the podcast a nonfiction audio novel. Therefore, we was listeners should understand and I believe accept that the author is entitled to his/ her bias. Every piece of literature whether we admit it or not is heavily biased. People tell the stories that they want to tell, therefore stories are often constructed in a way to do this despite if the end result is factual. Therefore, I think the sooner we move the criticism from the author to the content, the better we will be able to truly conduct a critical analysis of content.
The Netflix original The OA got significantly better as it progressed through the episodes and ultimately ended in me believing the viewing experience was a worthwhile endeavor (beyond the fact that it was required). In class our discussion centered largely around the believability of the OA’s story, plot holes and something to be desired in character development. While, these topics and others I omitted control a large portion of the discussion around this show I found a different topic we touched on slightly much more compelling. The meaning I found in this show was in bringing to the viewers mind the telling of traumatic experiences across various mediums and the need to listen.
This idea was not evident at first to me and really took until a specific scene in episode 8 for it to click. The scene being when the FBI psychologist encountered Alfonso in the house and Alfonso tells him all OA’s stories were lies. Then the FBI psychologist tells him whether her story was lies or not just by listening to the OA, Alfonso took her pain away so she could survive. This idea of using media/ communication to take others pain away after a traumatic experience is what I believe to be the most powerful message in The OA. Then beginning to look at the mediums which horrors are told we look at when The OA first decided to tell her story to the group. She needed them to believe her and immerse themselves. She wanted and very possibly needed a medium where her audience had the ability to give and take. This doesn’t seem too hard until you think about how few media mediums actually offer this.
This then sparks somewhat of a transmedia debate by bringing into scope what effects her story being told in a different medium other than verbal storytelling would have on her story, her and her pain. The OA made evident in the show that the use of a book was not what she needed, as in her own words her story wasn’t finished. Similarly, other mediums like an audiobook or movie I believe would not have worked either as they also lack the give and take. Then if you look at the only medium other than storytelling with give and take you are left with an online blog. Although, the army of anonymous online people I think we can all agree has its downsides. Leaving us with the ultimate question of were there any other viable mediums for The OA to tell her story?
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the scene about the author coming to turn The OA’s story into a book. In my opinion, turning tragedies into profit is an absolutely disgusting type of literature. It is one thing for an author to be approached to write a story, it is a completely different thing for a person to be approached by an author. Turning a profit on someone else’s misery to me is horrible. I understand it garners publicity and potentially wealth for that person, but if that is not what they need then to me it seems little more than exploitative.
Pierre; or, The Ambiguities is certainly not a misnomer concerning the contents of this book. Melville clears the bar for ambiguous writing by leaps and bounds as he puts on display his commitment phobic style of writing. Any conflict constructed within Pierre is met with endless pages of introspective debate, followed by an unsatisfying conclusion that gives an answer to none of the readers questions. For example Pierre’s conflict with his mother was solved in four words “his mother was dead” (Book XXI, Chapter II). Rather than continuing the dialogue between Pierre and his mother after her exiling of him, she was simply killed. Similarly, at the end of the book when the text is at a breaking point bringing up questions such as: Will Pierre choose Isabel and Lucy? Is Isabel even his sister? Or most importantly, will he reunite with his horses? In the midst of all these questions and many more Melville could not have picked a more abrupt murder-suicide ending to leave his readers wondering. Whether it was Melville’s predilection to force his reader to fill in blanks or if he thought his reader would relish the ambiguity is likewise unclear.
I would be remiss if I did not state that there was one aspect of Pierre that was far from ambiguous. That one aspect was the hypersexual tendencies displayed by Pierre displayed throughout the book. Even though this may not be the most inspired debate which can be brought up after a reading of Pierre, I do believe it plays into the media we consume today. Every television show or movie we see accentuates relationship conflicts often aimed to parallel those we experience in our own lives. Which brings into question Melville’s choice of a sexually questionable character that was dissimilar and often repelled the readers of his time. It is possible he thought everyone was having the same issues that he was having with Hawthorne, although it still leaves several of his other deviant relationships like that with his sister or horses unexplained.
Looking back holistically this was not the worst book I have ever read. A condensed plot with far fewer digressions and some unambiguous conclusions by Melville, I believe would actually prove to be a pretty intriguing plot to most readers today. Melville successfully brought to light some relational conflicts like that of calling his mother “sister”, which we do not see even in our society today. In addition, the Lucy and Isabel conflict had me on pins and needles until the end when Melville ultimately disappointed me with a cop out of an ending. I believe it was stated in class that Moby Dick has an abridged version which cuts out a lot the seemingly meaningless content. If Pierre were to have an abridged version I would suggest it to someone, although I would be afraid it would be under 100 pages.
How I envision a conversation with Melville today:
Me: Coke or Pepsi?
Melville: *Writes 500 pages*