Throughout current culture in America, and arguably all over the world, communication is constantly evolving, and so are the mediums we all choose to express ourselves. Instead of walking up to each other and establishing a connection, or explaining to each other why we like the things we do, we just read it, maybe in the 140 characters of a tweet, or the 150 characters of an Instagram bio. The information we choose to post or the media we share with our followers is our definition of ourselves, ‘This is what you see, and that is how I want you to see me.’ In other cultures names or titles define who people are, what relationships they will have, and can convey storybooks worth of information, with just a few syllables. For the purposes of this paper the culture that will be examined is that of Bengali individuals and their lives portrayed when immigrating to America in the book, The Namesake written by Jhumpa Lahiri.
The main character, Nikhil Gangoli spends the entire book agonizing over his name, torn between his inherited Bengali culture, and his born to America lifestyle he spends all his time letting his name define him. He thinks people don’t take him seriously because of his name, originally Gogol, when he finds out, or rather as the reader you find out the only person not taking him seriously, or constantly doubting every move he makes, is himself.
“He is afraid to be Nikhil, someone he doesn't know. Who doesn't know him...It's a part of growing up, they tell him, of being a Bengali.” (Chapter 3 Paragraph 13) This quote taken from The Namesake is from Gogol’s early youth, when he gets renamed from his pet name, Gogol. Originally he is not fond of this name, because it is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for him to change what everyone calls him, his life title. So as a young boy, he chooses to stay Gogol, which later on he regrets, thinking his pet name is stupid, and changes it back to Nikhil. This back and forth struggle over, what people will call him, how people will view him, and the struggle of defining himself through a title that, at the end of the day doesn’t matter is the biggest theme of the book, and for many throughout their entire lives.
Through the way media has evolved, to include every part of our lives, people no longer know what it is to define one’s self, everyone simplifies and belittles what and who they are, to be interesting at a glance. This makes everything less meaningful, when people throughout the world should be able to just embrace their complexities. In a recent podcast titled, Finding the Self in Selfie (This American Life, 2015) a few teenage girls were talking about their experiences and familiarity with the rules of interacting on Instagram, and what it means to comment or double tap.
“Especially because we, like just started High school, so we’re meeting a lot of new people, so you would comment on someone’s photo who you’re not really super close with or that you don’t know really well, and it's sort of a statement, like, ‘I wanna be friends with you’ or ‘I wanna get to know you’ or like, ‘I think you’re cool’. If someone that you don’t know very well commented on your photo, it's sort of like an unspoken agreement that you have to comment back on their photo. Like when you’re making new friends, if they comment on your photo, you comment on their photo.”
Almost to say that the way to meet new people and force friendships is through your online persona, how you present, or even more to the point, sell yourself. Later in the interview the incoming freshman girls admit, that the way you present yourself online, is almost like you’re marketing yourself, like you are the product, manager, and the marketing team, trying to keep people interested and concerned with knowing about you and your life. Squeezing anything cool or notable about yourself into an Instagram bio, or caption, and sticking a filter on a group picture of your friends having “Tons of fun!” being the only thing keeping us, in this generation current. And beyond that, people making friends and even romantic partners or hookups in the private message sections, or DMs of Instagram.
“...I tell her, don't you hate when you get screenshot, Bitch that DM wasn't for everybody, I love tha gram I love tha gram, I'm addicted to it I know I am...” A piece of a very popular rap right now, brought to us by Yo Gotti, who may not be a credible source at first glance, but as a voice for the young of this generation, and the behavior now known as normal, very trustworthy. People being debased to a steady photostream on their phones. This is being highly studied all over the world, and the impact of the internet in general on the mass public has been scrutinized by many since the mid 90’s, but the most powerful words, come from an actress, a media personality, and someone you think would be completely uninvolved in public speaking, Thandie Newton, who in her thirteen minute TED Talk addressed embracing self, and otherness.
“We each have a self, but I don’t think that we’re born with one...The fundamental state of ‘oneness’ is lost on us very quickly...it’s no longer valid, or real...” This transition from having a fundamental sense of ‘oneness’ to being completely withdrawn from everything comes quickly, almost without warning. Unfortunately though, most young adults choose to isolate themselves into different internet profiles in an attempt to recreate that oneness through a self-constructed image that in truth can never fully capture their entire presence. That being said, this trend will likely never end, but the self imposed need to sell ourselves on our media will hopefully be less impending through the different voices pointing out this almost self destructive behavior.
Ghosts in the Machine, NY Times
Quotes from The Namesake
Thandie Newton: Embracing otherness, embracing myself. (TED Talk)
This American Life: Status Update
Yo Gotti, Down in the DM
For my art pieces I wanted to keep everything an action/superhero theme.
For my Art Collage, I gathered as many pictures I could fit of the Avengers in different poses and looks. I then went back and drew the Avengers logo. I didn’t really have a certain way I organized the pictures, I started with just placing them in the corners, then from there I just randomize it.
The next art piece is a Fabric. I wanted to stick to my theme of superheros, so I drew a cape and shaded shadows and the curves. Then I drew a mesh shirt under it.
For my following piece, I edited a picture I took near 30th and market. To further my theme of action, I tried to edit the picture to look like a zombie movie.
My final piece is of the logo for one of my favorite shows, Video Game High School (VGHS), this show is full of action and I thought for my free draw it would be a good conclusion to quarter’s art pieces.
The passage below is what I believe was cut from McCarthy’s The Road:
I watched the boy, his words struck me, he had matured. I wanted to say something but I had no words. The boy wouldn’t talk to me anyway. I looked back the man was standing where I had left him, naked. Even from this far away I could tell how gaunt he was. I averted my gaze and looked at the boy who was now quietly sobbing. I wish he would stop. I continued to watch the boy as he slothed along. The man felt warm arm arise in his throat. He put his hand to his mouth trying to suppress the cough, but it only muffled it. His paced slowed.
“Stop trying to protect me and cough.”
By the time I removed my hand my cough had slithered back down my throat, all that was left was the blood on my hand. He knew. He knew I wasn’t doing well. I could feel the boy’s eyes watching me think. The boy wouldn’t last long after I was gone. Stripping that man’s clothing made me a bad guy in the boy’s eyes. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without being eaten or shackled if I thought/acted like the boy every thought, intention, tear based solely on others.
Here is the rationale for the choices I made
I placed my creative piece on page 259 on McCarthy’s The Road, right underneath the part when the boy says: I am the one. I chose this part of the book because this scene was so powerful to me. I want to go more indepth in showing how the boy and the man are so different, and how their means of survival differ. I wanted this scene to start off where McCarthy left off. In the beginning scene the father is contemplating his relationship with the boy after making that man strip down. On page 259 McCarthy shows the boy sobbing and looking back at the man and letting his father know that he was the one who has to worry, which I believe is the most powerful thing the boy said in the book. It lets us know that the boy is beginning to realize he is going to be on his own.
My essential question was: What does it mean to survive. This question had been something that I’d thought a lot about when reading The Road. Throughout the book we have seen the boy show compassion over and over again just as we’ve seen the man do whatever needs to be done to keep him and the boy alive. I thought it was interesting to see the boy stick up for the people his father was going to harm. I decided to elaborate on this scene further because it was in my mind a perfect example of the boy sticking up for the person his father was going to harm. I wanted to give more insight on the father's thoughts. I want to make sure that people understand the importance of this page, of this scene, and I thought that a good way to show this was by writing from the the perspective of the father.
I started my creative piece out with the father reacting to what the boy said: “I am the one.” I wanted the father react to what the boy said to the fact that he had show compassion again toward someone who had taken something from them. I wanted the boy to lash out to show that he didn't need his father to take care of him anymore, to let his father know that he could take care of himself. I noticed that McCarthy didn’t have the father express his feelings or opinions on the boy’s compassion in the book that often and that is something that I would have liked to see more of. I had the boy lash out at his father in my creative scene.
I’m in 11th grade and in the class of advance art. I love working on art pieces even though I’m not good at drawing. This is quarter 2 I did about 4 major projects. I think I improve on my art skill and drawing from the first quarter because of all the new things I have learned. The first major project was the collage. My collage was the different type of shoes and boots. My second major project was fabric. I used my mom bed and fabric to follow along. Then, my third major project was my photo editing. I took a picture of me on facebook and editing it by smuggling the background of the photo. Lastly, my last project was my Illustration. In my Illustration was my drawing of my friends and I were a front of my chinese store playing football. Football is my life and very meaningful to me and always will be. I trying to keep on improving on all my art skills and hopefully they will more in the 3 quarter..
My goal was to interview my mother who has an extensive background connecting to my theme of the assignment. “...being an African-American female in today’s society is challenging. There are so many expectations you are meant to uphold, foremost as you carry yourself can be a large factor in how you thrive in society. Today there are so many ways an African-American woman can be portrayed through so many different lens’.” There were so many ways that I could’ve made my piece flow, such as with one whole story or with multiple pieces. I chose to have multiple pieces strategically put together to describe a point that african-american women are more than just a stereotype. In my footage that I polished and finalize, I could connect to all requirements of the podcast (dramatic arc, story and background music).As I worked on this project, I choose to take a different step during the process. I wrote my log and took away footage to shorten it and “make things easier for myself.” I think that it worked fairly effectively. There were some technical difficulties when I put some parts together. In addition to my final piece, there was a large spike in the sound during my first narration. I struggled with fixing it. Also limiting background noise in my house was a bit difficult because a part of our house was being constructed during the time I recorded. However, overall I think that my final piece is polished and great, despite the tech difficulties.
What am I going to say to him?
Don’t worry about that.
We just turn around and you leave that easily?
This is hard for me too. I didn’t want to bring him into this craziness.
You said everything would be okay but look outside. What do you see? I see an absence of color. No life. Just us. How can we survive this for any longer. You will be better off without the stress of me on your back.
The boy peeks his head out of his room, disrupting the man and woman.
Come. Your mother has to talk to you.
The woman looks at the man.
Do you think this is not hard for me?
Look at me baby this is a little hard for me.
What is it mommy?
This isnt mommy saying she doesnt love you. I have to go away for a while, don’t come looking for me. I am okay. You are going to spend most of your days with your father.
Why do you have to go?
You will find out later on in life.
I love you. Okay.
Okay. I love you too.
The man rolls over and looks at the boy.
Good morning papa.
Did you dream about Momma?
I miss her.
Do you miss her?
Do you think she loves me?
Okay. Go back to sleep now.
Okay.The man rolls over and pulls the cover and blue tarp over the boy.
While working on the podcast, there were plenty of pauses in the audio that took most of the editing time. Also cutting the story in places that made sense that still kept the flow was a bit hard. During the interview process, preparing enough questions to get 45 minutes was also hard to do so most of my questions came based off of what my interviewee said.
My overall goal for each piece of artwork was to challenge my ideas by not using the first the thought that comes to mind. Instead of my normal black, grey, and white color scheme, I wanted to use much more color and vibrancy in my pieces. I also wanted to include a feminist and peaceful mood for my pieces.
My first piece was my collage that is made with colored pencils, sharpies, and magazine clippings of flowers. I chose to draw a woman with flowers for hair, because I wanted to represent a woman's thoughts that bloom from her mind to create something beautiful and full of life.
For my fabric drawing, I chose to sketch a dress with a shaw in pencil. I wanted to include many folds and focus on shading to make the drawing have a three dimensional and realistic look. I used a dress to include a feminine element instead of just drawing a random piece of fabric.
As for my edited photo, I took a picture of my favorite ornament on my Christmas tree. I thought that it would make a nice photo, because of the glass, the shape of the ornament, the designs on the ornament, and the lights under the ornament. I wanted to use a black and white filter to try to accentuate the light, highlight the birds and flower, and make the picture look peaceful and elegant.Lastly, for my illustration, I drew a picture inspired by the Divergent book series which I currently cannot stop reading. The circles with symbols represent the society's factions of society in the book. I chose to write Divergent next to the faction to make it clear what piece of literature the drawing is about. I also tried to blend the colors of the factions into the letter to have the word flow with the faction symbols.