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“Love Sickness” as a disease… on Wikipedia

I just demonstrated how easily the world of media is a collaboration of layers among layers of archives. However, what is not always apparent to us is the validity of such texts. I just added my “expertise” to Wikipedia on a topic called “love sickness.” The original article talked about how love sickness was attributed to a non-medical term describing mental and physical symptoms associated with falling in love.

However, thanks to myself, I added:

“As the infection progresses, people with love sickness grow increasingly susceptible to illnesses and infection that don’t normally affect the healthy population. Even though many of these illnesses can easily be treated, those with lovesickness often have such weakened immune systems that typical cures fail.

Without treatment, people infected with lovesickness can expect to develop heartbreak eight to ten weeks after the lovesickness infection has set in. Taking medications, however, can slow down this progression. With treatment, it can take ten to 15 years or more before you develop a strong, emotionally stable state again. In the later stages of lovesickness, before it progresses to full blown heartbreak, signs of infection can involve more severe symptoms. These include:

chronic yeast infections or thrush (yeast infection of the mouth)
Fever and/or night sweats
Easy bruising
Bouts of extreme exhaustion
Unexplained body rashes
Appearance of purplish lesions on the skin or inside mouth
Sudden unexplained weight loss
Chronic diarrhea lasting for a month or more”

Sounds convincing enough, right? Well, my genius assertion was actually copied and pasted from a site dedicated to HIV/AIDS symptoms. Hopefully, there won’t be a poor soul reading my article and rushing to the doctor for a cure for their “love sickness.” Yikes. Anyway, the point is that the internet is one conglomerate source of crap. The question becomes then, can we separate the excess from the essential? Only time will tell….

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Tattoo Talk as Hybrid Art

Can the practice of tattooing be considered as a “hybrid art” form? Tattoos have served in many various and diverse cultures as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talisman, protection and as the marks of outcasts and convicts (Wikipedia). To many people, the tattoo is a sign of rebellion that they wear proudly on the outside to show how they feel on the inside. But I would argue that it goes even deeper than rebellion. Our culture has come a long way in what is seen as conservative and conforming. Thus, the tattooing culture has matured into a showcase of art. However, this creates yet another implication—what constitutes art? Wikipedia defines art as “the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect.” With that being said, it seems that art can virtually be anything as long as it’s meaning is intrinsic to an individual. Thus, I would argue that the complexity and fluidity within the realm of tattooing is representative of a broader change of how we view our bodies and their decoration as a “hybrid art.”

The distinction in this context is that by “hybrid” I do NOT mean the molding of two mediums to create an atheistically pleasing form, but rather hybrid of interpretation. Meaning, for the individual that carries the branding of the tattoo, the meaning is intrinsic, personal, or perhaps even meaningless. However, the meaning this visual form carries to the receiver (any individual that interprets the tattoo) is ambiguous and virtually different to anyone who chooses to “understand” the work. Thus, the hybrid lies in the two dimensions of meaning the tattoo eludes and the art is constrained to the meaning assigned to the tattoo by the individual. Therefore, the “tattoo culture,” as we so leisurely call it, is grounded by a case-by-case instance. As art, there is nothing universal about the tattooing industry (except perhaps the actual procedural elements in placing the work) because each individual embodies their art in a way in which is meaningful to them and I would argue that no one could duplicate this experience unique to the wearer.

Taking control of one’s body is a major draw to the “art” of tattooing. The tattoo will never go away which fascinates some people and scares many; it will not change unlike the world. In this sense, the tattoo is not just an expression of one’s identity, but also a way of creating that identity. Furthermore, it is because of tattoo culture’s existence and location within mainstream culture, that the tattoo culture gains its “performative” force. In “Material Metaphors,” I believe this is what Hayles is talking about when referencing materiality. In the broadest sense, Hayles explains that “materiality emerges from the dynamic interplay between the richness of a physically robust world and human intelligence as it crafts this physicality to create meaning.” From this interpretation then, the tattoo embodies a form of hybrid art via the various interpretations the piece represents and the identity that the tattoo establishes based on placement, social context, and actual image.

Alright, so thus far we have expanded on what we mean by classifying the tattoo as a hybrid art and how this constitutes a culture within, but what does all this mean for tattoos as hybrid art within digital media you ask? The physical attributes constituting any artifact are potentially infinite; in a digital computer, for example, they “include the polymers used to fabricate the case, the rare earth elements used to make the phosphors in the CRT screen, the palladium used for the power cord prongs, and so forth.” Materiality thus emerges from interactions between physical properties and a work’s artistic strategies. For this reason, the materiality of tattooing cannot be specified in advance, as if it “preexisted the specificity of the work.” Therefore, digital media does nothing to change the form of the tattoo as hybrid art, but rather expands the meaning of a piece (since meaning lies within a single interpreter) due to the accessibility the digital era provides. As we have discussed in class, not only electronic literature, but virtually all historical periods and genres are affected as print works are increasingly re-produced as electronic documents. However, unlike these previous modes of art, the tattoo I am arguing can only be reinvented, not duplicated. As Hayles points out, the medium for which art is communicated is central to the interpretation of the art. Thus, being that tattoos use the body as the medium, each individual experience/representation is unique in that instance and thus, the cultural epidemic of artistic forms continues to be explored. The assertion I am making then, is that the body is a canvas—how do you depict your portrait?

 

 

 

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Digital Dilemma

Hi All-

The first website I wanted to learn more about is especially famous within the up and coming generations. As young children most of us relied on Polly Pocket, GI Joe, and eventually The Beanie Baby craze. Well those days are left to history as the youth of the nation resorts to buying stuffed animals that they register online, called “Webkinz,” and then begin to interact and play games with others. The article I found questions how the webkinz craze is influencing children in using “kinzcash,” and other “real life” modes that all add to the allure of the web world for children. The most interesting aspect in this argument focuses on what the impact may be in the future as to children’s perspective to reality when they are so engrossed within a digital reality.

Website: http://www.webkinz.com/us_en/index_w.html

Article: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFamily/story?id=3033380&page=1

“Erickson is a compulsive gambler, a condition just as dangerous and debilitating as drug or alcohol addiction. There are an estimated 6 million people who deal with the problem in the United States. As gambling on the Internet becomes more popular and more sites crop up, those numbers are expected to increase.” This is just one account of the numerous cases of devastating debt and addiction that is occurring through the “convenient access” the internet provides. One of the biggest problems with this new mode of technology is the ability to reach younger and younger audiences. “Drawn in by the popularity of poker, half of all men in college are gambling on an monthly basis — even though betting on sports is illegal everywhere in the U.S. except Nevada.” The question becomes—what’s next? The website I picked in researching this topic is dedicated to internet gambling debates, problems, and even “how to pick the winning numbers.” Very interesting….

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/internet-gambling-facts-and-problems.html

The website claims everything is “free” however there are exclusive member perks. It is unclear in how to become an elite member though….

Website: http://www.gonegambling.com/

The specific site I am exploring discusses the shift in modern times to the reliance on internet dating compared to the old reliance on “fate”—that is, if there ever was on. Anyway, this site talks about the infamous dangers in dating via the web. I find it incredibly ironic to experience “love at first…sight?” via the internet to be valid when most of these sites guarantee a compatible match for a fee. This then becomes a commodity of dating? Anyway, social network sites (SNSs), like match.com and facebook, are increasingly attracting the attention of well, everyone. These articles explores the realms of these social networks and how they frame privacy issues, bridging the gap between reality and cyberspace, along with other issues such as “who wears the pants” in internet dating and more…

http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

http://www.blacktable.com/miller031022.htm

As a side note, I found this incredibly interesting (in my opinion) website about the issues in identity theft. We often talk about how people are allowed to frame their identity as they please, but we rarely touch on the reality of internet banking, shopping, and financial reliance that people invest via the web. Naturally, with that reliance comes the nasty truth of abuse. Something to think about… http://italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RS22082.pdf

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“Online” by Brad Paisley

http://www.metrolyrics.com/online-lyrics-brad-paisley.html

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Images in the Mirror are Closer than they Appear.

Who am I? One could answer by their name, profession, gender, race, religion, talents, aspirations, class, and as you can imagine the list has infinite potential to qualify as what constitutes who someone is. Obviously, it is the conglomerate of these layers that creates a collage to which we have simplified into what we know as one’s identity. The complexity of identity, in my opinion, lies in basis the 1) people’s identities change in time and 2) we interpret people based on the identity of them that we perceive as truth. This isn’t so much of an implication in the physicality of an identity in everyday modes, but rather in the arbitrariness that the cyberworld fosters. Bell introduces this dichotomy by examining how personal homepages operate at a variety of levels: they may be intended for consumption primarily by family or close friends, or may be wanting to present one’s self (or selves) to the whole online world. The preview of how simple it is to create an avatar image illustrates Bell’s point of how self-identity is self- consciously crafted in cyberspace, and how websites are by turn used to project an image of the self. Bell points out possible implications of what I would like to call “identity crisis” in the common themes of the visibility or invisibility of identity online, the modes of self-presentation used by participants, issues of ‘otherness’ and ‘passing’, and questions of the politics of particular online identity-strategies. After all, when people are conveying a desired reality of themselves to others, they take on this demeanor and believe it themselves. Who is to say when the divide between reality and cyberspace will be drawn?

However, what Bell fails to consider is the larger social dilemmas that the cyberculture possesses—influence. Undoubtedly, Bell’s concerns of the validity of identity presentation are indeed problematic, but from creating my own avatar and experiencing the socially “perfect” options of hair, skin, eyes, shape, bone structure, teeth spacing, and so on, I was able to consider what implications this may have in the up and coming cybergeneration. In doing so, I couldn’t help in comparing my avatar to Barbie. Not in a physical aspect necessarily, but the idea behind Barbie—“perfection.” In doing this, I would argue that the false identity that one can present online is not the main problem, but rather the desire for a socially perfected “mask” that the internet provides. I came to this conclusion through debating the selection of choices on numerous websites for my avatar. There were no choices that would depict the “freshman 15” still lagging or the fact that my left ear is slightly higher than my right. Instead, I found traits that masked these potential imperfections with flawless everything, down to the option of adding a Marilyn Monroe mole for kicks.

Okay, so this avatar thing is all fun and games, but what could the potential outcome of this be on the youth of America that are inspired from the virtual perfection that simply isn’t reality? Perhaps this is the least of worries when looking at the fallacious terror of misusing cyberspace identities in the first place, but my best hypothesis would be that we are creating a culture of superficial desires and then feeding this desire through granting a taste of this creation through the realms of the cyberculture. Country music artist, Brad Paisley, comically alludes to this idea in his hit song, “Online.” The song illustrates the divide between fact and fantasy and how this desire is sustained through the mask that the internet enables. The point here is that, the apparent divide between reality and cyberspace are completely tangible. However, as technology evolves and generations change, what happens when this divide is virtually indistinguishable?

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CyberTruth

Wow! I feel instantly important with the authority to divulge virtually anything into the media world that we know as reality. I have to admit though, it it weren’t for ENGL 3116 I definitely wouldn’t have made my own blog. It almost reminds me of a diary– yet anyone and everyone can see it, which is essentially an oxymoron to the entire idea of privately sharing one’s thoughts in the first place. Anyway, I am excited to explore that very idea (or lack of) this semester- privacy. I want to push the limits in understanding the effect of being “plugged in” 24/7. Perhaps the truth of understanding this modern reality is what scares me most though. Can we handle the truth?

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