Friday, November 29, 2013

Comments on Danielewski, Week 4

Post your questions/thoughts as comments to this post.  Again:  a paragraph is fine, or a couple if you feel so moved.  You are posting on a question, problem or topic of your choice.  Citing a particular passage is recommended but not required.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Project Proposal

Project Proposal 
 I feel as though it would be wrong to leave this class without doing an in-depth paper on House of Leaves. That being said, I almost feel as though it would be antithetical to the book if one were to do an academic analysis of a book that is, at least arguably, mocking academic analysis (maybe that that could be the main argument, or at least part of it. It is at least easy to come up with ideas for a paper on the topic).
 That being said, I also loved Jimmy Corrigan and I would like to re-explore the text in the context of a paper. Ideas the come to minds for it include using the backdrop of the World’s Fair in the father’s story to look at the idea of progress throughout the novel. Examples could include Jimmy’s progression through meeting his family mirroring the idea that the fantastic promises of the World’s Fair are often quite different than the reality metaphorically standing for the idea that meeting your family can be quite a let-down in real life. This would draw specifically to the pages where Jimmy imagines his pseudo-incestual relationship with Amy leading to the page where she rejects holding his hand, the pages where James is orphaned and the page describing the businesses in the town.
To return to House of Leaves, the theoretical works by Heidegger seem to compliment the book nicely – questioning the nature of ‘being’ especially in regards to the impossibility of the house. Marcuse can also offer some interesting ideas, namely the house’s rejection of technology (the Great Refusal) coupled with Navidson’s dependency on it (this can break down into real vs. false needs and art [it’s about a ‘film’]). Theoretical work for Jimmy could include Marcuse’s ideas about the nature of art – namely, how do the aesthetics of Jimmy relate to the content, and are they capable of showing the Truth that Marcuse is so obsessed with?
The bibliography would look something like this:
Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. New York: Harper, 1962. Print.
See above for explanations of how this will be used
Marcuse, Herbert. One Dimensional Man. London: Sphere, 1968. Print.
See above for explanations of how this will be used
Middleton, Robin, and David Watkin. Neoclassical and 19th Century Architecture. New York:
Electa/Rizzoli, 1987. Print.
To examine the artwork of Jimmy in the context of the architectural style of the World’s Fair
Neuburger, Mary. "To Chicago and Back: Aleko Konstantinov, Rose Oil, and the Smell of
Modernity." Slavic Review 65.3 (2006): n. pag. Web.
            To explore the ideas of progress that the World’s fair would represent
Not an actual citation, but using this essay:

This would be used to further explore some themes in House of Leaves

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Just a start, but... Final Paper Proposal

For my final project I would like to explore Jimmy Corrigan more closely. I was interested to note in my second revision that throughout Jimmy’s story I found myself rooting for him to have a successful interaction with people even though he never does. Normally when people fail at something it is to learn something and to do better the next time, however in Jimmy’s case this does not seem to be true. Each subsequent interaction he has fails, but it seems that he is always willing to try again to interact with someone in the hopes that he can have a successful relationship. He desperately seeks emotional connection with people even if something is holding him back.
            An interesting parallel appears between Jimmy and Charlie Brown, which is something I would be interested in exploring. Both are constantly failing at what they do, and yet we still find ourselves rooting for them to succeed. It is interesting to note that in Charlie Brown, there are many characters around him that juxtapose him, for they have successes that seem to avoid Charlie. What effect do these characters have on the way we view Charlie? And another parallel arises between the characters in Jimmy’s life that are able to have successful interactions and lead normal lives. However, it is interesting to note that all the people around Jimmy (his parents and Amy) are alone too. None of them are in a relationship with someone else. Another aspect that is peculiar is that the one character that has been around Jimmy his whole life and constantly seeks his company is his mother, the one person he avoids. She also is the only one who appears to enter into a relationship at the end of the book.
            Comparing Jimmy at the beginning of the novel and at the end will provide a way to sort of measure how much progress he has actually made in his endeavor to have a successful relationship with people. This means I must also look at the epilogue that was added and through a close reading analyze the different ways it can be read. On the surface there are the two different ways: taken at face value as a hopeful future for Jimmy, or the sarcastic reading that ends with Jimmy failing again to establish an emotional connection.
            One final aspect that I might explore is the appearance of superman in the story, and what he means and represents as a role model. There are many aspects of Superman as a superhero and I would need to do more research to refresh my memory about him, but looking into Superman might draw parallels to Jimmy’s life. It would be helpful too to note what parts of superman Jimmy would relate to, and why. Connecting this back to how Jimmy is a character that Chris Ware relates too is another aspect I might explore, but as this is only a 10 page (or so) essay, I might not have time to fully explore that idea.
Arnold, Andrew and Poniewozik, James. "Right Way, Corrigan." Time 156.11 (2000): 116. Military & Government Collection. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
            This source directly relates Superman to God in Jimmy Corrigan, offering up some useful insights into why Jimmy idolizes Superman and what that represents. If I choose to include the Superman in my essay, which after finding this source I just might, this will help clearly articulate the aspects of Superman that appeal to Jimmy.
O'Connell, John. "Comic books that geeky teenagers won't read." Times, The (United Kingdom) n.d.: Newspaper Source. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
            O’Connell talks about Jimmy Corrigan’s appeal to people in this source. The idea that he is a protagonist but not a hero in the traditional sense is something that O’Connell discusses, and how this appeals to people, especially gawky teenagers. Though this source isn’t very long, I think it has soon good points on the appeal of Jimmy as a character and why he is so relatable.


Project Proposal

Project Proposal
For my final project I would like to further revise my second revision, the one which views Portal through the lens of Marcuse’s ideas.  While I believe that my revision of this essay improved it as a whole, there are still a great many ways which it could be fine-tuned.  The inclusion of more research will focus my argument and provide more, or better, connections between the game and the text.  I feel like I’ve adequately discussed Portal; a few more screen caps or quotes may be necessary, but primarily I need to focus more on Marcuse because that is where the heart of my argument lies.  I also need to further specify my argument, and deviate from it less.  Mostly I plan on adding new content, though I’m sure some parts will lose cohesion and need to be scrapped or thoroughly changed.  The purpose of this essay is to reflect upon the nature of the Great Refusal, highlighting its inherent difficulty, questioning its necessity, and at some points questioning its benefit.  In the form of an argument I suppose that would look something like: “The Great Refusal is an idea which we inherently cannot wrap our minds around due to the nature of our upbringing within our society (uniformity of inputs?) and the difficulty of defining new paradigms (producing new outputs with uniform inputs?).  Furthermore, carrying out the Great Refusal will fundamentally change our direction as a species, taking us down a different path which may or may not be superior to the path we are currently walking.  Portal seems to be preaching caution, asking us to deeply consider our actions before enacting a decision with the immense ramifications of the Great Refusal.”  Is our current path (culture) not sufficient?  Is the Great Refusal something which we should really pursue?  That last one is the question I am trying to reach; it is also the question I believe Portal is asking.  My argument is that we should be cautious in such a radical undertaking; it may do more harm than good.

This article is a gold mine; it’s so long I still haven’t read it all from start to finish.  It seems to view the Great Refusal as the rise of Marxism, i.e. the abolition of class structures, primarily for the benefit of the working class.  Or at the very least it uses Marcuse’s criticisms of a capitalist society as evidence for the benefits of revolution.  While 1D Man certainly makes sense in this context, I believe Marcuse would not consider socialism different enough from our current paradigm to constitute the Great Refusal.  Part of my plan here is to draw upon the inherent similarities between socialism and capitalism to further express the difficulty, and perhaps the dangers, of successfully completing the Great Refusal.  I may end up mentioning Portal 2 a little here; viewing Wheatley as a symbol for the Soviet Union, i.e. a failed attempt at establishing a new paradigm, is simply too good to pass up.
            Another critic who believes Marcuse is promoting Marxism, although this one seems to be doing so for the sake of discrediting Marcuse.  Ultimately, I don’t think this author has the right idea either, but there are some interesting points he brings up which I can use.  For my own future reference: “If by “communism” is meant the political regime in the Soviet orbit—and what else can it mean?—then its antithesis is not “capitalism” (as it seems to be for Marcuse) but either “democracy” or “fascism,” or some other political concept.”  That’s like saying negative infinity is the opposite of infinity.  None of these can be the antithesis of communism, all are political concepts within our culture, derived from our culture, with more similarities than differences. These two articles are nice because they are both interpreting Marcuse the same way for opposite reasons.

            This one for mostly the same reasons I used it previously, I don’t know if I should include it in this summary as I doubt I’ll expand its usage.  Perhaps I can draw on its thoughts about algorithms as a limiting factor in our society.  Or to further highlight the similarities between GLaDOS and our culture.  Hmmmm, maybe.  It refers to GLaDOS as a “collection of complex algorithms.”  This is literally exactly what Western Culture is: a collection of people whose ideas have fundamentally synchronized.  As all of the pieces of GLaDOS’s mind have centered around the need to experiment, all of the people in our society have centered around the need to consume (material items or otherwise).  A lack of inputs which would produce a different output can result from a uniformity of previous outputs; an infinite loop so to speak, which highlights the difficulty of carrying out the Great Refusal, i.e. breaking out of this infinite loop.

Project Proposal

My Final Project will be based off of my second revision which is about whether or not Dear Esther is a video game or not.  I chose this because I really enjoy the idea and think that spending more time on the analogy I have put together will result in an even more interesting and compelling argument.  This idea leaves a lot of room for interesting sources and I think, embodies a lot of what we’ve talked about throughout this course.    

My argument is essentially that Dear Esther is in fact a video game because despite it’s deviations from the prevailing style of video games:
1. It still retains the essential definition of a video game (controlling images on a screen)
2. Historically, new styles of art have been rejected by supporters of the prevailing style.  However, over time these new styles were accepted.  The style of Dear Esther is no different.  Although it is rejected due to it’s unorthodoxy, Dear Esther is still a videogame and we can expect over time that it will be accepted as a video game.  

I have used Romanticism and Baroque as an analogy to illustrate my second point however I have not completely discussed my first point.  I off-handedly defined what a video game is so I will go into depth as to what a video game exactly is.    
Also to reinforce my first point I will use Marcuse and his criticism of society’s preference to specific definitions rather than broad transcendental ones which are more true.  
To enhance my second point I will use more works of art and literature that analyzes these works to further strengthen my argument.  This is because up until now I have mostly relied on my rudimentary knowledge of history and art so including published analyses of the works I choose will be better.  I will also rather than generalizing the concept of romanticism and baroque I will address specific details in each of the artworks that I have used and will use to create a better connection between the styles.  I will also include screen captures of the video games mentioned to draw further comparisons between the different styles of each artform. Doing this will create a more complete analysis and overall strengthen my argument.  

A possible counterargument would most likely be that Romanticism’s ultimate acceptance despite it’s deviations from Baroque is just an isolated example.  That using these two styles is insufficient to assert my argument.  However I will then include a sort of miniature and identical analyses of a different pair of styles that also assert my argument.  I will discuss the radical change from Romanticism to Realism.  I will discuss the differences in art and literature within these styles.
I chose to add this in the counterargument section rather than including it in the main argument is because Romanticism and Baroque are both styles that are analogous to Dear Esther and the prevailing style of contemporary video games respectively.  I would rather focus on those two styles so that the flow between each style is much smoother rather than jumping from realism to dear esther which is sort of removed from each other.  

The Chinese Room. Dear Esther. Steam, 14 Feb. 2012. PC.
Allistair, Pinsof. "Review: Dear Esther." Rev. of Dear Esther. Web log post. Destructoid. N.p., 12 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
I will use this review to discuss how gamers do not appreciate any sort of unorthodoxy in terms of style.  Dear Esther deviates from the prevailing style of video games and thus receives much criticism and a low rating by this reviewer.  

MacDonald, Keza. "Dear Esther Review." Rev. of Dear Esther. Web log post. IGN. N.p., 13 Feb. 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
I will use this review to discuss the beauty and truly masterful work by the creators of Dear Esther to illustrate that this video game should be recognized as one.  

Mccaffrey, Ryan. "Halo 4 Review." IGN. Imagine Games Network, 1 Nov. 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
I will use this review to discuss how gamers prefer video games that are grandiose and that are action packed; similar to the baroque style of painting.  It received a 9+ rating

Bozon, Mark
I will use this review to discuss how gamers prefer video games that are grandiose and that are action packed; similar to the baroque style of painting.  It recieved a 9+ rating

Marcuse, Herbert. "One Dimensional Man, by Herbert Marcuse (contents)." One Dimensional Man, by Herbert Marcuse (contents). N.p., 30 May 2005. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
  I will use Marcuse to assert my first point that Dear Esther retains the essential definition of a video game.  I will use his critique of our society's use of definitions as specific and jargon based rather than transcendent and universal.  

Fall of Phaeton Peter Reubens
I will use this painting to draw connections between baroque painting and the prevailing style of video games today.  

McLanathan, Richard. Peter Paul Rubens. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1995.
I will use a biography of the Rubens who painted the Fall of Phaeton to discuss the similarities between modern video games and his baroque paintings.  Specifically the mass production of painting and video games using a large team of apprentices and employees.  

The Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, Caspar Freiderich
I will use this painting to draw connections between romantic painting and Dear Esther.   

Final Project Proposal: Video

Okay, so I have a pretty ambitious idea for my final project. I really think that it's possible, but it's going to require a lot of thought and work. Ultimately, I would like to create a video that discusses the advantages of using technology, primarily video, to illustrate a narrative while simultaneously creating a video that does just that. There are two core elements of the video I am concerned with:
For the first part of the video, I intend to interview people to obtain different point of views on the topic of how technology can impact or hinder a narrative. I intend to interview people who are affiliated with writing, like English writing majors, writers for the Pitt News, or students who always have their heads in different novels. To get a different point of view on the subject, I intend to interview students or instructors of video production, photography, and media. For the third and final point of view, I'd like to interview people who really don't have any special interest in narratives or video. I'm hoping that the different point of views will create a stable dialogue on how technology can enhance or take away from a written narrative. Questions for the interviewees would be (roughly):
- What is writing?
- What is a story? / What makes a story?
- What is a movie?/ What makes a movie?
- What makes a story/movie/writing interesting?
- Would you rather watch a movie or read a book? (in general)
- Would you rather watch a movie adaptation of a book or read the book on which the movie is based?
In the second part of the video, I intend to illustrate a comparison between the different ways a story can be told to an audience. The first method would be the most traditional: reading written words, that appear on the screen. I'm going to compare this to having the words on the screen read aloud to the audience. The last presentation of the same narrative will be through a visual representation using video footage. To keep the video flowing smoothly, there will be a narration where it is necessary to guide the viewers through what they are seeing.
Disclaimer: The next two paragraphs explain ideas that I really want to include in the video, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to because they are a bit ambitious and I might have trouble incorporating them cohesively into the first two parts of the video.
I would like to play with the idea that Danielewski introduces his novel with: the truth of the image. I can use time alterations and visual effects to alter the image on the screen so that it looks different from the real image that was originally recorded. To show how much the image can actually be altered from reality, I'll show a comparison between the original footage and the final product directly next to each other on the screen.
I was thinking of a few different ways to incorporate the reading from the semester in the video, because they are all great examples to use for the relationship between technology and the narrative, obviously. I think for the comparison between reading text and viewing video footage I might be able to incorporate text and images from Frankenstein, the film, and Frankenstein, the movie. I'd also like to scan include some images from Jimmy Corrigan, but I'm not sure how I'd do that yet. I might attempt to create a live-action version of a few frames in the novel and then compare the original images to the visual adaptation I create.
Finally, for the writing component of the project, I plan to discuss my video in a summary of information gathered as well as a general critique of the work. Also, I could include a copy of the narration or a rough script-like document.

Final Project Proposal

In short, I want to explore how three of the works that we read for this class – Frankenstein, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and House of Leaves – use copies to explore the real thing. I believe there is a clear progression in these novels: Frankenstein's monster, a copy to explore humans' relation to nature; Androids in DADES to explore humans' relation to other humans; and the very nature of House of Leaves, as a copied work, to explore the human relation to the self. I'm particularly drawn to an essay like this because it explores themes I've stayed on the periphery of (I remember reading Baudrillard for a class my freshman year and being terrified). In my research on this subject so far, I've come across a Baudrillard statement that I believe could shape my paper:
There are three orders of simulacra, running parallel to the successive mutations of the law of value since the Renaissance:
—The counterfeit is the dominant schema in the “classical” period, from the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution.
—Production is the dominant schema in the industrial era.
—Simulation is the dominant schema in the current code-governed phase.
The first order simulacrum operates on the natural law of value, the second order simulacrum on the market law of value, and the third order simulacrum on the structural law of value.

Of course I need to dive into the subject with much more effort, but I see a clear connection between this progression and the progression of novels that I seek to explore. Frankenstein's monster as the counterfeit, Androids as evidence of mass production, House of Leaves as a simulation of academic criticism and memoir (an admittedly weak argument that I will have to put more work into). Ultimately I will argue that as the copies progress outward, the human condition is focused inward, so as we move from counterfeit to mass production to simulation, the novels' focuses move from nature, to other people, to the self.
            But it could be argued that there is no difference between how these works treat copies, instead they all pursue the same universal truth, just the same as the shadows of Plato’s cave. They simply refer back to the same universal questions of literature asked over and over in (a)similar ways. What is the nature of truth and reality? It could be argued that this nature is unchanging, that humans remain uncertain, chained by concern, regardless of the time they come from and the philosophical/historical movements happening while they happen to be alive.
1. Sims, Christopher A. Tech Anxiety: Artificial Intelligence and Ontological Awakening in Four Science Fiction Novels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013. 
2.Rosa, Jorge M. "A Misreading Gone Too Far? Baudrillard Meets Philip K. Dick." Science Fiction Studies 35.104 (2008): Depauw University. <>.
1.      In this book, there is an entire chapter dedicated to DADES, titled “The Dangers of Individualism and the Human Relationship to Technology in Philip K. Dicks’…” which deals heavily with Heidegger. I believe this connection, which will become clearer as I read the entire chapter, will help me to connect DADES to HOL. The focus on individualism will also help my argument address the relation of people to other people.
2.      I actually found the Baudrillard quote used above in this essay, which also focuses on DADES. However, I am particularly interested in what is only noted in this essay – Frankenstein as an entry point into Baudrillard’s 1st order and R.U.R. as a marked change from the earlier Industrial Revolution. At this point, I’m looking for threads to connect my final paper, and I believe that R.U.R. should prove to help me move from Frankenstein to DADES.

Final Project Proposal


Cantwell, John D. "Heroes." American Journal of Cardiology 94.2 (2004): 169-171. Science Direct. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
This article will help me demonstrate why we need heroes and idols with specific instances of their positive power.

Bilbrey, Pam. "Heroes: storytelling keeps them with us." H&HN Hospitals & Health Networks Oct. 2008: 24. Academic OneFile. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.
This article will help me relate superheroes to real-life heroes.

Rosenberg, Robin S.. Our superheroes, ourselves. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.
This book will help me establish a psychological more scientific approach to my topic

Rubin, Lawrence C.. Using Superheroes in Counseling and Play Therapy. New York, NY, USA: Springer Publishing Company, 2006. p 41. Copyright © 2006. Springer Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
This book will give me examples of practical value for superheroes, showing how they are used to help children psychologically.

Ware, C. (2003). Jimmy Corrigan the Smartest Kid on Earth. Pantheon.
I will use Jimmy’s relationship with superheroes to illustrate their influence on society.


For my final project, I am going to argue that superheroes, and role-models or idols in general, are very important in our society and teach us a lot about ourselves and contribute positively to society. I will be using Jimmy Corrigan to show peoples dependence on superheroes and my other sources will provide examples of how heroes offer us hope and something positive to strive for. Overlooking their mistakes even has some value to it. Sometimes we need to have that perfect person to look up too, even if that is false. If we choose to take mistakes and flaws of our idols into account, we can also learn a lot from them.

I think that many people may make a counter argument that we rely too much on idols and often choose false idols that take is down a dark path when we perceive them as perfect and invincible. Also, that the role-models we choose are insufficient.

I think that my argument matters because almost everyone has a role-model that they admire in some aspect of their life. Many people try to take away the importance of them but I hope to illustrate that heroes and idols are a positive influence and our reliance on them is not a negative thing.

I will use pieces from my earlier revision about superheroes in Jimmy Corrigan but for the most part this paper will be a new essay, more centered around the positive aspects of superheroes and what they mean to us as a society. I briefly touched on this subject in my earlier essay but I feel that it is a strong basis for a new, more in depth paper. The focus will be on our society rather than Ware’s argument and deconstruction of the superhero.


Final Project Proposal

Final Project Proposal


This websites goes into detail how various colors have an effect on people’s emotions. It also explains the “Color Theory”, why certain colors are commonly used together and the effect or perception they give off together.

2.     2.) Gage, John Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism

The phenomenon of color is examined in new ways in this informative book. The author’s conviction that “color is a contingent, historical occurrence whose meaning, like language, lies in the particular contexts in which it is experienced and interpreted” is explored.

 3.) Gage, John Color and Culture: Practice and Meaning from Antiquity to Abstraction 
Color is fundamental to life and art yet so diverse that it has seldom been studied in a comprehensive way. This ground-breaking analysis of color in Western culture from the ancient Greeks to the late twentieth century is an enlightening read. The first theories of color articulated by philosophers from Democritus to Aristotle and the subsequent attempts by the Romans and their Renaissance disciples to organize color systematically or endow it with symbolic power.


For my final project I have chosen to revisit my second revision for Jimmy Corrigan, “Images in Jimmy Corrigan”. My argument will somewhat remain the same, I am arguing how influential the illustrations (more specifically the colors used in the illustrations) work together in opening up a new dimension for the reader. This time I will include research about how color is interpreted, where it developed from and how different societies and cultures view color itself. In my previous blogs about Images in Jimmy Corrigan, I have failed to truly connect the impact of color to my thesis, this time around I will answer the necessary questions to make my argument concrete:

  • ·         Why does the color in Jimmy Corrigan play such a significant role?
  • ·         What is Ware trying to signal to his readers?
  •           How does color change our opinion on certain parts of the novel?
  • ·         How does the absence of color make us feel?
  • ·         Are colors more significant in certain areas of the book compared to others?


Ware decided to make this novel as a comic book, that fact alone should tell the readers that the illustrations (color) are important. I truly believe that this story would not and could not carry the same effect had it been a typical typed novel. Comic books consist of many panels were each panel is supposed to represent a scene. Minimum textual narration is used because the pictures are meant to do a majority of the talking. I think that placing a novel plot line inside a comic book format is a rare writing technique that probably confuses and frustrates many. On the bright side, if the reader is patient and faithful, the confusion eventually turns to comprehension and the frustration transforms into appreciation from Ware.

My previous revisions have hit on a pretty general level whereas this revision will pin point more specifics, backed up from research from the above sources. Introducing how colors affect different cultures and how color was developed should be a beneficial point to help prove my argument. I plan to keep the idea of using certain panels and scenes to relate my argument back to textual evidence. I plan to use appropriate panels that help support and possibly answer the questions I listed in my argument section above.