Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reflection on the Class

Once again another semester comes to a close. I have really enjoyed the class with Professor Wexler at the helm. This is the third time I have had a class in which Professor Wexler was the instructor. His classes are free flowing with thought and all are welcome to participate. I look forward to hearing what the other students are thinking. Sometimes the class debates, and other times it is as though we are all walking together down a pathway of discovery. I sometimes wonder if our class mentally ventures down pathways that have never been thought of before. I have had so many intellectually stimulating thoughts from these sessions that I never would have had if it weren’t for this class and I am thankful for the experience.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Babel Essay Final

Stephan Harder
Babel Essay Final
Professor Wexler
Utopian Babel on a Global Scale
The movie Babel, which is directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, wrenches at the very fabric of humanity. The movie illustrates that even though human kind completely blankets the globe we are all threads stitched together to create an eclectic quilt of diverse colors, shapes, and ideas. The movie weaves a tale from far corners of the globe and brings four groups together through the barrel of a gun. The story follows the lives of four families from various cultures. The movie shows the viewpoint of each family allowing for those that watch the film to get a strong sense of the intricate emotions that take place between them. Many movies show us only one side of the story, allowing for the viewer to comfortably make judgments and choose the side that the author intended to be chosen. Babel is a tale that leaves the viewer to struggle with judgment. There are so many questions as to the responses made by the characters, the choices they made, and the punishments they received. The audience viewing these situations, as they unravel, is left to wonder about their own moral character: what choices they would have made and what they perceive as justice. Now more than ever we live in a global society. This is a world in which cultures swirl together to, not only reveal our similar humanistic traits and traditions, but also our immovable differences. Has the inevitable path to globalization enhanced our world or will it lead us to an unavoidable demise? Have we confused globalization as a necessary goal towards the achievement of a utopian society, or are we simply fools chasing after what can never be attained? By taking a closer analysis of the movie Babel, the meaning of utopia, and what it means to become a global society, a better understanding of this ever changing complex world we live in can be achieved.
As we watch the film it is not difficult to understand the emotions and experiences of this diverse list of characters. Each of the characters is in search of their own personal utopia. The American couple is in search of utopia in another land. A land, unknown to them, they are drawn to through curiosity and the desire to experience another world. They are fairly wealthy and have basically achieved what many may consider to be utopia. They have two children, a house, cars, they are Americans, and they have more freedoms than most in the world. They live at a level that many would hope for themselves. Perhaps this is why the couple has chosen to seek out other places on the globe: utopia never rests even once it is achieved. Utopia is complete satisfaction; however, one humanistic quality is that we seem to be geared in a way which never allows for us to be completely satisfied. We always want more things, love, knowledge, money, laughter, power, and the list goes on, and on. Utopia is a many sided undetermined shape that encapsulates every mental and physical state that a human experiences, needs, and feels. When one or more sides are satisfied, the other sides become more noticeable, and demanding, almost like an itch that moves to a place on the body that is hard to reach. While reaching to scratch the unyielding itch, the satisfied sides are no longer focused upon and therefore begin to fall out of utopia. Finally reaching the itch, we find a moment of satisfaction, and therefore we have scratched out another utopia. Thus begins the process again.
If each of us has a different view of what utopia is, then how can it be achieved without true meaning? So what is utopia? The American Heritage Dictionary defines utopia as “an ideally perfect place, in its social, political, and moral aspects” (Dict.). From an article called “The Politics of Utopia” written by Fredric Jamison we learn another viewpoint of utopia. The article suggests “that utopias are non-fictional, even though they are also non-existent” (Jamison 54). This seems to link utopia to not be a place, but it is more equivalent to a state of mind. Jamison also suggests that “something is to be said for the proposition that the fear of utopia is intimately linked with the fear of aphanisis, or loss of desire” (Jamison 53). This equates utopia to existing as an emotion or feeling rather than to an actual place.
So what is Utopia? Even if one were to achieve utopia would they even know that they had achieved it? Adam and Eve were said to have lived in utopia, but as long as the human mind is not completely satisfied, utopia cannot be fully experienced or achieved. In other words, as long as there remain any questions, doubts, or curiosity, utopia can never be fully achieved. In the movie Babel the Sheppard boys with the rifle loved each other, but were in a competition that is as old as the first brothers that walked the Earth. Their goal to achieve utopia was to be recognized as the dominant brother and they placed a great importance on this competition. Although they were pitted in this rivalry of brothers that is as old as the story of Cain and Abel, they had many moments together that may have satisfied a different utopian quest. There is a brief scene in the movie Babel where the two Sheppard boys are standing together; their arms fully extended, with smiles on their faces. They stand side by side in a sustained updraft that blows back their hair and supports their weight. They trustingly lean into the wind, and for this moment in time they share something together that is priceless. They look at each other and seem to realize this experience is theirs, and at this time and place they share a moment of utopia.
 Globalization is civilization on a global scale. So is globalization a good thing for humanity? This is a question that can lead great minds to madness. It seems that globalization would be a natural step for humanity to not just survive, but advance. Humans have always counted on groups to develop, survive, and even thrive in this unpredictable and dangerous world. However, throughout recorded history we have seen what happens when a group becomes too big. Rome, for example, was one of the most powerful nations ever known. However, when Rome reached a certain size it imploded in on itself.
In the more recent past we see colonialism. Was this an attempt at globalization? With so many cultures, beliefs, and traditions how can we agree on one particular way of life? Wouldn’t a dominant culture have to take the top rung of society’s ladder to maintain some kind of order in the land? There is no way that all nations around the globe would willfully participate in becoming a state to a global nation. The only thread that brings the entire globe together besides humanity itself seems to be capitalism. Capitalism is far from perfect but in a world of seven billion people there is no other way to sustain these numbers. If capitalism can be improved and used as a vehicle to bring humanity together to form a more perfect society doesn’t that therefore bring us all one more step closer to utopia?
Globalization, in some ways, is a vision that brings all humanity together.  However, the Earth is not big enough to sustain the growth that humanity has been experiencing. According to the US Bureau of the Census, in my lifetime alone, the Earth’s population has doubled. Eventually humans will have to venture into space for the next phase of existence. Once humanity has spread throughout the solar system, we will once again be separated, not just by oceans, and boarders, we will be separated by light years. If humanity survives long enough to achieve such lofty visions then further speculation perhaps illustrates that humanity will always develop in separate tribes that may never fully understand one another in a way that a utopian society demands.
In the world in which we live today we can reach out to every corner of the globe. In the movie Babel, we see people from the four corners of the globe being capable of forever changing and affecting each other’s lives in the short span of a two hour movie. Only one hundred years ago these people from the four corners of the globe could have lived a lifetime and never seen an individual from a thousand miles away.  The world is much smaller than it used to be. We are going to need technologies to expand faster than our population. It could be argued that the engine of technology is capitalism. Capitalism funds entrepreneurs, businesses, and invention. It feeds the hungry, supports the family, strengthens education, and builds powerful nations. On the other hand some hold strong negative views of capitalism. An article by Randy Martin titled, “Where did the future go?”  seems to hold some very negative views of capitalism. In the article, Martin states that “the past was littered with the corpses of colonialism, slavery and genocide” and seems to put the blame on “those…who could secure a seat on the bus” on a “trip…to a market utopia” (Martin). Martin then states his beliefs with a tone one may recognize to be a form of academic elitist sarcasm by saying “The fortunate would be freed from work in the form of retirement and leave the earth secure in the knowledge that their kids would do better than they had. The passage of biological time between generations would be reinscribed as upward mobility” (Martin). Martin is quick to imply that those who may achieve a goal of financial stability for future family generations to come are in some way incredibly selfish, and greedy by suggesting that they have forgotten,” most of the world’s peoples–still awaiting their moment of development to come” for they “never got to live the dream, or pursued another under the banner of socialism” (Martin).
Martin’s article dovetails nicely into the topic of the movie Babel for capitalism is the springboard of a globalization with negative outcomes. Martin could argue that the four families from the film were negatively impacted solely due to the expansion of this evil weed known as capitalism. These families’ lives were altered by one of the biggest money makers on the globe…guns. If there was no money to be made on guns then perhaps they wouldn’t make them. If they didn’t make guns then the woman would never have been shot on the bus while driving through the desert on her vacation. However, it’s more than just guns because its capitalism that bought the ticket, which built the plane that brought her there which built the bus that, took her through a land where she probably should not have gone in the first place. Martin would probably use some very big words in a confusing string of mind-numbing “babal” to make an opinionated speculation sound like fact to make his point that this disastrous stream of events is the direct cause of capitalism. Most people would probably see that these lives in the movie were simply affected by an accident that set into motion a sequence of mishaps that lead to each family from the film to have their own personal conclusion. None of which resembles anything like a utopia.
The movie Babel illustrates our rapidly developing global society with great detail, exposing our similarities and differences. It is our similarities that give us hope that one day our humanity will allow for us to harmoniously live together. However, it is our differences that will forever keep us apart. No one knows humanities destiny, but some things we can be sure of, and one of those is that we shall never achieve an absolute utopia, but we can only strive for moments that resemble it.
Works Cited
American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin: n.p., 2000. Print.
Jameson, Fredrick. “The Politics of Utopia”. The New Left Review 25. Jan.-Feb. 2004.
Martin, Randy. “Where Did The Future Go?”. Logos 5.1, winter 2006. Web. Dec. 12, 2012.
United States. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Projections. World Population      1950-2050. Negative Population Growth, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <>.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Group Project Super Hero Creations

We have a group project for class to teach 8th graders new media and how to implement it in constructive ways. We chose a super hero creator for the students to utilize so they can develop a super hero or villain. Create a scenario for the characters to be in. To create a story line for the new characters to exist. This is to develop creative writing skills in an interesting way.

Height: 5’ 10’
Weight: 185lbs
Mission: To stop monetary waste, and find best investments for every single cent to grow from which in turn helps to create good jobs, and give people the financial security and freedom they may choose to have.
Weakness: High interest rate credit cards, loans from China, Big Government wasteful spending, the sight of burning or wasting money make him weak and vulnerable to attack.
Strengths: High closes on Wall Street, Strong Dollar, Good Investments
Story Example:
A villain is burning money that he just robbed from a bank! Financio is getting weaker. He is almost too weak to fight! Quick read him the closing numbers on Wall Street for today because it’s up 200 points!
Finacio’s strength returns and he stops the bank robbers from burning the money. He captures them and returns the remaining money to the bank. Financio tells the bank owner how to safely invest in two upstart companies in need of a loan. Two weeks later four hundred people are hired at the new upstart companies. Now they can feed their families and pay for their kids to go to college! Thanks Financio!

Height: 5’
Weight: 500 lbs
Unusual muscle density gives his short stature great weight.
Only person born on planet Jupiter. Parents were stranded there for fifteen years. They were smashed by their own weight under the gravitational pull of Jupiter. Their son Girth was unaffected and rescued years after his parents had past. On Earth Girth is very strong and his bones are stronger than titanium.
Weakness: eyesight


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Project Poem

Start at The End
A thousand thoughts threaded through the theory
Winters wild winding wind weaves one weary
All aware unfair without care they dare
Gather to speak what needs to be spoken
Awaken the weak grow strong once woken
Troubling time tunnels turning churning soil
Cool fresh water springs, freeze up, and then boil
Suffering defeat, at feat, vipers coil
Gone and Never to be heard from again
Searching for kindness and only find sin
To start at the end is where to begin
But all have left and forgotten what’s right
Cowardly fools their eyes see without sight
And run to darkness to hide from the light


Mow lawn, get mail, take out trash, write poem

The Clock tick tock in the corner tock tick

Feed Kids, change baby, wash clothes, write poem

The clock tick tock in the corner tock tick

Clutter on the island, Dishes fill sink

Six trash cans sit in the hot sun and stink

Weeds grow high in vegetable garden

Aging man feels his arteries harden

Try to get it all done, impossible

The Clock tick tock in the corner tock tick

Chased every moment, throughout the days and nights

The Clock tick tock in the corner tock tick

So much to get done, to get through the day

And when it is all finished, write a poem

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Beatles Eleanor Rigby Remix

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks
In the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people
(Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
(Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?
Ah, look at all the grown up people
Ah, look at all the grown up  people
Eleanor Rigby, Picks up her toy
From a box and it breaks on the scene
Let’s out a scream
Wanting another, sad little face
Waits and sit as she glares at the door
Always wants more!
All the grown up people
When will you sing this song?
All the Grown up people
How can we get along?
Eleanor’s father, gets home from work
Then goes straight to the fridge grabs a beer
No one comes near
Look at him drinking, let’s out a belch
Friday night TV light unaware
Sits in his chair
All the grown up people
When will you sing this song?
All the Grown up people
How can we get along?
Ah, look at all the grown up people
Ah, look at all the grown up  people
Eleanor Rigby, cries for a toy
To enjoy and there’s no one to blame
No new toy came
Eleanor’s Father, was not alert
And got hurt and falls fast to the floor
He drinks no more
All the grown up people
(Ah, look at all the grown up people)
When will you sing this song?
All the grown up people
(Ah, look at all the grown up people)
How can we get along?


           Reflections from yesterday’s class ran through my head all night. Our assignment was to choose a song and basically make a parody of it. I had some trouble choosing a song, but other students seemed to shine on this particular task. Some of the students literally sang their parodies to the music of the actual song. It was a really fun class and I was very impressed with some of the work that was presented. Some students wrote poems and other wrote parodies. The class is beginning to bind with one another and by the end of the semester many will be good friends. I am looking forward to the topics from the Myth and Knowing book. The classroom is a great place for discussion and debate, but it is difficult to be creative in a room full of people.