Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pyongyang, North Korea - A State-Sponsored Simulation

Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea and the central hub of global culture, is a vast city located on a lovely hill in the center of our great nation. We are led by our noble, wise leader, Kim Jong Un, and we actively fight the oppression and great evil of The America and the Other Korea.

Here are some photos to acclimatize you, the New Eastern Visionary, to the laws, customs, and successes of North Korea -

The Most Important Aspect of the Glorious City of Pyongyang:
Click Here, Citizen!

A Sampling of North Korean Cuisine:

An Example of Something that is not found in North Korea:

An Example of Something TOTALLY found in North Korea:

A Stupid Flag:

A Perfect Flag:

What We Have:

What The America Has:

This has been but a taste of the many fab things about the great state of North Korea. We could go on for days upon years upon centuries about our many other great accomplishments like winning soccer matches and increasing our GDP from 191st to 189th, but we do not wish to brag. Instead, we prefer that our accomplishments, self-evident as they are, speak for themselves! We can only hope that you, honorary Best Korean, will join us soon for a State-Sponsored National Tour!  They only cost $15 The American Dollars and The America's Nuclear Launch Codes!

Hail Citizen! Sleep well in your American dirt!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Barthes Location Analysis - "The Caf"

       The University of Montevallo Cafeteria is an interesting enigma on campus. It simultaneously creates an environment that is suitable for its main purpose, eating, while also reinforcing new ideals the University of Montevallo is trying to push into the public consciousness. The room is set up in a similar way to the previous school cafeteria; however, several changes have been made, both subtle and obvious.
            Perhaps the most immediately striking feature of the cafeteria is its paint scheme. The room sports an extremely plain, white colored paint which gives the room a feeling of being clinical; this is almost certainly unintentional. Additionally, the ceiling retains a wooden frame which contradicts the stark white paint. This wooden frame conjures up a rustic feeling of a cabin which would typically remind diners of a down-home country kitchen. However, in the context of the clinical feeling conjured by the white paint, the wooden frames seem ironic and fail to create any feeling in diners other than confusion.
            Throughout the cafeteria, there is a variety of tables. These tables range from tall bar counters to small, circular tables to long rows of connected rectangular tables. This suggests a need to create variety in all approaches to the dining experience. By not having a set table style, the cafeteria is allowing diners of any preference to have a place to sit in comfort. For example, a fraternity might prefer a long bar counter table so that small pockets of friends can sit together while being distant from those they are not as close to in their brotherhood. Conversely, a small group of close friends might prefer a circular table so that they are close to every single person and can speak to whomever they wish. What the cafeteria sacrifices in uniformity and military precision from their table choices, they make up for by fostering many different types of community and providing options. However, there is a danger that such a scattershot method of structuring a dining room could lead to a loss in ethos by making it appear that the dining company has no clue what they are doing.
            The cafeteria also has an extension on the side of the building which is often considered the proper Anna Irvin Dining Hall. This area exists for a completely different reason than the rest of the cafeteria. Anna Irvin is all about creating the illusion of class and refinement. The room’s chandeliers and tall windows make the room feel more like the dining halls of prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale which have been around significantly longer than Montevallo. This hall is used mainly for luncheons and for entertaining other guests to the university, including touring prospective students.
            By allowing potential students to dine in Anna Irvin rather than the typical cafeteria, the university is attempting to say to the students that the school is a place of refined taste and adamant tradition; however, this stands in stark contrast to the new cafeteria space.
            The new space, with its post-modern design and accommodation of various preferences for dining, seems to suggest to its diners that it cares about moving forward and accepting new cultural standards, whereas Anna Irvin, with its uniformly circular tables and extravagant decoration, seems to suggest the aforementioned respect and adherence to rich tradition. By choosing to entertain guests and allow prospective students to dine in Anna Irvin, the university reveals which of the two contrasting identities it prefers to tout. Clearly, the university thinks that the post-modern designs of the new cafeteria will appeal to at least a good portion of its new students; however, the university is still stuck thinking that its tradition is its main draw for new students. Therefore, it ushers them away from the post-modern new cafeteria and puts them in a room with rich history and elegant taste.

            Essentially, the new cafeteria and Anna Irvin work together to create the ultimate metaphor for the University of Montevallo divided in its desire to retain tradition and move forward into a brave new future.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rhetorical Image Analysis - "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper and "Nighthawks at the Diner" by Cal Schenkel and Tom Waits

     A Rhetorical Analysis of Images                                               

                                                         Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

The painting “Nighthawks” from American artist, Edward Hopper, was made in the year 1942 and is often lauded for describing the loneliness of American nightlife. However, Hopper himself claimed that the painting was more about “the possibility of predators in the night, than with loneliness.” Additionally, he has claimed on many occasions to draw inspiration from the short stories “The Killers” and “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Ernest Hemingway.

    -     The painting’s use of dark, muted colors in the surrounding city streets highlights the sinister nature of what Hopper perceives to be the true nature of a city at night.

-   It is interesting to note that there is no one in the painting who is not in the diner, suggesting that the entire world of the city’s nightlife is manifest in the four figures at the bar counter. Hopper pays no concern to what is going on outside of this small setting as there is no insinuated movement or development going on outside of the diner’s walls.

-  The barkeep is wearing white while the two other men in the painting, who are seated around the counter, are wearing black. This could reflect a sort of angels and demons dichotomy between the man who is only up at late hours so that he can earn a paycheck versus the two men who are up late at night in order to do something more sinister.

-   There is no door leading from the street into the diner; the only door in the diner appears to lead to where a kitchen would be. Hopper could be suggesting a feeling of entrapment among the “predators in the night” or, alternatively, it could suggest the inescapable feeling which comes from insomnia or loneliness, particularly late at night.

-  The couple in the painting is intriguing, because it refutes, in many ways, the argument for loneliness that many suggest for the painting. Hopper wisely chooses to muddle up the ideas of danger in the night by putting a dangerous looking man with a lovely woman, who would appear to balance him out.

“Nighthawks at the Diner” cover by Cal Schenkel; album by Tom Waits

            Tom Waits’ third album, “Nighthawks at the Diner”, was released in 1975 and is a concept album loosely based around themes from Hopper’s painting “Nighthawks”. The cover design was made by Cal Schenkel, who was tasked with adapting Hopper’s painting and its themes to create a marketable album sleeve.

·        - The album cover is a photograph, which automatically creates a multitude of differences from the source material. Particularly, the photograph form allows the viewer to clearly see, analyze, and scrutinize the faces of those in the painting. Waits, who is at the forefront of the cover, is looking, with something akin to exhaustion or disillusionment, out a window, away from the other people in the diner. This suggests that Waits, who is the protagonist of the album’s light story arc, feels alienated even though he is in the midst of significantly more people than populate Hopper’s painting.

·        - Unlike Hopper’s painting, Schenkel opts to have only the diner in his photograph. This takes Hopper’s empty streets motif one step farther and suggests to the viewer that not only is nothing going on in the world outside the diner, but also that there is no other world outside this dingy little dive.

·        - The very fact that this album cover shows a clear protagonist distinguishes it from Hopper’s painting in several unique ways. It is possible, and even likely, that we are to see Waits as our “guide” of sorts through the diner as he identifies and analyzes all of the nighthawks he sees there. Where Hopper left us on the outside looking in to make our own conclusions, Schenkel gives us a protagonist to keep us engaged with the people Waits sees.

·       -  The color red is more prominent in this cover than in Hopper’s painting. Red, being a color frequently associated with passion, functions well here to show Waits’ focus on the interactions and quirks of the nighthawks with one another versus Hopper’s focus on the unseen “predators” as well as with themes of loneliness. Similarly, in Hopper’s painting, the only red is the woman’s dress which is also the only relationship shown in the painting. Schenkel wisely highlights that facet of Hopper’s painting by utilizing red in a more significant way.

·      -   In the bottom corner of the album cover, there appears to be a small figure crouching or doubled over just outside the window through which Waits is peering. This almost certainly harkens back to Hopper’s statement about “predators in the night” with which both Waits and Schenkel would have been familiar. The presence of this “predator” of sorts communicates that, although the album’s focus is on relationships of the nighthawks, the predators are still out there, lurking, and they deserve our attention.

“Nighthawks” by Edward Hopper, 1942. Currently in the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL
“Nighthawks at the Diner” by Cal Schenkel, performed by Tom Waits, 1975. Asylum Records.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Metaphor Analysis: "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" by Wilco

"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" by Wilco

An Analysis of Metaphors

Full Lyrics

            Wilco’s 2002 track, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” from the album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is one of the band’s finest accomplishments in almost every way. Musically, its dark textures, dissonant piano, and aloof singing lend it a large portion of its tone; however, the song’s greatest strength lies in its lyrics and the metaphors Jeff Tweedy utilizes to describe the many stages of an unhealthy relationship. The song is structured in a repeated verse structure, meaning the song lacks a chorus of bridge and consists entirely of four line stanzas which follow the same musical pattern; each individual verse describes a different facet of the dying relationship Tweedy characterizes in a lyrically unique and metaphorically ripe manner.
            The song’s first verse begins with the line “I am an American aquarium drinker / I assassin down the avenue.” These first two lines describe the speaker’s side of the relationship by characterizing him as both a drunk and a dodgy boyfriend. The description of an “aquarium drinker” speaks mainly to the vast volume of alcohol the speaker consumes; while not literally an aquarium’s amount of drink, the listener can infer that the amount of alcohol consumed is copious. The speaker goes on to describe the effects the drink has on his relationship by singing that he “assassin(s) down the avenue.” This metaphor is meant to further characterize the speaker as a master of avoiding both his lover and his responsibilities in the relationship as a result of his drinking. However, the metaphorical assassin is going down an avenue or a wide-open street in a city. This insinuates that, although the speaker thinks he is being stealthy, his flaws are very apparent to anyone and everyone around him.
            The next verse begins to describe interactions between the speaker and his lover with the lines “Let’s forget about the tongue-tied lightning / Let’s undress just like cross-eyed strangers.” The metaphor of tongue-tied lightning details an inferred verbal war between the two lovers possibly triggered by the speaker’s drinking. The following line uses simile to let the listener know that ignorant sex is the solution to the fighting; essentially, the speaker is attempting to avoid battles by using sex to ignore the problems and appease his lover. This, however, is followed by a candid moment in which the speaker says “This is not a joke so please stop smiling / What was I thinking when I said it didn’t hurt?” which leads the listener to believe that the meaningless sex might be less of an argument-stopper and more of a plea for peace from the pain he feels in the relationship.
            As the song progresses, some of the metaphors become even more outlandish to parallel the increasing amount of alcohol and anger flowing through the singer’s system. Eventually, he sings “I want to hold you in the Bible-black predawn / You’re quiet a quiet domino, bury me now.” This verse is metaphorically rich as the speaker begins by describing the early, quiet hours of the morning as the “Bible-black predawn” which confers a sort of holiness to those odd hours; it is here that the speaker believes he and his lover can find solace. He then goes on to describe his lover for the first time in the song by calling her a “quiet domino.” This metaphor works particularly well because it simultaneously reflects the speaker’s outlandish behavior while perfectly encapsulating the lover’s mentality. Basically, the speaker sees the lover as someone who is breaking apart and falling at increasing speed just like a chain of dominoes. However, the kicker is that she is doing it quietly; she is torn up inside but refuses to let anyone know or attempt to help her. The drunk speaker then goes on to offer his advice by advising her to “take off [her] band-aid because [he doesn’t] believe in touchdowns” which is a nearly indecipherable metaphor reflecting the speaker’s absurdity. However, it is possible that the speaker means to imply that his lover needs to heal her wounds, and that the speaker does not believe his relationship is a competition. Still, the sheer outlandishness of the metaphor functions extremely well in detailing the rampant miscommunication that is inferably going on between the two.
            Eventually, the metaphors stop altogether as the speaker has a bizarre moment of clarity in the midst of his drunken stupor. The singer repeats the phrase “I am trying to break your heart” and then interjects “Still I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t easy” which caps off his rant in spectacular fashion. What happens here is that the speaker abandons all of his pretense and speaks to his alienated lover directly. He tells her plainly that all of his antics and drunken rage has been nothing but an attempt to break her down and tear her apart. However, this is not all. He goes on to cap it off by telling her that it has been very easy for him to do this, and he reveals his inability to love her truly and completely.
            By utilizing a large number of varied and bizarre metaphors over the course of the song, Jeff Tweedy is able to make the ultimate revelation of the speaker’s malicious intent infinitely more biting, cynical, and devastating. Essentially, the detached, aloof metaphors create a distraction which ultimately serves as a foil to the bare-bones truth the speaker spills at the song’s end. However, immediately following this revelation, the singer goes right back into his tirade of absurd metaphors with the lines “Disposable Dixie cup drinking / I assassin down the avenue” where he intentionally repeats a line from the first verse in order to display the cyclical nature of this toxic, destructive relationship. In short, metaphor is Tweedy’s bait and directness is his weapon.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A Rhetorical Lexicon (ENG 454 Assignment #1) - Jake Smith


Kairos is definted as “the opportune moment for a speech” according to BYU. This moment could be a single minute as evidenced by Marc  Antony’s soliloquy in Julius Caesar as well as a lengthier time in history as evidenced by Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. The kairos is dependent upon several different factors including time, place, and circumstance, and it is the combination of these elements a well as other smaller factors that ultimately determine the perfect moment to make a speech.
Kairos has, for centuries, always relied on certain people being in certain places, at certain times, under certain circumstances. However, this has begun to change in the 21st century with the advent of social media. The rise of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a number of other popular social media websites has, in a sense, nullified the importance of time, place, and circumstance as they relate to making speeches and writing rhetorical arguments.
Through avenues like Twitter and, more obviously, Facebook, the contemporary individual is able to say whatever he or she wants whenever he or she wants. No longer is what they have to say dependent upon them being in a certain location at a certain time with a certain circumstance at the forefront of the public’s mind. Instead, any random person is able to spout off whatever argument, anecdote, or soliloquy they wish at whichever hour they deem it most appropriate.
The time matters significantly less since websites preserve any information that is put into them. Therefore, someone may not be online when a friend of theirs makes a bold statement about the state of their fledgling relationship, but they can see exactly what their friend said and see the moment they said it whenever it is convenient for that person to log on to their own account.
This also leads into the decline of the importance of place. Instead of everyone gathering in a specific location in order to hear what someone has to say about a particular topic, it is entirely possible for an individual to log on to Twitter or YouTube and catch up on all of the latest news stories and speeches in a matter of minutes from the comfort of their own home.
Additionally, circumstance has declined in importance in all except the actual rhetors themselves. No longer must a blogger worry about enough people being in a furor at once in a single location. Instead, that rhetor must simply feel passionately about a subject on his or her own and feel compelled to blog about it.

However, all of this is not to say that the decline of kairos is a negative aspect of contemporary rhetoric. Instead, it is merely to suggest that the barriers to exploring the world of rhetoric are diminishing in size and number. By allowing greater access to rhetorical tools, social media may, in fact, be creating a whole new breed of rhetoric which could determine the future of the world over the next decades.

An example of timing being irrelevant to a speech's success:


Audience has changed drastically over the centuries in dozens of different ways. For example, an audience in ancient Greece might have consisted of a couple dozen senators in a small meeting hall. However, an audience for Barack Obama’s inaugural address numbered in the thousands. Size, composition, and importance of audience have all changed over the course of the centuries, and they are now changing yet again thanks to the advent of social media.
Due mostly to the globe-spanning reach of websites like Twitter and Facebook, the sheer size of the audience of a speech now has the capability to be astronomical. In fact, it is only limited in the case of a platform such as YouTube by how many views one can get on a video. However, this could also be seen as a limiting factor since the size of audience is no longer directly controllable by the rhetor of a speech, rant, or discussion. Still, once a video goes viral and gets as many views as something like Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Awards speech, it is possible for a speech to reach the eyes and ears a millions more listeners than may have originally heard it.
The composition of the audience has also changed drastically in recent years. Namely, the composition can include literally anyone on the planet. In the past, a speech would be heard only by those in the location of the speech itself or by those who had access to a transcript of the speech after it was delivered. However, as social media forums begin to rise and video virility continues to escalate, the diversity of viewing audiences continues to grow. Now, it is entirely possible for someone in Kenya to know of the same speeches and viral videos as someone in Fiji.
This, of course, also changes to role and the importance of the audience. Now, an audience is not used for immediate feedback as the speech is delivered as it would have been in ancient times. Instead, viewers utilize the comment sections of webpages to indirectly respond to whatever they are seeing or hearing. This can lead both to a surplus of positive criticism and feedback or to a thread full of flame wars and derailed conversation. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to have one without the other. Still, many audience members prefer this system thanks to the anonymity it provides. In classical times, if one wished to address concerns one had to a rhetor, that person had to do it directly to their face or via mail with their personal information stamped onto it. Now, though, anyone can type off a brief, fiery response to whatever they wish and never let the rhetor know who they are. This allows, perhaps, more honest feedback at the expense of emotional and mental well-being.
All in all, the changes in audience have not become better or worse than the old system. Instead, it merely represents a shift in the social consciousness of the world towards a more inclusive and anonymous system of communication.

An example of an ever-expanding viral and global audience: