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Multimodal Project Analysis

This seemingly weightless object reflects an equivalent color as that of the golden glow from the rising sun. Measuring 24 cm long and 2 ½ cm wide, a long rectangular object feels smooth on one side and rough on the other. A closer look reveals that this aureate fabric is formed with a satin weave in which the threads of polyester intersect to purposely create a smooth, lustrous on the front surface and a dull, matte back.

057Side stitching is noticeable on each side of the fabric’s width but on each end of the fabric’s length exists frays. With one simple pull on one of these frays, the fabric will quickly and easily unravel, which discloses the object’s delicacy.


060Four tiny pin holes are visible on the fabric, two of which appear approximately 6 cm from each end indicating that these two tiny holes were created by the same pin. Metamorphosing the object to have the two pin holes from each end align, the fabric crosses and the object acquires a new form. When viewed from the top, which is above the pinholes and crossing fabric, the loop of the object creates a flowing loop with no sharp turns. Two equal lengths of fabric create an upside down “v” shape that dangles below the loop, pinholes, and crossing fabric.

According to Robert Friedel in his essay, Some Matters of Substance, “Everything is made from something [and] the making of anything requires that choices be made about the stuff that goes into it. There are a number of grounds for these choices, of which the following seem to be…important: Function, Style, Tradition, and Fashion.”

Visually, color is the initial feature that is noticed, which suggests it holds substantial significance in choosing this exclusive object. The fact that the color is solid implies there is relevance in the isolation. It is also important to note that the shade of the object is not yellow but gold whereby gold is often darker and glossier than compared to the primary color yellow. Additionally, the shade of gold reflects a sense of complexity and depth.

Considering the satin-weave, side stitching, and frays, it can be presumed that care and precision were significant when creating this object. The fact that the object is fabricated using a delicate technique and material suggests that this aureate object serves an aesthetic purpose and is intended to be worn. More specifically, the small size suggests that the object is not used for covering things up; therefore, reveals that there is an intentional purpose for display. Likewise, the pinholes further suggests intentional display and we can consequently determine that the object’s function may be used as a brooch.

The fact that the object has to be manipulated to obtain this shape suggests that the importance of the shape is only second to the set color. At this point we can safely say that the object’s material and function were deliberately manufactured to be a fashion instrument. The color and transformed shape juxtaposed with the object’s material and function, however, insinuates the object was purposely designed to be worn as a sign.

When we compared the shading difference between yellow and gold, we notice a similarity to the satin-weave material. Gold is a darker, glossier shade of yellow and the material is purposely threaded to create glossy front; thus, was the material selected specifically for the color? If so, this would indicate that the color holds a higher importance than originally judged.


“For a variety of reasons people come to make associations between a material and various feelings, concerns, and attitudes. These associations are rarely stated, but they are quite significant to our understanding of the past and its influence on the present.” And as Friedel claims, “It is actually the question of the relationship between materials and values that is at the heart of this subject;” thus the reason for exploring the element gold in relation to the color of this object. Known as a precious metal, gold is highly valuable because of its chemical and physical properties in addition to its scarcity. History reminds us of wars about people and cultures dying to protect or obtain it or to expand beliefs/societies/land because of it. Do these experiences alter or attribute to the meaningful value placed on gold? But if we set aside the monetary and scientific worth to only consider gold’s obvious feature, its beauty, do we actually treasure its aesthetic value?

Manipulating the object’s shape arouses various speculations when we draw from the previous deductions. First and foremost, pinning the fabric together so that the four pinholes perfectly align, the shape is similar to that of the Ichthys yet without a profound, pointed loop and more fabric dangling below the pin.

Image Credit: by Liz Aragon on

Derived from the Greek word for fish, the Ichthys is commonly known as the Christian Fish or Jesus Fish and an ancientpagan symbol used as a visual expression of identification with a specific group of people. However, the position of the pinholes suggest that, unlike that of the Ichthys, this particular object is to be represented vertically. Is there a connection and/or religious undertone to this object and the Ichthys? Jules Prown claims in his Essay, Style as Evidence, “The manifestations of identical elements of style…cannot be considered coincidence: clearly cultural preferences were being expressed. And stylistic shifts…mark a change in cultural values.” But perhaps the only correlation is the method of associating one’s self with a particular group through an “artistic sign.” Prown explains that an artistic sign is “does not pertain to things but a certain attitude toward things.”

Jacques Maquet explores the meaning of objects and what they stand for in his essay, Objects as Instruments, Objects as Signs. Maquet employs us to move beyond simply interpreting objects for their role and function by reading “objects as signs” for their connotative meaning, such as symbols, images, referents, and indicators. Given that “[The meaning of an object] is grounded in common human experiences and given by the group of people to whom the object is relevant,” Maquet believes that it is difficult to derive meaning from objects because meanings are not “culture-specific,” “inherent to the object, or ascribed by the designer” and thus meanings are implicit and always changing.

The gold color and transformed shape seem to be the two most notable physical features of this object; so should these characteristics be read together or separately in order to derive the correct association and meaning? Is color deemed as an actual object or a way to read an object just as Maquet suggests (i.e. referent)? What meanings and values are attached to this object, what group of people gathered the consensus to build these meanings and values, and what human experience grounded these meanings and values?

Kenneth Haltman describes signs as a complex interrelationship between objects and their meaning. He further explains that it is not only important to concern ourselves with what the object signifies but with how the object symbolically expresses meanings and values.

James Deetz’s, “In Small Things Forgotten,” placed significance on the historical analysis of objects in material culture studies. It is through the ‘small things forgotten’ that we can “fill in the cracks between large historical events and depict the intricacies of daily life.”

Today, the gold element is commonly associated with wealth in forms of currency (i.e. money and coins) and jewelry. In reflecting upon the past, it is apparent little has changed regarding what gold signifies but it is relevant to not on how gold signifies has transformed.

For example, Ancient Egyptians believed gold held a magical potency containing significant religious properties, mostly due to gold’s corrosion-resistance element. However, they revered gold as the “Flesh of the Gods” because of its color resemblance to the sun to which they credited to the powers of the sun god.

Elaborate death rituals, the most famous is the tomb, coffins, and death mask of King Tutankhamun, substantiates that Ancient Egyptians considered gold not only as a highly prized commodity but more importantly, as a symbol of eternal life.

History, it seems, continues to influence our present whereby gold is still viewed as a symbols of wealth (owned by both rich and poor), money (standard for many currencies), treasure (pirates & leprechauns), perfection (“golden mean,” “golden ratio,” and “golden rule”), and achievement (symbol for the highest medal or award).

A concept that is important to note is how Friedel centered his studies on the material in material culture. He emphasized the significance of the “first element” to which we should consider in order thoroughly study and comprehend things – “the matter of stuff that makes up a thing”—the material.  In essence, it is “not only the form [of the object] but also the [material itself which] conveys messages to us.” Therefore it would be erroneous, according to Friedel, to exclude the material itself, which is the satin-weave.

The satin-weave is a special weaving technique that has been used since ancient times and rumored to have derived from ancient China. Originally comprised of fine silk up until the invention of synthetic fibers such as polyester, the satin-weave is associated with romance and luxury. Likewise to the scarcity of gold, satin materials were limited to those of nobility, upper class, and church. Additionally, satin-weaving was viewed as a “treasured secret” but eventually this skill broadened and reached America by the late Renaissance. By the late 1800s, satin fabrics were no longer only worn by those of the upper class and was sewn into anything from bridal gowns to lingerie. In the 1920s, satin material became increasing popular and widely affordable due to the invention of artificial silk, or better known as synthetic fibers. The associations to satin that were once sacred are now viewed by some as “profane” due to the rising popularity of satin material and its public display of undergarments, lingerie, corsets, brassieres, and camisoles. According to fashion journals, on the other hand, popularity has begun to associate of satin to sensuousness and lustrous.

A conceptual context refers to the creator’s mind…the physical refers here to the association of the object out of its original, conceptual context as it moves from producer to consumer, out of the workshop and into its use context. In other words, after an object is created it moves into a new realm, both spatial and temporal, as it becomes associated with other objects and a social world of individuals who possess the object. In that sense the focus is not on the thing, the artifact, but on its makers and users as a window into social relations. It is as ‘things-in-motions’ within the context of the social place of the artisans and users that the analysis derives its meaning.

The ribbon, which we can now refer to since our analysis of it is complete, is not a sign “to be read but a story to be told or unfolded about the social impact of the actions of people and their manipulations of objects through space and time” (Rita P Wright, Technological Styles: Transforming a Natural Material into a Cultural Object). The following stages of the ribbon’s life is essential to explain, inform, and describe how the ribbon morphed into cultural object: conception, material selection, design, manufacture, distribution, use, and perception.

Strips of cloth, originally dubbed “bands,” were found from a Turkish archaeological site of Çatal Hüyük, which can be dated back to the 6th millennium. It is suggested that these “warp-faced plain weave bands” may have been used more for decorative purposes, “to ornament and trim garments.”  The silk ribbons began to appear during the 11th century and became a more frequent fashion accessory throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century, when French King Louis XIV became obsessed with ribbons. He adorned “ribbons of gold and silver to hats, sword handles, shoes, sleeves, around the knees, and even to the lower bodice front, where yards of ribbon loops emphasized the wearer’s masculinity.”


Blog Post #10: Personal Experience Is My Building Block

Image Credit: "Writing Rules" by Alex Camlin
Image Credit: “Writing Rules” by Alex Camlin

In my past English classes, we explored hidden/deeper meanings within assorted texts, ranging from short stories, books, and poems and graded on form, grammar, flow, and relevance but was never allowed to incorporate personal experience or thought. I always enjoyed the challenge of writing yet struggled with my grammar.

Likewise, in his essay, The Subject in Discourse, John Clifford poses the following critical questions for the education system and future educators, such as myself, should continuously consider:

What do us teachers of composition hope to accomplish? Are we intent on developing in our students the literacy skills and attitudes necessary to succeed in college and beyond, or do we hope to empower them with critical habits of mind, with a skeptical intelligence, with an awareness of themselves as potential actors in a sociopolitical context? Or, more pointedly, do we want to fulfill our contractual obligations to the university and the state by focusing primarily on rhetorical competence, syntactic clarity, and other communicative conventions highly valued in business, industry, and government; or do we dare to encourage oppositional thinkers, social activists, and resistant readers and writers?

It wasn’t until I wrote about personal experience in an online blog that I found my voice and the love for writing. Inferring from Peter Elbow’s essay, Some Thoughts on Expressive Discourse: A Review Essay, my “experience-based” writing was ultimately my “building block” in making the necessary connection between literacy and science, math, reading, language arts, social studies, music, art, physical education, etc. In other words, literacy instruction is vitally important to be taught in ALL content areas because literacy is the core to understanding, conveying, speaking, writing, and reading any subject.

Image Credit: "Flashback" by The Literacy Center posted on May 14, 2014
Image Credit: “Flashback” by The Literacy Center posted on May 14, 2014


Scientists explore and discover but I never realized writers do just the same. That is, until this class. In comparison, scientists use the scientific method in order to explain, describe, and inform via experiments while writers do the same through expository writing. In the same sense, the investigations and analysis of material culture are parallel to those performed by biologists/chemists/scientists searching for answers or a cure. Additionally, an article by K. Kris Hirst, further exposes the relationship between science and exposition by examining whether or not anthropology — the study of human societies and cultures and their development — is a science or a humanity.

When exploring a subject/topic with an emic approach, it is impossible to completely push aside all personal feelings and experiences. Therefore, traces of persuasion will always be found throughout the writing, regardless of how much and how hard expository writers try. Unlike expository writing sometimes, however, students can “discover the power of language” through rhetorical writing. Ann E. Berthoff continues in her essay, Learning the Uses of Chaos,

If we can make the composition classroom a forum, a culture circle, a theatre, a version of Tolstoy’s armchair aswarm with children questioning, talking and arguing – if the composition classroom is the place where dialogue is the mode of making meaning, then we will have a better chance to dramatize not only the fact that language itself changes with the meanings we make from it and that its powers are generative and developmental, but also that it is the indispensable and unsurpassable means of reaching others and forming communities with them. The ability to speak is innate, but language can only be realized in a social context. Dialogue…is essential to the making of meaning and thus to learning to write. The chief use of chaos is that it creates the need for that dialogue.

The relationship between exposition and rhetoric composition exist in the pedagogical process of what writing is for and what writing does: “helping students to read and write and think in ways that both resist domination and exploitation and encourage self-consciousness about who they are and can be in the social world” (The Subject in Discourse by John Clifford, page 872).

Image Credit: Cironstone
Image Credit: Cironstone


Blog Post 9: Prownian Description of the Gold Awareness Ribbon

This weightless object bears an equivalent color as that of the golden glow from the rising sun. Measuring 24 cm long and 2 ½ cm wide, a long rectangular object feels smooth on one side and rough on the other. A closer look reveals that this aureate fabric is formed with a satin weave in which the threads of polyester intersect to purposely create a smooth, lustrous surface and a dull, matte back.


Side stitching is noticeable on each side of the fabric’s width but on each end of the fabric’s length exists frays. With one simple pull on one of these frays, the fabric will quickly and easily unravel, which discloses the object’s delicacy.


Holes created by pinningFour tiny pin holes are visible on the fabric, two of which appear approximately 6 cm from each end indicating that these two tiny holes were created by the same pin. When metamorphosing the object to have the two pin holes from each end align, the fabric acquires varied symbolic shapes to which depends on the consumer’s purpose. The shape is now similar to that of the Ichthys yet without a profound loop and more fabric dangling below the pin. The position of the pinholes suggest that, unlike that of the Ichthys, this object is to be represented vertically.


Blog Post #8: A Thinking, Feeling, Breathing Object

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My alarm sounds at 6am and after sleepily hitting the snooze button a few times, I crawl out of bed at approximately 6:30am. Since I was out yesterday due to the invading germs elementary students habitually spread, I mentally prepare for the abnormally long day ahead as I drowsily ready for work. Without warning, my morning grouch of a husband begins to nit-pick about the neglected laundry. The sun isn’t even awake but we plunge into a recurring war of roaring finger pointing and grimacing insults. Esh. What a glorious way to start the day. I am but an object to satisfy the demands of wife, mother, teacher, student, and non-profit founder & director.

Photo from
Photo from

7:15am. I arrive at school (work). Students flood my classroom. They peer at me, waiting as I rummage through my mind’s library of lessons. What am I doing? This teaching thing is challenging. They wait for an “order” just as soldiers do. Public school is run in similar fashion like that of military boot camp whereby teachers are the drill sergeants and students are drilled of their obligatory role to perform according to a universal standard. They are objects of our education system and I’m a contributor. For 45 minutes, five days a week, they are my objects to control and manipulate. This teaching thing is complicated and complex. I have no idea what I’m doing. I am also an object of the system, required to perform to certain standards.

Photo from
Photo from

11:05am. It is now time for my lengthy 20 minute lunch. I scarf down some crackers while I read and respond to emails. A 5th grade teacher wants me to incorporate a project into my class time. A pediatric cancer mother is requesting financial assistance. I make a mental note to go by the post office tomorrow after work to send her gift cards for food and gas. I reach for my phone to call a local Olive Garden so I can fulfill our monthly promise of delivering a hot lunch to the families who are inpatient at Egleston and Scottish Rite. But I am distracted by a text from my ex-husband notifying me that one of our foundation’s kiddos have passed. I cannot cry. I do not have time to cry. Besides, objects don’t cry.

Finally 2:20pm! The bell rings to signal the end of the school day. As I am leaving, I am bombarded by a flux of students. Am I ever going to remember the name of every single student? A precious 1st grader asks me to come to his house to fix his computer. An excited 3rd grader begs me to take a look at her assignment on Google Drive. Another student tells me what he is dressing up as for Halloween. Some just want to give me a hug and I gladly accept. But I wonder why in the world do they want to hug me? I am not worthy to receive these hugs. No sense in arguing…this makes every teacher-thing I do worthwhile. This teaching thing is rewarding

On my way to school, I call my husband. We have a cordial conversation and he indirectly apologizes but never actually mutters the words, “I’m sorry.” But then again, neither do I. All in all, though, everything seems patched up from this morning’s crossfires.

Motivation By Drew Bewick

3:58pm. That’s a first…I am actually on time for once. Hooray for the small accomplishments! The victory is short-lived when I learned I overlooked and failed to complete two written assignments that were due last week. I feel a migraine approaching. This college thing is stressful and time-consuming. I realize that I am also an object of the education system…

7:20pm. Thankful to the medicine that extinguished my migraine, I have the bright idea to attempt at completing the homework assignment that was just given in my Statistics & Probability class. I get as far as writing the first question when I look up to find Greek splattered all over the board. Great. Evidently I have an abundant amount of time to teach myself.

9:30pm. I am finally home. To my surprise, my 21-month-old daughter is still awake. I kneel as she giddily runs to me. She knocks me over when she gives me a bear hug and a long kiss. My heart is filled and my day is made perfect. She is my object of affection and adoration. I am her object for survival and she is mine. I love it.

Mental Checklist by Alfredo Melendez
Mental Checklist by Alfredo Melendez

9:45pm. While giving her a bath, I enjoy the musical squeals of my daughter’s laughter. But, I overhear an argument in the kitchen between my husband and his mother. It’s about something I did…or didn’t do. I try to recall what I did in the brief time I have been home but my mental checklist only indicates that I must have breathed her air. I am an object that breathes.

Quarter after 10pm. My daughter is down for the night. I remind my husband about my scheduled GACE exam tomorrow. He’s irritated now. He asks, “How did you pay for it?” With sarcasm I reply, “With money.” But I desire nothing but to end this on & off again argument and attempt at adding humor to lighten the mood, “I offered a trade…one test for the annoying cats outside. But they just wanted my arm and leg. The audacity. And apparently bartering sex is frowned upon…even illegal. Can you believe that?” Humor failure. Well that is my cue to do one of my ‘object’ duties: laundry.

11:45pm. Craving to conclude the day, I climb into bed. I cannot sleep.

Brain By Issie Lapowsky
Brain By Issie Lapowsky

It’s a quarter past 1am. I’m about to loose it! I might as well get up and try to finish one of my forgotten written assignments. I take a look at the requirements for the reflection…nope, that is too complicated for my mind to process right now. I will instead do my timeline summary.

1:42am. I climb back in bed. I still cannot sleep. This is ridiculous!

Out-of-my-Mind Photo by Tonja Townsend Owens
Out-of-my-Mind Photo by Tonja Townsend Owens

2:15am. OMG! It is going to be another long day tomorrow. How do I even function by doing this shit? Yes, I have resorted to cursing. The accumulations of the day’s irritations have taken its toll.

3:00am. Who needs sleep??? Objects don’t sleep.

3:30am. My migraine has returned. I should have taken Benadryl but it is too late now. Arg!!!

My alarm sounds at 6am…I must have finally drifted off. A little over 2 hours of sleep. Awesome.

Awareness Ribbons — The Gold’s History

The symbolism in color is the core to adapting to this ideal of wearing a ribbon, looped and pinned above the heart as a way to show support for a particular cause. Beginning with the color yellow, which is seen in the 1800s painting, “When Did You Last See Your Father” by W.F. Yeames, the Puritan Army wears yellow sashes. Adding to this color symbolism, Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted, ” A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” Was this the start of manipulating a color into an object of awareness? This timeline exposes that audiences believes it to be.

In addition to these earlier references, songs and movies have been produced about a female wearing a yellow ribbon as a symbol of support for a loved one at war. These songs and movies are seen by most to be the beginning cause for “support” through the symbolism of color and a piece of fabric.

To show support of the hostage crisis in Iran, Penelope Laingen, wife of a U.S. Soldier held captive, took the 1973’s song, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree” and literally tied a yellow ribbon around a tree in front of her house until her husband returned home.  She then donated that exact ribbon to the Library of Congress in 1991.

Since then, there are claims to the rise of the Pink Ribbon; however, the Red Ribbon in support for AIDS awareness was first seen on the 45th Annual Tony Awards. The ribbon is no longer tied around a tree but looped and pinned above the heart of the host, Jeremy Irons. Was this the beginning of a new fashion trend?

In 1992, as dubbed by New York Times, “The Year Of The Ribbon,” awareness ribbons exploded into justifying certain colors to particular causes. Today, each color means something…means support for a cause. But who is profiting or benefiting from this fashion trend?

Blog Post #7: “Buddy the Elf. What’s Your Favorite Color?”


In her essay, Technological Styles: Transforming a Natural Material into a Cultural Object, Rita P. Wright characterizes the relationship between conceptual and physical contexts in correlation to creation and possession of an object. She argues that objects transforms from an association with other objects to “a social world of individuals who possess the object.”

A conceptual context refers to the creator’s mind [and] the physical refers to the association of the object out of its original, conceptual context as it moves from producer to consumer, out of the workshop and into its context…. The focus is not on the thing, the artifact, but on its makers and users as a window in to social relations. It is as ‘things-in-motion’ within the context of the social place of the artisans and users that the analysis derives its meaning. Thus the artifact is less a text to be read than a story to be told or unfolded about the social impact of the actions of people and their manipulations of objects through space and time.

During my research about the relationship between awareness ribbons, colors, and culture, I have learned the relevance of color in branding. According to Gregory Ciotti in his essay, The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding, color is important tool for persuasion yet controversial. Colors arouse various emotions depending on “elements such as personal preference, experiences, upbringing, cultural differences, context, etc.” as well as “broadly align with specific traits.”

"It’s not just about seeing it, it’s about the response we have to visual stimulus."
“It’s not just about seeing it, it’s about the response we have to visual stimulus.”


In Nick Carson’s blog post, “21 Outstanding Uses of Colour Branding,” he states that companies focus more on color usage than design and color ownership is vital to projecting an appropriate emotion. Thus, deriving off this color persuasion, marketers have targeted consumers through the color symbolism in awareness ribbons. We use these awareness ribbons, as a way to show support yet it has also become a fashion accessory from which marketers exploit our emotions as a profit.

Considering color is a symbol, Jacques Maquet suggests in his essay, “Objects as Instruments, Objects as Signs,” that we do not choose these objects as a sign/symbol at random. Rather we choose a “symbol [to correspond] the strong sense of…identity with what it symbolizes.” It was posed in our class discussion about Walter Benjamin’s “The Collector,” if could we be considered a collector in regards to our thoughts…

So, in knowing the attention manufacturers put into choosing colors when making a brand or object, I ponder whether color itself could be considered an object? What do you think? Also, Why did we choose to use a simple piece of fabric to fold, loop, and then pin above our heart as a way to show support for a particular cause? Are the colors that are used to portray a specific cause subjugated from branding?



Blog Post #6: A Beautiful Mind?

These past two blog prompts, Sharp Things and Smart Things, juxtaposed with the overlying intention to connect the relationship between humans and objects have me deeply contemplating the process of human thought. Do we indeed control our own thoughts or do history, culture, education, and the media program our thoughts? In hopes to adequately express my reasoning (or questioning), I must first expose my synopsis of the two blog prompts essays in correlation to the weekly readings. I will try to link them all with a possible enlightening yet probably radical view, hence displaying my own perplexing thought. Personal note: My goal is to convey my perplexed train of thought but because of my indifference to the complex subject, I fear that I may do so erroneously.

John Cline intriguingly lures his audience to associate two diverse objects, the machete and iPhone, as both a tool and a weapon in his essay, “What Is a Machete, Anyway?” He cleverly frames the essay around the comparison of the machete in attempt to disguise the dangerous manipulation a smartphone imposes. Despite the humor and very little reference to the iPhone, Cline leaves his audience critically thinking about hazardous objects that we previously only viewed as a useful device to stay current with phone numbers, email, text, social media, etc.

” Saws Can Sing For Us” by Jacob Chisenhall


When reading the essay, one’s mind drifts to other sharp things initially made as an aiding tool that could also be used to hurt or kill someone. The picture above is of handsaws, which are commonly used for cutting, but in this case, they are used for creating music. Similar to Cline’s example of the machete, handsaws also have been portrayed and used as a weapon yet the above picture establishes a harmless and even an enjoyable use for a “dangerous” tool.

In contrast to Cline’s inference, Carla Diana imposes a more friendly perception to technology in her essay, “The Dream of Intelligent Robot Friends.” She frames her essay around the idea of our brains cultivating relationships with smart objects and thus presenting a tangible awareness of how humans and objects are indeed connected. Although Diana also presents a dichotomy between objects and humans by divulging her frustrations about an object’s programming, she indicates how we quickly pardon our frustrations in order to continue our people-object relationship by giving it living characteristic, such as “quirky.”

What truly makes an inanimate object dangerous? We have established that objects themselves are not dangerous until they are in the hands of a human. For example, a machete lying on a table is simply that: machete lying on a table. Only in the presence of a living creature is when it becomes dangerous, whether it is intentional (by picking it up and slashing at another being) or unintentional (by bumping against the table and causing the machete to fall, which could possibly severe a foot on the way down to the floor).

However, deep cogitation is provoked to contemplate potential digital weapons, such as the iPhone. Is this a gadget containing necessary tools to prevail in society or are we manipulated into thinking so? Can the human mind be programmed? If so, this idea implies that the iPhone is more than just a tool created by a beautiful mind but it has an underlying purpose: control.

Advances in technology are justified by the progress made in the medical field yet conspiracy theorists question the true intentions by those who hold power and influence over the economy. These people of power are referred to in this blog post as “tycoons” and “the elite” because these oligarchs possess most of the economy’s wealth and consequently have the power to influence and manipulate. However, even before revolution of electronic and digital technology, an accepted theory on how individuals are first molded lies within the education system.

Programming the Mind through Education

Formal education through schools, colleges and universities continues the systematic indoctrination where the ‘correct’ views and interpretations of science, history, and society result in exam passes and the ability to ‘get on’ in life.

— Ivan Fraser and Mark Beeston, The Brotherhood and the Manipulation of Society

In order to succeed in moving forward and become “productive members of society,” we must first pass all the tests. These tests are continuously evaluated and used as a measurement in order to progress onto the next level. Additionally, these tests are organized from a general knowledge every single person should know before moving forward, regardless of culture, language, ability (or disability), experience, etc.

This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited.

— Carl Jung, The Concept of the Collective Unconscious

Most importantly, only select individuals compose these tests; therefore, they reflect a narrowed view and interpretation of subjects and societal norms. In other words, we learn from others (i.e. teachers, professors, administration, experts) but are we actually formulating our own subjective thoughts or are we merely conceptualizing that we control our thoughts but simply adapting to what society wants us to? What does it truly mean to be knowledgeable, well informed, or even an expert when we are subjugated to a statistical number used to devise an assessment in which calculates all human thought the same exact way? Therefore, I ask, is it implausible to be deemed an individual with distinct, unique thoughts when we are ultimately just programmed by our education?

Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do no organize the people—they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.

— Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Politicians, corporate executives, bankers, and media tycoons are successful in obtaining a position of influence in society whereby people are “subordinate to the prime motivation of profit.” These tycoons are oppressors and have a primary “interest in maintaining the status quo at all costs, ” which in turn “exert an irrepressible influence over every aspect of our lives, our thoughts and opinions.” In hopes to “live long and prosper,” we blindly accept this oppression since we have been programmed and manipulated through education, mass media, employment, religion, healthcare, etc.  And ironically, we, the consumers and our need for things (Professor C), are the tool/object to which tycoons use to drive America’s capitalistic society.

Programming through Mass Media

For obvious reasons, this idea almost speaks for itself. As a result of its vast reach, media is the most manipulating system whereby influences the conscious and subconscious mind. Mass media, which includes television, movies, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, records, video games and the Internet, is a powerful force in manipulating “the organized habits and opinions of the masses.” Ultimately, it is an unseen mechanism to cultivate minds into “a single and cohesive world view, engendering a ‘standardization of human thought.’”

In less than 20 years, media ownership has dwindled down from 50 companies to a mere 5, which includes AOL Time Warner, Viacom, Walt Disney, Vivendi Universal, and Sony.  This realization is disturbing because this means that the music we listen to, shows and movies we watch, the stories we read, games we play, and internet searches we perform are all fashioned from the viewpoint of only 5 companies…FIVE. These meager five companies are categorized as the “elite” because they own “all of the possible outlets” to reach the public. As aforementioned, the drive behind these elite (tycoons) is to influence and use people as objects in order to sell products.

The technique of psychotherapy, widely practiced and accepted as a means of curing psychological disorders, are also methods of controlling people. They can be used sustematically to influence attitudes and behavior. Systematic desensitization is a method used to dissolve anxiety so the patient (public) is not longer troubled by a specific fear…People adapt to frightening situations is they are exposed to them enough.

Steven Jacobson, Mind Control in the United States

The attempt to alter the public’s view or perception on a subject becomes not only easier but also more deliberate, allowing more access to tap into our “primal needs and instincts in order to generate an emotional and irrational response.” Overall, the elite’s desirable outcome is for mass conformity, acceptance, and accumulation of state-of-art entertainment, which is achieved through desensitization. Desensitization is a technique whereby the media elite softens the public on a specific topic for several years before introducing a sometimes-radical concept. The public then greets the concept “with general indifference and is passively accepted.”

Are we advancing towards the micro-chipped concept portrayed in the motion picture, In Time? According to Ivan Fraser and Mark Beeston’s research, the answer is, “yes” and that the consumer population has been gradually softened since the 1970s to willingly receive this technology. For example, pets are electronically tagged in case they are lost, requirement of ID’s are “as common as a handshake,” ‘pay at the pump’ systems at almost all gas stations, and bar-coded cards are an experimental way supermarkets and drug stores can track and tally consumer purchases.

Even more shocking is the 1994 tycoon-funded research for the Intel Corporation to investigate about possibilities for an under-the-skin microchip used for identification and track financial transactions. The cherry-on-top, however, is the existing development of a bar-coding system that contains three sets of six numbers to which can be “installed” painlessly and within one half of a second on the skin. This technology was developed by IBM and is currently used on cattle.

In conclusion, I pose one final question…which object should we fear the most, the obviously dangerous tool or the subliminal tool used for manipulating us into viewing the former as dangerous?


Blog Post #3: How To Live Forever

Death: It’s a Human Condition

Celebration TraditionLast night, I kept a tradition and sang, “Happy Birthday,” to an empty chair that should contain my would-be 7-year-old son. Following an emotional night, I subsequently attended the funeral of my son’s friend, a brave 7-year-old boy also taken too soon. Death and the reminder of mortality surrounded me as I prepared this blog post.

Everlasting Molds

U.S. Coins

Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and even Beethoven from Luke A. Fidler’s essay, “Impressions From the Face of a Corpse,” have something in common: immortality. Although U.S. coins featuring dead presidents are not of human bone or flesh worthy for cabinets of curiosity, they could be collected if deemed rare. Additionally, Americans almost daily handle these inanimate objects, depicting the face of the deceased in the palm of their hands and exchange them freely, without a given thought.

Death masks, however, are vastly different than that of embedded faces on metal because they are “impressions from the face of a corpse.”  There are many myths mentioned in Fidler’s essay behind this popular ritual of the dead, dating back to Alexander the Great, “thanks to the assumption that it was a portrait par excellence.

Hand Molds Comparable to the three-dimensional molds taken of the face of a corpse, many bereaved parents cast their dead child’s hands or feet immediately proceeding death.

“Do This In Remembrance Of Me”

 The rituals I created to remember my spunky son are all done to help me cope; thus rituals and traditions are established by the living as a way to grieve our survival. Objects left behind by loved ones are cherished and to evoke memories not to be forgotten. Similar to Belk’s claim, “people seek to assure that their selves will extend beyond their deaths,” I seek to keep my son’s “self” alive through photographs, traditions, toys he left behind, his sister, myself, and, of course, the foundation established in his name.

Something neglected to be mentioned in Fidler’s essays is the belief that death masks were made as an object of reflection to remember a lost loved one. In contrast, when Christians manifested, they considered a corpse to be impure and therefore, rituals for the deceased did not occur until after the growth of the religion. The prominent ritual of Christians is that of Holy Communion (Also known as The Eucharist or transubstantiation) whereby the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is symbolically ingested.

Eat His Death

 As you’re waiting for this food, you may hear a voice saying, “Don’t look now, but you’re in this thing pretty deep. You could end up as a corpse, as dead as Jesus.”

Hence, this is where the controversy lies among many and question if the elements of bread and wine indeed “miraculously change” to the Body and Blood of Christ.  Through transubstantiation, a supernatural form of Endocannibalism, Christ lives forever.

In comparison of the Christian’s ritual, eating death is taken literally in other cultures. For instance, in the British-Isles, bread is placed on top of the deceased for a period of time and then consumed by a “sin-eater” for an insulting “fee of sixpence.” It is believed that in doing this, the sins of the deceased would be passed to the bread from the corpse, which would ultimately destroy those sins by ingestion.

Painful Sorrow

The emotions of mourning the loss of a loved one can be described as painful but for the Dani Tribe from Papua, Indonesia, it is also a physical pain. Tribe members would cut off the tips of their fingers “as a way of displaying their grief at funeral ceremonies [and] symbolizing the suffering and pain due to the loss of a loved one.” This could also function as continuous reminder of the loved one lost (as if the devastation from the loss itself isn’t enough). Thankfully, this ritual is no longer practiced.

“Ashes to Ashes”

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” ~Genesis 3:19

Trinket of Ashes My son was cremated and I have a locket that holds some of his ashes. Many view this trinket as morbid and/or eerie. To me, however, this is a manner to keep him constantly with me. And his foundation is, hopefully, the way he will live forever.  Ensuring his memory will go on is a vital comfort as my life on Earth continues.

Blog Post #1: “Only Boring People Get Bored”

My acquisitive yet diligent Mother-in-Law, Ursula, can be heard habitually quoting Ruth Burke, photographer and author of Seabrook, when my seemingly always bored, teenaged stepdaughter is around.  The quote, “Only boring people get bored,” echoes in my head as I read the required three articles for the Blog Project this week and now, I find this once fitting quote puzzling. Despite the fact that I have always considered Ursula a materialistic because of her obsession, paranoia, and hoarding tendencies, I never thought of boredom and objects as a possible interconnected relationship.

Csikszentmihalyi (Professor C) claims, in his article, “Why We Need Things,” our “relationship [with objects] is parasitic” and we are being progressively consumed by our “dependence on objects for survival and comfort.” Consequently, I could argue that Professor C inadvertently suggests that the exaggerated statement, “I’m bored,” is a paradoxical result of our reliance on “artifacts.” Therefore, I imply boredom is a cause of our addiction to seek entertainment via objects.



In his essay, “The Secret to Good Writing: It’s about Objects, Not Ideas,” John Maguire labels “today’s kids [as] dumb or just not interested in ideas.” Not only does this provocative statement poorly conceptualizes a whole population of high school students and college freshmen but it also reveals a contradicting claim. For instance, according to his essay, Maguire stresses the importance for students to focus on “concrete reality” and “write physically;” therefore his accusation is irrelevant whether or not “today’s kids” are “interested in ideas” because as the title states, “It’s about Objects, Not Ideas.”

Additionally, object-based writing is successful when not only combined with abstract ideas but as well as relevant material with which one could draw a connection to in order to incorporate feelings and emotions. Although Professor C’s article also differentiates age by means of stereotyping, he declares, “Teenagers are interested…in objects” and those objects behave as their “main mode of expression.”

In other words, the student-writing example Maguire gave at the end of his essay is impractical to “ask freshmen to write about” because only a small population, regardless of age, find this topic remotely interesting. A majority of Teenagers may encounter increased frustration and, consequently, boredom due to the inability to integrate or express emotions about “The relationship between wealth and productivity in a market society.”

My attempts are to express my distaste for Maguire’s word choice of how he characterizes and uses student writers as the “object” of focus in his essay; it is not, however, to attack the content matter to which he writes about. The use of “vivid examples” is almost imperative when writing yet too much focus on teaching students to “approach [abstract ideas] in a concrete way” could possibly trigger unequal weight towards object-obsession and quite possibly continuous boredom. Overall, ideas, whether abstract or concrete, should be encouraged and cultivated in all students because ideas themself are the core reason for a myriad of inventions, studies, cures, etc. To extinguish someone’s curiosity instead of fueling it will only discourage an inquisitive spirit and ultimately lead to bored idle minds fixated on material comfort.