Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Thursday, February 19, 2009

de Saussure and Hefner...Who would have thought?

Ferdinand de Saussure said "the linguistic unit is a double entity, one formed by the associating of two terms" (61). "The linguistic sign unites, not a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound-image" (61). There are two elements to the sound of language.  The actual physical sound is the sound we hear. Then there is the impression the sound makes on our senses.  Saussure calls this the "psychological imprint of the sound"(61). The objective here is to understand that the sound or concept doesn't really mean anything until we have a mental picture to associate it with.

For example, when someone says "Hugh Hefner," It doesn't mean anything to us until we know that this sound is associated with the name of a man. It then helps to see a picture of him. Once we know what he looks like, the next time we hear the same sound we have its association. The image with the subtitle "I'm with Hef," is a picture of a strapping, young Hefner, smoking a pipe.  He is handsome, and his stare alludes his sexiness.  Once we are interested in the picture we learn that it is not entirely accurate.

The more we learn about "Hef," as he is most commonly called, we learn about his love for sexy young women. He took this love and founded a magazine that would showcase beautiful young women posing nude. He calls it Playboy. This magazine has been circulated internationally and is most recognizable, along with its logo, the Playboy Bunny.

Hef is also well known for being in the company of many young ladies, no matter what his age. His inability to settle down with just one of them doesn't seem to affect his talent in recruiting women for himself, or his magazine.

There is now significance in the sound of the words Hugh Hefner.  The next time the sounds are heard we have more than one association. Hugh Hefner now can be associated with wealth, money, women, sex, and Playboy magazine.

Works Cited

de Saussure, Ferdinand. "Course in General LInguistics." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Blackwell: Oxford, 2006. 59-71.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Do these cartoons express Bakhtin's ideas?

Images found at:


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

9 Human Representations...Can you find them all??

At first glance this image just comes off as strange.  In the upper left there is a bird looking up, perched on top of an ornamental sculpture.  There is a pretty detailed archway with some sort of grass growing around it.  There are two columns along the wall, one on each side of the archway.  There are two people standing in front of the archway.  One is a man and the other is a woman, and she is holding a child.  The sidewalk is made of blocks, and the street is cobblestone.  There is a dog either asleep or dead lying in the street.
When looking more closely, you can make out the depictions of even more human representations.  The man and woman in the archway also make up the profile of a man.  The woman's wrap around her head and torso along with the baby make up the ear.  Her white sash around her skirt make up his collar.  The man standing there makes up the eye, nose, and mustache in the profile.  The light shining through the archway onto the street lines up with the profile in a way that may represent his upper body, and the dog his hand curling in toward his body. 
 There are four faces surrounding the bird in the upper left.  There is one full face looking out at the audience just to the left of the sculpture.  The sculpture itself is of two profiles facing each other.  To the right of the neck of the bird is another bird flying in the sky.  That bird is the eye of the third profile. 
The final face is actually a profile as well.  It can be found by following the grass growing above the archway all the way to the right. You will see part of another sculpture there.  In this case the grass to the left of that sculpture makes up the hair, eyebrow, and eye of the last profile which is also facing the sculpture. 

Image found at:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Debating Rhetoric

Debating can be simply defined as an exchange of ideas or views on any one subject. The objective of debating or arguing is to persuade your audience that your idea or view is better than the opposition. Aristotle wrote one “must always represent things in one of three ways: either as they were or are, or as they are said to be or seem to be, or as they ought to be” (Murray 92). Using this small piece of philosophy combined with mastering the art of rhetoric and applying it to a speech in a debate you can begin to sway your audience in your favor.
In a YouTube clip on nonviolent civil disobedience, the movie The Great Debaters gives a concise example of Aristotle’s philosophy on speech and writing. The speaker combines all three of Aristotle’s rules to show his audience what life is like in the South. He begins by saying, “In Texas, they lynch Negros” (Nonviolent). Then he paints a picture of him and his teammates’ experience witnessing the lynching of an African-American man in the South. His clear, simple opening sentence satisfies Aristotle’s first rule. He then proves his argument with an eyewitness account.
When addressing Aristotle’s philosophy about stating how things are “said to be or seem to be,” (Murray 92) the speaker mentions his opposition’s quote who said, “Nothing that erodes the rule of law, can be moral” (Nonviolent). The speaker unveils that there seems to be a double standard in this statement since killing is against the law, yet in the South this law was not enforced on the lynch mob.
Aristotle’s third rule says one has to represent things “as they ought to be” (Murray 92). The speaker quotes St. Augustine saying, “An unjust law is no law at all” (Nonviolent). Using this quote the speaker justifies violence and civil disobedience as means to oppose unfair and unjust treatment of blacks in the South.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Why Nonviolent Civil Disobedience?

My Mistake

I thought I had been posting all along and am afraid I wasn't.  That being said, hear are my condensed thoughts... 

When all of these philosophies are taken into consideration they are all valid, correct, and appropriate in different contexts.

Plato is harsh in his opinion of poetry, yet is still inconsistent.  He devalues rhetoric because it arouses emotion making us "incapable of judging and reflecting on the performances we are experiencing," but depends on rhetoric to convince us he's right. 

Gorgias and the Sophists further Plato's issues with rhetoric by arguing everything is relative.  Without absolutes any argument can be proven one way or the other.  In other words everything can mean anything depending on your experience, or which way you choose to view it.

Aristotle takes a different approach on poetry than Plato, and says it isn't "inspired."  He says poetry can be structured and reasoned, but following his prescription for poetry doesn't allow for much creative influence.  Aristotle allows us the process of catharsis.  We are able to purge our emotional distresses of everyday life through poetry, which may otherwise be too great a burden. 

Longinus says "the true sublime uplifts our souls; we are filled with a proud exaltation and a sense of vaunting joy, just as though we had ourselves produced what we had heard." He says writing should touch your soul, and be moving, then says, "you may take it that sublimity in all its truth and beauty exists in such works as please all men at all times."  I have to ask my self if this is possible. 

All-in-all, the most important thing is to find a balance in all of these philosophies.  There is good that can be taken away from all of this.  Do I choose for myself?  Or let them choose for me?