Elearning Reflection

Coronavirus is certainly a novel experience for me. While being locked up at home certainly does feel restrictive, it is liberating in some way.

There is a lot of free time every day, this helps a lot with sleep, hobbies, and management of work. Before the lockup, everything felt like it was on a strict timer. Everything was planned for blocks of times with classes, extracurriculars… that everything felt tense and relentless. At the moment time just flows freely like a soothing stream.

Large chunks of time are wasted every day. It’s obvious when there’s no “learning environment” breathing down the students’ backs that every distraction ever will be attacking from every direction. It also doesn’t help that we cannot really stay active. Because I study in my bedroom, it is so easy to lie down and release the hold of my brain. It’s difficult to get into that focused momentum and be as productive as I would have been at school.

With that said I have started to improve myself. By setting my own time slots, timers and work out sessions I’m starting to make sure that most of my time is put to good use. I really hope the virus ends soon and I can leave my home-prison.

Carol Ann Duffy “Valentine” Pastiche

Not a dandelion or the brightest diamond.

I give you ________
It is a deadline for an eternal existence.
It is hope
That love will mend all wounds.

Bleed.
It rip you up from the insides
like a lover.
It will give pain,
an unshaking regret for the past.

I will stay with you.

Until eternity.

I give you a heart.
Its bond with yours transcends
all disease, all suffering.
For as we long as we live,
we’ll find a way.

Take it.
It is medicine for your soul,
For your spirit.
Despair.
I will chase it away
like a demon, like a ghoul.

The Little Prince

I read the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and I didn’t understand anything.

I recognized that the book was critiquing modern humans for their closed-mindedness and has many clear themes of coming to age but many questions remained unanswered. Why did the prince kill himself? What do the planets represent and how does he return to them? Regardless, I enjoyed the magical tone in which this story was told. The Little Prince describes his explorations in a way that brings the world to a new, interesting perspective.

Winter Break Reading

Over the Winter Break I read the Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. The three books were long but definitely worthwhile. If anyone is looking for an exciting fantasy novel, this is very good.

The plot was very well developed. However, towards the end of the book, every conflict gets completely resolved. This made reading through the books feel less tense and the conflicts less meaningful. Compared to another similar series I have read – the Kingkiller Chronicle by Pattrick Rothfuss. Rothfuss makes the characters and stories more tangible and lifelike. His commentary on life is more brutal and impactful. While Brandon Sanderson is more focused on creating the world of fantasy, Patrick Rothfuss focuses on the protagonist’s life while fantasy elements act to support the arc of the story.

If you have a lot of time, read both books and tell me what you think in the comments below 🙂

The Problem with Apu – Purpose and Techniques

“The Problem with Apu” is a documentary by Indian comedian/filmmaker Hari Kondabolu published in 2017. This documentary focuses on social issues such as racism towards Indians in American popular culture and media. Kondabolu’s major purpose of this documentary is to expose the prominence of this issue and convince the audience that “Apu” is “bad”, and he does this through a variety of film techniques such as animation, editing, humour and more.

Kondabolu’s frequent use of animation is used to thoroughly emphasize a point. A good example is 48:21, where Kondabolu declares that although you love your racist grandpa, it is time for him to die and shows Simpson’s grandpa turned into a coffin. The obvious death symbolism of the coffin strengthens the creator’s statement as it shows he’s declaration both verbally and visually. He’s frequent animation enhances statements, but also lightens the tone and engages the audience. Bright colours, vibrant shapes and symbols are good ways to keep the viewer’s attention.

The creator “The problem with Apu” uses several editing techniques such as background music/sound effects, transitions, setting changes, camera angles to add emphasis to his arguments or transition between points. At 48:33, when Kondabolu fights the people responsible for Apu, the background is changed, intense music is played and he is shown heroically fighting those white men. This use of editing mostly engages the audience. At the same time, expresses the “frustration” Kondabolu has with those white men who propagated racism by inventing Apu.

Kondabolu constantly uses “humour” to spice up his documentary. At 48:28, Kondabolu says that the Simpson’s were only funny during season 1-10. He’s many “funny jokes” throughout the commentary engages the audience, lightening the mood so that people don’t think the documentary is too “preachy” or serious. He’s “humour” allows his points to be more memorable and enjoyable.

 

Persepolis and Beauty

I chose the global issue of Art, Creativity and Imagination. I was most attracted to this global issue because of a key term included in its description – “beauty”. I find beauty to be a highly subjective and elusive concept to grasp, yet it is something that plays a major role in our human society. It intrigues me to beauty is so powerful yet has no substantial purpose. At the same time, I wanted to analyse the excerpt of Persepolis, and because it is a graphic novel, it seems fitting to examine how the artist portrayed characters aesthetically.

The artistic style reflects that the artist clearly doesn’t care about beauty in this excerpt of Persepolis. As evidenced by the lack of facial details, crude perspectives and cartoonish figures, the artist is not actively trying to make its objects seem “beautiful”. All characters appear similar. In panels 1-4, none of the girls are portrayed as unique. Each one of the characters have similarly shaped eyes, almost identical nose and mouth. The artists intent in this excerpt was likely just to symbolize the characters or expressions and not to make them aesthetically pleasing.

The artist also intentionally makes choices that eliminate the demonstration of beauty. To caricature beauty in people, the most potent ways to do it is to draw detailed hair, facial expressions and figure. In panels 1-4, none of the women show their hair or figure as a result of their donned chador. This intentional portrayal of the women is another one that excludes beauty.

Beauty is important, stereotypically especially with women. The artistic choice to reduce beauty in this excerpt of Persepolis is one that reflects the reality of women in Iran, where women were mandated to wear chadors that veil their beauty. This graphic novel is in English and aimed towards Western audiences. It’s obscuration of beauty is in stark contrast with the prominence of beauty in Western graphics.

My Opinion on Chinese Stereotypes List I Found Online

While I was searching up some Chinese stereotypes, I found this “ultimate list of Asian stereotypes”.

https://www.deviantart.com/arabella-octavius/journal/Ultimate-List-of-Asian-Stereotypes-218827341

I have to admit, I hate this so much. Lists such as these propagate stereotypes and add confirmations to previous ones. When some who aren’t informed read these lists they take them as true for all Asians, especially when some stereotypes about Asians aren’t true for all regions of asia. “48. Asians use “la~” in instant messenging” refers to Singaporians. “34. Asian parents talk for far too long when they meet other Asian parents” is essentially all parents. “27. Asians enjoy Kpop and Jpop even when they don’t understand the language”, hello?? What about Japanese and Koreans.

I guess it’s fine if people want to express their understanding of stereotypes from their perspective, but that’s what stereotypes are, opinionated. Everyone has a different understanding of stereotypes and to act as an authority on them (ultimate list) just seems wrong. At the same time, this list doesn’t even take the topic seriously.”What should the 50th stereotype be?” This isn’t so much an ultimate list but a list that couldn’t make it 50 entries long.

Oh well, such websites on the internet aren’t supposed to be seriously anyways. While there definitely are many scholarly articles researching stereotypes, it does coexist with some less compelling ones online.

 

“To Live” – The Death of the Past

What makes “To Live” so artfully devastating and soul-crushing is that the past is constantly dying. The narrative makes you fall in love with characters before ruthlessly bring “death” to them. This is in direct parallel to the reality of the cultural revolution, at its centre, the revolution aims to change and “kill” the past. The theme of the death of the past fits perfectly as it examines how the revolution affected the people and its scary, calamitous impacts.

The first major revolution moment of the film is when long’er gets executed. This scene is shocking. A character that was portrayed as high and mighty, someone who climbed to the top of the hierarchy is suddenly crushed under the new revolutionary force. The former wealthy of the society is gone, dead. Fugui feels this as well. He is flabbergasted when he sees long’er in the square. He pisses himself when five bullets are shot. The depiction of the scene shows the world-changing effect of the revolution, while long’er’s death demonstrates the potent communist strength.

If Long’er showed the death of societies upperclass, the burning of pupperts showed the death of  culture. The audience has been seeing puppet shows since the beginning of the movie. Fugui’s singing moves along the plot while evoking the audience’s affection for this side of Chinese culture. However, they “must be burnt”. Even after they argued with the town head, “old” bits of culture like the puppets face no alternative besides being burnt. The definitiveness of this act of its destruction makes the audience mourn for the puppets. It’s something beautiful that the movie rips from the audience’ hands. This shows the revolution’s powerful grip on the people’s belongings and how pieces of the past are carefully wiped away.

The audience, as well as fugui begins doubting the revolution as seemingly everything faces “death”. Even the town leader, a character present throughout the entire film, is labeled as capitalist and most likely killed. The movie doesn’t dwell on this fact. It brings up the leader’s downfall and moves the plot swiftly along. This shows how no character can have a happy ending, even ones that aren’t important are brought down.

Every character in this film gets something positive in their lives: Long’er gets a house, Fugui gets a family, Chunsheng gets to drive, Fengxia gets married… However, everyone faces a bad ending. This happens because the revolution destroys the “past”. As the “past” dies, Long’er get’s executed, Fugui loses everybody, Chunsheng gets labeled as capitalist, fengxia dies when nobody could save her…