Forum 2

Please post here, as a comment, a 300-500 word response to any aspect of the reading we’ve done since the first forum. Posts are due by 11.59pm Friday August 12th. Keep in mind that more specific responses are nearly always more compelling – try, if you can, to quote or refer to particular passages to support your point.

Second, make sure you provide an engaged response to at least one classmates’ post by 11:59pm Saturday August 13th. Feel free to respectfully disagree with each other if it’s in the interest of probing into an issue more deeply.

32 comments on “Forum 2
  1. matt patricoski says:

    For my research paper, I intend to explore the connection between the popularization of the Helvetica typeface and the cultural and stylistic shift in advertising, which is exemplified in the distinctive variations between commercial airlines adverts in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Adverts from both Delta and American Airlines will be beneficial to this exploration, and rich sources of investigation. Through these sources, I assert that the global popularization of the Helvetica typeface and specific clean minimalist aesthetic it carried with it ushered in a new style and philosophy of advertising. I further intend to claim, and support using primary source commercial materials, that the realm of advertising lacked far behind art and poetry, which had been in the post-modernism movement period since the close of the Second World War. The advertising of the 1950’s was laden with content, multiple typefaces, a variety of appeals on the same page, and realistic depictions of people and places. The post-modern era however, had great contempt for well-made and unified artistic and literary works. I claim and will prove that the advertising of this period made grand shift to a clean minimalist aesthetic, catalyzed by Helvetica, and that that shift coincided with the marketing of the time falling much more into step with the current trends in artistic and literary expression. Both of these claims lend a high degree of support the notion that the Helvetica type face has extraordinary cultural significance, and accomplished a greater amount of effect on art, literature, and culture than any one ‘font’ before it. The film Helvetica, by filmmaker Gary Hustwit, will be a valuable resource to help solidify my understanding of the creation and implementation of Neue Haas Grotesk (Helvetica), and how it became proliferated across the globe, beginning in Northern Europe, and eventually ending up having major influence on prominent multi-national American companies. One other area of investigation I think would benefit my research is the corporate identities of businesses at this time, namely American Airlines, who adopted Helvetica as the core of its corporate character, as I infer at least a few other firms had done at this time; research will reveal weather this is the case, though this is not very far fetched, as a significant constituent of American businesses use Helvetica as a large part of their identities now in the 21st century.

    • Maggie Patton says:

      This sounds like an interesting idea. In the movie I remember Massimo Vignelli talking about the American Airlines logo and how they had been using the same logo for years and years while other companies changed theirs. This movie was made in 2007, but in 2013 American Airlines actually ended up changing their logo. They are no longer using Helvetica, and have instead switched to the typeface Frutiger. American Airlines has definitely dealt with some financial trouble and changing there logo was probably a marketing decision, but many people were not happy with this decision. Consumers can become very attached to logos and even though the typefaces don’t appear to be that different, it was a big enough change to anger people.

  2. Ryan Friedman says:

    Watching John Cage’s 4’33” and listening to the lack of sound in it caused me to have a greater appreciation for music by making reevaluate what music is, and listening to sound poetry made me appreciate spoken language by deconstructing it to basic sounds. In the same vein, the movie Helvetica caused me to better appreciate written forms of communication by breaking it down to its roots.
    As someone who has had access to a computer for his whole life, I have taken for granted many components of typography. One of the Helvetica experts in the movie said that the font has become synonymous with air. Growing up with constant access to this “air”, I did not appreciate all that went in to making it so readily available. However, listening to the origins of Helvetica and why it was created helped me to understand why corporations use this font to try and convey a message with complete neutrality and also to recognize ways in which Helvetica is actually not completely neutral.
    Another reason why Helvetica spurred me to rethink fonts came from Massimo Vignelli’s statement that “type is all about the blank space between the letters.” Focusing on the empty space made me appreciate the symbiotic relationship between the ink and the blank space: the presence or absence of one of the elements highlights the presence or absence of the other.
    David Carson stated that one should not “confuse legibility with communication.” Before watching Helvetica, I would have sided with him and his belief that fonts are merely a way of conveying a message and are not nearly as important as the message itself. However, after learning about the subtleties of Helvetica and how it can convey a message with neutrality and after comparing Helvetica with fonts like the one used by Marlboro, I now realize that a font can impact the meaning of a text. After learning about Helvetica, I realize that font is another important way in which the medium can affect the message.

    • I had a very similar reaction to the film as you did. As you said, it is easy to ignore the impact that typeface has on our daily lives and the way we view certain companies. Something that is around us as much as these words are become part of us in certain ways even though we do not notice. The power of Helvetica is more subconscious for the average (non-typeface designer) person. I also liked how you talked about the space in between the letters being a big part of the message. Without the absence of letters, the presence of them would be much less powerful and wouldn’t communicate as well. It ties in with pauses and silence in music. Without variation in dynamics, the music cannot be affective and will fail to excite the listener. Advertisements work the same way, but they have such little time to catch the consumer’s attention. Ads are everywhere now and many of them can only use a few words to present themselves to the public. That is why typefaces are actually becoming more important. Regarding your last point, the best way for me to notice the importance of the typeface in connection to its message is to change the font over and over to see which one works and which doesn’t. Helvetica works because it’s so simple that it is unnoticeable to most people.

  3. The more abstract the work, the more pressure I typically feel to look for a deeper meaning within it and also the more frustration I feel when or if I can not find a deeper meaning. Because of this pressure, it is easy for me to overlook or simply disregard any use of seemingly unsophisticated humor or word play as either the author being intentionally childish or the remnants of my own childhood’s crude sense of humor causing me to misread and imply something the author did not intend. It wasn’t until I read the ‘introduction’ at the end of Tom Phillips’ “A Humument” that the idea of perceiving the book as a form of satire resonated with me.

    Reading in Phillips’ own words how he felt that the original author’s “… complete lack of humour helped, for it is a pleasure to tease the odd joke out of a novel that contains almost none” may be Phillips’ attempt at mocking W.H. Mallock’s anti-Semitic and class prejudicial personality. I found an interview online where Philips was asked about his outlook on life and if it could be explained by interpreting ‘The Humument’ as being mischievous and funny, to which he responded “If life isn’t funny, then what is it? It’s either fucking tragic, or hilarious.”

    There are a number of pages within the book that can easily be recognized as using tragic imagery to mock anti-Semitism, including the swastika and the yellow Star of David used on striped prisoner uniforms in the Holocaust. The portions of the book I originally associated with being unsophisticated could then be interpreted as mocking class elitism. In the previously mentioned interview, Phillips says that “The Mallock text is very sexual: it’s a battened down aspect to the book. They do have sex: it’s hardly perceptible.” The blatant use of sex and seemingly ‘crude’ humor like the phallic imagery may be Phillips attempt to ridicule the distinction between high and low culture typically made by elitists, which I may have been doing when I first read the book because of pressure to find deeper meaning in abstract literature.

    Interview: http://www.lrb.co.uk/2012/10/04/tom-phillips/tom-phillips-an-interview

    • Jason hofmann says:

      Todd, your thoughts about looking for deeper meanings in this abstract art resonates with me! I also find it frustrating at times when I cannot find a deeper meaning when I suspect there is one. Phillip’s ‘Humument’ has an array of pages that may be considered boorish content and humor, that is used to mock certain aspects, as you suggested. I think an incredibly helpful tip that has helped me work through these sorts of literature and art is to really take the genre and period of art into consideration, and to identify the author’s intentions, if possible. By using a top-down approach, I found it worlds easier to approach and interpret art like this. We may even be able to identify hidden meanings and very subtle hints of cognition/recognition. Cheers!

      Jason

  4. Jason hofmann says:

    The shift from recognition to cognition marks a fresh, resolute shift in modernism and post modernism, utilized in the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay. This idea that embodied (post) modernism allowed me to better grasp the goals of what these artists were attempting to accomplish. Hamilton Finlay lived through both modernism and post modernism eras, in which he refined his styles and expanded his horizons in regard to the scope of art canvases. He focused on the inscription of language, how it is place and inscribed, not necessarily what it was saying. This was especially relevant in his piece “Star/Steer”, which I was assigned to interpret. At first glance, the word ‘star’ appeared about 13 times, with one being significantly smaller than the others. ‘Steer’ was placed at the bottom of the zig zagged column, and as I looked at it, I initially attempted to recognize this piece as something that should make coherent sense. To effectively interpret the author’s art, one must be familiar with the styles and intentions of the artist, so as to achieve a cognitive response to the art. After doing due diligence on Finlay, I came to the conclusion his intention was to create an abstract work of a sailing route in which the directions came from the stars, steering towards the small ‘star’ to ensure a safe journey.

    To reiterate, in my opinion, one must become familiar with the style the artist is using and the goals and beliefs that his/her is based on to adequately grasp the piece one is observing. This rule of thumb stands true for me when looking at all the pieces we have looked at in this class. I have been quick to judge some of the material we have looked at because I have drawn conclusions within the confines of what I think is my immediate knowledge of the piece. It is important for me to take each piece with a grain of salt, and to use an educated perspective with regard to the knowledge of what we have learned about each period of art/literature, to effectively critique and interpret each piece we come across.

  5. For my paper, I will discuss John Cage’s 4’33 and why it is a masterpiece of both art and music that pushes the conventions of traditional music. As many artists we’ve looked into in this class have said, it is not the notes or the letters that make the art, but the space in between. Cage forces the public and his audience to question music as a whole. The unique thing about this piece is that every performance of it is different. One aspect of it that I plan to delve deeper into is whether we are listening to the song when we are silent in the real world and not in a concert hall. Are we listening to 4’33” when we are sitting in the library? That would mean that the piece can only be truly performed or listening to when it fits the context, being in the concert hall and watching the performer sit in silence on stage. I am really interested in this piece and what has to bring to the table musically and artistically, but I’m not really sure what to discuss beyond what I’ve already mentioned.

    As for this week’s material, Helvetica proved to be the most interesting for me. It really brought the aesthetic value and visual aspect of the words in our daily lives to the surface. It successfully applied the connection between form and content to our normal surroundings and touched on our subconscious perception of these visual characters. I am now more aware of typeface in writing, but it is still irrelevant to me in my conscious mind. I don’t think that it is as important as it might be or as much as the typeface designers think it is. But, like almost all advertisements, the direct affects from even the most minor and minuscule features are not always obvious. As said in the film, advertisements and typefaces have shifted along with companies’ strategies of presenting themselves and appealing to the public. Helvetica brings that simple form that modern advertisers are looking for. I see advertisements heading into this direction of simplicity because advertisements are getting a smaller and smaller window of time to appeal to the public. As often said, true creative genius often seems very simple and that is what makes Helvetica so significant.

  6. The act of believing is an extremely powerful trait in humanity that has the ability to create truth in all individuals. If an individual simply believes something to be true, it will automatically become truth, regardless of opposing believes or evidence. This concept was a huge influence to the post-modernist movement of the later 20th century in which artists began finding new ways of exploring art and finding new truths within art. Post-modernism was therefore also very political and interested in changing the ways in which we perceived political truth. They were especially against the concept of eternal metaphorical truths, which are previously accepted grand large scale theories and philosophies about our world. Post-modernists would regard these “eternal truths” as false, believing that there is no such thing as one grand truth and that there are instead many relative and localized truths known as “micro-narratives” that must all be regarded and taken into consideration in finding truth. Post-modernism in turn fails to be an affective political tool. In politics, not every possible solution to a political issue can be accepted as truth and thus, politicians are forced to make decisions on what side of the coin they think would work best, in order to create political progress.
    Many post-modernist writers, especially Jean-Francois Lyotard, argued that grand narratives, are inadequate, stating that, “the narratives that we tell to justify a single set of laws and stakes are inherently unjust” and therefore fails to represent truth accurately because these laws do not apply to everyone and ceases to be truth. If we want to accurately find what is true, we have to take into consideration the variations micro narratives of all individuals. This concept works well in areas such as literature and art where the subject matter is very subjective to the individual person. For example, two people could be admiring the same abstract painting and get two completely different emotional reactions from it. These two individuals are free to have separate emotional responses because the sphere of influence of their beliefs is small only affects those two individuals.
    In politics there are many different beliefs on how to create solutions to political issues. However, because the sphere of influence in politics is really big and affects a whole population, decisions are going to inevitably be made, in order to have progress. Government has to be either for or against a certain political act but cannot be both. For example, an individual is either pro-life or pro-choice but cannot be both. An individual can be pro-immigration or against immigration but cannot be both. The result of meta-narratives in our government would cause a standstill in policy in which there would be very little progress and would result in government becoming largely ineffective.

    • Ryan Friedman says:

      Jakob,

      I also appreciated the post-modernists’ focus on destroying metaphysical truths. An interesting correlation between the post-modernists and society that we did not focus on much in class is how the time that post-modernism arose coincided with a time period in which the United States society became more integrated. It seems highly plausible that post-modernists distrust of law’s ability to protect all citizens arose from their interactions with people from different races, learning that the laws failed to ensure that minority citizens had equal rights.

      Also, I found your takeaway that the lack of meta-narratives meant that government has to be entirely for or against a certain policy to be interesting. While I agree that the lack of meta-narratives means that the government will never be able to create a law that makes all citizens happy, I do not think that the answer is to split solutions into a dichotomy (referring to the either pro-life or pro-choice example – someone can be pro-life in certain circumstances and pro-choice in others). While I currently do not have the solution to how we can move away from this dichotomy in American politics, I am hopeful that someone will figure it out soon because many Americans are currently dissatisfied with the overall political system.

      Thank you for tackling such a thought provoking issue!

  7. Wyatt Wood says:

    In response to the Against Expression reading:

    Kenneth Goldsmith makes a point in the introduction to Against Expression about conceptual writing by saying, “If you can filter through the mass of information and pass it on as an arbiter to others, you gain an enormous amount of cultural capital” – Kenneth Goldsmith (xix). .The link that Goldsmith makes between our culture and the way we use text, or literature is a good display at what is happening today in contemporary society. Technology has increased the amount of information that travels between person to person and this has influenced the way we has humans interact with what we call literature. As things constantly change in technology the culture adapts and uses the technology as channels of communication and expression.

    It was interesting to get the point of view from Goldsmith and Dworkin, but primarily Goldsmith on their concept of writing and how it is applied to today’s world. With so many things already created in the literary world, Goldsmith makes statements such as “Filtering is a taste.” Which shines light onto the new way in which art is conceived today.
    I agree with Goldsmith in saying that the job of replicating others work, or forming it in general has become more difficult because of the technology available to us today. This changes the artists worlds in the way in which the art is created itself.
    In response to how Goldsmith discusses what the writer in society has evolved into from the past, I agree in favor of the way that things have turned out. Against Expression shows that the role of the writer has become something new with the amount of technological advancement and the increase of networking in forms such as social media. The increase in networking increases the amount of writers in society to where there are not only a few people writing for the majority to read, but to where writing has taken the form of people individually writing and reading each other’s work. I consider this to be what Kenneth Goldsmith was considering as “Digital media for a literary revolution” – The role of the writer has become everyone’s job as technology increases, it demands the increase of text and communication which are two large parts of literature.

    – Wyatt

  8. Wyatt Wood says:

    In response to the Against Expression reading:

    Kenneth Goldsmith makes a point in the introduction to Against Expression about conceptual writing by saying, “If you can filter through the mass of information and pass it on as an arbiter to others, you gain an enormous amount of cultural capital” – Kenneth Goldsmith (xix). .The link that Goldsmith makes between our culture and the way we use text, or literature is a good display at what is happening today in contemporary society. Technology has increased the amount of information that travels between person to person and this has influenced the way we has humans interact with what we call literature. As things constantly change in technology the culture adapts and uses the technology as channels of communication and expression.

    It was interesting to get the point of view from Goldsmith and Dworkin, but primarily Goldsmith on their concept of writing and how it is applied to today’s world. With so many things already created in the literary world, Goldsmith makes statements such as “Filtering is a taste.” Which shines light onto the new way in which art is conceived today.
    I agree with Goldsmith in saying that the job of replicating others work, or forming it in general has become more difficult because of the technology available to us today. This changes the artists worlds in the way in which the art is created itself.
    In response to how Goldsmith discusses what the writer in society has evolved into from the past, I agree in favor of the way that things have turned out. Against Expression shows that the role of the writer has become something new with the amount of technological advancement and the increase of networking in forms such as social media. The increase in networking increases the amount of writers in society to where there are not only a few people writing for the majority to read, but to where writing has taken the form of people individually writing and reading each other’s work. I consider this to be what Kenneth Goldsmith was considering as “Digital media for a literary revolution” – The role of the writer has become everyone’s job as technology increases, it demands the increase of text and communication which are two large parts of literature.

    • Roni Slavit says:

      I would totally have to agree with you and what Kenneth Goldsmith says in his piece. It is so interesting that as we advance as a society with technology and our culture that our art and media changes as well. Compared to art that was around in the 1800s and art that is around now the difference is drastic. I do, however not fully agree with the point you made about how with technology writing has become everyone’s job. I think there is a vast difference between writing on facebook or any social media and writing for a magazine, novel, blog, etc.. The latter of the two is where I see the profession or job for you need skills and insight to be successful and the first examples are more ways for people to tell the world what they’re doing and what they’re thinking.

    • Maggie Patton says:

      To me, the way the role of the writer has changed is similar to the way the role of the photographer has changed. Cameras were not always accesible to those who were not in the field of photography. Photographers used to only be experts but now anyone with enough money can buy a camera and become a photographer. This does not mean everyone is skilled at it, but it means everyone can take pictures and through social media can share them with the world. Writing used to be something only professionals could be recognized for as well, but social media allows everyone to have a voice and everyones writing to be seen regardless of who they are or what they are writing about.

  9. Roni Slavit says:

    bpNichols’s The Alphabet Game is one of the few examples of concrete poetry that really peaks my interest. He has a knack for taking something so simple and small and then turning it into a masterpiece. Each poem in The Alphabet Game has its own unique component that elicits an emotional response. I’ve also noticed that in his short one word to two line poems he has a thin black border. I interpreted the text in this as a train of thought or a clever way to express emotion and the black border around it as the periphery of the conscious mind. The poem I would like to specifically focus on is on page 29. The only words on the page are “em ty”. At first when reading the poem you tend to read it so fast that you do not realize the “p” in “empty” is missing. But, once you go back, slow down and take a closer more in depth look you notice the obvious. Even though this poem is so simple I find that it gives off something so powerful. Not only is the page basically empty and plain, but the fact that there is one letter missing made that sense of emptiness flourish. After sitting and thinking about the poem even more I started to wonder why bp Nichols decided to leave out the letter he did. My interpretation is that he took this poem one step further by taking out the “p” specifically because if you try and say the word “empty” without the “p” it basically sounds as if you didn’t change anything. I feel as though that adds another component to the meaning empty in that the “p” is unimportant and has no value, making it empty in a sense. Overall I found this poem to be extremely clever and emotionally provoking even though it is so simple.

  10. Lannie Newberry says:

    For my research paper I want to discuss Barthes’ ‘death of the author’ and the loss of subject in the postmodern. We discussed the idea of death of subject, but Barthes’ refers to the author as the artist and as an intermediate to the text. If there is no original thought then what is an author? The author produces a body of work, it leaves the mind as an original thought and is contextualized by the reader. The author’s “genius” is destroyed by the decontextualization that may occur from author to text to reader. Death of the author is giving way to the totality of the author’s “genius.” When the reader is given the complete context there is no other way to interpret what one reads; totality leaves no room for self-thought or interpretation. This idea of ‘death of the author,’ is the ideal interpretation of the postmodern. Concrete poetry we have looked at is from the author’s “genius,” but the interpretation is left for the reader. The reason we struggle with this idea of interpreting the “genius” is due to the fact that we will never and should never understand the context of text or art in the postmodern. The author is the conveyor, symbol or image is the future idealized narrative of an event that has already taken place. The “genius” of the author is conceptualized into work, the author has given away the idea and the reader or viewer experiences the work with their own expression, feelings, and interpretation, but it is up to the reader to do with it what they will. Another example, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain and other readymades when he conceptualized the idea of a urinal as a fountain but the reader or viewer took from it what they may, whether that be as a piece of artwork, garbage or both because it was by Duchamp. The idea of decontextualized “genius” is how postmodern work should be read.

  11. Maggie Patton says:

    In A Humument by Tom Phillips, his art style is as much, if not more, of a message than the actual words on the page. He uses painting and collage to form his pages. The story sometimes flows from page to page and sometimes it does not. His medium is a book but it is a book that has been cut up, painted over, burned and more, which completely changes the message of both the original book and Phillips’s treated book. Since Tom Phillips is using the work of another author, W.H. Mallock, he could have found the words he wanted from Mallock’s text and typed them up in a completely new book, but this is not what Phillips did. By keeping the words on their original pages and working with the space around them, he created a work of art that gives us meaning through both the words, the spacing and the pictures, and the way these words appear on the page leaves it up to the reader to decide the order in which they are read.

    Not only has Phillips made five editions of the book, but he has also made an iPad and Phone application version of A Humument. In this application, you can read through the story and scroll between pages, but it also gives you the option to randomly select pages, which changes the order in which the story is read. First, the user chooses a date, which already has a specific page assigned to it. Next, the user clicks a button at random as a wheel of page numbers spins and this provides a second page. These two pages can then be read together, which gives the reader a different story than they would have gotten if the pages had been read in a different order. A Humument is already a non-linear story, as the pages do not always seem to flow together, but this application adds another nonlinear aspect. The pages in the physical copy are set in place and cannot be changed. This application allows pages to be put together in a random, unintended order, which changes the story. Reading the story in the medium of a book gives a different message and is a completely different experience than reading the story off of the phone application.

    • Since hearing that Phillips may be finished with “The Humument” as a project, I’ve been wondering if the iPad/iPhone app has played a significant role in his decision. It would seem a natural progression for the app to eventually provide users with options to select their own fragments of text from Mallock’s original pages and the ability to incorporate their own images or artwork. Allowing users to create and share their own versions of “The Humument” would certainly fulfil the postmodern theory that it’s necessary to put the reader in a position of power to create meaning.

    • Gannon Faul says:

      I think that the iPhone app is a good medium for the Humument. It seems that the pages don’t follow any chronological order, and they just jump from theme to theme. I could see the iPhone app being able to present the Humument as a collection of poems and ideas more than a novel, which may provide a more enjoyable reading experience. It was also interesting to me how Phillips decided to construct the book. I think that using someone else’s work allowed him to improvise with different artistic styles and not focus so much on getting words on paper. He let the words speak to him, and didn’t need to create them himself.

    • Brice Rudolph says:

      It is quite interesting in Tom Phillips “The Humament” that he uses the backdrop of the pages to tell a story all on their own while maintaining his poetry on the page. For instance on the first page of every edition of “The Humanent” Phillips has a poem where he describes the style that he will write the book in. Along with that his picture shows an arrow that sort of engulfs the poem as it points towards the next page as if to show that this pattern will be continued through the rest of the book. It was interesting to me though that through all of his editions he would change some of the art work for various reasons, such as on page 4 where in his most recent editions he put in art of the Twin Towers. To me it just seemed that if over the decades he had continually found new things to change that now he believes it to be done. I wonder if perhaps someday he’ll be going through it again only to have new ideas for pictures that he could illustrate and whether or not he would be persuaded to add them.

  12. Gannon Faul says:

    On Monday we discussed the central aspects Postmodern Theory from the 1960’s and -70’s. I find myself torn between agreement and dismissal of the beliefs presented by the postmodern theorists of the 20th century. For example, in Postmodernism and Consumer Society, Fredric Jameson writes, “But today, in the age of corporate capitalism…individual subject no longer exists.” It is important to note that Jameson presents two different philosophies for this idea, “Death of the Subject”. The first, that individualism has never existed, and was a philosophical myth from its very inception (referred to by Jameson as the “poststructuralist position”), differs from the second, the school of thought that there was individualism, but capitalism has killed it. However, Jameson also says, “it is not particularly important to decide which of these positions is correct,” My personal dilemma is that I completely understand what Jameson is presenting, and I would agree that with social trends and the influence that advertising and the media has on what we buy, we become less and less unique. Even nonconformists often just subscribe to slightly less popular styles or cultures rather than truly creating their own “identity”. However, I also have to strongly disagree with Jameson because I don’t believe that people are defined by what they purchase. I believe that a person’s thoughts, words, and especially actions have a much bigger effect on that person’s ability to be unique and define themselves than the clothes they wear. For these reasons, I find Jameson’s beliefs to be both profound for his time, as well as shallow, and it’s difficult to decide definitively which I believe more strongly.

    Furthermore, I also have mixed feelings about the idea of the “Death of the Author”. Roland Barthes coined this phrase in the 1960’s, and it means that the conventional method of reading where we try to discover authorial intent is sloppy and flawed. Barthes says, “To give a text an Author” and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it “is to impose a limit on that text.” I find myself torn once again with this idea. First, I do believe that we are arrogant to assume that we can know exactly what the author’s intent was in creating a piece. I think it is often up to the reader to figure out what they take from the piece, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to what the author intended. It’s also quite clear from several artistic movements, like modernism and avant-garde, that the author may not have had any intentions beyond providing the reader with tools to have a unique experience. Contrarily, I think it is a big step to say that we can disregard the idea of authorial intent altogether. Perhaps it does limit a work to explicitly define its initial purpose, but that does not mean that we can simply ignore it. Many authors do have intent when they are creating pieces of literature, and to deny that seems foolish. Postmodernist theory presents several schools of thought that I can both defend and deny.

    • I also find myself torn on the issue of “the death of the subject”. I agree with your post that individualism is more difficult to find in this day and age. Especially since people today are stuck within our capitalist political structure and are thus forced to participate in the structure by purchasing things. However I also disagree that people are only characterized by what they buy. People are more complex than we seem to understand, and there is a lot more to a human being than simply what he owns. I could own the same t-shirt as someone else, however that doesn’t mean that we are the same person. People differentiate in many other ways through things such as emotion and intellect and are not just the product of what they purchase.

  13. Alec Alley says:

    I am interested in exploring the relationship between form and content within the poetic movements that we have been studying in this class. While I do not fully understand the subject yet, it is a theme that connects all of the modernist and postmodernist movements. Mary Ellen Solt writes in her book, Concrete Poetry: A World View, that all concrete poems follow the formula “form=content/content=form” (Solt, Brazil.) She never fully explains what this formula exactly means. However, it can be inferred it means that while the content is as important to the poem, form comes first. We can see this formula Ian Hamilton Finlay’s “Wave Rock” poem. While the words ‘wave’ and ‘rock’ are certainly important to conveying the meaning of the poem, it is the way the words are placed that truly makes the poem unique. The formula also can be seen in Russell Atkins “Spyrytual.” In this poem, the way the apostrophes are displayed and how the words almost seem to fall away gives the content its meaning. The form and content relationship is blurred, as in both examples; the meaning of the poem would be changed if either the form or content would be changed. The Noigrandres concrete poets discussed this by saying in their magazine that the “concrete poem communicates its own structure: structure content” (Solt, Brazil.) To them, there is little separation between form and content.
    We also see this blurring of the relationship between form and content in other poetic movements, such as the Dadaists’ sound poetry. In sound poetry, the poem is communicated through the smallest unit of language. Hugo Ball, the self-titled inventor of sound poetry, stated that in these kinds of poems, “the balance of the vowels is calculated and distributed purely according to the tonal values of the opening sequence” (Dada, 192.) The content of these randomly connected syllables have no meaning until the poem is performed. We also can see this content-form relationship in Tom Phillips’ A Humument. In his book, the poem is formed through the words he decides to leave legible to the reader. However, it is how he erases the majority Mallock’s words, and decorates the page that gives the poem his true meaning. In all of these forms of poetry, how the poem is formed and presented, is just as important as what the poem says.

  14. Brice Rudolph says:

    This week we watched a film on the type font Helvetica. I had very mixed feelings on this film. For starters I found the whole discussion on the history and various artistic perspectives on Helvetica very boring. For instance many of the people that were interviewed in the film made the assertion that Helvetica is a perfect font. To paraphrase what one of them said “the space around the letters holds them in place rather than the letters holding their place”. While that notion does seem rather sound when looking at something typed in Helvetica it hardly means that it is perfect. Despite the fact that Helvetica has been modeled after by countless fonts and been viewed as the norm to counter for others; the affect that the use of Helvetica has on the reader over fonts such as Times New Roman and Calibri remains to be seen.
    However, despite these critiques of the opinions on the quality of Helvetica after watching the film there can be little doubt the effect that it has had on marketing in the U.S., which was its intended market, and beyond. Throughout the film there was a bounty of business signs, cards, etc. that all used Helvetica. Though it may never really come to the minds of average people, big business has no doubt adopted it en masse. Major international companies such as Nestle, Dole, and Microsoft all use it despite having the resources to develop their own unique font such as Marlboro’s. It has also served as the inspiration for many modern graphic designers to develop their own fonts to be more lively, fluid, or simply better than Helvetica.
    In all despite the varying opinions on Helvetica and the subjectivity of its impact there can be no doubt that it has had a greater impact than any other font of the last century.

    • Jessica says:

      I am with you, on the fact that I was left with mixed feelings. I thought it was interesting that, according to this movie, Helvetica is the font of all fonts. Since I started writings papers for school 15 years ago, I have always used Times New Roman. I actually have always called Times Roman Numeral, lol. Anyways, I have always thought that TNR was “IT” when it came to fonts; because of the fact that every teacher in every school I have ever gone to makes you type your research paper in that specific font. Until this video, I had never given any thought to Helvetica, or any other font for that matter. I agreed with the film when it discussed how we are all being subliminally influenced by typeface. I never really realized that I was being influenced by typeface until it was pointed out to me, and now I can’t get away from it, or Helvetica. It is like the saying you don’t know what you don’t know, and the three levels of consciousness… You know what you know, you know what you don’t know, and you don’t know what you don’t know. I see Helvetica everywhere I go now, and I look for it too. In the movie, there was a love-hate relationship with people, and that typeface. Some thought it caused war, and others thought it was perfect and nothing could be done to change it. I obviously know nothing about typeface, but I was staring at Helvetica writing trying to see if I could change it in some way, and I cannot. I get why some of the people in that film said that.

    • Ariel Riggan says:

      I agree with your feelings towards the movie Helvetica. The movie was a little dull, but it did emphasize the pervasiveness of the font. However, I do disagree with your statement that “the affect that the use of Helvetica has on the reader over fonts such as Times New Roman and Calibri remains to be seen.” I think that the pervasiveness of the font that was demonstrated through Helvetica does show that the font has an effect on the reader that trumps that of other fonts at least in advertising situations. I think in other situations your statement may hold better.

  15. Ariel Riggan says:

    In the United States plagiarism is defined as, “[t]he act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the product of one’s own mind”( http://www.lwionline.org/publications/plagiarism/lawschool.pdf). Despite the existence of this legally binding definition, there is no reasonable method to easily quantify plagiarism. Tom Phillips dramatically brings forth the struggle between what is new and what is stolen in the volumes of The Humument, a work written over another called The Human Document by William Mallock. In the most literal interpretation of the legal definition of plagiarism, Tom Phillips is plagiarizing The Humument through “the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings…” Tom Phillip’s poems are constructed from sounds, words, and phrases of William Mallock’s original work, thus he appropriates Mallock’s words violating the legal definition given. Despite Phillips fitting the definition of a plagiarist, many of his works would not be unanimously viewed as appropriated. For example, on page 144 of the 5th edition of The Humument, many would not see the work as appropriated because the order of the words changes and a character not present in A Human Document is introduced. Both of these critical differences change how the reader can interpret the meaning of the piece. The general audience will thus see two unique products. When it is asserted that a few parts of a work can be appropriated, as has just been done, the legal definition no longer seems reasonable for all cases. Without the hard boundary that no “parts or passages” can be appropriated the ability to quantify plagiarism is made difficult and only qualitative case by case analysis can render a verdict that upholds ownership while also allowing for new works to resemble older pieces within reason.

    • matt patricoski says:

      i agree the notion of plagiarism is difficult to pin down in popular and even legal understandings. a point that you bring up here was something that i had not quite considered yet, that point being how the audience digests and understands a work of art. what is and is not plagiarism seems to depend pretty significantly on how the public consumes and understands a piece of work, and this brings up an interesting question for me. audiences can vary heavily based on location, social class, and even merely the time of day, and so too varies how they perceive and ingest work. if in court, a big plagiarism case like this, or like Fogerty V fantasy or Gaye V Thick, Williams, is decided by a jury of peers. my question is, how fair an objective can this jury be if their notion of what is and is not plagiarism depends on how they have ingested and understand a work of art. art after all can be argued to mean really anything, and seeing as how the outcome of a court case can hinge upon that meaning, i am curious to know how juries usually form these conclusions.

  16. Sean Robinson-Duff says:

    For my research paper, I will argue that plagiarism has in fact been beneficial to society and without it many great works of art may have never been created. Many great figures in our history have plagiarized. Martin Luther King Jr., who has won a Nobel Peace Prize, and is known as one of the most prominent figures during the civil writes movement has been accused of plagiarism. If King was not “influenced” by other pastors, Archibald Carey, and historian Ralph Lurker would he have been as influential as he was? Great American songwriter, Johnny Cash has even been caught plagiarizing his hit song “Folsom Prison Blues.” The list goes on including Helen Keller, T.S. Eliot, and scientist Jane Goodall.

    In my research I will examine some great literary works including The Gift by Marcel Mauss, Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman, and An Ecstasy of Influence written by Jonathan Lethem. The Gift is a short book, originally written in French, which is considered an essay on the form and reason of exchange in archaic societies. It goes on to talk about common central practices centered on reciprocation. Mauss shows how important human obligations of giving; receiving, and reciprocating are to enhancing society and bringing people closer together. He builds a case for that gift giving is the foundation to human society based on exchange practices.

    In An Ecstasy of Influence, the author demonstrates his ideas about plagiarism and how people adopt ideas from each other. He argues that sharing ideas will promote creativeness and will influence the next movement. Lethem says “Finding one’s voice isn’t just an emptying and purifying oneself of the words of others but an adopting and embracing of filiations, communities, and discourses.” I agree with Letham on how we should adopt ideas from all filiations, communities, and discourses in order to create new ideas and keep human progress moving forward.

    My thesis will be that plagiarism should be tolerated do to the beneficial theories it inspires. Plagiarism is everything for barrowing, giving, receiving, and influencing. Without plagiarism human culture would never move forward. Because of plagiarism we see human society where we are today.

    • Lannie Newberry says:

      I definitely get where you’re going with this idea of plagiarism and great works. Maybe include more ideas from class, tie this to The Humument or Kenneth Goldsmith. Also, a counter argument would be a great addition I bet. I like the part about where you discuss the “human obligations of giving; receiving, and reciprocating,” I think this is an interesting idea, will this be a large part of your essay? Also, I’m planning on writing about death of the author-Barthes. It’s not about plagiarism but the loss of an original idea maybe this might be something to write about in your paper.

    • Wyatt Wood says:

      Why do you think plagiarism is so beneficial to society if it is against the rules in many institutions in cases such as the CU Honor pledge? I can see how many of the people you mention may have plagiarized, but have they become famous solely off of their skills to plagiarize? To you, what is the difference between sharing an idea and what is considered plagiarism? I like your thesis and I think it may present a strong argument, but what would your counter argument be to an individual artist who is seeking credit for their work?
      I agree that plagiarism is a more lenient and tolerable thing in today’s society, but my main concern in this matter is where the line lies between where an individual can collect credit for his own creation, and where creation becomes a product from everyone who yield different amounts of effort. An idea to consider is that an artist’s ability to capitalize off of their work may give them incentive to generate more artwork.

      – Wyatt

  17. Jessica says:

    I am still putting together my thesis statement to try and make it as strong as possible. I am trying to answer the “so what?” question, and it is becoming easier said than done. I am trying to say that although it seems like you have to read the Feminist Manifesto alongside the Futurist Manifesto, which seems counterintuitive to my argument, that in fact you do not. It is a brilliant piece even without comparing it to a man’s work. Finding the right words to communicate this, is hard. I would really appreciate everyone’s feedback again, on how to make this better or any ideas that you have. The responses do not have to answer in align with my “so what” idea. If you have any other ideas of how to say this important, that would be great. It is really important to me that this statement is as strong as it possibly can be. Here is what I have so far:
    While many argue that poet Mina Loy was not a futurist because of her short-lived affiliation with the movement, she took the very platform that was anti-feminist, used it to promote feminism, and wrote “Feminist Manifesto.” Although her work will be looked at alongside F.T Marinetti’s, the Feminist Manifesto stands alone in its impressive portrayal of feminism in 1914.
    Thank you for taking the time to help me again. All of your criticism and critique help!!!

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