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Wednesday, February 21

February 21, 2018

Poetry Workshop: Today: LeRoy/Holten/Wolfe.

For Friday: Kennedy/Shafran/Starr.

Expect the Round 3 poems to be due on Monday, March 5. That date might change depending on next week, however, so stay tuned.

CNF Workshop: Today we workshopped Becca and Yasmine. You got two new essays; Layla is for Friday, Sarah is for Monday.

New due dates for Round 2:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 28: Alexa, Marena
  • Friday, March 2: Chip, Olivia
  • Monday, March 5: Yasmine, Luke
  • Monday, March 12: Becca, Layla
  • Wednesday, March 14: Rachel, Sarah
  • Friday, March 16: Spencer

LOTS of people this semester had issues when posting for Round 1; this will not be acceptable for Round 2. Work out your tech issues ahead of time, and if you need assistance, the day before is the latest you should be reaching out for it.

On a more positive note, you guys have been doing a very nice job in class when it comes to discussion. Keep it up.

And here’s the sheet for Round 3: CNF 2.21.18 – Round 3 Prompt. Due dates will begin the week before spring break (end of March).

Comics: Today we started by putting up a “flow chart” of what we’ve covered so far. I will mention here that we separated the heroes into their respective companies…because we kind of have to. So far we’ve talked about:

D.C. (aka National Publications):

Dr. Occult (D.C.’s first real superhero; created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; 1935)

Superman (created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; 1938)

Batman (created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; 1939)

Other companies:

Captain Marvel (Fawcett; 1940)

Plastic Man (Quality Comics; 1941)

All-American Publications:

Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman (1940)

Wonder Woman (created by William Moulton Marston; 1942)

Wonder Woman is the third hero of D.C.’s “Holy Trinity” — even though she started out published by All-American. All-American and D.C. had a weird symbiotic relationship: they were separate companies, but they operated more like a joint venture. For example, when The Justice Society of America — the first real superhero team — appeared in late 1940, it was a mixture of D.C. heroes (The Spectre, Dr. Fate) and All-American heroes (Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman). Eventually, D.C. would buy out All-American — just like they acquired heroes like Captain Marvel and Plastic Man — and all its heroes would become D.C. property.

We talked about Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, who was a prominent psychologist (he helped invent the lie detector) and early critic of comics. All-American publisher M.C. Gaines decided Marston might let up on the criticism if he were invited to create his own book, and Wonder Woman was the result. Remember this: even back in their earliest days, comic books were singled out by some (in the medical professional, especially) as harmful. We’ll be returning to this theme soon.

Marston’s character arrived fully formed — lots of the canonical Wonder Woman stuff, from her Amazonian backstory to her bracelets and invisible plane, and even Steve Trevor, was in the origin issue. It also carried some baggage — Marston’s apparent bondage fetish, which disturbed his editors, and complicates the question of how we are to view Wonder Woman. Feminist icon, bondage babe or something else entirely?

We spent a few minutes at the end of class discussing a key issue in comic book history: distribution. Distribution is simply defined as the system by which a company gets physical products into stores or other merchandisers. In the days before online sales, if you had lousy distribution, your sales would suffer — or maybe never take off in the first place.

I’m oversimplifying, but comic book distribution was, for many decades, a fairly wasteful process. The “sell-through” rates on many titles — that is, the number of copies that were actually SOLD, verses the number of copies actually printed — were well under 50 percent. Lots of unsold comics were simply pulped, and companies would generally accept returns (as credit for next month’s shipment). It’s one reason among several for the scarcity of early comics.

We’ll be talking more soon about how distribution played a huge role in the growth of D.C.’s major competitor: Marvel.

BatCat: We will start putting together the handouts for AWP on Friday. It’s going to be assembly-line style, so get ready (and maybe make a playlist that isn’t terrible :)).

New Media: Today we went back to our six questions from yesterday. We examined a couple of ads: this one from clothing manufacturer Benetton, which seems to be making a number of statements:


Among them:

  • We’re all the same underneath.
  • We (Benetton) believe in equality.
  • You should buy clothes from a company (like us) that believes in equality.
  • A striking, potentially graphic image is required to get this message across.
  • If you remember this image, and connect it with Benetton, you will do so favorably.
  • We’re not like other companies, who might believe something DIFFERENT about equality.
  • And on and on.

and this Old Spice ad:

which gives us today’s buzzword: paratext.

Generally, paratext is used to describe the components of a book besides the text itself: the title, foreword, dedication, etc. We’re going to use it here (using the definition of para- as “alongside”) to describe a related text or texts that would help us decode a primary text.

For example, if you don’t understand the paratext: that this commercial draws from earlier commercials, like this one:

then you’re not going to understand the Old Spice commercial.

Does the Old Spice commercial parody the Mennen one, and others like it? Yes, but I think it does more than that. This isn’t just an SNL parody: they’re still trying to sell you something.

So what is the message of this new commercial, and others like it? I’d say it’s something like C’mon, man, we all know that advertising is ridiculous. You’re too smart for that, and so are we. If you like us and want to buy our product, it’s because you get that we’re too hip to play the advertising game. You like us for our humor, and that’s why we’re going to waste precious advertising seconds on a watermelon that has nothing to do with our product.

So for Monday — in addition to your standing assignment, to be completed by midnight Sunday; three blog posts/800 words, and three comments — I asked you to answer two questions on the back of your notecard:

  • What message does your blog appear to be sending to potential viewers — considering not just the written text, but also the art, design, aesthetic, etc.?
  • What, if any, paratexts might your blog viewer need to be aware of to understand your blog?

Survey: Screenwriting: 


Tuesday, Feb. 20

February 20, 2018

For Poetry Workshop, Wednesday, Feb. 21: Comments and annotations for Miss Wolfe’s second-round poem — as well as those for Miss Holten’s first-round poem — due tomorrow.

WWTWWT: No class today because of the guest speaker, Dr. David Cutler. For Thursday, please read the section on Aristotle in your textbook.

Book History: No class today because of the guest speaker, Dr. David Cutler. Please read your scrolls for Thursday. Expect a quiz. READ IT.

Siren: OKed the final version of the demographic survey, which we’ll distribute soon.

Thursday we’re going to do one of our blanket-the-ground pieces about student thoughts on gun control and school safety. Come ready to ask questions. Also come with a rudimentary knowledge of 1) what happened in Florida last week, and 2) guns and gun laws.

Publishing: Busy day – thanks, everyone, for doing what needed to be done.

Daily Prompt: Please read the following during class (and any articles that are linked to it, if you so desire) and respond with an agree/disagree stance. If you agree, please detail how you will be part of the solution. If you disagree, please detail a better solution.

There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It.

New Media: Today we had our first blog check-in. Most people did fine, at least in regards to meeting the standards:

  • Three posts — or a minimum of 800 words per week, from 12:01 Monday to midnight Sunday. I’m more interested in word count than post number, at least in the early going, but if pressed, I’d say: Three shorter posts are better than one longer one, if the content is of comparable quality.
  • Having a well-organized blog that doesn’t look like crap. Some of them are quite well-designed, even given the limitations of WordPress.
  • Remember: this week (and a week, again, runs between 12:01 Monday to midnight Sunday), you not only have to make three posts (or 800 words) on your own blog, you also have to leave at least three comments on other people’s blogs from this class. I strongly prefer that you leave comments on three different blogs.
  • Here is the blogroll on The Battleship, for ease of use. Do take a little time and look at what other people are doing; it’d be nice if you found a handful of blogs you like and want to support.
  • Also remember: comments like “WUT,” “LOL this blog is so funny” or “I don’t get this” are like leaving no comments at all. The standard for comments is that they must offer something — specific praise, a question, a suggestion — that is of some use to blogger, or else they don’t count. (You can leave comments like the ones above IF you’ve done the three that meet the standard already.)

Then we turned our attention to other media.

We analyzed this fake ad: Fake Snickers ad

this seemingly innocent ad for Wendy’s, from 1984:

and this unfake story from Jezebel about a “lie-in.”

In both cases, there’s lots of subtext, and we took them apart, Critical Reading style.

That brings us to six core concepts of media literacy:

  1. All media messages are “constructed.”
  2. Each medium has different characteristics, strengths, and a unique “language” of construction.
  3. Media messages are produced for different purposes.
  4. All media messages contain embedded values and points of view.
  5. People use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages.
  6. Media and media messages can influence beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors.

We’ll be talking more about these six concepts and how they’re applied to media, both new and old.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you handed in your outlines, and then we began watching Tootsie. Tomorrow we will finish the film, and a quiz will follow, primarily on the structure of the film. Notes are due next Monday (here’s the sheet: Screenwriting 2.20.18 – OR Tootsie).

TIP: If there is ANY way you can watch Tootsie in its entirety this evening, DO IT. Especially if you were at all confused. Repeat viewings are invaluable when analyzing film.

What you should not do is go online and try to find a breakdown: first of all, this is cheating. Secondly, a good one isn’t easy to find online (if it exists at all) and there are lots of disagreements and breakdowns that are not pure three act structure – which is what we’re doing at the moment. Googling will very likely make it even more confusing, so think for yourself and watch the film again this evening if you can.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, February 16

February 16, 2018

Poetry Workshop: Today: Wahlenmayer/Bartlett/Ambrose.

Tuesday 8 a.m.: Second-round poems on the blog.

Wednesday: Holten is due.

CNF Workshop: Today we workshopped Chip and Alexa. Bec is pushed to Wednesday (for real this time), and you also got Yasmine’s piece for Wednesday. WEDNESDAY.

We will set the due dates for Round 2 next week; remember that there is no prompt for Round 2. There will be, however, for Round 3 (and I will also give that you next week).

Comics: Today we watched a few minutes of a fake Batman film from 1939. I dunno, I just wanted to see if anyone would pick up on it. Don’t believe everything someone shows you.

Then we watched a for-real version of a Batman serial from 1943, “A Nipponese Trap.”

We noted the similarities (costumes, mostly; Robin and Alfred; the references to a Batcave) and differences (no Batmobile) to the canonical Batman. We also noted the racist depiction of the villain, which is unsurprising, given the times. These serials were shown weekly — they were a little like TV before there was TV — and show that Batman’s character, like Superman’s, became a success pretty quickly.

So did superhero comic books in general. I gave you a handout — which I want you to read for Wednesday — that covers three points:

  • The magical origins of several early superheroes, including one (Dr. Occult) who preceded Superman, and was also created by Jerry Siegel, and another (Zatara) who had a long career, and was probably based in part on Mandrake the Magician, who debuted in the newspaper comics in 1934. In fact, several of these magical heroes are still active today, including The Spectre — a guy we’ll be talking more about later. (He’s a Golem for sure.)
  • The inevitable rise of competitors. Fawcett had Captain Marvel, who was more popular than Superman for a while. Quality had Plastic Man. Both ended up the property of DC when their parent companies went out of business.
  • The weird story of All-American Comics, which was technically a separate company that shared its heroes with D.C. All-American merged with D.C. in 1944. In 1940, All-American also debuted three heroes who became core members of the D.C. Universe:
  • The Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick: FllashComics_GA_1
  • The Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott: All-American_Comics_16
  • And the Golden Age Hawkman, Carter Hall: Flash_Comics_71
  • You can see that all three of these characters is based on a recognizable adaptation of a mythological figure. In The Flash’s case, it’s the god Mercury/Hermes. In the case of Green Lantern, it’s the story of Aladdin. And in the case of Hawkman, it’s the Egyptian god Horus. 
  • There’s a fourth significant All-American superhero who also debuted the next year. We’ll talk more about her on Monday.

BatCat: Thanks for your patience with the counting today!

Podcasting: Today: we practiced logging. Here is the sheet that was handed out in class, which also has an overview of what logging is all about: Radio 2.16.18 – ICA Logging Practice.

If you were absent, please do this on your own time and share it with me before next Thursday.

What’s going on next Thursday: weekly listening will be due, as usual (it will be Kayla’s turn to share). The rest of Thursday will be work time for Project #2 – you MUST bring in something to work on for this project. Here are some options:

  • Do some interviews and bring them in to log.
  • Work on writing your script.
  • Plan to interview or record during class (you can use a practice room, potentially).
  • Work on editing (if you’re at that point).

Project #2 is due on Friday, March 2. They need to be shared with me via Google Drive and will be listened to in class on that day. You do NOT want to be late handing this in.

Survey: CNF: Today we took a brief quiz on your reading from yesterday — the excerpt from Lee Gutkind’s You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.

I gave you a handout about CNF ethics: cnf-ethics-guidelines-february-2018 and we talked briefly about libel. Clearly we need to talk more.

We discussed the author James Frey and the difference between saying something is true vs. partially true. If you want to read the Smoking Gun expose of Frey, it’s here; if you want to watch him get beat down by Oprah, you’ll have to find that clip yourself. I’m so disappointed.

I gave you a copy of the Gay Talese essay “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold,” from Esquire magazine, April 1966. It’s the most famous magazine piece ever; when I tell you to have it read (and I’ll give you a couple of weeks at least), I expect you to know it inside and out. It’s also a preview of the biographical sketch we’ll be doing next month.


Thursday, Feb. 15

February 15, 2018

WWTWWT:  Today we talked more about Plato. Specifically, how he arrived at his Realm of Ideal Forms concept, and the concept of universals.

For the first point, we talked about Phaedo, a dialogue between Phaedo of Elis and Socrates, just hours before the latter was to drink the hemlock. Unsurprisingly, his thoughts turned to the afterlife.

Plato, via the character of Socrates, suggests that we have immortal souls in his book Phaedo. He does this by using four arguments:

1. The Argument From Opposites. The world is made up of opposites; therefore, there must be an unchanging, indestructible opposite of our material, perishable bodies.
2. The Theory of Recollection. This is Plato’s epistemological argument: that we do not so much learn as recollect things we were born knowing but have forgotten. Think of it as the idea that our brains are hard drives that come equipped with tons of data; our “learning process” is just the process by which we recover and re-access this data.
3. The Argument From Affinity. There are some things that are material, perceivable by our senses, and therefore mortal (in the sense that they won’t last forever). But there are other things that we can’t perceive with our senses — thoughts, for example, and other abstractions — that we know exist, nonetheless. The soul, therefore, belongs in the latter group.
4. The Theory of (Ideal) Forms. This is the piece de resistance. It goes kinda like this: everything in the world is just an imperfect copy of a perfect idea, or form. Somewhere, in a realm beyond our senses, exists a universe of perfect forms. Some would call this Heaven; Plato didn’t, exactly. But he made it clear that our souls are the perfect versions of our material selves.

Then we read a short handout about the Ring of Gyges. It sounds a lot like a certain One Ring (though we don’t know for certain that it inspired LotR). This is based on a passage from Plato’s Republic, and featured a character named Glaucon (in real life, Plato’s older brother. Sorry I didn’t know this ! Doi!) debating with Socrates about virtue. Glaucon’s position is that we’re only good when someone is watching us — which is to say, when it’s to our benefit. According to Glaucon, if a person had a ring like this one, which could make its wearer invisible, even a “good” person would use it for their own ends eventually. And this is because, in Glaucon’s view, there really isn’t any absolute morality — it’s just a concept man makes up and enforces: sometimes to protect the weak, sometimes arbitrarily.

Socrates (whose words are written by, and probably reflect the views of, Plato), argues against this idea, and in favor of universals — in this case, a universal standard of what is good. He makes the case that even a person who acts in his self-interest by using the ring is doing something bad — because that person eventually becomes a slave to his desires. And that is something, he argues, that we can all agree is bad. (Again, it sounds a lot like LotR.)

Universals are going to be a big deal as we make our way through history in this class. Do they exist, or don’t they? Plato argues that they do because he’s already identified the place where they reside: the realm of Ideal Forms. We recognize “goodness,” he would say, because an ideal version of it exists in this realm.

We also recognize “goodness,” Plato would say, because we’ve already encountered it. More specifically, our souls have encountered it, in this realm of Ideal Forms. This puts Plato on record as 1) believing that we have immortal souls, which precede our bodies and survive their death, and 2) believing that we have innate knowledge that comes from this realm.

This sort of knowledge — knowledge that precedes our existence — is called a priori knowledge. (Knowledge we gain after we’re born would be called a posteriori knowledge.) Everyone we talk about this semester didn’t agree that there is such a thing as a priori knowledge. But Plato believed in it strongly; it’s why one of his best-known sayings was, paraphrased, “Learning is a process of recalling.” This process is called anamnesis.

Whew! No homework for Tuesday (although you could do worse than re-read everything we’ve covered to date).

Book History: Today we were down a few people, but we carried on anyway. We talked about and took more notes on the qualities of papyrus, how that connects to our historical timeline, and then discussed the scroll form – pros, cons, and the like. Here is a picture of the board:


In class, you made your reading assignment for Tuesday into a scroll. If you were absent, we did it for you! Scrolls are in the bin near by desk, patiently waiting for you to pick them up. Read these for Tuesday – pay attention to both the content (obviously) as well as the experience of actually using the scroll form in a physical way.

Publishing: Ghost Woodpecker is (almost) all printed, and I’d like to see us finish the marbling tomorrow. Good work, everyone.

Daily Prompt:

The SIREN: Surveyz.

Podcasting: Today you shared your weekly listening.

On this note: you must take notes on your listening, and they do need to be somewhat substantial. A sentence or two simply summarizing what you heard is not enough; you need to be paying attention to editing, structure, sound, and so on, in addition to the content. Also, notes need to be handwritten (strongly preferred – jot things down as you listen! It’s easy!) or typed and PRINTED. I reserve the right to collect these and have a closer look at them, which is very likely to happen next week.

You took a quiz on the reading assignment. Oh hey – reading assignments aren’t optional. Spend more time on this next time. And if you didn’t really read this – please do it. How about for tomorrow?

Homework for tomorrow: Radio 2.15.18 – Assignment 1. Yes, I know the sheets I gave you in class read “Writing for the Radio” – it’s for Podcasting, obviously (Radio was the previous name for this class). Also, make sure you have headphones for tomorrow!

Survey: CNF: Today you turned in your second essay.

Then you read the essay “Dumb Kids’ Class” by Mark Bowden. The focus was the author’s experiences in Catholic school — in particular, his experiences in the “smart” and “dumb” kids’ classes. The theme was “Sometimes there benefits to being underestimated.”

We could call this theme counterintuitive, because many people don’t LIKE being underestimated. (If I underestimate you, it means I don’t think you can do something.) But a counterintuitive theme can often be more interesting than an intuitive one. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” — AKA the Golden Rule — is intuitive, and likely good advice to live by. But since most people agree with it, it could be a little bland as an essay. How about “Treat others any old way you want. Who cares?” instead.

We brainstormed some ideas that most people probably agree with, including the Golden Rule. Then I transformed them into the opposite idea (like the one above). Your job is to pick one of these counterintuitive themes and write your next essay — a five paragraph, moment-riff-moment-riff-moment one — on it for next Thursday.

Remember: some of the ideas that were transformed became things that you won’t, and shouldn’t, believe. But it’s possible to use sarcasm — we talked about this last semester — to write an essay facetiously defending a position you disagree with 100 percent. For example, most people would agree with the statement that “We should treat animals with respect.” If we flip that statement around, and you’re a pet lover, perhaps you write a sarcastic essay arguing that we should have the right to treat animals like crap, to highlight the wrongs of the people who do .

If you go this route, just remember that the reader should probably be able to detect the sarcasm, at least by essay’s end.

And further remember: whatever you write about, you still have to have interesting moments with sensory detail. That’s a big part of what makes this NOT an essay for English class.

For Friday: I gave you two chapters from Lee Gutkind (the “Godfather of Creative Nonfiction)’s book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: “Truth and Fact” and “The Creative Nonfiction Police.” Read them for tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 14

February 14, 2018

Poetry Workshop: Today: Kennedy/Aloi/Pilch.

For Friday: Wahlenmayer/Bartlett/Ambrose.

You lucked out. Round 2 poems are now not due on the blog until Tuesday at 8 a.m. (No school Monday = Presidents Day) Happy Valentine’s Day.

CNF Workshop: Today we workshopped Luke and Rachel. Alexa and Chip are for Friday (and it’s extremely likely that we will also workshop Becca as well, so make sure to bring those annotations).

The online comments and annotations have improved generally; a few of you are still lagging a bit, but on the whole, thanks for reaching a bit higher this time!

Also, many thanks to Becca for the donuts. They were A+.

Comics: Today we recapped Monday’s discussion of Batman. The only new point that emerged was that was gave names to the two types of superheroes we’ve seen so far:

Golems are like Batman. They are powerful, unpredictable and often misunderstood. They may be prone to violence and vigilantism (though not always), and aren’t always trusted by the official authorities. Even in appearance, they may frighten or disturb — not just evildoers, but also regular folks they try to protect. And they’re most often avengers, driven to do what they do to right some wrong that has been done to them, or those they love.

Messiahs, by contrast, are like Superman. They are noble characters who operate in the daylight; are (usually) trusted and admired by the authorities. In Superman’s case, he arrived from another planet (quasi-divinely) to protect his new home. They are most often protectors, who step in to prevent wrongdoing, rather than avenge it.

Then we went on to discuss the first of what I think will be several ethical questions regarding superheroes. This one was: Is it moral for Batman to create a Robin?

The answers broke down, as they always do, along these lines:

  • The deontological approach argues that there are universal standards of conduct; that we should act as though the same standards apply to everyone. Would it be a good idea to let everyone take in orphans and train them to fight crime? It seems clear that it would not be. Therefore, Bruce Wayne shouldn’t get a pass just because he’s rich (and Batman). This approach focuses on universal rules of conduct.
  • The utilitarian approach argues that if Robin does more good for others than harm to himself — and we can probably see that this is so — then morality is simply a math problem: the greatest good for the greatest number. Robin might be messed up psychologically, maimed, or even killed. But if Robin saved a bunch of other people, or otherwise made their lives better, then it’s moral for Batman to create Robin. This approach, as you can see, focuses on outcomes.
  • The virtue ethics approach moderates the deontological approach by saying that while it might not be a good idea for EVERYONE to take in orphans to fight crime, it’s defensible for Bruce Wayne because of his specific circumstances: 1) He’s rich, 2) He’s Batman, and 3) He has the training and background — including what happened to his parents — to understand and train Robin appropriately. If someone checks these boxes, then it might be OK to create a Robin. Virtue ethics, then, focuses on specific situations.

We’ll come back to these three approaches again and again as we examine other heroes.

BatCat: We are getting close to a turning point! I hope we’ll reach it by the end of the week.

New Media: Today we all commented on at least one blog from this class. That was nice.

We all joined The Battleship, the “master blog” for this project, where you’ll not only be able to find a blogroll of the other blogs from this class, but also see some of the stuff that happened the last time this course was offered.

We talked about this as a way you probably shouldn’t handle comments:

Survey: Screenwriting: Today we:

  • Heard and rated your updated loglines. Better across the board, good job!
  • Read an excerpt aloud in class.
  • Discussed the rewrite assignment from yesterday, which was handed back to you along with the Squirrel script analysis assignment. Grades have been updated.
  • Watched another Pixar short (Burn-E) and tried to break it down with 3-act structure. We were a little rushed at the end. Here’s the breakdown:
    • Status quo: outer space.
    • Inciting Incident: Wall-E causes a small asteroid to go off-course and hit a light on Burn-E’s ship, causing it to break.
    • PP1: Burn-E is called to action and must fix the light.
    • Complication: Wall-E’s ship arrives; Burn-E is distracted and loses the light. He gets a new one; Wall-E and Eve distract him again and he breaks that light. He gets a new one; success, but now he’s locked out.
    • Midpoint: The back door slams in Burn-E’s face. He’s very locked out now. He burns a flower onto the floor.
    • Complication: He burns through the door and gets back inside, but the ship tilts and he’s almost thrown off. He gets back up, then the ship takes off, and he’s slammed into a wall. The ship lands on a planet.
    • PP2: Despite all of this, Burn-E decides he must complete the mission and goes to look for the power machine. It’s a struggle, but…
    • Climax: He finds the machine and restores power to the light! Hooray! Everything is awesome!
    • Falling action: The lid from his pod crashes into the light.
    • New status quo: Burn-E now has to fix the light. Again.
  • As we discussed in class, you could make arguments for other points, but this is the strongest breakdown overall.

Your homework is to outline your Pixar-inspired film: Screenwriting 2.14.18 – Assignment 4, Silent Script Outline. This is due Tuesday, 2/20.

There is a big quiz next week: you’ll be watching a film and the quiz will primarily concern the 3-act structure breakdown. If you are still confused, look over your notes, talk to a classmate, talk to me, and check out this official Squirrel breakdown: Screenwriting 2.14.18 – Squirrel Official Breakdown.

See you next week!

SIREN social media folks…

February 13, 2018

There are now three new posts on the school website to promote:

The “what faculty members are doing for Valentine’s Day” web exclusive:

The “Morbid Mandy creepy Valentine” post:

And the first web installment of the Meme Team:

Get to promotin’!

Tuesday, February 13

February 13, 2018

WWTWWT: We began talking about Plato today. Alfred North Whitehead once said, in a very quoted quote, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” If Plato isn’t the greatest of all Western philosophers, he’s certainly Top Three material. That means we need to spend a couple of days, at least, on Plato and his ideas.

On the docket today: his biggest idea, the Realm of Ideal Forms (or Ideas; the terms are mostly interchangeable). According to Plato, the material world — the world we can experience through our senses — is just made up of inferior copies of objects and ideas that exist in another realm, the Realm of Ideal Forms. By this he meant that, for example, no circle that exists here in the material world can ever be perfect, no matter how perfectly it is drawn or made.

But there is a perfect circle that exists in the Realm of Ideal Forms, which we can experience with our minds. That is to say, we can imagine such a thing, even if we can’t experience it with our senses. And according to Plato, the imperfect circles (or imperfect horses, or imperfect Sno-Cones, or imperfect justice, or imperfect whatevers) that we experience here on Earth have enough characteristics in common with their Ideal Forms — their “circle-ness,” or “horse-ness” — that we’re able to recognize them.

This concept of the contrast between the world of the senses and the world of Ideal Forms:

  1. was best expressed in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which we discussed in class, via the handout I gave you.
  2. has lately been best expressed in the film The Matrix, which we also discussed briefly, and from which we watched this clip. (It’s an idea that’s in lots of sci-fi.)

3. It has something in common with religious beliefs that include some branches of Hinduism (we are all drops in a great ocean, and mistakenly think of ourselves as separate), Judaism and Christianity (the latter of which, remember, hadn’t happened yet), to cite just a couple of examples.

4. It also meant that Plato was, among other things, hostile to art. This was in part because he saw art as representational (which it pretty much is), and therefore was just made up of imperfect copies of imperfect copies. The further away you get from the Ideal Form, the worse it is, in other words. We came up with a chart similar to one that Plato (writing as Socrates) used, which goes from worst to best. Imagine Alumni Hall:

  1. The worst version of AH would be an artist’s rendering — painting, poem, whatever. It’s representational, emotional and (therefore) inaccurate.
  2. A better version would be the object itself. AH isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s closer to the ideal.
  3. An even better version would be a blueprint of AH. It’s a physical object, of course, but it’s a design — and therefore, more “perfect” than AH could ever be once it’s built. (Remember, we’re talking not so much about the physical blueprint itself as we are the “perfect” version of AH contained therein.)
  4. Of course, best of all would be the ideal version of AH that exists in the Realm of Ideal Forms. I hope you get to eat there someday!

Here is a helpful meme created by Mr. Kennedy to reinforce that point:

phil brain meme

We also, discussed, briefly, two other ideas of Plato’s:

  • His idea of a prioi knowledge. This sort of knowledge — knowledge that precedes our existence. (Knowledge we gain after we’re born would be called a posteriori knowledge.) Everyone we talk about this semester didn’t agree that there is such a thing as a priori knowledge. But Plato believed in it strongly; it’s why one of his best-known sayings was, paraphrased, “Learning is a process of recalling.” And it’s why he believed we can conceptualize ideal versions of chairs, justice, etc. — because he felt we’ve seen them before, in the Realm of Ideal Forms.
  • His idea of how society should be organized. He believed that while everyone had innate knowledge, people’s inclinations are different, based on their wants. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Plato felt that the rulers of society ought to be “philosopher kings” (like, ahem, himself), because he felt their desire was for knowledge. And knowledge = truth. And truth = the highest good. Next in line were the auxiliaries — people who wanted glory. Those folks, he thought, would make up the military, and would keep order/protect the citizens. And finally came the rest of us — the people who just wanted stuff, and were happy to be ruled by the benevolent philosopher kings if they could be free to pursue their want.

For Thursday: your assignment is simply to read the chapter on Plato, having now discussed it, to be sure you understand everything. Ask questions if you don’t.

Book History: Today: notes on hieroglyphics, and then you worked on your papyrus project. If you didn’t finish, it would be in your best interest to try to do so before Thursday; otherwise, you’ll have to finish Thursday in class. Thursday will not simply be a work day, however, so if you think you’ll need more than 15 minutes or so, you’ll need to find another time to work on it.

Siren: February issue out on time and under budget. Swell job, everyone.

Publishing: Continued work on all fronts.

Daily Prompt: 

New Media: Today we kept working on setting up our blogs. Everyone should now:

  • Have an active blog (that doesn’t look like crap)
  • Have their first post up, edited as well as you can manage
  • Have set the “discussion” settings on their blog to accommodate comments.
  • Have a copy of the handout I gave you. Please read Chapter 10, about comments, for tomorrow.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you did an in-class assignment/quiz-type thing that involved improving passages of exposition. Following that, you wrote log lines for your potential Pixar-style short. Here are the associated sheets: Screenwriting 2.13.18 – Assignment 4 Logline Sheet Screenwriting 2.13.18 – ICA Rewrite.

Homework for tomorrow: rewrite your logline. Improve it. Change whatever you need to change (both in terms of the logline and your story). Your revised logline still absolutely needs to mention the title, the protagonist, and the conflict and/or goal, but aside from that, you can play around with structure, phrasing, word choice, and so on.

First thing tomorrow will be reading and rating these revised loglines!