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December 17, 2007

System of Enclosure

At first, I struggle a bit with my system of enclosure, there was too much variability for me, I was lost and didn't know what direction to go in. But after talking with Professor Moss, I was a bit re-guided in my decision making, and certainly less frustrated. I chose as my system of enclosure a visual display that best sums up my posts, connects them together, shows how they are intertwined, points out the forks between them and best expresses my approach to poetry and how that was represented, and evolved in this class.

The idea that I had was to take all of my blogs and write the title of each on the same piece of paper, and then below each name of the post, to find the major themes of the post, and take this idea, and find someway that all of the ideas connect. Admittedly, before I started working on this project, I had no idea how the posts would fit together, I had some thoughts in mind (one I remember in particular was all of the posts arranged along the outside making up a circle and on the inside all of the topics) of how this would come up, but was dedicated to it being a fluid idea, one that could adapt and change as I was working on it.

My first step was to write out the titles of all of my posts, and the major themes addressed in each. The pictures of those are below.


After I had finished this step is where the real brainstorming came in. I had to think of a way that could best represent what this blog represented, and how in one post I could sum it up. I started by taking all of the major themes and seeing how many of them overlapped, which turned out to be a lot. Since I saw that compared to the number of posts, the number of themes was much less, so I started thinking back to this idea of having the themes in the middle, and the posts on the outside. So I started thinking about what shape, or what configuration would best represent what was in the blog. The idea that came to me was to have all of the themes arranged in the middle lined up, and then the post titles on both sides. My resulting configuration is shown below:

What things in this represent this blog? Well it was built from the middle out. The themes are arranged from the one most referenced (personal impact) in the middle to the ones least referenced (overlapping meaning) on the outside. The posts were arranged from the middle out as well, but by date as the guiding factor. This represents how the blog was built, I started at the beginning and added posts that helped to fill out the bulk. As can be seen, this mapping is a complex systems, where there is a system of connections, and much overlapping between topics. I think this arrangement best suited my blog because the 'neatness' of the arrangement appeals to me as an engineer. I also found it very interesting that there is no post that is completely isolated from the others. Each poem can be related to all the others through the themes.

Posted by ndjames at 05:04 PM | Comments (1)

2D Map

I'm finally posting my 2D map that goes along with my 3D map of 'The Lightning is a Yellow Fork.' What this 2D map represents is the 2nd highest layer that my 3D map showed, the transition from the earth to the nebula, from something tangible to the (almost) intangible. This was represented in the 3D map as going from the nebula, to a system of nebula's. I liked the idea of layers, and this seemed to be the most basic framework for the layering system which I set up in my 3D map.

Posted by ndjames at 12:14 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2007

The Great Situation ID Challenge

On Monday, we were given Play-doh and asked to express the list of situations/properties(plural)/properties(possessive) of the fork using the play-doh. I thought that the best way to document what my group made was to take pictures and provide an explanation for each of our pictures in my blog. The first picture can be seen below.

This picture represents several things. The representation was to try and convey the fork as a weapon, which we likened to a Trident. A trident also conveys a source of power: that which yields the fork, yields the power. We included the negative of the trident to express that the trident doesn't just take this form, but it is shaped from a different existing shape.

The next picture, that can be seen below, shows several things.

This picture is more a representation of our group, and the forces behind how we came up with the ideas that stood for the fork. The 4 spheres serve to represent 2 things, since our group was made of two girls and 2 guys, we had two different perspectives going into the fork ideas. The two groups of different sized spheres represent the positive and negative forces (the two genders, I won't specify which is positive and which is negative) that came together to create the ideas. The wheel contrasts the separation of the spheres, and shows the unity that our group found in collaborating on ideas that we all agree best represented the goals of our assignment.

The next two pictures show two different perspectives of one creation.

A side version:

A version that gives a bit more perspective and definition of the whole:

The pictures above show the fork as a chair, this has multiple meanings. The first, and most obvious is the literal meaning. But the representation also serves as a fork being a place for ideas to rest. I felt that this has been a valid point for me, as the semester has gone on I have found that blogging (or forking) has provided a way for me to express things that I think about, most often the things that are going on in my life currently has an effect on what I choose to blog about.

The next picture is of a computer, which represents the programming command fork().

The representation of fork() shows an arrangement of the word fork, which is a situation of fork. In programming, a function was thought of, and the best way for programmers to remember what this program did was to give it a very common name: fork(). What this command does is to represent a process that copies itself by forking or branching out.

The final picture that we have is a diagram that is easily recognizable, and it is a fork as a utensil, or a tool for eating.

We felt this last idea captured and pulled together our whole ideas' of a fork. The utensil is the most most used situation of the fork, which is why we kept and presented it last, as it is the thing that is most recognizable.

Posted by ndjames at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2007

My Illumination

Since we've receive the illumination assignment I've continued searching for a piece of poetry that truly illuminates me. Its been a struggle, because I was able to find many different pieces of poetry which have meant something to me, but nothing that sticks out above the rest, until now. My illuminating poem is In Harbor by Constantine P. Cavafy. The translated version is below:

A young man, twenty eight years old, on a vessel from Tenos,
Emes arrived at this Syrian harbor
with the intention of learning the perfume trade.
But during the voyage he was taken ill. And as soon
as he disembarked, he died. His burial, the poorest,
took place here. A few hours before he died,
he whispered something about "home," about "very old parents."
But who these were nobody knew,
nor which his homeland in the vast panhellenic world.
Better so. For thus, although
he lies dead in this harbor,
his parents will always hope he is alive.

To better understand why this poem means so much to me, I need to share a little bit about my family history.

Family Origins

There is so much that I can say about my families origins, I'm going to try and keep this history to the point, and not get sidetracked too much. My family is of Greek descent. (My fellow student Henry is also of Greek descent, which may seem like quite the coincidence since we both went to high school together, and come from the same hometown, until you know more about the Greek community in Canton, Ohio. Many Greeks settled in Canton and the Greeks within Canton are a very close knit community, which also can help to describe Henry and I's great friendship, on the basis of similar cultural and family backgrounds.) The Greek side of my family is my father's side, which helps to explain why I am so close with this side of my family. My both sets of great-grandparents on my father's side of the family immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, from what is now modern day Turkey. Now when is say this, most people think 'How can you be someone of Greek descent if you're from Turkey?' Well, up until the early 1900s, when my family moved, Greeks were spread all throughout Greece and Asia Minor. Greeks lived amongst the Turkish people in Asia Minor, until the Turkish government decided to start persecuting the Christian Greeks and either killed them or forced them to leave their homes. My family, and many of the Greek people in Canton are of Pontian descent, and originate from the Pontic Mountains on the Northern Shores of Turkey, along the Black Sea. Because of their location so far into the mainland of Turkey, and so far away from Greece, the Pontians were persecuted harshly. Many stories of my childhood were about how all the people in the villages were forced to leave their homes and everything they knew, and find a new life where ever they ended up. Many times family's were split apart, sometimes being rejoined, other times not. I heard stories of how certain family members would take all that the family owned to sell and come to America, that whoever had the best shot at finding a way to make money to save the rest of the family was given all of the items a family possessed to make that happen. One specific family that my grandmother still tells to this day, is of how her father traveled back to Greece after he had settled his family in America to find his brother, but when he went back to his old village it was completely gone, and never being able to find his brother.

When I first read the English form of this poem, I knew that it resonated with me, and had meaning. It is the story of a man from Greece that is trying to do better for himself. But bad luck falls upon the man and he becomes ill and dies, and those who he is around when he dies has no idea who his family is, or anyway to let them know what has happened. This poem represents so much more than the words that are written on the page. For me, it reminds me of the history of my family, and the history of the Greek people. It brings to mind that along with the struggle and success there was also failure.

The man comes with rich dreams to a land which is unknown to him, but to which he has journeyed for the promise of hope. His dream ends abruptly, and since he has come with nothing, he is recognized in a quick and cheap, an almost anonymous burial. But even though this man has the anonymous burial, he is being mentioned in the poem, as a representation of many people who have suffered similar fates. As the man is dying, he speaks of his family. The poem shows the futility and hardships that some people experienced when they left their homes by leaving the names and locations of his parents anonymous. Even though their son has died, the dream lives on with the parents that he has come to something better, so regardless of their knowledge of their son, they are able to go about their lives more peacefully without knowing that he is dead.

This poem was originally written in Greek, and although I am sure it is much more eloquent in the native language to someone who has a solid grasp of the Greek language, the words of this English translation are what mean the most to me. It reminds me of the pride that I have in where I have come from, but also helps to not let me forget all of the sacrifices that were made so that I can be where I am today.

Posted by ndjames at 04:39 PM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2007

Response to: Transient Poams

Part of Professor Moss' post on 'Transient Poams' poams states:

"What can you say about intention when the poam melts, floats away, collapses, is carried away in its components by water, etc.?"

When I read this, several thoughts came to mind and inspired some reflection about why things are made, and their purpose behind them. I have talked in previous entries about the purpose behind writing poems, and I feel like many of these things apply to the making of poams. It depends on the intended audience, but I feel when poams (or poems) are analyzed, a great deal also matters what the intention was in making the poam. The quote above, by saying 'melts away' immediately made me think of snow men (since it is winter). What is the purpose in making a snow man? How is this a poam? Snow men are usually just made for fun, its snowing outside and what better way to enjoy it than make the likeness of a person out of snow? Another poam that has been created every year I've been at UM has been the project that is conducted in the diag every spring. I'm not sure who does it, but there are many parts that come together into many different parts of the diag, all expressing different things. But the things that are built and put together are not permanent, so what lasting impression is there when the things are taken down, or are destroyed by the harsh spring weather?

Lasting Imagery

The example of the snow man seems one that is much easier to analyze. Its made as a product of finding a way to enjoy the cold weather and the snow with other people by making a piece of art out of the snow. Most intend to make something that is unique and that people will recognize and remember. Since I've seen many snow men throughout my life (since I'm from Ohio and snow isn't something that is new to me) it takes an extraordinary snow man to stick out in my mind. My point: I've seen hundreds of snow men, but when I think of a 'snow man' the only ones that stick out to me are those that were unique, ie huge ones, really small ones, ones with distinct features.

This same idea applies to the work of art that has been in the diag. Since I have seen it for 3 years now, I have been exposed to it enough that it is not something that is new to me, and I am not particularly shocked or taken aback when i see it appear in the spring. What does stick with me are the individual aspects of it that are unique: one year a geometric design of windmills covered one open area of the diag.

Not all things are intended for a last impact. In fact, I would assume that most of our current monuments where not designed with the intention of lasting hundreds or even thousands of years. They were designed for the impact and functionality 'right now' (whenever that 'right now' may have been). The monuments and poams that have outlasted their functionality, ie the Parthenon, or Stone Henge, serve an auxiliary purpose for us by still being there. Their design was mainly functional, and lasting for as long as these things have was mainly a product of their construction and chance. Any of these things could have been torn down or destroyed by a natural act, but weren't. Some things are designed with the knowledge that they will only last a certain period of time (the snowman lasting throughout the winter, or many even just a few days), but the difference between the effect that a poam has 'right now' can be the same whether the poam is a building intended to last a certain amount of time or one that has lasted throughout the ages.

I also found interesting the quote by Claude Debussy at the bottom of the relationship between music and color and the ways that they express ideas. When I saw the name Claude Debussy I immediately knew of one of his most famous piano suites, 'Clair De Lune,' which I know means 'Light of the moon' or 'moonlight.' Was this piece that he created a way of expressing what moon light meant to him? I did some searching around and found a very interesting transient poam of Claude Debussy's 'Clair De Lune.' This work takes the piano score and visually shows the song as it progresses. There is also an interesting representation of color in the piece, which helps to remind of Debussy's quote about color, music and ideas.


Posted by ndjames at 03:39 PM | Comments (1)