Creation: One with the Universe

One with the Universe

For me, the beach has always given me an intimate feeling of oneness with the earth and the universe. That literal sensation of being warmed by the sun as one lies on their back is difficult to convey, even for the most gifted wordsmiths and champions of the English language. After recently returning from the beach, that feeling of solidarity and closeness to the Earth is fresh in my mind, and I believe that this image successfully captures this sensation. Let’s take a look, slowly moving outwards on a cosmological scale.

As humans lie on the beach, they are physically connected to the warmth of the Earth that they usually do not feel on a typical day. The sand acts as a heated mattress, as it blankets and supports the body. Looking up into the clear blue sky, an enormous ball of fire that’s millions of miles away shines its powerful rays downwards. So, one lies trapped in between the warmth of the sand at their back, and the sun’s rays at their front. That feeling of warmth, as we have most likely all experienced, massages and caresses the body in a seemingly magical way. The heat penetrates deeply into the skin, which eventually toasts the entire body. The feeling is sublime because of its naturalness. No socks or shoes or t-shirts or dresses are there to criminally impede the sun’s mighty warmth. Thus, a feeling of oneness with the earth and sun is felt.

Moving on, past the physical sensation of heat provided by the sun, there are feelings of solidarity elsewhere, too. Looking left and right, other earthlings are taking part in the same natural, wonderful process. They lie on their backs, basking in the heat that the sun generously provides. Thus, an intimate connection to humanity is immediately felt — a feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood. A feeling of humanity. The shackles of society have been lifted — at least temporarily — which empowers humans to relax and accept the natural beauty and harmony of the earth and sun.

Moreover, taking a large step backwards on a cosmological scale, our place in the universe becomes clearer from the vantage point of this picture. Looking carefully, the curvature of the earth — although subtle — is seen. Not only does this debunk the flat-earth society, it reminds us of where we stand: on a giant rocking, hurdling through the darkness that is space, around a giant fireball which gives us life, but is also ticking down to explode and exterminate us all. Lying on the shore sparks these whispers of the cosmos because we are forced to look up.

When the three aforementioned solidarities are combined, a profound feeling of oneness with the earth and the universe results. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, one of the leading astrophysicists, beautifully explains: “We are all connected. To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. And the rest of the universe, atomically.” This quotation has been inspirational as it profoundly affected how I perceive humanity’s place in the cosmos. And the shores of the beach really bring out that feeling of oneness that’s so difficult to capture with words.

My outreached hand is a symbol of connectivity to the earth, humanity, and the unthinkably enormous and mysterious universe, which engulfs us all day every day. I reach outwards to show that I feel the solidarity with the land and my fellow earthlings. And because we are all connected, at least atomically, to the universe, I can’t help but feel large knowing that my atoms were once the crucibles of high-mass stars that exploded.

In conclusion, the beach’s natural beauty places one not only on the shores of the ocean, but on the shores of the enveloping cosmos, in which we are intimately connected. The beach sets the stage for a beautifully natural, brilliantly harmonious tapestry of oneness with the universe. And I am very grateful for its service.

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay: The Simpsons

The Simpsons

The Simpsons: perhaps America’s most well-known cartoon family. Goofy, dysfunctional, hostile, and everything in between, the Simpsons have been satirizing the American family in hilarious ways for over twenty years. In this image we see the five main characters, who cartoonishly depict people, enjoying a day in the sun together, and I believe that this photo is worthy of an analysis because its rhetorical message is important

To begin, a careful examination of the of the photo’s elements of design is required to understand its physical characteristics. First and foremost, color strikes the viewer’s eye and demands attention. The five characters are, oddly enough, yellow. This curious, vibrant choice of color makes the characters stand out because everything else in the picture — the sky, water, grass, rocks, etc. — is given its natural color. Correspondingly, this obvious contrast between reality and unreality brings more attention on what’s unusual, namely, the characters themselves. Overall, the picture radiates robustly, as a bright blue sky, white clouds, and green grass encompass the Simpsons.

Because this image is a cartoon, lines immediately come into play which also relates to the shape of the characters and objects. Six white lines which slightly arch downwards are seen behind Bart: two trail his right hand, while four others trail his left and right feet. These three pairs of lines suggest motion, as Bart falls downwards towards Homer, presumably after jumping off the small cliff on the left. This motion is reflexive of not only Bart’s character, but also of the typical American boy.

In terms of the shape framed by the lines, most noticeably is the contour of the Simpsons’ physiques. Homer is the most rounded, clearly depicting an overweight man. Bart’s physique is similar, with a sideways-sitting egg-shaped midsection and bottom. Likewise for Lisa. Moreover, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie’s head’s are unlike that of Homer’s (and probably Marge’s, too) because of their spikiness. The spikes represent hair, but they are the same bright yellow color as their skin, which gives the illusion that their actual skulls are misshaped.

The texture of this image is completely simulated, because it is a cartoon. The overwhelming quality of the image can be described as smooth. I say this because the Simpsons are the focal point, and their bodies, specifically their skin, appear to be quite smooth. With that yellow shade completely blanketing their exposed skin, no skin imperfections are evident. Fundamentally, skin is regarded as smooth. The warm blue sky and soft clouds further give this image a sense of smoothness.

Moving forward, the image’s principles of arrangement give the aforesaid literal elements meaning. Clearly, this cartoon was drawn in such a way to place importance on the Simpsons themselves. Most importantly is dominance: the radiant color of all five Simpson characters unquestionably draws the viewer’s attention upon them. Further, in terms of proportion, the Simpsons are quite large as they engulf a large portion of the entire picture. Similarly, the contrast between the Simpsons’ skin and the blue background, once again, emphasizes the importance of the characters themselves.

Now, after analyzing this picture’s elements of design and arrangement, a discussion of where it stands in a broader context is in order. This photograph surfaced in 2009, as the Simpsons began its 21st season. This occasion immortalized the Simpsons as the longest-running American cartoon, and the longest-running American sitcom in television history. Currently, the Simpsons have aired over 450 shows. Extraordinary. So, why is this important to the rhetoricity of this image? Let’s take a look.

The simple fact that the Simpsons have been around for such an incredibly long time, accumulating an enormous worldwide fan-base in the process, while raising the bar of cartoon satire, has given the show a great deal of credibility. Thus, ethos are at play, and this ties directly to the persuasiveness of the message. The more credible the person who is putting a message forth, the more likely that their message will stick. The following analysis of the image’s meaning is heavily underscored by the ethos of the creators of the Simpsons.

Overall, the primary subjects are the five main Simpsons characters, and the rhetorical purpose is to provide commentary on the average American family. Specifically, to summarize, the image’s persuasive message is that we, as Americans, all belong to somewhat dysfunctional families, but we still have the strength to overcome the hurdles of life together. An examination of each of the characters will make this conclusion clearer.

In the photo, Homer sits in an inner-tube, floating in a state of numbness as he sips his favorite beer: Duff. He appears detached from the family as a result of his inebriation, and is totally unaware of Bart who is about to come crashing down on his head. Homer symbolizes the average drunken father. Marge, on the contrary, is infatuated with her youngest daughter, Maggie, as she commands all her attention. Lisa, consequently, is relegated to the fringe, putting sunblock on by herself. Lastly, the rambunctious, troublesome Bart leaps wildly from the small cliff directly for his father’s head.

The relationship flaws that are conveyed in this photo are exactly what rhetorically empowers the photograph to convey its persuasive message. This is because after seeing what a malfunctioning family the Simpsons are, headed by a drunken buffoon, we, as viewers, are not only forced to focus on them and realize their importance, but also to understand that they overcome their social shortcomings. Clearly, because the Simpson characters dominate the landscape with their size and striking color, they remain the focal point. Moreover, in terms of contrast, although we see the bleakness of their personality and functionality, they are happily frolicking about on a beautiful summer day together. Even the seeming worthlessness of Homer as a father doesn’t dissuade their joy on this day.

In reality, the entire photo was designed to bring smiles to the faces of its audience, just like lines were used to portray smiles, and thus happiness, on the faces of four of the five characters (Maggie’s mouth is covered). It is also a humorous reminder of the daily trials and tribulations that the American family must face and conquer. To summarize: through vibrant color, disproportionate character size, and corresponding contrasts with the background and reality, this photo has proven to have been very effective at conveying its persuasive message.

As American families, with all our flaws, we still remain at the center of our own lives, and, through love and perseverance, we are still able to function and succeed. This image, I believe, is a quintessential example of the Simpsons: America’s most well-known, and, evidently, most insightful family.

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Week Five Scrapbook: Uncommon Visual Text

The Raft of the Medusa

For a less common rhetorical text, I have selected a famous oil painting: “The Raft of the Medusa” by Théodore Géricault. It was completed in 1818, and it portrays the aftermath from the crashing of the French boat Medusa. In the picture, the final 15 survivors of the ship await an approaching ship to rescue them. Originally, the Medusa had over 140 members aboard, and only the aforesaid 15 survived.

The painting’s rhetorical purpose is to capture the devastation and desolation that the final 15 survivors felt. And I believe that this painting very effectively conveys this dire historical event. This painting is considered Romantic, as evidenced by the heavy use of emotions such as horror and terror which are clearly seen on the faces of the characters. As a result, by exploiting these emotions, the painting is quite poignant — especially, I imagine, for the French during that time period. Capturing the anguish on the faces of the survivors really brings the viewer closer to the incident by making it more personal. Because this gap was shrunk, the painting is very persuasive.

Overall, I believe that this painting successfully carried out its rhetorical message: is to cement this tragedy in history and to honor the survivors by fully realizing their anguish. This is indeed a powerful, persuasive painting.

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Week Four Scrapbook: Tell a Story

Victory

“Victory”

I had been toiling vigorously in my backyard for several hours, in a desperate attempt to dig a small canal before the storm hit, in order to prevent the downpour from ruining my grass. After the first hour, I began to doubt my intellectual capacity to defeat the storm, as a sharp sense of listlessness and subsequent mirthless began to take over.

However, I reached deep down inside of myself and found the strength to press on. So, on I went. I understood that the superficial battle of keeping my grass alive was trivial, thus you may be wondering what it was which motivated me. It was really a battle against myself — I wanted to prove myself wrong.

Yard work, oddly enough, has the ability to deeply frustrate. And, for some reason, that very frustration seems to inspire a counter feeling of motivation. Humans, as they say, are driven to want what they can’t have. I suppose this is a good example of that: I assumed that I couldn’t have a non-flooded yard, therefore I wanted it even more fervently.

As the clock ticked and ticked, with the gray clouds slowly drifting towards me, I made progress. I used my hoe to outline the snake-like canal that ran from one corner of my yard to the other. As I gripped its handle and violently plunged it downwards, I heard the dirt cry for mercy as it sliced through it like a warm knife through ice cream cake. After the framework was finished, I grabbed my trusty, always reliable sidekick: the shovel.

I grasped the shovel, and plunged it downwards into the dirt. Focusing astutely, I hurled the dirt over my shoulder again and again like a mole emphatically burrowing away from its aerial predators. I made steady progress, and finally reached the tail end of my snaky creation.

As the unforgiving, unapologetic storm closed the gap, I reached down and picked up the first companion of my campaign: the hoe. And as the defeated storm pathetically squeezed out its first drop of rain, I raised my hoe with two hands into the air, and grunted boisterously, “Victory!”

The End

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson Memorial Statue

July 4th, 2010: the United States celebrates its 234th birthday as a nation. On this occasion, many distinct memorials, monuments, and events immediately come to mind which underscore feelings of patriotism. Of the many worthy options, from fireworks to the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial struck me as the best choice for analysis. Jefferson is often described as the Author of America, thus his status as one of the preliminary founding fathers makes his memorial a great item of visual rhetoric to break down in the context of the United States’ birth.

Firstly, an examination of the memorial’s elements of design is necessary to understand its physical characteristics. Naturally, the first observation is color. The memorial surrounding Jefferson’s statue on the inside – including the stairs, pillars, external and internal walls, and roof – are all white. The statue, however, is bronze. A stark contrast immediately strikes the eye of the beholder, which ties directly to the memorial’s value. As aforesaid, most of the memorial is colored white – with a milky hue which gives it overwhelming lightness. Conversely, the Jefferson statue itself is dark. This contrast highlights the depth of the memorial’s interior, and Jefferson’s importance, as he stands isolated in the memorial, surrounded by white walls and pillars.

Shape is the next fundamental element of design for this particular example. The memorial’s geometrically oval-shaped roof immediately stands out, and gives this memorial a sense of uniqueness. Moreover, pillars encompass the entire memorial: eight pillars run in a straight line at the memorial’s entrance, while the remaining pillars wrap around the sides and back in a circular shape. Correspondingly, space is created in the interior of the memorial for Jefferson’s statue and for visitor’s to mingle throughout, gazing up and Jefferson and his writings on the walls.

Next, the memorial’s principles of arrangement give the aforementioned literal elements meaning. Principally, the memorial was designed and built to emphasize the statue of Jefferson. This is evident because of the statue’s framing: it stands erected at the center of the memorial, fully engulfed by surrounding pillars. Also, the statue is elevated on a platform, so viewers’ vantage point is from below. Similarly, this specific vantage point is applicable to the entire memorial, as it sits atop a large flight of stairs. Furthermore, the dominance of the statue is illustrated through its contrast of color with the surrounding memorial.

After analyzing the memorial’s elements of design and arrangement, it’s time to discuss where it stands in a broader context. The Jefferson Memorial is in Washington, DC: our nation’s capital. Therefore, without delay, it carries overtones of patriotism, among other elements of the history of the United States. The memorial was finished in April of 1943, and was officially dedicated to Thomas Jefferson on his 200th birthday by FDR. A few years later, the statue of Jefferson was erected in the interior. Clearly, this memorial is a testimony to Thomas Jefferson and his invaluable work. The intended audience is the American citizenry, as it aims to remind them of the importance of one of the greatest, most brilliant founding fathers. On the interior walls, passages of Jefferson’s writing have been engraved which underscore and emphasize Jefferson’s most revolutionary ideas. For instance, of the selected passages, Jefferson’s writing on the importance of not establishing a state religion is seen.

Overall, the primary subject is Thomas Jefferson and the purpose is to emphasize the importance of him vis-à-vis the founding of our nation. Examining this memorial on the fourth of July further reminds the American people – the primary audience – of his indispensable contributions to our nation. He is unquestionably one of the preeminent founding fathers, even described by some as the author of America. July 4th is a time for remembrance and praise of Thomas Jefferson, and this memorial is the ideal place to do so.

Correspondingly, I believe that the persuasive message of this memorial is that Thomas Jefferson is a truly great American leader of the upmost importance. Further, this memorial asserts that the writings and ideas of Jefferson must persist and echo throughout government in contemporary America. Overall, I believe that the memorial is very effective at conveying these messages. Let’s takes a look.

The Jefferson moment in the memorial stands nearly 20 feet tall, weighting 10 thousand pounds, comprised of pure bronze. As visitors escalate the large staircase at the front of the memorial, they are forced to look up at Thomas Jefferson. His size and elevation aim to remind us of his brilliant leadership, not only through his efforts to found America, but by serving as its 3rd president. And I believe that constructing his statue in such a way does effectively convey this message. I say this because it capitalizes on vantage point and dominance: leaders must be looked up to – while in the center – which is exactly the way the statue and memorial are designed.

Similarly, placing his statue at the center of the memorial does not only signify that the structure is in his honor. Rather, it suggests that Jefferson is at the center of America itself. His writings on the interior walls – specifically the excerpts from the Declaration of Independence – underscore this proposition because it served as one of the founding documents of America. By permanently engraving his profound thoughts into the stone walls of this memorial, a clear statement has been made: Jefferson’s ideas shall remain with America until it ceases to exist as a country. This message is effectively conveyed because his writings physically surround the visitors of the memorial, and thus they are reminded that Jefferson’s authorship has framed America.

Moreover, the vibrancy of the memorial itself, with its bright white walls, pillars, and rooftop, also act as a message. Namely, that Jefferson is one of the brightest Americans in our history. Even at night, when the pictures that I posted were taken, the bright brilliancy of the memorial pierces through darkness, just like Jefferson pierced through the darkness of British tyranny and oppression with his free-thought and free-expression. Jefferson, therefore, as highlighted by the memorial’s vibrancy, is a symbol hope and freedom.

In conclusion, this gorgeous Jefferson Memorial was an ideal object for visual analysis in the context of patriotism during the celebration of the fourth of July because Jefferson was such a tremendous American. The message of this memorial was clear, as illustrated by its unique design, placing Jefferson at the epicenter of a beautiful, all-encompassing memorial. With Jefferson’s writings engraved on the wall, and his figure cemented as a bronze giant, this memorial has effectively reminded the American people of the importance, leadership, and scholarship of our 3rd president: Thomas Jefferson, the author of America.

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Week Two Scrapbook: Signs

Icon:

MJ

This image is a silhouette of Michael Jordan, who is an icon for Nike — perhaps the quintessential Nike icon. He is such an icon that Nike even created a special division of products solely with his name on it. The image doesn’t really have any meaning, and it doesn’t dictate to the viewer to do anything specific. It just refers to Nike and the Jordan line of products (and it’s one of the most well-known logos in the world).

Index:

Do Not Litter

This image is clearly a sign because it directly dictates to the receiver exactly what the message is. It tells the receiver to both not liter and to dispose of trash in the dumpster. Thus, all angles are covered and there is no ambiguity or confusion. Also, the sign is straightforward — it appropriately gives simple directions for a simple task.

Symbol:

Bald Eagle

The bald eagle symbolizes America — it is a patriotic emblem. If a foreigner who knew nothing of American culture was showed this image, I doubt that he/she would think of America. Similarly, I didn’t think of Bolivia after seeing an image of a Llama (until my Bolivian friend told me it was there national animal). Thus, the bald eagle — and many other animals — must be learned through association, making them symbolic.

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Bumper Sticker

Bumper Sticker

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