Creative Spirituality

•May 12, 2010 • 3 Comments

In Wuthnow’s article, Driven to Explore, the point that struck me the most was how traumatic personal experiences really had an effect on artist’s desire to explore and therefore, create art. All of the artists from this article faced some sort of trauma, from sickness to molestation. Although they didn’t know it at the time, it seemed to be this primary force that pushed them into their spiritual journey. The reading discusses the effects of this trauma by saying, “Such crises have played a role in the creativity on which artistic accomplishments so clearly depend” (P.70). I think that a huge factor of this was that it caused them to analyze life in a way that someone simply living life wouldn’t think about. There are many people who just go through the motions, or who don’t think about the meanings of life because nothing has happened to make them question it.

This point reminds me of 9/11 and the effect that it had on the US. As horrible as it was, it brought us all together and made us feel united. People showed their support like never before. It is interesting how sometimes it takes traumatic events to trigger support and appreciation. I feel like this is the same case with the artist’s. It took a traumatic event to make them think about life in a way that they never had before. This was how their spiritual journey stemmed and now they are more enlightened. If we could just analyze life despite the situations we are in or what point we are in our lives we are at, we could all be as enlightened.

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Enjoying Horror Research

•May 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

1. Fink, L. (2009). Horror movies: Why people love them. LiveScience. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.livescience.com/culture/091106-bts-horror-movies.html

Analyze the issues raised by your sources in comparison to the issues raised in the readings. Be sure to include at least one quote from the readings, for each article, to support your analysis.

The first article was called Horror Movies: Why People Love Them. As you might be able to guess from the name, it asks the question of why people pay money to watch a movie that many consider repulsive and horrifying. One reason is because of the desired effect of the movie. People want to be frightened, otherwise they wouldn’t do it twice. Jeffrey Goldstein, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Utrecht says, “You choose your entertainment because you want it to affect you”. People who watch horror movies want the movie to frighten them. Some other reasons mentioned as to why we put ourselves through this kind of horror is enjoying the adrenaline rush, being distracted from mundane life, vicariously thumbing our noses at social norms, and enjoying a voyeuristic glimpse of the horrific from a safe distance. It is important to note that people have the ability to pay attention to the movie as much or as little as they want, thus controlling what effect it has on them. The article also explains that fear is an emotion derived from deep-seeded evolutionary factors. This may explain why it is hard for us to turn off emotions once those emotions have been aroused. That is why people may get so eager to turn it back on again, and keep watching.

In the Paradox of Horror article by Berys Gaut, he explains the curiosity factor that draws us to watch scary movies. Gaut explains, “Moreover, because we know that the monsters are only fictional, the fear and disgust they arouse in use are muted in comparison with what they would be if we were to meet such monsters in real life, which allows the pleasures of curiosity more easily to outweigh the displeasures of fear and disgust” (P. 296). This goes along with the idea from the first article that one is able to enjoy a glimpse of the horror from a safe distance. Another point Gaut makes is how successful the producers have become in achieving the effect or fear and disgust in the audience. These movies are for entertainments sake, and producers want to provide the audience with enjoyable experiences. Gaut concludes on this point by saying, “The simplest, most straightforward explanation of the phenomenon of horror is that sometimes people enjoy being scared” (P. 299). This was a huge point made in the first reading. It is the desired effect of the movie. People go to a horror movie in order to be frightened because they enjoy being that emotion. While Gaut made many other points that didn’t correspond to the first reading, I believe that these two reasons are the best explanations as to why we love horror.

 2. Lumb, R., Miller, R., & Patton, T. (2009). Why do people like horror movies? The Jacksonville Observer. Retrieved May 6, 2010, from http://www.jaxobserver.com/2009/10/24/why-do-people-like-horror-movies/

Why Do People Like Horror Movies explores the two questions: who watches horror movies and why? There are many reasons listed as to why people put themselves through these horrifying movies. One reason is simply for the thrill of it. These people enjoy the adrenaline rush, they like feeling their heart beating faster, they enjoy the biological fight-or-flight response. Another reason says that young people in particular are wired for this kind of activity. Media psychologist Stuart Fischoff comments, “[adolescents] have a need for a higher intensity level, for louder music, faster cars”. Some people hold that the safe fright of horror movies serves an evolutionary purpose. Adolescents, who are shown to enjoy horror movies the most, may be unconsciously trying to get themselves ready to be adults. They are just developmentally beginning to face adult responsibilities and look at the world through an adults eyes, so they seek out these frightening experiences. Scary movies also can be used to relieve tension, the relief following the terror makes all the suffering worthwhile. People like to see justice served, some people enjoy violence in horror movies when it’s directed against someone they believe to be deserving of that violence. The last unique point that the article suggested was for the “snuggle theory”.  For young adults, reaction to a horror movie may be linked to sex appeal. A study conducted at Indiana University found that the more distressed a woman at a scary movie was, the more attractive her date found her. Conversely, the less distressed the man was, the more attractive his date found him to be.

In his article, Noel Carroll discusses the fact that people are curious, they want to see what happens. They are drawn into how the upcoming scenes are incorporated into the plot. Carroll says that a horror story is driven by curiosity, “It engages the audience by being involved in the processes of disclosure, discovery, proof, explanation, hypothesis, and confirmation” (Pg. 279).  I believe that this goes along with the other articles ideas that people want to see justice served, and that the confirmation and resolution at the end can relieve their tension.

The rest of the issues raised in the first article were very different in relation to the issues raised in Carroll and Gaut’s articles. The research article chose to focus more on specific age groups while the others explained horror more in general. I think it is important to note the points raised in the research article, because although they are not as scientific as the other articles points, they are valid. I can relate to their ideas because I am a young person and understand exactly what they are talking about. The difference between the two articles just reiterates the fact that there is no real answer to the question of why people love horror movies. It all just depends on who you are and what your taste is.

Enjoying Horror

•May 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

In his essay, Gaut evaluates different ideas of why people like horror films and then deconstructs them. One major idea that was discussed was the control theory by John Morreau. While Gaut deems in inadequate, I see it as a very reasonable explanation. Morreau says that it is possible for someone to enjoy negative emotions when they are in control of the situation that is producing these emotions, meaning that they can properly direct their thoughts and actions. I have never been one to enjoy horror films and I think this control theory has a lot to do with it. The friends I know who enjoy horror films are able to do so because they can control their minds in a way that they know what they are watching is not practical. However, my negative emotions from watching the films become far too strong by thinking about the movie as something that could happen in real life, which makes it an unpleasant experience.

In deconstructing the control claim, Gaut says, “ But the control thesis leaves it utterly mysterious how the mere fact that I can choose to attend or not to an otherwise unpleasant emotion, such as fear, could render that emotion pleasant” (P. 300). I disagree with Gaut here, because I think the choice has everything to do with it. Someone who gets dragged to a horror film is not going to enjoy it because they didn’t want to come in the first place, mainly because they were too scared. The people who will enjoy it came by choice because they knew what they were getting into and were excited about it. Others can enjoy a horror film because they are able to separate themselves from the movie. I do not have this control over my mind, however, and that is exactly why I do not enjoy them.

Personal Adornment Reflection

•April 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have grown up with a lot of beliefs and values, but very few related to dress. I don’t think much about dress because I feel that there are way more important things in life. When it comes to my beliefs and values, I have always been a huge believer in the idea that less is more. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, I have never dyed my hair, and I dress pretty conservatively. I don’t have any body piercings, although I did at one time, and I have no tattoos. I do believe to some extent that your looks reflect who you are, as unfair as that may be. I feel like that is why I tend to dress more plain that out there. Material things are not a priority for me, so I have never been into fashion. I don’t spend the time or money getting my hair or nails done, or applying a lot of makeup because looks aren’t that important to me. I dress conservatively because I want people to respect me. I think it is important to be able to see your employer on the street, and not be worried that you are dressed inappropriately. I really value my body and that is why I have never gotten a tattoo. I don’t judge others who get tattoos and I have many friends with them. For me personally, nothing is important enough to me to permanently ink on my body.

A lot of the choices I make concerning dress have to do with my family and friends as well as beliefs I have developed through experience. I knew a lot of girls in high school who wore small amounts of clothing, wore a lot of makeup, and they didn’t always get the respect they deserved because of it. Seeing things like this has really shaped my beliefs. I also come from a town where conservative meant classy. Girls were called tramps if they showed a lot of skin, cleavage, or had tattoos. I went through a stage in high school where I loved getting piercings. I got my belly button, nose, cartilage pierced in the same school year. For me it was a way to break out and do something exciting, exert my independence and show that I was old enough to make my own decisions.

My dad is very conservative while my mom has been on the crazier side, so I have experienced both worlds. My dad is very successful and respected, so I value his opinions on how a girl should dress. I grew up seeing my mom get different tattoos and they just never looked good to me. The friends I surround myself with vary. I have a lot of friends who are like me and don’t care much about what they wear because it is not a priority. I also have friends who love going shopping, dressing up, and taking the extra time to make sure their hair and makeup is perfect. I think that another big reason I dress the way I do is from seeing these friends. It is more fun hanging out with the people who don’t care, because we can run around and not worry about ruining our hair, or having uncomfortable shoes. The more fashionable friends take forever to get ready which causes the rest of us to wait around. I understand not wanting to like grubby, but I personally believe life is too short to spend it worrying about how you look. I choose to wear clothes that flatter my body, aren’t too revealing, but are comfortable and practical at the same time. This gives me the respect I deserve while allowing me to live my life to the fullest and most fun.

People Watching

•April 28, 2010 • 1 Comment

Person 1: The first person I picked out was an older male. He was wearing a blue collared shirt and red tie with a tan suit jacket over it. On the bottom, he wore black slacks and nice dress shoes. He was wearing glasses, had a beard and was carrying a briefcase.  Because of the formal way he is dressed, I feel like he probably values hard work, and takes his job seriously. Walking around this college campus, he looks like he could be a college professor. I feel like most people of his age and possibly status dress nice and conservative. Because of how he is dressed, I would assume that he is from a traditional home where emphasis was put on dressing nice in order to reflect who you are. He seemed like a very wise man, probably because he was wearing glasses and carrying a suitcase. I feel like in our society, people with glasses such as the ones he was wearing make them seem esteemed. The way that I assumed he was a college professor says a lot about how I was brought up. The way you dressed reflected you as a person as well as your family so you wanted to dress nice. Men who were successful and smart were supposed to wear what the man I saw today was wearing. Where I grew up, that look was very valued, so that is why I think of him in a high position of power.

Person 2: The next person I picked out was a young male. He was wearing sweatpants, a baggy sweatshirt, and athletic shoes. He was carrying a black backpack with a yellow O on it. I feel like health, sports, and a team mentality is probably very important to him. In my opinion, sports are probably his priority for the moment, over school and other things. I am assuming he was an athlete because a backpack with a yellow O is associated with athletes as well as that style of dress. Because of his athletic way of dress, I would assume that he is very healthy and probably puts most of his time into sports. Because of the values and beliefs I have learned over my lifetime, I can’t help but make the assumption that he doesn’t need to work very hard at anything other than sports. Especially living in Eugene, athletes are treated like royalty, and I have always grown up hearing that teachers let them off easy, they don’t always do the work that every other student has to do. My values and beliefs cause me to have more negative assumptions then I normally would.

Person 3: The last person I chose to focus on was a younger female. She was wearing quite a bit of makeup, her dyed blond hair was done up, she was wearing tighter  designer jeans, flip flops, and a juicy jacket unzipped with a tank top underneath. She also had a nose piercing. I would assume that looks are important to her. I feel like she took a lot of time getting ready because dress is probably one of her values. As far as emotional condition, I would assume one of two things. She is either very confident or has low self-esteem. I feel like she is healthy, and that staying fit is another one of her values. I would also assume she comes from a wealthier background, because juicy jackets and designer jeans tend to cost a lot of money. I have formulated my beliefs and values about the way a girl should dress from my friends, family, and community I lived in. In my experience, the girls who took a lot of time to get ready were very into their looks, confident leaning towards the cocky side, or they had such low self esteem that they felt they needed to look cute because it was all they had. I understand that these assumptions are not completely accurate or always true, but it is still what comes to mind.

Food As Art Articles

•April 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Smillie, S. (2007, May). Is food art? [Life and Style]. Retrieved April 19, 2010 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2007/may/24/theatreoffood

This article discusses the controversial question of whether food is art. It explains how chef Ferran Adria was invited to Documenta, an art show. Some people did not respond well to the fact that a cook was invited, and this is what spurred the question. The article discusses the debate of what art actually is and whether food fits the mold of art.

The article first discusses a viewpoint that food can never be art because of the fact that chefs are cooking to please the customer. There is one quote from Jones that says, “Until people go to a restaurant to think about death, cooking won’t be art”. A contrasting viewpoint to this says that chefs believe in their own taste, a type of art. They get reviews from restaurant critics just as an actor gets reviews. Discussed is the fact that eating engages all of our senses and our mind, and this could potentially make it the most complex act of the performing arts.

This is similar to the article in that it goes back and forth discussing different viewpoints. For example, in the article there are many reasons listed as to why food could be considered art. One is that the chef can take a lot of time using his imagination and creating something truly unique. However, in the end it discusses reasons as to why it should not be considered art, or at least major art. Food does not depict emotions the way that a painting does. This point is in contrast to the article I found on the web because as I mentioned earlier, they believe that it does engage our mind. This just goes to show that everybody has a different view on the matter, and it is hard to decide which is correct when there are so many good points made.

Gopnik, B. (2008, September). The Big Debate: Can Food Be Serious Art? [The Washington Post]. Retrieved April 25, 2010 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/22/AR2009092203137.html

This article from The Washington Post features a debate about whether food can be considered serious art. It is structured in a way that lists a statement as to why it can’t be considered art, and then another statement following that argues why it could. It discusses many important ideas and counter ideas that are big in the food as art debate. Each statement and counterstatement correspond to each other and regard the same issue, so that you can make up your own mind about which one you agree with.

One point made in the article I found was that it can’t go beyond immediate sensory pleasures. This was discussed in the article we read for class and was listed as a reason why food could not ultimately be considered art, because it couldn’t express or show emotion. However, the counter argument for this says that it does go beyond sensory pleasures in that it talks about history, culture, politics…I am not sure that this is a valid point in this case. Another point that was mentioned in both articles was the fact that its goal is to feed people and so it should not be considered art.

An interesting point made from the article I found was that there is no object that is left over when the meal finishes. When reading the article for class, I didn’t even think about this point, and I think it is a valid one. The counterargument to this is that music also does not last, and that each time a dish is created, it is like a performance that will survive over time. The problem with this is that music can be recorded whereas food cannot be.  Another point that was never mentioned in our class article was that food can only be experienced by a tiny number of people. I think this is because it is not necessarily a valid point when you see the counter argument which states that you don’t measure an art form by the size of its’ audience. This article once again leaves us hanging, to decide for ourselves if food can be considered art.

Food As Art

•April 19, 2010 • 4 Comments

The question of whether or not food is art is a challenging one. Throughout most of Telfer’s article, I was sold that food was an art. Art has a lot to do with aesthetics, on how the object appears to the senses. Food certainly has this quality of aesthetics because when created to be enjoyed and thought about, a meal definitely appeals to the senses. However, one point in the article made me question food as art. Food is essentially emotionless in that it doesn’t express emotion. One can’t reasonable look at food and think that it was created to evoke a sense of grief or joy. I believe that the actual act of cooking can be an art. Chefs spend so much time trying to make their creation exactly right, adding new ingredients such as a painter would add another stroke of paint. Like the article stated, cooks can cook out of acts of love or the joy that life brings them. They can be inspired in their cooking just as other artists can are inspired. However, the product does not evoke emotion like the act does. I believe that this lack of emotion proves that food should not be considered art.