October 7, 2012

McCloud 10/7

I think Mclouds point in this comic is very interesting and something I have never truly considered before. The idea that we view inanimate objects as extensions of ourselves so much so that they become us is never something that I have noticed. For example, if someone was to hit my car I would probably tell the police that they hit me. However, this statement would be false because they never laid a hand on me, not once. Next you would probably say that their car hit me which, again, is false because that is saying that their car physical hit your body like they were running you over. Instead the correct acquisition would be to say that there car hit my car although in reality most people would never imagine to explain something in this manner because we are so in tuned to explain common properties that we own or are using has bodily extensions. Although, as he goes on to describe crutches as legs, silverware as hands, and glasses as eyes (pg39) I begin to doubt some of his statements. For example, I wear glasses and contacts on a regular basis, more than I drive my car at least, yet I would not consider them to be my eyes. If some were to hit my glasses I wouldn’t say hey you hit me or hey you hit my eyes, I would say hey you hit my glasses (or at least think it). So I believe that it may, more or less, depend on the person and their situation of what we view as an extension of ourselves.

But to think of the idea of the icon to represent the idea of something would kind of fall under the same idea as above. If you had the icon of a little hand gun I would not just picture some a little hand gun in real life I would picture an array of guns from a little hand gun to a machine gun, even though that was not what was on the paper. Same with the picture of a face, the less detailed the face becomes the more things that I can relate it to. Why is this though? For me I believe it has to do with our society and the priming effect that our society has taught us. Through our media and our society we have learned so many things and have been told to associate so many things with certain objects that when we now see or hear that object we automatically begin to assign certain properties with it. With this consider the picture of an alien, what are the things that come to mind? Tall, slimy, green, spaceship, evil, abduction, scary; we assume these things because that is a few ways they have been presented to us in society so I believe that this is similar to the icon and how we give the icon meaning.


Shawn Binder said...

I found your post to be particularly interesting because it's almost as if the anti-signification has transferred over to objects. This seems to me as just another way in which language can be confused. Now we no longer have to worry about our words and what they symbolize, but what symbols are translating to words. Not only do we have to worry about what our words are representing but what the represented thing translates back into. For example, I could attach myself to an object and use it to describe myself but when I use the symbol to represent myself, someone could attach different meanings to that symbol. Not sure if that is making sense, but I kept relating back to Bahktin but i'm not 100% sure how, yet.

Rdexheimer said...

I felt the same way the first time I read this chapter in WEPO. This chapter is somewhat representative my view of McCloud in general, he demonstrates a very witty usage of comics as medium and has some very interesting observations, but his writing feels very casual and I sometimes find myself questioning the cohesiveness of some of his concepts, as he simply may have selected one or two very convincing examples which make the concept appear more rigid and fixed than it actually is. That being said, I actually do have a lot of respect for McCloud's rhetorical style. Even if a lot of his theory comes "from the armchair," he introduces his concepts in a way that feels extremely straightforward and intuitive. He is able to immerse his audience within comics while still making reader-viewers aware of the medium itself.

I feel similarly in that it isn't clear whether viewing/speaking of objects as extensions of ourselves is something that structures thought or whether it is a purely idiomatic convention of speech or whether it changes on a purely case by case basis. The car is one somewhat convincing example, but when I drive I still think that my sense of being is pretty distanced from the car. For myself, a bicycle is an example of something that I think has a greater degree of integration into my sense of being. Perhaps because a bike is a machine powered entirely by one's own energy the bike is seen as BEING INTEGRATED into one of my inherent faculties (locomotion) whereas something like a car seems to REPLACE that faculty. And alternatively, there are some objects that I tend to conceive of as extensions of myself but not speak of them. An example of this would be drumsticks, having played for several years the feeling of a drum stick and stroke have essentially become muscle memory, though I have never spoken of a drumstick as part of being myself. Even the examples McCloud offers are plagued by this sort of problem (he describes silverware as "hands" and while that does make sense upon reflection we don't substitute the two as a matter of linguistic convention), but perhaps we can take a note from Locke and simply attribute this to the imperfection of language as a practice and say that McCloud was simply demonstrating the anthropomorphizing lens with which we view the world.

Kathrynn Ward said...

I am so glad to hear someone bring up out perceiving of an alien view. This is such a good point. I have been told that extra terrestrial life looks nothing like that movies or the books that put images in to our head. We are told what to think and how to view things. Our minds are like computers, always being programmed to think certain ways and certain things. We are taught from a very young age what things are called, what they associate with, and it has always made me want to do experiments with humans and their brains if they were raised and not programmed as we are in our society today. Obviously, a baby can't consent to doing that experiment, so I would never do it and subject them to that, but it has ALWAYS made me wonder. In college, My sister wrote a fictional paper about an experiment where one child was raised in the city, and another raised in the woods with nothing but the land. She wrote about the differences and how the child in the city has so many less possibilities consciousness wise because he had been raised in a box (not a literal box, but a mind box) where everyone functioned in a society that was based on norms. I have always been fascinated with the idea. Are we programmed? What would we be like if we were not?

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