December 3, 2012

Understanding Comics after Understanding Terministic Screens

I wanted to take a step back for the final journal entry and take a look at Understanding Comics again after we have discussed Burke’s Terministic Screens. I feel as though Burke’s essay helped break down what was being explained by McCloud in Understanding Comics. The concept of a terministic screen seems closely tied to the topic of symbols; during this entry I would like to pay particular attention to putting Burke’s essay in conversation with the idea presented by McCloud on pages 29-32. The idea McCloud is presenting states that cartoons and symbols become more universally understood as they become simplified because a person has the ability to feel more connected to it. The inverse is also true; a more detailed cartoon is harder to become affiliated with because there are so many defining features to make identification with said cartoon difficult.

Burke would state that this is caused by terministic screens. Identification is incredibly important to Burke for his ideas of terminisitic screens; people identify themselves and others through their respective terministic screens. The terministic screen a person has in respect to certain symbols and even universal cartoons (the smiley face) has been created and been growing since the person was first exposed to the symbol. This terministic screen affects everything that person would feel about that symbol or cartoon. “…the nature of our terms affect[s] the nature of our observations… (Burke, 46) Breaking down the reason a person feels affiliated with the smiley face would be Burke’s goal whereas McCloud’s goal simply seemed to be finding that people were affiliated with the smiley face. The smiley face is a symbol in American culture because Americans have been subjected to repetition of the symbol. Every repeated event forms the terministic screen for the individual Americans.

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