October 19, 2012

A genre

When one does not know what to believe..and maybe if I said unsure I'd be viewed as more in control, or more decisive, as it may seem there is, or rather are ideas that can be decided upon, at the least. Either way, what do you do? And this most concrete answer I can come to, although I will never stop reaching, as high as it goes. And that's Subliminal in whichever way your understanding goes, but for clarity, try Isaiah 55:8. You take what has been visually set before you, whether through nurture or training and hold fast because of its Power, even when you are unsure what it has done in your behalf, because you are convinced disloyalty will prove disastrous. Even when you know of your wrongs, but wonder is it really. And in the instances strength and armour is needed, you use imperfection of it all as assurance. What is that? How does one come to the most sought after understanding when there is no direct path because truth be told, one is not more capable than the other at attaining knowledge, but has only been trained and exposed to succeed at that specific task, in specific arenas.

October 18, 2012

Forever Adapting Our Roles

One connection I found myself excited to make this week was between Longinus’ On The Sublime and Ong’s The Writer’s Audience Is Always A Fiction. The connection I found between the two was significant because throughout Longinus’ text, he seems to be instructing his pupil to be both a writer and a critic. Thus, to be a successful writer and focus on the sublime, you must think like a critic. He states in his work “We can apply this to ourselves. When we are working on something which needs loftiness of expression and greatness of thought, it it good to image how Homer would have said the same thing, or How Plato…it makes a great occasion if you image such a jury or audience for your own speech, and pretend that you are answering for what you write before judges and witness of such heroic stature…”(12) This was significant to be because it seems like both authors want to make sure writers imagine their audience and think as not just a writer, but as a reader and critic. To further back this, Ong states “ A reader has to play the role in which the author has cast him in. Which seldom coincides with his role in the rest of his life.” (12) I found this quote to match up perfectly with the other reader because we must always be casting ourselves in more than one role to get the most out of rhetorical theory and any form of writing. We must be willing to stretch ourselves past the roles we think we belong in, in order to make the most sense of the world around us.

October 16, 2012

Toufic El Rassi's Tactics

Toufic El Rassi's "Arab In America" was as easy for me to jump into as McCloud's "Vocabulary of Comics," which makes me question McCloud's claim that the narrator should be as simple as possible in order for the audience to put themselves in the narrator's shoes. The comic was an interesting choice for El Rassi to make since the non-Arab audience was not imagining their face as his facial hair covered face with the terrified expression. He was clearly not using McCloud's tactics, however the illustration was a perfect visual contrast between El Rassi's character and the people he interacted with daily. I think El Rassi relied on emotional ties to connect the audience to El Rassi's character because everyone has had times where they have felt like they were targeted for doing something wrong even when they weren't.

October 15, 2012

McCloud's Extension of Body Parts

McCloud's "Vocabulary of Comics" makes me wonder why comics are not more widely used. This was by far one of the most comprehensive readings thus far and I believe that is because A- my brain was able to jump into the blank place of the narrator and B- the imagery was so easy to visualize (for example: "the cartoon is a vacuum into which our identity and awareness are pulled) (Page 36). I am intrigued by McCloud's idea that we subconsciously give inanimate objects life. I feel like it is a stretch to consider objects such as silverware and crutches as extensions of our body parts. I visualize these things merely as tools to get through daily life. He goes so far as to say that the inanimate objects we use every day shape our identities and how we view ourselves (Page 38). This makes me wonder why he only focuses on the functionality of the objects we are attaching to ourselves, not how the quality of the materials affects how we view ourselves and how others view us. Perhaps he did not comment on the quality of materials because the narrator was trying to be as blank of a slate as possible so that we would not make assumptions based on his social class, political views, etc.

Arab in McCloud's Armerica

            While reading Arab in America I used a lot of McCloud’s techniques. Being from Greek descent a lot of my family hails from the eastern portion of Greece on an island that mirrors the coast of Turkey. With that being said, growing up I experienced not as harsh but similar discrimination to Toufic’s character, either at school or with childhood acquaintances. While traveling in airports right after 9/11, my father and I have been selected on multiple occasions for “random” security checks. When I was younger much of this went over my head and I did not understand what was going on. My father always seemed restless and annoyed when situations like this would happen but he never told me why. It was not until later that I was able to reflect on the possibility that the TSA was selecting us out of the crowd on account of our darker skin. I understand that percussions must be made in a time of danger, but to me there was a level of ignorance in discerning against people who might look Middle Eastern.

Longinus where have you been all my life? Not.

In On the Sublime, presumed author, Longinus gives us insight into exactly what it takes to construct good writing--where has Longinus been all of my life?

His 5 keys to sublimity are:
  • the power of forming great conceptions; great thought
  • strong and inspired passion

Longinus cites that the above 2 are acquired naturally (as if you're either born a great writer or you're not)--the latter three he considers an art (I assume, these are qualifications that are not inherent but are cultivated through practice--lucky for us)

  •  due formation of figures
  •  noble diction
  •  dignified and elevated composition

Arab in America and McCloud

I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading Arab in America. I went into it with low standards and thought it was going to be extremely boring to read, but once I opened it I could not stop reading it. I thought I was just going to read 20 or 30 pages before class and finish the rest before Friday's lecture but I had to see what was going to happen to Toufic and the different scenarios that he was going to go through.

McCloud and el Rassi

When reading the graphic memoir, Arab in america, I struggled to personally identify with the narrator, Toufic.  I think mostly that is because of our drastically different backgrounds but also, because I visually did not see myself in him.  What I mean is that I do not personally identify with the narrator Toufic because I do not visually find similarities between us.  He is a man while I am a woman, he is Arab while I am American, he is dark skinned with dark hair while I have light skin and light hair.  In fact, there really are no physically similarities between the two of us, our eye color is even different. 

How simple is too simple?

While reading Persepolis, I found the juxtaposition between the serious story of the Islamic revolution and the cartoon depiction of said story very interesting and intriguing. When we read McCloud’s “Vocabulary of Comics” I thought his points were different than anything I had ever heard before, mostly because I had never read a graphic novel or serious comic. Once I began reading Persepolis, however, it was evident how many of McCloud’s points were evident. By making the characters simplistic, the reader is able to see themselves as the image in the cartoon. With the depiction of Satrapi as a regular-looking young girl, the reader can easily identify with her. To us, she is who we were as kids. We can see ourselves thinking these crazy ideas like, “I want to be a prophet,” or remembering having a crush on a boy even though we didn’t really know them. McCloud’s idea of identification through simplicity is very much at work throughout Persepolis. 

What is in a name?

I sort of got stuck on the idea of naming for my SCD 2 and may have had a bit of an epiphany when thinking about it and I sort of wanted to share it. We talked about naming when we discussed Locke. When we don't know what something is, we give it name, usually through the description or relation it has to other things. We name things to give them meaning. We name our countries, our cities, our food, our cars. We "personify" things by giving them names. Sometimes we name our cars or electronics but most importantly we even name ourselves. We name ourselves. Usually our parents will gives us our names at birth but sometimes people changes their name to one they identify with more.

The Simplistic Beauty of Comic Book Art & Narrative

Before reading Persepolis, we read McCloud's The Vocabulary of Comics, which contained an important theory claiming that the less detailed the comic book characters facial structure is, the easier it is for the reader to recognize themselves in the structurally abstract faces. The simplicity of comic art is a key part in bringing the reader into the reading and putting themselves in the shoes of the protagonist. Because of the comic book strip, the story must be told in one long narrative by the protagonist,  largely through conversations. The comic strip allows for 2-3 small pictures per row, meaning the ideas and conversations as narrated by the protagonist must be direct and effective.

Symbols in language

Throughout the past couple of weeks, we have been going into detail about the use of metaphors and symbols in language to create meaning. I found McCloud's "Vocabulary of Comics" to be eye-opening in the sense that comics and images in combination with words have an impact on how people perceive a message. I never thought of how the generalization of images shaped how people conceptualized ideas. I would agree that I do identify more with a plain image without much definition because of what it symbolizes in the actions portrayed in the comic more than a defined character. As in any other story, there is reader identification with certain characters, however, I do think that the character has their own identity when their character is more defined. When the character is more general, it appeals to a general audience.

What is Language?

To define the term language would be seemingly impossible. So I like to look at is as a tool. In the book Arab in America we see language used as many different types of tools. A tool for discrimination, a tool for protest, and a tool for justification. This does not give us a concise definition for language but it helps us understand that language is not just speaking and writing words. Language is not just a compilation of symbols and noises. It is not a simple idea. Rather it is a complex amalgamation of powerful forces  When you define it as a tool it takes on a greater meaning. It can articulate ideas, start wars, evoke feelings and insight action. How you use language as a tool I believe directly defines you and who you are as a person. Because language is something that everybody uses I think of it as a controlled measure of your character. Everybody is given the option to use language as they please their are no barriers to its usage, which make the way you use it unique to your character.

Simplistic or Dynamic

As I look back at McCloud's claim of amplification through simplification I don't know if I completely  agree with what he states. The more simple the depiction is the more I can identify with it because I can in turn see myself in the image. That made sense to me at the time. After reading Arab in America I have formulated the idea in my head again and it doesnt make as much sense. I feel that if the cartoons drawn in Arab in America were drawn as simplistic that I would have no idea how to identify with them, I would not be able to tell the characters apart in a book about individualism. This is a book that is trying to explain the turmoil of a living in a society that pinpoints you as the "other" or enemy because of your appearance. How can I identify with that notion if the drawings were simplistic. In the book each character is drawn to meet the specifications of a stereotype so that I can identify with them thus making them more dynamic than simplistic. Doesn't this contridict McClouds simplistic claim? Do I identify with things better because they are simple? Or do identify with things better because they are more detailed? They both seem to make sense at this point.

In Black and White

So i know we did not have to read the whole book Persepolis, but i did because once i started reading it I could not put it down. I want to point out the things that i appreciated while reading the book.

The author's ability to distinguish the the progression of time, for instances in the beginning of the book like on page 9 or 35 how the characters all had patterned clothing and how later on everyone was only wearing black (was a beautiful symbol of their loss of freedom and being forced to conform 'mentally' by physically saying yes we obey your rules).


While doing this weeks short critical discussion, the word "language" is still stuck in my head. I've stretched this word to the best of my capacity and felt like its best to leave some of my thoughts and questions to the rest of the bloggers from class. I discussed and put into conversation the works of Burke "The Rhetoric of Hitler's Battle" and McCloud's "Vocabulary of Comics." While they both seem very different they both deal with language in different ways. Some of the questions that i brought into argument were.. "If language can be seen as symbols, sounds and gestures, what could we say the language that is being spoken through this book? Can we say that language is being used in this situation?" By book Im referring to Hitler's Book Mein Kampf. I discussed how Hitler uses the phrase "common enemy" to help unite those against the Jews. The Jews then symbolizes something Evil. How could we relate the book of Adolf Hitler to the use of Language, and what symbols did anyone else find in the book that could serve as language.

October 14, 2012

The comic writer's secret

It has come to my attention the secret to a less detailed face in cartoons. I never once put thought to the idea that illustrators would put less detail in a characters face in order to better allow the reader or watcher to relate or implement themselves into the character and make better relations to their personal life. I, myself found it harder to understand McCloud's essay after he mentioned what troubles we would have after he made himself look more detailed. I found myself more focused on the character and who he could be then on the content of the reading. I had to go back and re-read things because I was no comprehending as well. The character became a distraction for me once he brought it to my attention.

Informed Reader

While doing this weeks short critical discussion I have reviewed a couple of the past readings, and I could not help but to utilize then While reading “Arab In America”. Also I thought about Persepolis and the things we discussed in class and how these articles also applied to the book. In “Arab In America” I thought it was really interesting that Toulif made a clear distinction between himself and the other characters by giving himself the additional traits of chest hair and a beard. Reading a book titled “Arab In America” if you did not catch on through the title that he was an Arab it becomes apparent now by the other children having a standard basic look about them selves. 

Comics and Color

After reading El Rassi's Arab in America, I found myself wondering how color or the absence of color would affect how people read comics and how that affects the message an author of a comic is trying to send. Arab in America is solely in black and white, save for the cover and the back.

In Arab in America, the lack of color doesn't detract from what is trying to be said, yet if it was added it might have added another dimension to his text. El Rassi relied heavily on shading to portray emotions and feelings like isolation, anger, and disbelief. Also, without color we have no way to accurately guess what race or skin tone El Rassi is trying to portray. We just assume what we think we know what the people in this reading look like. He has to rely more on outlines and different nuances of black ink to portray race and emotion. How would that change if he had used color?


This book really had an interesting and captivationg way to grab the audience's attention. Personally, I enjoyed the way the book presented itself in way for me to understand this culture I'm not familiar with. This persepective of a "young narrator" made it easier for me to understand and accept the circumstances through her eyes. I also enjoyed that you got to see her grow up from being a young girl to punk girl to an independent adult.

What was our role?

Upon reading “Arab In America” I was left with a few questions. In Arab in America, Toulif decides to make himself distinguishable from the other children in his drawings by putting them as a-typical looking children but giving himself stubble and chest hair. This raised the question as to who his targeted audience really was. I found issue with this because in Ong’s “The Audience Is Always Fictive,” Ong states, “Readers did not have special roles to play or that authors did not have their own problems in devising an signaling what the roles were” (page 15).