Monday, September 29, 2008

Regarding the Pain of Others

This book said alot for it's short 125 pages. There were many truths between those pages, so where do I start? War is male. That is one bold statement. What is male, really? It is a socially defined term with lots of attatched constructs which have been implemented and practiced for hundreds of years. Men are strong, masculine, courageous, heartless, and vicious at times. War is male because males inflict pain upon others and are in a position to do so without much dissent. They are the strong ones after all; strong enough to forget what it's like to be on your knees begging for your life when they are superior to the enemy. Yet the pictures which create our reality shock male and female viewers alike. Do we even care enough to find out what we are looking at? All we know is that it is horrible and it is happening somewhere in the world. But, what could a nineteen year old girl do? I can denounce these photos and those who inflict violence upon others, especially third parties such as civilians. How could we stand by and buy the newspapers which are covered with images such as the one of Iraqis fleeing Kuwait City and being carpet bombed by napalm and depleted uranium during the Gulf War? Do we get satisfaction because we have decided that those people are evil and need to be eliminated from this earth or are we really vulgar and grusome enough that we like watching their pain from a distance? Desparation, the most sickening sight, is something I refuse to see if there is nothing I can do to end it. Who am I to look at those people, who are we to look at those people? We have not seen or experianced half the things they have, and for us to make a spectacle of their last living moments by plastering them in newspapers, news reels, and galleries seems unhuman.
We see, we do not understand, we turn the pages and the faces of anonymous victims of generic war are forgoten. A time filler. This is proximity without risk at it's best. I agree with Sontag's statement that no one has the right to experiance the suffering of others at a distance when it is stripped of all its raw power.
I also found myself wondering whose story we are truly seeing when we come across photos of war, especially recently. As Sontag states, pictures are a factual recording of someone' view - that someone is behind the camera taking the picture. If we are made to believe that Iraqis are an evil people, seeing photographs of the many dead in Iraq might boost moral for the war and gain more government support. Seeing the many US troop casualties might spark a different response, perhaps one similar to the Vietnam War. No one wants to see the mangled face of a dead US soldier left behind in some battle field. At the same time it is worth thinking about the similar photos of Iraqi troops; the man pleading for his life, which may bring satisfaction to many Americans, also has a family. We cannot go as far as being heartless and gain enjoyment from pictures of torture, destruction, and death.
As Sontag mentions, pictures are an accurate representation of what human beings are capable of. In this case perhaps not enough evidence is provided by images. You and I have no idea how much torture our troops have put others through. I recently heard clips from a new program on TV about the Iraq war where commanders are forcing soldiers to torture and kill Iraqis. That is something the public never sees. We only see what the enemy does, so that our hatred grows towards them. It is important to note that this kind of force by higher officials in the military does not go without its psychological effects on the soldiers, male, forced to be heartless and inflict pain on people who they hardly know, deserving or not.
So while we are here drinking our coffee over breakfast trying to gain insight on what is going on in the world today, we should be mindful of the fact that the image from the current war featured on page one is reality, but it is one snippet of a reality which we couldn't even the begint to comprehend. We should not come away from breakfast feeling like we know what is going on; instead we should ask whose story was being told and remember faces of the strangers, not just as subjects of the photos but as a piece of far away history which we have no right to exploit. We are simply spectators, who can shut our eyes or turn off the TV and forget those images and those people, but those who are missing their husband, their father, or mother, or wife cannot forget. Those images will forever hanut them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Now that is one trippy movie! The visuals, such as crumbaling walls, houses, or adults that were child size, were so intense at parts that they almost had a drug-like effect. You had to follow closely or else you would be lost inside the twisting and turning plot. The part that slowly made me understand where the producers were going with it, was when Dr. Howard's wife states "she doesn't know? Oh you poor child. You can have him, you already did." There are alot of shocks and mouth openers and this one in particular made it clear that Mary which was played by Kirsten Dunst had fallen in love with the doctor and had her mind erased, but then she fell in love with him all over again. We can come away from this movie sure that love is unevitable. Clementine and Joel are also another example that would lead us to believe this; minds erased and all they both wound up at Montauk and met again. Fate.

This movie also made me think about Valentine's Day. The doctor at Lacuna, the mind erasing agency, even states that February is their busiest time due to Valentine's Day. When thinking about that statement it is depressing to realize that so many people are suffering due to a past loved one, so much that they would want to surrender all their memories with that person to a doctor who blatently states that what he does is a form of brain damage. We would rather be damaged, than remember having loved? That is one twisted thought.
Despite all of the bad things which happened as a result of Joel and Clementine's love I was on my toes the entire movie, hoping that they would end up together. This movie makes you want to deeply believe in the power of love, despite it's downs.
The part where Joel states "I wish I had done alot of things" in referance to not walking out the door of the beach house, on the night when Clementine and Joel met, made me especially depressed. We always seem to look back and wish we had done so much more and so differently. Our past is filled with regrets and wishes for days we could live over again. I wish we could just do everything the way we want do it the first time, in the present...right now.
"Blessed are the forgetful..." We think that if we forget, we can escape. Something will always bring us back, the big bucks would be in making us remember and accept. Love, as the movie proves, is inevitable. We can't escape it. We search for it, we can't wait to have it, and let it take us for a crazy ride, and then we scorn it and push it away. It is a drug, unobtainable, that can come and go and leave you in withdrawls. Take the pleasure with the pain. Accept it. Don't search for one and degrade the other; they are brothers like day and night. "Love is pain and pain is love".
By the way I totally agree with Joel, sand is overrated; then again so are alot of things, and sometimes it just feels so good to take off your shoes and socks and just dig into it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pain: The Science of Suffering By: Patrick Wall

Wow this book was alot to swallow at once. At times I found myself backtracking to certain points so I could get my thought in order. I totally support the author's notion that the amount of pain does not equal the amount of injury. I also strongly agree with the fact that the experiance of pain is one that varies from time to time and in person to person. I couldn't believe the processes which the body goes through to make us actually feel pain. I found the nervous system very complicated and intricate. I also found it very profound to think of pain as a guard for us. Without it we would never know to protect our injured parts, like in the case of the girl with osteomyelitis which demolished her joint's surfaces which lead to her death. I found the part about childbirth very disturbing. It made me step back and think. It is crazy that a mother has to go through that much pain to get her offspring into this world. Just think about it, our life begins and ends in pain. We grow to hate it, curse it, and dispise it, but without it, indeed, we would not be alive.
I found some of the classical ideoligies very proposterous and I wonder if in the future the current ideologies will seem proposterous since there are so many undetermined tests. If we do ever pin point pain in the brain, will it really be better for us to drug that area until we feel nothing? The placebo response on the other hand proved to me the power of the mind and believing something to the point where it is not necessary to introduce any external substances to relieve pain. Many things have emerged from the discussion of pain, and yet not enough. Wall states "pain is not just a sensation but, like hunger and thirst, is an awareness of an action plan to rid of it". I can see how depression and anxiety set in when that plan fails time and time again. But, it is important to always have some faith in medicine, even if it pays little attention to pain itself and treats patients as numbers with preset pain periods and treatments. If we believe strongly, maybe we could all be blessed with a placebo effect.


Hello everyone. This is my first blog ever, so this experiance has been pretty cool. I am currently a sophmore in the School of Arts and Sciences at UHart. I am majoring in communications with an emphasis in advertising & public relations and hopefully journalism too. I am hoping to complete a minor in Marketing. I am on the cross country and track teams here at the university which is in pursuit of my strong interest in running. I love music and those who create it. I like to paint on rainy days when I am not overburdened with work and just relax. I love nail polish and other random things. Coffee gets me through alot of days. I often miscalculate the corners of things like tables and hit myself on them. I think time goes by too fast and people don't care enough. I stronlgy support John Lennon's statement "make love, not war".