Response 5

“Learn from Las Vegas: Spectacular Vernacular”, by Stephen Duncombe

Connection: While reading this piece, I’ve made a connection to “The Medium Is the Metaphor”, by Neil Postman. There was a quote by Postman that stated that, “Each medium like language itself, makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility”. I chose this piece and this quote specifically, because Duncombe uses Las Vegas as a “metaphor” for a place that appeals to our desires and fears. When he mentions Vegas, he isn’t speaking literally about the physical land and the architecture, but what mood it puts its visitors in, what it represents, and how it appeals to their senses. He calls Vegas a spectacle, and mentions that spectacle is nothing more than “a dream on display”, which, when you go back to Postman’s essay, ties in to the notion of people creating their own definitions (or recreating an existing one) based on their perceptions. These perceptions–or biases come from mediums which are tools used to transmit information. On page 42, Duncombe says that people enjoy Vegas, even though they understand that it’s a spectacle. He goes on to describe the various sightings and imitations of popular monument like the Eiffel Tower, Brooklyn Bridge and even the pyramids of Egypt. People enjoy Vegas because they understand that Vegas is not trying to manipulate them, but rather that it’s a place they can go to temporarily escape the harsh realities of their day-to-day lives. They enjoy Vegas for the temporary freedom and caters to the things we desire (traveling, money and even promiscuity). As I mentioned in the quote by Postman, Vegas is a place that physically IS one thing, but sensually represents another.

“Why Johnny Can’t Dissent”, by Thomas Frank

Connection: I have to be brutally honest, this is probably one of the only readings that I’ve found this interesting so far. Why? Because it relates so much to the modern cultures and sub-cultures that exist within society. As I began reading this essay, right away I felt a connection to Lewis Mumford’s “The Automation of Knowledge”. I’d like to refer to a quote from Mumford’s essay on page 269, where he says “The proper name for automation is organized impotence”. Well, let’s break down what the terms “impotence” and “automation” mean. Impotence is the inability to perform or weakness, whereas automation is a technique or a method that controls processes. With the definitions of these terms being established, we can assume that Mumford was saying that complete autonomy (in his case he meant technology) only leads to the breakdown of society and a delay in progress. Let’s a take a look at Frank’s essay. On page 317, Frank states that, “It (capitalism) holds that the paramount ailment of our society is conformity, a malady that has variously been described as over-organization, bureaucracy, homogeneity, hierarchy, logocentrism, technocracy, the Combine, the Apollonian.” Once again, Frank believes that this idea of a monolithic culture (in his case he meant large corporations and capitalism) is a “malady” as he calls it; a malady is a disorder or some type of affliction. I believe his overall point was that complete control over anything can cause society to crumble. He even describes how everyone is so interested in fighting against the grain, that they too, become the very same corporations that they are rebelling against. To me, this means that there will never be any everlasting changes or disassociation from large corporations, but only a shift in who will be holding the power.

 

Thoughts On My Exploratory Paper:

For my exploratory paper, I have gathered my sources and I plan on discussing each topic thoroughly and using my sources to support my ideas. I will produce an introductory paragraph where I introduce three all of my topics, and then in the body paragraphs I will introduce each topic separately with each of their supporting sources. I’ll be sure to include my thoughts about the sources by providing my own opinions. My paper will be coherent, consistent and complete. Lastly, I will chose the most interesting issue for my issue paper and include a conclusion that will tie all of my thoughts and information together.

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2 Responses to Response 5

  1. Good job at making the connection of Duncombe work to Postman’s “Medium is the Metaphor.” You illustrated the main point in his essay about the concept of a spectacle. Also I liked for the Thomas Franks essay how you defined multiple terms separately and then explained together to Lewis Mumford’s “The Automation of Knowledge.” This showed that you understood both readings.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your response! It is very well structured and you really made some strong connections between the two essays. I liked that you used direct quotes and explained them very well. I really liked your explanation for the Frank piece, it was very thorough and really illustrated some great points that I completely overlooked! Great post!

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