Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Torture Porn: Good or Bad?

To begin I personally don’t understand the unquenchable fascination with such graphic displays of grotesqueness. I recently went to the movies to see Saw 5 and was extremely displeased. For some reason or another, low budget movies continue to ransack the box office year after year and continually are a success. Why they continue to be successful I am unsure, but what I can say is that for whatever reason I am drawn to them. It is a fascination that even I don’t understand, because it’s as if I don’t really want to see them yet I do. I have seen all of the Saw movies and yet I don’t find them to be very good. Perhaps what draws me to them are all of my contemporaries asking me if I’ve seen the latest one. This last one in particular I found to be way too predictable. There was almost no suspense during this one, which sadly made me laugh instead of cringe during the scenes that were gruesome. How movies such as Hostel can be made in a basement and cost less than five million to produce, yet make over 50 million is astounding. It’s no wonder that production companies keep making so many of these movies, because for whatever reason they are so profitable. We as a society feed off of others unfortunate events. We are that society that stops whenever there is a horrific accident on the street almost hoping to see the bloody body being carted away. Why that is I really cannot say yet it is true enough. Perhaps we are just all that sick inside, which ultimately makes me question the society I am a part of. How can we possibly get pleasure from watching these sorts of movies? I don’t understand what people see in them, and yet time and time again we go to them, me included. I think our brains are almost hardwired to want to see something that will make us cringe. I read that perhaps this is due to the attacks that have taken place on 9/11 yet I believe that is ridiculous. In my opinion we don’t subconsciously walk around during our daily routines thinking that at any moment we are going to get blown up by a terrorist or worse. I am sure however that there are some who truly believe this and that’s why our society has mental institutions throughout our country. For someone to walk around with such an extreme perpetual fear of their demise they must be a bit insane. I do believe that this is not just related to our current sociological fears, but something else, a fluke perhaps. I certainly think however that these types of movies are here to stay and that they are not going anywhere. If they ever did I would really be surprised, because it would almost be the end of an era, a genre of movies that has caused us so much pleasure and sick mental anguish all at the same time. This is my mind culminates into something beautiful in its own right.

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addictions by David Sheff

First off I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book; finally something with a good story behind it. I love to read and I got through this book in about three days. It basically told the true story of David Sheff and how he coped with his son Nick’s addiction to methamphetamine. The book itself was full of drama, circulating around his family. Every time I thought it was getting better his son Nick would just relapse. Nick went in and out of several rehabilitation centers, and caused irrevocable havoc on the entire family and close friends. It seemed to be a book that I was simply unable to put down, due to the suspense of his addiction. It was very well written and contained actual research from various sources about methamphetamine. I found the extra information to be both interesting and it gave to book more substance. I can only imagine knowing someone on such a hard drug as methamphetamine, because of its ridiculously devastating effects it carries with it. Personally I am thankful that I have never known anyone with such a hardcore drug problem, but I have known several people who do various drugs. I often wonder what it would be like if these individuals ever did really let their recreational habits get their best of them. In relation with the Arthur Frank book that we have read called The Wounded Storyteller, I would say the book really was an account of someone who was wounded. It takes a lot of courage to get out there and actually publish a life story about something this terrible and unfortunate in one’s own family. I feel that often when Nick was in a state of remission that he was most like the mirroring body, consumed by a relentless desire. When he was in rehab he tried his best to be disciplined yet unfortunately his desire took over time and time again. Overall it was a great book and one I will more than likely read again someday on a rainy afternoon, because it was a real story, full of real scenarios.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, Ethics by Arthur W. Frank

The Wounded Storyteller by Arthur Frank was a book that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Sadly there was virtually nothing I agreed with in terms of his thought process and yet I did find his book to be interesting. Many of his concepts relating to categorizing bodies was intriguing and certainly an interesting interpretation of how to perceive people, yet I don’t exactly agree with them. I feel that this book was written by a psychologist, which to my knowledge he is not. When he spoke of chemotherapy I found that to be the only part that really seemed to make logical sense. That part I agreed with at the very end, in fact that’s when I liked the book; at the very end. His writing style was just so all over the place in my opinion, that I often found it hard to follow his train of thought. Through about the first three quarters of the book I would have to say I was absolutely bored with it. It was one of the very few times I have had to stop with such a frequency, because I enjoy reading almost anything; and even at the very least can get through almost any book without a problem. This particular work seemed to give me a problem, which is one of the many reasons I did not care for this book. I think that perhaps if he actually took one of the narrative stories and talked about it in great detail it would have been far easier to get through, and certainly make his analysis a lot more interesting because it would have had something substantial to fall back on. I felt as though most of his claims were empty in the sense that there weren’t any true concrete examples. Sure he spoke of a few patients and their issues but that encompassed about a paragraph of his time. The rest was how he judged them, or more aptly put categorized them based solely on his own interpretation. Unfortunately I can’t say I would recommend this book and it has to be the least favorite of mine that we have read in the class. Hopefully, upon further discussion I will see the light and perhaps find his ideologies to be closer to my own. Until then all I can say is I am certainly not a fan of Arthur Frank.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Possessed Americans Inhabiting Abu Ghraib

First off all I can say is I am not surprised. Watching the documentary titled ghosts of Abu Ghraib really needs a name change, (see title above). Something as outrageous as this ridiculous conspiracy is not the first by our beloved country; in fact it is simply another notch in Uncle Sam’s belt. Sadly isn’t it a cruel world we live in when we are just able to beat the living crap out of anyone. Does the word barbarianism come to mind? It is unbelievably unfortunate just how sick some people in the world are. Would you pose with a smile above a freshly tortured dead man? To be honest I wouldn’t even do that if I had Hitler with his eyes glazed over at my feet, and I’m Jewish. To be that type of person, to degrade there semblance of morality to such an extreme is astounding, and it takes one sick mind to do it. Something like that isn’t easy to do; it takes some serious talent; or perhaps a ridiculous chemical imbalance. We as Americans stand as the strongest militant power in the world, and yet look at who we send off to war. A bunch of drones, merely pawns while the kings and queens remain in their safe zones on the board, while they await a checkmate. Do they ever really take any credit for their actions? No they simply hide behind their lapdogs. I can understand, and try my best to sympathize with the fact that if a person is put into such a situation their minds would become just at frail and unraveled as the tortured inmates, but sadistic torture is at the far end of an extreme.
It was interesting however to take notice to the fact that there was not one shot or photograph of any American soldier actually beating someone. How could there be, isn’t that just so American? That big cedar shack, ever see its inhabitants? Of course you don’t, and why would you? That would give America a bad name, further sullying the red white and blue. Yet another thing that is interesting, does anyone actually know how much control our government has over the media, including but not limited to documentaries? In order to keep a face of perfection, one must also see the flaws prior so they may appreciate that perfection. America is highly controlled by those proverbial kings and queens, yet what’s scariest of all is that not only are our soldier’s pawns, but so are all the rest…

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Reflection of: The 9/11 Report a Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon

This book made me happy, a sad topic no question, but it was a very good book. The 9/11 Report took the painful and tragic event of 9/11 and brought it into a new light, making the understanding of just what happened that day accessible to all. I loved the graphic adaptation, because it reminded me so much of everything I saw on television that very day. Obviously I was there; I lived through the day, making it more personal to me. Our future generations would truly benefit from such a book, because like I said the day after 9/11 happened, yesterday will cause my history book to change. I personally did not have any family lost on that horrific day, yet I did have numerous members of it in New York. 9/11 was a day of pain for so many Americans, and a day that we united in that pain. If asked of a particular event that stands out in my mind that pain was prevalent I would say automatically 9/11. The sheer amount of anguish from around the country resonated for weeks when it happened. I think it is important that everyone knows what happened that day just as my generation learns of the world wars and Pearl Harbor in school. I cannot drive past NY without looking for the twin towers that are no longer there; because it is as if that day is so farfetched to me I still almost can’t believe it.
Reading this book brought me back to my 8th grade science class when I first learned of what happened. Almost anyone I ask can remember exactly where they were on 9/11 when they first learned what was going on in NY. That to me only solidifies just how monumental that painful day is to us. I can still remember vividly as my classmates phoned their families, some were relieved, others hysterically crying. Many of my classmates lost someone dear to them in the attacks. That day to me is remembered by the news I was watching. This book took me behind it, and showed me all the factors leading up to it. I found that to be extremely interesting and beneficial to me.
A unique thing happened while I was reading this book. I had planned to surprise my girlfriend this weekend in Miami and I had to get this book read for class, so I brought it on the airplane flying to Miami. I didn’t even think of the implications that would have. The passengers sitting in my immediate vicinity were mostly shocked and very upset that I could even think to bring such a book on an airplane. I told them all that it was for class and they finally backed off. They told me sarcastically that I obviously had no fear of flying, and that 9/11 didn’t mean anything to me. So that I found to be fascinating, even so many years later, just the thought of someone reading a book about that day bothers people. It pains them in some way, making this book all the more pertinent to this class. It was as if I was holding a weapon and inflicting mental pain on the people around me with it. I believe it is important to remember, after all “we will never forget” is the quote of the day that I can still hear our president uttering.