Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blog #26 - What is history?

"History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity." Cicero 1

"What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." G. W. F. Hegel 1

"History does nothing, possesses no enormous wealth, fights no battles. It is rather man, the real, living man, who does everything, possesses, fights. It is not History, as if she were a person apart, who uses men as a means to work out her purposes, but history itself is nothing but the activity of men pursuing their purposes." Karl Marx 1

During the 18th and 19th Centuries, history and what it means underwent a major transformation. As we read in the Romanticism chapter, von Herder described history as a dynamic process. He also went on to add that each historical epoch had its own characteristics.

While today, we might see this insight and say, "duh!", others would disagree. Rush Limbaugh, famous conservative radio show talk, has said that history is simple: facts are facts, in essence, indisputable. However, most historians would say that history is about how you interpret those facts.

For instance, there was a terrorist attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001 (by saying the event was a terrorist attack is including my interpretation of the event). How would someone interpret this event? Do you deal with just the facts only? How do you deal with the facts when they are being seriously questioned - even if some of the questioners are using dubious physics and logic? And do we have all of the facts?

If you interpret this event, from what angle do you do this? Do you agree with George Bush that we were attacked by "enemies of freedom" in "a world where freedom itself is under attack"? 2 That we were attacked for no reason than pure hatred?

Or do you interpret the terrorist attack as the end result of American foreign policy in the Middle East - our inability to solve the Palestinian problem, our support of Arab dictators in exchange for cheap oil? That we were attacked b/c the U.S. abused its power and spread poverty throughout the affected countries?

Or do you interpret the attacks as something different: the forces of modernity (America) vs. medievalism (radical brand of Islam)? That this attack has little or nothing to do with either thesis listed before but has more to do with a battle of civilizations in a fight for supremacy of the world?

The Question: In essence, when you examine history, do you use the facts only or do you use the facts to make an interpretation of what has happened?

Use the 9/11/01 example if you like, or come up with one of your own.
200 words minimum, due Monday 11/9/09.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Final Flash Forward Blog Ep. 6-8 (new due date)

Watch Episode 6 here:

Episode 7:

In episode 6, we finally learn more about Simon Costa (Dominic Monaghan from Lost and Lord of the Rings) and Lloyd Simcoe - that they're involved in this flash forward / black out that "killed 20 million people." According to Wikipedia, Costa is a Stanford quantum physicist who worked w/ Simcoe. In later episodes, Lloyd has second thoughts about what they have done and wants to come clean and expose his involvement in the experiment. Simon comes to L.A. to "clean up" this mess - possible exposure to the world about this experiment (in particle physics?). And then lately, Lloyd and Simon play a game of poker for the right to turn to expose the experiment to the press. Lloyd cheats in order to win!

Simcoe's son, Dylan, an autistic boy who provides an extremely awkward moment when he arrived at the Benford resident in episode 6 saying, "this is my home too." Of course, Bryce, the fomerly suicidal intern, has caught on to Dr. Benford's cold shoulder for Lloyd. And, I think Bryce has the hots for the tragically doomed beautiful babysitter, Nicole (and after watching episode 9, vice versa). Just a thought.

As the FBI investigation goes forward, Benford, Noh and the rest discover what seems to be a "death cult" called the Blue Hand where people with no flash forward visions tempt fate and play Russian roulette, indulge in weird fantasies, etc. In essence, nihilism at its worst - everything goes b/c there is no tomorrow. Ironically, what brought the Blue Hand all together is the FBI's website, the Mosaic.

At the end of the episode, "The Gift", Agent Al Gough jumped off of the L.A. FBI building so that he would not kill a woman in the future, one he is overheard talking about in his flash forward. It seems that in episode 8, "Playing Cards with Coyotes", his death, his sacrifice is hailed as a sign that the future isn't written in stone (Duh!). Agent Gough's death has been an inspiration to all (as well as a tragedy for his fictional family and all the ladies who were looking forward to him as weekly eye-candy).

And Agent Hawk recovers from her gunshot wounds and comes back to work in episode 8. Is it still possible that she has a baby? Who knows? But the attack on her makes no sense. This is referenced throughout episode 8 that there must be some leak in the LA office - that this group is one step ahead of them. Remember, just b/c things occur at the same time doesn't mean there's a causal relationship.

But still so may questions remain and there's barely half the season gone:

1. When the FBI task force was in Washington D.C. and they were attacked by that heavily armed, highly skilled group of Asians, I think that we (the audience) were left to assume that the attack and the Blue Hand were one and the same. Then you have to add in the attack on Agent Janis Hawk and something doesn't add up. I think this has something to do with the woman who warned Demetri about his death (she was in Hong Kong!). Just b/c two things occur at the same time doesn't mean they're connected - one of our philosophers said this. What do you think?

2. What is going to happen with Lloyd and Simon after the exposure of their experiment? What did they do that affected the entire world?

3. Who is Suspect Zero at the Detroit Stadium?

4. How is Olivia and Mark's daughter connected with this? How does she know about D Gibbons if what she saw in her flash forward involves her hanging out at the Benford house with Dylan Simcoe? The only other person in the house is Lloyd Simcoe. Could Lloyd be D Gibbons? *Does anyone find it amazing that for a doctor and an FBI agent they both lead "regular" lives

5. What is gonna happen with Aaron and his daughter (who apparently witnessed something terrible in Afghanistan - something that military contractors Jericho had perpetrated)? In episode 8, in Aaron's flashback, an Afghan medic tells him that the "accounts are secured".

6. What would you do if you had no flash forward? How would you prepare for the end?

7. Do you think that by killing the tattoed man did Mark change his future? Or was he just one of many tattoed military-looking men that we see at the end of episode 8 (could be Jericho? Could this thing that Lloyd and Simon were working on be a weapon that Jericho is pioneering (given the awkward Oppenheimer / atom bomb reference at the very end)?)

Pick 3 of the questions (one of them should include #6) and complete it by MONDAY evening, 11:59 p.m. November 30th. Max 12 pts.

The Mosaic -

People add/invent their own stories about what they were doing in their flash forward. Kinda cheesy, but an interesting social experiment.