Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog #41 - where do ideas come from? Inception

I wanted to do this blog so that it connects our old learning from the empiricism / rationalism unit with the new stuff on romanticism and individualism, with the movie, Inception being the bridge between the two units. 

John Locke wrote about where ideas come from in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding.  Being a big proponent of the tabula rasa concept, he felt that nothing existed in our mind that didn't come from either our senses or our experience.  We could trace all of it back to its original source and we would find one of those two origins.  

However, reason tells us that the ideas we come up with can sometimes be the product of pure inspiration, an epiphany that can seem like it came "out of the blue" and into our mind.  Most likely, all of us have had some kind of experience with these moments of wonder and "a-ha!" and they can drive us to distraction or do wonderful things. 

The movie, Inception, works like this kind of idea.  In fact, the movie itself works like Cobb, the main character, implanting an idea in our own minds that we can't seem to shake.  It's not our idea, but it's a very compelling concept.  Here's one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

"What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere."

"Arthur: Okay, this is me, planting an idea in your mind. I say: don't think about elephants. What are you thinking about?
Saito: Elephants?
Arthur: Right, but it's not your idea. The dreamer can always remember the genesis of the idea. True inspiration is impossible to fake."

1. Have you ever been inspired by a movie, book, TV show, piece of music or speech or other work of art?  If so, what happened and tell us what it moved you to do. 

2. Why do you think ideas are so powerful?  Are they more powerful than images?  Why or why not? 

Due Tuesday, February 1.  250 words total. 

Here's an awesome article about Inception from Wired Magazine in their section, the Frontal Cortex:  Beware, spoilers abound, so be careful.  From Impose, guesses at the meanings behind thecharacters' names. 

Cinema Blend's alternative take on Inception:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blog #40 - Henry Poole reactions

Pick one of the following topics and write about it based on your own personal experience (200 words minimum).

1. You can’t go to the past to fix the present.” - Esperanza said when Henry visited his parents' house. Agree or disagree? Why?

2. Noam Chomsky said: "As soon as questions of will or decision or reason or choice of action arise, human science is at a loss" 1.

Patience quotes him in the movie, and then follows it up with these lines: "It means that not everything needs an explanation. Sometimes, things happen b/c we choose for them to happen. I chose to believe."

Is she saying that because she believed the miracle on Henry's wall to be true, then that made it true? Or is she saying something else? If you could choose for one thing to come true / exist, what would that be and why?

3. During the dinner date, Dawn said to Henry as he tried backing away from getting closer to her was: "I know you're gonna die. But all that either of us have is right now, and we should pay attention to that." We talked today about how Henry might be feeling selfish and keeping people out w/ the way he's acting. But when he said, "I am paying attention." And that's why he can't do this (meaning fall for Dawn, go where the date will eventually lead ). Did Henry stop being selfish there for a moment? Or did he revert back to himself again? Why?

4. I get the feeling that Henry senses that there are greater forces at work, somehow helping him, coming to heal him, yet he feels unworthy of this sense of grace. Why he feels unworthy, I don't know. Maybe it's not unworthy, maybe it's pride or stubbornness in his own beliefs that life has just dealt him an awful hand. Maybe he has accepted this fate, for lack of a better word, and decided to deal with it in his own way despite a higher power demanding an audience. What do you think of this idea?

5. There's got to be a reason why Patience is named Patience. What about the name Esperanza? It's Spanish for Hope. what made me think about Hope (besides the Obama-themed poster of Henry) was when he was about to destroy the wall and he yelled, "Hope can't save you!" And the last of the virtues would be Love symbolized by Dawn and Faith by Millie (who was the first one to test the validity of the wall).

Henry, on the other hand, would symbolize the seven deadly sins - sloth, gluttony, lust, greed, anger, envy and pride. A stretch? Maybe. How would he symbolize the seven?

6. Do you think Henry symbolizes Descartes' skepticism of one's senses?  Or does Henry go beyond that to a total skepticism of everything: religion, senses, peoples' good intentions, etc. until he finally discovers that he's not going to die?  Why? 

Due Thursday, 1/20/11 before class begins. 
Thanks. I hope you enjoyed the movie. I was glad to have found it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Next Blog - #39 -Your opinion on souls

I figured that since we discussed what a soul is today - and couldn't come to am agreement on what it is - I thought this would be a good place to ask you what your opinion on what a soul is. 

Share your opinions on what you think a soul is and explain why. 

200 words minimum.  Due Thursday, January 6 before class. 


"The soul has its principal seat in the small gland located in the middle of the brain." - Rene Descartes -- The Passions of the Soul, 1649

Definition of a soul mate from Aristophanes as found in Plato's Symposium:

To quote the American Heritage Dictionary, a soul is: " 1. The animating and vital principle in humans, credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion and often conceived as an immaterial entity;  

2. The spiritual nature of humans, regarded as immortal, separable from the body at death, and susceptible to happiness or misery in a future state.

3. The central or integral part; the vital core;
4. A person's emotional or moral nature." 
Typing "What is a soul?" into Yahoo, I got images of the car, Kia Soul, and the anime comic, Soul Eater.  Google provided much more diverse images including images associated with love and soul music.  It also included pictures of people who appear to be soulful or great souls (I can only guess). 
Here's a trailer (available on Netflix -it's PG-13) for a movie called Cold Souls
COLD SOULS: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Emily Watson, Dina Korzun

Also, the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer, wrote a book called The Host, about aliens taking over the Earth and invading our bodies, kinda like body snatchers, to make us more peaceful.  When they take us over, they engage our memories too. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

FYI - A Soul's Weight by Mary Roach

Here's a link to the article by Mary Roach that I referenced in class today about the weight of a soul.

It's reprinted in her book, Stiff, pictured here.

I've read some of it.  It's pretty entertaining.