Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Regarding the Pain of Others

I thought the book was interesting for not putting the actual photographs but rather describing what they depict. After reading each example I wanted badly to see them and judge my own reaction. War images and images of suffering are abundant and the news and media, which is a point that she makes frequently, but actually assessing a reaction and thinking about it rather than changing the channel or looking away (as I usually do) would be an interesting experiment. Sontag makes many good points about diminishing interest or sensitivity to photos that could be considered "harrowing" and I think that blaming the photographer is in no way fair. Shesays that people ask photographers if they sit around waiting for shells to fly; they forget that as troubling as it is to look at a single photo, to be there when it was taken and witness what many of these people have witnessed, must be a much more terrible experience. The helpless feeling that many viewers experience is something I find very familiar. Last year I participated in the construction of an Iraq war memorial near the library. I spent hours looking at and hanging photos of horrifying images from the war. As much as they bothered me I kept thinking that there was really nothing I could do besides what I was already doing, and that feeling is so discouraging that eventually I put it out of my mind completely. I think it is important to document the tragedies that befall humanity in order to keep in mind how fortunate you are, and sensitivity, in this case, is not necessarily a bad thing.

Endless Sunshine

This movie made me very emotional (leave it to me to be the class pansy as usual). Granted, I'd had to much coffee and just went threw some personal things with my own exboyfriend, but I think even if I wasn't a jittery wreck I would have appreciated it just the same. The movie asks the question that comes with all break ups. Is the pain worth all the good times you had? I know that breaking up makes it feel like you can't breathe, eat, sleep, anything. It feels like your chest is caving in. It's amazing that your mind and body can work so in sync when something so horrible happens. And were we meant to feel the pain? I mean, at the end of the movie when Joel and Clementine discover what really happened the only response is "ok". Is it really ok to create amazing memories if they will cause you pain later? I think the answer is yes. Our ability to love makes us just as human as the ability to feel the pain of losing love. I think it makes you even more aware of just how wonderful things can be, even if the moment at hand is miserable. Without those memories, both the good and the bad, our lives would have no meaning and no real relationship would be possible if you were just always able to say "I'll erase this later." The film was amazing both visually and topically. Some people are meant to have a past and to feel the pain of memories, because if they can't then they will never be able to develope their own identity or appreciate the identity of someone else.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Pain: The Science of Suffering

I can't say that I enjoyed this book immensely. I thought Wall gave great examples in some areas such as the chapter on placebos, but all of the medical terms, etc. went over my head. I think Wall offers valuable insight and explains some things like phantom limbs very well. I think his analysis of the stages of pain are intelligent, but he leaves a lot of questions still unanswered. For example, he gives discusses the military man in Switzerland who is does not feel his pain until after being rescued. Later he explains that attention can only be focused on one thing at a time, in this case, escaping a dangerous situation, so he could not be aware of his injury. While it makes sense, I don't find his argument particularly convincing. The book was interesting, with the exception of chapter 3 from which I've retained zero information. However, Wall tackles the question of pain from so many different angles that it becomes more confusing than helpful and by the end, I still had not completely figured out the point of the book. If I had to take a stab at it, I would say that Wall is describing how intricate pain is, and that it involves both mental and physical functions, and cannot be fully understood by either individuals or society. From what I read, the book simply explores every minute detail associated with that idea.

Introduction tiiime

Hi, my name is Gigi. I'm a Politics and Government major with a minor in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. I'm originally from Maine, but went to a boarding high school in Wellesley, MA.
I spent a year in New Orleans when I first began college in 2005. Due to Hurricane Katrina, I've been a semester behind for the past few years, but have been taking as many credits as I can to catch up so, if all goes well, I'll be able to graduate this spring.
I like to read alot, and am obsessed with about every television show you can think of. I have irregular sleeping hours and refuse to take classes before 1:30, but usually end up late to those anyway.
I love traveling, but haven't done it enough. Usually if I get the chance to go somewhere I end up back in New Orleans (best city in America) visiting my friends.
Basically that's it. This is kind of impersonal but I'd rather not have too much detail up on a blog. I sound pretty boring but I swear I'm not. ;-)