The plays are going well. The setting that we decided on is Thursday, March 9th 1957. Kafka is going to be representative of the author that she represents in that she is sort of dreamy and her replies to situations are short and she goes along with almost anything that the others say, neither agreeing or disagreeing with either. Kafka is going to be bored and antsy. We also decided (from last week) that we are going to have been in the lab/confinement area since we came from our homeland, which we decided was Africa as they speak of it in one part of the play where it seems as though they were all there together. We decided from there that they must have known each other quite some time.
I also watched The Lion King which was very different from what we have looked at in class in that it is a sort of animated musical, with a very predictable plot and yet also I could not stop watching. Perhaps it was because of the memories that I have of being a child and watching it, but also because of how the ending is warm and leaves you without questions.
My mom was a vegetarian until I was about 7 but my dad has always eaten meat. I was raised with the choice of doing either, but I have long had a passion for good food, and for food from a variety of cultures and thus have never gone vegetarian. I was lucky that my parents bought organic meat from local farms or providers that were known for treating their animals well, as least as much as they could afford. I never felt guilty about eating animals that had been tortured or injected with chemicals and steroids. This isn’t to say that I haven’t eaten at restaurants or friends houses where the meat is not local or organic, but for the most part, I try not to. However, even while I enjoy eating meat, I consider my dog and two cats a part of my family. I love animals, and I do not think that they should be used for testing makeup or cosmetics, but like Herzog, I am not against mice or rats being used to test vaccines or cancer treatments. There is definitely a gray area of morals and ethics which I reside in, as I eat meat and use animal products, but I also love my pets and believe animals should have some rights. At the same time, Herzog points out that millions of cats/kittens are euthanized every year in shelters, so technically speaking why shouldn’t their bodies be fed to snakes or other animals. I cannot disagree with him here as a part of me thinks that if the cats are dying anyways you may as well put their bodies to use. Does it make me a bad person to say that I wouldn’t give up eating meat just because there is no clear argument between what is ethical and what isn’t? Maybe, but like with Herzog I believe there is a middle ground, and that everyone can decide for themselves.
After rereading David Foster Wallace’s, “Consider the Lobster,” I realized that my first reading of it was less in depth than it could have been. I focused more on the ideas which were more obvious and to the point, and less on the deeper aspects of ethics and food and culture that Wallace was hinting, rather obviously, at. It seems more obvious in this second reading of “Consider the Lobster,” that Wallace was not only trying to show how the lobster festival can be inhumane, but how humans have a tendency to make themselves feel better about their actions by changing the wording. Instead of lobsters, they become “sea insects,” thus making it seem as though they are even further from a form of life which can feel pain or emotion. Wallace seems to want his readers to realize and question how we deal with death, and why it is different for humans than it is for other animals. While I can see now that Wallace wants readers to question not just the consumption of lobster and their possibly unethical death, but also of the carnivorous lifestyle, I am not sure whether he believes that eating animals is actually unethical, or if it depends on how they are raised, treated and killed.
I think that it is easier to say I would want to be involved directly in the death process of a family member, then it would be to actually be involved, as the idea has a beautiful concept. I think it really depends on how you look at death and how culture influences your opinions. My immediate family is not religious, and I was raised rather liberally, so the idea of sending someone off to “their final disposition,” seems almost comforting. Because you have no control over death, and the death of loved ones, being able to be involved in the process of disposing of the body almost gives a sense of control, and a sense of release. I don’t know if it would be easier or harder to be the one actually pushing the button, so to speak but I think it would be a way to accept the death and feel like you have some say in what is done with the body.
Doughty feels like it is so important to humanize the industrial cremation so that families can have a place that is more comforting and a more welcoming environment so send their loved ones off. They need skylights and places for music to be played so that when the body is being cremated the family can feel the beauty in the death. Death is something that is natural, as Doughty emphasizes, but because of western culture, many people are afraid of both death and dead bodies. While I don’t necessarily know if I would want to keep a dead body around my house for a few days, I believe that the having a crematorium that has a safe and beautiful feel would help loved ones see the beauty in the natural process that is death.
A passage from Doughty’s interview that did not surprise me is when she is talking about how death is a natural, beautiful thing, and that our culture needs to work on making that more of a known thing, and erase the fear we have about it. I agree with Doughty here and I think the process of birth and death should not be looked at with disgust, as life and the end if life is an amazing thing. However, I can also see how some people could mistake grief and death with anger and disgust-the dead body is too dead and therefore not respectable. A passage that surprised me was when Doughty was talking about how there were other ways than embalming and cremation. I had no idea that families could actually keep the bodies. This is rather strange as the idea of having a dead body of anyone, let alone someone that you loved, around the house would be kind of creepy. She says that it is sort of spiritual, but I don’t know if I would want that. I actually don’t know of anyone who would want to keep a body of a loved one around their house while the came to be with their feelings.
A passage from Pollan’s excerpt that did not surprise me was the one where he listed all of the synthetic ingredients that were in a McNugget. While I did not actually know the extent of chemicals and lack of chicken that goes into them, I have heard enough about the horrible additives in fast food to not be surprised by this. The most shocking added ingredient is the TBHQ, which is a form of butane and ingesting more than 5 grams can actually lead to death. This is rather horrifying that the FDA would allow this to be in or on the food, even if it is only in very small amounts. The passage that did surprise me was when Pollan asked his son about the nuggets and is they taste more like chicken. When his son replied “’no, they taste like what they are, which is nuggets,” I realized the extent to which the additives and food preparing process distanced the food from where it came from.
A passage from Mitford which surprised me was really just the whole paper. I had never realized the process that is embalming, and how horrifying that really is. I knew that it happened, but by listing the out the steps and how the blood is removed and replaced with chemicals, and the organs taken out, bones cracked just so there can be a fake smile formed, it becomes like horror movie. The idea that this happens, and is a part of American culture is actually very strange. While I can see why families would not necessarily want to be involved, I cannot understand why so many people want their loved ones embalmed and an open casket to show off the fake portrayal of the body. The person that is now dead is not supposed to look alive or youthful, they are dead and embalming them won’t change that. It is like a false way for morticians to make the families feel better about the death, and it has just been accepted for many, many years.
Some questions and conceptual interests/inquiries that are present in Mitford’s essay include her subtle questioning of why the whole embalming process is the way it is and why the American/Canadian people have let it go on without question. One of Mitford’s claims is that the funeral industry preys upon the mourning family of the deceased (pg 51). C: I agree with this as all the costs that go into the process of embalming the body, preparing it, dressing it and finding the right casket are excessive, it is also a nice option for families to have as the last thing many people in grief want to have to do is deal with the details of things such as the funeral. Another one of Mitford’s claims is on page 47 where she says, “the object of all this attention to the corpse, it must be remembered, is to make it presentable for viewing in an attitude of healthy repose.” C: I think that while this is obviously true, the idea of it is supposed to help the family in mourning. LOVed ones don’t want to remember the deceased as they are dead, but how they were alive. A third claim made by Mitford is on page 49. Mitford implies through her use of sarcasm that the positioning of the body is over the top and overall ridiculous. I agree with the claim in that the idea of an open casket is rather disturbing to me, but if I were to go to one, I would not want to be viewing a mangled or “uncomfortable” looking corpse. On page 51-52 Mitford makes the claim that the funeral director/undertaker change the working of the terms that are generally associated with death and funerals to give a more positive formation.I agree that this is rather ridiculous, as things are the way they are and there should be no need to change it to make the situation seem different than it is.
In The American Way of Death Revisited, Jessica Mitford argues that the way of preparing and presenting the dead, which Americans and Westerners, in general, have long taken for granted, is actually very strange compared to other cultures. While she doesn’t explicitly state that this is so, she does subtly hint at it through her use of sarcasm and irony. In the last paragraph on page 43, she says that even while no law requires embalming, and there is nothing religious or sanitary about the process, there is a tendency for the undertakers to go through with it without even asking family members. There is something odd about preparing a corpse, making it presentable and youthful looking, when death most often occurs of old age or some illness. Mitford uses sarcasm in the first paragraph on page 46 to illustrate the absurdity of the whole process. One author states that the best time to begin embalming is an hour after “somatic death,” and that one should not worry about live burial as the embalming will make sure of that. Mitford sarcastically agrees, noting that “once the blood is removed, chances of live burial are indeed remote.” Another paragraph which helps to shape Mitford’s argument is on page 48 when she explains how the undertaker deals with things such as jaundice and carbon monoxide poisoning, as each presents a different task. She uses sarcasm again here to show the absurdity of looking good or “well” when one is dead.
What TSIS states about quoting is actually very helpful. Adding quotes allows one to support their claim with evidence, as though to prove what is being said is legit. However, it is important to make sure that what is being quoted is actually relevant to the piece. As TSIS says, it is often easy to add a quote just for the sake of having to have one. Another aspect of including quotes that is very important is making sure quotes are framed. Sometimes it is hard to make sure that the quote is not just thrown into the writing. In order to make it actually meaningful, it needs to have some explanation before and after.
The chapter “The Art of Summarizing” is actually very interesting as it emphasizes many important aspects about the use of summarizing other work to make one’s own more powerful. Often it is easy to either over-summarize, as using other people’s ideas can be easier than using them to build upon your own. However, it is also very easy to skip out on summarizing completely, as it, like it is said in the book, writers sometimes do not want to have to read and interpret other’s ideas.
Sometimes you have to summarize an argument which is against what you are trying to prove in order to make yours stronger. However, when doing so accurately, you have to be careful of misinterpreting what the other author might be saying. It seems like it would be easier to add emotion or claim the argument was made with a different voice than it really was in order to argue against it, but this really just skews the interpretation.
Another important point made in the chapter is that when summarizing writing in your own work, you have to be sure that the claim of the writing you are using matches with what you are trying to say, whether that be against it or with it. Otherwise, the organization of paper will be confusing.
In his story, A Small, Good Thing, Carver draws upon the intense experience of grief and loneliness to show the value in a shared meal. The young boy’s death brings sadness and desperation to the lives of his parents and the whole ordeal caused the parent’s too much anxiety to eat anything. Even before the death of their child, when he is laying in a coma in the hospital, they cannot eat as food often seems trivial in occasions which are so significant in one’s life. Carver shows how the loss of their son causes the mother and father loneliness. “’…he’s gone and now we’ll have to get used to that. To be being alone.’” As one would imagine of any parents who have lost a child, the young boy’s mother and father direct their sadness and loneliness toward something tangible. In this case, the baker, who unknowingly calls them about the cake they had ordered for their son’s birthday.
While the baker’s first interaction with the mother portrays him as rude and unrelatable, he uses his warm baked goods to act as a symbol of sympathy to the grieving parents. The sharing of the homemade pastries gives the mother and father someone to connect with. The food brings together the three adults, who once thought themselves to be very different people, but over the breakfast of cinnamon rolls suddenly find that it is their losses in life which bring them together. Carver shows how food is often able to offer a connecting point between even the most different of people.