Follow The Leader

What exactly is mimesis you ask? It is in the most basic terms representation or imitation of the real world or what someone believes is the ‘real world’. In Anna Gibbs article After Affect we look at how mimetic communications or mimesis is “corporeally based form of imitation, both voluntary and involuntary,” thus we can view how babies learn to walk or how children learn to behave in public spaces as well as how they learn to play; through imitation. Children often look at an older sibling or a parent and it is almost instinct that they try to better themselves by learning to walk or talk in order to be ‘accepted by society. Gibbs also speaks of “facial expressions, vocalization, postures, and movements of those of another person” and that some expressions of the face or postures within the body are unacceptable in certain atmospheres. Think of a job interview for instance, you would not go to a interview and slouch before the interviewer because it portrays that you do not care for the job in order to showcase decent etiquette. In the article Gibbs discussed the idea of mimicry and that “the acceptance of parents as appropriate models for imitation is certainly based on biological patterns, and then the culture elaborates on that by inventing school teachers and psychoanalysts.” When discussing parent and child relationships, a fit parent is analyzed on a daily basis. Parents are taken away from their child if they do not set in place a good life style that allows society to categorize them as a good parent. In cases such as abuse in homes, some children may have grown up with discipline as a means of straightening out ones behaviour and thus will enabling that factor in their own homes because they may believe it helped structure their personality, but this is a bad image of mimesis because it hurts, more than it affects.

In class on January 31st, 2013 we did an activity where everyone was given a card, and only 12 people within the class had a scenario printed on it. It was a silent activity where the 12 people had to act out this scenario and the rest of the class tries to embody their emotions.  I found it interesting how often people do not want to be an outsider and want to fit in the crowd. One of the males in our class had gotten bored of walking around and decided he wanted to stand against the wall and look upon the rest of the crowd as they moved around. It was as though he were the King of our class because once he moved aside ¾ of the class had moved to the wall and stood as though they were looking down on the rest. I was one of these people that had imitated this student and did not want to be an outsider. But, when I saw Kathryn still walking around and as though she was hurt, I wanted so much to go up to her and see if she was okay. Something drew me towards her reaction and emotions but I could not do much to ensure that she was not hurting. Later I found out she had a card and her scenario was to act out how she would feel if she was having the worst day of her life.

Imitation is such a powerful way of controlling people. We as humans like to believe that we are unique in our own way, but we do not realize that we are always being manipulated. In terms of fashion, when  I was in high school when skinny jeans had risen in style, I said I would never wear it, but as time went on, all I found in shopping malls was skinny jeans, thus I had to indulge in that fashion statement. Fashion is one of many things that we imitate. Sometimes we imitate when we dance or speak. I have often changed my tone of voice in regards to who I am speaking to, or have felt a certain way because someone I know is feeling that way. New Years Eve had been a night where many people had broken down as soon as the clock struck 12 o’clock. A friend of mine was crying because of boyfriend troubles, and there I was wanting to cry because I did not want to see her this way. I did not realize until now that it is because I am able to sympathize with people easily, that I am able to imitate their emotions. Sometimes mimesis can be a positive thing and in other cases it can be a negative one. 

 

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Quit Playing Games

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As we looked at within our February 7th, 2013 lecture, we discussed different terms that we think of when we consider the word “play”; some of these words are: fun, competition, addictive, compulsive, attention, focused, consequence free, role play, challenging, easy, irrational, aggressive, escape, instant gratification, and care free. These terms allows one to think back to Johan Huizinga’s article on “play”. Huizinga says that “in play there is something at play,” but what exactly does that mean to us? Personally, I believe that it means that within play there is an educational aspect regardless of what you look at. In consideration to games such as ‘House’, one can see the social constructions that are gathered within this game. The boys play the husband and son whereas the girls are played as wives and daughters. The girls often stay home and cook dinner and clean the house as the boys are in school or at work. It feels as though the mentality of the 1940’s are still a part of our ideologies of men and women when we are at a young age.

            Jennifer Jenson speaks of play as a means of learning in her article “Digital Games for Education: When Meanings Play”. What she believes they learn is through survival within the game; she states “The learning goal of any educational game is to stay in a game that invites and enables you to learn and try and be things that everyday life defers, the imaginary and the possible selves, worlds and events that are always potentially “in play” in meanings which circulate around us but which lived actuality sets aside in its necessary singularity. (Jenson,597).” In today’s lecture (March 14th, 2013) we looked at a Youtube clip based on online video game addicts that were addicted to World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, these games go outside of reality by allowing the gamer to be a part of a world that is far different from their reality. Why is it that we often look for a means of escape from our everyday lives? With these gamers, they found that online gaming became their life and that was all they thought about when they were not near it and when they were engaging with the game, they were neglecting their friends and family and even schooling.

            I have never been interested in video games such as World of Warcraft or Call of Duty (COD) but recently I have been quite intrigued by a mobile game called “Subway Surf”. While playing it sometimes I do get so involved in the game that I do not notice my surroundings or my facial expression as I leap over trains and try to stay alive. There is a sense of fear within my body that makes me want to continue to play. Jenson also speaks of where our attention is and states: “For in play, to borrow the words philosopher Gilbert Ryle, intelligence is adverbial to attention [23]. This means that whatever a person is paying attention to is where her intelligence is at work (Jenson, 597)”. Relating this to my own life, when the Harry Potter series were slowly being released I would spend days reading the book. All I would do is eat a meal and go right back into my room, lock the door and indulge into this magical world of Wizards and Witches and ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’. I never thought that I was ‘addicted’ to the books, but when a new book was released, I would stay up until 6am reading until my dad would come into my room and tell me to go to school. I used to think “just one more chapter, and I’ll go to bed,” but one chapter became 5 more and I was up all night. When the books were over, all I had were the movies and now that the movies are over and my collection is complete, there is a sense of withdrawal from this world of magic. Relating this back to what Gilber Ryle states, it is where our intelligence is at work because it becomes a huge part of our lives and we feel as though we need it to be happy. In some cases it is luck that the series is over, but now it feels as though I need something as great as that to keep me excited.

Video games, books and television have all had an effect on our lives, some let it take over while others merely allow it to be their means of escape. 

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Response To ‘Critical Play’ By Amanda Liotta

I agree with what you have said within your reflection on Critical Play. I also think of video games and board games as well as outdoor games when I think of play. I often think of tag as the number one game for children to play because there is always one person that is considered the ‘outsider’, in which they must tag another person and make them ‘it’. Personally, when I think of the word ‘play’, I think of the words fun and escape to correspond with my images of it. I think back to a time when I didn’t have to write essay after essay or go to lectures and then rush home to change for work. I think of a time when everything was simpler and yes there are consequences towards play because feelings may be hurt because you were chosen last for a team or because you fell as you were running away from the ‘bad guys’. Sometimes these effects of play can intertwine with how you treat others and it is no longer a game, but because reality in the sense that people do not feel as though they fit within the game.

Fitting in is also a key example of critical play, because you feel as though you are a part of something. Last year in January my boyfriend and I went to the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Montreal Canadiens and it felt as though we were a part of something much larger than just going to the game. As we were walking through Union Station we made friends because of the same interest in the Leafs. People were screaming GO LEAFS GO, which the Habs were giving us looks as if we were on the wrong side. When we got to the arena, the atmosphere in itself was amazing because you were one team against the next and you could truly feel included in the game of hockey. With the game of hockey and sitting in the arena and screaming for the players to get a goal it brought everyone together whether they were Black, White, Chinese, or of Indian ethnicity. There wasn’t an exclusion of who could be there and who could not, but rather, it made you feel remarkable to be a part of that event. 

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Response to ‘Let’s Play’ By Charuga Saileishkumar

I really enjoyed the way you talked about ‘play’ in your blog, it got me thinking about how we learn through play as well and build social constructions of what men and women should do through that. Not many have noticed, but mimicry has a lot to do with what we as children believed as right and wrong as we were growing up. I myself remember when I was in kindergarten playing house and the fact that the girls always wanted to be the mom. I myself always got stuck with being the child considering I was always the smallest of my friends, but it was funny because as we played house the males would come home from work and we would set up dinner. Afterwards the game of house became a fighting game because the boys we played with didn’t want to play house anymore and thought playing cars or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was much better. There the girls began to fight over who got to be the pink power ranger.

It is fascinating how you were able to understand Malaby’s reading in that he believes play was designed to escape everyday life and with that you see how often children do this or even adults. I often go to Dave and Busters not for the food and drinks, but for the games itself and I feel as though I am a part of a different time because I feel as though I am 8years old playing in an arcade. Even daily activities such as catching up on Pretty Little Liars or Suits gives us that escape of our everyday life and we are thus able to indulge in the lives of others.

Social constructions are all over and even within us. Have you ever wondered why girls often play more trivia games than males and steer clear of the more intense games such as shooting games? It is in comparison to the article we were given to read for this week’s class based on online gaming (Digital Games for Education: When Meanings Play by Jennifer Jenson), in the article she speaks of education and the ways in which it affects males and females, and how we can still learn through these online games by merely staying in the game and winning. Even the portrayal of men and women in these online games are different, men are seen as very muscular whereas in many forms women are given a “sexualized ‘Barbie’ type character”.

With that being said, how do we allow for girls that do interact with online games feel as though the characters they are playing are relatable to them? We can make the characters look like everyday people; therefore more girls will feel as though they can take part in the games.

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Optical Illusions

Haptic visuality is touching with the eyes; it is seeing but not physically touching. In Laura U. Marks article Haptic Visuality she discusses that “haptic” means “the tactile, proprioceptive and kinesthetic sense and whereas optical visuality “sees objects as distinct, distant, and identifiable, existing in illusionary three-dimensional space. Marks also states that, haptic visuality can be a contact that is as gentle as a caress and goes on to states that optical visuality, which is as when you are “seeing things from enough distance to perceive them as distinct forms, which depends on separation, on the viewing subject being separable from the object.” On that note we can see that there is no true distinction or division between haptic and optical visuality.

When looking at the class activity on January 17th, 2013 we looked at a video called Beau Lotto TED Talk which analyzed different optical illusions amongst a large audience. Some of these tricks that were played on our eyes had made you feeling surprised, shocked and for some it left them feeling as though they were different for not being able to see what others had. The illusion where we had to look at a photo with a dot in the middle, on the left side of the dot it was a block of green and on the right side of the dot it was a block of red. After looking at this dot for about 30seconds we were able to look at the photo below which was a photo of a pyramid. I remember when I looked at that pyramid I was in shock because the photo had changed based on the colours I was staring in between before. Beau Lotto had said that in our heads, our brain is learning that the right side of its visual field is under red illumination and its left side of its visual field is under green illumination. Once you look at the photo it is as if your brain is looking at the photo under red and green illumination. The photo had changed so drastically that you are in complete shock afterwards because you didn’t know that your own body could play tricks on you through optical illusions.

I remember when I was younger I went on a class field trip to the Ontario Science Center where we were able to engage in many optical illusions and illusions of what reality was during a past and future time.  The science center as a whole is a bit of an illusion because the creators of these resource building make it seem as though everything with the center is real. I remember during that field trip we got the chance to roam around in a room where we had to look at a chart with the words of different colours, but the colour of the word itself did not correlate with word and thus you repeatedly made the mistake of saying the colour you saw rather than the word that was written. I still remember the determination in myself and my classmates to succeed and complete the chart without any mistakes. After a while you did get the hand of it without making many mistakes, but nonetheless, the optical illusion would still show itself after a few years of attempting the same task once again.

Below are a few optical illusions that have always managed to make me laugh and leave me in astonishment!

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Which Sense Would You Give Up?

Speaking about giving up a sense is a very difficult decision. Over the course of this week I thought about it very carefully and all the senses seem to relate in some way, therefore giving up one sense is like giving up all of them. No matter what happens, the world as you know it will change forever.

 Through the process of analyzing what I wouldn’t mind losing as much I realized what I didn’t want to lose at all. The sense of hearing is a huge factor to me because since I was a child I loved singing and dancing and being able to play Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey cassettes and sing along with them; without music I’m not sure how I would be able to get through hard times in life considering when I am upset or even happy I sing a song that makes me feel connected to that moment. Being able to sing and dance has always been a huge part of me because that has always been my ‘go to’ when I needed to feel stress free. Feeling the beat of an artist’s song seems so natural but what some people don’t understand is that those lyrics and the way they are singing is a sense of emotion from a time in their life and that is why they connect so deeply with their music. When I am able to hear a song on the radio and hear the pain or happiness in someone’s voice it gives you that same sense of emotion.

As for sight which is also very important to me within the article “To See or Not to See” by Oliver Sacks we are introduced to Virgil whom lost his eye  sight at a very young age and about forty-five years later he regained his sight. He lived his life very comfortably as any other person would, but when he was able to see again distance, shapes, sizes and colours all became very new to him, the way Virgil interacted with the world was through his sense of touch, he had such great difficulty with being able to truly see through his eyes rather than through his sense of touch that he had stated “now that I’ve felt it I can see” (Sacks, 14). I find it also very interesting that he viewed people in parts. When looking at his cat or dog he saw the paw, the ears, the nose and the eyes but he was unable to see the animal as a whole object. Once reading this article I realized how lucky I am to have my sense of sight and be able to see colours and people’s faces. I found it touching that Virgil wasn’t impressed with sight until he saw the faces of his family members and friends. For me, being able to see someone’s facial expression is vital to having a conversation as well as noticing their bodily movements.

Finally I thought about the sense of smell and taste. Recently my boyfriend had surgery on his nose because of a twisted bone and through his experience after the surgery he stated that “we taste through our nose.” He told me that his mom made kabobs but he couldn’t taste, therefore taste and smell come hand-in-hand. Losing my sense of taste is a great loss because I love eating food and trying new things. As I began to think about it more and more, making this decision of what sense I wouldn’t mind giving up just became harder and harder.

Virgil was able to perceive objects and people through his sense of touch and I know if I were unable to see, the sense of touch would be important to me as well because that would be the means of how I would differentiate between what a chair is and what a bed is.  But when it comes down to figuring out what isn’t as important to me the sense of smell. Yes, I did state that smell and taste go hand-in-hand but that is something I am will to give up in order to keep the sense of hearing, sight and touch. My taste of food may be altered but hopefully it won’t be as bad as my boyfriend had told me. Losing one sense to me is like losing all senses or at least altering each one. I would never want to lose one but if I had to it would be the sense of smell, but life as I know it would never be the same as it was before.

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MasterChef

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For our class on Thursday November 15th, 2012 I decided to prepare myself by watching a show co-hosted and co-produced by Gordon Ramsay a British celebrity chef who hosts the show Masterchef. I normally don’t watch competitive cooking shows but the moment we were assigned this reflection I thought of this specific show and how chefs compete with one another by using specific ingredients chosen by Gordon Ramsay himself to make an eloquent dish. With these ingredients they try to individually captivate the judge’s sense of taste by showcasing a beautiful culinary experience. In David E. Sutton’s article, Food and the Senses he explores the sense of taste to a larger extent rather than whether it tastes good or bad.

The episode I chose to watch was season 3 episode 18 of Masterchefwhere the competitors were asked to cook for three French chefs; Chef Guy Savoy, Chef Daniel Boulud, and Chef Alain Ducasse. Not only will the 4 competitors be judged by these intimidating chefs but also Gordon Ramsay himself, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot. What I found interesting about this season is that there is a young woman named Christine who is visually impaired but has almost made it to the semi-finals. What I wonder is whether or not she has a bit of an advantage because she can focus on the way something smells and tastes and the texture of it in comparison to what makes it beautiful to the eyes. Within this episode though, they are to make a three course meal with any ingredients that they want. The 6 judges look at whether it is visually appealing, what are the tastes that are incorporated, and the various textures of the meal as well as the flavours.

While reading Sutton’s article and reading the sentence, “Odors become such powerful markers because of their sensory properties, in this case- their lack of confinement. They do not stay put in the kitchens, but mark houses and apartments, clothing and bodies, and thus potentially cross lines of private and public…” (Sutton, 214) it reminded me of Chef Graham Elliot and the mere fact that before he ate each meal being judged he took a whiff of it to see what he could smell that stands out in the dish.

A thought sprung through my mind as the following conversation occurred: “Were you surprised that Christine was blind” Gordon Ramsay had asked Chef Daniel Boulud and he answered saying “Yeah! Yeah, but do you know we always say in the kitchen to a cook, we say you have to practice until you can close your eyes without seeing it.” I found this conversation between the two chefs very intriguing because it’s a bit of a disadvantage since it can be scary in the kitchen if you need to feel your way around but it is also an advantage for her because she is able to block out certain senses and focus on the taste alone rather than how it may look.

Another distinction I made between the episode of MasterChef and Food and the Senses is when Sutton says “it is this complex process that makes for the claim that no two cooks ever produce the same flavour, even though they may follow the same recipe and were taught by the same person” (Sutton, 217). That being said it is very noteworthy that all four contestants have individual styles and areas that they are truly masters at, and yes all of them are making some of the same dishes but the way they present it and the way it tastes is completely up to the chefs ability to cook as well as bring out the best tastes in each dish with a significant bang to it.

MasterChef is a program that allows people to understand that becoming great at cooking isn’t as simple as some people would like to believe. As Sutton has noted “food is not just taste and smell, but colour, texture and temperature” (Sutton, 219), I believe this to be true because I did not realize that temperature and smells all take part in the types of foods that we enjoy as well as dislike, no wonder I don’t like having ice cream in the winter as much as I do in the summer or enjoy having soup when I’m not sick. Our memory remembers certain smells and tastes that have stayed in the back of our sensoria until we taste or smell that scent/food again.

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