Sunday, January 24, 2010

Journal 3A
Robert Overholt

Descartes is delusional. Certainly his works are respected and creative, but what is this man actually saying? When you dig beneath the impressive vocabulary and complex sentences, you find his true message. Nothing is certain. He doubts all physical aspects of the universe and claims that the only entirely true thing in the world is the process of thinking. This is all very interesting, but who is he to decide that the body and mind are separate entities? Cogito ergo sum. Descartes believes that one who thinks exists. A being exists if and only if it possesses the capability to think. Thought is proof of existence. He uses this definition to prove his own existence in his second meditation. Who is this guy to make such ponderous claims? I don’t understand how this man can simply question human existence.

This body unit has been all over the map. From feminism to violent obsessions to the very existence of humans, this unit has kept the class on its toes. The variety of stories that we have been reading has kept me interested in this unit. The story on TV addiction was interesting. Although I disagree with her assertions that television has taken over families, she brought to attention numerous trends in family life. Television is not the sole culprit for dividing families. As the world gets more and more technologically involved, video games, motion pictures, and mp3 players replace family conversations and board games. Parents like the TV because it shuts the kids up, and kids like the TV because it is a mindless escape from the stresses of reality. Similar responses result from video games and movies. Kids stare, parents sleep. Winn was quick to blame the television, when the TV is only part of a bigger problem. Technology is replacing conversation. There is no escape from this new trend. Unfortunately, this is only going to get worse. Families plant themselves on the couch and stare at a black square for hours. No conversation.

Our obsession with television coincides with our increasing infatuation with violence, as stated by Tom Wolfe in his essay “Pornoviolence.” Tom Wolfe claims that violence is turning into a form of entertainment. Violence is the new pornography. He maintains that violence is so ubiquitous that it has no impact on viewers any longer. People see violence and don’t flinch. When someone sees a car accident on the road, they slow down and stare to see if they can catch a glimpse of something. What exactly are we looking for? Why do we enjoy horror movies? I know the Saw series is not famous for its plot. People love the suffering. As long as we are not the ones suffering, we take pleasure in viewing pain. Susan Sontag writes a similar message in Regarding the Pain of Others. There is a sense of delight and pleasure that we feel when viewing suffering that is not our own. We have a sick obsession with pain. Why is this? I have no idea. It seems that Tom Wolfe has no idea either. Freud might know. Surely not Descartes, because for all we know he may believe that violence is just a figment of our imagination and it doesn’t really exist.

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