Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Barnabas' Blog!

Barnabas' Blog!



I would like to start my review of Barnabas' blog by pointing out the ironic fact that on his blog, Barnabas links to everyone other person in the class' blog; that is every other person in the class, except me. Other than this glaring flaw, Barnabas' blog is, in general, quite well constructed an aesthetically pleasing with a interesting, albeit a bit random, use of a baseball theme. In addition to the links, he includes a poll and and picture that help keep the blog lively.
Barnabas' first two post are about why he signed up for the course, and what his favorite fairytale was. The two posts were very different in style, the first, why he signed up for the course, was written in a very informal and humorous manner. He starts off at a very fundamental level; rather than beginning his post with why he decided to take the course, he rather begins his post why he decided to go to college in the first place, and then why he chose to join the honors program. For this he uses an economic explanation, that he does it so he can get a good job, and he believes going to college and participating in the honors program will help him with this. It is not till the very last paragraph (out of nine) that he finally begins talking about the course itself. Here he is very blunt, freely admitting he had no idea what the course would be like when he signed up for it, even quoting himself in the line “How was I to know we would be blogging? “. This paragraph does feel like quite a bit of an addendum, however, despite the fact it is supposed to be the purpose of the blog post. Here he completely drops all connection to the previous thought of going to college in order to have better economic prospects and in no way explains how this course will help with that goal.
The second post about his favorite fairy tale, although from the same assignment as the first, is in a very different style. Barnabas discusses The Emperor's New Clothes, his favorite fairy tale, but does so in a much more formal fashion than the first entry, using formal psychoanalytical terminology such as “the Lake Woebegone effect”. He again likes to talk in abstract terms, looking at the underlying themes rather than specific details, as he did in his previous post were he spent more time on the broader issue of college than the more specific issue of this class in particular. This tendency towards the abstract is a recurring theme I found in many of Barnabas' posts.
This can particularly be seen in his third blog post, in which Barnabas creates a definition for fairy tales. While there are many ways to define fairy tales, Barnabas chooses to do so in a very abstract way. He defines it primarily in three aspects: fairy tales must have magic, fairy tales are adaptable, and fairy tales lack emotion. While most definitions try to define this in abstract terms, Barnabas does this to a degree more than most, avoiding any specifications in his definition, and having his definition be more concepts than actual things a story does or does not include. This creates an effective definition of the genre, as it is an abstract genre to begin with, and Barnabas helps clear up any ambiguity left by these abstract terms by providing good examples of things he would, and would not classify as a fairy tale or an excerpt from a fairy tale. Barnabas definition is also a well suited one, particularly interesting is his claim that fairy tales have a lack of emotion in their climax. This is a very good point and one that is not often brought up, but while it is true in many fairy tales, I do believe something can be a fairy tale with an emotional climax, and thus it is not entirely appropriate for a definition. Even Barnabas' wording of “if the culminating scene, the climax, shows a complete lack of emotion and of detail, you are reading a Fairy Tale”, is a one directional implication, i.e. if the climax lacks emotion, then it is a fairy tale. But a definition should really be a two directional, or an if and only if, implication, i.e. if the climax lacks emotion, then it is a fairy tale, and, if it is a fairy tale, then the climax lacks emotion.
In his fourth post, Barnabas shies away from his tendency towards the abstract and gets into specifics in is discussion of psychoanalysis of Freud and Jung in fairy tales. While he does talk about the larger structure of the two psychoanalysts theory of the human psyche, Jung's self, shadow, anima and animus, and Freud's id, ego and superego, he also talks about more specific instances of their theory such as the archetypes of Jung. He goes on to list and evaluate several of Jung's archetypes and how they are present in and reflect upon fairy tales. He also talks about Freud's stages of consciousness and even gives example from himself in explaining Freud's theory. These specific examples are very effective in this post as Freud and Jung are both famous for their general theories of the psyche, but its the specifics of the theories that are really the most applicable to fairy tales. By going into these specifics, Barnabas is able to directly show in what fairy tales each element of their theories plays a role.
For his fifth post, Barnabas analyzes a Japanese commercial that uses Little Red Riding Hood as its base. For this entry, he returns to the humorous and informal style of his earlier posts, first of all choosing a sexual and humorous clip, and then analyzing the sexuality of the clip and why the company would want to use Little Red Riding Hood for such humor. He claims that Little Red's innocence, and subsequent transformation into a sexual object, makes the clip even more provocative and effective as advertising. He goes back to general abstractions, mentioning the general themes of Little Red Riding Hood, like the loss of innocence rather than any specific parts of it. To me the clip is very reminiscent of scenes in many version of the tale where the wolf tries to seduce Little Red in the woods, and discussing these scenes in his analysis would have made it more rigorous.
Barnabas' next post is actually one highlighting other blogs in the class, and adds a nice break to the string of assignment prompted blogs. After that one he does an analysis of the tale of Cupid and Psyche. In this entry Barnabas gets very specific, comparing the story to that of Urashima. He actually compares them in specific detail, including elements such as mortals marrying immortals, and not being allowed to open a box, while contrasting them in more general terms, explaining how Cupid and Psyche has more of an ancient Greek mythology feel to it, while Urashima has more Japanese style and motifs. This analysis seemed a little trivial, and the comparison contained only events that happened, and not really any analysis behind them, and the contrast really only pointed out what cultures these two stories originate from. Some specific explanation of what made one story seem 'more 'reek' or 'more Japanese' would have been helping in improving this analysis.
Barnabas' final blog entry to date is an evaluation of Rammstein's song “Sonne”. The primary focus of Barnabas' analysis is how many aspects of the traditional story are simply omitted in the song. “Where is the Queen? the King? The hunter? The Prince? All are omitted. ” he writes. He continues on in this manner, analyzing the effect these omissions have on the story, and then considering what elements of the classical story were not omitted, and what purpose that might serve. Here Barnabas takes one abstract concept, which elements of the story are omitted and which aren't and then delves into the specifics of that concept, creating a very effective analysis of the song.
While Barnabas' blog has a clear affinity towards the abstract, his posts do range the spectrum in this manner, providing good examples when necessary to clarify this though. This, along with Barnabas' straight forward style of writing made his blog particularly easy and pleasant to read. This ease of reading is very good, especially for a blog. Barnabas' blog is quite successful, nearly every post has comments on it and already 40 people have voted on his poll. I believe that the easy readability has had a great deal to do with this, and is probably the biggest strength of his blog.

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