This semester is basically over. When did that happen? Only yesterday I walked into class and saw Dr. Delwiche’s expansive owl glasses for the first time, was introduced to this strange theme of conspiracies and trudged apprehensively into the plethora of course readings that would eventually wow me with their diversity and intrigue. Now, I’m looking back at the rabbit hole that I climbed through all those weeks ago and it’s amazing how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve read and experienced. So to commemorate this semester and everything we’ve done, let’s take a look through that looking glass. Let’s look back and look forward, and say our goodbyes to a class that was both interesting and mind-blowing.
With only one more class left (WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN), there’s time for only so much discussion. But if I could choose the topic of the day, I’d have to revert back to my favorite focus of the semester, which was definitely all the time we spent talking about reality and how society might not be what we think it is. Yes, there were some difficult readings during this time, including Baudrillard’s “Precession of Simulacrae” and Shaviro’s “Walt Disney.” But even they were interesting. They sparked a great class discussion and presented a perspective I’d never considered before: that even our society isn’t real anymore. It’s all just copied, there is no original anymore. Plus my favorite article of the whole semester was from this time period. The article by Nick Bostrom titled “Why Make a Matrix? And Why You Might Be In One” was fabulous. I loved it. I love the movie The Matrix, and the concept that it’s logically possible (if not probable) that we are living in our OWN Matrix completely blew my mind. Having that kind of new perspective on something that I took for granted was great, and really forced me to consider what else I shouldn’t simply assume to be true. (And I can’t discuss my favorite readings without giving a shout out to Scott McCloud for the excellence which is Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Undoubtedly the best “textbook” I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.)
On the other hand, there were some readings that didn’t strike me as being super interesting. I think my least favorite of the semester was Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.” Thought not too difficult to understand, it was my impression that the article was drowned in unnecessary diction and syntax to the point where the main argument Hofstadter proposed became muddled and lost. This doesn’t mean that the reading was without value. Hofstadter makes an intriguing argument by uncovering the truths behind secret societies like the Illuminati and the Free Masons. He explains that we turn these organizations into terrifying entities with untold power, when really they all started with a purpose and all have explanations for their existence. When describing the Free Masons, Hofstadter aptly writes, “Certain elements of truth and reality there may have been in these views of Masonry. What must be emphasized here, however, is the apocalyptic and absolutistic framework in which this hostility was commonly expressed.” Hofstadter proves that when you bring something into the light and show it for what it really is, it’s never quite as scary. And that’s a good point to make.
Now, the time has come to leave reminiscing behind and start looking to the future. First, I will address where I personally am headed. To Rome! Next semester starts the beginning of my study abroad period, wherein my girlfriend and I will be living happily together in the city of love and culture. I’ve never been to Europe, so this coming semester will be the time of my life. Isn’t it great, when you know that you’re headed towards some of the best memories of your life? I love it. Plus, after Rome I’m probably making another big move. I’m sad to announce that chances are high I will not return to Trinity for my junior and senior years at university. Because my girlfriend goes to University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and it’s my intention to be a business major, I am likely transferring to U of I starting the fall semester of 2014.
Sad news aside, I’m sure Trinity will continue on just fine without me. And speaking of continuing on, the next semester of Media Interpretation needs a new theme! Lovely. I would like to start by recognizing how awesome it would be to have two themes for both sections, I personally love that idea. I think that would be fun for Dr. Delwiche to see how both classes play out differently, but also for the students to compare how their classes are going in comparison to the other section. That being said, the two topics would have to be intense; I don’t think simple genres like “good” and “evil” would necessarily cut it. I suppose Heroes and Villains could work, but what about something like Utilitarianism (greatest good for the greatest number) vs. Objectivism (emphasis on the individual’s rights and the moral justness of personal happiness before all else)? Or maybe evolution vs. creationism (although that might get too… religious). Or as a third suggestion, brain vs. heart (in the way people make decisions and use logic or rationale). I’m sure there are better ways to label these suggestions, but I’m just trying to get the simple premises out to you.
In any case, this class rocked. It was my favorite this semester, no doubt. Thank you Dr. Delwiche, for a great time. I learned more than I expected, but also had more fun than I expected. That’s a hard thing to manage as a professor, but you pulled it off. I can’t wait to hear what next semester’s theme(s) is/are going to be!
This is Charlie Wagner, signing off.