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Claire Romaine's blog

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                When you live in a suburb of Cincinnati, you orient yourself by the highways.  Get on I-71 and head south into the city.  Or you could take a detour on I-275 and take the long way, avoiding the city itself as you drive into Kentucky.  However, if you head just a little bit east on 275, you’ll hit Terrace Park, while west will get you to Sharon Woods.  Anywhere North and you’re probably heading the wrong way because it’s just cornfields until you hit Columbus an hour and a half later.  Let’s stick to the simple things, though, and head South, straight into Cincinnati.


                But where does Cincinnati start? 

                Philadelphia has a border, a river on either side, and a clear, at least from this student’s point of view, delineation between the city and the surrounding areas.  Much like the maps we built in class, even detailed published maps use the Schuylkill and the Delaware as the boundaries of the map:

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Mosaic Inception

Dialogue with Dead Men

The pages swim before my eyes
a jumble of letters
speaking for a man
long gone.

I demand for him to talk
to tell me what he thought
but his speech is slurred
and his mind is elsewhere.
He sits across the table
and already fleeing
back to his half-life
among the underlined words
and desecrated corpses


This post is a kind of mosaic within a mosaic within another mosaic (Hence the title).  Firstly it’s a mosaic because I wrote this poem a long time ago and I am now combining it with recent writing.  Secondly because I’m mixing poetry and prose and thirdly because a couple of the lines are things I remember my political theory teacher, which I then combined with my own writing.

Anyways, back to how this applies to Sontag’s essay.  This poem is a reflection and to a certain extent a complaint (like Sontag’s essay) about how we analyze and interpret authors without any idea as to what they truly intended to convey to us.  Yet, since we can no longer speak to them, we must try to interrogate them through the writing they left behind.  Sontag would say that there is no reason to try to derive meaning from their work, while I focused on how our interpretations are by no means guaranteed to be loyal to the original author.  Sontag talked about change in interpretation over time, as well, when she said that the meanings we derive from a piece of art change to conform to our times and our own individual ideals.

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The Morality of Forgery

coauthored by Frindle


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I intend to go to Rittenhouse square and the Rosenbach Museum and Library.  I'll head into the city around noon on the regional rail and spend the hours leading up to our gathering wandering around the area.  I thought (in the spirit of 'play in the city') I might spend some time playing in the park and watching how other people enjoy their city.  After this, I'll go to the Rosenbach Museum, which is quite close to the park itself.  Much like the Barnes, the Rosenbach is a private collection, but this time it is books and other rare manuscripts.  Knowing what we have learned about the value of private collections and how they no longer hold to their original principles, I want to look at this museum as we have looked at other museum institutions.

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Price Tags

Barnes had the luxury to not care about money, and, when it comes to art, he didn't want money to be a barrier to others either.  That was the point of creating a school rather than a museum: to help others learn about and appreciate art, not for the price tag, but the qualities of the piece itself.  In my paper revision I want to talk about these great names (Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir etc.) and their even greater price tags.  How the media's and art enthusiasts' focus on the monetary worth of the collection, violates some of Barnes key principles, as well as negates the importance of many of the other pieces in the exhibit.  This relates back to my prior paper because I focused on a piece with very little historical and artistic importance, but Barnes nonetheless included it. 

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The Novice

This weekend I had the good luck to pick the painting that simply does not exist outside of one small side-gallery full of Picassos and Manets.  In other words, “The Novice” by Afro Basaldella is incredibly obscure (it was not listed on the Barnes website or even in the artist’s own archive), so I am, unfortunately, required to describe a complex piece without even the luxury of a picture.

Let’s begin this nigh impossible task: The background is two different shades of blue-green.  Divided by a red-brown line that bends sharply in the middle of the canvas.  Below the line, there is a light greenish color, while above the line the darker blue-green dominates.  Littering the entire background are barely noticeable hints of red, like a paint brush dipped in nearly-dry paint and dragged lightly over a few patches of the canvas.  From afar, they disappear into the blue-green.  In the middle of the picture is a figure of a boy.  The figure begins at the bottom with two lines (of the same red-brown color from earlier), which taper slightly inwards to form the neck and sitting on top of this neck is an ovular face.  A trapezoidal nose sits in the middle of the face while on the left side of the nose is a black pupil-ed eye with an iris of the same color as the lines.  Even further to the left lies a pink ear jutting out from the side of the head.  Neither of these features are mirrored on the right side of the face.

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324473928 border crossings

I, like most of my peers, quite enjoyed the experience of 17 Border Crossings.  Although I found a great deal of critical play in the performance commenting on the political and social natures of national and cultural boundaries, I found deep play lacking.  I can easily see how Phillips or his co-creators might feel deep play during the writing and performance, but as an audience member, I experienced no intense emotional and ‘ecstatic’ moments.  The nature of the performance was more critical with moments of humor than moving and deep.  Nonetheless, the well-thought out and amazingly-executed script was delightful.  He took an incredibly dull activity (i.e. having a passport checked), and portrayed it in so many different ways as to make it interesting.

PS. We never talked about this, but I really loved how he started the whole thing by trying to destroy his passport, which is the object which facilitated his entire journey.

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Writing: A Commentary in Three Parts


Transcription of deeper meaning is so inadequate.  Unalterably uninterestingly incapable of capturing my true intention.  As if pouring out the most important, memorable, inexplicable moments of my life should easily flow from my fingertips onto the page.  Inability halts my progress but so too does my unwillingness to progress, to write down the personal instances of absolute understanding.  These are my spiritual beliefs; this is my religion.  It is not part of a holy book, a scripture written down long ago in the fleeting, ephemeral and already dying past.  It lives and breathes and insists on secrecy.  Because inclusivity would lead to nothing but misunderstanding; Misinterpretation of the profound intensity that permeates a select few of my most treasured memories.

So…no.  I will not be handing over a description of my “ecstasy”, because it would only be judged.  The intention behind the request and reading of my text simply does not matter because there is no such thing as a truly open mind.  Each perception is colored by the myriad of experiences that influence your every living moment.  There is no escape from the inevitable evaluation of my hard-won wisdom.  A biased measurement of the truth of my words as filtered through your inadequate understanding.  The psyche of the reader and the writer simply do not mesh as one might wish them to, and they each struggle vainly to understand and to make themselves understood.

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Competing Prisons

There is such controversy in modern society about prisons: what’s wrong with them, how they should be changed, and generally the omnipresence and seeming uselessness of such institutions in the modern world.  Arguments rage endlessly across political, social, religious and economic boundaries about the prisons themselves while neglecting what inspires our individual opinions about penal theory: the prisoners themselves.  How the prisoners are viewed by society and individuals is largely responsible for how prisons are designed and up kept.

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A Patchwork of Eastern State

People here visiting with curiosity, with awe for the idea of penitentiary, don’t know how the inmates’ lives were here.  It was not a luxury to live in it, to be confined to your thoughts.  It is still in no better condition than it was when he was alive, but now that the context has changed, it is looked on with more reverence than it deserves.  It is still very much the same; it is harsh and unforgiving. Even the building itself is decaying, like all these past objects have the structure of enclosure and abuse and falling.  These walls that used to be crisp white are falling down, the whole structure of the building is decaying. It has all passed.  But I could feel the misery and insanity of these places and it was suffocating.  ESP is a decaying island that stands as a reminder of the suffering it caused.

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