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Rewrite: Oh City, My City

When I think of a city, the first thing that comes to mind is skyscrapers and well-dressed businessmen, subways and taxis, Starbucks and a distinct lack of greenery. Cupertino is certainly not a traditional city. But it is a city, an important one. What it lacks in tradition it makes up for in innovation.

Cupertino has none of the elements of a traditional city. We don’t have skyscrapers (in my opinion, an excellent decision given our proclivity for earthquakes). Most of our employers are tech companies, and many employees tend to dress towards the causal end of the business-casual spectrum. Our only public transport is the bus, but most people have their own cars and embrace the California Roll whole-heartedly (in which people don’t stop for stop signs but rather roll slowly through them). And while people do love their Starbucks, they love their Pearl Milk Tea (PMT) even more.

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Interpreting Art and High School Lit Classes

The further along I got in the essay, the more I started to see this not only as a disscussion about interpreting paintings and the like, but also as being about books. Sontag believes that we should not interpret art, that it takes away from the real value of it. Ancient versions of this that built on top of the art are acceptable, but digging behind it is not. This reminded me of my high school lit classes. I feel as though the majority of the essays I wrote ended up being about some sort of symbolism or metaphor or interpretation of the book (and most of the time, I didn't believe). We spent very little time building on it: relating it to our life, history, politics, science, often we got caught up in tiny details that were supposed to be the "true meaning behind the novel." But sometimes we don't need to hear that. Sometimes we need to understand that the surface story is just as important.

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The Morality of Forgery

Co-authored by Claire

In writing a paper on forgery, it is necessary to first state the definition of plagiarism and forgery. Plagiarism is a reproduction or seizure of another’s work without proper accreditation.  Forgery, on the other hand, occurs when someone reproduces a work of art (or style thereof) and puts a different creators name on it (e.g. painting in the style of Van Gogh and putting his name on it).

Society teaches us that stealing is wrong, and this includes stealing someone’s identity. In the case of art forgery, it is wrong because it uses another person’s name and reputation to make money, without the consent of the aforementioned individual. Copying another work is acceptable, but using another person’s name is not. Painting in the style of Van Gogh and then telling people it was a new painting of his that you found is equivalent to writing in the style of Shakespeare and then saying it was a new play written by The Bard Himself. In both of these cases, the work is being unveiled not because of how happy it will make people or how beautiful it is, but because the presenter wants prestige and, potentially, money. If someone wanted to bring happiness to people, they could do that without using a different creator’s name.

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The School

Barnes always wanted his foundation to be a school first. He had a reason for putting everything together the way he did; each room was designed with that purpose in mind. When I rewrite my paper, I want to rewrite it thinking about how the design of the museum differed from what I was used to, and how that affected my reading of The Postman.

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The Pain of Paintings

It’s always been really hard for me to connect to paintings. I’ve always thought most of them were pretty or interesting (except for Picasso, whose paintings annoyed me beyond all else) but I’ve never really gotten an emotional response from them before. Over the summer, however, I went to the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. And for some reason, those paintings elicited responses from me that other paintings couldn’t.

I think a large part of it was the eyes. van Gogh’s subjects look directly out of the canvas, into your eyes. They invite a conversation with eyes, between you and the subject, from your time to theirs. This is what occurred in the Barnes Foundation with The Postman.

The first thing I notice about the painting is where it is hung. A corner. They tucked a van Gogh portrait into a corner? Unacceptable. At this point, I decided I didn’t like the Barnes foundation very much.

The next thing I notice is his signature. I absolutely adore the way he signs is name. There’s no tiny last name shoved into the right-hand corner. No, van Gogh signs his first name with whatever color he likes, wherever he likes. In this case, it is at the top of the painting, left-center, large and red-orange against the lime green background. 

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17 Border Crossings

 The play 17 Border Crossings was wonderful for a variety of reasons. However, I did not feel any sense of deep play coming from the show. This probably stems from the fact that I didn't feel any sense of danger going into this performance, which is one of the important aspects necessary to deep play. Instead, I think that the show exemplified critical play. There was a definite sense of critiquing society that I felt from the performance. And I do think that was partly his intention, to make people think about boarder crossings in all senses.

Also, I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that when he talked about Pablo, Pablo had tried to cross the boarder 16 times before, and this was his 17th boarder crossing, which brings back the point we were making in class about how everything goes back to Pablo.

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A Far, Far Better Thing


It’s a hot day today. It was a hot day yesterday, and it will be a hot day tomorrow. I’m already tired –– canyoning from the day before has gotten to me, and my arms protest even the slightest movement. I hope the one hour hike will loosen them up, because I can’t really afford to be without the use of my arms when I’m rock climbing.

Ackerman defines deep play as “the ecstatic form of play.” She tells us that “in its thrall, all the play elements are visible, but they're taken to intense and transcendent heights. Thus, deep play should really be classified by mood, not activity.” When an intense form of emotion is felt (usually extreme joy) deep play is occurring.

I learn many things on the hike. Our guide, Javi, has taken it upon himself to make us fluent in Spanish.

“Enero febrero marzo abril mayo junio julio agosto septiembre octubre noviembre diciembre,” he says, enunciating each syllable.

“Enero febrero marzo abril mayo junio julio agosto septiembre octubre noviembre diciembre,” we repeat, stumbling over sounds that aren’t ours.

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Rehabilitation not Re-Incarceration

In America’s early history, prisons were little more than holding cells for inmates. Large numbers of prisoners of all ages, genders, and criminal history were kept together in large rooms. This caused serious problems, among them career criminals teaching new ones some of their tricks, lack of adequate nutrition and sanitation, and a lack of safety for prisoners and guards. Therefore, when the Quakers of the early 1800s broke ground on Eastern State Penitentiary, they did it in the belief that they were doing good for everyone involved. The prisoners and guards would be safe, the prisoners would be able to repent for their sins instead of learning new ways to break the law, and they would be able to do this in a clean environment.

Unfortunately, this did not last very long. Eastern State’s solitary confinement couldn’t hold up against the number of prisoners entering the penitentiary, and even when it did, prisoners were often thinking more about how to communicate with each other than how to communicate with God. While Eastern State was founded with good intentions, it ended up being very similar to older prisons: people who left often reverted back to crime and ended up back in jail (usually for something more serious).

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Eastern State

There are still hundred of thousands of prisoners today kept in dungeons, medieval-like conditions, for years, huge portion of their lifetimes, with nothing but conditions for their brains to to rot, be warped, and emerge with hatred, anger, and frustration toward the world. It might be easier or safer for some of them to stay in jail. But I could feel the misery and insanity of these place and it was suffocating.

It was not a luxury to live in it, to be confined to your thoughts. It is very much the same; it is harsh and unforgiving. The endless and repeating days are terrible. But sitting here for 5 years, isolated, dark, lonely, I really want real life. It seems prisoners became more like objects to be placed somewhere than people who needed reforming. The isolation is the punishment actually in this place. I cannot imagine if I stay in such place day by day without talking.

Conflict of silences. Communication can’t be stopped. It has all passed.

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The Self and The Other: Identity and Existentialism in NW

Co-authored by Muni

Zadie Smith begins and ends her novel, NW, with each half of a friendship. The novel opens with Leah, grown up and on her own, listening to a radio that at some point mentions what it is to define oneself. The novel closes with Keisha (now Natalie), going through an existential crisis. A large portion of the middle of the novel is devoted to the events that lead to the beginning and the end of the novel, toward the adulthood of these characters. In this way, the book appears to almost grow from the inside out, which parallels the theme of existentialism throughout the novel. Existentialism is the idea that one is defined through one’s own actions; what one chooses to do internally is observed by an “Other,” who then is able to define the other. In this way, one cannot be defined without an Other (in this case, a close friend). When one loses their Other, they also lose a large part of their identity and fall into despair, which leads to an existential crisis. This can cause one to try to find meaning in sources apart from their Other or to abandon the search for identity completely.

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