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Course notes, 10/28/10

ckosarek's picture

  Scene I: Computer Troubles. 

We couldn't get the computer to work. It was straight-up G (that's a pun, because the "g" key was stuck down and we couldn't get a letter in edgewise). In light of this, J asked for reactions to Tarnation. 

J: It's scary and shocking. 

E: thought her paralysis was in her head. 

A: at the time, shocks were popular. 

MM: I blame the parents, especially when the boy gets drugs from New York. 

J: the grandparents seem off. 

K: the mother's not entirely there either. 

J: attributed Johnathon to mother's sickness to shocks. 

MM: this reminds me of Bechdel. Maybe it’s OK if parents do hide aspects of themselves.

A: Bechdel was abused, and that contributes to her identity. But that’s not a good example of a family because it’s only functional on the surface.

J: some of this film was fake?

K: the parts filmed when he was in foster care are reenacted (/exchange/node/8317)

Scene II: Interlude (because we got the computer working)

What is Anne doing? Luckily, A didn’t break the computer as irreversibly as C had initially thought…

Tag your papers!

Scene III: Back to business

J: most people liked Tarnation better.

E: I was really upset by it. I couldn’t watch parts of it, so I fast-forwarded to the intertitle texts.

J: sided with the mom’s story

K: shocks were the go-to treatment in that time period. They’re good in certain situations.

J: did that lead to her schizophrenia?

K: we can’t say what caused it. She died of a lithium overdose.

Scene IV: Discussing Thin Blue Line

K: the reenactments made it seem fake.

S: some of them make sense, but the malt was WAY overdramatic.

J: there are reenactments in Tarnation as well.

MM: the general population likes seeing reenactments.

S: reenactments showed the perspectives didn’t have much validity.

MM: Randall Adams knew a lot about the crime for not being there.

E: maybe he was lying . . . but then they’re both lying.

J: maybe he internalized what was reiterated to him.

K: I don’t know what to believe at this time.

Scene V: We try to follow the notes posted for us online

T: (tgarber: enjoyed?) I’m into the crime genre. The topic simply appeals. I liked how the little details changed in repetition. It illustrated the different accounts of what happened.

MM: was anyone disillusioned by the justice system?

S: a lot of people have been cleared by DNA. Usually, they just want to get the case off the table.

E: Innocence Project (

S: as we become more advanced, our methods for solving crime will be improved and will hopefully be more accurate. Also, the old guy looked like a killer because he was ‘flat.’

E: maybe it’s because he was in jail for so long.

S: everyone has bias or an initial reaction and can stick to it.

C: in courtrooms, lawyers dress clients to convince jury.

E: and they tell them what to say and what not to say.

MM: justice is a game of politics – how many people can you convince of you truth to make it the truth?

J: that’s the way society is run.

MM: who decides what is real?

Scene VI: Film short!

Where’s the volume? Who knows how to turn it up? Wait… we got it.

J: was he just acting? What was the point of it in film?

E: what is the point of the whole film? Him growing up, figuring out who he is, playing at someone he isn’t?

MM: you can hear adults in the background. Why didn’t they stop him?

C: maybe he’s psychologically reenacting what he was exposed to.

J: but can he even remember it?

S: you can’t have memory from that young.

C: studies show that trauma makes a lasting impact on young kids even if they don’t remember.

E: he’s projecting someone else’s emotional because he can’t process his own feelings toward his trauma.

J: acting as a lie? Acting is not only faking.

MM: how much of this is editing? Is that why it’s a horror movie?

A: he suffers from depersonalization disorder – his own perspective splices things (like film).

S: he watches himself go through life.

A: life seems like a dream. Usually anti-epileptic meds are prescribed to quiet that part of the brain.

S2: this put me in a bad mood.

MM: I couldn’t relate to the movie at all. I didn’t know how to respond.

J: director as a narcissist?

A: exploiting mental illness to make money?

J: I don’t feel like he’s taking advantage of her because he talks to her about this all the time.

M: but did he need to do it on film to achieve self-discovery?

A: isn’t everyone narcissistic – but he is just doing it in concrete form?

J: is a dream a form of fiction?

C: dreams can act as the brain’s filing cabinet… or so the current theory goes.

MM: it’s interesting that people with illness dream about common things.

A: there’s recurring themes in dreams with certain illnesses and medications.

Scene VII: Attempting to follow the notes, pt. 2

What would these directors say to one another?

E: Orsen Welles would like Thin Blue Line

Awkward silence…

MM: Caouette takes himself seriously. Welles wasn’t serious.

A: but he is serious about his film experiment. He’s serious about form.

S: I don’t like documentaries that you don’t learn from – like Welles.

Getting off topic…

J: what is super 8?

E: the earliest form of VHS

S: isn’t there a Super 8 Motel?

Back on board…

E: “me” decade – think about Facebook statuses, Twitter, etc. Society encourages self-indulgence

A: this movie can be like you logged onto his Facebook page an found out too much… But that’s not how I feel about it.

E: I think it’s courageous to put out a movie like this about your life

A: the more you map, the more blank spaces you find


Instead of reflecting on the material we covered today in class, I’d like to look at the effectiveness of our self-teaching. All said, I think we managed ourselves pretty well. Yes, we did have our awkward silences, but J did a pretty good job for standing in for Prof. A. Also, since it took us a while to figure out how to fix the computer, we were forced to discuss without the guide of the online notes. Our midterm evaluations seemed to have taken an effect, as we didn’t get “stuck” like we have in the past (i.e. what is real?). If a class is invested in the material (as we certainly are, having designed our own syllabus), then perhaps the line between teacher and student disappears.



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