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English Journal 8

Throughout Invisible Cities, Marco Polo is constantly describing city after city to Kublai Khan.  In each of his cities descriptions he tends to describe the cities with a more positive connotation, but towards the end of his descriptions he began to bring out the negative aspects of that particular city.  This contradiction shows the utopia verse dystopia aspect of Invisible Cities, reiterating that fact that every place you go you will have elements of both a utopia and a dystopia present.  For example, in the city of Valdrada, Marco Polo describes the construction of the buildings on top of one another and the reflection of the city in the lake so that when you look at Valdrada you see two cities, one being its reflection.  Everything seems nice and structured and pretty.  Then he goes on and explains that every motion, gesture, action made in the above city is reflected in the below city.  Every couple making love has their reflection in the city below and every murderer up above taking the life of his victim has that same image reflecting in the lake below.  Polo takes a beautiful image of love and follows it with the hateful and ugly image of murder.  He finished his description with, “the two Valdradas live for each other, their eyes interlocked; but there is no love between them.”  Again, he begins the sentence with the positive attitude of living for each other, then immediately brings about that dystopia aspect of the absence of love.

In my own life, there are also these situations where the presence of both positive and negative images takes place.  For example, the decision to attend Walsh comes to mind when I think about this contradiction of utopia verse dystopia.  Attending Walsh has been a blessing and a curse for me.  I have had so many amazing times thus far at Walsh, but it has also been scene to some of my toughest times in my own life.  Being close to my family, having the small school atmosphere, Catholic university, tons of connections, great education, seems like a utopia, right?  Of course, these are all blessings that I am deeply thankful for.  However with every positive therein lies a negative.  I have met some great friends at Walsh, but I have also met some people who have brought me down, put me down, and tried to keep me down through their hurtful words and actions.  The endless rumors, the backstabbing of close friends and the dishonesty of boys had brought me to such emotional and hard times in my life socially.  However, taking these situations and recognizing the difficulty and the suffering they have put me through has made me lean even more on my spiritual side and has made me turn to my family more for the social aspect of my life.  Through the bad, good prevails.  I have become such a strong, faith-filled individual who has the most amazing family in the world, and I am proud to say that my best friends consist of my siblings and my cousins.  I am proud of the fact that I am so close to God and to my family, because without them, my attitude toward Walsh and toward many people who I have become acquainted with through Walsh would have a more negative connotation with it.  Rather, I am grateful I have been blessed with such a university that has brought so close with my faith and has enlightened me with the knowledge of the significance of family.  Walsh has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, through its imperfections and flaws I have triumphed.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

English Journal 7: Borders

Throughout Invisible Cities Marco Polo had to overcome many different types of borders, whether it was an actual physical border going from one city to the next or a mental border as he relives the cities through his descriptions to Kublai Khan. He must overcome challenges with different religions, languages, and cultures, and also pass through mountains, unknown streets, and villages.  As I read this book and read the prompt for this journal I began reflecting on my own life and the borders I have had to overcome.

I think the biggest border that I have had to overcome throughout this trip in particular is the struggle of being away from my family back home and steering away from my every day routine.  I have never truly been away from my family for more than a week in my life, and taking these two months and flying across the world and visiting five countries in eight weeks has really tested my ability of independence and strength as an individual.  I am an extremely family-oriented and routine living type of girl.  I like being with my sisters, parents, grandparents, and cousins.  I enjoy getting up at the same time each morning and going to the gym with my sister, getting our morning Starbucks, returning home and making my own breakfast, taking a shower in my own bathroom with my own towels and sleeping in my own bed.  I enjoy the routine, I enjoy the safety of the routine, steering outside of that safety zone is a huge challenge for me, one that still have not conquered but am getting closer to the ability to conquer it.

Also, being in another country than my family (besides Alyson of course) has been such a struggle these past six weeks.  I have had several occasions where I find myself homesick and wishing to be back in Ohio doing Christmas decorating and Thanksgiving cooking like I have every other year.  But the more and more I think about it all and think about the vast opportunities I have been able to experience that no one else back home has, I begin to appreciate more my ability to be here and go see all these ancient historical places that I have only read about in my history books.  I think I am getting better at handling the “non-routine” lifestyle of being here, and although it’s been hard without my family, I have gained somewhat of an independence from being here.  I am definitely more confident in my abilities of finding myself around different places, and I now know I am perfectly capable of spending time away from my family and not freaking out every I am gone.

I am sure I will go back to my typical routine when I return home, however I am now more apt to be okay with changes here and there and taking advantage of experiencing new things when given the opportunity to do so.  I am definitely ready to be back in the same vicinity as the rest of my family and am excited to see their smiling faces as we return home in two weeks, but being away from them has allowed me to gain an independence that I never would have found if I hadn’t gone on this trip.  I believe I have overcome many struggles and challenges and borders throughout this trip, and hope to continue doing so for our final two weeks.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

English Journal 6: Invisible Cities

One city that sparked my interest was the city of Ersilia.  In this city the citizens would take different color strings and stretch them from house to house in order to establish relationships with the other people.  The different colors would represent a specific type of relationship, like a friendship, or a coworker, etc. This representation physically shows how everyone is actually connected in the city, and when the strings become too abundant, the people would pack up and abandon that location, moving the city elsewhere.  To me, this shows that the city isn’t the physical place with the buildings and businesses, but it’s the people.  That’s what makes up the city of Ersilia, because if it were the physical place, Ersilia would be long gone after the first move of its people.  However, the people move, the city also moves.  I also think the remains of the city would be interesting to see, just a spider-web of strings, multiple colors, indicating the various friendships, ancestry, and connections the whole town had with one another.

Another city that I thought very intriguing was the city of Eusapia.  In this particular city they wanted to make the transition from life to death less drastic and detrimental.  So they made a copy of their city and put it directly below them, so when they do die a group of ‘hooded brothers’ would take their bodies and place them in the city’s underground copy in a new life.  They would have them mimicking different professions, such as actors, barbers, or clockmakers, and show them at happy moments in life.  Everything about this city’s copy was told by the brothers.  They began seeing the happiness in the underground city more than in the original city.  So it began that the people living in the above ground Eusapia began to mimic the characteristics of the copy, until it got to a point when you really could not tell which city was the original and which was the copy, which led into not being able to decipher the living from the dead.  I really liked this city because it showed that life after death doesn’t have to be scary, in fact, it can be a utopia in comparison to life in the ‘real world’.

The third city that I would like to point out is the city of Chloe.  In this particular city no one exchanges words; they simply walk from place to place and have nothing more than a glance at other passer-bys.  In that glimpse they may have a hundred different thoughts, thoughts of what they thought about that person or what they would do with that person, sometimes promiscuous thoughts, other times just innocent thoughts, but then they pass and move on.  This emptiness and lack of interaction between the people leaves this city open for an endless amount of possibilities.  It is a chaste city, technically, but if thoughts were words and actions, this city would be filled with seduction and promiscuity from its people.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

English Journal 5: Conversation and connection

Throughout Invisible Cities you read about conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan.  Marco Polo goes into deep thought and explanation about many different types of cities in which he has visited and is telling them to Kublai Khan with much detail and length.  Throughout the novel, you are unsure whether the connections between the two are being met, and even if they are talking verbally to one another, or these are simply thoughts going through their heads.  Calvino states in his novel, “Between the two of them it did not matter whether questions and solutions were being uttered aloud or whether each of the two went on pondering in silence.  In fact, they were silent” (27), after reading this, I wondered, can two people have a successful conversation when no words are actually being spoken?  Can you have an imaginary conversation that has a deep connection to it? I think in some cases you can have conversations without words, just as Marco Polo and Kublai Khan seemed to do at some points in this novel. “Day after day, evening after evening, words failed him, and little by little, he went back to relying on gestures, grimaces, glances” (39), sometimes words are not enough to get the message across to the listener.  This was obviously the case with Marco Polo, he was at a loss for words, so he fell back on using objects and gestures, making his conversations more silent than spoken.

I think in a way, they are able to show the connection and the disconnection between the conversations they have with one another.  As I read the novel I remember Marco Polo stating that the more he gets lost in a city, the more he understands the previous cities.  I think this theory can be applied to their personal conversation as well.  The more Marco Polo explains the cities and gets deeper and deeper into the small details they each contain the more lost Kublai Khan becomes, but maybe as he continues the extensive conversation, Kublai Khan begins to make connections and where these cities are leading to and the reasoning behind these tedious explanations.  “The connections between one element of the story and another were not always obvious to the emperor” (38), this shows that the conversation between Polo and Khan had some confusion and were disconnected, however, as he got more and more lost in the conversation, he began to take note of the connections that were being made from place to place.

As I read through the novel I started realizing that the main place Marco Polo is speaking of is Venice, and all of these little cities are invisible, invisible to us as a reader, invisible to Kublai Khan as a listener, and invisible to the people living at that time.  They were cities created in Marco Polo’s head used to describe Venice as a whole.

“But which is the stone that supports the bridge?” Kublai Khan asks. “The bridge is not supported by one stone or another,” Marco Polo answers, “but by the line of the arch that they form.” Kublai Khan remains silent, reflecting. Then he adds, “Why do you speak to me of the stones? It is only the arch that matters to me, “Marco Polo answers, “Without stones there is no arch.”

I think this short conversation between the two really summarizes the point of this novel.  We might not know the one city or the one place that is most important that Polo talks of, but as a whole, as a unit of all the cities put together, Marco Polo is able to describe the ultimate city of Venice.

I think it would be hard having a successful conversation such as this in our world today, but not impossible.  I know with me personally, a simple glance to Alyson can speak a hundred words.  We have a set in connection that we both understand and can communicate without words.  However, I think this type of connection is rare and only comes with time and experiences spent with that other person.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Art Journal 5: The David

Michelangelo’s infamous sculpture of The David is a timeless piece of art.  The immense amount of detail, the extraordinary size, and the impeccable beauty the David has is what made it so powerful and famous throughout the entire world.  The David was first created between 1501 and 1504 by the famous Italian artist, Michelangelo.  When looking at the David, you will see a seventeen feet tall statue of a man in the nude with a stern and strong facial expression and a stance that is physically powerful and confident.  It truly is a breath taking piece.

It has been said that this David is being portrayed as he was right before his battle with Goliath.  The sternness in his face is coupled with the relaxed and laid back stance, in which he has his sling casually thrown over his shoulder.  This to me shows his confidence in the abilities given to him by God in defeating the giant with simply his sling and preciseness of aim.  His muscular and perfectly cut body portrays his strength and physical ability to conquer in battle.  His eyes are looking off into the distance, possibly looking at his oncoming battle, yet he sits back in patience for the right moment to begin his fight.

Michelangelo’s David is unlike any other depiction of David because he is standing alone, without the defeated Goliath present.  Michelangelo was able to expose the true and vulnerable David, both by the nudity of his body and the simplicity of his weaponry, and the calmness of his stance.  He shows the strength that God had empowered him with to overcome the evil and allow the good to prevail.  Even though Goliath was a giant, David was able to defeat him through his perfect aim and the strength granted to him from God.

His stance is a traditional Renaissance sculpture stance, in which the majority of his weight in on his back leg and the other leg relaxed in front.  The detailed curve of each muscle and part of the body shows the true essence of a Renaissance piece, depicting a very realistic image of the human.

All around I thought this piece was completely breath taking.  The size and the details put into such a magnificent piece have made it a timeless masterpiece for generation after generation to gaze upon with awe and wonder.

 

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Journal 4: Heresy

“This place of forbidden knowledge is guarded by many and most cunning devices.  Knowledge is used to conceal, rather than to enlighten.”

                In The Name of the Rose the library is a source of knowledge, however, the knowledge that is restricted from anyone outside of the library is more harmful than useful because it goes unknown to the outside world.  The lack of knowledge that is shared leaves the people in a state of ignorance, a state that inhibits their minds to have the ability to surpass the level in which they are already at, creating a stagnant world, which in turn causes more harm than good.

When reading this prompt I had to sit back and take a minute to think of something that I have a strong opinion about that people have spoken out against, so it may be slightly controversial, but having different opinions is what makes us unique individuals.

I have attended a Catholic school ever since I was a little kindergartener attending St. Michael’s school in Canton.  I have always been brought up with a solid Catholic background and have always been taught what is morally wrong from what is morally right.  So, ever since day one I have known the basics of what is wrong and right, for example, disrespecting my parents is wrong, hitting my siblings is wrong, stealing is wrong, and of course killing is wrong, just to name a few of the basics.  In high school, I attended an event that was all about sex education.  I think it is important to learn about sex education as a teenager and the responsibilities and consequences that come with decisions people make.  So, the presenters were talking about the safest way to avoid any type of disease or pregnancy is the choice of abstinence, plain and simple, do not partake in sexual activities if you do not want to risk becoming pregnant or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.

For those who don’t want to go that route with their personal life, they went on to give other solutions, such as different methods of protection and control people could use to avoid certain consequences.  When talking about things to do if something goes ‘wrong’ and people get pregnant, they talked about going through with teen pregnancy, giving the child up for adoption, or going to Planned Parenthood and looking into further options.  What they didn’t elaborate on was the specifics of these further options.  However when looking through the pamphlet, the services offered by Planned Parenthood consisted of the different methods of protection, STD testings, counseling, and abortion.

The pamphlet didn’t go into details about the abortions, just that they were uncomplicated and simple.  Me, being the stubborn and extremely opinionated person that I am, did not like the way this solution was given to a group of teenagers, in an indirect and nonchalant way.  They left out the details of abortions and the procedures used to perform the abortions, they simply talked about the end result, the solution to the problem, the quick fix for an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy.

I believe this was a type of heresy, for me personally, because they were supporting an issue that (in my eyes) was taking the lives of innocent children because of the fact that people did not want to have the responsibility of being a parent that early in their life time.  Furthermore, they did not talk about what abortions were, how they were performed, and the everlasting emotional consequences many people are left with following such horrendous procedures.

I wanted them to explain to the teenagers what goes into an abortion, how does one take the life of that child and end it? Explain to us the specific procedures.  Just to give myself an idea of the answer to this question, I did my own research and what I found terrified me and gave me even more of an opinion over this extremely controversial topic.  However, I did understand the reasoning as to why they chose not to give details about the abortions; they would look like awful blood thirsty people.  For example, the most common method of abortion, the one performed up to twelve weeks of pregnancy is called “Suction Aspiration”. What exactly is Suction Aspiration?  It’s when a hollow tube with a knife edged tip, or a hook shaped knife, is inserted in the woman’s womb.  This instrument is connected to a vacuum that goes on to “suction” and tear the child and the placenta out of the womb and then discarded.  Plain and simple, the child is cut and suctioned out of the woman.  Painless, right?

Another method, “Dilation and Evacuation” is performed when the child is up to eighteen weeks gestation.  This is when the doctor inserts a pair of forceps into the womb and grasps the child.  The forceps are used to twist and tear the bones from the child, usually crushing the spine and skull in order to remove the entire fetus.  Once the child is totally dismembered it is removed completely from the woman and discarded.  Starting to understand why this Planned Parenthood group left these details out of their talk?

I won’t go into any other methods of abortion, although there are plenty far worse than the once I have already mentioned.  But my point is, this Planned Parenthood group, in my eyes, was heretics.  They were preaching about solutions for teenagers, anywhere from abstinence to abortion, but were leaving out the details and the techniques behind the solutions, leaving the teenagers in this unknown state of ignorance.  If people are going to give abortion as a solution, they need to stand up and explain what exactly abortion is and how it is done and the effects it has on both the child and on the mother.  If they are not completely open with sharing this knowledge, that to me is a form of heresy, because they are denying knowledge to others but preaching about the “easy fix” it has.

In both The Name of the Rose and in my personal experience with the women from Planned Parenthood, the restricting of knowledge inhibits the outside people from seeing the big picture.  It constricts te mind to be able to reason through situations completely because of the lack of puzzle pieces they have for the scenario.  Restraining information, in my opinion, is an extremely heretical trait.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Annotated Bibliography November 9, 2011

Catie:

We, as students of Walsh University, were lucky enough to have the opportunity to study a semester abroad in Rome. Part of our responsibility is to keep in mind the mission statement of the university as we take part in anything affiliated with Walsh. This mission statement includes the service aspect of which the order of Brothers of Christian instruction were founded on. As a way to provide service while in Rome, we decided, with help of course, to give a small bit of our time to Casa di Mater Dei, which is home to an order where service is highly concerned. The nuns within the order are devoted to helping less fortunate children and their mothers in times of need. Before learning much information about the order, we were introduced to six beautiful young children all under the age of three. We spent the next 45 minutes or so playing with the babies, attempting to read Italian children’s books, and playing ball with the more active boys in the group. The language barrier did not seem to cause much of an issue. Smiles were still shared and memories were still made. We were able to give the nuns, which we later discovered do much in the way of raising these children, a small break to relax. We were invited to have what I decided was the best tea I had ever tasted as well as small sweets and bites of pizza. After tea time, we split into three groups to help the nuns with various chores around the casa. I enjoyed being able to help the helpers. After all the chores were completed, we said our goodbyes to the children and were given a tour of the building. Laura, our Italian teacher, was able to translate the stories the nun told us about the history or the order as well as the current residents. She told us how many of the mothers living there were saved from drug addiction by the nuns, and how all of the children were products of abusive relationships. It was sad to hear how at first, the mothers were contemplating abortion and then even after the child was to be born; they wanted nothing to do with them. I have heard this before, how women who have been raped do not want constant reminders (the child) of the incident and therefore detach themselves from their own child. Although I tend to think more on the liberal side of things, I felt a deep happiness when considering the thought that the small babies I was just holding had gotten the chance to live when at one more, chances were slim. The nun was emotional when she told her story about how although it does take a toll on her, the help she offers brings joy to her life. I thought about how tough it must be to be surrounded by such depressing circumstances daily, such as when the mothers tell their horrifying stories one after another. Just as I had assumed, the nun explained how by the mothers sharing their stories, it helps them to heal and move on. I felt at that moment, by the nun sharing her painful insight, we were helping her to heal by simply listening. However, such greatness comes out of the suffering. It takes a special type of person to devote their life to another’s happiness. I was able to see that to these nuns, family was much thicker than blood.

I believe this visit to spend time with the children and to help the nuns with various chores would be useful in our search as what to consider when choosing a location for Sex and the City 3. The group of which has asked us to capture the essence of Rome would be very pleased if this type of experience were to be involved in the movie. The nuns, obviously Catholic, with their devotion to service would exemplify the spirituality this group is wanting projected. The love which the nuns have is genuine and shows that the beauty of Rome is not only made of gold. In the movie, Italians need to be seen for who they really are. Welcoming and warm only touch on this definition. The nun explained to us how most of the women who live in Mater Dei are not Italian. This just goes to show that Italians are more than willing to help everyone in need, not only their blood relatives. This goes back to the Italian definition of family which is of great importance to this group. I think that the group whom we are representing would love the movie to focus on the great generosity and care of which true Italians all are equipped. The nuns definitely showed these aspects. We were outsiders, not Italian. However, not once did I feel as if I was not welcomed or did not belong. We were even invited back for a chicken dinner! I feel that although the order may not provide the main setting for the movie, there are definite qualities which need to be represented in the film, our clients would agree as well.

Sarah:

Today we went and volunteered at a woman’s shelter that is run by a group of nuns who take in single mothers who have been in abusive relationships and have nowhere to go. I was extremely moved by the entire organization and the nuns running it. One nun in particular that talked to us at the end explained how many of these mothers were on the verge of having an abortion, and they were talked out of it by being promised a place to stay and food to eat at this particular woman’s shelter. They not only offered them shelter and food, but a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, and a heart to love. These nuns were completely selfless and committed their entire lives to taking in these strangers and caring for their children as if they were their own. They support them and love them and would do anything for these women and children. As she spoke about the shelter and about the woman and children you could literally hear the passion and love in her voice. It was absolutely beautiful.

This shows the love that is present in this area, but not just normal every day love, selfless unconditional love, love that is genuine and there because they want to commit their lives to loving as Jesus loved and spreading his good Word. That’s exactly what these women are doing; they are spreading the Word of God and giving up their personal lives of freedom to commit to making the world a better place and changing the lives of those who need love the most. I think this is the mindset of many Italians, not to this extent maybe, but just the loving and generous attitude in which they will take in anyone into their home and feed them and love them, no questions asked. The love of (many) Italians is endless and their generosity, infinite.

Alyson:

This past week we when were able to visit the Jewish Ghetto, I decided it was one of my top favorite places in Rome. The atmosphere is friendly, street vendors and restaurants line the cobblestone streets, shopping stores occupy are at least every corner, and it is filled with history. It wasn’t until visiting the ghetto when I took an interest in the history. The synagogue is one of the main attractions of the ghetto. When Jews were forced to live behind the walls of the ghetto in the 16th century, the center of the entire ghetto was this synagogue. Though it has been restored with modern bricks, it still remains in the same spot as it did in the past. Also, when the walls of the ghetto still existed, Catholic churches would be built outside each gate in an attempt to convert the Jews. Santa Maria della Pietà, was one of these churches, and can still be seen today. Another historical memorial I was able to see while there was the square named after the day the Nazis’ invaded the ghetto, Largo 16 Ottobre 1943. The Nazis demanded to have either a hundred pounds of gold, or else take the Jews away to the concentration camps. Needless to say, the people came up with the hundred pounds of gold; however the Nazis’ came back and took the Jews as well.

Despite being a small area in comparison to the enormous city of Rome, there is so much history behind such a small area. The mood I felt while there was serene and peaceful, yet active because of the number of markets, shopping stores, and street vendors. I thought it would be a perfect place to film a movie; it contains historical monuments, demonstrates the spirituality of both the Jewish and Catholic faiths, and also contains a family like atmosphere. It is a perfect medium; one that stays away from the hectic city of Rome, yet eventful enough so not to be dull. The Jewish ghetto, in my opinion, is a great place to display a lot of what Rome has to offer.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2011 in Uncategorized