Sunday, October 23, 2011

Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Icabod Crane in the Movie and the Original

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", a short story written by the American author Washington Iriving in 1820, stands in stark contrast to Tim Burton's more modern movie rendition of the American classic, which takes great liberties in bending and reshaping the plot of the original.  Most notably, the modern version of the tale portrays the story's main character, Icabod Crane, in a far different light than Washington Iriving.  In the original, Icabod Crane arrives in the town of Sleepy Hollow as a teacher for the local children, traveling from house to house in the village as a place to live.  Icabod is also described in the original as a lanky, awkward-looking character, and only encounters the horseman having fallen in love with Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter of a successful local farmer. Irving's story also ends with Icabod demise at the hands of the headless horseman.  By contrast, in the Tim Burton rendition, Icabod Crane (Johnny Depp) presents himself more as a scientist, inventor, and investigator than as a school teacher, and comes to the town in the hope of solving the mystery of the headless horseman.  Leading a series of detective like adventures, Icabod then begins slowly to piece together the mystery until the very last minute, only to save the day and end the story a hero.  Indeed, Tim Burton's interpretation of Icabod's character resembles more Sherlock Homes than the skinny, unprepossessing school teacher Irving had envisioned nearly two centuries before.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Digital vs. Print

After reading both Dustin Harris and Hannah Weissman's papers, my opinion concerning printed vs. digital publications has changed slightly in Weissman's favor.  Having originally heard each pamphlet's thesis, I thought to myself, "Well, of course digital publications make more sense. They would be cheaper, more accessible, more convenient, and would waste less paper."  But having heard from either argument, I came away more skeptical of an all-digital world of publications for three reasons:

1. Copyright infringement would become a major problem for writers in a world in which chapters may be copied, pasted, and distributed for free.  This would mean smaller revenue streams and profits for writers, which would significantly decrease the incentive for academics to publish their work and findings, seeing little profit and fearing that their work may become attributed to someone else. 

2. As Weissman points out, readers have been shown absorb and retain greater amounts of information from printed than from that on a computer screen due to the amount of different stimuli visible on a computer.  Reading exclusively from the computer would therefore impair young mind's reading comprehension, not to mention hurt everyone's eyes.

3.  Going entirely digital assumes that everyone not only in the United States but also the rest of the world has access to a computer, which is simply untrue.  If information sources usually available in print became available only through a computer, many poorer people around the world, including Americans, would have little to no access to this information.  The poor's access to information is critical to sustaining any democratic society or form of upward economic mobility, and therefore this issue proved my biggest concern.

Because of this, whereas before I took Harris's side in this argument, I have now taken a middle-ground between to two writers, believing that access to inormation digitally should be greatly expanded and emphasize, but that books should by no means abandoned, with access to published works available in bookstores in an equal if not greater amount than online.

In Response to Benjamin Franklin's Remarks Conerning the Savages of North America

Having read Benjamin Franklin's Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America, I am admittedly quite surprised.  Before I read the document, I had suspected that Ben Franklin's view of the Native Americans would have been little different from that of other American colonist at the time.  The word "savages" in the work's title did not lead me to suspect anything else, either.  Franklin's view of the Native Americans, however, seems not only ahead of his own time in terms of tolerance and understanding, but in some ways ahead of our own.  Franklin begins the essay, for example, by stating "Savages we call them, because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility; they think the same of theirs....Perhaps if we could examine the manners of different nations with impartiality, we should find no people so rude, as to be without any rules of politeness; nor any so polite, as not to have some remains of rudeness." Well done, Ben Franklin, for being able to achieve such a deep understanding of the Native Americans at a time when so few colonists shared that same sentiment.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Welcome

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