Note of Closure

After reading Phantom Noise and almost being able to feel a heartbeat through the words that help set up Brian Turner’s tone, it wasn’t hard to notice the change in that tone in the last couple of poems.  I especially loved the last two poems “In the Guggenheim Museum” and “The One Square Inch Project” because they end Turner’s collection not with a pretty conclusion that wraps up a “and-they-lived-happily-ever-after” story, but with a sense of calm and closure glinted with hope.  Phantom Noise is focused on PTSD and Turner doesn’t pretend the story of PTSD is one that ends wrapped up in a pretty bow, but he still uses these two poems to leave his readers and fellow veterans with a sense of hope.
A quote by Edward Byrne’s review called “Walking Among Them” really struck me and forced me to take a deeper look into Turner’s second to last poem, “In the Guggenheim Museum”: “readers are given an image of the speaker in a poem aware that he is walking among evidence of the dead and his own mortality; however, the recognition of life and the necessity of taking advantage of all living offers, especially an opportunity for love, are emphasized in the work’s italicized final word” (Byrne 8), which is the word alive.  We already know the definition of the word “alive” but Turner does more than find a way to define it through metaphors, he shows us that it’s packed with power and value.
My favorite quote from the entire collection of poems in Phantom Noise comes from the last poem, “The One Square Inch Project” (Turner 93).  It says:
“Because there is not one thing I might say to the world
which the world does not already know.”
So what else can we do but keep moving forward and learning more from the world?  In an interview about his first book of poetry called Here, Bullet, Brian Turner was asked to describe his work in 5 words or less, he replied with:  “It recognizes love. Witnesses loss.”  And I think that description carries over well in Phantom Noise.  In the last stanza of “The One Square Inch Project,” the narrator admits he finds himself a changed person after his return, but he’s “gifted” now to see and hear the world in another way.
Works Cited
Byrne, Edward. “Walking Among Them.” Rev. of Brian Turner’s Phantom Noise. Valparaiso Poetry Review XI.2 (2010). Valparaiso Poetry Review Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Valparaiso University, May-June 2010. Web. 16 Mar. 2012
Turner, Brian. Personal Interview. http://www.arts.gov/artworks/?p=8166. 11July2011.
Turner, Brian. Phantom Noise. Farmington: Alice James Books, 2010. Print.

Things to show what I’m talking about. Zombies are everywhere.

Picture of a zombie flash mob. Why do people do this?
Hit T.V show on AMC. Wasn’t going to have a second season, now its top dog.
Ricky Gervais running from a zombie mob in a commercial for Netflix airing frequently on major channels
NFA Weapons by Fiscal Year. Details to follow
Gun sales have gone up dramatically
a picture of top selling rock artist Rob Zombie, formerly of White Zombie
 earliest of the modern zombie theme, inspired a sequel and began the spree of films in the genre to emerge after

Idea for Poster – Zombies in 3D

  1. Pictures (Attached); I will include pictures from the zombie Film Headlines including N.O.T.L.D & 28 Days Later. I want pictures to be my main attraction on my poster since the topic of zombie film is such a visual idea. My typed work will be mostly spoken, although I will include main points from each paragraph as well as a work’s cited on the poster too. I would also like to include a 3-d and/or video element: I would like the visuals of my poster to be enhanced with 3-d graphics, almost like a zombie “coming out” of the poster, so that my project can be brought to life a little more (no pun intended). I was also thinking about having two laptops set up with one playing Romero’s 1968 black and white classic “Night of the Living Dead” while another simultaneously plays Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” so that just as is discussed in my paper, my audience will be able to observe differences between the two films themselves – almost as if the videos will help to prove my point for me without my saying anything. Also, these movies are just plain cool and I think they will attract a lot of attention from multiple generations remembering the classic zombie horror films of their time.

Images;This is an original poster/ cover for Romero’s original 1968 film, which many still claim to be the scariest movie ever made. Interestingly enough, this zombie doesn’t really look a thing like zombies in modern horror, which I also include pictures of on my poster.

 This is a popular poster sold at almost ever online poster website out there. In fact, my friend has one hanging in his room and I see this everywhere. I don’t understand it but think it’s a pretty interesting conversation point. One word; “Brains”. I don’t understand myself what kind of message or idea this is supposed to convey, but it seems that all of a sudden, zombies are becoming less scary and more ‘cool’. This correlates well in my paper which argues that society as a whole has lost a certain filter which once deemed this kind of imagery inappropriate – the same way that gore, blood, and violence has increased exponentially in modern cinema as opposed to zombie films from the 1960’s and 70’s.

These next two pictures I think are weirdly related in imagery, and use a visual idea to convey partially what my paper will be about. Not just about the fire, but the attitude of 9/11 gave us all a heightened fear and unsafe feeling which is absolutely played out in modern zombie flicks – especially “28 Days” which came out recently after 9/11. Just as our enemies are now so resourceful and destructive they can fly planes into buildings, the modern zombie exhibits similar ‘unstoppable’ feelings to audiences, who can longer imagine the zombie as a slow, docile, weak corpse as Romero’s 1968 “N.O.T.L.D” painted. Zombies, like our enemies, are now something uncanny and unknown, but surely destructive and something to be not only avoided, but feared.

Compare that to imagery from the 1960’s in both cinema and real life. A Nuclear bomb destroys everything, and I believe the slow and somewhat harmless docility of Romero’s zombie’s are reflected in Cold War ideology. Whereas modern zombies are aggressive and forceful, startling and overpoweringly REAL, Romero’s undead served more as a threat to human beings when our guard was let down. Just like politics of the Cold war preached vigilance, it was easier to survive the Zombie apocalypse in the 1960’s because the threat was obvious from far away – you could even outrun a zombie back then which is more than can be said of today. You can outrun a bomb, but deff not a plane.

Why the Graphic Novel is Perfect for Satrapi

Marjane is a bit of rogue, you must admit.  She may have injected some steroids into her fictional self’s subversive attitude, but I get the feeling that she is very much like the outspoken, free-willed individual we get to know through her graphic novel.  That is, why I feel, she chose such a medium.  The graphic novel itself, though not entirely new, is one that avoids classification, canonization, and academia in general.  Judging by the posts, most of us were surprised at how effective Satrapi was in depicting her story through an illustrated narrative constructed in a long series of frames.  It is surprising (and refreshing) isn’t it?  To study a book of pictures in a college course.  I can’t see Persepolis working in any other way though.  Satrapi’s voice is perfect for the graphic novel because of her spunky personality, tendency towards humor, and wild imagination.  Because her life story is quite sad, almost tragic in a way, the graphic novel gives her an authentic way to capture the audience and makes her themes of war and alienation less oppressive on the reader and more emotionally accessible.  She states in an interview with The Believer, “If I were to write a memoir with words, I’d have to figure out a way to express verbally an image I have in my mind. In my case, it’s easier to draw it. And words also are filters. They have to be translated. Even in the original language, there is interpretation and some ambiguity. If there’s a cultural difference between the writer and the reader, that might come out in words. But with pictures, there’s more efficiency.”  Maybe this is why her book (and film) have had such success, but I also think it is Satrapi’s own life that has been caught between the “East” and “West”.  The graphic novel is also in an in between state, which is why it fits her so well.  Here’s another quote from that interview, “Well, of course I do have a little bit of hope. Otherwise, I would just take a shotgun and end it all now. Since I’m alive, I’ll always hope that a miracle could descend on us. My intellect sees no way out, but my instinct for survival is hopeful. It says: let’s try. The day that I don’t have that anymore, I swear to God, I will commit suicide. That’s something I do want to communicate to the readers. Not the suicide, but the hope. What I really believe in is good people. It’s that simple. The bad ones are really crazy, totally out of their minds, and the problem is, you don’t need very many crazies to really screw things up. That’s what gives them their power. But there are more of us, I think.”  Digest that for a little while. Here’s a link to the interview:

Interview with Marjane Satrapi

“Marjane Satrapi.”  The Believer. (August 2006).  Int.  Joshuah Bearman.

As a graphic novel, Persepolis literally illustrates the history for the reader without leaving much to the imagination. Although that might seem like a disadvantage, I think that’s actually appropriate for the content of the novel.  It helps to keep our “western” ideas and conceptualizations of Satrapi’s world separate and we can see her world exactly the way she sees it, even during her childhood.  That made me appreciate this text even more, and how it is helping me understand the Islamic Revolution more clearly.  As part of an assignment for another class, I am keeping up with the current bigger media stories in the Middle East.  Understanding their history on a deeper level has definitely allowed me more incite to their current interests.  (And in case any one is curious, the Arab League Summit  is meeting in Baghdad this week; 2 big topics of discussion are the situation in Syria as well as Iran’s nuclear plans.)

Reading Farideh Goldin’s article called Iranian Women and Contemporary Memoirs made me think about how dangerous writing a memoir can be for an Iranian. Goldin says, “Writing of self is frightening; it has consequences.  Life narratives cannot possibly explain the author’s life alone without involving other family members and friends.” And Satrapi speaks out so boldly of the oppression her friends and family suffered from and their acts of protest.  Goldin’s article also talks about the reason why so many memoirs have been written in recent years and I thought it was interesting that she attributes that partially to the Bush administration creating a stir of western interest in Iran:  “with the wealth of material on Iranian history and the fallout from the Iranian Revolution, and western curiosity about a country that was recently labeled as an axis of evil by the Bush administration, it is possible to have a personal story that is not totally private; it is possible to write a life narrative that is more political than confessional.”  And, at least to me, Persepolis is not an exception to that idea; it tends to act more as an informative story than as a diary, even despite the fact that Satrapi seems to hold back nothing.

I hadn’t started reading graphic novels until my freshman year in college. A few friends of mine were the type of people who had their regular comics sent to them from their hometown comic-book store, or they would travel the distance to Jamestown (the nearest comicbook store around). I had never really given much thought to them, I didn’t like or dislike them, but seeing their interest and dedication I decided to see what they were all about. I started reading Green Lantern (still do) and Batman has since become my absolute favorite (at first I thought he was just a rich guy with no powers; little did I know). Coincidentally I was assigned to read Watchman for Novels and Tales (McRae’s class). I previously thought that graphic novels and the like were cliche nerd paraphernalia, but after reading some on my own and then Watchmen for class my opinion was completely reversed. Graphic novels have the ability to stand on the same level as any other novel or literature. A classic example of this is Watchmen, I know I’m referring to it a lot but that’s because everyone is familiar with it. Watchmen on the surface is a graphic novel, “superheros” fighting against a certain evil. But it tackles a big issue within society, which is who is there to keep those sworn to protect society from taking advantage of their power and using it for their own goals. Moreover, Watchmen isn’t done in a silly way, the images are gritty and the characters are just as real of a portrayal as novelists come up with as well. Maybe this is just personal preference, but the gritty and violent (and not unnecessarily violent) images give the reader a greater impression. The author/artist can use images in addition to text, which enhances the point that is trying to be made.

On the same topic of images, and this may be a little more far-fetched, but graphic novels can use their images to soften or toughen a topic. A perfect example of this is Maus, which all about WW2 and concentration camps. I have seen elementary aged kids reading this and I think the fact that it’s not real people or describing cats, dogs, and pigs as people during WW2 (which seems susceptible to coming across as convoluted), makes it readable to kids of most any age. Conversely, I have seen teachers and parents reading Maus and enjoying it. I believe the power of a graphic novel is in it’s images (astounding), but what I mean is that the images can make subject more real or an issue more age universal. Graphic novels deserve to be on the same level as all other types of literature.

Graphics of Childhood and Depression

I think the most interesting thing about this story as a graphic novel is that it gives somewhat of a history lesson disguised within the Sunday comics. It’s not until the second half of the novel that we get to see Marji as an adult, so the first half documents the experiences of a child growing up among warfare. Being a kid, her view of the world is far more fantastic and magical, as though everything were make believe, and the context being in comic form captures that perfectly. For example, her relationship with God is shown by depicting him as a large bearded man that looks like a cross between Santa and Karl Marx who comes down and speaks to her in an extremely casual and comfortable way. Imagining God as a cartoon in this way, and also putting him at the same level as her, as someone that she can yell at, get mad at, and tell to “Go away” is a great way of representing her child’s mind. In fact, all of the stories of history that she learns from her books and from her parents are depicted in the same way, as though she were using GI Joe’s or Barbie dolls to act out historical events. I think the form of graphic novel for this text does a great job of interpreting the mind of a child understanding “adult” conflicts.

One of my favorite sections in the novel was the chapter titled “The Veil,” in which Marji suffers a dark period of depression, having lost her boyfriend, her money, and a place to live. When she returns home, she feels guilty for being so wrapped up in her own small dramas when the rest of the world, when her home country, when her family were suffering war. She walks through town and feels as though she were “walking through a cemetery…surrounded by the victims of a war I had fled” (251). I couldn’t help comparing this section in the novel to the blog called “Hyperbole and a Half,” whose last post was documenting the writer, Allie Bosh’s, bouts of depression. The blog uses written descriptions and (often hilarious) drawings, much like a graphic novel, to tell stories. In this blog post, titled “Adventures in Depression,” she explains how depression feels, and even illustrates the part of her that scolds herself for being sad for no reason. In fact, it’s a very accurate depiction of feelings of depression. Regardless, the use of graphics helps the narration of her experiences with depression similarly to how it helps Marji’s narration. She depicts her depression with dark images, small self-illustrations, and few words, characterizing a loneliness in the drawings. Not only can the graphics of the novel characterize child-like imaginings, but the visual depiction of feeling depressed.

 

Bosh, Allie. “Hyperbole and a Half.” Hyperbole and a Half. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/&gt;