Monday, September 29, 2008

"..violence turns anybody subjected to it into a thing."

Those words from Susan Sontag's book Regarding the Pain of Others have stuck with me all week. It makes me shudder thinking how true they are. Violence does not recognize a person or a thing it just recognizes the havoc and pain it can reap upon an individual, a community or even a country. Those words I don't think will ever leave my head they just ring through out. As I read the rest of the book those words played through again and again and again. I found that I had to go and reread that chapter just so that those words would never disappear from my memory. The question of , "Why?", still rings through my head as well. I am still working on that.

Susan brings up a good point about war photographs and how it forces the common public to recognize and observe the autrocities that are occuring. It forces an individual to recognize that these things are in fact a reality and not just some rumor floating across the expanses of ocean that separate our country from the next. Why does a person need to see these things to recognized them as truth? Do we believe that human beings are completely incapable of doing such terrible things to eachother? The obvious answer is that we don't because the news, magazines, etc are flooded with the horrible occurences of an average day. Yet, words mean nothing compared to a picture. Its as though we need that image to solidify and validate the words. "A picture is worth a thousand words" this is so true, but the most remembered pictures are the ones that render the viewer speechless.

Pictures are a crucial part of memory. This was even played out in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind each person had to remove every object that reminded them of the memory they were trying to erase. These items are like pictures they hold a memory for a person. Pictures however provide more evidence of such a memory then it does a just a reminder. Victims of wars and of other such autrocities rely on pictures because it is a validation of sorts. It tells them and the rest of the world that yes, these horrible things did happen. No one wants to admit it but these pictures are the visual proof of the pain and anguish of the experience.

Censorship is an issue with photography and Sontag does an excellent job discussing this. We want to be able to see so much and yet there is so much in photography that can be editted and ommited in order to make it appropriate for the public at large. Is this okay? Does it take away from the effectiveness of a picture if you take away some of the blood and hide some of the gore. The answer is yes and it is also no. It is a testament that there are things that most people can not fully handle seeing and it understandable that they wish to hide it. It is also no because the graphicness of these photos are the reality. When they are "prettied" up there is so much taken away. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then I guess autrocity falls under the same scrutiny.

What I don't understand why we don't have a picture museum of American Slavery. We as a country are obligated to feel ashamed for the actions that were committed by out forefathers. Yet, we are more willing to recognized the horrible deeds of another country then we are our own. We are so afraid of admitting that we are not the moral superiors to the rest of the world. Our country has a record as well of committing the good, the bad and the ugly. The ancestors of those enslaved have a right to see a place where there are images validating the fact that their people were in fact subjugated. They have a right to make the public uncomfortable as a means of a reminder and as a hope of a prevention of a repeat of that occurence.

We say the public has become desensitized to violence and bloodshed, but we haven't. We have just become more habituated to its presence. By censoring these images or by refusing to show them is evidence that we are not desensitized, in fact we are terrified of these images. We are afraid of what it will do to our children and to loved ones alike. We are even afraid of what seeing these images could do to ourselves. What we forget is to take the we out of that thought process and think of the them and the others. The ones who are the subjects of these images. We forget that there are people in the images and that aren't just "things".

After reading this book I had to surf google images. I pulled up the napalm picture, the atomic bomb pictures, agent orange, lynching, September 11, and the list goes on. I sat horrified and sick to my stomach but I made myself look. Why, I am not quite sure, but I know I felt compelled to see. I guess I need my own validation or proof that we are, as human beings, capable of doing these horrible things.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

and what if we can't remember the bad times?

This movie left me feeling quite unsettled. Before I watched it I would always joke about wanting to remove certain memories or memories of certain people because they were painful to look back on, but now I have absolutely no desire to do so. Memory is such a normal part of life that you forget how pivotal it is to every action that you make. Everything you do is influenced by something that has happened in your past. Your very identity depends upon everything you experience through out a lifetime.

Joel was a very melancholy character and his views of memory at first seemed to so skewed. He had no true concept of what his memories of Clementine did for him as a person. It really bothered me that he was so willing to erase her from his mind simply because she had done the same with her memories for him. What else really gets me is that he is a person who appeared to think about everything and its possible repurcussions and yet he still agreed to have the memory removal procedure done. I couldn't imagine ever making such a decision lightly or doing it simply to be vindictive. As he was going through the process he suddenly came into the realization of the magnitude of his decision on the rest of his life.

What also intrigued me was how the director portrayed the inevitability of Clementine and Joel becoming part of eachothers lives again. Before they met they were trying so hard to find someone to fill the void that their lives had become. Then, when they met they were able to find that in eachother. I am surprised that the doctor did not warn them that they would eventually find eachother again to fill the same void. They would be right back to where they were before they met so their attraction was inevitable. The memories are simply erased their tastes and their feelings are not altered.

It really bothered me that Harvey kept Mary around after he erased the memory of the affair he had with her. It shows that he saw his ability to remove memories as more of a power rather than a help to his patients. It was his way of exhibiting control over a world that is meant to be entirely out of control. You would think he would recognize that the memories still linger even after they are erased. Mary was not subtle with her attraction to Harvey. It was as though he wanted to keep her around just in case he wanted to mess around on his wife again. Afterwards he could simply coerce her again to undego the procedure to "erase" the memory from her mind.

I was also really bothered by the fact that he and Stan kept the procedure going on Joel after he was showing extreme signs of resistance. A normal human being would observe such a reaction and make the assumption to stop the procedure rather than complete it to prevent any further complications. It was as though Harvey was afraid of admitting his treatment did not positively impact his clients and that it was, in fact, a complete failure.

After watching this movie I am more and more thankful for every memory that I have. Each one whether painful or happy greatly affects who I am. Life can not simply be a stream of happy moments because then people would be living a life with goals or aspirations. Pain and difficulty are necessary for growth. Each makes an individual evaluate a situation and make predictions about the possible effect its going to have on their life. After they have made the decision they then can reflect upon as to whether or not it affected their life in the way they had hypothesized. Gratification would be nothing with out failure. Love can not be felt with out some understanding of pain and loss. Pain is forever imprinted in our memories along with the good memories as a way for an individual to prepare themself for the next step in life.

This movie also brings up thoughts of repressed memory with me. I wonder what would happen if a person was forced to tap into a repressed memory before their body allowed them to recall it. Would it have as durastic effects as wiping away a memory? I think it would. Each person is equipped to deal with each situation differently. If a person is never able to reach a level where they can recall this memory, however, what happens? This question really bothers me. Do they continue to live on with out a care in the world or do they feel as though their "skin doesn't fit" because a pivotal moment in their personal development is left out. In the case of my sister it caused her to be stuck in a childlike state late into her twenties. She is finally recalling some of these repressed memories and the growth she has shown as an adult is unbelievable.

I believe that with out painful memories that a person becomes immobilized and loses what makes them human. Pain can stir so many different emotions from individuals. After the person reacts they begin to analyze their reactions. This raises the "Why? question. Without this people would lack the ability to understand. With understanding comes empathy and sympathy. How can one feel either if they have never felt pain or have no recollection of pain?
Joel mentioned after the procedure how he didn't feel like a whole person and Clementine mentioned feeling as though her skin didn't fit. They both lost something that their identities depended on in its definition of itself. They were missing parts of the whole.

It also brings up how pain draws people together. They seek solace or release from one another and this then creates a bond. Granted this is the only thing that bonds people together, but it is one of the more prominent. When you admit to being pain whether it be emotionally or physically you are making yourself vulnerable to the other person. This vulnerability is a sign of trust and afterwards a bond will be facilitated between you and the other individual because you were willing to expose so much. You become more aware of the other person and how they work when they discuss wit you at length why they are hurting. This again helps you see the individual as a whole rather than just in bits and pieces.

So the basic conclusion that to experience pain and to understand and overcome is part of what makes a person a person. It helps to define them and to explain their later actions. Erasing any sort of painful memory would be like removing a limb from your emotional and mental body. Pain is necessary for growth. If you are missing it you are forced to repeat what you lost as Joel and Clementine have to at the end of the movie.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thoughts continued

So after thinking more about this book as the days have gone on I find myself becoming more and more frustrated with what Wall had to say. His entire book had great information but no "real" conclusions about pain. There are beginnings of a conclusion but its never fully developed, at least from the medical standpoint. I am still irked about him writing off holistic healing because this was something that predated medicine and it worked. I wish he could have gotten over the whole " I am a doctor" and instead looked at pain and the treatment of it from an unbiased point of view. For everyone there's a different level of effectiveness for every treatment. You would think that after all of his research he would have been able to come to some sort of understanding of this. He hints that he does, but he never verbalizes it. While I respect him for the work on the medical side in the research of pain I respect him less for not being able to research the holistic side as well. Like medicine it doesn't have an exact measurement of how well its going to work for each individual. It's not just a placebo effect. For some people they immediately feel relief from a headache moments after they take a pain killer even though the medicine will take 20 minutes to go through their system and work. Is it the pain killer that actually worked or was it the placebo effect of taking a pill that is supposed to take away the pain and discomfort. The medical side of dealing with pain is just as hazy as the holistic because no one (as far as I have seen) has been able to fully understand pain in general. So I don't think Wall should have classified holistic medicine a placebo way of healing instead he should have looked at it as an alternative to invasive medical treatments of pain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh, the phantom limb

I found this book to be both and interesting and at other times redundant. I was truly fascinated by the mention of amputees being able to "feel" their removed limbs, but I was unaware that it was usually pain that they felt. This caused me to look at physical pain in a whole new light. I always figured that pain had to be caused by some action or stimulus whether it be do to injury or sickness. I never thought that it could be felt due to a lack of having a full nerve connection. I had always thought that it was interesting that an amputee could "feel" their missing limb and I had never taken it quite seriously that they could feel pain or discomfort with it. The whole idea leaves me a bit unsettled as well because it goes to show the complete lack of understanding that the world as a whole has for pain. The repetition by the author on the fact that a person can not fully describe pain also intrigued me. How does one describe their level of pain? Can there really be a standardization that will help those in the medical field better deal with a patient in pain? It truly is frustrating to go to the hospital and be unable to communicate to your doctor the pain you are feeling and how intense it is. How do you relate to another person's pain as well? Everyone has a different version of what hurts so there is going to be a lot lost in translation between people on the level of pain. Pain itself is such a small word for something that covers a broad scope of sensation. I think the author does a very good job in portraying that in the various examples he uses in discussing pain levels and communicating them. One would think that the medical community would be working to find a way to better understand and treat pain, and yet in three hundred years we haven't really made too many huge discoveries. Instead the medical community has only found more things that leave them thoroughly perplexed. The one thing I didn't like much about the author is that he had a strange way of trying to come to conclusions. He circled around an idea before he actually addressed it. He also mentioned all different types of scales used to describe pain and yet didn't seem to let the reader know which seemed to produce the best results for an individual in pain trying to communicate to another. His discounting of holistic healing I think is incorrect. I have found in my experience that certain types of holistic healing such as shiatsu or cranial sacral therapy to be quite beneficial for individuals who suffer from sports injuries or chronic who have found main stream medicine and treatments to be completely ineffective. This type of healing has been around for centuries so there has to be some form of effectiveness to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A lil about me

I was grew up in a small town, and by small town I mean we had cows on the front lawn of my high school. I grew up as a navy brat so I did do some moving. My family moved six times but it was only between three states so it wasn't too bad. I am one of four kids and I am a twin. I am very close to my family and consider it to be one of the more important things in my life. I am the youngest but only by 52 minutes, but if you ask my twin its an hour.
I love to create things. I hate sitting down and doing nothing. I almost have too many hobbies. I do everything from simple artwork to making jewelry to building elaborate forts in the woods. I am also an outdoorsy kind of girl. I am not very "girly" as some would say in the getting dirty sense of things. I love to go frogging, puddle jumping, mud sliding, etc. The dirtier you can get the better for me. I am an avid tree climber always have been always will be.
I am very interested in fashion. I have an appreciation for mainstream fashion but I appreciate more of a free spirited type of fashion. I love being able to wake up in the morning and put on what makes me happy not what is fashionably acceptable nor do I believe a person has to stick to one specific look. Later on in life I would like to own my own boutique that carries women's fashions as well as mens. I want to pull in a line of my own as well as fashions from across the world. I also have an avid love affair and deep appreciation for lingerie. I think its so fascinating how it has evolved through time and I LOVE all the different variations you can find.
Well I think thats a pretty good overview

Good night!