Author Archives: neden6378

From my paper on Avatar

I thought I would share this kind of interesting connection I had found in my paper:

Another one of the characters that I think is of great importance to the topic of economic politics that gets pushed aside by many people is Dr. Grace Augustine. Author Sverker Sorlin spends much of his essay “Works Of Doubt And Leaps Of Faith: An Augustinian Challenge To Planetary Resilience” talking about Dr. Augustine and her important role in the film. We forget that she is the creator of the avatar program on Pandora and is constantly showing signs of dissent against what the military is doing. She is portrayed as the “supreme authority” about life on Pandora and has become a great example of an “ethno-biologist” and as Sorlin put it that she is, “trying to find out how the finer mechanisms between the human and non-human worlds operate in a local setting” (Sorlin 159). Her research is one that she hopes will protect the Na’vi and their world from the effects of the company’s mining, but like anything it takes time to gather samples and get results. She constantly defends the Na’vi world and is very aggressive the company owner Mr. Selfridge (I think a play on words of selfish) despite the fact that she knows the company pays for her research. Her understanding became that our mismanagement of resources on Earth, seen by how the company is forced off Earth for resources, was proving to be the same result on Pandora. Dr. Augustine leads a life convinced that the Na’vi wisdom of their connection to nature is the greatest resource that one could have.

Emerson’s Nature

It really was no surprise to me that this reading of Emerson’s Nature went along well with our movie Into the Wild. Just like Emerson, Chris sees the many flaws that society has and the distractions that go with it. To experience the “wholeness” of nature, Emerson wants us to get away from these things in society (kind of what Chris does in the film). Emerson goes on to describe that solitude is the only way that humans can discover this, and again the way Chris lives out his time in nature. Emerson says, “To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars.” Instead, Emerson feels that people only use nature for our own selfish needs and our own desires. It also interests me how he uses religion and spirituality when writing this; he says, “The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship”. I kind of took this as a way to see nature as a divine being almost. Nature certainly is a life giver; trees supply wood for homes, plants provide food, etc. I don’t necessarily think Emerson wants us to worship nature, but maybe to revere it and understand why we really need. It’s interesting to see how many connections we had to this reading and our film as Dr. Findling noted in his email so keep looking everyone!

Into the Wild Screening Report

This movie was one of the most interesting that we have viewed so far. I found myself getting frustrated with our character Chris at several points in the film. I felt like the conclusion was on of resolve still because it seems Chris discovered what he was looking for; to be alone. The difference was that he was totally and completely isolated, but it may not have been what he wanted. He was pressured to leave mainly because he didn’t have a very good family life. His parents didn’t get along well and the clip where his father was abusive would make any child want to not be around home. The pressure of living a very “ambitious” life from his wealthy parents was obviously another reason that he wanted to leave. So Chris sets off looking to escape the way the world has become and find a place where nature is the only thing that’s around. I like how the director uses a lot of motion shots with lots of camera movement to show the dynamic change that takes place both in Chris and in the places around him. One thing I didn’t understand was how much Chris placed the principle of reaching nature over people. Meeting people like Ron Franz (the old guy) would have made me want to stay because of his great compassion and trust to a stranger. I even thought that he was really going to return and see Tracy Tatro (the 17 year old) with his hippie “family” because it seemed like that was the most compassion he had ever seen. It just seems all to perfect a life to return to and with the entrapment of the river, I wasn’t surprised that the thing Chris wanted most ended up keeping him there (actually caught myself saying be careful what you wish for). I definitely think this movie was an emotional appeal because it shows scenes that make us wonder what it would have been like if Chris hadn’t been able to touch all the lives of the people he met, and then was able to go back and see them again. It being a true story (and not revealed until the very end) made it an even more appeal to our senses. Did Chris find peace out there? I think he did, but unfortunately he never got to see the real reaction of his parents that was very much imprinted on his last thoughts.

Paper Proposal: Diving into Avatar

I’ve decided that for my paper I’m going to do Option A and dive deeper into the world of Avatar because I don’t think one short screening report did the film justice. I’ve always been fascinated by the film and the themes it presented ever since I saw it when it came out. I think that James Cameron has a deep connection with nature and wants his audience to have the same type of connection. One of my authors quoting Cameron as saying, “Avatar asks us all to be warriors of the Earth”. My argument will be centered around some of the same things that I discussed in my blog post; the connection between the Na’vi and Native Americans, the oil war and the connection to militarism, the social sarcasm of “unobtanium”, and the general connection to nature that is constantly presented in the film. My thesis will be centered on this idea: “In this paper I will discuss how in the film Avatar it encourages people to become more active in taking care of the world they live by developing a better connection with the Earth”. I know that I want to argue that the film definitely has had an impact on the way people treat the environment and is another step in awareness.

Bibliography

Holtmeier, Matthew. “Post-Pandoran Depression Or Na’vi Sympathy: Avatar, Affect, And Audience Reception.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 4.4 (2010): 414-424. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This academic article discusses James Cameron’s comment that “Avatar asks us all to be warriors of the Earth”. The author gives two types of reactions to the film; “Na’vi Sympathy” (change in movie goers worldview) and “Post-Pandoran Depression” (desire for unreal “techno-spiritual” world of Pandora).

Istoft, Britt. “Avatar Fandom As Nature-Religious Expression?.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 4.4 (2010): 394-413. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This is an article where the author did a study by looking into the fan base of Avatar to see if the film really had an impact on their environmental practices. I will use this article to argue that the film has had an impact based on what the author has discovered.

Scheide, Frank1. “Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis”, Avatar (2009), And The Representation Of Native Americans In Hollywood Film.” International Journal Of The Arts In Society 5.6 (2011): 197-210. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 24 July 2013.

I will use this article to connect the Na’vi and the Native Amercians. This author argues that Avatar is a great film to use when displaying the “Hollywood Native American” and did better than films like Pocahontas or Dances with Wolves.

Taylor, Bron, and Adrian Ivakhiv. “Opening Pandora’s Film.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 4.4 (2010): 384-393. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This is a short academic journal article about some of the ecological issues presented in Avatar. More importantly, the authors discuss the point I would like to make about connections to the military force in the film and how that relates to private security forces today, human rights violations, and the war over oil.

von Heland, Jacob, and Sverker Sörlin. “Works Of Doubt And Leaps Of Faith: An Augustinian Challenge To Planetary Resilience.” Journal For The Study Of Religion, Nature & Culture 6.2 (2012): 151-175. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 July 2013.

This academic journal discusses global environmental politics from the vantage point of Avatar. It references several times the work of scientist Dr. Augustine and how their thoughts relate to the film.

 

The Nature Loving Church, part 2

In a previous post I had talked about St. Francis and how he was the “nature lover”, but what about our newly elected Pope who chose the name Francis. He told the media that he did chose the name after St. Francis of Assisi, but he did not because of his nature loving side but his care for the poor. Still, this great voice for the Church has talked about the environment several times since being elected Pope.

On World Environment Day he commented: “We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation.  The implications of living in a horizontal manner [is that] we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs.

Pope Francis being a Jesuit has a deep connection to the simple things in life like taking care of the poor and having deep connections to creation (and therefore nature). I think we should all be on the look out for more nature commentary in his speeches or homilies in the future!

Link to some more of his environment lines: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/catholic-teachings/pope-francis/

Leopold Land Ethic and Education

In Leopold’s land ethic, he argues that the basic principle of the land ethic is, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” He also describes that, “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land….land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.”

I think Leopold’s most interesting point that I wanted to talk about this time came from the conclusion where he discussed how, “Perhaps the most serious obstacle impeding the evolution of a land ethic is the fact that our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land.” That caught my attention and got me thinking about how I can’t remember in my own education if I ever had a course that talked about environmental issues (except this one of course). This course wasn’t mandatory and was chosen by us; so how could we be educated about these issues? Some states have started the “Education and Environment Initiative (EEI)” for K-12, but it seems to be an early program. So if our education (and economics) aren’t aware of this idea of land ethic, than I can see why this would be an issue.

Princess Mononoke

Well what we have here ladies and gentleman is a another classic version of man vs nature, except this time the nature actually talks back and fights. No blue monkeys or Indians shooting arrows at the big guys, but there’s still the guns on the side that seems to have the biggest advantage. My first question is why shoot the movie as an animation film? Well I would have to say that it’s mostly due to the Japanese culture, but also because it’s very “fantastic” in the way of myths, talking animals, spirits, gods, etc. Anyone have nerd status like me and seen the TV series on Nickelodeon called Avatar the Last Airbender (another foreign animation)? I think that there are several instances where this movie reminds me of the series because the evil “fire nation” uses its fire and machines to torch the earth. This time we see a “spirit” turned demon by the very materials pulled out of the earth. The intention to me to get this steel made is to see who has the bigger stick; either it’s going to be Iron Town or the Samurai attacking the town and Lady Eboshi is very intent on making sure she has the bigger stick. Is Ashitaka the hero? Well sure he is, but what about Princess Mononoke? Ashitaka is the hero for the town while Mononoke is the hero for the forest. I think it’s also very symbolic that after the forest spirit’s angry headless form destroys the forest, it then destroys Iron Town; without the forest there is no wood to burn the fires in the shops and therefore no steel to make. The ending is flooded with notions that things will only get bad again. Lady Eboshi says that they will build a BETTER town. Does that mean more guns or even bigger ones? Or does that mean they will build a town that isn’t so dependent on tearing down the angry forest. I don’t think Lady Eboshi will start out being a destructive force again, but who’s to say that who ever follows her won’t. Just as our very blunt monk said early in the film, “You’re under a curse so is the whole damn world”.