Pagan’s use of narrative in this piece is extremely effective because it successfully shows the consistencies of travel culture and human interests from ancient Roman times until now. While a large part of the article emphasizes how different traveling back than was compared to now, it also focused on similarities of human nature. Roman holidays may have been elaborate, months-long educational journeys, but what they left behind and what tourists nowadays search for in the streets of Pompeii, are sketches of male genitalia. Our fascination with doing things we probably shouldn’t extends back to Roman times and probably before then as well. The use of narrative in this article, specifically when the author’s girlfriend is searching for the pictures of penises through the streets of Pompeii, is a casual way to connect the modern reader to the ancient Roman traveler. While they may be separated by thousands of years and several civilizations, there are also things that bring them together and things that have never changed. It’s so easy to get lost in the grand measure of history and culture when looking at ancient civilizations. Sometimes we need a reminder that they were people just like us, with interests, hobbies, problems, and yes, penis drawings.
The best way to explain the effectiveness of visual rhetoric is to put them in side by side comparison. That’s exactly what Jenae Cohn does in “Understanding Visual Rhetoric.” In the very beginning of the article, she puts two pictures of the same tray of burger and fries next to each other. One has good lighting, the food is arranged aesthetically, and looks extremely appetizing. In the other, the lighting makes the fries and burger look old, there is no aesthetic placement of the food items and it looks more like we should be on the lookout for something crawling off of the tray. These two pictures of identical items shows the impact of visual rhetoric. The first is appetizing and inviting, and the second is grim and would make someone think twice before eating the contents of the tray. This comparison does exactly what Cohn wanted it to do: show the effectiveness of visual rhetoric and how it can influence people’s opinions and attitudes about the items in the photograph.
All over the world the unsung armies of semioticians, the tourists are fanning out in search of the sign of Frenchness, typical Italian behavior, exemplary Oriental scenes, typical American thruways, traditional English pubs.
Urry uses confirmation to affirm the idea of the tourist gaze, that whenever we are tourists in foreign countries, everything we see becomes a staple of that country and its culture. Not only does everything we see become an extension of our idea of that country, but we bring our own preconceptions of what we expect and try to fit our experiences to match our preconceptions. For example, if you see a couple kissing in the street in Paris you will view that differently than seeing a couple kissing in the street in your hometown somewhere in Nebraska. In Paris, its romantic and expected. That’s how it should be. In Nebraska it’s probably more of an annoyance. If you see someone eating a croissant in Miami, you probably won’t think twice about it. If you see someone eating a croissant in Paris, it’s suddenly oh so French. When tourists go to Paris, the city of love and croissants, they expect to see those things, so when they do, their preconceptions are affirmed. It’s a lot like confirmation bias. When you go somewhere looking for something specific, you will probably find it. And when you do, you will exclaim how right you were about the whole thing. The reality, however, is that you found it because you were looking for it, not the other way around.
Vituperation against a man whose mother just died seems like the harshest way to use literary exercises but it somehow works for David Sedaris. At first, Sedaris is outraged that the people in First Class are complaining about a man crying because his mother died. This seems like a fair reaction. But later he wonders if the man isn’t maybe overdoing it. He’s not arguing against the concept of crying, or crying for a dead mother, or even of men crying. He is specifically talking about this man crying for his dead mother. He uses this vituperation to show how ugly we all can be in situations like this. When reading his article, we can all identify with (or at least I can) having these same thoughts when seeing someone crying. Come on is it really that bad? Can you really not keep it together? And then on the other end of the spectrum, when we are the ones suffering, we, like David Sedaris, have been preoccupied about how distraught we look, how distraught we SHOULD look, and the theatrics of it all. Maybe Sedaris and I are just two self-absorbed individuals, but with his vituperation, Sedaris is shining a light on our own inner thoughts and how ugly we can all be when someone is suffering.
In this article, Cardell argues that selfies are a form of travel writing and add to the cultural narrative of travel. This is a refutation of the generally accepted societal notion that looks down on selfies. The notion that selfies somehow pollute and decrease the value of the travel narrative. Nobody wants to be the tourist with the selfie stick. But Cardell argues that selfies actually show a more authentic view of the places where they are taken because they tell the story of the person in the selfie in the context of the location. It’s a form of “autobiographical travel” without the pages and pages of text, months or even years of writing and editing until publishing, and without the cost of publishing a book. Instead, this is the experience of the average traveler in a snapshot. Cardell also refutes the idea that selfies are always vain and self-centered. In the example of the selfie at Anzac Cove, the selfie-taker is looking away from the camera and into the water, so that the attention isn’t on her but on the location behind her. In the caption, she also makes sure to describe to her audience where she is and the significance of the place. By purposefully taking attention away from her by looking away from the camera, she emphasizes her surroundings and what she’s looking at, which achieves the goal she is looking for: turning her audience’s attention to Anzac Cove.
The article “America the Marvelous” is very reminiscent of the perspective that Barry Blitt writes. What it reminds me of is a conversation I had with my friend where we agreed that “America wasn’t the greatest country in the world”, which proceeded with a list of reasons why we hate America. But after some time, there was this childlike positivity spark, the kind of spark that makes you think that you can do anything, and we then thought about the sparkly image of America and what really it has done over the years (while still retaining the dull character that comes along with the negatives).
The way that I would describe the beginning of the article is that America is the worst place in the world. This comes down to the naïve nature that Americans pose, and the bias that Americans are all selfish monsters that create what they want and destroy what they do not want. Not that America plays God, but at some points, the attitude feels godlike with the power of a child throwing a tantrum. The childish image of America is really carrying its already tattered image to a whole new level, while the rest of the world is laughing in our faces. The only thing I can laugh about is the fact that Brexit happened, so that is something that I have on Europe as a whole, but I digress.
However, to contrast in the later paragraphs, Blitt attacks the rest of the world for the fact that the old world patronizes the younger nation of America. For instance, in the quote below, there is a great example of America setting the tone for many of the things that the world can take for granted.
“These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and will all adore New York. More than that, more shaming and hypocritical than that, these are people who collectively owe their nations’ and their personal freedom to American intervention and protection in wars”
While it never stood out to me, it did kind of shock me when I finally realized that the rest of the world hates America, yet the US stands out as one of the most important countries culturally and economically. The cultural part of this example can be mixed since yes we make and consume products that the rest of the world adores, but that doesn’t counteract the fact that America can be very unsympathetic of other cultures and of other peoples from other cultures. I guess the underlying racism covered up by the positives can be added to the reasons that America sucks so much. Chocolates and flowers can’t cover up the fact that America has a shiny yet stinky culture.
The rest of the articles builds this theme of accomplishments, and what that means in the long run of the image of America and Americans as a whole. While not all people are naïve and selfish, just as not all Americans are lazy and unhealthy, the fact of the matter is that a country like the US is not the most perfect in the world and that when it is all said and done, while hated, America has its influence all over the globe, even if the rest of the world hates it.
A Response to Gills Main Aim
Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect. These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and will all adore New York.
In recent times people are quick to trash America. I suspect it is because critically analyzing the challenges the States faces is too difficult, so their solution is to trash talk Americans and use them as a scapegoat. People outside of America seem to be extremely critical of what we do and how we do it. Funny, because most of the time they only offer cynicism and no constructive feedback. Somewhat like a bully in the third grade. Even though I am praising the point above, I completely understand that America faces real obstacles and could improve on many structural aspects of our country. However, people often forget the tremendous accolades America has produced. They reap the benefits from our scientific discoveries, and cultural exports, yet they seem to sit on a high horse above it all, while they feed it a Big Mac and scroll through the internet. I remember while traveling through Southeast Asia, people would ask where I’m from. The moment I said the states I was then an ambassador for all Americans forced to go to defend the many issues people were consumed with. At first I agreed with most foreigners, but after a while I started to argue for the greatness of the States tooth and nail. How could I betray the place that raised me and gave me everything I am today? The best response I started to come up with was simply nodding my head and then asking, “Why do you care so much about what we do in the States?” Their response was often because we are so darn terrible, but I always tried to say, “You care because of how important we are. You care because America’s decisions affect the world, when was the last time people cared so much about your country?” It was a very arrogant response, but also very American. Gill goes on to mention that Europeans love to turn their nose at smelly Americans, yet our decisions historically and today still affect their lives. But sadly Americans seem to do that too. There is a lack of gratitude for what this country gives the world. Again I do not want to negate the palpable and massive issues America needs to fix. Although, I believe what Gill is pointing out is there needs to be some gratitude or validated patriotism for the States. He nor I am saying to blindly support this country while belting the star spangled banner, but think critically about what the States has done and given you. Be as critical as you want, but have it be constructive criticism. Stop trashing the states because it makes you feel smart, educated, and above it all.
In “Fifty Shades of Greyhound,” Harrison Scott Key praises the idea of a “bus person.” A bus person, he says, is not like a plane person, who is pretentious and talks about skiing or doesn’t talk to you at all because they will be off the plane in a few hours and why would they spend that time talking to you? A bus person, he argues, is a person who will delve into conversations of truth and life because they’ll be on that bus for well over 10 hours and will have plenty of time for such self-reflection and must share their findings with their fellow passengers. The bus person is a very specific kind of no non-sense, tell-it-like-it-is traveler. The writer praises the idea of a bus person to show his audience that the mind space of a bus person is somethin we all have the capacity to be and should occasionally get off our high horse and realize that we all at one point or another at least had the elusive dream of being a bus person, or leaving everything behind and hopping on a bus either for new adventure or to forget about life’s responsibilities for a while. Whether we want to admit it or not, we envy the bus person who just hops on a bus and goes.
There is in Europe another popular snobbery, about the parochialism of America, the unsophistication of its taste, the limit of its inquiry. This, we’re told, is proved by “how few Americans travel abroad.” Apparently, so we’re told, only 35 percent of Americans have passports. Whenever I hear this, I always think, My good golly gosh, really? That many? Why would you go anywhere else? There is so much of America to wonder at. So much that is the miracle of a newly minted civilization. And anyway, European kids only get passports because they all want to go to New York.
Like most things I think, the truth is somewhere in the middle. A. A. Gill is right — America’s cultural contributions to the modern world have permeated every connected community around the globe. America’s infamy and pain reaches just as far. For all our pride, we should have just as much shame. On the international stage, we needn’t pay attention to the petty insults coming from old Europe that Gill describes. They still rely on us, which means that these insults, ultimately, are empty.
Spending any time at all on defending against these is simply wasted time, and romantic ode’s to America’s greatness often feel empty, like they leave out the deep shame of America’s past and present.
In America the Marvelous by A. A. Gill, the commonly held notions between the view of America from a European lens is explained.
“Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect”
This is a commonly understood way of how Europeans view Americans, and in all honesty, it is correct. The average American who travels abroad does not understand the tourist gaze, the cultural norms of the place they visit, or even the sheer privilege of being an American has on them. Americans typically just make reservations at a hotel, buy a plane ticket, and jet-set off to whatever country piques their interest.
A lot of discussions have been had recently about cultural norms in class and what makes an American feel like an American. As viewed in Tresspass by Theroux, what made him feel like an American was being taken advantage of, and having the unknowing of culture turned against him. When Americans travel abroad, as I stated earlier, they typically do not research before traveling abroad. And due to this, it not only casts them in a negative light for appearing that they are above another’s culture but also puts the tourist at a disadvantage for their lack of knowledge.
Though, as explained by Gill, Europeans also take America for granted due to its advantages. This type of understanding of the world does not simply refer to one nation or area over another, but rather nearly all places. There is this idea of “snobbery” that pervades the ideals of Europeans due to the culture that surrounds western ideals. While there are many problems with America and its schools of thought, the origination of western thought has given Europeans a sense of superiority. Europeans hold certain American aspects in high regard, but they still look down on others. What Gill is explaining is the tourist gaze of America by another western nation and details how the tourist gaze affects Europeans specifically.