Lucas Enrique Fernandez

Understanding Visual Rhetoric

Thesis or Theme:

In Understanding Visual Rhetoric Jenae Cohn delves into the wonders of visual rhetoric that impact our decision making in our everyday lives. Visual rhetoric is present in the advertisements we see when we try to decide something to eat, the colors of the buildings we visit to make themselves more appealing, and the signs on our roads to grab our attention.

if we limit ourselves to words in our arguments, we may not successfully reach our audiences at all.

Here Cohn asserts that visual cues hold an essential power over our brains that is key in persuading and directing another individual. In a split second, an image or a visual cue may allow the reader to better understand something than it can be broken down into by words. Cohn drives this point home by giving an example from a menu where explaining the effect given by the visual actually takes a lot longer than just looking at the image, and when you are in a hurry you want to process information as quickly as possible.

Cohn then dives into how different forms of visual rhetoric influence us as well. Lines may be used to show us where to focus our attention, like where we should walk or where we should keep out of. Size is also another straightforward visual rhetorical strategy where what you want the viewer to see will be big while less important information will be smaller and more obscure. Color can be used to pull at a viewer’s emotions, using red may be a way to signal that something is dangerous or intense. However, it is also interesting to note that this is not the case in a place like China, where red is a lucky color. This means visual cues also rely on contextual knowledge of the viewer. Visual rhetoric meant to influence one audience may have a very different effect on another audience. These elements highlight how the combination of different visual stimuli allow us to understand and interact with the world, along with being pulled in every which direction along the way.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

The Birthplace of the American Vacation


The American Vacation. This simple concept is one that for many represents a time of rest, exploration, and luxury. However, I believe that this concept is one that has shackled many areas and the people living in them. It is this concept that has turned people’s homes into tourist traps and places of nature, that an individual could appreciate on their own, into places that are torn down and changed for profit. Even the Adirondacks glorified in the reading, first by William H.H. Murray then by Tony Perrottet, are not exempt from this. The author’s guide said

even back in Murray’s day, a lot of the forest was being logged, clear-cut and burned. In the early 1900s, a logging railroad even went right by this river. The biggest trees would have been 300 to 400 years old, and grown as high as 150 feet. Even though the logging stopped a century ago, it will take a couple of hundred years more to get back to its original state.

This story in of itself shows the tragedy brought about by American travel. If this area was left alone to begin with, there would be no need to try to preserve it and leave it alone…we were the problem that damaged the area to begin with. Humans have a curious duality where we find the beauty of thing while simultaneously destroying them. The American vacation is then a dangerous concept where our greed and desire overcomes our thoughts to believe that we are more entitled to an area and its beauty, and the labor of the people surrounding it, in order to take a break from our lives and enjoy our vacation.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

September 11th Progym


An Ode to Difference

Is there a concept more beautiful and worthy of praise than difference? Difference breeds competition, giving the opportunity for people to prove their own uniqueness. Without difference there would be no Olympic Games,  and no Taco Bell in the USA or McDonald’s in Asia. Difference allows for a new perspective, looking outside of the rose-colored view of sameness. This is where the fire of progress and innovation are birthed. We look up to those who are different the Michael Jordans, the Beyonces, and the Albert Einsteins of the world. Difference allows us to better experience and appreciate the world around us, giving us a break from the mundane when we travel. Difference is not something to be scared of, but rather something to embrace. It not only leads us towards tolerance but gives us a chance to look into ourselves and reflect on what makes us us.


I chose to do an Encomium on difference because Pico Iyer again  touches on cultural differences and exchange in The Foreign Spell, where he explores the concept of foreignness. Iyer believes him being foreign is a gift claiming that “As some are born with the blessing of beauty or a musical gift, as some can run very fast without seeming to try, so I was given from birth, I felt, the benefit of being on intimate terms with outsiderdom.” Iyer’s writing itself seems to be an encomium as he notes while others are quick to scorn difference and being an outsider, he believes for it to be an asset and something he cherishes.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

September 8th Progym

Traveling With An Open Mind

Thesis or Theme:

Without looking, set the scene outside your window right now. Even if you do not get every detail correctly, the majority of what you describe should be correct due to your familiarity with the area surrounding you. Now if I were to say to travel to a different country and perform the same task, it may prove to be much more difficult. Travel breeds unfamiliarity, travel pushes us to move outside of the comfortably constructed worlds we trap ourselves in during the daily routines of our lives. That is why Pico Iyer argues the reason we travel to escape from our lives, wake up our minds, and in turn learn more about ourselves from our journey.

Iyer perfectly captures the essence of travel in his opening paragraph. Claiming that

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate… And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

This idea drives home the first point that we travel to escape from our daily lives. Adventure allows us to alleviate the pains and struggles of which we face at home and “slow time down” in an experience that allows us to take in and appreciate our world. Iyer also makes the connection that travel is a way for our minds to wake up, remarking,

And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed.

We must keep our minds open when we travel, looking with an innocent eye, receptive to everything the experience has to offer. If we do not do this then we are not completely devoting ourselves to our travels, which is a waste of time. The final component of why we travel is to learn about ourselves, Iyer remarks

if more and more of us have to carry our sense of home inside us, we also — Emerson and Thoreau remind us — have to carry with us our sense of destination.

In our travels we take with us a sense of home, but when we take to our travels it gives us a break from that allowing for us to deeply reflect on our lives and home and instill a sense of yearning for what we have already.

Some may argue that travel is not all about reflection, some people just travel for the fun of that. To that I ask, are you not travelling to leave behind your normal lives? You are seeking fun, but why not seek that fun at home? Travel provides the escape from the familiarity and the mundane in normal life. Next, to be able to have this fun, do you not have to keep your mind open in your travels? Sometimes you must stray from the road most popularly traveled and be truly receptive to the culture of the place you are traveling to have the most pleasurable experience. Lastly, once you are done with these travels do you not find yourself reflecting on the journey you took, or of what life will be like once you get back home? In that moment, your travels have granted you the gift of self-reflection both a reason why and a positive outcome of travel.

The memories from our travels live on in our hearts, even in William Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud the author finds himself thinking about the sights he saw during his travels later on his couch. Travel provides us with sparks of knowledge, of which we would never find otherwise. Taking steps into the unknown in these places where that is all that surrounds us, allows for people to shed the ignorance of knowledge and become learners anew. The joy of travel is taking this open-mindedness back home with us, to hold until the next time we find ourselves yearning for the unfamiliar.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

Sept 4th Blog Post

Summer Days


Summer is the season of travel. It is during this time where many venture away from their old lives and take a break somewhere abroad to start anew. Last summer I knew I needed an escape from the mundane in my life here in Maryland. Waking up to the sound of lawn mowers buzzing, the feeling of muggy weather, and the sight of monotonous suburbia would not cut it for me this year. While helping my dad collect some ribs off the the sizzling grill I decided I wanted to go visit my family in Puerto Rico.

From the moment I stepped off the plane in San Juan, I breathed a sigh of relief. The seabreeze was exactly what I needed, both soothing and a perfect way to beat the summer heat. After the hellos, hugs, and kisses necessary when seeing your abuelos again, I was finally off on my way to the other side of the island. On the way to Aguadilla, Palm trees sprung from the ground a reminder of where I was and its difference from the home I left behind. Looking out the window from the air-conditioned car I saw beautiful greens, reds, and yellows danced together among the treetops and flowerbeds painting a portrait of harmony.

When we reached the house it seemed as if a matter of urgency came to the table, Spanish filling the corridors of the house, all to make sure the youngest grandson was fed. Soon enough cousins began popping up from the crevices of the island, more hugs and kisses ensued, and the food of Puerto Rico began appearing on the dining table. Rice with consemme, all types of meat, tostones, and sorullitos proudly on display. As the night fell, stars draping the sky the clearest I’d seen them in forever, the friendly banter died down, and under the moon’s gaze, sleep prevailed.

The next day we decided to do a popular summer activity, journeying to the beach. Seeing as we were on an island our selection of beaches was plentiful, however only one could provide the thrill I needed, Jobos beach. My tio is a veteran surfer and thus it was “in my genes” and a requirement I went to the waiting tides. I would wait for the swell of the waves and try to ride the clear water all the way back to the shore. There I could see little kids being buried in the sand by their parents and vendors selling kabobs to those falling prey to their stomachs. On the safety of the soft sand, I could dry off with my abuelos and watch my tio disappear into the waves and reappear on the other side of them. I swear the man is magic in the water.

The last stop made before I left the island was the rainforests. The rainforests are always bustling with life, although a great place to collect your thoughts, silence was nowhere to be found. Mist was flooding in and a storm was brewing but I came there to zipline over the area and I wouldn’t leave if I could help it. Once we reached the peak of the area and waited for the booming thunder and flashes of lightning to subside, I was finally able to get my wish. The view of the treetops from the zipline was magnificent, no words I say could do it justice. The colors of the island, mixed with early morning dew and stormy wetness, along with a passing rainbow surely made it a sight to remember. I had plenty of time to think while on the zipline as it took several minutes and I realized the ability to step out of my life allowed me to have a break and go on a new adventure while simultaneously instilling a sense of yearning towards my home and the normal routine of my life.

After saying my many goodbyes and giving my hugs and kisses, I was back on the plane home. Soon I would be back to the sound of lawn mowers buzzing, the feeling of muggy weather, and the sight of monotonous suburbia. But that was okay. Soon the long summer days would set, and as the leaves fell and the trees began changing color, a new journey would begin.