Nathan Ryan Reeves

America the Marvelous-Thesis/Theme & or Proverb (America is good or bad? which one is it?)

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.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

The Selfie as Travel Writing-Thesis/Theme

The selfie is an unconventional way to travel writing, and I’d say that compared to traditional writing they develop the same feeling to the viewer, but with different avenues. Travel writing displays the destination through words and descriptive phrases. With selfies in travel writing, the main focal point is not the person but rather the vacation or destination around them. Selfies have their pros and cons to traditional writing, but both aim to accomplish the same thing, displaying travel through a medium that can invoke inspiration.

For instance, in the reading “Visualizing lives: “the selfie” as travel writing, Kylie Cardell and Kate Douglas discuss the differences between travel writing and selfies as travel writing. There are some problems with the use of this form of travel expression, but overall, the paper revolves around the context of travel posts on Instagram.

One important point that I think could be at the forefront of their arguments was the context of taking selfies, and whether travel writing in the form of selfies is appropriate. There is this famous case of a girl named Breanna Mitchell, who took a selfie when she was at Auschwitz and posted it on Twitter and other social media. The internet exploded since this kind of selfie was disrespectful, and self-centered. Using this example, there seem to be unspoken rules around the form of travel selfies in accordance to not disrespect where you are. The centralism involved with selfies makes the person seem self-centered in a place that is not meant for that. In that, the authors imply that there is an appropriate way to post about these sensitive topics. In my opinion, I feel that the selfie has been around for so long that it should be expected that people would know the appropriate times and not at a place where there were human atrocities, but rather taking selfies at a place where you can appropriately express the place you are visiting. If the place is touchy and means something to you directly, the authors have stated that there are other ways to document it, that are not selfies.

All in all, the selfie is a good tool at the appropriate time to display appreciation for the location you are visiting, however, there are these unspoken rules that people should be aware of for the sake of respect. The form of memorialization is a clear-cut thing to sway from when possible. However, this contemporary documentation can create interesting travel narratives, when done correctly.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Comparison of Theroux’s piece and the rest of the readings

This was perhaps one of the weirder but still equally as interesting as all the other past readings, like Bourdain, and other authors. However, the obvious difference between this one and the other ones is that the story starts on the path of exploration and tourism, but slowly turns into a story of losing control in a place that is not your home, and what the place means to you after you pass the threshold of being a tourist. If that entirely makes sense, I will reword it as, Theroux being a tourist in Africa, got caught up in this obligation to stay with a woman and her family for days on end. Towards the end of the chapter, he expresses that he needs to escape this cycle that he was stuck in. Wake up, go to the bar and guzzle down drinks until the afternoon, a conflict or a fight transpires, and when he comes back to rest and is pressured relentlessly for sex and pleasure with a woman that finds him attractive from the first few pages. He was pressured by this family, and in the end when he wants to leave this ‘trap’, he is, to be brief, rejected by the family that once accepted him for the past few days. This foolishness to trespass in a place that he was not familiar with the area, had effectively taken advantage of this family, and in turn, they were angry and riled up, to the point when he had the opportunity to escape, he ran.

Now, this chapter on tourism is much different in comparison to anything else just since it was about exploiting tourism areas for a place to stay. While it was not his intention, in the beginning, Theroux’s karma came right around as he was trying to escape a hellish situation that he put himself in. He was simply unaware to what power society had over him once he fell into the “trap”. Many of the other readings discuss the differences in culture and values, like Bourdain where he discusses what people did for fun or what their eating traditions are like etc, however, this is brought to a whole other level since this is an occurrence where he can be seen to be taking advantage of these people, for food, shelter, passion or pleasure, and foods and such. But on the other hand, the family is taking advantage of him and making him stay due to his lack of ability to dig himself out of a “debt” that he put himself into.

Nathan Ryan Reeves Uncategorized

Anthony Bourdain, and Cairo

The legendary food-travel writer Anthony Bourdain never fails to entertain me with his ways of writing. The video was constantly descriptive while being a little tongue and cheek at the same time when inconveniences would happen, like when the sailboat ran into the bridge and making them stuck in the river for a couple of hours.

The thing I liked the most out of the video was the rawness of its content. Bourdain makes jokes about not going to the pyramids and that he feels bad later for not going, but then immediately doesn’t feel bad about it at all. It reminds me of the theme of being a tourist, and finding a way to find something authentic, rather than something that is made up, hence him not wanting to go to the pyramids in the beginning, and overall avoiding them and leaving Cairo for dinner.

While the show is mainly about food, Bourdain still finds a way to finds the authentic pieces of society in Egypt. Centered around the different foods he visits cafes, farms where they raise and kill their food, and a funny joke is said at the café when the older gentleman Bourdain is talking to says that young people wouldn’t like the traditional café and that they want things a little more modern, and internet connectivity. I think it’s funny because it reminds me of the “generation complex” where older generations don’t think fondly of what younger people like, and if it isn’t traditional, then they don’t want it, but I digress.

Bourdain shows more than I expected from a 37-minute show. The episode was unexpectedly fast-paced, while not affecting the experience since I was able to retain the information with his impeccable narration. Bourdain’s background of being a chef in the past gives a good perspective on being open to foods, and had never said a bad thing about what he tried, all he would say is that “it will be good”. Openly saying that different cultures food he had never tried before is delicious if you have the desire to try it. Even when spending a night in the desert with a group of people, he says that he knew they were going to kill the goat for their dinner, and came back after just seeing the alive goat, smelling it covered with seasonings. I was not caught off guard, I guess his reaction just comes with years of culinary experience.

Maybe the reaction in the back of my head is caused by the American society that I have been used to, which is way more capitalist and materialistic centric compared to other cultures.

Finally, the last piece that had my attention the entire time was the authenticity at the end. Spending a night in the desert, he explains that this is someone’s open area to reset and that some people that are attracted to water, or the forest, and analyzed and said: “no wonder why the Europeans found this place so fascinating”. Implying that when you travel to exotic places they tend to have a unique identity, that can reset or change a person in their experience. Overall I absolutely loved this episode.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Gender in Advertising Confirmation

As far back as I could remember there’s this effect from gender in the natural world, and how advertisers base their ads off of gender specific traits and emotions. It’s an obvious detail that I never put much thought into (just like every other concept in this class up to this point) and never thought bad about it. It just felt normalized and analyzing it gives me a better understanding of the topic. Hope questions what makes up an advertisement gendered environment, what visuals are most common, and how has this advertising affected depicted gendered environments.

For selling products it has always been the same for decades in most cases, men get advertised more manly products, and women get advertised more feminine products. In the reading, there is a great example of this in the defining characteristics of two ads, one for Niagara Falls, and another for the Panama Canal. The gendered environments are obvious where the Niagara Falls advertisement depicts a woman as the falls, the sight of the woman in the falls, still and elegantly posed under a rainbow, meant to personify the beauty of the falls.  Notice that she is one with the environment in the image, personifying the falls itself.

“Depicted as a voluptuous woman, the waterfall is a sign of nature’s unending fertility; she stands passively, a figure of seduction.”

On the other hand, you have the advertisement for the Panama Canal, depicting a muscular man ripping apart the landscape, and using his power to go against the forces of nature. This contrast to the feminine advertisement is point blank obvious that the themes surrounding the advertisements, where the male advertisements focus on strength and prowess, while the female advertisements focus on femininity and being more passive than the latter.

“Not unlike the image of Hercules, the 21st-century cowboy has work to do, and as in numerous images of “Marlboro Country” the male figure acts upon his environment, exerting control through his physical prowess. The “big country” defines advertising’s masculinized environment and excepting the occasional cowboy or Indian, space is there for urban man to play at adventure”

Not to mention there is more of a sense of “adventure” when advertising comes to masculinity in advertisements. Not saying that in the present day there aren’t ads where women are reflected as being adventurous, but it is definitely more common now than those older advertisements.

A quote stood out towards the back end of the article where, Hope writes about why this gender-based advertising works, while also relating it back to identity and general consumption of products.

“Largely composed of photographic images, contemporary advertisements appear to depict “real people” and “real” places… commodity consumption is necessary for the maintenance of gender identity in advertising’s stories, advertising must create mythic natural environments immune to the consequences of consumerism…”

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Creative and Co-Creative Labor in Travel Writing

Ana Alacovska writes about a very specific topic and theme relating to tourists and their relationship with travel book guides. In accordance with her theme, the abstract gives a brief summary on our current society and its connection with travel writers, and how that is changing moving into the digital era, and how that can help understand the relationship between audiences and other relationships.

Alacovska in the introduction of the article makes the claim that companies moving into travel information or travel guides online are an information business. This means that writers for these kinds of outlets can be professional writers with great enthusiasm or can be non-professional amateur writers creating a niche digitized industry. She also compares this situation to a “canary in a coal mine” when it comes to the rapid digitization of media industries and travel books, saying that the amateur writing differs from the professional writing due to the “amateur productivities” that professional writing can surpass, for instance, systematic dialogue and cultural or locational research.

Alacovska also connects this to the difference between creative and co-creative labor and how digital technologies can expand the travel information market.


“—the proliferation of inexpensive and user-friendly media production tools. In this view, digitization democratizes, decentralizes, and liberates cultural production. It empowers amateur users to become media producers who participate in ‘‘produsage’’ (Bruns, 2008) or ‘‘commons-based peer production’’ (Benkler, 2006) and dismantle the professional paradigms of creative industries”


This advancement gives the opportunity for amateur writers to have a stage to show off any writing whether it had scholarly research behind it or not, and regardless of scholarly research, has the productive force of conversation to expand on information from a guide book, or any similar type of writing. The inclusiveness of online writing can expand upon its niche segmentation, and expand into something more, while at the same time providing a different contextual style for the reader.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

The Paradox of Pampering

Wallace is a very interesting writer when it comes to his structure by giving a good timeline of events when he can and can sound super relatable to the reader if they have ever been in the cruise position. DFW has no problem keeping the attention of the reader by his casual and cohesive style of writing. It does not have 100% of the details, rather just the right amount of what he needs, and nothing sounds super filler. I envy his ability to play the image in my head without trying, for instance—

“When you turn back around your towel’s often gone and your deck chair has been refolded to its uniform 45-degree at-rest angle, and you have to readjust your chair all over again, and you have to readjust your chair all over again and go to the cart to get a fresh fluffy towel, of which there is admittedly not a short supply…”

This is the right amount of descriptive information, without giving the reader too much stimulus and things to think about. There are plenty of other examples since it happens seamlessly all over the rest of the article. His experience goes through the rest of the cruise ship, like the mystery of when and how your room gets cleaned so fast when you leave for a short period of time, or even exploring the idea of a “Paradox of Pampering”, and the feeling of being pampered on a cruise ship. I guess the line where this paradox was brought up can be interpreted in many different ways, but I like to see it as a passenger that is self-aware of the fact that they can do things themselves, while at the same time they don’t have a choice with whether or not they want the help. It is perfect how DFW wrote it—

“The Passenger’s Always Right versus Never Let a Passenger Carry His Own Bag”

here is this weird relationship where he would rather carry his own stuff and be self-sufficient but would run the risk of getting staff in trouble, which is a prime example of the paradox of pampering.

The idea of this paradox and the self-aware real-life relationship between the passengers and the crew members are not really discussed until the end where Wallace made his transition in tone for the reader. The also self-aware idea of being American and having this greedy capitalist idea in the background of the passengers’ mind while they have their “escape” from reality and purpose.


“But, of course, part of the overall despair of this Luxury Cruise is that whatever I do I cannot escape my own essential and newly unpleasant Americanness. Whether up here or down there, I am an American tourist and am thus ex officio large, fleshy, red, loud, coarse, condescending, self-absorbed, spoiled, appearance-conscious, greedy, ashamed, and despairing…I’m newly and unpleasantly conscious of being an American, the same way I’m always suddenly conscious of being white every time I’m around a lot of non-white people.”


This is a prime example of Wallace’s style of writing and what makes it so great, there’s this underlying theme in the background brewing in the back of his head while he’s having a good time, and once he comes back to reality, he brings in the idea of the paradox of pampering (or rather the paradox of luxury). This luxury is at the benefit of the passengers’ experience, while there is a problem to the whole system under the surface. And while this isn’t discussed until the end as much, I enjoyed that it was hinted at through the whole work.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Shipping out

“Shipping Out” was one of the most fun things I have read in a while that is related to any kind of vacation. Maybe it was because I had been on a cruise once before and felt the same vibes from the text, or maybe it was just entertaining to me. One thing that I’ll praise the author for is that he didn’t stick to one lane in terms of writing about the cruise. Going from his joys to people being depressed brings the tone from happy and joyful, to somber. Truthfully, I think that what he had said in most of his story was accurate since I had experienced it with other people when I had gone on a cruise (the only one I’ve ever been on).

“The universal topic of discussion is “Why Are You Here” Nobody uses the word “pamper” or “luxury.” The word that gets used over and over is “relax.” Everybody characterizes the upcoming week as either a long-put-off reward or a last-ditch effort to salvage sanity…”

This stood out because it had felt real when looking back at my trip, I felt that groups of people were there have fun and getaway, but you could tell who had been a regular traveler since they didn’t care too much for what was happening during the whole things. I had asked people how many cruises ships they have been on, and some were as low as their first time and as high as 6 times in a row. The ones who did not care could be compared to Mona in the text.

“Mona is eighteen. Her grandparents have been taking her on a Luxury Cruise every spring since she was five. Mona always sleeps through both breakfast and lunch and spends all night at the Scorpio Disco and in the Mayfair, Casino playing the slots…”

This brings me back to the question that Wallace had written which was, why are you here. It could be to relax; it could be that it is an occurrence and it then does not feel like a relaxing time. The people that do want to be there will be there for a fun time and take their time seriously. If not, it could lead to a few different outcomes that can make or break a vacation for some. I had talked about this topic with other friends and they too have seen the similarities to Wallace’s experience.

This article touched upon many different themes and topics that could be talked about, but I rather touch upon the concept of the “why”. Why do we go on trips or expeditions? The word relax is overused and is used to describe the week of salvation, when the trip or week could be nothing from salvation if you don’t consider your experience as a joyful experience. I end this off by asking, is this cruise ship experience something that is in our control, does the number of times we experience a trip make it less meaningful, or has capitalism and life blocked our ability to enjoy these kinds of trips?

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Narrative (simplified from the reading)

A poet and avid traveler had a journey from the mainland to the islands of the Caribbean where he had always dreamed of going to. His journey was planned ever since he was a little boy, and never got the chance until he was an adult. However, the people that told him to go, also told him to “tread lightly” and that he could be tricked at some point there. Knowing that he was an outsider and was obvious since he was traveling from a distant land. The poet was looking for an authentic experience outside of what he was used to and decided that he would play it by ear when he got to his destination. When he got into the market at the shore, he saw many stores and stands with food, and signs saying the “Best [insert food] in the world”, and other attractions that could be for him. He knew of places to go to down towards inland of the island because he had heard of great pieces of art, and statues that were advanced for their time, and not to forget, the more modern shops that reminded him that this place was still a place where people lived. He had walked for some time before he had gotten past the touristy attractions and got to real shops. He wondered to himself, what was the normal thing to do at a place like this? What is a traditional day like? And what is the significance of this journey? What experience can he grab from this place that no other tourist had experienced before?

Although the monumental sites are cool and the beaches are fabulous, but he wondered if it was a good idea to steer away from the “traveler norm” and wondered what someone does on a day to day basis. And thought of his own life back at home, and wondered if the traveler’s norm is really so much different from the normal life. He gave it some thought about whether or not he visits monuments in his home town and realized that he has only done so when he walks to work in the mornings.

The poet realizes in a flash that he had not heeded the warning of the place trying to trick you. While it didn’t trick him literally, the concept of something authentic was right in his face the whole time, and he had decided to not listen to it until now. He pondered whether or not the market was a “front” and if there were no tourists coming if there was ever an opportunity for the market. The poet had decided to take a walk deeper into the island on the roads and went wherever the roads had taken him in the end.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Culler-The Semiotics of Tourism

Jonathan Culler’s view of tourism gives a lot of interesting points about the good and horrible effects of tourism. I envy that he can switch midway through his sentence and start to pick apart the little details about tourism that I bet you would never think about. Standing out like an elephant in the room is Culler’s statement saying that tourists are foolish for what they really want but can never get a “true experience” without paying or searching for tourist attractions. Culler writes that Boorstin makes a good point on what is behind the artificiality of tourism,

“‘Tourist “attractions” offer an elaborately contrived indirect experience, an artificial product to be consumed in the very places where the real thing is free as air’ “

Culler then writes responding to the quote saying that a tourist is fooling for paying for an experience that they could get for free on their own terms. As Culler goes on, he continues to try and “beat some sense in the reader” by elaborating on the same point but going deeper than before.

Those tourists cannot go without looking for something that is like what they are looking for and looks out less for what the place is. And this is what makes this part of the course super interesting, because there is a line developing between the authentic and the inauthentic tourist attractions, and that usually, the tourists go for the non-authentic. To me looking back at trips I’ve taken with family, the things that are inauthentic usually feel too convenient and in your face to actually feel authentic.

From personal experience, the inauthentic stems from wanting to take advantage of ignorant tourists that think something is authentic.

For instance, if you’re traveling on a cruise from Florida to the Virgins Islands or whatever islands you’re stopping at, when you stop on the island there is a flood of tourists coming off the boat, while simultaneously a flood of the “inauthentic” just trying to sell you stuff. A clear summer day in an ordinary market can turn into something different when the people there try to diverge away from what is actually authentic, where the fake authentic is not free.

This can also be seen in American tourist sites across the country. One example that I like to think of all the time is the difference between the DC tourist and the average DC resident. From being a resident for a little bit of time, I can see the attractions of the monuments, although I feel that there are so many better things than just the monuments for one day. When I took any trip to DC in the past whether it be with school or whatnot, the focus was always on the monument and the people at the monuments trying to sell you things. One moment you are admiring all the buildings, the next you’re being greeted to by something off a table at an intersection on the mall. The mall is fun but doesn’t feel like a genuine part of DC. While that is controversial to say, the focus of expectations and American consumerism revolves around the mall and the monuments, and never once did I go into a more interesting part of DC on a trip in school or with another group before college. However, I can’t take away the influence the monuments, or even the empire state building has as a “marker” on the culture of the site.

While many of these examples really are not inherently the fault of the tourist, but as Culler says, that people look for things that are more like the culture than what is actually the culture. The excitement and delight that comes with tourists can be understood, but when it comes to other cultures and tourism, capitalism and semiotic mechanisms can get in the way of the general framework of how a country or place can characterize itself.