Aongus Mui

Journey into Night- David Sedaris

Journey into Night- David Sedaris
Progym: Description/Narrative

Travelling is something that I am fortunate enough to be able to do. I’ve road tripped to neighboring states with car rides up to six hours long. For international vacations however, planes are obviously one of the best ways to travel. There is a very specific feeling of being on a plane. It starts at the airport, waiting for the workers to call your group to board the plane.

“Passengers in group A may now board at this time”
“Passengers in group B may now board at this time”
“Passengers in group C may now Board at this time”

Typically this is when my family and I would board the plane. We walked past the booth, each of us holding our own boarding pass, scanning it as we walked by the booth. As we walked the slightly downward corridor to the plane. When we enter the plane we are instantly greeted by the pilot standing right outside the cockpit, and shortly after by the flight attendants. The people sitting in the upper class seats, the part that screams luxury, are already sitting comfortably in their abnormally large seats. I keep looking for my seat looking down at my boarding pass to find the correct seat and looking back up to find the matching seat. We come to a halt, waiting for other passengers to put their luggage in the overhead compartment. Finally, I reach my seat, I put my luggage away and relax in my chair.

While the rest of the passengers finish boarding the plane, the plane gradually gets louder. Clearly the engines are firing up. As we prepare for takeoff the signal for the seatbelts come on. The plane backs out of where it is parked, we go to the strip where we prepare for takeoff. We start moving forward, gradually gaining speed to the point where everything outside becomes a blur, and eventually the wheels lift the ground and we are in the air, gaining altitude every second.

I pass the time with a movie and with the snacks provided by the flight attendent. But my main thought is about the destination, of what I was going to do and experience there. I could hardly hold back the excitement of landing in a completely new location. The only thing holding me back is the time left on the flight, waiting patiently to arrive in a new place. As cliche as plane rides are, it is a type of travel. A good experience for some and a poor experience for many.

Paula I Arraiza

Airplane Nostalgia

Type of Progym: Description

“The thought of my sisters and me, so young then and so untroubled, was sobering, and within a minute, Chris Rock or no Chris Rock, I was the one crying on the night flight to Paris. It wasn’t my intention to steal anyone’s thunder; a minute or two was all I needed. But, in the meantime, here we were: two grown men in roomy seats, each blubbering in his own élite puddle of light.”

I’ve always found planes to be extremely nostalgic and sentimental places. Flights are filled with people from all different walks of life, while you may be going on an exotic holiday the person sitting next to you might be coming back home and dreading doing so. However, there’s something about the silence and fluorescent light of an airplane that always makes me reminisce and over-analyze every single moment of my life. Our lives are usually so busy that we don’t get time to just sit alone with our thoughts for even a couple of minutes yet being on a long flight is the perfect opportunity to do so. We get completely disconnected from the world as we know it, with no contact with the world as we know it. It becomes one of the only moments where we can actually sit in peace with our thoughts, without any distraction except a stewardess asking if you want more snacks. As someone who can never sleep on a plane no matter what I do to try and relax, it always feels as if I’m the only one actually there, along with two or three other people suffering from the same restlessness as me. As the lights are shut down except for the fluorescent emergency and bathroom signs and maybe one or two reading lights, my mind always begins to wander and analyze my own life. Even as I try to distract myself by watching another subpar movie, which I won’t pay attention to at all, I always end up going back to thinking and doing some sort of deep introspection of my feelings, something I rarely do. With my noise-canceling headphones blaring some sort of calming playlist, which is most likely filled with emotional songs, to try and get myself to sleep for at least ten minutes, my mind always reaches a place I can only reach when I wake up abruptly at three in the morning while everyone in the house is sleeping. Somehow, just like Sedaris and the Polish man, I end up shedding a tear or two thinking of some nostalgic moment I’ve lived through, or realizing I need to completely change some part of my life in order to better myself, or reminiscing on the marvelous trip I just had or am about to have. Whatever it may be, flights are always filled with tremendous emotion and thoughts I wouldn’t have the time to think had I been having a normal day on land.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

Shipping Out


David Wallace’s Shipping Out is the paradigm for the power of words. In this text Wallace encompasses the reader with bountiful description, enabling them to feel as if they are really experiencing the same things as the writer. His words are so precisely chosen for a reason, when readers are fed more descriptive and vivid words we latch onto the messages that they carry. By doing this, the points he made throughout the text were that much clearer and more persuasive.

Her real birthday, she informs me on Monday, isJuly 29, and when I quietly observe that July 29 is also the birthday o(Benito Mussolini, Mona’s grandmother shoots me kind of a death-look, although Mona herself is excited at the coincidence, apparently confusing the names Mussolini and Maserati.

In this blurb, it makes me as the reader feel as if I’m sitting with a friend and they’re telling me a story from last week. The humor in the story and description involved lure me in and make the writer more likeable. By making his story more appealing, it makes me more susceptible to other messages stored in the text.

I felt despair. The word “despair” is overused and banalized now, but it’s a serious word, and I’m using it seriously. It’s close to what people call dread or angst, but it’s not these things, quite. It’s more like wanting to die in order to escape the unbearable sadness of knowing I’m small and weak and selfish and going, without doubt, to die. It’s wanting to jump overboard.

Here the word despair is thoroughly analyzed and placed in the situation of the cruiseline. Although originally I would not associate despair with a cruise, Wallace uses his words to persuade me as the reader and it actually made sense.

An ad that pretends to be art is-at absolute best-like somebody who smiles at you only because he wants something from you.

Here Wallace explains his negative feelings towards what a famous writer wrote in an ad for the cruise. The way the ad controls how you are to view the cruise shows the power of words, although it may sometimes be a dishonest power. Wallace seamlessly weaves together his points about the ad, along with the relinquished control once on the cruiseline, along with the feeling of despair that brings. By using description the blend of these ideas of at the end of the chapter is possible due to the ease by which the information was distributed to the reader.

Aongus Mui

Tourism and the Semiotics of Tourism by John Frow

Progym: Impersonation/Description

I took a seat on the third step of my front door. I felt the soft chills of the wind push the top of my hair over my eyes. I looked into the distance, into the red leaves of october. A single leaf, bright red, floated sided to side gently landing atop the grass. I was instantly reminded of autumn and all the joy that it brings with it; the crisp air, the pumpkins, and the caramel apples. The autumn season has always had a special place within me. I recalled my previous memories in autumn, walking through a road of leaves with the warmth of a cup of coffee in my hands, it was the perfect way to clear my mind. Just me, alone with my thoughts on a walk through nature. I remembered the air being so perfect, not too cold or too hot. I reminisce on all my autumn memories with the sight of a single red leaf.

I tried to impersonate John Frow’s writing on page 124 about the time he reminisced upon a pine tree. “I was immediately reminded of the Priest Noin who had grieved to find upon his second visit this same tree.” This is an example of when Frow got a sense of nostalgia about something that he had seen before. I tried to impersonate what he had done in the poem. Frow’s main point was that nostalgia not only helps us become better tourists but it also helps us in our daily life. “For the perspectives of our everyday life, the unique heritage object has aura.” Frow explains that seeing certain objects from our past helps remind us of how simple our life might have been. In the passage that I wrote i wanted to show how something as simple as a leaf could bring me back to the times where happiness was easily accessible, where I was stress free.

Phillip Wade Wilson

The Semiotics of Tourism: Everything Has Consequences – Description

There were a few points within this reading that resonated deeply within me and made me take a second and just think. I found myself saying “wow” or laughing a bit as I read this because I never organized my thoughts about tourists and travelers in this way before, but I know for a fact I too dichotomize the two and stereotype the tourist as inherently negative while the traveler is its noble counterpart. I found it even more interesting when Culler displayed the thoughts of Fussell in juxtaposition to Boorstin, and I happened to agree with both explanations of how those authors describe tourists and travelers. I think, while possibly on the extreme side, Fussell brings up good points in relation to societal pressures and expectations while Boorstin centers his claims around the way times have changed to make travel itself easier. To me, it seemed that Fussell cast the motives of tourists as equitable to that of a person at a massage parlor in order to pretend to be something they are not to escape the natural bounds of one’s life and attempt to rationalize the haunting conditions of a normal, working, average person was quite relatable, at least in my life.

Like we talked about with beachgoing in America, once at the beach we kind of succumb to this carnival-like state of not caring about societal norms or expectations or even about what may be the best for us in general… it almost seems like taking a trip anywhere, not just the beach, taps us into our own hedonistic nature. When I go on vacations, I always end up spending more money than I should; if I go to the beach, I typically get more sun than I should; I usually eat more unhealthily and focus on what I want to eat at that moment rather than taking a step back from my cravings; I tend to focus more on what I want in that time than what anyone else wants. Fussell describes this in a sense and it resonated with me in more ways than just one. I found his argument, while more emotional based, to be stronger than Boorstin’s even though Culler seemed to lean more toward Boorstin’s and cast Fussell in a negative light after he quoted him.

Another major takeaway from this piece was the way authenticity was portrayed. I have always attempted to look at things from an outside perspective in order to better contextualize what I am experiencing, but Culler’s work takes it so much further. A self-reflection, of sorts, into our own biases and understanding of the world will help us see the “signs” without letting our “alibis” cloud our perceptions. I tended to view tourist traps, like the city of Pisa in Italy or the Empire State Building in NYC (if you have been to either of those you know what I am referring to), as a detriment to the experience I, or anyone, could have but after reading about the way “markers” ultimately heighten our experiences I have a newfound love for my memories within those places. After finishing Culler’s work it became even clearer to me that everything, no matter how small, has consequences.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

The Tourist Gaze-Thoughts

The concept of a person’s gaze is an interesting subject to read about when thinking about the context of travel. “The Tourist Gaze” is the idea that a tourist will have a certain viewpoint of an object or landmark or what-have-you, and that the gaze is so much different compared to a local. From an anecdotal standpoint, the Washington monument and any other tourist attraction here feels a lot normal, and that from living in the district for over a year I have lost that tourist gaze for the things I saw once every 5 years or so.

Although, I would say that the monuments do not need any introduction to tourists since that is what they are here to see. However, each of the monuments does have introductions to them, right outside or right on them, showing the significance of the monument. These are for the tourist to pick up on and be given significance. Urry writes about these signs saying

“There are actual signs that indicate that some other object has remarkable properties even if visually it appears not to be so…”

, which hints at the idea of what exactly the tourist gaze is.

The gaze has to be incited by something that is distinctive to be gazed upon, but, does that apply to everything, and what if something catches you off guard and you gaze upon it because you don’t know what it is. Apart from that, Urry says that collective signs and activities that can distinguish itself from a mundane experience then the experience can hold much more importance.

My thoughts on this are that the concept of the gaze is important because it is what gives humans an appreciation for what they are looking at. The gaze can instill an experience that makes the place or view relevant. I might be going in circles by saying, “why does this happen”, and “can it happen without certain circumstances” (like when lacking a sign, signal, or if you get the gaze from something that isn’t the monument). Or whether the small things can also have a gaze to it from tourists. As someone that looks at the little things and does not take too many pictures when admiring a view, I’m more or less thinking about what makes the environment or the experience possible.

Urry also touches on this thought saying that the concept of landscape is “important for both history and art”, but also says that it’s not a simple question of the physical environment rather the creation of visual consumption and that the gaze has largely to be affected by pleasure and tourism. Just to state that the gaze may just have come from the idea of tourism.

But the most interesting part that comes from this reading is the table or chart on the last couple of pages that identifies the type of gaze, with the theme of the gaze. For instance, romantic, collective, spectatorial, environmental, and anthropological, which all have different gazes and contexts to them. So maybe, the question about what goes into the gaze is special because there is a definitive answer, but the context is what makes the experience so special.



Nathan Ryan Reeves Uncategorized

Breaking Down and Image; Description

We covered rhetorical images in the last post but are similar since the article has the same basic principles as the last one. How does an image make you feel, and what makes you feel that way? You can get the answer by breaking down the image according to the context, audience, and the purpose of the image, and the feeling that it is trying to convey and instill into the person. I feel like a broken record when discussing the concept of visual rhetoric since it all feels the same

“A picture can paint a thousand words, but a few words can change the story”

The quote explains this concept well since what you can get from the image can depend on the context, and the rhetorical strategies used. But what makes an image so powerful? What gives an image its power to a feeling?

Just like the reading from Cohn, the reading “Psychology of Rhetorical Images” mentions the difference between information and what is most apparent to the viewer. For instance, the difference between the most or least vivid information. Simply put, what is the most realistic information and what is the least realistic, like statistics. Images land more on the most vivid information part of the scale because it is a photograph of experience (below).

“…advertisers want to transform people… they want to compel people to buy a product without knowing why… as a visceral response to a stimulus, not as a conscious decision.”

Hill explains that pictures give an emotional and a stimulative response saying that the feeling you get isn’t a conscious decision, but rather how we feel in the moment without thought. Emotion is not this thing that can be thought about and controlled in the moment, but rather it is just what you feel.

What emotional response does the picture below give you? A happy feeling? Inner peacefulness? Maybe the feeling comes from the older man’s expressions, or maybe it is the bunny on his head that gives the image a more light-hearted feeling. What does the image bring to the table in terms of context? Rhetoric in images is broken down between purpose, context, audience, and the subcategories in those like tone and location.

To me, this image spoke out to me since I was looking for an image that would not be too hard to describe or investigate. It is perfect due to the casual nature of the image’s background, and the happy subject in the foreground. The context doesn’t need to be known down to the “T”, but visual representation can hold power in the emotion it gives off.


Phillip Wade Wilson

Understanding Visual Rhetoric by Jenae Cohn – Description

I really enjoyed this piece because it opened my eyes to a lot of mundane ways we organize our blog posts for this class, and just how things in our world are made to look in general. She focused a lot on the separation of ideas, and things in general really, to make it easier for others to understand as well as the different approaches in order to make those distinctions between one thing and the other. 

“visuals play a tremendous role in a) how we make decisions, b) how we receive instructions, and c) how we understand information”

While the above is seemingly obvious information, how often do we look at the menus in restaurants we visit or websites we’re using, or even our own textbooks and ‘analyze’ how stylistic that work is completed? For me, it is not often at all… though I am more prone to complain about how something is not user-friendly especially in regard to websites and other forms of technology. This detailed essay really opened my eyes as to why I might be thinking “this website is really not laid out well” or “could they have made this any more difficult to understand”. Personally, I think a huge point Cohn makes is all about context.

“the context in which we see visuals matters an awful lot in terms of how we analyze and understand their impacts on us as viewers”

She details how one culture might view a color one way, or one type of profession might have preexisting notions about the way something should be done, or quite possibly where we have seen certain things before in our own lives. Before reading this, I had the ideas to analyze visual representation in ways similar to what she explained but never to the level or extent. She explains the ‘what?’ then gives us the ‘how?’ and ‘why?’ to give her audience the most context before explaining the topics at hand. The opening segment about food and menus puts things into perspective for all of her readers to associate something with. I find it so interesting the way she established this common ground, looking at restaurant’s food pictures online before going and looking at menus while sitting in the restaurant so that we can better understand what she is referring to by applying it to the times we have done or seen something similar

Aongus Mui

Alain de Botton: The Art of Travel

Alain the Botton: The Art of Travel

In the short film taken by Alain de Botton, he discusses what he searches for on a vacation. In the first ten minutes of the video, he explains that one of the biggest things that he wants is to be away from himself. “Wherever we chose to go, perhaps the underlying wish is for me to get away from me.” (de Botton 6:19) He is going about how he wants to forget his worries and his struggles with his life and within himself. De Botton turns to travel to relax without any problems lingering in his mind. Another point that he talks about is how travellers only see the good side of travel. Tourists always see brochures or advertisements about certain places but when in reality the place is not as good as the advertisements make it seem like. He claims that people never consider the downsides of a vacation, as in the substandard parts of a location like the crowds and loud traffic of the place. One of the main themes that I picked up from de Botton is to never expect too much from a certain place, otherwise it could end up being something you didn’t quite enjoy and the place no longer feels as special or loved.

Something that I related to was when de Botton stated “Hotels offer a particular opportunity to experience anonymity and to speculate about the anonymous others around us.” (de Botton 32:19) As someone who has travelled many places and visited many hotels, I noticed that hotels were almost always comforting. Hotels have a way of making you feel at ease even though you are in a room that you’ve never been in before. In a way, you are just left with yourself and your thoughts, allowing you to reflect on yourself. “Something about being away from our ordinary habitat sets us free to release bits of ourselves that don’t get an airing in everyday life.” (de Botton 34:18) Time and time again, travel proves to be the most efficient way to discover and learn more about ourselves, things that would otherwise stay hidden in our familiarized pattern of life.

Travelling helps people loosen up and let their guard down just enough to uncover bits and pieces of our hidden self.

Nathan Ryan Reeves

Progymnasmata Description/Situational Rheotric

I am only unsure and wary about this post being that I read the readings and yet, I am still confused about how to write on what I want to write, so this is my second non-playful response to the readings and only due to ignorance. Even though I read the readings and wanted to be taking the playful descriptive approach and use the skill in practice, I feel as elaborating and writing on the concept would be beneficial.

The idea of the “Rhetorical Situation” is that writing in a way that can evoke emotion by using descriptive language, and using descriptive language with actions can bind all of that together to make one descriptive rhetorical situation in a writing. It uses writing skills to develop a scene or situation with the “presence of events, persons, or objects”, and using those objects to suggest a theme, (Bitzer, 1992). For example, if someone says that there is a dangerous situation, it is implied that there is an object or subject that can harm them, or that if something is embarrassing in a situation it should feel tense in the context of the situation.

It is not only used in the context of the situation but to make a convincing response with imagery and objects in the scene or situation. For instance, Bronislaw Malinow describes a fisherman in “The Rhetorical Situation”, quoted by Bitzer,

“The canoes glide slowly and noiselessly, punted by men especially good at this task and always used for it. Other experts who know the bottom of the lagoon … are on the look-out for fish. . .. Customary signs, or sounds or words are uttered”, (Bitzer, 1992).

While this is a short example from a bigger passage you can still see the descriptive language and punctuation from the situation. Like the canoes “gliding slowly and noiselessly”, and that there are customary “signs”, “sounds”, and words “uttered” by the fish in the lagoon alone.

In short, “Rhetorical Situation” is the idea and skill of using rhetoric and descriptive writing to develop a situation or scene by binding together descriptive words and actions to make a full picture scene with words. This can make scenes in writing to develop emotions like anger, nervousness, happiness, and make scenes more colorful than they would be without the descriptive language.