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.

Catherine Dodd Corona

The Foreign Spell and Grand Tour

A response to Iyer’s optimism

Progymnasmata: Thesis

“Among the Beverly Hills–worthy sanctuaries that encircle the village of Ubud—full of signs for paradise regained, bikini parties, and furniture stores called Reincarnation—people will tell you that Bali is “spoiled,” as if choosing to forget that this is what the island has been tempting every visitor to say since the beginning. And as if the so-called spoiling makes the place any less eerie or unsettling or unfathomable. Pundits assure us the world is homogenized now—there are KFCs everywhere on Bali, and DHL will now send your owl masks back to Santa Monica almost overnight—but forty years of travel, from Bolivia to Ladakh to Ethiopia, Beirut, and North Korea, have only convinced me of the opposite.”

Bali is certainly not spoiled, but it is less unsettling because of the overwhelming amount of visitors. It is wonderful that Iyer can find the beauty in Bali being more homogenized than other countries and the merit behind KFCs and bikini parties. As wonderful as it is, he is leaving out a lot of what makes people say Bali is spoiled. It is true that Bali is basically paradise, riding around on a moped through the sweet smelling jungle, eating the rawest fruits, vegetables and chocolate, and lounging by almost magical fountains and pools. Its air is tangibly tranquil, the culture is full and beautiful but Bali is not just some magical foreign place.

The recent development and increase of tourism in Bali has definitely made the small island prosper and has fed its people and culture. It is certainly beneficial, but it is so oversaturated with tourists it removes the wonderful uncomfortability of travel. Yes, when someone travels to Bali they are removing themselves from their habitual day to day, but many people treat Bali as a bender and less so a cultural exploration. It is true that regardless they will feel a different culture and I can not tell a person how to appreciate a place, but I met so many people that didn’t leave Canggu their whole trip because they were too hungover.

I struggle with this view because I have only been there once, and I have no place to say that partiers do not appreciate Bali. I felt that I appreciated Bali and I still subscribed to stumbling through the streets late at night. I am also not saying that these partiers make Bali any less Bali. Bali is whatever it chooses to be, and whatever it morphs into. I am simply arguing that this influx of tourists doesn’t necessarily make Bali more culturally beautiful.

There are some huge downsides to the tsunami of Aussies, Americans, or Germans who have an aim of not being sober or seeing the sunlight. That downside is specifically the lack of respect people give Bali. The disrespect comes from their pure aim to simply use it as an adult playground for drinking.

After, living with a widowed Balinese native, her two sons, and my old family friend Tom Lang for two weeks I felt I got to see many sides of Bali. I attended a ceremony deep in the mountains under a volcano and learned how to pray. I was dressed in traditional clothing by my hostess grandmother who did not speak a lick of english, and bathed in an ancient spring. I went to the international school made of bamboo, and yoga retreats where my friend would teach. I met foreign business owners who told me how difficult it was to have a business as a foreigner (lots of bribes was his answer). I met a woman who fled from her abusive husband in California and has lived peacefully in Bali with her wonderful daughter. There are so many enriching and wonderful sides of Bali, from people that are native born and immigrates. I feel not many people seek to explore these different avenues. I was lucky, yes, to have a local as a guide, but many tourists go to parties do not see these magical factors that make up Bali. It disheartens me, but then again I cannot tell another person how to travel. That is up to them. I just believe the influx of tourists is not just a magical collision of culture. I think it is more complicated than what Iyer makes it out to be. 

Note: This is what was on my mind after the readings. In no way do I think I am qualified to retort what Iyer is saying, because of my personal experience. I also struggle with bringing my personal experience into the mix since it can come off as me just wanting to talk about me going to Bali, that of course is not my intention. 

Side Thought:

“I wasn’t rich, but the door to the world was swinging open for those of us ready to live rough and call ourselves foreigners for life.”

This quote made my heart sing. I have a core brief that anyone, from any background can travel. I am in no way saying everyone at the drop of a hat can get on a plane and fly away. There are major obstacles in people’s way. From children, to felony charges, to demanding jobs, to overprotective parents, but I have seen people who have a deep urge to travel overcome many unsurpassable obstacles. Do not become a fugitive, but people often hold themselves back just because they believe they just can’t travel. Even if one can’t leave the country Kenab, Utah or Atlanta can be just as foreign as Cairo or Kathmandu. It is about how one prioritizes their life. There are legitimate reasons people cannot travel. For example, I am not a mother with three children and two jobs and I understand that, but many of the people I come across are also not mothers with demanding jobs. Yet, I hear all the time from young, privileged people, I wish I could go to Japan. My response? Do it. Save the money, prioritize and go. Can’t find someone to go with you? Go alone. Can’t speak Japanese? Stay in hostels and meet people that do. Do not have the time to plan an itinerary? Make it up as you go, it’s much more freeing.You do not have to be privileged to travel is what I am trying to get across, and I think Iyer believes that same.


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.

Samuel James Conroy

Theme Progymnasmata

Samuel Conroy

Professor Comstock

September 8, 2020

Rhetoric of Travel

Wordsworth Theme Progymnasmata

            William Wordsworth, one of the greatest poets in history, describes his disappointment with the modern world through his poem, “The World is Too much With Us.” During Wordsworth’s time, the world was undergoing a mass transition due to the industrial revolution taking place. The world was moving away from nature and becoming entrenched in material items being produced by the revolution.  Wordsworth uses a sonnet system in iambic pentameter to lay out his frustrations. His vexations can be heard through,

“Little we see that nature is ours; We have given our hearts away” (Wordsworth 3-4).

Wordsworth drives the theme of communion with nature, which he does in many of his poems to express his annoyance with the current times. His use of rhetoric through theme is brilliantly done throughout this poem allowing him to engage the reader with his line of thought and lay out his emotions in an effective manner.