Thursday, April 15, 2010

Week #12 - Further Rhetorical Analysis

This is my last post on this blog that will have to do with assignments from the course, however there will be a few more updates over the next week where I talk about my learning and working with Final Cut Studio Pro and my last visit to Jewish service this Saturday, as well as some information on Jewish Sunday School.

All that being said, if everything goes as planned (IF lol) the final post with my finished videos for the class should be up sometime Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

So, on to the final class assignment.

For this post we had to analyze several more cultural artifacts from the culture we are studying. Jewish culture (at least around here - the good ol' south of the U.S. of A.) doesn't really have any advertising targeted at them, so I decided to look online at some websites targeted to the Jewish community.

Boy, I found some interesting things. When I started looking I was thinking to myself, "Wow, wouldn't it be funny if I found some corny Jewish dating site because all of the regular dating sites are bad enough" and well...well let's just take a look at this very...interesting...spoof on the popular PC vs. Mac commercials

This video is a little over the top in my opinion, but it gets the point across. The kairos is obvious: right now. The video basically tells you to stop waiting and go out and do something (about your being a single Jewish male/female). And, the video is pretty logical about the situation too. You have the one person waiting for prince charming talking about all these ridiculous things (or at least they are portrayed that way) while you have the "voice of reason" talking about how it is so much more logical to go and use this online dating service. This video tries to connect on a personal level by having the girls in the video just like "average" (Jewish) girls and even speaking to (what is seemingly) every girl's dream about having a prince charming come and whisk them away (this hits on the pathos level too) however the logos comes back in here with the girl on the right telling the one on the left that there is no way for Prince Charming to find you if you don't get out there and be active about it.

All in all, a little too over the top for my taste, but a pretty funny video and it covers all the areas of rhetorical analysis very well.

One of the websites that I stumbled on while searching for things for this post is called I am not sure what that stands for, but it is called (or calls itself rather) "The Jewish Website" and seems to contain basic information about current events for Jewish people all over the world. This is a look at the top of their page

It is obviously about Israel and Jewish culture and (at the moment) Israel's independence day and Jewish National freedom seem to play a big part in the considerations and links on the home page. Though, as you can see, there at the top there are links to other parts of the site. This is pretty logical and standard for most websites. Following the logic trail, on the right site of the page is a search bar for the site, and a list of links to popular articles on the site. This provides an easy to use (approachable) feeling to the website and makes them appear as more of an equal than an over bearing site.

Here is another simple ad that I found.

The kairos of this ad is "now" (like most ads seem to be lol) and there is a particular pathos with this ad. It is appealing to the Jewish since of family and and the want to please one's mother. (I think that it also might be trying to be a bit sarcastic though I am not sure. To me it seems that way, but my generation is sarcastic about lots of things.)

The last thing that I am going to look at in this post is a rather wordy ad that is more serious in nature.

This is (from the looks of it an old) political ad that actually goes so far as to compare Obama to Islamic Terrorists (cause you know that has never happened before). The kairos is as least recent (though it does seem to call for an immediate action of some sort) however the main thing that this ad is about is the pathos and ethos. The ethos is that of a group of concerned individuals like the reader, yet who also have a more informed stance on things, but are willing and wanting to share this information with the reader. The pathos this is meant to evoke is one of pain, anger, impassioned national pride and ethnic unity, and move the reader to take action.

So, that is is for my class assignments. Stay tuned over the next week as I will be posting updates about my final project.

Week #11 - Interviewing

So, being a photographer, I had already thought of the lighting and composition that I would use in my interviews. I have been thinking about this a lot and I am a little worried because three of the people that I am going to interview are similar figures (a Preacher a Rabbi and a professor) and would look at home in an office type of place, however I think that after a little more thinking, I would like to have the professor in his office (surrounded by books like you see in every History channel special) and the Rabbi and/or Preacher in their synagogue/sanctuary with Jewish/Christian icons in the background. I think that this would add to their position and the feel that I would like for them to convey as "experts" for their respective religions. I don't know how having both of them be in a similar shot will work, though they will probably be in different sections of the video so it could be a good choice to have them in the same type of shot. (This is something that I will think more on.)

I have also made plans to interview the Lasser family while they are at Sunday School (when I post these interviews I will give a little more information on what Jewish Sunday School is like) because this will strengthen the view of them as laypeople, yet also as instructors (and students in the case of the daughter) of Jewish people - which will make the questions I ask them about current Jewish issues seem more relevant - since they both teach in Sunday School.

In about an hour I am going to get my first interview and then I am going to sit down with final cut pro and figure out what it is all about (though I may make a quick video in iMovie first to play with some HD settings) and so later today I will have the first part of my final video.

I will make a post on that and something else that I did this week relating to Jewish culture later today.

Until then,


Monday, April 12, 2010

Week #10 - Tropos of Video

So, I tried for about an hour to make something with Final Cut Pro and have decided that I will be sitting down with the instruction book when I am making my final video. For this video I just put something together in iMovie but I think that it still looks pretty cool.

It is some clips from the Google on Main event that I went to a few weeks ago. I put a greater emphasis on the glowsticks in this video and the crowd of people than individuals, although I included some shots of smaller groups too to show the diversity of people (age/race/etc.) that were there.

Edit: So it seems that because I made it in 16x9 format the whole video doesn't want to fit on the blog, so here is a link to the youtube page.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week #9 - "Storyboarding" for Final Project Videos

For the final video project I plan to make one video with three sections (personal experience/professional relevance/current cultural issue) and then upload/produce it in three parts. (Basically it could be watched all in one sitting back to back, but each would also be able to stand alone.)

I am not sure how the first part of my video will look (the personal reflections part) because I have not been able to get many (or many different) pictures of my cultural experience due to my cultural experience being more about learning the history and values of a people through books and studying rather than through traveling/doing things within the host culture. I am sure that I will be able to obtain more photos (and possibly some video/audio from my cultural investigation, however I would like for most of the video to be me talking about my experiences and what I have learned. Possibly thinking about it being me sitting infront of the camera with small clips and cuts to pictures/vids which show better my experiences. Having it like this would make it flow better and fit with the way that I would like for the other two videos to be.

For the other two sections I would like for the videos to be kind of interview heavy as I feel like having people from Jewish culture answering questions about the culture would give a better feel for the culture than still images because there are really only so many icons from Jewish culture that can be helpful in understanding the culture. Because Jewish culture is more focused on stories and history, I feel that having members of this culture tell/explain it would give a better feel for this.

In the professional relevance section of the final project I would like to interview my Pastor from my home church as well as my current Judaism professor as well as possibly the Rabbi from the temple where I have been attending services. This is relevant for me because I would like to end up as a Professor of Religion after all of my studies are done, so I would be focusing this section on the question, "How is it beneficial in this profession (Pastor/Rabbi/Religion Professor) to know about the history of the Jewish people and their culture?" and "What influence has Jewish culture had on the spheres of religion?"

The third, and final, section of my video would focus on the Zionist movement within Jewish culture and what it means for the Jewish people as a whole and how other parts of Judaism view that particular movement. I would like a range of answers on this so I plan to interview my Rabbi, my professor, and the Lasser family so that I can get a laymen's view on this subject. (The Lasser family includes Dr. Lasser who is head of the Honor's college here at Clemson and is a professor, but not of religion, and his wife, and daughter who just went through her bat mitzvah.) The questions will include opinions on the movement from the conservative, reform, and orthodox movements mindset as well as the importance of a Jewish national state, the relevance of messianic thoughts/elements in Jewish culture, and if/how it is culturally relevant to today's youth. For this part the interviews will follow a brief history of the Zionist movement and what it means to the Jewish people (and what the importance of the Messiah is to them) by me.

I am sure that as I flush out the questions and do more thinking on the subject this project will evolve and grow, but I feel like this is a good starting point for the project.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Jewish Experience So Far... [Pt. 2]

In my last post I talked a little about all the subjects from our cultural literacy lecture without actually pointing out what each thing was. In this post, I am going to specifically talk about each of the five areas (nomos, mythos, ethnos, archon, and techne) and a little about my experience yesterday on the Passover Sabbath.

The first two pictures that I want to show are some that I talked about in my last blog that show the inside of the temple a little better. Sorry that these aren't the best pictures, but I actually waited until the service was over and there were not that many people there to take them, and I took them on my cell phone so it would not be very conspicuous, and I still was talked to by a member of the congregation about being disrespectful. But I got them anyway so I might as well share them lol.

This is the side of the temple that is just stained glass windows. It is not special or symbolic in anyway (that I know of) to the temple, but it looks pretty and lets the morning sun in, which is I guess why they put it there lol.

This picture shows better what I was trying to talk about with the area behind the pulpit where they keep the Torahs. They called it the ark. (In my last post I referred to it as the Holy of Holies which is where they kept the Ark of the Covenant in Biblical times which contained the holy scriptures so that is kinda the history of that lol.)

This photo is actually a good place to start our conversation about cultural literacy, because it hit on four of the five areas: nomos, mythos, ethnos, and archon. The nomos is important in this because of what it means. To the Jewish people, the Ark of Covenant was a symbol of God's agreement with them and selection of them to be a chosen people. The Covenant, or God's Torah, was kept in the Ark at all times to remind the Jewish people of their agreement. So, in this way, they keep the mythos and nomos of their religion and people alive by having an ancient concept/practice still in place today.

This is a concept that you see in a lot of Jewish culture (keeping alive ancient traditions) because they are a people very concerned with mythos and what that means to them as a people group and as their identity. Every Saturday (when they go to service) there is time devoted to telling the story of their people and specifically remembering their escape from slavery in Egypt. There was extra emphasis on that particular yesterday as we are currently in the middle of Passover, the week-long festival where they celebrate their escape from Egypt. This is a very important time for them because it symbolizes when God remembered/came through on basically "his part" of the Covenant and freed them from oppression.

We have talked some about the nomos and mythos, so let's move on to archon and techne now. Just like mythos is a very important part of Jewish culture, the archon and techne are an important part of telling that and of showing that the Jewish people are a specific ethnos.

In my last post I had a few pictures of people in kippahs and prayer shawls (which are called tallit pronounced taleth). These are two things which all Jewish men (and in the reform and conservative traditions women also) wear during service, and while praying to God.

This is a picture of some of the tallits that they keep in the Temple for people to use and then return after the service.

These are a symbolic of humility before God (as you are to cover yourself when praying) but often they are also a great example of the techne of the Jewish culture. (When I say that I mean both tallits and the kippahs.) The shawls that are in the picture are just plain, but I have seen some very decorated/elaborate ones which are simply works of art. These serve as a way not only to provide the symbolic element of their role in Jewish culture, but also show the artmanship and creativity of people and uniqueness (as these things are presented at one's bar/bat mitzvah and are usually made by family members to be special for the individual receiving them.

Together, all of these things (as well as many more) make up the Jewish ethnos, which is a very proud and historic ethnos. It really has been awesome learning about this culture this semester, and I plan to continue to study, learn, and be a part of Jewish culture throughout the summer.

That is it for this post, with my next post I will be back on track with completing the assignments for weeks 9 and 10. Look for those early this week! (Tuesday afternoonish)

Hope that you enjoyed!


Friday, April 2, 2010

My Jewish Experience So Far... [Pt. 1]

This blog post is just an update on my experiences with Jewish culture so far, hope y'all enjoy :)

So, for those that don't know, I have been attending Jewish services this semester at a small synagogue in Greenville called Beth Israel. It is a conservative temple and as such it allows for men and women to worship together (in orthodox temples the men and women are separated by a veil) so it has really not been that different from going to Church.

A little bit more on the temple since I don't have any pictures of it right now (tomorrow morning I will try to take some picture both inside and outside of the Temple before service)... The temple is very modest with a few windows of stained glass and wood paneling on the walls. The one thing that I think is really cool about the temple (and I assume this is something common to all Jewish temples) is that behind the pulpit area (I cannot remember what the hebrew term for it is) there are two sliding doors, each with half of the stone tablets that Moses brought down from the Mount with him. (This probably sounds pretty confusing, so I will try to get a picture of it tomorrow.) But anyway, behind those sliding doors they keep the Torahs. The doors stay open throughout the service, but then at the end of the service they close the doors while saying a prayer and it is a pretty cool ritual. Another interesting thing is the name of the temple. Beth is the hebrew word for house, so the place is literally called House of Israel. This is a common naming scheme with Jewish Temples (to include "Beth" in the name) as the household is a very important part of the Jewish culture. (The two centers of worship in the Jewish life are the house and the Temple, and to some the Temple is like a house, reemphasizing this point.

I have met a few people in the local Jewish community, but this has mainly come from sitting beside people at the different services that I have attended. However, one thing that I have noticed is that they are all very kind and helpful to visitors. I have sat beside several different people and each time they have helped me to follow along in the service (as it is about 95% in Hebrew) so I have been very glad for that. One person that I am looking forward to meeting and talking with more (and have been thinking about interviewing for my final project) is Dr. Lasser, head of the Honors College here at Clemson. His family actually attends Beth Israel and a few weeks ago was his daughter's bat mitzvah. That was a very interesting service, and I will talk about it a little later in the post.

Because of school I have not been able to attend many services (only about four or that I went to was not a full service) but I will be attending services for the rest of the school year and I plan to continue into the summer. Although I haven't been able to attend a lot of services I have been studying a lot about Jewish life and community in my class, and I have learned a lot which I have seen from my experiences with the community. I would like to put in a few quotes from a text we read in class that really do a great job describing the Jewish mindset:

"The Jew does not merely want to do the right and lawful thing, and to avoid sin. He positively wants to do God's will and therefore desires that every act should be a divine commandment."

"There were thousands of problems of this kind [dealing with minor house hold tasks], because the whole of life had to be sanctified by being made subject to the Law [of Moses]."

These two quotes really tell a lot about the Jewish mindset - it is one of a sanctified life, acceptable in God's eyes, and different than the lives of people around them. This has always been the major characteristic in Jewish life, as we can see in another quote;

"In the eyes of the pagan gentiles, the Jewish worship of an invisible and imageless God was tantamount to atheism, and Jewish cohesion and aloofness was considered a symptom of anti-social misanthropy."

This shows that the Jews have always been different, been separate, been the "other people" but that is part of what has given them the resilience to survive as a people and as a religion to this day - they did not back away from that role of being the "odd man out" - they embraced it and made it a part, a key part, of their cultural identity as a people set apart from others, picked by God himself for a special role in the human story.

This feeling really comes across in the services (of being a special people) and it is really unlike anything that I have been a part of until now. The average service lasts about two hours (a little more than that usually) and is roughly divided into two parts. The first part is full of prayers and praises sung/chanted to God while the second half is the sermon/lesson/reading from the Tanakh. All men are required to wear a kippah (כִּפָּה), you may know it as a yarmulke, and women can wear them if they like (this is only in reform and conservative traditions thought, in orthodox Judaism only the men wear them). I am not sure where the tradition came from (there is some debate on the matter where some traditions date it back to the time of the Babylonian exile (587 B.C.) and others don't date it until much later at some time towards the end of the middle ages (c. 17th century) but here are a few reasons (from wikiepedia) about why people wear kippahs:

Reasons given for wearing a kippah today include:

  • Recognition that God is "above" mankind;
  • Acceptance of the 613 mitzvot (Torah commandments);
  • Identification with the Jewish people;
  • Demonstration of the "ministry" of all Jewish people.
Another thing that is unique about the service (or that is very different from a Christian service) is that when they take the scrolls out of the Holy of Holies (out from behind the doors that I talked about at the beginning of my post) they parade it around the synagogue. They also keep them dressed up as you can see in the pictures below.

This picture came from a bat mitzvah website so that is why the little girl is there, but it is a good picture of the scrolls decorated in the Holy of Holies.

Honestly I am not sure why they do this, but I plan to ask the Rabbi tomorrow if I get a chance to catch her after service.

The last thing that I want to talk about in this post is Dr. Lasser's daughter's bat mitzvah which I mentioned towards the top of the post. It was really an interesting service to go to as the bat and bar mitzvah times are extremely important to the Jewish people. "Bat" (pronounced bot) and "Bar" are the Hebrew words for daughter and son, respectively, and mitzvah is the Hebrew word for covenant; so, bat/bar mitzvah literally means daughter/son of the Covenant - the agreement between God and his chosen people, the Jews - and this time in a young Jewish person's life is symbolic of them becoming an adult and being accepted into formal Jewish society. I did not actually go to the party (though I plan to go to one sometime this month as there are going to be quite a few more this month) but the Saturday following her celebration, Dr. Lasser's daughter helped lead the service and it was quite an enjoyable time. Everyone was very cheerful and happy as they were formally accepting another "adult" into their ranks, and we even threw candy at her at the end of the service to symbolize what a "sweet" time in her life it was. Definitely something that doesn't happen everyday at your local Southern Baptist church.

This post has gotten kinda long so I am going to cut it off here. In my next post I will talk more about the different attire and other archon associated with the typical Jewish service and speak more specifically about each of the other areas of cultural literacy (Nomos, Mythos, Ethos, and Techne), so until then,


All quotes from Historia Religionum: Handbook for the History of Religions, Volume II: Religions of the Present, Section on Judaism by R. J. Zwi Werblowsky

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Week #8 - Tropos in Digital Photography

I have not taken any photos specifically about my culture of study because, since I am not studying abroad and rather I am attending Jewish services, I feel like bringing a bulking camera into service one day would be rude and intrusive. However, being a photographer, I do take pictures of many things and I will examine some other photos that I have taken, recently (like from the Google On Main event in Greenville two weeks ago and the CVA) and from as far back as my trip to Egypt last spring break and talk about the tropos in each of them.

These are in no particular order, just however the uploaded decided to put them, but here we go:

This photo is from my sculpture class and the cardboard sculptures that we made as part of the class. I like that this photo is at an eye-level...level lol, because it shows that the sculptures we made were pretty large and human size. The subject is also very absorbed in the task showing that he is concentrating on building the project. I went with a close up view to emphasize this last point.

This is a shot that I took last summer for a camp that I go to (I have also added a logo for the camp and text to this version) where we rebuild/repair houses. In this photo the subject is shown in working/construction gear and is deep in thought about something. Because of the setting that the subject is in, the viewer gets the idea that the subject is hard at work, and thinking about how to do something or the next step in the project. I chose to include the whole subject and the surroundings to show that it is not just a little job that the subject is taking on, but something that involves a lot of time and effort, giving the impression that it will be a good and well thought out job.

This is a photo from my spring break trip (from last year) to Egypt. I like this photo because it says a lot about modern day Egypt. Honestly, it is kinda rundown and not really all that...attractive. But at the same time, it is continuously growing (notice the unfinished buildings - they are always like that and they just add layers on top when all the apartments fill up). Juxtapositioning this against an open sky emphasizes this point.

This photo is also from Egypt but it is of a different scene - the wildlife. I like that this is a very "open" photo because it plays on the fact that birds fly, and are "free" in most cases. I think that this is a very strong photo because of the way that the framing re-enforces the idea of the bird being a free creature. I think that it is important to note that the subject doesn't have to always fill the frame and be the only thing that you see in the photo for it to have such a powerful effect on the viewer.
This photo is from the recent Google On Main Event in Greenville. The event involved glow sticks (obviously) and this photo shows that. In the photo the glow sticks are more prominent and important than the people (as most of the people have their backs turned to the camera).
This is really just an amazing photo that I took at a Muse concert a little bit back (I kinda - honestly by accident - smuggled in my Canon XSi camera and was able to get some really cool shots) that I think has a large amount of visual information. The general feeling of this photo is that of a concert (obviously) but it is important to note that it portrays a concert (and not just a band that is performing at a concert) because the crowd is included in the foreground of the picture. The lighting of the stage and only select parts of the crowd further emphasize the epic feeling of this picture, and the blow up live feeds of the three band members on the three floating columns add a bigger presence and concert feeling to the picture.

This is the last photo that I am going to talk about it but I really like this one because it shows more of the "behind the scenes" aspect of photography and videography and the "press" life by including the other camera man in the shot. The subject of this photo has is different from what the videographer is capturing - this photo depicts the event that is being captured in its totality (not only what is happening, but also how it is happening and the setting it is happening in). By showing this, rather than an image like what the videographer is capturing, the viewer gets a look of the behind the scenes aspect of the press world, and not just the polished product like normal.
So, that is it for my photo analysis, but I will continue with my posts later this week so until then,