Friday, May 18, 2018

TOK Essay

This essay is, in a sense, stream of thought and to be finished.


  1. “The fields of study of academic disciplines can overlap, but adopting interdisciplinary approaches to the production of knowledge leads only to confusion.” Discuss this claim.
The overlapping of academic disciplines implies that disciples can become very complex. To understand complex concepts and to derive knowledge from them an interdisciplinary approach seems necessary. To an extent confusion can be caused by examining two different AOKs to understand one concept.
The natural sciences give people a broad explanation of thing such as their behavior in groups or how they make their choices economically. They are not centralized and focused for the individual. Some natural sciences do overlap with other academic disciplines for example anthropology requires the application of historical contexts to understand the development of societies and cultures.  Interdisciplinary techniques to developing knowledge are necessary for the production of knowledge in these areas of academia that focus on interdisciplinary topics.
If we are talking about learning or producing knowledge in a way that is very straightforward and simplistic the application of economics or psychology to history when trying to understand the American Revolution would be needless. Why look for extra details when that is not the objective? That seems to be the question or concern the statement is referring to. Finding extra information where it is needed least in producing knowledge is bound to create needless complexities. It is simpler to understand or develop knowledge with a broad understanding than it is to work your way backwards in some cases.
Holism or reductionism? Which is easier to understand?
To start with one area of knowledge and locating a specific event or piece of curriculum you want to understand to its fullest extent interdisciplinary knowledge is necessary.
For example in class,  we looked at Jose Guadalupe Posada, a revolutionary artist’s political cartoons which was used messages to the people. Artists at the time were like authors in say the New York Times for Mexico. Many people were illiterate at the time of the profirada’s rule and had no other way of being informed of corruption except for oral communication. It was difficult for me to understand the message of the drawing for I was not looking at it from the perspective of an artist and applying knowledge about visual focal points based on size position and directionality of objects in the drawing. Only when a few comments from classmates who were currently taking an art course explained the photo using that vocabulary, did I understand the references to the history of the political corruption performed by the cientificas (elites of the Mexican government).
In biology there is a unit called molecular biology where we study metabolic processes on the diatomic level. If there hadn’t been a line drawn between chemistry curriculum and biology curriculum unnecessary knowledge would have been added and added confusion. For example to understanding why proteins fold at certain stages in their creation you have to understand polarity and atomic attraction structure of macromolecules can only be understood with the application of chemistry basics. But to use biochemistry in understanding the structure of a cell would be unnecessary and excessive because biology in general focuses on larger components of life while another focus of necessitates some biochemical knowledge.
To start with one area of knowledge and locating a specific event or piece of curriculum you want to understand to its fullest extent interdisciplinary knowledge is necessary.
I agree to some extent here the separate disciplines work best individually so knowledge should be pursued with a narrow focus and only then should other academic disciplines come to the table to mix ad compare and see the connection through the observations and data they’ve collected.
Confusion of fencing knowledge through interdisciplinary techniques would cause invalid conclusions of knowledge if not careful. The confusion of causation and correlation comes to mind here.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

"No More Grades"

This is extremely late.

About four months late.

This lateness can be explained ha ha. This new system of grading that has been introduced has become the source of my greatest downfall. I've felt less obligated to finish assignments on time and when I don't do them, since there is no immediate response, they stay undone.

Lisa's Rival
But this is not entirely true. Right now I'm finishing this assignment four months late. At least I've done it now right? I feel bad and overwhelmed with work. And I feel that I've wasted learning opportunities through skipping assignments.

The threat of a failing grade doesn't feel as daunting as it does in TOK than in my other classes. This feeling is due to the lack of a frequently fluctuating grades. But now my other teachers are putting in less and less grades as well. 

I understand that fear shouldn't drive us to do assignments and it doesn't necessarily. It simply keeps us in check. I enjoy doing research and doing new things in TOK but I know personally that I need a push to do it and to do it well.

I do think this no grades thing is a good lesson on my part though. 

The IB graduate who visited our class this past Friday made it clear that there will be no one on our asses to ensure we do assignments when we're in college. We need to learn how to manage ourselves for that very reason. I've learned quite well what happens when we don't manage our time and work wisely through this "No Grades" policy. I don't want to repeat that mistake next year or anytime again.

If the "No Grades" thing is to actually be effective, as in we do our assignments with quality and on time without being threatened to have our parents called, we need a better explanation of what it is.

For example: 

B E W A R E:  


As the last week of my junior year approaches I feel it more. That feeling that a wave of responsibility is rushing towards me and trying to drown me. It's too much all at once so I've been avoiding my obligations. This grading system has added its self to the rising water.

I lacked the maturity and capacity to change my habits which hindered my ability to be self reliant and responsible. Those are the very things I need to get the most out of this program.
The Tatami Galaxy

I'm now committing myself to completing all of my missing assignments to the best of my ability before school ends. I wish I hadn't done this but its too late now, all I can do is fix what I've done to myself.

Despite my failure to do my assignments on time, I am still able to redeem myself through doing them later and displaying some type of growth. This is a major plus of "No Grades" outside of the important lesson I've come to learn about responsibility. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

TOKIRL - History Analysis and Philosophy

Why do historians have different views about events in the past? Does this make history more or less valid as an academic discipline if it can be so much a matter of opinion?

It is understood that truths are established by reason and argument. The problem is that the truths of history vary greatly so what in history is actually true? In a sense, all sophisticated observations assessing an event can be considered a truth to some respect, because there are no fixed conclusions in the soft sciences. This claim can only be upheld if we understand that an observation is based on an individual's values and whether or not what is being observed (in this case a historical event) is negative or positive based on their calculation of morality and logic through a specific criterion. 
It's all relative

So approach historical interpretations with the lens of ethical relativism, theory which holds that the rightness or wrongness of an act is relative to the attitudes and beliefs of the person judging the act.

Calculating morality of the New Deal

In HOTA, we are currently studying the Great Depression. To increase our essay scores it is advised that we present a counter argument in a given prompt. I find this occasionally difficult to establish so I've taken the liberty to make it easy by applying some techniques. 

FDR yeeting on laissez faire
Whenever you take a position in an essay through your thesis you are doing this on the basis of a specific philosophy. For example:

Hugh Brogan argued, in 1985, that the New Deal was successful as it preserved American democracy, the constitution, and capitalism. He is calculating the effectiveness of the New Deal based on conservatism by putting our democratic path against the socialist revolutionary path the U.S. could've gone down. 

To counter this argument I can take the view of Milton Friedman and produce a counter argument. He, in 198o, argued that the New Deal encouraged governments to spend, increased inflation and reduced free-market activity which was negative.

Yes the New Deal preserved capitalism, but it reduced free-market activity which limits capitalism...which is why the New Deal was never able to get the economy back to the highs it had achieved before [insert specific GNP levels]. (Game Theory is used here -"the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers")

You wrap up that counterargument with a yes but... 

 Here I use situational ethics (anthropological outlook) which almost always works.

Limiting the free-market was necessary in the time period because a lack of government intervention in the economy was (arguably) the cause of the Great Depression in the first place. The only way to prevent the Great Depression to happen again is by upholding a mixed economy which was produced by the New Deal.

The interpretation of historical events evolve over time based on previous interpretations made by other historians/economists'. For example: 40 years after the New Deal Donald McCoy made an observation of the effectiveness of the New Deal by assessing its negatives and positives in almost all considerations. This differed from Barton Bernstein's observation who focused entirely on the negative outcomes of the New Deal to challenge the interpretations of William Leuchenberg and Carl Degler who seemed to only glorify it.


Polarizing biases in historical interpretations allow for a grey area in our connotations of historical events which is a necessity in avoiding bias. There is a good and a bad to every event. Acknowledging both sides prevents bias. The most challenging thing about Human Sciences is that there tends not to be one answer to conflicts so having less interpretations of something like someones behavior or the morality of a certain policy leaves more variables unaccounted for than if there were more observations considered.
Complexity in historical observations through interpretive bias of historians is important because these criticisms and praises of political and economic implementations throughout history capture the complexity of every historical question.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Annotated Bibilography EE #1 - “Urasawa Naoki No Manben: Itou Junji (S4E2, 2017)"

Urasawa Naoki No Manben

The source is an interview conducted by Urasawa Naoki (an acclaimed Japanese mangaka), on his television documentary Urasawa Naoki No Manben or Naoki Ursawa's Manga Exertions. He asks about Junji Ito's motivations and influences as they re-watch recordings of Ito drawing manga panels, over the course of four days for his new manga Layers of Fear. It's an analysis of what makes Ito's manga unique from everyone else's in the horror manga genre. Why is he considered a heir to the tradition of horror?

Tomie Fanart
The key characteristic of Ito's manga is his usage of visual juxtapositions. He expressed that beautiful women are a necessity in horror manga. A pure heroine or a bewitched fiend takes the form of Ito's attractive protagonists. Having "cute and innocent" girls trembling in terror is a horror staple because of the contrast they provide when next to monsters.

The interviewer Urasawa proposes that horror, beauty, and eroticism have a "synergistic effect" on the emotions of readers. Urasawa imposes that eroticism, fear, and infatuation with aesthetics are the most commonly shared experiences between humans. This is why Ito is able to cultivate such a large audience, he captures these universal experiences through beautiful women and horrible series' of events. The combination of themes creates this synergism that Urasawa mentions, meaning that the reader feels an abundance of different things. Ito's manga makes readers feel something that is strangely complex; because of this Urasawa proposes that Ito's work is more than horror.

Manga is not merely drawing, text bubbles for speech and narrative are used to propel its stories. The speech of the girls Ito uses as protagonist give off a "refined young lady" vibe according to Urasawa. They're the type of girls you'd least expect to be in the grotesque and horrifying situations they are put in. This sells the protagonists' role as the innocent girl needed to juxtapose monsters.

Fig.3 Layers of Fear
Not only does Ito use this beauty paradox with characters, it shows up in his drawing techniques as well. He creates "repulsive shocking imagines, in beautiful lines". His delicate lines and precision when drawing teeth (Fig.3) can be associated with his previous occupation as a dental technician. On occasion Ito pulled out an anatomy book as a reference for muscle tissues. There is emphasis on accuracy.

Ito's unique penmanship also provides originality in his ink stokes. He is slow and meticulous when creating panels for his manga. When explaining why he is so slow he says,"I'm thinking, That's not it, that's not right either, during it, which makes it even more slow. Its the sum of trying something, seeing it take shape and thinking, Oh, that looks good. " There is uncertainty in the details he adds to panels but an idea of what the final result should look like resides.
He comments that the longer this process of adding detail goes on, the more grotesque the image tends to get, despite adding texture and detail in an ad-lib fashion.

Instead of filling in a background with black he draws it in. This is a contrast between him and Urasawa's manga when trying to make an eery panel. This creates movement around characters and in scenes yet it isn't difficult to grasp the image.

Fig.4 Layers of Fear
Once Ito finishes inking, he uploads the panel to his computer so that he can make final adjustments. He uses a homemade keypad to control the screen while adding screentones and more minor details. He spends nine hours doing this. Ito mentions that his neighbors help with finishing touches for blacks or screentones.

When filling in the bits of skin in Fig.4, Ito exclaimed how fun it was to create scenes like this.

Junji Ito was born 1963 in Gifu Prefecture, Japan. He has had a deep love for horror manga since he was a child starting at age 5. The mangaka that influenced him the most was Umezu Kazuo-sensei and others mentioned were Kagoa Shinichi-sensei and Hino Hindeshi- sensei other horror mangaka. His first award was the Umezu Award, he placed as an honorable mention, making his debut for his now well known manga Tomie. It has been thirty years since his debut.

Ito wants to stick to the foundations of horror manga and incorporate the freedom of expression in horror that he enjoyed when he was a child. "I wouldn't say I was creating horror manga, but that I am inheriting it, like I'm carrying on the tradition." - Ito. He said he adds his own touch with new types of imagery to traditional of horror manga to make it his own.
"I want to create things that aren't of this world. I think the right visual imagery is crucial for that." - Ito
That Boi Ito
Ito's close attention to the ability to sell his horror in a convincing way is also key in his success. This ability to present horror scenes with believability is necessary to actually evoke fear in his reader. He also emphasizes that he must do this in a way that hasn't been done before. Ito feels that he has done a good job only when he has presented horror in a form that is believable to the reader while having also presented completely unique imagery. To capture this believability he uses realism. Urasawa describes it as the balance of the unbelievable and the strangely believable. He explains that creating original horror can be difficult when lacking a creative drive so producing new manga can be frustrating.

Review & Synopsis:

This source was strong. It provided a direct source for Ito's thoughts on his own work and what he intends to do with it. There is no question about why he does what he does, the motivations of the author aren't up for speculation: he loves to draw horror and scare people. The interview was in Japanese so I relied on subtitles for translation because of this I had to re watch the 45 minute long video five times to make sure I had written everything correctly. Even then I can't help but think something was lost in that translation.

Urasawa spewing complex concepts @ Ito
When Urasawa presents an idea to Ito about his work, Ito seems surprised and has never thought of it. Ito either overlooks components of his work or what he doesn't say it is isn't what it is. Urasawa's outside point of view does bring the bias of expectation to the table. At moments, it feels like because Ito is so renowned there must be a subliminal ingenious message in his manga. Ito can't be great because he is simply a talented drawer, he has to be great because he is a talented drawer who cautiously exercises his expertise of the human condition through those drawings. That may be true but Ito never completely affirms Urasawa's comment. They are both very successful mangaka so I believe his observations have great credibility but even then great people are subjective to bias.

What are the roles of the pure heroine and the bewitched fiend and are they unique in Junji Ito's stories?

Why is this "synergistic effect" effective and is it really the reason people are drawn to Ito's horror manga?

There is a complex I think the reader feels when watching someone who is pure go through trauma and defilement. Why is the juxtaposition of characters so effective?

What new types of imagery is he creating? I need to do research on the history of horror manga and manga in general to truly understand and discuss the medium he is using for horror.

Compare and contrast mediums and manipulation of mediums Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft use in order to convey cosmological horror.

  • Some questions and observations I began to pose between the two...
Penmanship is unique compared to other manga artists that have previously been interviewed by Urasawa he describes Ito's inking as abnormally slow. This is due to his strive for perfection in his art and not being sure how that perfection can be immediately achieved. It simply emerges after hours of ad-libed lines. Is there a parallel here with Lovecraft's writing? Is he just as meticulous about telling the story right? If so how does he go about achieving that perfection?

Ito is open with his work with his neighbours for final touches why is this outside opinion necessary? What do ordinary people have to offer to his genius? Same for Lovecraft, he wrote tons of letters to counterparts who were interested in his work and they helped each other build ideas for plot. They all participated in an open world story. In contrast to Lovecraft, Ito emphasizes that he only gets help with visual detail. Letter writing is why Lovecraft has so much clout today his fans gave him coverage after his death. The difference between how both artists became popular has a lot to do with era. Ito is popular because of the world wide web, we've never been this interconnected. Lovecraft was writing hundreds of thousands of letters to fans and authors. Connection to people is important whether the usage of these peoples insight is different or not.

How do they both branch off from their traditional genres? To what extent to they do this?

Grazzi44. “Urasawa Naoki No Manben: Itou Junji (S4E2, 2017) [English Subs].” YouTube, YouTube, 12 Jan. 2018,

Sunday, March 25, 2018

TOKIRL- Expectation Bias & Art

Who is to say what is and is not art?

I recently re-watched one of my favorite films Mona Lisa Smile. It was about an art teacher wanting to integrate new and abstract art into the syllabus of Wesleyan College in the 1950s a rather conservative institution. The common rejection of what she taught by alumni was based on the pretense that what has no obvious subject is not art.

I was immediately enraged when I realized that the rejection of modern minimalism, is the same type of response given to abstract expressionism when the art sect began to arise in the late 40s.

The modern minimalist movement is a rejection of what we generally perceive as abstract art which arose during the 1960s. It doesn't want to deceive or make the observer look for any subliminal meaning because there is an intentional lack it.

People tend to discredit minimalist art and artists because when we think of art we forget that it has a subjective meaning and therefore value. That subjectivity is often based on our assumptions and expectations of what something should or should not be.

The expectation that art has to be big and extravagant, or that it must require skill and close attention, is the source of negative criticisms against minimalism.

 Expectation influences perception. 

No. 5, 1948 - Jackson Pollock
The expectation that art must be refined and of subtle colors sets the viewer up for a feeling of disgust and/or alienation when put in front of Pollok. When a surrounding audience affirms this feeling we are likely to accept that Pollok's paintings are not real art. This was the atmosphere in which the art professor from Mona Lisa Smile placed her students. As one of them began to make a snide comment she had them shut up.

 Art is for the observer alone to explore and deconstruct as an independent body. Once they've made their personal decision as of what it means, that is when discussion should be open. This method of observation removes bias by in-group conformity. Despite this there may still preside a problem of lens.
Antibes Seen from the Plateau Notre-Dame (1888)

This lens bias is evident with associations as well as expectations because they influence one another. If I associated sculptures primarily with Bernini and Michelangelo I'd be removed when presented with Carl Andre's floor tiles and block sculptures. A classical lens is not made for a modernist one and it takes consideration to change ones lens willingly. Come to a gallery with no expectations and/or with research on the artist being observed, brush up on what they may or may not be trying to say through their art.

The problem besides inconsideration developed by expectations and assumptions based on association, is the economics of minimalist art. This is where even further estrangement comes from with those who have a narrow lens.

Image result for audrey stone riding with soft hands

This is a painting by Audrey Stone (2015) called Riding With Soft Hands it was sold for about 3,550 euros.

Image result for Bridget Riley green sleeves

This is a painting by Bridget Riley (1983) called Greensleeves it was sold for 950,000 euros.

What do you think?

Why do you think that?


Riley's painting was sold for so much more because she has been creating abstract works since the 1960s. She has been internationally recognized since she was part of the Responsive Eye Exhibition at MoMA in 1965. Her name is synonymous with the Optical Art Movement and she has, for years, been manipulating lines to create optical effects. Audrey doesn't have the same level of renown yet.

This shows that pricing has a rationale but to the inexperienced or uninformed eye this rationale is overlooked. This is especially negative when the same observer is already turning their nose up to minimalist art or at this point any sect of art in general. To see that something we firmly believe has no value does have value, further alienates us when presented without explanation (haha The Cave of Art).
Me when someone says they hate minimalist installation art. 

Because of this we should look for explanations before being dismissive of what we may not consider art. It is damaging to hear someone viciously tear down what you appreciate because they do not understand your point of view or most importantly, the point of view of the artist. Even in art messages are lost through translation. Death by medium.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Emotions Podcast Reflection

Whenever I think of a podcast I feel annoyance. Whenever assigned to listen to a podcast I cringe. I don't like the sound of most peoples voices, especially when it's the deciding factor in whether or not I finish the entire thing. Podcasts in my mind are considered pedantic. Forcing myself to listen to Invisibilia for this blog reflection, I found myself relaxing and and finding the topic they were discussing engrossing: Emotions.

Egg McMuffin

The questions posed in the podcast are: where do emotions come from and can we control them?

The immediate answer for me was emotions are neurological triggers in the brain and no you can't control emotions.

There are two stories about these two questions through two different people. Both were taught that emotions were a burden that you have to tame them. That is a widely held point of view on emotions as well as the thought that they arise through basic needs of the human race for survival like lust or sadness.

This podcast says that we're wrong. Everything we've been taught about emotions is ultimately incorrect and that invalidity may end up effecting us in very negative ways.

It is explained through a court case in Minnesota where a car on highway lost control and crashed into a truck in the opposite side of the highway. The car held a family with two children one of them had died. The trucker saw this child's mangled body and was traumatized. He couldn't go to work for months leaving him mentally crippled and he would later sue the family who had lost their child due to emotional distress.
"emotional distress"

This man's distress was due to the fact that he believed the accident was his fault. When he went to a doctor they told him that emotions happen to you. You are a puppet of these neurological triggers. Because this conclusion was drawn amongst other reasons the trucker was able to sue the family.

A psychologist by the name of Lisa explains how this court case was all wrong. Emotions aren't simply stimulus to the brain she explains it's deeper than that, and because of this you can control more than your reaction to emotions. You can control emotions themselves.


Turns out emotions are the result of the brain simplifying introspection within the body for your convenience. If the brain did not simplify introspection then our brains would experience an overload of sensations.

Emotions are subjective to concepts. The concepts that your brain matches with certain feelings and actions are learned from observing other people at a young age. One thing means the other thing because your brain looks for previous experiences that are similar to the ones you're experiencing in real time, and from there decides what you're feeling now.

That means your emotions aren't hardwired. We hold responsibility over our emotions because we can identify concepts and their linkage to our emotions and then decide whether to change them or not.
me harnessing that emotional pw
So that means I hold the power to destROY (ha ha). Living as a victim of your emotions can leave you powerless but understanding that you are the final determiner of what you feel makes you the holder of control. To be in control is to be powerful.

Warhol and Sedgwick
 There is a quote by Andy Warhol and it was about how to say "so what" to what may feel like an impenetrable condition. He said that he'd never forget when he understood how to use that phrase. I think then, to be free of the feeling that how you feel is uncontrollable, is the ultimate freedom.  To use "so what" is to shed any burdensome condition that you've allowed yourself to wallow in and move forward.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My Geographical BOPS Map Reflection

When given this project and told to map myself I was excited because I though I get to draw stuff but I was also afraid. To map myself would be to lay myself out in front of 19 people, most of which I don't know very well. I already felt like I was throwing myself into a busy highway with my I Like To Draw... blog. I don't like talking about the parts of myself I think are scared with other people when I don't have control over who my audience is. I was shaking the whole time I read my blog about drawing out loud, I honestly still can't believe I wrote that.

Spilling out my entrails for everyone to see is a god awful feeling, it's scary. So I decided to make a map about the music I listen to, like hey that's simple enough. It's an important part of myself that isn't emotionally over bearing on who ever is looking at my map. Even then I was afraid of sharing too much, and in my presentation I stuck to the surface level meaning of my map: this is tall because I like it more than that. I didn't explain things like why certain music genres were more popular than others.
I wonder what bops he's listenin' to.

After listening to everyone's map  I felt bad. A good half of the class told their life stories and I didn't think it was fair for me to try and hide parts of myself by purposefully simplifying my topographical map, on top of choosing something as simple as the music I listen to. Because I don't feel I was being truly authentic by not providing full explanations for the main aspects of my map, I'll explain some here.

The music genres of the highest altitude represent the genres I listen to the most, that is classical and various branches of metal. I enjoy listening to classical bops because I love the sound of violin, cello, and piano. The sounds those instruments make, make my soul feel as if it's being caressed. The notes feel personal and I've always felt that the only way I can truly be understood is to move someone with my own melodies. Because of that personal philosophy, at points in my life I asked for each instrument. I got my cousin's violin but never learned to play. I got my great grandmother's piano but could only managed to teach myself the Harry Potter theme song and a few other bops. Simply put, I relish in classical music because I long for a musical skill I may never acquire and I often feel the need to crawl into Amadeus' arms when I feel he's the only person who could ever truly understand me.

A meme that simply could not be wasted
 Metal is a form of expression, ultimately its a way of life. At-home-complications and interpersonal as well as inner-personal relationships aren't fine and dandy majority of the time. Instead of resorting to violence or the destruction of property, I like to listen to bops that connect with me about my problems. A wicked heavy metal guitar rift may relive my inner turmoil or make me head bang until I can't think of anything else but the beautiful sound of a rock god shredding his guitar.

Not just any metal
 The fact that both of those musical genres are the highest in altitude show what state of mind I'm in most often.

I kinda bailed on the importance of one landscape though: the Disco Dunes. Dunes aren't always that small (they were the size of a dime on my map) they can reach up to 500+ feet, taller than any pine tree could grow in Alt Forest or any geyser could spray in Ambient music land. I listen to Disco (modern electronic disco) more than acid rap, so my representation of land masses weren't all that accurate. I listen to Daft Punk and EDM nearly as much as I listen to Metallica and Five Finger Death Punch or Yo-Yo Ma and Schubert. I wasn't honest because I described the Disco Dunes as a home for "end of the world music"; I felt that if I were honest, my map would be reduced to just another rendition of how much I struggle with wanting to die. And that's boring. But that didn't happen so it's all okay. TOK personal projects stress me out.

The only other map I connected with a lot was Leyna's and I don't want to explain how. That requires me sharing things that I don't feel comfortable sharing. The very thing I wanted to avoid while making my map. In comparison to other maps, I feel my map was more like Hayden's or Austin's; they were simplistic but I felt they might've had more depth than what was explained.