The drama and its discontents: Homer, Plato and Havelock.

The Combat of Mars and Minerva (1771) by DAVID, Jacques-Louis

The Combat of Mars and Minerva by DAVID (1771)

This week we read Homer’s Iliad (Book 1) and Eric Havelock’s “Preface to Plato” (1963) relating to Plato’s writing about “Mimesis”.  The readings describe the influential tradition of oral poetry in ancient Greece.  Both Plato and Havelock critique reciting poems as a method that influences the people, yet not conveying the “truth”.  Starting with Homer, such poets imitate their dramatic perception of real life through repetitive story telling, capturing the attention of the audience through the live performance of the characters as an improvised concert.

Why should we express a concern about telling a story through stage dramatization accompanied by live music?

First, the historical evidence that we oral poetry was the main form of entertainment raises a question of why were people (living in 110-750 ancient Greece) not seeking other forms of communication?

Subsequently, I wonder what has the influence of oral poetry been on the history of communication, education, preservation of information and perception of “the truth”?  Hevelock claims that the audience in such performances got so engaged that their identification with the characters on a deep emotional level prevented them from distancing themselves, and therefore they did not reach an abstract thinking capacity.

As a mother of young children I ask myself why do I go to great length exposing my preschool children to repetitive storytelling that is expressed through performing arts with a musical background?  Would “Peter and the Wolf” as a book trigger my son’s abstract thinking more than the same book delivered on stage accompanied by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra?  I’m not convinced.  Perhaps it is the fact that I do have access to a variety of storytelling ways, including interactive storytelling and artifact production through new technologies allow for experimentation with new type of communication, storytelling, idea exchange and multiple perceptions of “the truth”.

Going back to Homer’s Iliad, it seems that such new technology (i.e. make your own “Peter and the Wolf” digital variation of the story) go hand in hand with a multi-layered complexity of today’s philosophical thinking and culture.  We are no longer a character with one main trait as prudence (Athena), sense of submission (Zeus), aggression (Arias) and eroticism (Aphrodite).


September 24, 2009. Tags: . Columbia University Doctorate. 3 comments.

Globalization and Other Buzz Words

Has the G word turned cliche?

Has the G word turned cliché?

In his book Globalization: A Very Short Introduction (2009) Manfred Steger often adds “tion” to a phenomenon which has turned into popular culture, i.e. “Americanization”; “McDonaldization”; “Globalization”.  How do we use these words in our everyday language and how do such concepts shape our collaborative view?  Is there an agreed upon definition of the complex term “globalization”, a term which relates to numerous combinations of cultural, social, economical, ecological, political and religious systems?  

In the seventh chapter Steger states that ideologies of globalization (i.e. market globalism, justice globalism, jihadist globalism) are simplified claims that are accepted as “truth”.  Such stereotyped narratives do not only benefit the few, but also construct a perceived reality that Steger suggests is indisputable and and irreversible.  Although such movements could be visionary and socially equitable in their ideals, it is difficult to respond to such terms since many people could define it in different ways.  I wonder what would be the array of definitions and examples of “globalization” as a classroom activity where the teacher asks students to write their own definition and example of “globalization”.  Would students refer to “globalization” as an internationally influential factor (as per Merriam-Webster Dictionary) or would they refer to it as an interconnected process (as per Steger and wikipedia)?  

What does “globalization” mean to me?

A personal globalization process in my life is reflected through daily communication and exploration of social networks (i.e. facebook & twitter) and collaborative web-based interchange (i.e. wikis, blogs, simulations and other platforms).  These interactions have influenced my life in what feels like an identity transformation – from the “localized” to the “globalized”.  Affordances (i.e. social capital) and drawbacks (i.e. privacy) exist, but the one thing I feel is that if I don’t get engaged in such new literacy networks, it’s as if I don’t exist.  For example, if I didn’t know how to write blog reflections, I would not pass the “History of Communication” course.  Thus, participation in globalization is a basic need for acceptance, employment, social status, information seeking, learning capacity and communication.  Unfortunately, it remains a privilege of the minority who has access to technology and resources. Others cannot “advance”.  As John Gray wrote in his book review of Friedman’s “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” (2005) –  “Globalization makes the world smaller.  It may also make it – or sections of it – richer.  It does not make it more peaceful, or more liberal.  Least of all does it make it flat.” (pg. 4).

September 16, 2009. Columbia University Doctorate. 2 comments.

A New Course Blog: History of Communication

I can write a year long blog journal about how Gee's work influenced my view.

Gee, Azi and I at the GLS conference. I could write a year-long journal about how James Gee's work influenced my view.

Dear Journal,

I am sorry that I haven’t visited for a while.  I have been busy researching, producing, conferencing, conversing, socializing and mothering.  I participated at Games, Learning and Society conference, visited family in Tel-Aviv, and presented LIT (mobile game for smoking reduction) at the DiGRA conference in London, among other endeavors.  Now I am back to you, my dear journal, twittered and facebooked, ready for another semester of meaningful exchange.  As my latest Facebook profile tag line says:  “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

Forever yours,


I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship.
~ Louisa May Alcott ~

September 15, 2009. uncategorized. Leave a comment.