James Polk

Recent Undergrad in History Aspiring Writer and Artist

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Latest Articles

Latest Topics

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Identity and Loss: Beloved

Explore the nature of personal identity in Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved.” This could include the nature of the character Beloved, notably in her relationships with other characters (most importantly Sethe) and her opaque origins. Additionally, the book can be examined for commentary on the dehumanizing effect of American slavery on African American identity, and how this effect lingers, thus making “Beloved” resonant.

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    Fetishizing Pain: Suffering as a Gateway to Artistic Expression on Film

    Examine the vein in various film media (especially Black Swan and Whiplash) suggesting pronounced suffering to produce great art. Both films, to this writer, state or otherwise imply that our protagonists must suffer under harsh instructors (especially in the case of Whiplash) to be successful in their respective fields. This ideology comes off as very unsettling, especially in an era where mental health and personal agency (especially for women) are becoming more recognized. A potential goal for the topic is to examine how movies of this sort condition young artists to burn themselves out in the pursuit of making art. Another film to examine could be “Lust For Life,” on the life of infamous tortured artist Van Gogh.

    The goal in proposing this topic is not to condemn any movie mentioned wholesale, but to, instead, offer examination of less than wholesome implications in media that have not been fully explored for those purposes.

    It will be necessary to explore mental health expertise to give structure to the topic. An important video to the formulation of this topic was the YouTube video “‘Rise and Grind’ Film Culture: A Rant” from content creator coldcrashpictures. Potential writers may find material for additional definition for this topic in said video.

    • The common trope of suffering as an obligatory driving force of creativity is purposeful implication by gatekeepers of media to ensure creative production remains under-compensated and under-appreciated. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when creatives/artists feel a creative writer's block and can only be escaped by artistic success which is further aided by capitalism and ends in eventual demise and consequent 'fetishization' of pain. It's why mental health is becoming an increasingly discussed, but not acted upon, topic. – gemstokes 8 months ago
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    • Great topic. I really want to read this. It would interesting if you could find examples of "healthy" creatives who are able to create/follow their passions successfully and without a mentality of no-pain, no-gain. If you have access, I highly recommend the Netflix original series Abstract: The Art of Design, which highlights creators/artists and their creative process, and showcases both healthy and toxic relationships with the creative process and productivity. – Eden 5 months ago
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    • This is a topic that I've had in the back of my head. There's a lot to dissect here. You can go into the psychology of art, the philosophy of art, art theory,and art history. One can also write their opinion from a shared experience being an artist themselves. The fetishizing of pain might be an exaggerated form of representing how passionate people are about their art medium. This would be a great read, there's so many possibilities to go about this. – lfmejia 5 months ago
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    Latest Comments

    Your aren’t off-mark on the mystery element of Poe’s Dupin tales. They fall more into a separate category from his horror tales—his detective works (the first in the English language) are more dedicated to confounding his audience’s deductive skills than evoking fear. Dupin is the first in a line of genius detectives, but, being the first, he is also among the more coarse in effect for modern eyes. Disdain isn’t unbelievable. In fact, Poe’s second Dupin work was not well-received in his day and isn’t well known today for that reason, I believe.

    Edgar Allan Poe: Unknown Horrors

    You make an excellent point! If since lost account of it, but one author wrote in forwarding a Poe anthology that most of his work has potential for comic satire. He argued how even the works regarded as peak horror (The Tell-Tale Heart) can be read as effective trolling of the high-brows or his day. Another case of how Poe’s choice of words and omissions allow a world of interpretive interest.

    Edgar Allan Poe: Unknown Horrors

    Poe’s poetry has a distinctive stylistic genome compared to his tales. That’s partly why I focus on his short stories—his poems were made with a different intent and style. That being said, I can take different poems over others. Poe wrote poetry like most people change socks: some almost seem written in “stream of consciousness.” If you want a textbook case of overlong and too opaque, read “Al Aaraaf,” which even Poe himself dismissed as amateurish later in his life.

    Edgar Allan Poe: Unknown Horrors

    Thanks so very much. I’m flattered you enjoyed it! The research was extensive, so that’s wonderful.

    Edgar Allan Poe: Unknown Horrors

    There’s a world of interest in just one body of work. Thanks for your kind words!

    Edgar Allan Poe: Unknown Horrors

    A very nice insight into the nature of adaptation. Each of the media formats mentioned (literature, film, and video-gaming) have unique elements that limit what they can depict effectively. Stuff has to change, in short. I appreciate your efforts to encourage nuance on cross-media criticism!

    Adapting Worlds, not Stories

    It is interesting how nature, as a setting and thematic concept, is cast in horror movies. In “Wrong Turn,” it appears to be, on the surface, an “other” place, one that’s foreign and hostile to the urban dwellers. Certainly the homicidal hillbillies reinforce it.

    However, you make a point that, even if the hillbillies are the malicious antagonists of the movie, the basic tenants of a “return to nature” (including a traditionalist view on masculinity and power, for example) are primary for the story’s thesis (so to speak).

    Having done some reading on Poe and romanticism, much of the American arts has cast nature, a place separate from industrialization, as the bastion of true intellectual actualization. As such, traditional gender roles and living “simply” are often lionized, and innovation and change are looked at disdainfully. Poe, perhaps the most important horror author in America, has somewhat a hand in forwarding that outlook, so much of horror (especially American horror) tends to forward that Romantic notion.

    But I digress. I appreciate your article, for finding insight in a genre of film that is often dismissed south of hand by critics and academics (at least in the past). Kudos!

    Wrong Turn (2003): The Representation of Gender and Class

    Much of the issue involving adaptation (really of any medium to another, but especially text to visual) is the question of personal investment. Books tend to become personal journeys for each individual reader—that individual can craft their own mental ideation of the characters and preceding events, and those visions are fluid based personal discretion. An event in a text, depending on the skill and intentions of the author, can be read a variety of ways. Film tends to be static—an event that happens on screen often locks out alternative interpretation, unless a surrealistic director (a la David Lynch) is at helm. This innate “reality” of film as a medium frequently denies the freedom of vision innate in literature—the movie belongs not the individual, but to all who see it.

    But I digress. I appreciate your article.

    The Art of Adaptation: From Book to Film