Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Separated Kingdoms

The Visual Strategy of “Separate Kingdoms”

In a piece of writing, visual strategies are occasionally used in order to give a message to readers. In the story “Separate Kingdoms” by Valerie Laken, she utilizes specific visual strategies to emphasize her purpose efficiently. What Laken tries to say in this story is how separated family understands each other and comes together. In order to support her purpose, she organizes her story with column-bridges to connect two-columns to show the family separation and the process that the family overcomes their situation.

Expressing the process, in “Separate Kingdoms,” two columns are seen every single page. Laken applies separated narrative techniques, two different narrative modes and contents, to each column. One of the columns is described by the third person point of view to figure out the facts that Colt has troubles because he was cut his thumbs off by machine of the factory. She focuses on father’s story in the field of narrating. Another column is depicted by son’s angle, Jack’s. Jack talks how father’s accident affects his life, and shows how the other family members suffer from the condition. These obvious separated columns by different perspectives represent the distance that the family does not have any specific link mentally. Definitely, the narrative separation emphasizes the absence of emotional connections each family member.

The content is divided into the side of a human and that of an animal. Despite of the fact that he cannot control remote control easily, Colt always stays in the room as he watches on TV program, Animal Planet, comparing himself with the poor animals. On the contrary Colt, Jack stays in the basement, playing Xbox and the drums. This is the content of “Separate Kingdoms”. Unfortunately, Colt cannot play the game with his son because of the absence of thumbs. “’You know what separates us from the animals?’ …’Opposable thumbs.’”(Laken, 12) Father thinks he belongs to an animal group after losing his thumbs. The most notable difference between a human and an animal is whether or not thumbs are controlled freely. With handling thumbs, a human can control the technology of civilization and enjoy it. Technology is the key to distinguish between a human and an animal. In this story, Colt cannot control the remote control easily, while Jack is good at Xbox without any restriction. Technology is the metaphor as a medium to divide Colt’s family into different groups.

From the separation, the family lives individually. Colt usually stays upstairs and son has his life in the basement. Through the column bridges, however, Laken implies there are clues that they still have connections. The bridges take a role to connect the separated columns. The column bridges also hint that the family is not entirely split into two groups yet. Jack’s drum sound connects two columns. Like the drum sound, the writer inserts another column bridge to make readers imagine the arguing scene by Colt and his wife, “‘You take it, then,’ he shouts, wishing he could throw something. ‘Take it! Take the goddamn money and the little drummer boy and drive yourselves straight to paradise, set yourselves up! I’m fine right here.’” (Laken 11) That quotation links two columns to show Jack is listening father’s shouting. Through the column bridges that represent sound symbolize the family’s feeling and the atmosphere of rising conflict. Even though the two sounds can be a negative connection, the family notices the existence each other. Thus, family members sense that they are always being together unconsciously. Cooking without thumbs, moreover, wife and son understand Colt’s situation. The author does not clearly tell readers that Colt still cares about his family, but it is conveyed in the conversation that Colt has with a lawyer at the very end of the story. Colt says that “Eddie here couldn’t find his own turd in a sandbox,” but he “used to guard Jack’s cradle like the Secret Service.”(Laken, 18) This phrase lets readers show a connection between Colt and Eddie from the similarities of their behaviors. Although Colt cannot find his own senses to help himself, he still cares for and wishes to protect his own family.

In conclusion, by using the column bridges, Laken evidently expresses how much hard time Colt’s family have and how they overcome their problems. Ultimately, the visual strategy, the column bridges, tries to take the gap away in Colt’s family by connecting the two stories seen separately and the separation of Colt family. In writing, it is hard to simultaneously demonstrate a visual scene with an aural effect. However, if the column bridge is used with consisting of columns in writing, it is possible to provide several experience for readers at the same time. The column bridge makes writing more expressive and conveys a vivid scene to readers. In “Separate Kingdoms” by Valery Laken, she takes the advantage of the effect of the column bridge. Moreover, the column bridge in her writing functions to appeal to serve the link of family members’ emotion.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Visual strategies

- 2 columns

- Column bridges

- Repetition

- Emphasis of loud sounds with capital letters (ex. PAT pa, Duh. GUH.)

- Italics (to emphasize)

- Descriptions of sound (ex. Digga Digga, Squaaaaaaawk, Gaaah)


What the author tries to say is how separated family by one of the family members lost his identity understands each other and becomes together.

Laken describes the family separation with two columns. Also, the author uses the column bridges to show still they have connection to communicate.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Old purpose

Information-glut leads to forgetting and shame as well as damages precious personal experience that is supposed to be true or sincere. Baxter portrays the negatives of excessive information.

New purpose

The inescapable fact is that people would submit to forgetting and shame about memory in the information age, and would simultaneously control the erasure of information appropriately.

Revised Introduction

In the essay, “Shame and Forgetting in the Information Age” by Charles Baxter, he analyzes that information is divided into data provided by digital and printed media and personal experience in the information age. To talk about data, the flood of data gives rise to the ‘forgetting’ of memory due to memory limit, and the forgetting that plays a pivotal role of the information era leads to ‘shame.’ Those result in influenced on places where personal experience is expressed. That is, writers’ excessive cognition that people might be reluctant to remember much information makes narrative authors take too much information off and confuses readers with dysfunctional narratives. Therefore, the inescapable fact is that people would submit to forgetting and shame about memory in the information age, and would simultaneously control the erasure of information appropriately.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Draft 1

In the essay, “Shame and Forgetting in the Information Age” by Charles Baxter, an immense amount of information in the information age has been produced and spread over by technological development. As a result, ‘forgetting’ information is caused by excessive information, and ‘shame’ is followed by forgetting information. Except for those effects, a trend to make light of personal experience has been brought about. In order to appeal personal experience, people begin to write ‘memoir.’ However, the problem is that, as including the forgetting of memory and the shame, memoir loses the original characteristics and turns into dysfunction narrative. Therefore, information-glut leads to forgetting and shame as well as damages precious personal experience that is supposed to be true or sincere. Baxter seems to portray the negatives of excessive information.

In order to present the negatives in the information age, Baxter depicts his essay by dividing into five parts. First, he begins with his brother’s story. His brother, Tom, had a problem with learning printed information. This problem made Tom have a hard time to live in the information age. However, even though he did not fit well in the information age, he has abilities to barely forget what he heard and to narrate stories. Baxter says, “Tom was an outcast of the information age.”(p141) Regardless of what capacities Tom had, the fact that Tom did not go on acquiring printed information smoothly made him different from others in the information age. The author implies that learning information through computers or books is more essential than anything.

In the second part, Baxter gives readers basic background information about what is going on the information age, what phenomenon the age brings about, and what people are missing. As incalculable information are accumulating and overflows at last, it is impossible to acquire all information. Even if people do not memorize all, they already have too much information. For this, inevitably, remembering the immense information could not avoid from ‘forgetting.’ It is just only that people should lose memory. However, in the information age, forgetting memory can be the sign of losing authority and power in society. For this, Baxter exemplifies one, “Their lives and their authority depend upon their ability to remember, and to remember their subjects in public.”(p144) That implies that remembering information is important and the information age is based on memorizing information. After forgetting information, one feels ‘shame’ due to the fact that one loses the most important medium to live in the information age. Moreover, the interesting point in the second part is the appearance of two forms of memory, data and experience. In the information age, people tend to rely on data too much and care about how much data they remember. They do not care about their own experience. In the information age, personal experience begins to be undervalued by pushing out a massive amount of data. In the third part, the needs of restoring the value of personal experience are pointed by Walter Benjamin’s essay, “The Storyteller” (1936). “Experience.” Benjamin says, “has fallen in value.”(p149) Benjamin is emphatic about the significance of personal experience. In other words, he seems to alarm that, absorbed in acquiring data, people are totally oblivious of their own experience.

In the last two parts, Charles Baxter cautions that forgetting and shame caused by information-glut do damage to personal experience. As realizing the importance of personal experience, memoir that contains the experience begins to stand out. Baxter mentions, “What you remember is the key to who you are” to appeal the importance of experience. The former form of memoir should be a functional personal narrative and include the details. In the information age, forgetting and shame begin to involve in memoir or cause a trauma to writers. As a result, new form of memoir is created as dysfunctional narratives. Baxter throws a question, “the shame if forgetting, the necessity of it. What help is the data if you don’t’-if you can’t and won’t-remember the story?”(p155) Through this question, Baxter seems to suggest that much information is possibly unnecessary. People severely suffer from an infinite quantity of information and are sick of remembering information. For this concern and authors’ trauma, information that is supposed to be necessary might be erased in literature. Thus, readers might be confused of unaccountable fact.

In conclusion, Charles Baxter’s essay comments that information glut gives people forgetting, the pressure of shame by forgetting, and destructing personal experience. The tendency that people count on data has undervalued personal experience. For encouraging personal experience, evading data is not possible unconditionally in the information age. The point that people should keep in mind is that a man’s worth should be not because of how much data one remembers but because of how much one’s own experience one possesses.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


“Experience has fallen in value,” says Walter Benjamin. He was concerned about the negligence of experience memory in the flooding of the huge amount of data memory in the information age. People share massive information easily that has accumulated for a long time through the internet and books. By doing so, people might prefer the data information rather than the information based on experience. Possibly, the data information could be considered as a fruit of the technology society and could fit well in the information age. However, the convenience of the using the data information might not lead a happy life. Even if the experience information is acquired slowly, it gives humans some advantages that the acquirement process of the data information does not offer. Getting information by experience makes humans’ life more affluent by making social relationships, creative thinking, and humans’ characteristics.

“Many people seem to believe that remembering is simply a matter of willpower” (147)
“Every memoir argues that a personal memory is precious” (151)
“All the computers in the world cannot remedy it” (157)

Shame and Forgetting in the Information Age

The author, Charles Baxter, deals with data and experience in the information age. This essay is divided into five chapters. In the first chapter the writer describes the basic form about how people acquire information. That is Charles expresses information forming based on experience by narrating his brother’s story.
In the second chapter, the author implies what exactly he is going to talk about in this essay. Charles suggests the two notions of information, ‘data’ and ‘experience.’ As time goes on, information is getting more accumulating. ‘Data’ represents information accumulated by others’ experience and ‘Experience’ is based on one’s own experience acquired with like discussions. Information itself can work as one of forms to represent authority. One who got plenty of information does not have only knowledge but also possesses authority. Forgetting usually occurs in the process of acquiring data information, while experience is seldom forgotten. It does not mean experience is never erased in the memory. Just when experience is removed in the memory, it accompanies shame.
Charles Baxter warns the information age by borrowing Walter Benjamin’s opinion in the third chapter. Walter Benjamin expressed that people in the information age are rich in information but poor in experience. Forgetting occurs easier in the acquired data information than in the experience information.
In the forth chapter, the writer deals with how information is edited in the memoir. Autobiographical story needs to be summarized when being built because there is so much information. To summarize her/his story, the author takes bad memory away from their story. It would be based on ashamed experience or experience that tends to hide.
The purpose of this essay is, Charles Baxter tries to say that the data acquired by computers or books is forgotten easier than information learned by experience. Therefore, experience is important and gives human more valuable life.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Hi everyone:) My name is Hyerim from South Korea. I am 22 years old. I have two younger brothers, mom, and dad. I transferred here(business) from Korea. Nice to meet you guys!