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Search for Marvin Gardens

Farrell Wiener                                                                                                             April 27, 2011                

“The Search for Marvin’s Gardens”

            In the chapter, “Visibility: the Creation of Place, Yi Fu Tuan discusses the idea that people create the own senses of place, based upon factors of the landscape that catch their attention.  Tuan goes on to say that such feelings are not always visible, or apparent to others, but form as a result of a number of different means such as architecture and conflict (178). Tuan also suggests that an individual sense of place is also created through dramatization (178.) In other words, a person’s perception of a place can come to be through by making unusual connections between a place and functions of real life. This idea is strongly evident in John McPhee’s “The Search for Marvin Gardens.”

            McPhee’s story is a bit unusual, as it constantly goes in and out of two different traits of thought. One, being a man playing a series of games of monopoly in a tournament against an unnamed opponent.   The other involving the same man, describing his home neighborhood as if it were one large real life monopoly board.  Each paragraph transitions into each way of thinking. In other words, the man can be literally describing his game of monopoly, and then in the following paragraph he describes an aspect or location of his neighborhood, that is triggered by the property he has just passed on the game board. For example when he tells us that he has four houses on Indiana Avenue on the game board; he describes the “Indiana Avenue” of his hometown. This intertwines with to Tuan’s idea of the concept of neighborhood. Tuan declares that there are two forms of neighborhood; my and ourMy neighborhood consists of a more personal level, such as where one lives, whereas our neighborhood is more general and broad (170). Tuan states that the larger unit “acquires visibility through an effort of the mind,” (171). That is precisely what the main character does in the story.  He forms the large sense of place by using his mind in a creative way that obviously took a lot of effort and creativity to make such connections. I originally thought that such a connection was strange a bit ridiculous, but if you follow Tuan’s ideas, the mind frame of the main character In my opinion I really enjoyed reading the author of the second post’s entry. I felt that he/she did an excellent job of illustrat is not unusual in the slightest.

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This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix Arizona

Farrell Wiener                                                                                                            April 13, 2011

“This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona”

            In the chapter, “Attachment to Homeland,” Yi Fu Tuan discusses the unique relationship between people and their native places of residence.  As he goes into more detail, Tuan claims that attachment to one’s homeland appears to be a worldwide phenomenon, (154.)  In other words, practically every type of person, regardless of background, and social status seems to have some sort of sentimental allegiance and loyalty to their homeland. Tuan also uses the analogy that the native land can be thought of as a mother like figure that places an “archive of fond memories, and splendid achievements, (154.)  As a result of this reasoning, people will always show an underlying love for their native land. I think such a philosophy is strongly present in Sherman Alexie’s, “This Is What It Means To Say Phoenix, Arizona.”

            This short story involves the life of young Indian named Victor who lives in a very poor reservation with his family and other members of his tribe.  When he learns of his father’s passing, Victor must find a way to access money to travel to Phoenix to caim his runaway father’s body and make arrangements. In a dire need of income, and transportation, Victor takes along his former childhood friend, and infamous reservation storyteller, Thomas Builds-the Fire. As the text goes on, we see more of Tuan’s ideas being put into play. Much of the story describes a series of flashbacks from Victor and Thomas’ childhood. For example there is a description of several memories including a memorable fourth of a July celebration, and even a fistfight between Thomas and Victor during their adolescence. This relates to Tuan’s idea that attachment to a homeland is due to the “archive of splendid memories” that it supplies to the individual.  But perhaps, a clearer example that shows a definitive attachment to homeland is displayed towards the end of the story.

            As a result of his father’s death Victor inherits his father’s pick up truck in which he and Thomas use to drive back from Phoenix to the reservation. Although Alexie doesn’t really allude to this conclusion, I think the truck, is a key example that shows Victor’s sentimental attachment to the homeland. With himself, as well as the reservation being very poor, Victor has never really had any means of transportation or any means to leave the reservation. But , by now having the truck, Victor has that chance, to maybe seek a better life, well at least financially. Yet, he still elects to stay and return home. This behavior displayed by Victor can probably best be explained by Tuan’s claim that the strength of attachment to homeland depends on the large amount of emotional ties, one has with it. As evident in the flashbacks, we can safely assume that Victor has loads of emotional ties to his homeland.

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Paper#2 First Draft

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Death By Landscape

Farrell Wiener                                                                                                           March 23, 2011


            In the chapter, “Time in Experiential space, Yi Fu Tuan discusses the relationship between time explicitly to space. In other words, Tuan is trying to explain that there is some sort of evolution a person’s sense of space, over elapsed time. One of Tuan’s main points is that space has temporal meaning in the level of day to day personal experiences (126.)  Such a principle is evident in every day language as people often use adverbs in their speech such as here, and then to describe the past, present and future. With that being said, Tuan suggests that space and time relates to the purposeful activities and goals of people (127.)  Such reasoning can be found in the short story, “Death By Landscape.”

            The story mainly involves a series of flashbacks in the life of a woman named Lois, mainly dating back to her summers as a youth spent at a summer camp. Tuan points out that in respect to space and time, one does not usually celebrate routine, and are not really enthused by the daily rituals. However, each day is a new day, and the element of surprise can make people look forward to the future.  Lois best describes such behavior in that, she seems to not enjoy the daily camp routines, such as the expected cheerfulness during meals, and the nightly campfire, “sing songs.” Nonetheless, Lois seems to grow fonder of the camp, each summer, because of the break of routine, while still in practice of it as she gets older. For example, when she grew older, she met a new friend named Lucy, and was able to go on overnight hikes. So an anticipation of the future, does shape a persons aspect of space over time.

            Tuan also points out that a relationship between space and time often revolves around one experience. People distinguish the time periods of “here” and “now” based on a prior event.  One summer, Lucy tragically succumbs to depression, and commits suicide by jumping off a cliff. No one actually sees her do it, but since there is a frenzy for an answer, people begin to question Lois, on whether or not she pushed Lucy off,  as she was the last one to be seen with her. There is no proof of such a deed, so Lois is off the hook, but that didn’t stop others from speculating.  Lois is forever haunted by this, and now lives out the rest of her life alone with photos of Lucy ll throughout her home. The death of Lucy seems to be the cutoff of what she defines as the past and present.

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The Fall of The House of Usher

Farrell Wiener                                                                                                                        3/17/10

                                                        Blog #6

In the chapter “Architectural Space and Awareness,” Yi-Fu Tuan discusses the relationships that people have towards physical architectural structures on a mental scale.  One of his main points was that architectural space reveals, constructs and connects to feeling in one’s subconscious mind (Tuan 114.)  In other words some aspects of a physical structure may call for one to express unknown feelings that were not apparent in the person’s mind before hand. Such reasoning can be found often in Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Fall of The House of Usher.”

Due to Poe’s unique dark gothic style, we as readers are probably able to easily create our own mental image of the actual house itself.  For example Poe often uses a strong depressing vocabulary to describe the Usher house, such as “mansion of gloom” (Poe 1.)  But as readers we have to wonder why the narrator cannot shift his focus away from the eeriness of the house.  One reasonable explanation could be that the narrator’s dear friend and resident of the house Roderick Usher is suffering from a mental illness. Therefore, maybe it’s possible that the narrator is not really looking forward to this visit, thus he can only focus on negative aspects. This relates to Tuan’s idea that space reveals and instructs to the direct appeal of the senses.  The narrator already is a bit weary in that he is not looking forward to seeing his friend in his mental state, therefore anything that triggers dissatisfaction will stand out to him. This thinking is evident in an early scene of the story. As soon as he walks up to the house, even before he is greeted by Usher, the narrator goes into great detail about the undesirable traits of the house.  He notices that there is a large amount of fungi on the exterior, and its “crumbling condition” (Foe 2.) Nonetheless, the narrator says that a random observer might not notice much wrong with the house, despite a few minor details. With that being said, this idea seems to help prove Tuan’s idea to b true that architectural structures can be connected to feelings in one’s particular mindset.

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The Lottery

Farrell Wiener                                                                                                                        3/10/11


When it comes to concepts of space and place, Yi-Fu Tuan has a lot of philosophies and principle that help better explain the relationships between the two subjects and how people utilize them in the world. One of his principles revolved around the notion of “mythical space,” which Tuan describes as “a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities.” Such a concept can help readers grasp a deeper understanding of literary elements in a story, more specifically setting.  This idea is quite apparent in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.”

In the story, there are several examples as to how Tuan’s idea of mythical space comes into play. There are several instances into which the town’s unorthodox values and traditions help pave the way for readers to gain a better understanding and conception of the setting in the story.  For example, the whole town seems to gather for a drawing of a special lottery. It is not noted until the very end as to what is exactly at stake, one could reasonable assume that it could be a drawing for a large cash prize. However we soon learn that winning this lottery is not a desired feat.  The victor ends up getting publically stoned.  We do not know why such an unorthodox practice takes place, but when we connect it back to Tuan’s idea of, mythical space who are we to criticize? The town obviously has some sort of high value for tradition as evident for the feelings for the black box even though it’s quite negative.

Along with the weird tradition, we also get a good sense of setting in one significant scene a little bit earlier in the story. It is accustomed that the male of the household draw for his family in the lottery, because he is considered to be at the head.  However one woman Mrs. Dunbar had no choice but to draw for her family, as her husband was not capable of attending due to a leg injury. Despite the circumstances, a lot of people were a bit weary about this. They asked if there was a man who was able to draw for her and looked for ways out of it. All of this put together along with the stoning at the end gives readers a broad picture of what the town is like. It’s obviously not like most other places, as evident with the lottery and stoning. But how they regard women reminds me at least of a small southern town pre 20th century where women were not thought as much outside the house, and were treated as inferiors to men. Nonetheless, the town maintains a lot of tradition regardless of how an outsiders perspective may disagree with them, thus relating back to Tuan’s ideas of  “localized values” when it comes to mythical space.

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first draft of paper 1

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Paper # 1

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blog 3

Farrell Wiener                                                                                                                   3/3/11


            In the chapter Spatial Ability, Knowledge, and Place, Yi-Fu Tuan elaborates on the relationship between a person’s knowledge about a space, and their self awareness and abilities that surround them. One of the key concepts that Tuan explained had to do with how society has to do with the impact of society and how people relate their spatial ability

            Tuan illustrates his point by giving an example involving Eskimos. He notes that the Eskimos are hunters and live with their families, and their main challenge comes for harsh conditions from their environment (Tuan 79.) However they do not rely on others for assistance, but rather they count on their own “ingenuity and fortitude” (Tuan 79.) In my opinion, I believe that Tuan’s example of the Eskimo’s spatial ability to that of one of the main characters of Raymond Carver’s short story Cathedral, Robert.

            Robert is a blind man who travels cross country to pay a visit to his former pen pal, and employee and her husband in their home in Connecticut. As one could reasonably assume, Robert’s challenge is his disability. Despite not having the ability to see, Robert doesn’t seem to let his shortcomings overcome him, and doesn’t seem to rely on the assistance of the husband and wife for much. For instance they offer to assist him up their stairs, but resist their offers with replies that state that he is content and comfortable.  It also appears that the husband is a tad bit weary of having a blind man in their home. He worries about having to take care of him, and making sure he is okay. In short, he thinks it will be an ordeal.  Robert senses the uneasiness, but with his own “ingenuity” he is able to thwart the tension and overcome the challenge. For example he is able to show that he and the husband have a lot of common interest such as Scotch and smoking dope. He also shows that he doesn’t need sight to feel something majestic or beautiful, by making the husband draw a cathedral with his eyes closed. Without opening his eyes, he says that it’s beautiful.  Therefore it we can reasonably compare Robert to the Eskimo.  He has a harsh environment in front of him, but is able to use his own fortitude to get by.

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