Friday, August 22, 2014

THIS is Water.

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes 'What the hell is water?'"
 David Foster Wallace, Commencement Address at Kenyon College, 2005

Welcome to An American Studies (see Mr. O'Connor's post explaining the name). Hopefully, the above question is one you will be asking yourself (and attempting to answer) throughout the year and beyond this class. As you embark upon writing for a new medium, the blog, it is your task (among many others) to identify the "water" in which you live, be it the North Shore "bubble" or the United States at large. For example, look at the following photo:

"The First Adirondack Was Too Big" by John S. O'Connor

Ask yourself how this photo is emblematic of America at the micro or macro level. Like many photos you view, it has been modified from the original snapshot, and could be said to represent a look through the photographer's "window of self-expression", to borrow a phrase from photographer Eikoh Hosoe. So, even though the camera cannot technically depict what isn't there, Hosoe would argue that the photographer can still show us, through this visual medium, "what lies unseen in his memory."

Please join us in our exploration of distinctly American themes and feel free to contribute your own photographs on the Instagram using our hashtag, #anamericanstudies. When you tag the photo, it will automatically appear in the sidebar on this blog. And don't forget to leave your own thoughts below in the comments section of this post regarding the photograph.


Jen F said...

I think this photo represents the different American people and how they are different colors and sizes, but can all come together to look like a family or community.

Isabelle Tashima said...

I think this picture portrays the typical and traditional American family, as well as the power structure associated within the family. The chair with the footrest may be representative of the father's role because men have historically been viewed as the ones with the highest regard and most influence in the family. Then, the other large chair (but without the footrest) would be for the mother, as she is an important figure but has traditionally been known more as the 'caretaker.' The smallest chairs are for the children. I wonder if it's significant that there are 4 children in the family? Does that represent the average number of kids in the traditional family?