Summer Plans and Books

Well, it’s been an interesting year so far, and with that said, I’m definitely ready for summer. For once, I have a plan this summer too. I’ve recently picked up a book series, a series I won’t name as to not infringe copyright laws of course, but I can assure you it is an interesting one. Although it’s gonna be quite the challenge, I plan on reading the entire 5,000 page series this summer. Is this a good decision? Probably not.

Photo @2015 by Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon [CC BY 2.0]

Photo @2015 by Sharon & Nikki McCutcheon [CC BY 2.0]

The main question I’m trying to get across is whether or not it’s more enjoyable to read a series all at once or savor it by reading over a longer period of time. In my opinion, it changes based on the book one is reading. If it is an action-packed book, I would probably read it quickly as to not lose momentum and to more easily keep up with the story. Not only does doing this keep the action in your head, it also creates a sense of personal involvement. However, longer and more sentimental books should be given more time. Books like the one we’re currently reading, Catcher in the Rye, need more time for understanding and receiving the meaning behind each word. Rather than the book just having a usual plot, it has one but it isn’t really the focus of the book. Instead, it is the underlying notions and themes that make Catcher in the Rye such a classic and famous novel. The series I’m planning on reading this summer is somewhat of a mix between the two, so I’ve decided I would read it fast so I can catch up to my friend who initially recommended it to me. Not only will this allow me to be able to talk about it with him, but I would also be able to read online discussions about the series without fear of having something spoiled for me. That’s another strange concept: spoilers. Although we want to know what happens in books, we want the answers to come at the pace the author set for us; otherwise, the book is essentially ruined for the reader. Books are strange things, but I like it that way.

– Bryan Clements

Privacy vs. Security? The Balance of Given Rights

In the current state of the world, one will be able to find news about a particular topic of interest anywhere, and at this point in time, there are so many that one finds it hard to single out an individual story. Many events can happen over the course of a day, and most of those occurrences will probably never make it to the news. However, sometime during the spring of the year 2013, a man named Edward Snowden made the front page of every American newspaper that currently exists. Snowden leaked highly debatable information on the National Security Agency, (NSA), using devices to spy on the American people, with the intention of security. In my personal opinion, given the current situation of our government, the NSA should not be able to spy on the common people, unless it is solely under good intentions, such as terrorism.

The NSA should not be able to spy on the people of the United States for a number of reasons. First and foremost, such an act invades a person’s personal space and destroys their state of mind. In doing so, a possible outcome will be that they can no longer trust their internet-connected devices, thus further destroying their mental well-being. Furthermore, along with the current state of the world as a whole, it presents the chance of the government being able to control the citizen’s every move. If this were to happen, the once free country of the United States would no longer be the freedom it stands for. Lastly, it would be a huge violation of constitutional rights, since the right to privacy exists and is implied in the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

However, others might think differently from my own opinion. For example, others may state that the NSA definitely has a right to look into the activities of citizens, and in doing so, they would be able to prevent terrorism. In addition, they may also say that the government will be able to regulate widespread piracy, and prevent further illegal actions.

Photo @ 2014 Mike Mozart (CC by 2.0)

Photo @ 2014 Mike Mozart (CC by 2.0)

I, personally, somewhat disagree with the statement of the others, while also understanding the point they put forth. Although they bring up good points, I disagree with those statements for many reasons. First, I believe the NSA should not spy because it disrupts the constitutional rights of the citizens. Although it may regulate piracy, piracy is in itself still controversial. Last and most importantly, it will present the possibility of the American government inching closer to a tyrannical power, thus destroying the freedom it was built upon.

Evidently and most clearly, the privacy of the United States and its people is what matters the most. The NSA does not have a right to spy on its own citizens, and if it had to, it must be under extreme regulations. As a population, our spoken will is what matters the most, and we must tell the government that they do not have the right to spy on us. It is a violation of the constitution in doing so, and such an act will destroy the freedom and prosperity that we as a people have worked so hard to achieve. And in the words of one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin states, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

– Bryan

The Clash of Great Art

Photo @ 2015 by Bryan Tran (CC BY 2.0)

Photo @ 2015 by Bryan Tran (CC BY 2.0)

The apparent importance of art is that it represents a portion of the development of our society that continues to remain unformed and ambiguous. Art is everywhere and in everything we generally experience; there’s not a single corner of civilization in the world where one will not discover some form of art. Strangely, though, as one ventures and discovers more about art, one might notice that the medium isn’t only the work of the artist, but that of the critic as well. However, the line that governs the difference between the two professions is, arguably, thickening, and not for the better.

Keep in mind, art would most definitely not be where it currently is without the efforts of both the artist and the critic. In order to perform their tasks efficiently, they share a common interest in the subject and art form presented to them, as well as have an unwavering passion for their jobs. Both have a keen drive to pursue what they love, and constantly hold at the forefront of thought that their utmost priority is the advancement of the medium. Furthermore, they are professional, and most if not all of the time respect each other. They are both knowledgeable on the topic, and have a keen understanding as to how things basically work. Their best tools are the ones they carry with them, such as an artist’s paintbrush to an art critic’s pen, or a filmmaker’s movie screen to a film critic’s editorial column. As a result of the processes that both undergo, an eventual product is always created, and has a focus statement and intent.

In modern times, however, art is divided into two, interlinking aspects called creativity and logistics. The main difference between the artist and the critic is that the artist handles the creativity, while the critic manages the logistics. For example, a playwright forges a play worthy of the Broadway stage, yet it will never arrive at its deserved destination unless the critic handles its publication. It is this very manner that art works that has caused a thickening between the two halves, though, as the line that divides the artist from the critic cracks further when one begins to realize that the separation occurs at the thought of a single word: appreciation. And not just any sort of appreciation, the form of appreciation that manifests in devoting one’s time, sweat, blood, and tears into creating something worth sharing to the world. A person may spend the long hours of his waking day vigorously composing what he believes to be, and may very well be, the world’s next great piece of classical music, only to have a well-known critic criticize its horrendous rhythm and how it mimics Bach too closely. The critic holds most of the power when it comes to the worldly impact of a work, and such power presents an easy chance to be abused. They many know how a typewriter works, but using it to create the next “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or “The Great Gatsby,” is beyond their knowledgeable grasp. Many critics tend to view a work solely at face value, and what results are reviews tattered with personal preference. There is a scene in the movie “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, in which the main character, a mentally unstable and struggling playwright, discusses his upcoming play with a non-compliant critic at a bar. No matter how much he or his co-worker tries to convince the critic otherwise, her answer always returns to the remark, “I’m going to kill your play.”

The terms at which the artist and the critic are similar are indeed present, no doubt, however, the terms at which they divulge into their separate niches far outclass their relativity. Though both professions share a similar respect for a similar medium, a true understanding of the hardships undergone to create that medium is what draws the thick line. Especially in recent times, art has in many moments been stemmed by the stubbornness of both sides. And without any sort of strive for a resolve, who truly knows when the world’s Schindler’s List will be?

Photo @ 1993 by Janusz Kamiński

– Bryan Tran