Ian Frazier's on the Rez: a source of indigenous truth or colonial consumerism?
The Soul Never Thinks without a Mental Image. Aristotle (qtd. in Barry, 69)
Reclaiming and affirming cultural and personal identity is a struggle for many Native Americans; it is a struggle that is not only passed down in oral tradition but is also disseminated as poetry, fiction, academic scholarship, and creative nonfiction. More and more writers of Native American heritage are telling their stories, writers such as N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa-Cherokee), Luci Tapahonso (Navajo), Geary Hobson (Cherokee/Arkansas Quapaw), Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna), and Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux). Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (Crow Creek Sioux) writes, "How the Indian narrative is told, how it is nourished, who tells it, who nourishes it, and the consequences of its telling are among the most fascinating--and at the same time, chilling--stories of our time" (111). How a Native American story is told formed the heart of the controversy surrounding Ian Frazier's bestseller On the Rez_(2002). Critics from mainstream publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Times Magazine, Writer Magazine, and America Magazine insisted that Frazier recreates an accurate and respectful account of the Oglala Sioux living on the Pine Ridge Reservation. However, reputable Native scholars such as Devon A. Mihesuah (Choctaw), Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d'Alene), and Ilze Choi responded with assertions that Frazier's book is far from representing an insightful, authentic telling of a contemporary Indian narrative.
The discrepancies between the reactions of Native American readers and some non-Native readers to Frazier's work raise the question as to whether or not a non-Native should even write an Indian narrative. Wendy Rose (Hopi/Miwok) remarks it is not "only Indians [who] can make valid observations on themselves. [...] We accept as given that whites have as much prerogative to write and speak about us and our cultures [as we do theirs] " (142). If this is true, then what does a writer need to know in order to understand and write about Native Americans? Is good intention and interest in another culture enough? These questions and others will be examined here using On the Rez as a springboard for discussion. Answering these queries will require, at the least, a basic understanding of alternative colonial discourse and Native American literary tradition. As a non-Indian writer, I hope to situate myself in this conversation without perpetuating the harm that deepens the rift between cultures.
On the Rez
In The Best American Travel Writing 2003, editor Ian Frazier introduces the study of travel narrative with an examination of the essence of journey. Toward the middle of his reflection on the need of Homo sapiens for motion, Frazier writes:
Years later, when I was writing a book about the Oglala Sioux Indians of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I heard of journeys harder to stop than any of mine. Some Sioux took journeys that built up a momentum of rambling and drinking and automotive problems and more drinking and more rambling until the velocity made the details blur. Usually at some point in these stories the police would begin to pursue. And usually, of course, the final scene included arrests and/or a car crash. After a while I understood the physics of that: Without an intervening shock from the outside, certain journeys might never end. (xviii)
This is what Frazier seemingly boils On the Rez down to--journeys that lead to too much drinking and jail time. Frazier implies that the "intervening shock" would be from a force outside the reservation rather than inside the culture. Although this brief passage does not legitimately represent what Frazier attempts to do with On The Rez, it remains the only description of his experience on the Pine Ridge Reservation included in The Best American Travel Writing 2003, a compilation of travel narratives taught in college classes and sold at popular bookstores. Is this truly how Frazier visualizes the journey of the Oglala Sioux? Is his account an accurate one, or is it only one non-Indian's perspective? And if so, what are the ramifications of such an expose? Simply put, but not a simplistic concept, Frazier's book receives the attention Native American writers deserve but receive only very occasionally.
Dr. Barbara Robins, a teacher of Native American studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, states that "Folklorists say a story is told because it is needed. When the need dies, so does the story." Frazier's story appeals to four basic, primitive needs of a dominant, consumerist society: the need to escape, the need for affiliation, the need to satisfy curiosity, and the need to dominate. While this satisfies emotional desires for the mainstream reading audience, it leaves many Indian readers unsettled and angered at yet another example of Native American exploitation. On the Rez usurps Native American writers, becoming the recognized "voice" that the mainstream America accepts, earning Frazier widespread praise and talk-show appearances. Perhaps most frighteningly, he continues to perpetuate the images that make many non-Indian readers feel most comfortable, whether consciously or unconsciously.
This argument about literary representation is largely informed by the belief that verbal language and visual language are inextricably linked. Ann Marie Seward Barry posits, "Because vision developed before verbal language, images are a natural part of our primal sense of being and represent the deepest recesses of ourselves" (69). (1) Further, Barry argues that visual communication, specifically ads, respond to a void that people in a democratic society feel, "providing people with ready-made and easily understood labels with which to communicate their social status, personality, and lifestyles" (255). Frazier, either subconsciously or consciously, constructs an image using techniques similar to that of an advertisement; in effect, he "sells" a stereotyped image of Indian as tragic alcoholic that much of the American public seems to long for.
A true analysis of Frazier's work requires an understanding of the consumerist culture that shapes his perception. Jib Fowles, writing in "Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals," uses research from psychologist Henry A. Murray (2) and philosopher Marshall McLuhan (3) to analyze fifteen primitive needs that advertisements capitalize on in common culture. Fowles claims that "By giving form to people's deep-lying desires and picturing stages of being that individuals privately yearn for, advertisers have the best chance of arresting attention and affecting communication" (79). Fowles argues, as many others have argued before him, that it isn't a product that is being sold, but an idea or image. A closer look at On The Rez reveals that the text has much the same effect as an advertisement, reinforcing a common misconception of who an Indian is and how an Indian lives.
The Need to Escape
Frazier is forthcoming about what he perceives as the subject of On the Rez and his relation to that subject. His opening line reads, "This book is about Indians" (3). Further, Frazier describes himself as a 40s something white guy who wears his hair in a ponytail "because [he] thought it looked cool" on 1970's American Indian Movement leaders. He is, as his friend Floyd John calls him, "a wannabe," a nickname not meant as a compliment because it means the White person is trying to "pass" as an Indian and reap the benefits without having to experience the racism. What exactly Frazier wants to be is problematic for readers and Frazier himself'. He writes, "What I want is just as 'Indian,' just as traditional, but harder to pin down." A page later Frazier speculates that what he wants is a "self-possessed sense of freedom." He says, "I want to be an uncaught Indian like them" (4). Thus commences Frazier's journey to find freedom on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.
Frazier appeals to what is referred to in advertising as a need to escape, tapping into a dominant culture's desire for adventure, a desire which "frequently takes the form of a one-person flight" (Fowles 90). Frazier does what most of his readers can't do because of the constraints of social and financial obligations: he packs up a suitcase, hops into his truck, and heads North for a new experience on territory largely untapped by the dominant culture.
Although Frazier writes about the "uncaught, traditional" Indian instead of drawing a visual image, the effect is the same. The question is, is the uncaught, traditional Indian that Frazier seeks the Indian of cowboy movies and sports mascots, complete with war paint, buckskins, feathers, and a tomahawk? Or is Frazier referring to the modern "rez" Indian he describes in his text: unemployed, wayward, and alcoholic? It is hard to believe that Frazier wants to identify with the latter, although this is the prevailing image he creates. Frazier's uncaught Indian is, in actuality, caught between these two stereotypical extremes.
Frazier experiences the Pine Ridge Reservation primarily through treks with his friend Le War Lance. Le is at Pine Ridge to avoid serving jail time, is most often depicted as a drunk, and asks Frazier for money almost every time the two men meet. "When [Le's] drinking, which is frequently," Frazier writes, "He tells me all kinds of stories" (21). Frazier discovers that about half of Le's stories are true, and yet Le's stories about the Lakota represent Frazier's "truths," forming much of the backbone of Rez. If readers believe they are getting a truthful account of life on the reservation, then day-to-day life in Indian Country seems to be that which is most often stereotyped: a life of poverty, alcoholism, unemployment, and recklessness. Ironically, Frazier himself notes, "The run-down parts of town are usually the ones that the news stories and TV documentaries concentrate on" (42). To Frazier's credit, he implies that the causes of degeneration on Pine Ridge can be traced to the White man; throughout descriptions of his expeditions with Le and Le's family, Frazier has interwoven historical accounts of the damage white men have inflicted on the Oglala Lakota. Perhaps most notably, Frazier describes the broken U.S. treaties with the Oglala and consequently, the land stolen from them. Frazier also analyzes alcohol abuse at Pine Ridge and (all non-Native owned) bars that border the "dry" reservation, the militaristic American Indian Movement, and the history of the Wounded Knee Massacre.
While it is unclear if Frazier ever experiences the freedom of his idyllic "uncaught Indian," he finds something else he is looking for on the reservation: a hero. Frazier writes, "Here was a hero--not a folk hero, a sports hero, a tribal hero, or an American hero, but a combination of all these. I had thought Oglala heroes existed mostly in the past. But a true Oglala hero appeared in the late 1980s, while the rest of the world was looking the other way, in suffering Pine Ridge, right under everyone's noses: high school student SuAnne Big Crow" (198). Although SuAnne died in a car accident before Frazier visited Pine Ridge, the vision she offers the tribe is not lost on Frazier.
Frazier recounts that during a basketball game in Lead, South Dakota, non-Indian fans began yelling derogatory phrases like "squaw!" and mimicking Indian war chants. Big Crow, seemingly unnerved, ran out onto the court during warm-ups, took off her warm-up jacket, put it around her shoulders, and began singing Lakota while performing a traditional shawl dance. Big Crow ultimately led her high school basketball team to the state championships, instilling a sense of pride and hope in the Oglala that brought together warring sides of the current tribal government.
In SuAnne Big Crow, Frazier apparently finds the "self-possessed sense of freedom" he seeks. Frazier writes, "Good appears most vividly in resistance to its opposite, that's what heroism is about, after all" (254). Frazier offers readers Big Crow in stark opposition to Le War Lance, the other Indian he most frequently captures in narrative. These binary opposites are problematic; not only does Frazier's depiction serve to reinforce stereotypes of the two choices for Indians--reservation drunk or majestic hero--but Frazier chooses to focus on a hero who, like Chief Red Cloud, has died. Sherman Alexie argues that Frazier's retelling/ selling of Big Crow's story supports an erroneous image: "the loss of the [hero] and the noble savage falls once again" (Petersee par. 46). Indeed, all Indian heroes that Frazier refers to are dead. Linda Tuhiwai Smith (Maori), author of Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, examines the damage caused when society expects the actualization of a romanticized view of Indian. When the idyllic view of the "noble savage" is confronted with the harsher realities of the reservation Indian--replete with poverty, alcoholism, and hopelessness--the romanticized view is transformed into the idea of the "ignoble savage" (49). The contemporary Indian becomes trapped in an unforgiving dichotomy, between two images that are impossible to live up to.
The Need for Affiliation
Oftentimes cultural critics theorize that mainstream America is missing something, perhaps spiritually, even going so far as to claim that this lack may account for the way the dominant culture latches onto perceived Native American ideologies. Although this is speculative, examples of mainstream society's approval of such indiscretions continue to be evident in the media; note the easy access to Native American cultural identity Frazier offers readers: "The idea of belonging to a tribe not by blood but by affinity is less vague than it sounds. Indeed, the Indians of America are so varied that I think you could find an appropriate tribe for almost anyone" (91). Later, Frazier compares one's affinity to a particular tribe to fondness for "kinds of music or seats in an airplane" or his "liking for hot sauce" (92). In "Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals," Fowles explains this kind of thinking, writing that "Maybe all the images of companionship are compensation for what Americans privately lack." This would explain why ads often illustrate various expressions of belonging, which is one of the most popular marketing ploys (84). To this end, Frazier subsequently claims the Oglala as his tribe, never questioning whether or not the affiliation he feels is mutual. By assuming tribal identity with the Oglala, Frazier is able to simultaneously assuage his reader's worries about his motivation for writing the text and fallaciously present himself as an insider. Thus, the title becomes On the Rez instead of the more aptly titled On Their Reservation Alexie argues for (par. 12).
The Need to Satisfy Curiosity
"Human beings are curious by nature, interested in the world around them, and intrigued by tidbits of knowledge and new developments" (92). Fowles's assertion seems an obvious one and a positive attribution of humanity. But what happens when the curiosity is satisfied at the expense of another? Even with thousands of people visiting reservations each year, the reservation remains a mysterious territory to the majority of non-Indians. Native Americans detect this inquisitiveness in their visitors: "The Indians understand that the visitors are there out of curiosity" (Frazier 3), but receive little opportunity to respond to it in Frazier's text. When a Lakota elder shies away from Frazier's attempt to interview her, Frazier misinterprets her behavior. "I explained that I was writing a book and wanted to know about her father. She said that she did not think it right to share information with an outsider" (190). The woman, Joan Two Bulls, tells Frazier she wants to talk to her sisters before divulging any information to him, but that he can check back in a month. Frazier does and is surprised when her response is the same. Frazier doesn't offer any insight into why Two Bulls repeatedly turns him away; instead, he drops the subject completely. As Alexie points out, this woman and others Frazier attempts to interview are protecting "their own family stories" from being distorted or commercialized (par. 7).
Although Frazier may satisfy his reader's voyeuristic curiosity, he fails to recognize that his interest may be unwelcome. In a particularly poignant passage, Frazier comments on the controversial idea of letting "white guys" participate in traditional sun dances. Frazier expresses his own ideology when he quotes Le: "But I say, If a person's heart is good, let him participate in a respectful way" (53). After the publication of his book, Frazier was asked who should be participating in the telling of Native narrative; Frazier responded, "I think to limit who can write what--I just think you're going to end up in a weird bureaucracy of who can do what" (Villalon D1). Determining who should have access to sacred tribal customs and storytelling is not as simple as Frazier asserts. Afraid of outsiders exploiting their sun dance, some Oglala choose locations where tourists won't have access. Frazier notes, "A hundred years ago Oglala who continued to practice their traditional ceremonies despite the government's ban did so in secret, for fear of white people finding out and shutting them down; today the fear is of white people finding out and wanting to join" (54).
Ultimately, Frazier decides that curiosity is enough to qualify one as a participant; in an interview he stated, "There is this idea today that you can only write about certain subjects if you're an authority--that you have to be an Indian to write about Indians. To them I say, 'My qualification isn't what I know, it's what I'm curious about'" (qtd. in Peeterse par. 11).
The Need to Dominate
Another of advertising's mainstays is what Fowles describes as "the need to dominate," a need to control and dictate one's environment, which will in turn satisfy a desire to feel powerful. In Speaking for the Generations, Simon J. Oritiz (Acoma) argues that the relationship between the United States and Native Americans is viewed as one of winner and loser (xiii). The United States, viewing itself as the winner, has historically taken what it wants from Native Americans regardless of the consequences to an indigenous people. One of the ways this perceived subservient relationship is often reinforced is when non-Indian writers attempt to tell an Indian story. Whether intentionally or not, Frazier's story is inscribed with the values of the dominant culture but missing the essential values of the Oglalas he writes about, creating an insurmountable rift between good intention and result. In a recent interview Sherman Alexie said, "The thing [white liberals] don't understand is that they are killing us. If Indians become universal, if we're just another cultural commodity, we disappear" (qtd. in Nichols 7A).
Frazier has created a narrative that he claims is about Indians, yet what he has really done is retell another story of what a white man perceives Indians to be, and in the process, Frazier's readers are able to believe their preconceived stereotypes, and a privileged worldview makes sense once again. Such an interpretation is supported by Mihesuah who argues, "Now [non-Native readers] can also turn to non-Indian Ian Frazier to reinforce their beliefs that Indians really are drunks and that Pine Ridge is an 'evil' place" (par. 13).
The Target Audience
A good advertising company knows the demographics of its target audience, and Frazier, his editors, and his publisher, tailor On the Rez to meet the needs of White readership. Mihesuah writes, "On the Rez certainly is not written for Indians. We already know about the place, including details of the Wounded Knee takeover, what fry bread tastes like, and what takes place at a powwow" (par. 10). It isn't an accident that Frazier chooses the poorest reservation--indeed the poorest place per capita in America--to create his travel narrative, and it is ironic that he criticizes NBC Nightly News for its documentary Tragedy at Pine Ridge, which focuses on poverty, unemployment, and alcoholism versus "the good on the reservation that NBC had overlooked," which SuAnne Big Crow talked about. Frazier spends little time addressing any goodness on Pine Ridge, instead focusing on the recklessness of the reservation population. Ilze Choi points out that Frazier neglects to write about places of prosperity such as Oglala Lakota College, KILI Radio, and Porcupine Clinic, and that such a lack leaves an unbalanced and shortsighted impression; Frazier's book, he says, will not help explain why the reservation is the poorest place in America and who is responsible for this reality (par. 27). Mihesuah agrees, asserting that while Frazier does write about some harsh truths of Pine Ridge, he neglects to write about those who are preparing their children for a more positive future (par. 15).
The Reality Frazier Misses
An analysis of thirty random reviews of On the Rez reveals an overwhelmingly positive reception from mainstream newspapers and magazines, while most academic publications found Frazier's nonfiction account of the Oglala troublesome. Of the scholarly journals, American Indian Quarterly devoted the most attention to Frazier's book, with criticism from Native and non-Native writers alike. Perhaps conclusions cannot be drawn from such a simplistic examination, but at the very least, these critiques further reflect the extreme lack of communication between the mainstream non-Indian book-buying public and Native Americans, who are the subject of Frazier's book. For example, in the Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), reviewer Susan Whitney says, in reference to Frazier's work, "This honest and intriguing book is about life on the Sioux reservation. Its strength is in its voice, that of the Sioux themselves" (CO2). In The San Francisco Chronicle, David Kipen writes, "[Reviewers] have doubted [Frazier's] right as an avowed 'middle-class white guy' to write about American Indians," but instead of exploring this, Kipen deems Rez as the next choice for the Chronicle Book Club (1). Karl Zimmerman cites Frazier's positive contributions to literature in Writer magazine, calling the author's portrayal of Le War Lance "masterful" and "as complex as Indian culture, as difficult yet somehow heroic as contemporary life on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation" (5). A February, 2006, Google search of the words "Ian Frazier On The Rez" pulls up pages of reviews, the first three of which praise the book as "an instant American classic," "a sharp, unflinching account," "fits into a tradition of Americans 'going native,'" "a great writer zeros in on the Oglala Sioux."
The reaction from Native American scholars is vastly different. Natalie Peeterse argues that Frazier misrepresents and exploits Indians. Like Alexie, Peeterse doesn't believe that Frazier pragmatically represents the Oglala who want to speak through him (par. 4). Further, Peeterse claims that Frazier is looking through the lens of imperial eyes, those that "passively look out and possess" (par. 6). Others claim that Frazier's work lacks scholarly backing and Mihesuah blames this oversight on Frazier's encyclopedic research that neglects significant Native American scholars and academic works (par 5). Alexandra Witkin-Holy agrees, arguing that Frazier's work is "constrained by a Western perspective" and that the evil Frazier references should be recognized as colonialism, although Frazier intimates that the evil is produced on the reservation itself (par. 6, 15).
Who Should Tell the Indian Narrative?
Although Frazier did not get it right, it remains debatable whether or not a non-Native writer can accomplish an accurate telling of an Indian story. Linda Tuhiwai Smith writes in Decolonizing Methodologies that "Indigenous peoples want to tell our own stories, write our own versions, in our own ways, for our own purposes" (28). Should non-Natives tell a Native story? The answer, at least now, seems to be no. Frazier could have told the story of a white man visiting a reservation, but he instead attempts to establish himself as an "insider," which is a position of authority, telling an Indian story. This move toward recognition of Native voice and a refusal of non-Native voice need not be interpreted as an act of "dominance" but rather as one of "empowerment" (Cox 317).
In Red on Red Craig Womack makes a literary journey into establishing, among other significant issues for Natives, what constitutes Native American literature, who is (and who should be) creating indigenous literature, and the establishment of Native American perspective in written narratives. Womack, overall, works to formulate a "literary criticism that emphasizes Native resistance movements against colonialism, confronts racism, discusses sovereignty and Native nationalism, seeks connections between literature and liberation struggles, and, finally, roots literature in land and culture" (11). Womack, writing as an Oklahoma Muskogee Creek-Cherokee writer, notably argues that an understanding of tribal history, tribal knowledge, and oral narrative is essential in understanding tribal literature, and he illustrates how the meaning (and interpretation) of a story helps tribal cultural knowledge flourish. The wisdom that becomes evident here is that to understand a Native story, one must also immerse the self in the culture in which the story originates. Frazier's jaunt into Indian country (an exact period of time that is never established) falls woefully short of these important considerations. Instead of countering a dominant society's image of "Indian," Frazier's work reinforces faulty notions and lends little insight into Oglala lifestyle, values, customs, and belief systems. Frazier creates a flawed image for his readers, and in so doing, he forgets to acknowledge the heart of the Oglala.
Alexie, Sherman. "some of my best friends." Los Angeles Times (23 Jan. 2000): np. Lexis-Nexis. Waldo Lib., Kalamazoo, MI. 2 Oct. 2005. <htttp://www.web.lexis-nexis.com/universe>.
Barry, Anne Marie Seward. Visual Intelligence. Albany: State U of New York P, 1997.
Choi, Ilze. "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" American Indian Quarterly 24.2 (Spring 2000): np. Ebscohost. Academic Search Elite. UNO Lib., Omaha, NE. 2 October 2005. <http://www.epnet.com/ehost/login. html>.
Cook-Lynn, Elizabeth. "American Indian Intellectualism and the New Indian Story." Natives and Academics: Researching and Writing about American Indians. Ed. Devon A. Mihesuah. Lincoln: U. of Nebraska P, 1998. 111-138.
Cox, James H. "Toward a Native American Critical Theory" (review). American Indian Quarterly 29.1 (2005): 316-321.
Fowles, Jib. "Advertising's Fifteen Basic Appeals." Common Culture. Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc., 2004. 78-97
Frazier, Ian. On the Rez. New York: Frarrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.
Frazier, Ian, ed. "Introduction." The Best American Travel Writing 2003. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2003. xv-xxii.
Kipen, David. "On the Rez is the Next Book Club Pick." The San Francisco Chronicle. 20 Feb. 2000. 1.
Mihesuah, Devon A. "Infatuation Is Not Enough: Review of Ian Frazier's On The Rez." American Indian Quarterly 24.2 (Spring 2000): np. Ebscohost. Academic Search Elite. UNO Lib., Omaha, NE. 2 Oct. 2005. <http://www.epnet.com/ehost/login.html>.
Nichols, John. "Sherman Alexie: Cultural Guard." Capital Times (25 Feb. 2000): 7A.
Ortiz, Simon. "Introduction." Speaking for the Generations. Tuscon: The U of Arizona P, 1998. x-xix.
Peeterse, Natalie. "Can the Subaltern Speak ... Especially without a Tape Recorder?"
American Indian Quarterly 26.2 (Spring 2002): np. Ebscohost. Academic Search Elite. UNO Lib., Omaha, NE. 2 October 2005. <http://www. epnet.com/ehost/login.html>.
Robins, Barbara. Personal Interview. 15 October 2005.
Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: U of Adage P., 2002.
Villilon, Oscar C. "Outside On the Rez." The San Francisco Chronicle (28 Feb. 2000): D1.
Whitney, Susan. "Books: Leisure Reading." Deseret News (3 March 2000): CO2.
Whitt, Laurie Ann. "Cultural Imperialism and the Marketing of Native America." Natives and Academics: Researching and Writing about American Indians. Ed. Devon A. Mihesuah. Lincoln: U. of Nebraska P, 1998. 139-171.
Witkin-Holy, Alexandra. "Oglala Obscurity: A Review of Ian Frazier's On the Rez." American Indian Quarterly 24.2 (Spring 2000): np. Ebscohost. Academic Search Elite. UNO Lib., Omaha, NE. 2 October 2005. <http://www.epnet.com/ehost/login.html>.
Womack, Craig. Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999.
Zimmerman, Karl. "Creative Wanderlust." Writer 115.7 (Jul. 2002): rip. Ebscohost. Academic Search Elite. UNO Lib., Omaha, NE. 2 October 2005. <http://www.epnet.com/ehost/login.html>.
(1) In Visual Intelligence, Barry argues that verbal language is grounded in visual perception. Barry asserts that images bypass the critical thinking parts of our brain and directly affect the area of our brains that create primary emotions, such as fear. Thus, an image is "capable of reaching the emotions before it is cognitively understood" (78). We have internal images that we have taken in and built over time that are used to construct our individual understanding of reality.
(2) Henry A. Murray, M.D., Ph.D. worked as an instructor at the Harvard Psychological Clinic from 1937 to 1943. While there, Murray published Exploration in Personality, a compilation of data from a two and half year study. Murray and his colleagues established a theory of personality that explored the relationship between early experiences and identity. In 1943, Murray left Harvard to help with the war effort. Later, Murray returned to Harvard to continue his studies, earning the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award and Gold Medal Award for lifetime achievement.
(3) Marshall McLuhan is considered by some as the "high priest of pop culture." McLuhan's most influential work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, sought to explore how popular culture influenced people and their relationship to each other and their communities. McLuhan warned readers of the effects of the media, famously saying, "We become what we behold."
Western Michigan University
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|Publication:||Studies in the Humanities|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2006|
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