Monday, January 30, 2017

elemental deconstruction

Elements are quite literally all around us. We do not have to wander far before we run into one of four of the earth's natural conditions; in fact, they can even be found thriving in the manmade confines of a sad campus dorm, if you look hard enough.

just have to open a window to find air... actually, you don't even have to do that. it's everywhere, folks.
Before turning and looking inside my room, I captured my first element - and the most obvious one - just by glancing outside and admiring the enormity of the night sky juxtaposed with a really shitty college building. If only we could see the lives of the stars more clearly through the Jersey air.

But I digress! Inside my apartment, the other three - fire, water, and earth - were all living in elemental harmony. I had a nice cup of water from my adorable child-sized cup from Target, a candle burning, and an overgrown (and somewhat sad) succulent plant not even within ten feet of each other. While tamed concepts of their elemental symbols, they still were actual manifestations of the natural magic of earth, which is something I think we, as people, easily take for granted.

However, searching for a more metaphorical sense of these four beauties was definitely a more challenging idea that I had to think about. Now, you could potentially choose any item and make some vague but generally accepted connection to one of the four elements. I wanted to think about the elements that go into constructing me, as an identity - and not some deep metaphysical reflection of the self, but just how I harness the elements to represent myself in a more physical way.

For the first element, I chose to think about fire, which I feel the least elementally connected to, strangely enough. As an Aries (if you like that Zodiac stuff), I should deeply connect to it - and I do, but I don't find nearly enough evidence in my real life to support that notion. If I think about it enough, the closest thing I have to a connection with fire is my desire to choose Fire-type starters in Pokemon... which is a little sad, but very true. So, I settled on the obvious, glaring red object on my desk that I pick up every morning to start the ritual of putting myself together - my hair straightener.

I use this pretty much every day, otherwise my hair makes me look like Lorde's doppelganger.

The next element I wanted to think about in creating my physical identity every day was the concept of air... now how does an "invisible" element add to a visual component? It doesn't, but it does add to an olfactory one.

nothing is better than smelling like green tea. thanks, Urban Outfitters. even though you're owned by Republican shitheads, I appreciate your perfume.
It may sound odd admitting it, but I think someone's smell plays a huge part in image. I think there's something romantic about the fragrance you want someone to remember you by. Maybe that's a byproduct of reading a lot of highly detailed Jane Austen novels that described every aspect of a character down to their last freckle, but I want the air I surround myself with to stick in someone's head like a line of poetry. Additionally, perfumes are alchemical in and of themselves - they're constructed with different elements of earth to create something new and delightful.

When I chose my metaphorical symbol for water, I felt like it may be the most abstract from its original elemental form. However, it shares a few similarities.

did y'all catch on that I like black? no?
While nail polish probably has traces of actual water in it somewhere, and is also in a shared liquid form, I think there are a few more shared traits. There's almost a certain necessity in my life to have nail polish on - not for some societal, gendered reason, but simply for the fact I like having it on. Why should my nails be colorless? I feel like it's always there, like water. The color needs to be "hydrated" on a regular basis so it does not shrivel away. Additionally, nail polish is bottled, like some forms of water, and reminds me of small vials of potions sitting on an alchemist's shelf.

Lastly, of course, is earth. I chose my ring, which I love dearly and wear almost everyday. I feel as if it completes the final part of putting myself together - a closing statement of the first impression I aesthetically make on people.

listen, if chokers can make a comeback, so can mood rings - don't hate.
The ring is made up of metals and other elements I don't understand, but that I recognize enough come from the earth itself. To add, I like the concept of earth chakras, or points of earth that contain very special channels of energy. My mood ring acts the same way, and deciphers the changes of temperature and energy in my body by harnessing its own elemental self.

Overall, I enjoyed thinking about these elements in a more metaphorical sense - especially how they can all link together. By reflecting on my own self, I was able to deconstruct parts into the four categories of elements, and then deeply think about how I transmute them every day to construct a version of me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

equivalent exchange

One of the basic rules of alchemy is the idea of polarity - everything has an equaled opposite. With that being said, the concept of "digital alchemy" manifests itself as a juxtaposition, as two contrasting ideas. When we think about alchemy, we think about an outdated practice steeped in mystical and magical tendencies; on the other hand, we have the "digital" aspect of it, which is the product of technology and science. To combine the two is the start of our journey of exploring our alchemist identities: we are practicing transmuting the mysticism of fiction into the digital realm, marrying the old and the new, to produce something completely different and wonderful.

I'm intrigued to see how else we will use digital alchemy to guide us through this class, and to see what we will create through a bunch of elements we will explore, play with, and use. Additionally, I feel like the most important part of this class will to keep our minds open to endless possibilities, as cliche as it sounds, as if we were alchemists years ago who truly believed that they could transform lead into gold. If we keep our minds closed and refuse to push our fantastical limits of what we can imagine, we lose the magic storytelling contains.

Other than that, I do not know much about the realm of alchemy and how we can relate it to our networked narratives; however, there seems to be a lot of potential in our class, as we seem to all be alchemists who lead different lives, have different interests, and have different tales to share. The stories in all of us are only part of the elements we need to combine with the technological tools to manifest our own version of a philosopher's stone of collective narratives.