Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Avatars are supposed to be a way that we can enter a new world, a new outlet into something, a way to imagine ourselves, or something somewhere else. Avatars although seem to be in this intermediate world, they are just a representation so they are not the really thing, I am not really Harry Potter in this video game, and I cannot actually preform skills, but I am not completely myself either because I am drawn into this new world and become immersed in what I am doing for an hour that has nothing to do with my real world.

It is the same with a book, you can escape for a second into another world that you are reading about, but you are not really there feeling those things or being those people, but you are not yourself either. It is hard to define since you don't exist in either place for the time being, you take on a middle quality and do not know how to define where one is in space.

Avatars seem to have this middle quality, a sense of not belonging and not being completely of one world or the next. They are only a representation of something else, they are not the real thing, although they can fool you for a while and definitely take you outside of yourself. In my video game I am in the world of Harry Potter for an hour each week, but at the end of that hour, I turn off the game, put down the controller, and go back into the real world. I don't have the ability to make potions or spells, and there are no death eaters and voldemort coming after me. The world of the Avatar does not carry into my world, and my world does not exist in the world of the Avatar either.

This in a sense also makes the Avatar world a middle or intermediate world, since it cannot exist or be carried over into the "real" place, such as hogwarts, but it also cannot come back into your own world, such as me going about my normal day as a college student. My video game and Avatar are stuck in this in-between and only exists if I choose to play the game. This is like a lot of things and places in life when one experiences something that does not fully put them in one group or the other, but somewhere in between and they don't know how to act or respond, and at some point they seem to have to choose one or the other, and not stay in between. That is the difference in an Avatar it can move between and stay in the middle, while other things in life have to pick a place to belong. 


Playing a video game each week has become very frustrating for me, I am terrible at it, I struggle finding the time for it, and I seem to forget everything I have learned the week before. I have now only made it through a few missions, because I seem to fail for almost an hour before I can even complete one mission without being found out or dying.

I have now made it past the death eaters, and walking around the streets of London under my invisibility cloak, and have now arrived in Grimwauld place. My next mission is to search the house and kill these terrible pixie things that keep killing me. Ron and Hermione are no help at all, and even though I defeated the ones in the kitchen I seem unable to kill the ones upstairs. I have tried time after time, and I cannot seem to not dye before I am able to kill them all. There is nothing that I can do but try over and over again but it seems to not be yielding much success. I know last week that I learned how to change the spell that I cam casting at them, but I seem unable to remember how to do that, so I keep using the one I have. It almost seems pointless but I know it can be done since it is a game and I am given the chance at life again and trying to conquer evil.

One thing that is fun about the game is that it follows the story of the book really well, there is quite a story line between each mission and the things I am doing are all things that happened either in the book or the movie. In that sense, being Harry is giving me the opportunity to live out the fantasy of actually being a wizard in the magical world of Harry Potter, something I used to only imagine and act out when I was younger and growing up reading the books. It is also interesting to see how they adapt the game to the narrative, having to incorporate things that Harry did and telling a story, and then how they create "activities" or missions for me to complete as well.

I think this game would be almost impossible to play if you didn't know what was going on and had never seen the movies or the books. I guess the skill level could be there, but it is hard to understand your mission or where you should go next without understanding the story first, which could be frustrating in and of itself. 

Monday, March 4, 2013


A large part of Typee, is observation, observation of the people, the landscapes, and cultural traditions of the people. At some points as the book feels more anthropological than like a narrative and it is interesting to see the dichotomy between the two different types. On one hand Tommo is not an anthropologist and seems to be listing the scenery because he enjoys it, and it is supposed to an autobiographical book so it could be something out of a journal, Meliville describing his surroundings.

There are many instances where Melville seems to be observing and almost conducting research on the Natives. When they first see the Natives down in the Valley, they are looking at them from a high vantage point and they are looking down on them. Tommo often describes the Natives from an outsiders perspective, when he describes the woman and how they are swimming and dancing. He often goes into great detail when describing a person such as Fayaway, or Marnoo, "His unclad limbs were beautifully formed; whilst the elegant outline of his figure, together with his beardless cheeks. . . the hair of Marnoo was rich curling brown, and twined about his temples and neck in a little close curling ringlets" (135).

All of these contribute to the novel seeming like Melville is an outsider sitting outside of the Natives and looking in on their life. He doesn't ever seem to assimilate to them, and he often compares them to his home and society. Tommo does seem to idealize the Natives however and talk about them as if they had a wonderful simple nature without conflict that at times seems better than his regular society. "There were none of the thos thousand sources of irritation that the ingenuity of civilized man has created to mar his own felicity. There were no foreclosures of mortagages, no protested notes, no bills payable, no debts of honor in Typee" (126).

Tommo is not wanting to become part of this society he seems to want to make an educated statement about the people and their culture, while also talking about their traditions and how their daily lives take place. he takes time to describe how they prepare food, and tattoo and how they go about their daily lives, but he is never part of these observations. There is something about foreign cultures and foreign ways of doing things that is appealing to someone on the outside. How seeing someone live differently can be a way to learn, or appealing in a way that evokes pleasure. Such as tourism and seeing a different culture because they are so different from theirs, and they want to see how these people live out of curiosity. Meliville is providing an outlook to "look" and observe these people in a way where it seems okay to look at them and wander about their way of life. 


We all have a sense of belonging somewhere, whether it be with a group or a family or in a place. The feeling where one feels comfortable to be themselves, and somewhere or with someone they can identify with, a way to understand who they are in the world. These "feelings" can be general, or very particular, such as belonging to a certain race or country, or having a certain hair color or dressing a certain way. Everyone has a sense of who they are and their place in the world, whether it be a student in college, or a Typee in the jungle.

In Typee looking at the different groups that Tommo comes from puts him in a different group from the Natives, yet while he is there he doesn't seem to fit in with his own country men either. He is being treated well by the Natives, learning about their ways and traditions, he often talks about how peaceful they are and how he enjoys swimming with the woman, and how he plays with them. In some ways he is treated very well, they try and include him in everything, the festivals and rituals they hold, feeding him and keeping him healthy, helping him with his leg.

While Tommo never seems to assimilate completely, there are often moments where he still relates the life he is living now, to the life he had before, such as his description of Fayaway, "the hand s of Fayaway were as soft and delicate as those of any countess. . . her feet, though wholly exposed, were as diminutive and fairly shaped as those which peep from beneath the skirts of a Lima Lady's dress." (86). There is also a moment on page 219 where the Natives try to get him to get a tattoo, and he adamantly refuses, and it seems more that he opposed to the idea of what society will think of him when he returns, "and I now felt convinced that in some luckless hour I should be disfigured in such a manner as never more to have the face to return to my countrymen, even should an opportunity offer." (219).

Tommo is not part of his country at this point, yet he is refusing to wholly take on the body of the Native as well. He is stuck in between two worlds, not being able to fully decide on one or the other. He has lost all sense of belonging, for he is a captive and has lost all sense of belonging and has even portrayed that he is afraid of rejection of both. He doesn't want to become so "Native" that his countrymen will not accept him, yet he wants to please the Natives enough so that they will treat him well. He is lost and not fully in one thing or another, he is stuck in between. 

Lost in Translation

Language is something we all take for granted, something we learn when we are young, and growing up and experiencing life we understand all the intricacies, and challenges and changes of our own language. Once one tries to learn a new language one realizes how difficult it is to try and learn a new language, and that there is a difference from learning a language and learning how people actually communicate and talk to one another in that language. Such as learning how one might say how are you, in Portuguese, a direct translation of that would be "Como Vai Voce?" But if you walk in the streets in Brazil, no one says that, they say, "tudo bom?" or "Tudo bem?" Learning a language involves so much more than direct translation and applying your own language to a new culture.

In Typee Tommo experiences many difficulties in learning and trying to understand the natives. There are many times when he doesn't understand what is going on, or he has trouble understanding what the natives are telling him. How when he first arrives with the tribe he is hand fed by the natives and not allowed to do thing on his own because of his leg. He also is not sure when they first meet, whether they are typee or haapar, and in the end he just ends up spurting out "Typee" and the natives respond to it so believes that is the right answer.

The whole book as well, the narrative, and the way the book flows seem to also indicate a loss of communication. The genre of the book keeps switching, adventure and captivity some of the time, an autobiography some of the time, and at times an anthropological study. Whatever Melville is trying to communicate to the readers seems to be hard to understand, and since we were not there and don't know his language at times it seems that we can not understand what he is trying to say.

This book can also be very frustrating, just like learning a new language. There is one point when Tommo is talking about how he is so frustrated with the definition of the word "Taboo" and how it has many meanings, "The Typee language is one very difficult to be acquired. . . the same word is employed; its various meanings all have a certain connection, which only makes the matter more puzzling" (224). Of course this is true of many languages, his own included, but the foreign nature of this new language and the frustration of communicating draw these intricacies of language forward. It was not until he looked at an unfamiliar language that he was able to see how different and difficult language could be.

maybe we are supposed to take from this that Melville is speaking a new language, a new genre and this book is so frustrating to read at times and understand because we are not familiar with it and his way of speaking.