Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Inspiration... From Vertigo

The inspiration for my blog came from my Film class. My professor asked us to write an essay on one of the films we had viewed in class. The assignment called for a 4 page paper, and it needed to be a critical assessment of the film. That was all we were given as far as what was needed, required or wanted for this assignment.

As an English major, I have taken mostly general education courses in my first two years, not leaving much room for major specific classes until just recently. I have never heard of an essay being referred to as a critical engagement. I wasn't sure if that made me uneducated, but the professor was a little bit off to begin with. 

Safe to say, I was frustrated and confused. When I am presented with an assignment that does not have much structure, I am intimidated. I spend a lot of time worrying about what exactly is expected. I worry that my interpretation of the assignment is not going to be what the professor's idea is. I spent a great deal of my time while preparing for this paper spinning my wheels and running in circles- I was flailing. 

After a few hours, I finally had an idea... I decided to define critical engagement. I didn't even bother Googling the phrase; I went straight to 'dictionary.com' and punched the two words in, one at a time. I was amazed at how simply defining the word gave me a better understanding of what I needed to do.

We all know what the word critical means. When we think of something critical, we think of something important, something pressing, but we mostly think of a critical condition or a critical issue. The word 'critical' originated in the mid 16th century, and was used how we usually think of it today; relating to the crisis of a disease or issue. Though, the word have evolved and has many more meanings.

The world critical can pertain to a person's health, meaning they are in critical condition or extremely ill. The word critical also can be used to describe a critical situation, which has the potential to become dangerous or turn into a crisis.

Though, the main use of the word is used to express adverse or disapproving judgments. It also means to conduct an analysis of the merits or faults of a work of literature, music or art piece, but the one that brought it home for me was this; incorporating a detailed and scholarly analysis and commentary. 

At this point, there was no need for me to define the word engagement. If you remove the suffix, there's just engage. I needed to use a detailed and professional analysis of the good or bad of a movie to engage my professor. 

I could feel the ground beneath my feet begin to stabilize as a dam cracked inside my head and ideas upon ideas began to flow through. I had to take a moment to sort out all that was going on in my head in order to concentrate on one idea. With the flood of ideas, I knew which movie to do my paper on; Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.

I quickly grabbed my notebook and began to spill my ideas onto this poor, defenseless piece of paper; it didn't stand a chance. As I began to write down my ideas, I focused on one main point; the meaning of the word 'vertigo.' For those of you who know the movie, I don't need to explain what a great and moving film this is. It is beautifully thought out and carefully put together, in order to create a roller coaster of a film!

Vertigo means to experience a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated with looking down from a great height. This sensation can also be caused by a disease of the inner ear. The sensation can also be defined as 'giddiness,' which means a tendency to fall or stagger. The word 'vertigo' also originated from the Latin word 'vertere,' which means "to turn." As I looked at these words, I realized there were a lot of words that I did not know the true meaning of, so I began to dig deeper.

The word stagger meant to tilt within stable surroundings or being within tilting or spinning surroundings. I connected this with balance and drew 'loss of balance,' which means the instability of one's mind or feelings. While I was looking up the meaning of this, I found the word disequilibrium, a synonym, which meant lack of stability. I continued and looked up the word stable; not likely to change or fail, or firmly established. Then I looked up the meaning of unstable; prone to change, fail or give way. Finally, I was satisfied. I wrote down all of these definitions and began to connect them to part of the movie.

At first, I did not appreciate this film, but as I wrote this paper, I saw what everyone else saw. One of the thing's that bothered me about the film were Scottie's vertigo symptoms, or lack there of, during the film. He experienced symptoms, and we were made to see these symptoms, during the beginning and very end of the film. I felt like the film was named after the disease, so why shouldn't he experience these feelings of whirling and loss of balance throughout the whole film!

That's when it hit me; Scottie's entire existence in the film is plagued by a 'state of vertigo,' as I coined it. While he does not experience the physiological symptoms of vertigo, the events and characters of the film are him metaphoric symptoms. My excitement over my revelation was through the roof! I could not contain it and had to focus my entire paper of this finding;

"Without even the basic knowledge of the word vertigo, one cannot comprehend the contextual concepts behind the film. The film utilizes vertigo throughout the entire movie; a state of vertigo, the illness and symptoms of vertigo, as well as the metaphysical vertigo. Vertigo is personified throughout the film in more than one character, thus carrying the underlying symptoms. The surface of Vertigo cannot be scratched without a thorough analysis of the word and its meaning." - Tresa Strohkirch. 

The work that I put into this paper was ground breaking for me. It was clarifying. I am constantly sticking my nose into my phone, defining words, looking up the true meaning of a word that I want to use, in order to make sure I am using it correctly. I also do this because it is exciting for me! It is fun for me to look up a word and look back on how a word was used back when it originated. I'm constantly curious to see how this or that is used in daily life and how it has evolved from what it was meant to be used for. I love finding a new way to use a word, in different context.

Thus, here is my blog, where I intend to go on and on about the words I find and what they mean and how they're used. I imagine the bulk of my followers will be those of similar mind, but I am so very excited to share this with everyone! Please, if you think of anything while you read this, or it inspires anything inside of you, or you see a word that you would like me to define in this manner, email me! I am excited to do it.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you next time!

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