Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Life = The Little Mermaid, Part One


Mermaids and Blogs and Feminism: they are the same

...otherwise known as: a History of the Creation and Development of this blog

The following was my College Common App Personal Essay.  I post it here to hopefully make more clear how I see mermaids, feminism, and blogging to be especially related and relevant to me at this time, and hopefully it will make clear why it would be interesting for you to read my opinions.  

Here Goes:

Everyone has a favorite story since they were little, a story that is almost an image, that inspires them and drives them forward, acting as a lens through which they actualize their ambitions: for some it is “The Little Engine that Could,” for others it is “Leo the Late Bloomer,” or even “St. George and the Dragon;” for me, it was “The Little Mermaid”.  For me, the fable’s secret world and unshakeable desire first introduced the concept of dreams creating purpose; the mixing of species and elements has cultivated the bridging of apparently disparate worlds as a constant point of fascination.   



During my time between high school and college, I’ve been involved in substantial  self‐reflection, thinking a lot about independence, identity and soul; and naturally  
“The Little Mermaid” constantly came to mind.   It is such a time-honored and beloved story, yet there is little organized research dedicated to it: the poignant tale of a fish longing for legs is, like its protagonist, without a firm grip on land.  I have been exploring new and different media myself, not only between water and earth but also within the technological world; a mystery to me when I graduated high school two years ago. 


It started when my best friend who had moved away suggested we both start a blog.  As I began to consider my blog’s theme, I remembered that almost every one of my essays in high school, despite the assigned topic, came back to feminism.  I have always been fascinated that such a well-worn topic could still be so new and ambiguously defined. After choosing feminism as the topic of my blog, I began a serious love affair with detail.   

I often chose to cover animation of females; studying frame-by-frame face changes of early Disney princesses was hard work, so I chose to make a video zipping through my thousands of screen captures.  Soon I was adding music, or changing the speed of the flipping images, to encourage themes of thought in my audience.  As my technological standards got higher, I adapted by learning new skills and using new programs.   


Soon I graduated to working with clips instead of images.  The cutting and re- arranging of film with a certain aesthetic in mind so reminded me of the collages I love to make, that I began to call my videos “clip collages.”  One has reached over 80,000 views on YouTube© over the past four months.  These were intended to complement textual analysis on the blog. I prefer a multi-disciplinary approach – science and art, math and history – to fully understand and appreciate what surrounds me.  If we can as skilled mathematicians see the art in golden ratios and theorems and as experienced artists appreciate the chemistry of the artist’s brush stroke, the possibilities of all measurements of reality working together are mind-blowing.  I have tried to bring this multi-lens view into all my evaluations and interpretations; therefore, multi-media analysis was the next natural step.  

As I began to embed videos on my blog, my own creations as well as clips from movies and documentaries, I was often faced with technical problems and soon found that to make my blog the way I wanted, I’d have to learn HTML.  If essay writing is a balance of form and function, I was learning that web coding was a well-defined balance of HTML and CSS.  I learned the history of web-site construction.  Initially it was just data tables for scientists who didn’t care about appearance.  Soon social, commercial, and educational purposes were discovered, and attempts to change HTML to compensate turned (literally) ugly, necessitating the invention and inclusion of CSS and a purified HTML, a new revolution still in motion.   


Learning the history of web coding in my online beginner’s course was like learning a microcosm of the history of the world.  Although not religious, I found something oddly Buddhist about it, these lessons in process that spread across all different genres and disciplines.  Inspired, I began implementing these concepts into my cello teaching,  - this balance and concomitance of the technical and the “emotional” – which any musician will tell you, defines music.  

 As I worked through my HTML and CSS beginners’ course, I developed a habit of reading the source code of every website I came across.  The minute structural and artistic decisions used to decorate or facilitate the websites through a profession so new and uncharted drew me further into the purpose of my blog:  the giving, analyzing, and presenting of data and thought.  I began to learn – both through the web course and through trial and error – to promote my blog more professionally.  

This all may seem like a far cry from a fairy tale about a half-fish out of water written nearly two hundred years ago. The more specialized my skills and research became in the online tech-world, the more I delved into fairy tale influences on culture over the ages, especially in film adaptation. 




The history of The Little Mermaid, though extremely small in comparison to the history of other fairy tales, is very rich with adaptations, cultural influences, and historical landmarks.   Comparing what different film adaptations did with the same story became an addictive new hobby, so I began collecting anything I could find. As my search became international, I learned more technological skills I never knew were within my grasp; .srt subtitle coding, for example.  Every turn brought something new.  This was a rewarding and relevant tale that spoke to the urges of the “other” - the land beyond reach, the possibilities of change - to the very skills and pursuits, the web-coding, the cello teaching, the film editing, the film and cultural history, that attracted me in the first place.   



One of my dreams is to make a website that focuses on all the facets of the story of the Little Mermaid; film, literature, followings, imagery.  Such a website does not exist.  This idea started when people from across the world, most recently Spain, the Philippines, and Mexico, saw my clip collages online and contacted me asking for obscure background information, or to find a version they remember from childhood. 

It is such a thrilling thought that in actuality I am helping people who are intellectually thirsty about the same things as I; it surprises me that someone so unfinished in her schooling can start something new and build on something old in order to better inform, intrigue, and amuse a willing audience.  I thought the only unexplored “new worlds” were the research of smallest unit of the atom or some sort of Lewis and Clark venture; but now I know that I can break bonds and build beginnings throughout my schooling by following my passions as I have in the last two years.   

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