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A Journey through the Darkness Final Portfolio Daniel Berenato


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Table of Contents

Cover………………………………………………………………………………………1 Table of Contents………………………………………………………………………….2 In The Dark………………………………………………………………………………..3 Silhouettes. ………………………………………………………………………………..7 Content Translation Reflection……………………………………………………………8 It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…………………………………..…………..10 Rhetorical Translation Reflection. …………………………………………………...….11 Writing Arts Reflection…………………………………………………………………..13


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In the Dark I turned off the nightstand lamp and nightfall flooded the unlit room. I squirmed into bed. A sharp tingling sensation slithered down my spine like a worm. The feeling was familiar. I raised my head from a pillow, peering into blackness. My pupils stretched to grab every fabric of light that had been slipping away but the objects around the room had already vanished. My eyes stayed open, fixated on the middle of the room where darkness was manifesting, painting a human-like outline with the ebony ink. An hour might have gone by unnoticed. I felt the strength of his ghostly presence in the room, pulling me like the moon on the tide. I could not retreat; I shut my eyes. The silhouette touched my numbed foot, and our roles shift in the smoke of darkness, slipping out of my alabaster skin to see the world through my contour. I could no longer control my body; I was trapped in my shadow. We wandered where light renounced, but first through the abandoned city streets during bone-rattling dusk. Along a sidewalk, spread across a frosted metal bench laid a homeless man wearing only a knit cap, wool jacket and nylon pants, shivering silently in the fetal position. He had been hoping that the night would be short and kind. His face was tight, his bones protruded from his cheeks; his lips were stale and chapped, tearing apart. The stench of booze and refuse wafted through the air around him. I tried to speak, but my voice was mute, I had no command. My conscience tried to fight the urge to give up hope for him like the world had done so long ago, but to no avail; my shadow continued. We plunged through darkness, and arrived inside another dark room. Moonlight revealed the sweet face of innocence; my niece, fast asleep in her bed. We sensed her


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baby tooth caressed in the shadow of her pillow. She put it there earlier in hopes that the tooth fairy will come wisp away her tooth and replace it with a token of love. Her smile persisted to stay on her face even through her slumber. I remember the joy of being a child, not having a worry in the world. When Santa would come on his sleigh on Christmas night to spoil me with presents, when the Easter Bunny laid its colorful eggs neatly in a woven basket that somehow had the latest Game Boy in it. The real world doesn’t exist to a well-off child; it’s tucked under a fluffed pillow. We slid out of the room through the window. As we left, I saw her mother peeking through the crack of the bedroom door making sure she was sound asleep; a dollar in her hand. The scene transformed, we appeared in another alley. Police lights bounced off the walls of the vacant street; a body had just been discovered. We glanced over the carcass. Mice had already eaten away at his skin. The only comfort he had was a blanket of warm blood, matted on an apron covering his torso. I guess it kept him cozy as he entered eternal slumber. We bent down next to the carcass, and put our hand on his crown. At this moment, my mind had been flooded with memories of what had taken place. The backdoor of the deli swinging open as the clerk went for a smoke-break during the graveyard shift. Two armed men met him at the exit, pointed a 9mm glock in his face, and told him to keep quiet, go back in, and open the register. Practically soiling his pants, the man obliged, reaching into the machine grabbing all of the twenties, tens, fives, and ones he could find, shoveling them into the burglars’ knapsack.


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After cooperating, he was beaten and taken by the throat next to the dumpster outback where he was wasted; two shots railed in his chest and one to the head. The blast was silent, but heard from miles away. The tears that the victim’s family will have to endure, the thoughts that leak into their dreams at night, unnecessary pain that was caused to take a life out of this world, all were exchanged in the pursuit of the dollar. What really could bring this case justice? What is justice at all? These thoughts brought us to a penitentiary. As we approached the building, my ears began to ring; the walls echoed hate, each reverberation built on top of another. The whispers slipped through the gutter, provoking us to follow, like sirens in a sea of loathing. We heard the innocence of man by rape, hate, and psychological torture. It was my instinct to resist but I was powerless; the specter continued, trawling me along as he passed through the gate. Our surroundings melted down as we approached, whirling into thick obscurity as if it had been black hole, swallowing those who wandered too close, too eager. We came just feet away; the pull was stronger than I’ve ever felt. What were once whispers were now harsh shrieks penetrating the mind. The world was monochromatic; the growing abyss had devoured the color. The force was pulling me apart, ripping away my shadow; exposed to unyielding supernova. My hands scattered for something to hold on to, but the vacuum sucked me in. For a second, there was nothing. I felt the tingling sensation return in my spine. I opened my eyes. Daylight drained the room. I was back inside my skin, stretched about my bed. Sunrays clasped my skin; I rubbed the warmth into my arms.


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After experiencing a night in my shadow, I wonder why people assume the homeless are dangerous and lazy but not underprivileged or born into it. How we would rather have them swept off the street and shoved in jail, rather than help them get a home, and a job to support themselves and their children. I wonder why someone would destroy another’s life for wealth; be it a mugging or a corporation. They say there are bad people and good people, but where do we draw the line between the two? How do we fix the vicious cycle of conflict that we are inherently born into? The truth is we can’t, not until we are all in the dark together. I close my eyes but I can’t get back to sleep.


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Silhouettes when sun sinks into sea, the world submerges in darkness; moonlight swivels atop the surface, mortals swarm its alluring aurora like flies to a streetlamp; smitten silhouettes, in a semblance of sunshine, dance in eternal pantomime; benighted that the shadows are where truth resides.


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Content Translation Reflection In “Silhouettes,” I translated a few of the themes that were present in my original shadow narrative, “In the Dark.” As in my essay, the poem also metaphorically contrast light and darkness, but the perspective of how it affects humans differs. The poem starts with a metaphor of the sun setting, and the moon taking its spot. The poem was intended to depict that when the sun goes down, humans will still gravitate towards the light of the moon, and ignore the darkness; where real truths has yet to be discovered. I intended the light to be a metaphor for perceived realties that society and media has conditioned in humans to ignorance and exploitation. In the original essay, the light was what kept me from seeing beyond materiality, and I attempted preserve that notion in the poem. Darkness is commonly associated with mystery and evil, but I wanted to make that a misconception caused by the “distraction of the light,” and that the moonlight is also in fact still light. The darkness represents the untold truths that are hidden away and are left up to the human to pursuit. I adapted the idea of the silhouette from “In the Dark” into the poem, which in this context represents the natural potential instilled within humans, but in their actions of following the light for guidance, they shrink that potential. In my shadow narrative, I go through reflection through my silhouette, exploring the darkness and discovering truths, and translated that journey into the underlying theme of the poem. The punctuation in “Silhouettes” is used to add pauses and separate ideas. I did this to relate specific lines together and allow the to audience keep track. The lack of capitalization is to help the balance and look of the poem.


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Though I had a general reasoning behind the words, the intent of my poem was to create a strong message that will draw the reader to formulate their own interpretation of it’s meaning.


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Rhetorical Translation Reflection I created the rhetorical translation of “In the Dark” by melding multiple pictures together and editing them with Adobe Photoshop, a digital photo-editing program. The image depicts a homeless man resting atop a bench during a winter night; though he is apathetic, a barbed-wire fence bars him from the Christmas tree. The fine details of the piece are specifically composed to draw interest, provoke emotion, promote an idea, and exhibit symbolism. The text reads: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” a popular Christmas song and common saying during the season. I chose these lines to establish a connection with the atmosphere and indicate to the audience that the piece is satirical. The outside atmosphere was manipulated to simulate a silent, dark, deathly cold night, and also serves to convey abandonment and isolation. The fence represents exile, misunderstanding humanity, and distrust by a commercialized community. The man on the bench can be interpreted as a homeless person or an outcast, one that is either neglected by the system or despises it. The bright colors on the presents and the tree lights are manipulated to create focus and contain underlying satire of their meanings in Christian art: blue and yellow represent renewal and servitude respectively, the orange box represents strength, and the red ribbon represents the Holy Spirit. The purple lights represent royalty, and the Christmas tree represents America. These parts tie together to illustrate the commercialization that plagues society, and displaces true moral values such as love and charity with material goods and greed.


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Overall, my goal was to artistically translate the message of consumer exploitation, and societal ignorance from within shadow narrative, and morph these concepts into an image that would stir the mind. I attempted to allow the audience to either take the picture at face value, or look at it from deeper levels of analysis. Media constantly points us in directions, and I intended for this piece to offer a chance to break away from that conditioning; produce interest, and analytical thought to provoke social change.


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Writing Arts Reflection

Over the course of The Writer’s Mind, I have gradually become more

knowledgeable of writing principles, honed my writing skills, and developed a better understanding of how words affect an audience. The Writer’s Mind has helped me reshape my writing process for the better, and consequently improved my confidence as a writer. Throughout the semester, I have gradually achieved each of the class objectives with the aide of the readings, lectures, and assignments. One of the most important objectives I learned was developing an understanding of how an audience interprets meanings from a text. The author ultimately writes for an audience; and must decide how to form their words in order to have an audience react in an anticipated fashion. While I write, I think about how each word will affect the reader, and choose my words carefully. I sometimes reference a thesaurus to find the perfect word to fit into a sentence that I believe would help preserve an image to the audience. When I attempt to shape a message, I try to understand other perspectives, and help it remain plausible throughout the piece. This notion is exemplified in my rhetorical translation piece, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The image serves multiple interpretations such as: the ignorance of the masses, the commercialization of faith, insecurity, and emphasis on materiality. An article that was vital in my development of this objective was “Intertextuality in the Discourse Community” by James Porter. In the article, he discusses using evidence to establish a sound argument in discourse communities, but when I read the article, I began to think about ways that I can use the combine words to establish evidence that will help construct understanding behind complex meanings.


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Another course objective that I have reached is seeing revision as a continuous process. Throughout the semester, I have constantly revised “In the Dark;” adding to it, subtracting, including new concepts, and most recently, translating it into completely different genres while maintaining important elements. This helped improve my adaptability to specific writing situations, and allowed me to make my writing more versatile. A reading that was essential to the maturation of this concept was the short story “Bullet in the Brain” by Tobias Wolff. In the story, the moment of a gunshot was exploded into a large image in what in reality would have been a fraction of a second. We took this concept and applied it to our narrative essays, which resulted in an interesting addition to my story. I have learned to accept and anticipate criticism from my colleagues as a supplement to the revision process; their opinion can be helpful in creating a clearer message, they can offer a look at my work from a different perspective, and also confirm where misunderstandings take place. A piece is never completely finished; there is always room for change. I have come to strengthen another element of my writing outside of the course goals, owning my work; that is, understanding how each part of a piece of writing fits with another to create multiple layers of meaning that form not just an overall picture, but underlying symbolic meanings as well. This requires planning, research, time and reflection. I will think of a specific idea, whether abstract or literal, think about how to approach it, gather information from my resources, write down a draft in parts, and reflect on how each part connects to the next in order to both move the image and the meaning in positive directions. This also helps filter criticism; for example, if someone


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says that I should change a specific part of my work, I can determine whether the correction was caused because of misunderstanding. The past fifteen weeks have dramatically changed how my mind works when I write. I think more about my audience; I pay attention to the detail, and note every criticism. I find myself digging deeper into abstract thinking while also attempting to translate that thought into a general understandable text. The most essential item that I take away from this class is my constant relationship with the audience. An author’s words are powerless without an audience. The writer is obligated to understand how to modify their approach depending on the target audience, to maximize the effectiveness oft their message.

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Berenato: Writer's Mind Final Portfolio Winter 2012  

shadow narrative, translation essay, reflections

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