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Wk. 12: Ethnography – Pre-Electric Cultures 


Before the sun went down, my friends and I spent our Saturday at Knott’s Berry Farm to experience the Boysenberry Festival, ride the new Sol Spin, and get on Boomerang for the last time.

For this weeks art experience we were assigned to spend a night without the use of electricity. This was actually much more difficult than I thought it’d because my family loves to stay up during the night time and socialize, so there was a lot of noise occurring at my house. The first thing that I did was gather 4 candles to help light my room. It was about 8:00p.m. when I became bored and helpless. I felt the need to reach for my phone or turn on a light but I resisted the urge. In the beginning this activity was actually frustrating because I couldn’t find anything to do. Finally what I did was go outside with my sister to get some fresh air and walk around. That’s when I felt more relaxed and disconnected from social media and all the stress. Once we got back from our walk I felt a bit tired but knew that I still wanted to stay up so I decided to stay awake for about an hour and thirty minutes and catch up on a couple of readings. Once I was done reading I doodled on a notebook for a little longer and then decided it was time to get some sleep at about 10:00 p.m.
What did you think the experience would be like?

  • I thought this experience was going to be much easier and self reflecting. However, it was actually much more difficult because I couldn’t find much to do without electricity. Also i found myself becoming tempted to use electricity because the activities that I was coming up with all involved the use of electricity.

Was it “easy” or “hard”?

  • I believe that in the beginning of this assignment it was hard to become adjusted to only candles. Though as the night went on I became accustom to the light pay off that the candles were giving off that I was able to find activities to do. Overall however, this assignment was hard because I didn’t realize how much electricity I use and how much it is needed.

“Frustrating” or “Liberating”?

  • This assignment was both frustrating and liberating. It was frustrating because I couldn’t use my phone or turn on a light but, it was liberating because I was able to get important readings that I had postponed done and I was able to relax and disconnect from social media.

Did you get better sleep? Are you usually sleep deprived? What would it be like to sleep well every night?

  • I did get better sleep with this assignment because I am usually sleep deprived due to late night school assignments or television watching. To sleep well every night would be ideal for a college student like myself because I would wake up earlier, more energized, and well rested. Changing my sleeping behavior is something that I would want to change but I know it’s something that I would have to change with time.

How is living without electricity more organic or harmonious with nature?

  • Living without electricity is more organic and harmonious because as the day begins one is awake in tune with natures time. This is also goes for the night time because as the sun sets one should be tired and ready to sleep due to the darkening of the sky.

How is living without electricity more limited? Is it boring?

  • Living without electricity at first can be boring but I believe that after becoming accustom to the no use of electricity there would be many activities that people could come up with. As the night went on for me I found myself doing more things than I actually do. Usually I just lay on my bed and watch videos, scroll through social media, play music, etc. and without all of this I was able to use my creativity to find things to do. Therefore, yes living without electricity can be limited but that’s only if one decides to not use their creativity.

How do you think people survived without constant stimulation?

  • I think that people survived without constant stimulation by staying in large groups. Staying in larger groups allowed people to tell stories, create gatherings, play games, and help create new ideas for others to do. This created the constant stimulation that helped them survived without the use of electricity that had not been invented at the  time.

What would be your ideal level of life activity and connectivity?

  • My ideal level of life activity and connectivity would include being active and productive during the day time. For example bike riding, playing at the park or beach, going on hikes, and using my electronics at this time as well. This would allow me to get my work done before the sun goes down. During the night time I would dedicate time for myself to help unwind and finish off the night. Also I would like to sleep earlier to help me become better rested.
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