Essay #3 Self-Reflection

Cameron Capachietti

  1. My final thesis of my third essay was “Both essays have altered my perception of racism of the present and the past, due to the fact of bigger events like injustice due to the color of someone’s skin to something smaller like strong stares”. The reason why I added more specific components into my thesis was to bring up events that I would later agknowledge later into my essay. The function of my thesis was to prove to the reader that anyone’s perceptions or views can be changed no matter how stuck in their ways someone is.
  2. Some strong aspects of my final essay was that I got to incorporate all the edits and final thoughts that I have learned over the other two essays I wrote in this class into a stronger essay. One specific aspect is that I used a lot of my own opinion and voice into this essay, but also I learned how to correctly put the authors’ essays into conversation with each other smoothly and correctly, which is something I struggled with when I first started this class. The part of my essay that I believe was strong and has shown these aspects is the last paragraph before my conclusion because I incorporated all the authors we have used from past essays and put them all into conversation with racism and with Cadogan and Biss.
  3. Global revision was an important part in writing my final essay. The biggest global revision tool thatI tried to improve on was allowing my voice to come through in my writing and making it stronger than before, rather than just relying on the author’s words. Another revision I worked on in this essay was not having my essay be so quote heavy , meaning I explained the quotes I used more in depth and unpacked them. One of the most helpful tools that helped me fix these issues was the feedback from my peers and professor allowing their opinion as my audience to show me where these things could be fixed. This was helpful because I didn’t recognize these issues in their places when I was writing.
  4. An important “quote sandwich” that I believe I wrote comparing the two essasy from Biss and Cadogan was when I sated “As we all know most of the time history can be pretty ugly even to the point of disgust. Biss writes “the bodies of the men lynched from telephone poles are silhouetted against the sky. Sometimes two men to a pole, hanging above the buildings of a town. Sometimes three. They hang like flags in still air” (Bliss 2009). This quote proves that we should all acknowledge and see the ugly truth from the past and grow from it. It’s  important for us to learn from the past and recognize what went wrong so history doesn’t repeat itself in today’s society. This event leads to something more present with the clothes you wear, some people’s mindsets are stuck in the past and need to change it drastically. Through the experiences from Cadogan we heard that “No parents had told me how to behave when I was stopped by the police, how to be as polite and cooperative as possible, no matter what they said or did to me” (Cadogan 2016). Cadogans statement suggests that we’re doing something wrong, when a parent has to talk to their young child on how to act around police presence when all the other white kids don’t have to, is the real form of hate. This quote is important because it shows how careful someone of color has to tiptoe through their lives, in fear of being killed and even the fear of making a mistake and the consequences being 10 times harsher than someone who isnt of color”. I think this quote sandwich was strong because it transitions from both essays smoothly with a strong unpacking of the connection between both quotes.
  5. After finishing both my final third essay and looking at my first essay I wrote in English class I have noticed many differences in my writing not only grammatically but technique as well. One of the most noticable differences I noticed was my ability to incorporate my own opinion and voice into my essay without holding back and being afraid of what my readers would think of it. On the other hand, I have never really been able to connect authors’ pieces correctly, especially when putting them into conversation with each other and I believe I have officially learned how to somewhat correctly make that connection strong and clear.

Connecting the Parts

When listening to Foster Wallace’s speech what stood out to me was when he emphasized consciousness and that shift, on a personal level it allowed me to really think through my own life. In this case, in making my decision on whether Wallace’s theories would work in my life there was a lot to consider. After fully grasping his theories he provides I would say I’d adopt them and incorporate them into my life as a college student. My own view is that what Wallace insists are life theories are in fact part of reality, or at least some part of reality. I’d agree that Foster Wallace’s posits are enough of reality to have in regards to day to day life because almost everyone experiences something of what he talks about. Wallace later states in his speech “If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options” (Wallace 2005). This quote from Wallace then transitions the audience into choosing what we think, rather than being told. To me choosing what you think is an important part of being independent or owning your own voice, but there is an extent to that because as all college students eventually experience there’s a time when you need some help on what to think. In Wallace’s commencement speech he states “ Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what to think” (Wallace 2005). In my case, this would impact me for the better especially consciousness wise. This shift in consciousness to me would impact my reality, but in a good way. It would allow me to see things more clearly and see the real world in a way of opportunity and pathways rather than an already set one road path.

After reading Bloom’s essay It has allowed me to see a different perspective on empathy itself, it’s given me a chance to see the benefits or consequences of empathy. In my opinion, empathy is used quite often in life and I could even say I portray it very often in my day to day life. Now understanding that I may be someone who has too much empathy, Bloom has allowed me to see that issue and how it can alter my relationships as well as my life as a whole. In that case, I would say that I agree with the statements given by Bloom. The overall tone he gives to the readers is something powerful and allows the readers to see how the way we use empathy isn’t always the best way and how most of the time we don’t even realize. A powerful statement given by Bloom said “Empathy is a spotlight with a narrow focus; it shines brightly on those we love and gets dim for those who are different or strange” (Bloom 2017). This quote from Bloom is something that everyone can relate to, everyone at some point in their life whether they like to admit or not has shown this action of dimming their empathy for someone you see as different. Bloom’s claims about empathy and intelligence connect to Wallace’s theories because they both use the underlying dark style of speech to get their claims across to the reader, it allows it to be personal and direct. Furthermore , Bloom’s claims connect to Wallace’s because Bloom talks about empathy and how it uses emotions to cause unfair and overall bad decisions, he spoke about the emotional or psychological aspects of this. As well as Wallace, he spoke about the psychological barrier we have of living in a “default setting” and the decisions that come along with that.

#2.) Even though I’m not that tech savvy, and couldn’t figure out how to underline a sentence I still found some important repetition, transition words, and pointing terms. Some important ones included things such as “in this case” or even “on the other hand”. Some pointing terms I noticed in my essay was a lot of “this” , I didn’t seem to utilize the terms “those” or “these” as much as I could of. In my experience, I feel like I rely on transition words the most since I notice them the most throughout my essays. I think if I utilized these writing tools in my essays more it would improve the way it flows or just even for better structure.

Biss Reading Response

Cameron Capachietti


  1. In Biss’ essay she started off by writing about the invention of the telephone and how telephone poles became a problem within the community, to the horrific act of killing African Americans. She swerves from these topics , one to another, quite smoothly. She allowed the reader to see the connection between telephone poles and African Americans, she painted the picture. She allowed the reader to see the connection of how the community rejected and despised the telephone poles being built on their sidewalks, as well as the racism going on with African Americans. They were both seen as a bad thing during this time so the connection seen between them was very prominent, to the point of even killing African Americans on telephone poles. This swerve and connection between these two topics induces shock into the reader because most people wouldn’t expect this transition. Even though both topics seem to be disconnected at first they just seem so connected at the same time if you think about it.
  2. When Biss states “The children’s game of telephone depends on the fact that a message passed quietly from one ear to another to another will get distorted at some point along the line”, we all think of the game telephone that we played as a kid. That is the obvious answer when you think of childhood games that relate, but on the other hand this can relate to a childhood “game” of rumors. Kids grow up with things being said left and right and their first instinct is to inform their friends about what they heard. The idea of rumors is hinted at in the statement from Bliss but not exactly said, this allows the reader to think of their own perspective on what she is saying.
  3. A symbol in writing can be many things, symbolism is the ability to use words to paint an abstract idea. Symbolism is great to portray a certain mood or emotion when writing. On the other hand, metaphors in writing are more of an implied comparison, like when you compare two things that are normal to connect or relate to each other. In Biss’s piece the idea of the telephone poles are both a symbol and a metaphor. The telephone poles are a symbol because they portray something “bad” but also “good” , but they are also a metaphor because the author compares them to the murders of African American humans.
  4. After doing some research on Biss I found some interesting things. I found that she is a cacasion female who has been known to write about this type of stuff. After finding these things out about her It doesn’t technically change my perception of the essay because just because she’s not African American doesn’t mean that her connections and points aren’t valid. She obviously doesn’t have first hand experience with racism but she did grow up in Illinois and Iowa, which is known to have had racism in the past, so she could have seen it. In that case, i believe she has a right to write about this type of deep concept because just because she hasn’t experienced this type of attack doesn’t mean she hasn’t seen it with her own eyes.
  5. The last sentence in this essay was a strong form of imagery. It had shown that after all this hell with the connection between telephone poles and the murders of Afican American’s had a bright outcome. It aloud the reader to see even after all the history and past with telephone poles and murders there still was a beautiful outcome. Today we have telephone poles and we see them as a great thing rather than a horrific part of history.

Intro/Conclusion Analysis


After reading both essays, “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace and “Is Empathy Overrated?” by Paul Bloom, I can honestly say i’ve been affected by both. “This is Water” was a commencement speech given by Wallace where he went into detail about how us humans go through life in a “default setting”, as well as going into his beliefs on college education. On the other hand “ Is Empathy Overrated”, Bloom argues that empathy is a powerful tool with many pathways off it, but if used wrong can cloud our morals. To me empathy is the ability to understand and fully process someone else’s feelings and thoughts and arrange them in a way you can correlate a response. David Foster Wallace’s theories have an important message to them especially for college students currently, If I was to make changes to my life I would encourage his theories on the default setting, choice and thinking, and awareness. These conclusions, which Wallace endorses in “This is Water”, adds weight to my argument that there is more than one road in life, meaning that there is not a set path that you are expected to take, you shouldn’t settle for the first one you find. Life is a concept that is seen in today’s society as something with a bunch of rules and how you should follow those steps to be successful in life. I believe these rules and steps given are very mainstream, there’s way too many doors to unlock.

  • I believe the strengths of my introduction paragraph from my second essay include things such as structure as well as adding a good amount of my own voice throughout the paragraph. Some weaknesses I could point out would include going a little deeper into my claims rather than having them so vague. Some things that I improved in this section was adding more detail to what I’ve said as well as connecting the pieces together more thoroughly. I believe my thesis is pretty strong due to the fact that it is noticeable in my writing as well as allowing my voice to come through .


Both pieces by David Foster Wallace and Pual Bloom have left me with a different perspective on life then I did before. The perspectives that Wallace has allowed my eyes to open to is being able to see the different sides of life and how our decisions play a role into being able to claimit. It has given me a chance to realize the ways life can be functioned and processed rather than green-lighting it through. David Foster Wallace’s theories have an important message to them especially for college students currently, If I was to make changes to my life I would encourage his theories on the default setting, choice and thinking, and awareness. There’s two sides to everything spoken in both pieces and I see both sides but overall I’d stand with what David Foster Wallace says about life itself. I agree with some of the things provided by Bloom to an extent because I still believe there is room in life where empathy plays an important role, rather than having empathy seen as something bad all the time. In the end, I support the idea of fixing your own life and making it yours in any way possible, life is precious and it shouldn’t be something seen as a set storyline with no change, but as something that has a breakable barrier for growth.

  • In my opinion, I believe my thesis statement connects and returns quite nicely into my conclusion. I believe I incorporate it into the paragraph in a different way and in a different format than when I first started it. My conclusions always could use some work, so I’d say my conclusion is a little rushed. I definitely could’ve added a little more to this paragraph, allowing myself to extend out a little more.

Cadogan Reading Response

Cameron Capachietti


After reading “Walking While Black” it has left me baffled in ways I didn’t know where possible. This piece was a very powerful and strong fight to show how the world is and how it needs to change.  My initial reaction was to be filled with empathy, as we learned from Pual Bloom and his points on empathy and how they come with consequences. This is the correct time and place to give someone empathy especially in a situation where there’s nothing being done wrong or it’s out of their control. This piece not only connects to the African American audience reading but it connects globally, this epidemic is something that has been an ongoing issue for as long as most of us can remember. Once I finished reading the whole essay there was a bunch or sections in his writing that stuck out to me the most, the author said “I could be invisible in Jamaica in a way I can’t be invisible in the United States’ ‘ . This is one of my favorite statements from the writing because it is short and simple but has such a powerful and deep meaning behind it, it allows the reader to really understand the issue. Another section I seem to be intrigued at is when the author talked about how he believed the streets in Jamaica were so much more dangerous than the streets of New Orleans, and then later on describes how his views changed once he realized it was because of the color of his skin. The author described that “New Orleans suddenly felt more dangerous than Jamaica. The sidewalk was a minefield, and every hesitation and self-censored compensation reduced my dignity”. My final reaction to this essay is that I enjoyed how strong the author’s voice was throughout the whole entire essay. In class, we have learned how to incorporate our own voice into our writing and now after reading this piece I see how powerful your voice can be. 

Essay 2 Self Reflection

Cameron Capachietti


  1. In my opinion, the most noticeable strength of my second essay would most definitely be the amount of voice I structured into my essay. I thought my voice was the strongest part of my essay because it allowed me to show my views and opinion on the topic we were required to write about. Especially my voice on “This is Water” and how I related to it. My most glaring weakness of my second essay would probably be putting both pieces in conversation with each other, there definitely can be some room for strengthening that connection.
  2. The most helpful bit of feedback I received from both my classmates and my Professor was the feedback of making sure my claims were strong and focused rather than being vague and unexplained. Another helpful piece of feedback was to go further into what I was saying and explain it a little more.
  3. The revision process from essay 1 to essay 2 was greatly different. In essay 1 I wasn’t all that familiar to peer reviewing so I just focused on the most important parts. In essay 2 my peer reviewing skills increased greatly. It allowed me to go further into my work and not only just focus on the important parts but the small things as well. One strength would definitely be adding my voice in more places in my work and a weakness would probably finding the spots that needed to be fixed more the second time.
  4. The aspect of essay composition I’d like to spend more class-time on is putting texts in conversation with each other and making that connection strongly, rather than vaguely doing so. I believe this will make my writing stronger.
  5.  A strong claim from my essay would be “On the other hand, Wallace  steers away from the idea of empathy or “virtues” but still touches upon it. Wallace states “But please don’t worry that I’m getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called “virtues.” This is not a matter of virtue — it’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default-setting…” (Wallace 2005). I believe this is a strong claim because it relates to both pieces and allows the reader to see my views but the authors as well.

Barclay Paragraph Practice

[C1] Both the speech “This is Water ” by David Foster Wallace and the essay “ Empathy is Overrated” by Paul Bloom share a common ground and that’s the darkness they both portray in their words. [I] Wallace goes into detail about adult life and [Q1] he states “ how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out” ( Wallace pg 5). [E] This quote from Wallace is showing to the reader that most people live a day to day life with one factory setting when they get to adulthood. It shows that many don’t see the other opportunities and other paths a life can have. [T] Bloom’s analysis on empathy plays an important role into the darker thought process both essays possess. [Q2] Bloom later states in his essay “ Actually, in the year of the Sandy Hook killings, more schoolchildren were murdered in one American city — Chicago — than were murdered in Newtown, and yet I’ve never thought about those murdered Chicago children before looking up that figure, and I’m not likely to think about them again . . . while my mind often drifts back to Newtown” (Bloom 2017). [CE] Both these quotes from both Wallace and Bloom play a role in each other and also show a connection to the deeper meaning. Both authors use humor and a darkness to their words that not only allows their point to stick out , but also to get their points across. They use the tactic of using the reader’s emotions to provide explanations to their claims so it keeps the reader reading , sort of like in a persuasive way.

Blooms Reading Response

After thoroughly reading the piece “ Empathy is Overrated” by Paul Bloom I am left with mixed emotions too what he provides in his essay. My initial response to his essay was that Bloom used very vulgar and aggressive examples for when he provided explanations for his claims. There’s a benefit and downfall to this tho, it could offend some readers but it also helps get the point across to the reader and allows the claim to stick out in the reading. An example of the hard edged explanations given by Bloom was “The murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012” (Bloom). Or even the topic he brings up such as “Intellectually, a white American might believe that a black person matters just as much as a white person, but he or she will typically find it a lot easier to empathize with the plight of the latter than the former” (Bloom).

This essay was about how empathy played into daily life, and how it could change who we are and our views. The essay goes into how empathy is narrow, biased and insensitive, leaving the reader with a strong initial response. Bloom stated that “…empathy spotlights have a narrow focus…spotlights only illuminate what they are pointed at, so empathy reflects our biases… is limited as well in that it focuses on specific individuals” (Bloom). In my opinion, like I said I believe that the author’s main three claims about empathy was that it is narrow, biased, and insensitive. This essay interacts with the other essay we read “ This is Water” because they both have a darker side of writing and thinking so they might have different ideas but they have similar writing styles.

“This is Water”- David Foster Wallace Response

After listening and reading “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace I was left with a variety of emotions. When I was reading the transcript of the speech the first thing that stood out to me was the fact that he didn’t bullshit anything he was saying, he didn’t beat around the bush. He said “speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff” (Wallace). This statement he provided set the tone for the whole entire speech for me, it allowed me to see what I was expected to experience later on in his speech. Another interesting story that stood out to me during this essay was the story he told about someone who is religious and someone who was atheist. This interested me because he went into detail about the atheist who tried the whole religious thing but didn’t believe it even after a major scary event.Wallace stated “And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp” (Wallace). This relates to me because growing up all the kids and families  around me were religious and mine really wasn’t. We tried it. It just wasn’t for us but this doesn’t mean I didn’t believe it? This is related to what we did in english class because we take different perspectives and incorporate them into one idea.

The major topic that Wallace kept bringing up is the value of your Liberal arts degree and the idea of college. I agree with what he is saying, I do agree with the fact that there are grey areas within this controversy. Wallace said “And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out” (Wallace). On the other hand, I don’t agree with this statement because this all really depends on what you do and how you go about it. This is all up to you.

Paper One Self Reflection

1.) My thesis was “Although Chen’s essay bears minor similarities to Konnikova’s piece, Chen’s essay challenges Konnikova’s argument due to the idea of relationships built online either benefits of faults a person. Social media is a very controversial topic in today’s society, my own view is that social media can complicate relationships but it can also build relationships depending on how you use it. In this case, the reader gets to see both sides of the arguments in these essays.” In my opinion, I think my thesis was pretty well developed but some weaknesses to the thesis could definitely be structured as well as being a little more specific rather than being so broad. Some strengths to my thesis I think is that it used more appropriate words and it also gets my point across as I needed it too.

2.) What I have learned from writing and constructing this essay was that there isnt just one way to outline and revise an essay. I have been using the same style of a outline since middle school and I always believed that it was the most efficient way to get started, boy was I wrong. This reminded me of my own writing process because it allowed my writing to grow. My writing process started off very childish but then changed into something more professional and essay friendly.

3.) The aspect I focused most on within Global Revision is the topic of voice. Ive always struggled adding my own voice into my essays not only because I dint think that my voice supported what I was saying correctly and efficiently, but also because I just didn’t know where to put it and how to make it sound good. After learning how to do so, I thought my essay sounded and flowed smoother. Some revision tools I used to make adjustments was definitely templates given to us through either “They say I say” or Professor Brod, they were very helpful, and the comments left by my peers. The templates provided allowed me to make my voice sound good when I added it into my paper, but my peers comments allowed me to fully construct what I wanted to say and how to get it across to the reader.

4.) In my opinion, what Id do differently for the next paper would definitely time manage better. I thought that played a huge role in my essay was time, and I know I could of done better in that area If I just allowed more time for my self. Another thing id like to do different this time would be going deeper into what I say in my claims and explaining them more thoroughly. This is important because it show the reader I understand what Im talking about when I write. The whole process of pre-reading to finishing with submitting the essay would long and tedious but it definitely was worth it because Ive learned many new tips and tricks that I can add into my writing for my next essay.