“this beast / this child”: Why Luther B?

Why does Smith waste so much time on Luther B? In the midst of so much human tragedy, why does Blood Dazzler go out of its way to elegize a dog? Firstly, because Smith is the poet and can do as she likes. Also because the Luther B poems are not simply about the “Rottweiler, / bull, whatever that dog is” and his perspective, although I don’t think they’d be less valuable if that’s all they were.
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Distrust Formed by Boundaries

After reading Luke’s post regarding the legality associated with trespassing, it started to make me think more about the specific law. How did that even come about? Why do people take it so seriously? Is it truly about privacy? How can land and property hold more power than the freedom instilled within humans? Many questions were raised in my mind.

There are always exceptions to rules. For trespassing, there might be instances of “implied consent,” in which immediate action is needed to save a life…” In that case, it becomes acceptable to trespass, an action that would not be tolerated otherwise.

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What happened to ACORN? Have we seen this before?

In class, we got our first glimpse of ACORN through Josephine Butler and her granddaughter, Tanya Harris. Both wore bright red T-shirts adorned with an ACORN symbol– a typical field uniform– as they were interviewed on a hot, bright day amid the destruction in the Lower Ninth Ward.

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More on Hurricanes and Names

I’ll be the first to admit that I stopped posting on the blog the last few weeks because I got stuck. Stuck in my own busy semester, stuck in the unexpected emotions that surfaced in me while watching Levees, and stuck in the shock of realizing that I hadn’t noticed some of these important things before. But after class today, and being able to ground my thinking in course readings (I think I’m just naturally comfortable with words), I think I might be getting unstuck.

With that in mind, I’ve been really interested in the concept of “names” especially in recent posts by Helen and Christina that highlighted the difference between male/female named storm, since the idea of being conscripted into a role and the connections to gender stereotypes is not something I had spent time thinking about. However, what I really wanted to focus on for this post was the idea of “retiring” hurricane names, which Christina does mention. Continue reading “More on Hurricanes and Names”

The Power of Art as Experienced in When The Levees Broke

I mulled over my thoughts on When the Levees Broke during spring break, and my conclusion was that the film as a whole was incredibly dense, both in factual and emotive value. Since the film was informative, I was able to know more about the timeline of the events during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and more about the reactions and stories of individuals. The film evoked real feelings from me, as I’m sure it did for everyone who watched the documentary.

Beth’s words ring true when she said, “when you were moved by Levees it was done as a work of art.” Through our reaction from When the Levees Broke, I think it’s really important to consider the effects that are created from art. This is especially important as well considering our current political climate and how art is the salvation we need to cope with current events.

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Secondhand Memories, Framed and Forgotten

They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.

There are several portraits in my home of my great-grandparents and other relatives from before my time. Quite frankly, I probably wouldn’t know a single thing about them if I didn’t have these relics that sparked stories from my parents and grandparents.

In one of his stand-up specials, the comedian John Mulaney gave an anecdote of when he met a person who spoke about his hobby of stealing old photographs from family homes during parties. Naturally, all John could muster was “Why?”, to which the person responded, “Because that’s the one thing you can’t replace.” Obviously, the humor comes from the absurdity in the devilish intent. My recalling of this joke, however, comes in a context that is notably humorless.

The story was what kept popping in my mind when I watched the ending credits for When the Levees Broke. The way each person credited his or herself, with their head put in place by a picture frame suspended before them, symbolized how their names and voices will be immortalized in the wake of the tragedy, and how each person has a uniquely framed perspective of it. The motif of picture frames in the context of Hurricane Katrina begs the question: With the destructive power of the floods, how many beloved portraits were lost? How many old photographs were stolen by this kleptomaniac of a storm? It’s difficult to imagine the quantity of memories, intended to be preserved indefinitely, that were forcibly forgotten in one fell swoop.

Many people died as a result of the storm. How many more had their proverbial “second death” in the time that followed?

A Further Exploration of Names and Hurricanes

Feminine-named hurricanes are more deadly than ones with male names. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, and repeated again and again by news sources looking for an easy story, this is because female names create expectations about severity levels and the need for evacuation.

Specifically, feminine-named hurricanes are seen as less likely to be severe and dangerous because of stereotypes around women, the study suggests. As a result, people do not evacuate and there is a higher death rate because of it.

This study has, since its publication in 2014, been questioned due to certain procedures the researchers used, including doing little to control for storm severity, which has nothing to do with the name. These are picked out years in advance. However, the fact remains that male-named storms still do have fewer deaths on average, and it’s an interesting concept to explore in the context of Roach and Blood Dazzler. Continue reading “A Further Exploration of Names and Hurricanes”

How are Hurricanes Named?

In class we speak very intimately about hurricanes. We also have spoken about the significance of names, as they can be a representation of identity and experience. Naturally, such discussion leads to the question, “how does a hurricane get its name?” I had already started doing research on the subject but became motivated to write up my findings when the question came up in our last class meeting. So here are the Twenty-one Names To Avoid Calling Your Baby This Year Unless You’re Planning to Romanticize Hurricanes:

Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sara, Tony, Valerie, William.

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The Infamous “We Got Him Party”

May 2011 sparked a very interesting perspective on American culture. Osama bin Laden was killed by navy seals, and we celebrated. At the time I was a junior in high school, and I remember GOING CRAZY. Me and my gang of kooks got a bunch of beer and threw the infamous “We Got Him Party,” and like you guessed, at no point did we stop shouting in each other’s faces “WE GOT HIM!” The performance of celebrating death certainly empowered us, which was what really got the momentum of the shin-dig going. However, this performance of death is important to analyze in that it is like no other I have ever witnessed and is still happening. In reflection I now look back at that party with complicated emotions. Yes, this was a productive event for the safety of our nation, but what about my celebration of death made it insensitive?

“Echoes in the Bone” quotes Victor Tuner in his book “Forest in symbols” saying “Celebrations of death function as rites of social renewal, especially when the decedents occupy positions to which intense collective attention is due, such as those of leaders of kings.” The connections between this text and the death of bin Laden is blatant.

I would never hesitate to admit that the death of Osama bin Laden was a great thing. He was the most impactful terrorist in American history. Obviously, he was viewed globally with intense collective attention since he was responsible for the formation of the terrorist group Al-Queada. Although Al-Queada is still an active terrorist group, since the death of their leader in 2011, they have had “tactical issues,” with its leadership and no longer operates on the scale that the group previously had. This is fluent with Peter Metcalf’s quote in “Echoes of the Bone,” “It seems that the most powerful natural symbol for the continuity of any community, large or small, simple or complex, by a strange and dynamic paradox, to be found in the death of its leader…

The news of his death provided a sense of comfort (or social renewal) to a large part of the American population who were living in fear of terrorism since September 11th 2001. By renewing the sense of powerful American pride, the death of the terrorist marked a turning point for American moral in the war against terror. Obviously, this event called for some sort of celebration.

Recently Rob O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, has appeared in the media for speaking out against president Trump’s plan for a military parade. His status in this story proves we as a culture still celebrate his achievement even years later. If any other SEAL spoke out against Trump’s military parade, they would just be another person speaking out against the president. By acknowledging O’Neill in the news, we are celebrating the death of bin Laden since it is known that is the only event changing O’Neill’s status from Navy SEAL to celebrity is his achievement. Most news outlets didn’t even use his name in their headlines, they only printed “ Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden slams Trump’s military parade”

The mission to kill bin Laden was also performed in the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” which was celebrated in American box offices only a year after the event. It stared Chris Pratt and Jessica Chastain and made $132 million by marketing its narrative as “the greatest manhunt in human history.” It received overwhelmingly great reviews from publications like the New York Times and Time Magazine.

When talking about the performance of memory, this movie is the most obvious example. The events in the film are supposedly accurate performances of the mission to kill the terrorist and also explains how the mission was a near disaster. By performing the memory of the assassination—just like the actual assassination—it empowered Americans in the face of the things many of us have come to fear, via celebration.

Largely the difference between this celebration of death and the party I attended, is that the movie considered all events surrounding the assassination. In addition to explaining the mission, it offered a wider perspective by highlighting the ones lost in terrorist attacks, honoring the ones protecting our country and meditating on the progress that still needs to be done. Since the movie properly noted all the sensitive topics surrounding the assassination, this celebration of death was largely not viewed as offensive.

Looking at on my phone, I still have a photo of me and my friends smiling and holding the banner that said, “We got him!” and I know now that we took this too far. This can clearly be viewed as insensitive, not because a horrible human was killed, but because the “We Got Him Party” focused in on one death by ignoring the larger scope of a situation that included thousands of innocent deaths. This performance is the same and different as the performance of the tot-tanic that we discussed in class. It’s different in that, a celebration of death wasn’t out of line; but it’s the same in that we chose to ignore sensitive subject matter that was affiliated with the event for the empowerment of our performance. A celebrating a death that implies progress and greater safety in our country wasn’t an issue, attending a party that’s invitation said “come over and devour some chips and al queseo” was.

Rich Musical Tradition Wrought from Intense Oppression

Upon attending an event titled “A Collision of Worldviews: An interview with Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell”, which was part of this year’s commemoration for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. here at Geneseo, my eyes were opened to a whole new way of perceiving musical traditions in terms of both their origins and their power.

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