This blog post began, as so many do, with questions of origin. But first, let’s back up. Currently, I am enrolled on Spanish 102 with Dr. Matthews and according to our syllabus, our end goal is to achieve the ACTFL’s Novice High level of proficiency in speaking, writing, listening, and reading. Because of my involvement with Spanish 102, I’ve been actively trying to “think” in Spanish outside of class — whether it’s reading Spanish directions or warning labels instead of the English ones, speaking it with the few friends also enrolled in 102, or looking for Spanish cognates wherever possible. That’s why the word “catarsis” stuck with me when I read it in Monica Uszerowicz article; first I was genuinely excited that I recognized it as the Spanish word for “catharsis.” In case you’re forgetting, Catarsis is the name of the art exhibit that featured Jo Cosme’s cards. I then remembered something Dr. Matthews has brought to my attention many times, that sometimes even though a word might have the same denotative meaning in Spanish and English, their connotative meaning might be starkly different. I wondered a. if the connotative meaning for catarsis and catharsis aligned and b. what the significance of that name is regarding the art expo. Continue reading “Apocalypse as a catalyst for catharsis”
Every decision we make pushes us down a particular path. At each moment, our choices narrow the possible futures to one singular future, and so we must bear the burden that each choice we make shuts the door on an infinite number of possibilities.
Sometimes being given a choice is harder and more damaging than if we’d never had a choice at all. Usually when we decide between options, we must also accept part of the responsibility for not choosing otherwise. This is an expected consequence if we paint humanity as moral.
Often, making a choice relies on morality. For instance, if we’re parallel parking in the city and accidentally dent one of the surrounding vehicles when no one is around, we have a choice. Do we leave a note explaining what happened and our contact info, or do we beat a hasty retreat, reasonably assured that our crime will go unpunished? The moral choice is obviously to leave a note on the dented vehicle. Even though we may not like having to compensate the owner and take responsibility for our actions, it’s infinitely more fulfilling to be able to do the right thing and choose that option as well.
After reading Spencer’s blog post, “The Conundrum of Color-Blindness,” and after Beth mentioned the idea of “colorblindness” a couple of classes ago, I was intrigued to go into the topic further. This is especially true when I considered the words of Roach in relation to how Spencer ends his post.
Search “new york in the 70s” through Google and you’ll notice a trend of links with titles like “1970s New York in 41 Terrifying Photos,” “A decade of urban decay,” and “New York City Used to be a Terrifying Place [PHOTOS].” Likewise, you’ll find articles that take the opposite approach and address the era’s glamour, like The Guardian’s “Why we’re still obsessed with the 1970s New York of Lou Reed and Patti Smith.” A 2015 T Magazine article calls the ‘70s the “last period in American culture when the distinction between highbrow and lowbrow still pertained, when writers and painters and theater people still wanted to be (or were willing to be) ‘martyrs to art’ […] the last time when a New York poet was reluctant to introduce to his arty friends someone who was a Hollywood film director, for fear the movies would be considered too low-status.”
In class on Monday, we viewed tarot cards made after Hurricane Maria by artist Jo Cosme. Because this class is so much about origins, I, of course, had to look up the history of tarot cards, and what I found was very different than what I thought I would find. Tarot cards are much beloved by people like one of my high school friends, who genuinely believes in astrology and aspires to be a Wiccan. As such, I thought that tarot cards would have their origins in some sort of religious or occult context.
Instead, what I found was that tarot cards originated in Italy as a game for the upper class. At first, tarot cards were simply like a fancy card deck, commissioned by the upper class to play games like bridge. Later versions emerging in the 14th or 15th century were not unlike M*A*S*H*, the game kids used to play to “predict” their fortune in elementary and middle school. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon. This same article cites artist Bill Wolf, who designed a very popular limited edition tarot deck. Wolf speculates that tarot cards were a sort of “choose-your-own-adventure style card game.”
I’ve been mulling about how to approach this post for a few weeks now and now think that after some helpful re-grounding in our course principles and ideas I feel confident in retuning to the blog with this strand of thinkING.
A while back I started seeing commercials and ads on both television and online for a now in theaters action-heist film, The Hurricane Heist. The trailer especially caught my attention:
With tag-lines/catchphrases such as “#Make It Rain” and “It’s a hell of a day, ain’t it?” complimented by Scorpion’s “Rock You Like a Hurricane” playing in the background, it is hard to not feel strictly scornful and resentful towards the producers/directors/writers/creators of the film. To resist this purely emotional urge I found that it was important for me to ground myself in our course texts, take a closer look at the film’s surrounding language in its synopsis, and understand the attention that this film has gotten in the public sphere as a performance of memory.
During our discussion in class on Friday the 30th, I was struck by Matt’s remark about the significance of Louisiana’s largest prison, Angola, having a common nickname that is taken from the slave plantation that formerly existed upon the current grounds of the prison. As Matt pointed out, the naming of the prison after a plantation already speaks to a connection with the institution of slavery in pre-Civil War America and the horrors that were committed in the practice of it, but, in addition to that, the name also calls back to the African nation of Angola, the homeland of many slaves and their ancestors. A commonality that I find exists between these two connections is an apparent lack of awareness of or apathy towards what the origins of that nickname mean for the use of it in the cultural dialogue, and in this sense is the waste of the cultural and historical context of those names. Continue reading “The Paradox of American Culture”