Concluding thoughts: Confederate flags, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, & the both/and of memory

Bree Newsome removing the Confederate flag at the state capitol in South Carolina on June 27, 2015.

As someone who studies history, I’ve always been concerned with memory. And this class has memory at its center. It has allowed me to think of the ways that memory can represent a both/and. It reminds me that memory is a double edged-sword. Continue reading “Concluding thoughts: Confederate flags, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, & the both/and of memory”

Government Intervention as Violence During Katrina

I was inspired to write this blog post after reading Madi’s writeup on “cigarettes as a sign of civilization.” Their post represents the pre-apocalyptic feeling of the familiarity of a cigarette and how it represents the unity of a people, specifically a traumatic subgroup, in the future – after the trauma. Following Madi’s lens, I want to explore the relationship of other items or objects that may have meant little before a catastrophe but have had their meaning altered as a result of desolation – specifically drinking water. To be familiar with something is to be comfortable – well, sometimes anyway. In the face of trauma, one normally tends to take solace in the objects, feelings, people, etc. of the past – before the trauma. In the events of hurricane Katrina, the level of familiarity with clean drinking water became altered.

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The Memory of a Tempest

When I was in my sophomore year of high school, my English class read The Tempest. Initially, I had never heard of the play, and I told my father about it one night, to which he responded with great praise for the play, especially the final relinquishment of power by Prospero at the play’s conclusion. Having heard this about the play, I then went back into the class with renewed vigor, and found myself definitely enjoying the play, but not to the extent that my father seemed to. As the years went by, I found myself growing fonder of the play, and when I saw we would be reading the play for this class, I was excited. I wanted to see how my views on the play had evolved over the past six years, and I was intent on doing a blog post about those changes. But then, as i was thinking more about the play, I had a different idea: talk to my father, and find out what he recalls about the play and how it exists within the confines of his own memories, both remembered and forgotten.

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Sitting on Top of the World

In an earlier blog post, I tried to figure out why we remember things, and what makes something memorable. I’d like to explore the latter further. I started this kind of unscientifically, by googling “most memorable images” and I stumbled upon “The Most Influential Images of All Time”. In it you’ll find Images from the 2014 Oscars selfie to Lunch Atop A Skyscraper. From Bosnia to Bandit’s Roost. From Milkdrop Coronet to A Man on the Moon.

IS there a unifying theme to every picture in the collection? Several show immense suffering and pain, but others show abstract things or moments of joy. They’re all historic, I suppose, but I think I can confidently say it’s not the fact that they happened that makes them so memorable. Well, I got curious, and I examined all 100, and I heartily recommend you do too if you get some time. They all have descriptions of how and when and why they were taken, and it’s a real learning experience. Some are remarkably old, and some have been taken in our lifetime. Some show humans, some show animals, some show abstractions. One shows every human alive at the time, and another still shows no humans. There’s catastrophe and miracles, and even everyday occurrences. People working, people playing, cats flying (That’s Dali). There has to be something that makes these images not only memorable, but universally memorable.

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Response to “Unpacking Caliban”

In “Echoes in the Bone,” under the “Performing Origins” heading, Roach discusses Henry Purcell’s 1688 opera Dido and Aeneas, quoting in particular the “Eccho Dance of the Furies,” where an off-stage chorus “choreograph[s] the fated catastrophe”: “In our deep-vaulted cell the charm we’ll prepare, / Too dreadful a practice for this open air.” Roach uses this example to illustrate his point that in operas of the era, “Witches, like the spirits of the dead, allowed those among the living to speak of […] the hidden transcript of succession.” Roach is referring here to the Exclusion Crisis of the 1680s, but I want to focus on another “transcript of succession”: Prospero’s seizure of the rulership of the island from Caliban. The “crisis of royal succession,” Roach writes, “is perforce a crisis of cultural surrogation, necessarily rich in performative occasions and allegories of origin and segregation,” and I think it’s valuable to focus on the origin and segregation stories that Prospero allows to be told.

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Ruminating on a Self-Sustaining Class

Beth has repeatedly made it clear to us that her goal for the class was to be irrelevant by the end of the semester – reaching a point where she has taught us so much that we, as students, can take the materials we are given and run with it ourselves. At the end of the semester, I want to reflect upon some of my thoughts on the implications of this, and how it reflects in our growth as students as we “finish” the class and write our self-reflective essays.

If anything in this blog post sparks a train of thought for your self-reflective essays, don’t forget to cite your sources 🙂 Continue reading “Ruminating on a Self-Sustaining Class”

Pseudohistory: A How to Guide by Kanye West

Kanye West. Everyone under the age of ~35 has heard his music at least once in their life. He is known for his musical ability as well as his outlandish personality. He has even been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2005 and 2015, respectively. It is a fact that Kanye West is regarded as a dominant figure in rap/hip-hop, and his influence stretches even beyond that as indicated by the statement above. The enigma that is Kanye West has been puzzling critics and the public for years – the genesis of his mystery, perhaps, could be attributed to his vocalization of George Bush’s response to Katrina, in which he is quoted as saying, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Recently, he has been making headlines again, but for a seemingly juxtaposing statement to that of his statements on George Bush. In a recent interview with Charlamagne tha God, he is quoted as saying, in regard to slavery, “[w]hen you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.” These false comments sparked outrage from fans and friends alike, with musicians such as calling his remarks “one of the most ignorant statements” he could say. These comments, combined with Kanye’s influence among the public, serve to both the performance of violence as waste and the performance of memory and forgetting.

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An Appreciation of Violence

The following post is my attempt at comparing and contrasting interpretations of Roach’s “violence is the performance of waste,” and Hartman’s “care is the antidote to violence” within the context of Marvel’s Black Panther movie. One may read the title of this post as a romanticization of violence, following the popular definition of appreciation as “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.” Rather, I am using the word appreciation as “a full understanding of a situation.” Thus, I will be discussing how this movie, and certain elements of our class, have modified my “appreciation” of violence. Note: obviously this post contains Black Panther spoilers… but nobody should need one at this point! Make time to watch the movie after finals 🙂

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Prosperos’s Retrospection and Anticipation

People like to hate on Shakespeare for many reasons – the most common being the poetic style of his chosen diction and how the density of his syntax lacks proper clarity at a surface level. It is only when you read between the lines and look up the context of his colloquialisms that we are able to fully understand the style of his writing. I know that when I was in high school, I severely disliked reading works written by the main man of the canon; and even now, as a sophomore in college, I still shudder at the thought of analyzing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Shakespeare may not be for everyone to enjoy per say, but it is a fact that without him, my understanding of the English language and Renaissance would be much less – he is necessary. As previously stated, his language lacks clarity on the surface; however, in doing so he successfully conveys more than one theme on each individual line. In the context of our class, “The Tempest” is representative of a contemporary lens of the performance of memory and forgetting given to us by Roach.

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