Growing Pains

Canadian poet, Dionne Brand, delicately states, “My job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice.” When I first read the syllabus at the beginning of the semester, I glanced over this quote without giving it too much thought.  Now, at the end of the semester, I think that this quote perfectly sums up my experiences as a second semester junior at SUNY Geneseo. I have come to the realization that the concept of noticing has come up many times both in my academic career and personal life, often creating an overlap.  I have noticed things throughout this course both about the literature read and my growth as a student, all while my peers were noticing things about themselves. It was not always easy to grasp the teachings of this course and the messages through the literature, but for that, I am so grateful as the challenge of this course has implemented my growth immensely.   Continue reading “Growing Pains”

The Congo

After finishing Big Machine on Monday, my group was able to tie together some points that occurred to us throughout the semester.  I was in Tayler’s group discussion during class and we were able to come to the revelation of the importance of the character, Murder, being Belgium.  When Belgium had power over the Congo during the Congo Free State, there was an immense amount of violence and racism.  Once we read about the Congo Free State, we were immediately able to make connections to Big Machine.  When Leopold was in power soldiers would often chop off their hands to prove their kill.  When we went over this in our discussion, I wondered if Solomon Clay was a figure that was supposed to represent Leopold since Ricky lost his hand when killing him. Continue reading “The Congo”

Soul-Eating Cats

Anyone who knows me knows my immense adoration for cats.  I know that Dr. McCoy can attest for this as she watched me pet dozens of stray cats in Dakar, Senegal.  I have grown up with a black cat that I’ve had since I was eight years old.  This started my love for cats, as I feel like they are extremely intelligent animals with senses humans may not have.  Therefore, I was originally pretty excited when the placement of the stray cats came into Big Machine.  When I started reading the scene in Murder’s basement, I originally predicted that the cats would act as an angelic figure that came to Ricky in his time of need to help him.  Ricky describes his interaction with the cat stating, “Then I bent my left arm, and the tips of my fingers brushed the bottom of the bobtail, but the cat didn’t flutter, so I left my fingers there.  Touching.  It felt wonderful” (319).  I thought that the cat would be a savior or at least sit with Ricky until he gathered strength to move.  When Ricky began to see another cat that was an exact duplicate of the first one, I thought this was going to be a good omen that would help give him strength.  Boy was I wrong! Continue reading “Soul-Eating Cats”

How We Observe

After reading Tayler’s post about Suzan-Lori Parks play, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom, it made me think more about the way in which we learn about slavery and observe the continent of Africa.  I feel as though the idea of an audience viewing a theater performance and feeling uncomfortable when being called out, strongly relates to the way Americans view Africa.  Within Park’s play, the characters only view Africa through the tv from the show “Wild Kingdom,” pointing out the way that Africa is stereotypically viewed as a “wild” place.  In our group discussion in class, we looked back to the beginning pages of The America Play and Other Works, we saw this diagram labeled Imperceptible Mutabilities: Continue reading “How We Observe”

‘These Are Books We Have to Read’

After Monday’s class when we had to pick out a quote from our reading that stuck out to us, I remembered a quote from earlier in the novel that I kept thinking about: “To be an American is to be a believer!  But y’all don’t even understand what you believe in.”  This was the quote that the man on the bus said before he was kicked out into the snow.  Originally, this quote stuck out to me, but going back through the quotes I highlighted, I feel as though I have a better understanding of it.  I typed this quote into google to see if there was any commentary on it and came across this response to LaValle’s novel on NPR. Continue reading “‘These Are Books We Have to Read’”

The Tail

This past weekend I was lucky enough to experience my first Passover Seder with my boyfriend and his grandparents.  I have been raised with Athiest beliefs, only briefly educated in Christianity from my grandmother.  This being said, I knew next to nothing about Judaism other than what I’ve learned in class and what I have been taught by Jewish friends.  I was very surprised by how beautiful this experience was, as it was something that brought us together and sparked conversation.  His grandmother spoke in lengths to me about her experience with her faith and the times that it has often failed or ostracized her even from her own friends and religion. Continue reading “The Tail”

A Response to Analiese Vasciannie’s Theory on ‘Us’

I was very excited to read Analiese’s blog post as I recently saw ‘Us’ and made very similar connections in my mind. It is definitely a classic Jordan Peele move to have so many underlying meanings behind a film. I really thought it was interesting that he named the movie Us after the U.S, as I did not make that connection when seeing it. Going off of that, the movie seems to connect more when looking at it specifically through the lens of being American.

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The Regime of the Visual

This morning I was listening to an episode about Scientology from the Mile Higher podcast.  This podcast opened up with a question from a listener about aliens and the idea of a different form of life.  The people in the podcast were discussing the way they think humanity on Earth would react if another species came to Earth.  The woman in the podcast discussed the way that she believed people’s reactions would be solely based off of what the aliens looked like. She brought the conspiracy of there being aliens that look like large praying mantis’.  She believed if aliens took this form the human race Continue reading “The Regime of the Visual”

Judge Less, Think More

As we delve further into the semester, I find myself continually thinking about the concept of the mask and the veil. When thinking about the concept of the mask of the veil within African American literature, I am forced to think about the idea of seeing someone clearly when they cannot fully see you.  I can relate this back to the day in class when we straddled the lines in the hallway and tried to walk without stepping off the lines on the floor.  This was possible, but with immense difficulty.  I recognize that this action was used as a symbol to show the ways that many people, specifically African American’s, have to straddle their lives.  It may come down to who they are trying to become and what they are learning in life along with their roots and family life.  I couldn’t help, but think about how the concept of the mask or the veil relates to this.  In one life you are covered from your other life, one that the people around you may not see, but it is always there and vice versa.   This being said, one may put on a facade of a person to the outside world, yet people can not see inside the veil to know exactly what a person’s life is like.  Continue reading “Judge Less, Think More”

Art versus Artifact

Having a double major in English Literature and Art History, I have noticed a clear lack of representation of African or African American art and literature unless it is being appropriated by European culture or being specifically studied strictly for the Blackness of the author or artist.  I have noticed that there is a definite separation between what many of us, as Westerners, consider to be art and what we consider to be artifacts.  I feel as though the course epigraph by Toni Morrison,  “Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form,” truly appears to be true in European and American culture.  This realization has inspired me to set a goal for myself of trying to breakdown this concept and appreciate the art and literature rather than appropriating it into an assumption I make about intent.

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