Trusting the Process

“Doubt is the big machine. It grinds up the delusions of women and men.” –Victor LaValle, Big Machine.

Reflecting on where I was in February, I see that I started this semester with a lot of doubt. In my first blog post, I wrote about my lack of confidence and my goal to improve my skills as an English major through repetition and practice. In class, Dr. McCoy encouraged us to ask questions and admit when we didn’t know something. Through this, I learned that while self-doubt can be inhibiting, it can also provoke amazing conversations which will ultimately challenge you to produce stronger arguments. I was always a perfectionist and I refused to admit that I did not have all of the correct answers, which caused great hesitation when I wasn’t sure of my argument. In my last blog post, “What’s in a name?” I was significantly more confident in my claims and admitted my lack of knowledge on the Bible. I confessed to my readers that I did not know the significance of Solomon’s name. Then I received a very helpful comment by Sarah Holsberg filling in the gaps in my argument. This experience (and this class) has taught me that by simultaneously trusting and doubting myself, others, and institutions, I will gain the most out of my experiences. Continue reading “Trusting the Process”

What’s in a name?

The other day when discussing Suzan-Lori Parks’ Imperceptible Mutabilities, Dr. McCoy gave us a Latin phrase to help us understand the name change that occurs in the characters. This phrase is mutato nomine de te fabula narratur which means with the name changed, the story applies to everyone. I have been noticing things in Big Machine regarding the character’s names and once receiving this phrase I decided it was finally time to unpack the significance behind all these names. Continue reading “What’s in a name?”

The Audience’s Role in Theater

In class on Tuesday, we read the beginning of Susan-Lori Parks’ play, Imperceptible Mutabilities. Parks sets up a situation that forces the audience to think about their role as observers in theater, literature, or other forms of art. Mona, Chona, and Verona are watching  Wild Kingdom which is a documentary series where the host “Marlin Perkins explores various animals in their natural habitats.” The naturalist/Dr. Lutsky is observing them as they watch Perkins. We are then witnessing all of these interactions on the page (or on stage). In my reading of this play, Parks is commenting on the relationship between the viewer and the performer and the inevitable involvement of the audience in the show simply by having seen it.

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“What My Child Learns of the Sea” and Sustainability

The collaborative blog post project inspired me to reflect on my role in the world and the impact that my actions have on the sustainability of the planet. I also considered how through our interactions we impact each other’s lives, specifically in regards to the products of our group work. While I was thinkING about this process, I recalled Audre Lorde’s poem “What My Child Learns of the Sea.” My first interpretation of this poem is of the impact that a mother has on the experiences of her daughter. After reviewing the ideas surrounding sustainability with my group, I reread this poem and grasped a new understanding of it. Continue reading ““What My Child Learns of the Sea” and Sustainability”

Respect the Difference

The other day my friend told me she had to evaluate an album for one of her classes and she had no idea which album to choose. The first album that popped into my mind was Aretha Franklin’s album “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You.” I suggested she write about what Aretha Franklin represented as a black woman singing soul music in the 60s in the height of the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements. Specifically, the song “Respect” (1967) which empowered many people during this time to fight for their personal and political liberation.

I showed her the page in Call and Response that includes this song and said “see it’s in my book, so it must be important” and then I saw it. “Respect by Otis Redding as interpreted by Aretha Franklin”. You can imagine my reaction given my last post about the ownership of songs by repeating them. I do not know a single person who would tell you that this song is Otis Redding’s and yet every time it is played he is the one getting paid. While listening to his version on YouTube, the comments are filled with people who did not even know it was his song, they thought it was Aretha Franklin’s. This sparked my interest in the difference between the two versions of the song and the impact that these differences have on the meaning of the song.

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Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law

I was flipping through the pages of Call and Response the other day when I came across the lyrics to a song called “Black and Blue.” I am familiar with this song and I thought it was by Louis Armstrong. When I saw the names Andy Razaf and Fats Waller written next to the lyrics I was confused. I looked it up and it turns out that Fats Waller is given ownership since he composed the music. Andy Razaf and Harry Brooks wrote the lyrics. I think it is interesting that the editors of Call and Response left out Harry Brooks but included Fats Waller, and even more so that I assumed Louis Armstrong owned this piece. This reminded me of one of my prior posts, in which I wondered how many times someone has to undergo repetition with a difference to possess something.

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Experiencing the “Emotional Bridge”

When asked to find my favorite poem in the Norton anthology, I started from the beginning and read through until I hit one that made me stop. The poem that I stopped at was Audre Lorde’s “To My Daughter The Junkie On A Train.” What struck me in this poem that separated it from the others was the linebreaks, unexpected connections, and word choice. The lines act independently and yet work together to create multiple interpretations, in the same way, she chooses words that can have more than one meaning. The other poems of Lorde’s in the anthology also resonated with me and even just reading them aloud was quite an experience. After deciding I liked these poems the best, I read her short autobiographical comments that are included before her poems. Lorde identifies as a “Black, Lesbian, Feminist, warrior, poet, mother” and she writes about the intersectionality of these “ingredients” in her poem “Who Said It Was Simple.” Continue reading “Experiencing the “Emotional Bridge””

Where Is The Progress?

You’re all probably getting sick of my posts about repetition, but I haven’t repeated these ideas enough to be sick of them myself. So far, in The America Play, I have been intrigued by Parks’ ideas about repetition and the writing process. In class today, we talked about Parks’ obsession with repetition and her idea of “Rep & Rev” which reflects what I have been thinking about in my posts. I have been struggling to find something to blog about that interests me and I was hesitant to bring repetition up again. That was until I read Molly’s post “Healing is not linear.” Continue reading “Where Is The Progress?”

Possession Through Repetition

In my last post, I discussed the ways that repetition with a difference results in progress. I find this idea interesting, especially when applied to the reading and writing processes. Due to new experiences and knowledge acquired during the time between a first and second reading, new meaning can be drawn from a text. Additionally, while writing, an author repeats their argument, story, or history until it is representative of the most recent iteration of their thoughts and ideas. Using my newly acquired knowledge, I reread Possession by Suzan-Lori Parks through the lens of repetition and noticed how she describes the writing process as repetitive.

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Repetition Helps You Notice

In class, we have been talking a lot about recursions and repetition as it applies to African culture. Through watching “The Story of Everest,” I realized that unproductive practice is redundant and will make you feel stuck in a loop. Repetition with a difference, however, causes change and results in progress. While reading over the course epigraphs, Dionne Brand’s quote stood out to me for the repetition that is inherent to its meaning: “my job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.” Continue reading “Repetition Helps You Notice”