DuBois and Sociology

I don’t like to admit when I’m struggling, but I have to say, I have been having a difficult time with The Souls of Black Folk recently. I didn’t realize that I was until we read “Of the Passing of the First Born;” part of the problem with reading the book both not in order and in a manner that breaks up the work into smaller chunks makes it difficult to grasp the work as a definitive whole, which is something I have been trying to do recently. While it is a collection of essays and thus some discrepancy in tone is expected it is still worth considering the work in its entirety; after all, DuBois chose to publish these essays together, not separately.

This past week, I sat down and actually thought about the work as a whole  and the crux of my struggle with the tone of the work is this: certain chapters, such as “Of the Passing of the First Born,” are incredibly personal and the ways that the way that the Veil and Double Consciousness affect DuBois personally are so clear. However, some chapters are so deeply impersonal that they read more like an anthropological or sociological survey than a work that deals with fundamental societal issues that the author himself experiences. This divide makes it difficult to grasp the work in its totality, especially as the more anthropological sections come across as almost judgemental (more on this later). Continue reading “DuBois and Sociology”

Triple-Consciousness and Moi, Tituba Sorcière

During class last Friday, my group (Amina, Joohee, Sarah-Anne, Sarah, and Amina’s sister), as well as TA Sabrina, had a great discussion about modern feminism and the struggles it has with intersectionality. The gist of the conversation was that, and this is something that should be clear but often isn’t, true feminism includes and has a space for everyone, regardless of background. However, this ideal of inclusivity is often overwritten by white feminism- the kind that leaves behind minorities (of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation and more) and the unique struggles they face in favor of the struggles of straight, white, middle to upper-class women. This disconnect is toxic and has tangible consequences– 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton, as did 68% of Latinx women and 78% of Asian-American women. Compare these statistics with the fact 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump, which is a disgrace. Continue reading “Triple-Consciousness and Moi, Tituba Sorcière”

The One Where I Talk Too Much About Maps

The fact that the discipline of geography is classified solely as a science is one that I find to be problematic. The interactions I have had with modern geography tend more towards the hard science end of things, as physical geography especially involves a fusion of climate science, chemistry, biology, geology and more, but to classify the discipline as purely a science ignores its origins as a subject that once was more artistic than scientific in its endeavours. Continue reading “The One Where I Talk Too Much About Maps”

“As Now Printed”

I find myself to be continually intrigued by the phrase “as now printed,” found in “The Forethought” chapter of Souls of Black Folk (6). The edition we have says that this note was written at the same time as the original release of the book in 1903, indicating that DuBois anticipated that Souls of Black Folk would not only be re-released but also that the text itself would be edited. I don’t claim to know what DuBois was thinking when he added those words to the introduction to the text, but to me, it feels as though he was both reserving the right to edit and release different editions to his own work (which we know he did) and also acknowledging that future reprintings might be out of his own hands and things that he wanted to be included might not be there. This prediction has come true; for example, we don’t have the bars of music talked about in that same sentence in our edition and the most commonly released edition of Souls of Black Folk isn’t the most recently updated version but instead the first edition, which contains anti-Semitic language that DuBois later removed. Continue reading ““As Now Printed””

Cycling Back to New Beginnings

The first time I came across the work of Steve Prince was completely by accident. At the time, I was writing for the Lamron and I was assigned to cover the final event of the community art project he did for Cultural Harmony Week (the article linked is one that I technically wrote, but it does not reflect my style of writing as it was heavily edited to meet journalistic conventions). I found him to be a fascinating interview, but one that I immediately put out of mind as soon as I was done writing. Completely by chance, I signed up for my first class with Professor McCoy shortly thereafter and found myself face-to-face with his artwork once again in the context of New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. In fact, the very first blog post I ever wrote was on his work Katrina’s Veil: Stand at the Gretna Bridge. Looking back at this post is wonderfully nostalgic for me – it both reminds me how far I’ve come in terms of writing since then, but it also calls back to a more innocent version of myself. I specifically remember that Professor McCoy used the word naive in the feedback for this post, and a full year later, I now (kind of) realize what she meant by that. Thus, it makes me extremely happy that 20 blog posts and two semesters later, I get to come back to the art of Steve Prince with a new perspective and new tools at my disposal. Continue reading “Cycling Back to New Beginnings”

Positive (?) Obsession*

I have an obsessive personality.  My dad attributes it to the ADHD that runs in our family; I am not sure if I believe him (though our work patterns are similar), but when focused, I can work at 110%, ignoring my own needs to accomplish my goal. On the other hand, if I am not focused, nothing can possibly get done, at least not in an efficient, timely manner, and it feels like torture. I have gotten very good at regulating this behavior after a while; my days are very regulated and task-oriented so that I can more easily redirect this obsession from, for example, spending hours upon hours playing Pokemon Soul Silver on an old DS to actually doing something that is productive and helpful (this is also the reason why I absolutely cannot have any games on my phone).  I think that’s why blog posts are easy for me – I can just find something I am interested in and let my brain do its thing. A prime example of this is the very first blog post I wrote for this class on Immanuel Velikovsky. I googled the term “Veliskovskyan,” as is written in the introduction to Apocalypse by Amos Nur, and immediately needed to know more. In this case, my obsession seized upon how outlandish his theories were and at that point, it was easy to sit down and not move from my desk until three hours and 1200 words were done. Other examples of these include the ones I wrote on geophagia and the uncanny valley. In these cases, Octavia Butler’s “Positive Obsession” is spot-on in its analysis of the better side of obsessive mindsets: “I saw positive obsession as a way of aiming yourself,  your life, at your chosen target” (129). In this way, obsession works very well for me in terms of productivity. Of course, perfectionism likes to intervene, so I never feel good about this work, but that is beside the point. Obsession rules my life to an extent that is perhaps more than I’d like to admit, and it certainly has affected my experience with this course and with the Broken Earth trilogy. Continue reading “Positive (?) Obsession*”

This Volcano Erupted in 1991: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

By: Kristopher Bangsil, Xavier Bodensieck, Sabrina Chan, Andrew Cook, Abigail Ritz, and Helen Warfle

The story of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption began several months before the actual explosion. On April 2, 1991, a series of small explosions caused a fissure to open up on the side of the mountain, alerting geologists to the volcano’s reawakening. Because of this, scientists from the USGS Volcano Hazards Program along with the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) began a joint operation with the US military to create a seismic map and observatory to monitor the volcano. Using technology developed in 1981 to monitor the Mount St. Helens eruption, the scientists were able to predict that the volcano would erupt around June 15, and they were surprisingly accurate. On June 6, a series of volcano-tectonic earthquakes began to “puff up” the volcano – that is to say that the volcano was preparing itself for the eruption. Thus, on June 10, 15,000 people were evacuated from the area. On June 12, the first eruption occurred, spewing a twelve-mile high ash column and convincing the scientists the evacuation had been warranted. On June 15, exactly as the scientists predicted, the volcano exploded. The eruption was so large that a new, 1.6-mile wide caldera was formed at the top of the volcano. Valleys in the area were filled with volcanic flows of magma and rock, layered as thick as 660 feet and the ash column grew to reach as far as twenty-eight miles into the atmosphere.

Continue reading “This Volcano Erupted in 1991: You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!”