Similar to Clio in her blog post “Janelle Monae’s ‘Make Me Feel’ and Commemorating the Dead”, I was so inspired to write a post of my own after watching Monae’s recently released emotion picture*, “Dirty Computer” (which if you haven’t taken the 48 minutes and 37 seconds out of your day to watch it, I highly suggest you do as soon as possible). Monae’s visual album is steeped in political sentiment with notions of queerness, blackness, and femininity float to the surface.
Since several of my most recent blog posts have touched on lynching on United States soil, I’ve discovered some interested threads between my Wikipedia research and some course concepts I’ve been wanting to unpack since we first started reading Roach. One of my favorite things is when themes overlap between my classes and as it happens, I had just learned about the Exclusion Crisis with Dr. Paku a few days prior to reading about it in Roach’s “Echoes in the Bone” (44). That very day I wrote a big, underlined “BLOG POST” next to the passage, highlighted with three ginormous starts. I guess what you could say is that this post has been a long time coming.
On April 26, The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened it’s doors in Montgomery, Alabama. According to it’s website, it is the nation’s first official memorial dedicated to the remembrance of enslaved and repressed African Americans. When I read that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of discomfort due to the perplexing irony found in the close proximity between the Charlottesville rally in August 2017, which in case you’ve forgotten was a rally that violently opposed the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue (who has become a Confederate icon), and the long overdue arrival of the first U.S. slave memorial. Initial discomfort aside, I am extremely glad that this monument is finally able to open it’s doors and remind us all of the horrific events (past and present) that many of us are so willing to forget.
All semester I have been returning to Dr. McCoy’s word of caution about the seduction of scorn and by extension, returning to the scorn many communities receive in the wake of natural disasters for not leaving before disaster strikes. To start, I want to go all the way back to the “Dear Facebook Nation” post that Dr. McCoy shared early in the semester, a sort of “listicle” rant to those who pass harsh judgement on individuals who didn’t evacuate the effected areas of Hurricane Irma. These “rules” remind readers of the intricacies surrounding evacuation to remind fellow Facebookers from making scornful, snap judgments about the individuals who decided to stay (and I use the word decided very loosely).
Growing up, I’ve been fortunate enough to have an aunt who values and prioritizes listening to female artists in the music industry. These artists that she inevitably shares with me have some consistent qualities: they are brash, they are political, they are powerful. One artist that has left an imprint in my heart and mind is Ani DiFranco, an American poet, singer, songwriter, activist and owner and founder of Righteous Babe Records among other things. DiFranco has always had a way of instilling me with a sense of empowerment and insight, even when I was a young kid and didn’t exactly know what she was singing about.
As a cigarette smoker of five years (yes, I know, I should quit) I can’t help but pay special attention to the cigarette references Whitehead makes throughout Zone One. Cigarettes come up on multiple occasions to fulfill different purposes. Sometimes they’re used to complete a metaphor or simile, like when the narrator describes shell casings falling to the ground like “tossed cigarette butts” (94). Other times they’re used simply to set the scene, like the various moments when Gary lights a cigarette before bed or after killing a skel. These casual moments are everywhere and deliberate enough to stand in for something bigger.
The symbolism of smoking cigarettes in Zone One is actually pretty ironic. While the skels seem to be the most widespread and dangerous ghost from the past, cigarettes are there in the backdrop– ghosts that are just as dangerous and present as they were in a world before the plague. The irony plays out nicely when the soldiers move conversation from skel-killing glory stories to “cigarette-salvage possibilities” because of how much smoking had picked up since the plague (44). This moment is so painfully human. I personally cannot even recall how many times I’ve gone out for a cigarette in a moment of high stress, to find myself conversing with another smoker who I know for no other reason except that they’re a smoker. The conversation follows a similar dialogue to the one seen in Zone One: we share some stories, talk about our stresses, and then finish with the conversation of cigarettes themselves. Continue reading “Cigarettes as a sign of civilization”
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”
Since Valentines Day I have been grappling with an intense desire to write a post that expresses some personal emotions and reactions to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. I say grappling because, in so many ways, it hasn’t been an easy process. The following post is soft-core political (depending on one’s perspective) and will be connecting some Roachian ideas to the shooting, gun violence, and how national identity plays a role in all of it.
WARNING: POST DISCUSSES gun violence/discourse, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, gun religion, and issues of national identity Continue reading “America is a gun, its identity water”
On first seeing When the Levees Broke on our syllabus for Metropolis, my mind immediately went to one of my favorite songs, “When the Levee Breaks” by the classic English rock and blues band, Led Zeppelin. Given the bands propensity for sexual innuendo, I always skimmed the lyrics and assumed that the song was just about sexual tension building and exploding based on the two main hooks: “If it keeps on rainin’ levee’s goin’ break… All last night sat on the levee and moaned…”
Continue reading “White People Whitewash, Again!”
Taking inspiration from Schenwar’s section “Hurt People Hurt People” from Locked Down, Locked Out, I started to think about the cycle of violence we see in Butler’s Parable. When I think of violence being the performance of waste it makes me think that violence is a cause and a consequence of something being allowed to literally deteriorate or waste away. In Parable, we see things deteriorating everywhere. Homes, communities, local and federal government, families, infrastructure, even lines between right and wrong seem to blur together as society seems to waste away.
Keeping this in mind, I want to touch on the people in Parable who are affected by the violence they encounter on a day to day basis. As Schenwar points out, there is an unceasing and cyclical history of people committing violence and harm to others if they themselves have been victims of violence and harm. This is evident when we see how the poor interact with each other in Parable— the poor steal from the poor, but only because they’ve a) been stolen from before, b) have no other options, c) have never had any other options or d) all of the above. This leads to entire communities abusing and harming one another. Resentment and mistrust builds, and things seem to turn into anarchy.
I’ve been thinking about this throughout my entire reading of Parable. That’s why when Lauren thinks. “I wonder what a badge is, other than a license to steal.” I stopped reading and thought for a moment. From Lauren’s perspective, police are already in a position of power over her. Why would they need to steal from the already poor, deteriorating communities they are supposed to be protecting? Do they really have as much power as Lauren and the readers perceive? Really, what’s their damage? Is it just the mere fact that they have power over another that causes them to harm others? Or is there more to it? I don’t mean to play Devil’s Advocate (or maybe I do), but how are we sure that there isn’t violence affecting them as well?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, nor am I sure if it’s valid to really spend time asking them. But! I do think it’s valuable to look at from Schenwar’s point of view when considering the vast majority of people who are supposed “perpetrators” are also victims of violence themselves. (I also want to point out that when I’m talking about police I’m talking about the police in Parable, not real life. Although once again, maybe the lines between the two aren’t as clear as I’m perceiving!) Thoughts?