“Passing” and People as Shelter

The idea of people as shelter was brought up by my group after our walks outside the other week, and after finishing Parable of the Sower I thought I’d share my own experience in relation to what we’ve read in the novel. Throughout the book characters seek shelter among people when suitable shelter is not accessible. The neighborhood that the Olamina family lives in serves as a physical shelter, but when this neighborhood is destroyed it is the less tangible neighborly bond that allows Lauren to feel comfortable seeking shelter with Zahra and Harry.

In the absence of buildings for shelter, I initially found myself seeking shade on my walk. I noticed an older man sitting on a bench under the small tree and clock pole by Erwin. In an effort to not “out” him, I will just say that his shirt had a phrase that I interpreted as being potentially threatening to my identity as a gay woman. What could have been a good spot for shelter, immediately made me feel uneasy. I held this fear that there would be some confrontation with this person should I take the seat next to him, and thus the space then felt inaccessible. Through this search for acceptable shelter and being confronted by this experience, I thought that I must decide who provides safety and who does not, or be alone and potentially vulnerable.

Quick content warning here: I talk about the politics of “passing” in this post.

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“What is necessary for a house?”: Conflating Ideas of Home with Cleanliness

These thoughts are a bit delayed, but after reading over my notebook in search of blog post ideas, I was reminded that circling back always allows for more opportunities for reflection. During class last Friday, I was particularly intrigued by a comment Jes made during our discussion of the syllabus question “What is necessary for a house?” Jes detailed that she doesn’t call her apartment at school “home,” but rather reserves that for the house she shares with her family. I have noticed myself doing the same thing – referring to my apartment as “my place” or its nickname among my sorority, “The Coop” (pronounced like “coop” in “chicken coop”… origins unclear). Avoiding the word “home” seems to me an interesting phenomenon. I wonder what constitutes a place vs. a home, and for myself in particular.

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Circling Back To/With The Dirge

Beth invited me to “loop back” to the conclusion in my Dirge essay and unpack it more on the blog, so in this post I am both circling back to the Dirge essay, and circling with it, as I explore the Dirge as a navigational tool that true to its etymology, provides direction through the often non-navigable crises of grief and loss in general. I write that the root “direct” “suggests that [the dirge] is grounded in the struggle of navigating the “liminality” of loss in general – the intangible “state of betwixt-and-betweenness” as author Joseph Roach discusses in Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance (37).” I contend that considering the etymology of the word “dirge” and its roots in direction, our course may “feel like a dirge” in that it is often a somber commemoration to the loss that is associated with the housing crisis, but outside of that lament it is also our map to help us navigate the crisis and the concepts surrounding it.

I think it’s important to explore the dirge within the context of this post and the act of circling back to old content. With Beth’s direction (see what I did there), I was reminded that it’s not only permissible but often necessary to circle back and revisit what may be “in the past.”  Continue reading “Circling Back To/With The Dirge”

Humanizing Complacency in The Big Short

Throughout our discussion of The Big Short, we have talked about how Lewis characterizes the bankers who bet against the market in a way that appeals to readers who may feel alienated by all of the heady economic jargon surrounding the details of the housing crisis. The reader can empathize with Steve Eisman’s cynicism after the death of his son, and understand the underdogs Charles Ledley and Jamie Mai and their “garage band” hedge fund. Despite the extensive back stories as well as detailed physical attributes given to the reader by Lewis to make these guys relatable, I could not help but consistently question whether or not their bets indicated complacency towards gross injustice.

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