Hey folks.

So I don’t know if this post is appropriate to publish here. It’s not really ‘academic’ per se. Actually I just want to ask you all a question that has been bothering me throughout the semester. As we have progressed through the course I have found it increasingly more difficult to find hope for the future amongst our discussions of both the cruelties and the sufferings of human beings. Will there ever exist a world without greed? poverty? discrimination? rape? homelessness? As I have continued to grow, read, and learn throughout all of my life (but particularly my college years), I have lost the innocence I once possessed that allowed me to believe that such a world was possible. As I stand now, completely hopeless and devoid of faith in humans, I find myself returning to my first blog post on narrative foreclosure. I stated in that post that narrative foreclosure occurs when one believes that “it is too late to live meaningfully and, as Freeman puts it, ‘become stripped of new possibilities, emptied of new opportunities for self-renewal.'” I have begun to view the earth and it’s lifeforms in a state of narrative foreclosure as it is defined in the above quotation.

So, finally, my question is how do you all prevent yourselves from viewing this world in a state of narrative foreclosure? How do you continue to hope when surrounded by corruption and suffering? Beth said in class today that she believes it is essential to construct hope for a better future, because “the alternative is obscene.” I agree, the alternative is obscene. But with what do you construct hope? How do you maintain it?

Of course no one has to reply to this. But through all the discussion of the terror and pain and the seemingly hopeless solutions to salvage what good is left, I feel that we neglect to address the toll these discussions take on each of us, personally, both inside and outside of the academic setting. Therefore, I find it necessary to ask you folks what each of you do to construct and maintain hope, thus avoiding some kind of narrative foreclosure. Being in class with all of you this semester has been a wonderful experience, and I don’t hesitate to say that you folks are kind, intelligent, thoughtful human beings. Which is why I bring these questions to you and ask that you share your answers (on the blog maybe?) with anyone that is currently struggling to find hope.

Currently Typing (In Class)

This may be the second-last post I’ll make here, and for good reason. The first reason is that I think a fair closer is needed for the posts throughout the semester. The second is how few posts I have made. I suppose that regards the merit of my words holding any sound content to share, or to expand on something that I believe has not been discussed during class. Either way…

I’m both excited and indifferent about this final essay. The ambition behind discussing the housing crisis and the contrasting narratives of literature showcase so many ideas as to how we view – or how we begin to view them. One thing that comes to mind at the moment is that of Inside Job and The Big Short as a heavy contrast in comparison to that of Dominion, A Mercy, and Parable of the Sower – one may consider these pieces of literature are differing perceptions of housing. What kind of crisis there is, when and how a crisis may begin, or if an individual is aware of a crisis at all. That also includes those who are even affected despite some knowledge of economic or social disarray. I’m likely overthinking at this point in favor of a streamlined final paper (in my head, anyway), but the words I’m currently hearing regarding insurance also relates to the earlier aspects of the class. Again, I go back to The Old Man and the Storm that demonstrates a crisis for ordinary people being almost another number to place on a list that says “assist” but not so much “help”. More recently, This Old House reminds me heavily of the “reality” TV series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. As Jess calls it phony and transparent – that is how I feel with the perceptive contrasts I mentioned earlier. There is a greater emphasis on “assist” than “help” in order to showcase a means to help but not so much a means to give way for resolve. Or may I’m being cynical about how meretricious (new word, yeah!) the premise of building an old house and rebuilding the remnants of it into a new home. This of course also relates to Mister Blandings Builds His Dream House while demonstrating the hollow nature a home can be, despite the incredible sentimentality it is allegedly supposed to be. That can even be said for anyone who is wealthy enough to afford (and maintain) more than one house. I know I’m young, but the idea of that still sounds absurd and a physical display of self-absorption, which that too can relate to what I have discussed in my Dirge essay, and may very well be mentioned in the final essay. My home life – or at least in parallel to the illustrated lives throughout the semester – leaves me detached.

Perhaps that is a good thing. Regarding the final essay, at least.

Some Thoughts on Modern Indentured Servitude

Hello, everyone! Congratulations on making it almost to the end of the semester. I’ve been thinking a lot about sharecropping, company towns, and other methods of debt slavery-esque practices in recent history. More specifically, I’m thinking about these concepts in the context of property theft and alternative labor markets like the drug trade, especially in the context of Parable of the Sower and episodes of This Old House. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Modern Indentured Servitude”

Biblical Parables and the Talents

The Biblical Parable of the Sower, in as brief an account as I can manage, follows a man who sowed seed into three different kinds of land with mixed success. The Parable of the Talents is about a man who went away and left his home and land in the care of his slaves. The titles of the novel we just read and its sequel are taken directly from their biblical parallels, and this has got me to thinking a lot about how religions build upon each other. I think it might be some kind of sacrilege for me to make this observation for some faiths, so I’m going to proceed with that in mind.
Continue reading “Biblical Parables and the Talents”

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Inner-City Schools

When Dr. McCoy asked us to “find shelter” outdoors during our class the other day, I had an a-ha! moment. Having felt like the world had shut us out, and it was our job to protect ourselves from the weather and any other threats, including other people, the objective of this course clicked for me. Continue reading “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Inner-City Schools”

The Consequences of Resentment

I’ve been considering the origins and effects of resentment for the past two weeks or so since it first came up in class regarding exclusive studying spaces on campus and hypothetical exclusive shelter privileges (when we went outside and imagined all the buildings were locked). I knew I wanted to write a blog post about it, so I went to Google to try to find some material to work with. What I came across is this article here, which pins a bunch of negative consequences as being rooted in feelings of resentment. Continue reading “The Consequences of Resentment”

Futuristic Story or “Dug Up” Journal?

After our returning discussion about last week’s class exercise of walking around campus, I remembered my first reactions to it. Though I had considered possible spots for shelter (looking for both shelter from bad weather and from watching people), I mostly noticed how it made me generally feel. Because I was looking for shelter, I was looking up more than I normally do, and I realized I tend to look down when I walk around campus. Rather than the campus, I saw the people around me differently. Continue reading “Futuristic Story or “Dug Up” Journal?”

Churning Thoughts on Circulation

In Parable of the Sower, Lauren and her group (well, really everyone who is not super rich) have had to revert to preindustrial methods of survival. (Disclaimer: that statement is flawed; those ‘preindustrial’ methods have been used in modern times, but not to the extent that people in Butler’s world have used them). Agriculture is a highly prevalent example of this, as the original neighborhood Lauren lived in relied on hand sowing for the entirety of their food source, and the group must continue to rely on it in the creation of Acorn. Water purification is another example. Though there are water purification tablets and water stations available, the cheapest and therefore most-used method of purification is by boiling the water. Yes, many people still have to boil water for sanitation purposes, but I assume that most students that attend universities do not boil drinking water in fear that it is contaminated. That method was more commonplace in the past. Continue reading “Churning Thoughts on Circulation”

Sweat Equity

I’d like to draw attention to something we saw in This Old House on Friday. The show’s host used a phrase that immediately set off a ‘course themes’ alert in my brain: he told one of the participants they were about to earn some ‘sweat equity.’ According to Investopedia, sweat equity is a “contribution to a project or enterprise in the form of effort and toil. Sweat equity, in the context of real estate, refers to value-enhancing improvements made by homeowners to their properties.” When I Googled the phrase, I also found that Habitat for Humanity buys into the concept: “Habitat affiliates require only a small down payment because few low-income families can afford more than that. Instead, partner families are required to contribute sweat equity.”

I found this concept to be fascinating from several perspectives. The first thing I thought of was Locke—in the Second Treatise on Government he writes that in the state of nature, one can claim property by putting effort into it. He was writing in the context of European overaccumulation, the discovery of the New World, and the beginnings of forays into Africa, and his ideas were used to justify several centuries of imperialism and enslavement. If one goes to a new place and begins working the land, after all, one has begun to accumulate sweat equity. To Europeans, that was the beginnings of ownership, regardless of those who were already housed there.

The second place this phrase took me was Dominion. Sweat equity seems a massive understatement compared to the novel’s description of Jasper Merian’s efforts, but the idea is the same. Dominion consciously drew on the founding myth of America of the pioneer conquering the wilderness and forging a home out of it, and in this context sweat equity is portrayed heroically.

Lastly, the phrase brought me back to the first principle of Take Back the Land and the question Beth drew from it: is housing a human right? It seems to me that following the principle of sweat equity would imply that it isn’t—how can something be a right if you have to work to acquire it? Sweat equity might also exclude those who are differently abled, although an inclusive definition might ameliorate that problem. One thing is clear—sweat equity is fundamental to how we in Western cultures think about property, and seeing it erupt from a reality TV show is proof of the salience of the things we’re discussing this semester.