Jackson and Oliver

Characters:
Jackson—sophomore at UC Merced, Major: undeclared
Oliver–    sophomore at UC Merced, Major: Biology

Setting: Early morning in Merced. Jackson has planned a last-minute trip to Yosemite. The birds are chirping and the sun is rising as Jackson tries to wake up his best friend.

Jackson: [flings open Oliver’s bedroom door and pulls open his blinds. Soft sunrise light streams in]
Wake up Loser! Wake Up! We’re going to Yosemite.

Oliver: [drowsily] What?

Jackson: Get up, we’re going to Yosemite.

Oliver: [Immediately rises and goes to his desk]
I can’t, what are you doing? We both can’t, we need to study for our quiz tomorrow.

Jackson: [opens the window and the sound of chirping birds streams in]
Quit your books and grow a little Oli…

Oliver: I can assure, I have grown enough?
[as he points to his belly where he carries his infamous share of the Freshman 15]

Jackson: Come on, clean your face, come outside, and don’t get your panties all in a wad.
[takes Oliver’s notes and flipping through them moves toward the window for light]

Oliver: Nobody has their panties in a wad, there’s just more important things to do than “going on a hike”. Again. [reaching for his notes]

Jackson: It’s not just a hike Oli, the sun, the top of the falls,

Oliver: Here we go!

Jackson: The meadow at half dome is going to look so good, we’re staying until sunset.

Oliver: [reclaiming his notes]
I need to go over the last chapter from the lecture on Friday. Can I borrow your book?

Jackson: Books! Their boring! come outside and listen to the sweet music of life, you might learn a little more of it, Yo-lo-Ol-i.

Oliver: [annoyed] Ookay, but can I borrow your book?

Jackson: [as the dawn dim light turns morning sunshine]
Listen! The birds don’t care, they’re not preaching at you learn this do that, come outside and let nature teach you a thing or everything.

Oliver: Is nature going to teach me how to pass my test?

Jackson: No but she can give you what our test won’t. You might get a little healthier, bless your heart, and ease your tired mind. There’s truth to be found in that peace.

Oliver: Why do you talk like that man? Peace of mind won’t get me into med school. I need to pass my classes, graduate, get letters of rec. I need to do well here so I can pay off my loans, remember those?

Jackson: Is paying off your loans all you really want from life? Do you even want to be a doctor? Finding peace in Yosemite might not teach you that or pass your little test but it can make you understand more of good and evil, people, and you. One little thing there can change you.

Oliver: It’s not that simple.

Jackson: You think you’re so smart. Your little meddling mind making things into what they’re not. [reaches for text book] This book and that test isn’t all that you are. You think they are, but they’re not.

Oliver: ….

Jackson: You want to know everything so bad you’d kill for it and think what is “bad” is us going on a hike, on such a perfect day. The tables are turned.

Oliver: I know I’m not just school, I just, I need to do this for my future. I can’t be a bum.

Jackson: Alright then. Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. You’re not a bum. What you need to learn to do is how to relax and find the true meaning of life in nature. [Oliver stares confused] Enough of science, enough of art. [tosses book out the window] let’s go, get ready, and bring your heart with you.

Analysis:
For my creative writing project, I did a play version of “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth from The Lyrical Ballads. To engage “The Tables Turned” with 2017 I decided to change the medium of the message from a poem into a play by engaging the plea for living by Romantic ideals found in “The Tables Turned” with a 2017 UC Merced student. The poem when read by myself felt like a conversation. The appeal of the Romantic I think is something that is very relevant for college students today. This is particularly so when consider the high cost of tuition and the struggle to afford it only to find themselves unable to find a job post-grad. There is currently I think a struggle between this career driven mentality and the Romantic desire to go out and learn by experience. A play with a person speaking the poem of “The Tables Turned” and secondary 2017 student character permitted me best to communicate this while paying homage to Wordsworth’s poem. In the play, I also used updated modern language so as to keep with the Romantic way of using the lay mans language.

I chose for Oliver to be a science student and skeptic of Romantic ideals which promote a stray away from the rational and orderly to the emotional and natural. Romantic I think may be a particularly hard pill to swallow for a student of science who has chosen to study the orderly and rational. Jackson is the character aimed at being the speaker of the updated lines of “The Tables Turned”. His physical action of tossing the textbook out the window is a symbolic way of portraying the message of the poem to abandon the study of science and art. This being done in the action of a performance takes away the irony of the message to stray away from the message of books being found in a book itself.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

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Moore and Derozio

The Harp, for the Irish, is symbolic of their cultural identity. Derozio uses this symbol not for its specifically Irish symbolism but for its symbolism as a people’s cultural identity to communicate the shared experience of colonialism between the Irish and Indian people

When we look at Thomas Moore’s “Dear Harp of my Country” we see him speaking of the harp of his country being found in “darkness” with “the cold chain of silence” upon it. Though, he “proudly” “unbounded” it giving the harp’s cords “light, freedom, and song”. He is reviving his culture by playing the harp. However, in the following stanza he bids his country’s harp farwell comparing the song he strung in the previous stanza to a wreath, which is typically used on a grave. His harp is dead. Again it is with the cold chain of silence upon it and until “touc’d by some hand less unworthy” will the harp sound again. There is a sense of reverence to the harp’s life here and a desire to reinstate it if not a hope that it will be. Likely, this life that Thomas Moore hopes for is the one the Irish lost in the unification of Ireland to England in The Act of Union.

The message of loss is similar in Derozio’s “The Harp of India”. The Indian harp is “unstrung forever” and the sighing over having lost its sound is “in vain”. She is “neglected, mute, and desolate” with silences fatal chain upon it. The Indian harp or Indian cultural identity is like the Irish one condemned to silence not with The Act of Union but with the Pious Claus that broadened the teaching of English India. This is more complicated when we think of the Indian people having lost their native language with this education that though having better prepared them for a life under English presence took away the language by which they created their subjectivity before. This is especially interesting when we think of Derozio as a teacher of English and a person critical of the Indian culture. He is mediating between two identities.  Though Derozio lives in a middle space that recognizes the faults of both extremes he is lamenting the loss of his Indian cultural identity in this poem the same way that the Irish do in a language and a form the English understand. He has appropriated the harps symbolism and the English language to tell people his experience of identity loss.

  • Araceli Garcia Munoz

Selma 2017

For this poem I wanted to follow William Wordsworth rhyme scheme in “London 1802”. As I read it, it was ABBAABA CDDECE. I focused on a conversation a friend from my hometown and I were having a some time back. We were talking about our home town, Selma. Both of us aren’t particularly large fans of our small town, but we recognize that our hometown is part of our fulfillment of the American Dream given both of us are the children of immigrants. We recognized that we were lucky to have lived in the area of town that we did as we recalled a fourteen year old boy who was shot on Nebraska street; a street which is widely known to be on the “bad side” of town. As we went on talking we recognized that it’s not just the “bad side” of town or that Cesar was bad. There is underlying issues of poverty, education, gun control, gangs, and other things my friend and I likely can’t begin to understand yet. Largely though, given that Selma is an agricultural rural town, it’s almost as if this kind of thing is expected and of secondary importance to the larger purpose of its existence which is to produce crops. This trend of gun violence isn’t one that has changed in Selma in 2017.

 

Selma! raisin capital of the World!

Cute, Calm, slow, numb drug of a little town

But have no worry, there isn’t much around

Ag money, brown faces, all in a swirl

What a smell of cow just like whole wheat hurl

Barely scraping through now but it isn’t cause for a frown

It’s the American Dream, don’t you know girl

 

Nebraska street isn’t elegant Rose Avenue.

Cesar could have told you but can’t anymore.

They call them murders, we don’t know what for.

It’s greater than the man behind the piece

maybe his youth and laws that went askew

Selma bleeds but it’s vines never cease to feed

  • Araceli Garcia Munoz

At Twilight

Theodore Gericault’s, Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct, carries a nostalgia that seems similar to me in Lines Written Near Richmond, upon the Thames, at Evening.

In the poem it is sunset “evening-twilight’s summer hues” (l.3) as a poet or “youthful bard” is admiring a boat passing by. The speaker states “The boat her silent path pursues!/ And see how dark the backward stream!/ a little moment past, so smiling!/” (l.4-6) meaning that at this time you can see the dark backward stream yet the moment is smiling and so perfect and little does the dark seem to matter in the twilight. This is what “allures” the poet to be an on-looker of the Thames and the boat. Yet the poem turns nostalgic and pessimistic even when is stated “He deems their colours shall endure/ ‘till peace go with him to the tomb./ -and let him nurse his fond deceit” (l.11). The poet goes on with stating that we cannot blame the poet for his admiration of the scene because “who would not cherish dreams so sweet, Though grief and pain may come to-morrow?” (l.12-13). The poem concludes in a plea almost of “Oh! glide, fair stream! for ever so” (l.21) so that others may find that same deceit the poet has found there at twilight.

The painting I think has captured that “deceit”. The beauty of sunset and the summer hues spoken of in “Lines Written Near Richmond, Upon the Thames, at Evening” are visible in the warm tones to be found in the left of the painting. It has frozen that twilight hour for the on looker so that we might all feel like the “allured” “youthful bard” from the poem. It creates a glow to the water in the image and there appears to be people playing in the water as if a moment of peace has been found in nature. It is necessary to note the castle in the image is in the light, yet toward the back, in the depth created in the landscape, we can see the dark clouds looming. It is similar to “the following gloom” spoken of that impends sorrow in “Lines Written Near Richmond Upon the Thames, at Evening”.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

Romanticism and Iron Maiden

Romanticism loosely defined is poetry which shows “a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th century Neoclassicism”. We have discussed in class also that Romantic poetry is characterized by a type of Synesthesia that encourages the reader to understand a cross between his/her senses to create a type of transcendent experience.

When we consider this we may consider Iron Maiden as a whole and their interpretation of “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere” as a work similar to Romanticism. Iron Maiden is a heavy metal rock band. Rock as a genre is one which largely rejects the precepts of order, balance, and rationality conventionally defined. This is evident when look at images and videos of Iron Maiden’s concerts, with flames on the stage, the art typically behind them of zombie faces, lights flashing, electric guitars, and so forth which are little evocative of any type of neoclassicism. We can then interpret Iron Maiden to have in common with Romantic poetry the rejection of a constrained normal of its time.   

When we consider the mere fact that Iron Maiden has taken a poem and applied music to it and a performance on stage as well we can understand them to have created for people a literal synesthetic experience. Not only is the poem to be read and heard with just words. With Iron Maiden we are offered a whole other sensory experience particularly when we consider the change in tempo of the music from energetic to eerie and slow around minute 5 when the song gets to the particularly creepy part of the original poem when the crew of the ship are cursed.
Lastly, we may even consider the “The Rime of Ancyent Marinere” by Iron Maiden’s to be more Romanticist than the original. When we consider the preface of “Lyrical Ballads” it states Romantic poetry aims at adopting the language of ordinary men which is “less under the influence of social variety” and “convey their feelings and notions in simple unelaborated expressions.” yet the poem arguably hardly uses language which could be typical of the average British person of the time. Iron Maiden simplifies passages of the original poem for example when they summarize lines 61-98 with

“The mariner kills the bird of good omen
His shipmates cry against what he’s done
But when the fog clears, they justify him
And make themselves a part of the crime.”

This is a unelaborated expression of “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere”. The story isn’t lost in it and nor is the “transcendent” quality when we consider the music and show that accompanies their interpretation.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

Cruinkshank and Equiano

The political cartoon by Robert Cruikshank “Clear View” is interesting because it seems to claim immorality on the part of the Quakers, who were typically abolitionist, to defend its pro-slavery anti-abolitionist views.

There are three men in the cartoon dressed as Quakers only two of which I will be discussing. The first to mention is the one who is holding a ‘picture of negro slavery’ in front of the telescope blinding the onlooker from seeing the dancing people in the land overseas, suggesting that the Quakers and abolitionist are liars in exaggerating the troubling state of African slavery. The second Quaker we see is standing with his back turned to the audience and standing on the left side to the man and child sitting to the front. The man and child are what appears to be beggars with a sign in front of them saying “Plase lo think on poor pat.”. Poor Pat refers to the Irish who were suffering from famine and were sometimes forced to immigrate due to the conditions at home. It was believed the British government was not doing enough to help them, view we can see portrayed here where Poor Pat is being neglected at the cause of everyone’s attention being centered on sugar and slavery. Interesting enough the Quaker standing next to them with a picket saying “Buy only East India Sugar Tis sinful to buy any other” has a East India Invoice in his pocket suggesting he has his own interest in the success of the East India Company’s sugar and that really his picketing is not so much to do with anything other than his own monetary gain. The man is a hypocrite, his avarice is what is driving him to oppose any other sugar company. The issue of morality and avarice is brought up by Equiano as well. He states

“Such a tendency has the slave-trade to debauch men’s minds, and harden them to every feeling to humanity! For I will not suppose that the dealers in slaves are born worse than other men- No; it is the fatality of this mistaken avarice, that it corrupts the milk and human kindness and turns it into gall. And, had the pursuits of those men been different, they might have been as generous as tender-hearted and just, as they are unfeeling, rapacious, and cruel. Surely this traffic cannot be good, which spreads like a pestilence, and taints what it touches!” p. 112-3

In this quote Equiano is referring to the inhuman way in which slave masters treat their slaves. To him it is immoral to treat slaves poorly and the whole of the slave-trade is to blame because it leads to a “mistaken avarice” that clouds any goodness in a person. Equiano understands immorality as inevitable because of the avarice that causes men to need slavery. Though it seems that this same logic of avarice causing bad is the logic used by the cartoonist to distract away from the issue of slavery and more toward the issue of famine ridden Poor Pat. It is interesting they should hold similar logic and lead to different conclusions. The notion they agree on is ‘people should be less avaricious and things will improve’ though more interesting is that they’re both hypocritical in nature. The notion that slavery is less of a problem than Poor Pat is hypocritical in that the slaves are not in fact having a party in Africa and Equiano’s later use of slaves and slave master tactics while believing he is a good master calls into question his abolitionist views.

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

Hartly House and An Essay of Man

Sophia began her letters by stating to Arabella

“… in the successive years of European visitation, the eastern world is, as you have pronounced it the grave of thousands; but it is not also a mine of exhaustless wealth!…. Moreover, I have to inform you, that all the prejudices you have so long cherished against it must be done away; and for the plain reason that they are totally groundless.” p.1

One would anticipate after so large a statement as to be asked to throw away all previous knowledge of a place the following pages would contain perhaps a serious though personal letter account of the realities of the native people politically and socially. Though, largely what we receive as readers are Sophia’s  accounts of the enjoyment she is experiencing in living with a people who she describes “live, Arabella (except from the austerities, in some instances, in their religion) the most inoffensively and happily of all created beings..” p.87.

She makes reference to the Indian people after observing a wedding procession with a quote from Alexander Pope stating “They ask no angel’s wings, no seraph’s fire; But think, admitted to their native sky. Their faithful dog shall bear them company” p. 87. This quote comes from Pope’s “An Essay of Man” in which, in the particular section quoted by Sophia, suggest the means by which to achieve happiness is ignorance. The Indian people are said in Pope’s essay to have possessed that particular ignorance of an “untutor’d mind” and “simple nature” which “proud science” has not “taught to stray”. In quoting Pope Sophia is suggesting the native people in India she has met have that hopeful happiness that comes from ignorance Pope suggests exist in the native people of “The New World”. 

Rather than paint their manner as negative, as ignorance usually connotes, Pope in way that seems to belittle the native people ascribes ignorance as a virtue to the Indian’s. Sophia shares in that sentiment and even wants to imitate their manner. She states “it would delight my [her] peculiar taste to converse with beings of so superior an order, and to become humble copy of their beautiful simplicity” p. 89-90.

But are the Indian people Sophia refers to really ignorant in the way first Pope and later Sophia make all other non-English people out to be? I don’t think so. It seems cruel to assume ignorance of a people’s understanding of their realities when the only attempt to understand it is made through an exclusively English perspective.

At the point of Pope’s reference in “Hartly House” we no longer think of a grave of thousands or a mine of exhaustless wealth when we think of India. What we can begin to see through Sophia’s consistent literary references, rather, is that Sophia is only capable of rendering an understanding of the Indian world through the lens of the English literary works she consistently references. It is as if Gibbe’s is suggesting through a sixteen year old girl that the Indian world is only able to be understood by the English through these works. 

-Araceli Garcia Munoz

Language as a Tool to Confine and Liberate

Johnson’s dictionary created the English language into a tool by which Macaulay could subjugate people to imperialist rule and which Ray recognized as a tool by which the Indian people could adapt and survive the same imperialist rule.

The English, including Johnson despite admitting the difficulty of containing language, it would appear were set on making everything legible to themselves in their own image in a manner that is only understandable when we consider the value placed on understanding from The Royal Society onward.

Macaulay in stating “It would be bad enough to consult their intellectual taste at the expense of their intellectual health” when referring to the decision of teaching Arabic and Sanskrit or rather English only seems to in a sense equate the Indian nation with what Johnson describes as “the most likely to continue without alteration, would be that of a nation raised a little, and but a little, above barbarity, secluded from strangers… men thus busied and unlearned.” The English have established value upon their learning and seek to advance it for the “health” of the Indian people. Macaulay states examples of the insignificance of Arabic and Sanskrit language consistently and proves the intention of the English to be one of subjugation of a people when he states the practice of funding the native people study their own language as counterproductive and dangerous to the English. He states  “It (the current education system) goes to form a nest not merely of helpless placehunters but of bigots prompted alike by passion and by interest to raise a cry against every useful scheme of education….. From the native society, left to itself, we have no difficulties to apprehend.” (24). Macaulay does not deny the power of the English to oppress the Indians but the aim to subjugate them to a single language education is a new form of violence. The Englishmen Macaulay endevours to create of the Indian people who are “interpreters” of their own culture and language to English, are a people who have little to no connection to the past that makes them who they are and subscribe to the English power structure.

Though, Macaulay and Raja are at base arguing for the same thing, expanded English language education in India and less Arabic and Sanskrit education, Raja’s reasoning is one that differs from Macaulay in that he recognizes the intellectual value of the English language without thinking to make the Indian people servile to the English. What Raja asks is that the English share with the Indian people what they have discovered in chemistry, natural philosophy, and anatomy among others “to improve it’s inhabitants” not “apprehend” them.

The standardization of language by Johnson was an endevour to make alike the English people. It was a great nationalist acomplishment though the standardization of language mixed with the hunger of the British nation to consume the world and improve it through their eyes created a new type of imperialism that robs a people of their own understanding of themselves to a degree so great that the people of the colonized country cannot find “fruitfull” the learning of their own culture because the power structure established has rendered it so.

(There is issue in the practice of stripping a people of its language and culture and rendering it “unfruitful” that would seem relevant in modern America when we look poorly upon people who do not speak English as a second language well and yet fail to in our schools guarantee preparation that would ensure competitive literacy to those students.)

-Araceli Garcia

Captivity Narrative

Thomas refers to the Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” as a “fanatic’s fantasy of religious superiority and human inequality”. I don’t find myself in disagreement with this statement. Neither do I think that Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative serves to complicate or contradict the history of genocide and intolerance found in the behaviour of English settlers in Eastern North America. Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative while providing readers with an insight into the mentality of settlers and creating a sympathy toward her in her loss of her children, her continued reference to the Indian’s as the Enemy which the English would triumph over makes me want to not believe the notion that this piece of writing served, whether intended or not, as a piece that spoke of anything other than the continued de-humanizing of the Native Americans. Rather this piece is yet another example of the religious superiority and human inequality Thomas refers to.

Mary Rawlanson’s conclusion is not ‘the Indian’s are actually not that bad’ her conclusion is “ I have learned to look beyond present and smaller troubles, and to be quieted under them. As Moses said, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14.13).” In other words, since things worked out for me God certainly must be on the English side of this violence and it is okay for me to idly hold my religious beliefs, in that I will not question the violence of this continued conflict, because anything that happens is God’s will and after all what really dictates what happens in the world is God’s will and not human decision.

Locke describes a state of war as “a man uses or declares his intention to use force against another man, with no-one on earth to whom the other can appeal for relief.” With this definition I would consider Mary Rowlandson in a state of war. Her presence along with the presence of English settlers set of a struggle between the natives whose land they were wanting. This conflict of interest led to the use of force against one another and while we can view Mary as a bystander to conflict in that she is a woman with little power we need still recognize she is continually picking the side she believes God is with throughout the narrative for example when she says “They (Indians) made use of their tyrannical power whilst they had it; but through the Lord’s wonderful mercy, their time was now but short.”.

Araceli Garcia Munoz

Sprat and the Royal Society today

The Royal Society today has as it priorities “promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global cooperation, and education and public engagement”. Promoting science and its benefits is the very thing  Sprat was doing in “The History of the Royal Society of London of Natural Knowledge”. He was writing a persuasive piece, knowing this, I’m inclined to question to what degree he believed his own arguments. Particularly the degree to which he really believed “eloquence ought to be banished”, I think, not so much for the maintenance of peace and good manners, but for the assumption that eloquence “is an open defiance against reason, profession not to hold much correspond with that, but with its slave the passions.” given he’s appealing to people’s ‘passions’ to promote reason.

Science as reason and writing as passion is an idea that remains with us today in that the Royal Society page makes no reference of ‘eloquence’ despite needing a degree of it in defending its legitimacy originally. Language is of little to no importance to The Royal Society today because the supremacist attitude found in Sprat’s piece arguing the “composition of the blood” of the English as superior (among other things) to other people makes them destined to be the group of people who bring knowledge to society, has triumphed.

The English spread their ideas and their customs quite mercilessly in ‘The New World’ as other European countries did in areas of Latin America. Today, English is one of the most widely spoken languages of the world and has become plain in speak. Today, at least in the United States, degrees in science lead to some of the highest earning career paths, reading, particularly fiction, has become secondary in importance to the sciences. People aren’t encouraged to pursue a career in literature. They are, however, more widely encouraged to become a doctor or engineer.

The legacy of the Royal Society is certainly one of great merit though it is worth noting their preference for “the language of artisans countrymen and merchants before the wits of scholars” did not mean the artisans, countrymen and merchants were now moving away from being second class citizens. The wealthy, the white, and the male continued to make these scientific discoveries more than anyone else because they were the only ones allowed in. The Royal Society despite having moved away from the aristocratic customs at the time of their foundation continued to create a new form of power that rather than value the texts of religion valued numbers and hard facts. I would argue this to some degree hasn’t changed, we live in a world where we have become excellent in manipulating nature to the degree of nearly destroying it and negate the great value of literature and the arts which so often are excellent in creating a mind that would consider with more caution the consequences of our continued scientific success. 

  • Araceli Garcia Munoz