Cook’s Journal. First Encounter.

Monday, 12th. Yesterday complaints were made to me by two customers that John and James, employees, had refused service to them because they were speaking Spanish, and they felt uncomfortable. When confronted, John and James were sent home and I had to call in the next shift an hour earlier than planned.

Tuesday, 13th. Small crowds throughout the entire morning, but business picked up around noon. HR paid us a visit for an incident to-day. I told him I will watch his back if he watches mine. I gave him manager’s discount.

Wednesday 14th. Sometime during my lunch, between 2 and 4 o’clock, there was a group of protesters outside the establishment chanting some stuff, I can see the customers inside the store were very upset. The protestors had lined up against the Wall of the establishment, and by that means was Visible from the inside. John, who was in today, said the group had started to lurk around until the group eventually got bigger and they aimed some signs at the establishment. As soon as John send me a text that more vehicles had started arriving and were parking outside, I walked out passed the violently angry mob with a bat and yelled at them to leave or I would break the windshield of their cars. Not that I would do such a savage thing. I had just about had it with these people. All I could think was: they need to leave my country. I don’t care if I am not politically correct. Now, I am not a monster. I wasn’t going to call the police. No, that would only make things worse. I don’t need reporters coming ‘round here and messing things up. But I could if I wanted to, they probably all would have been deported. And a Christian can’t sleep on that. No sir. Plus, if I bring the Law into this, then they might get the ACLU down here causing a Huge mess for my business. I didn’t call the cops, that wouldn’t help me nor them. When I told them my company’s policy gives me the Right to refuse service for anyone I choose, they did not respond very well. I tried spelling it out for them the best I could, but there is only so much I could do. They finally left. I am an American, I have Rights. I was able to start my own business in My country, they should do the same. Or just, go somewhere else. # goddammit.

Thursday, 15th. We have been busy keeping out for more protestors. I asked John and James to text me if anything goes wrong. Next time, I will call the police. I’m starting to gather a group of some other business owners to try and make sure that our Rights remain protected. We are only doing what we think is right. We deserve protection, especially seeing how were confronted yesterday. I have high hopes that things will be looking up my way with My president in charge.

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

In Captain Cook’s Journal, First Voyage Round the World: Chapter 3: Tahiti, Captain James Cook is the narrator. Thus, Cook has the responsibility of reporting his new discoveries; and it sounds impossible to interrogate a primary source. However, Cook’s use of diction and capitalization of certain words reveals racist tendencies that speak to the larger project of colonialism. Cook’s visits to the Polynesian islands has a larger impact that ultimately leaves Polynesian people marginalized and voiceless. But during his visits, which we see accounts of in his journal, Cook is violent and racist towards Polynesian peoples. I wanted to capture that injustice by focusing on a passage from Chapter 3 of his journal. I utilize the same form: I begin each paragraph with the date and I use the same free-write prose that Cook utilizes. I also capitalize some words from the original work, like “Visible” and “[Lurk]” which are used to ultimately put a spotlight on the group being othered (in the case of the parody: Immigrants from Mexico in particular) and dehumanize them by using a word that can easily be associated with animalistic behavior. I also make sure my parody has capitalized words that really shape the tone of the piece: “Visible”, “Law”, and “Rights.” It really feeds to the nationalistic narrative that works to uplift only the White American experience by diminishing the experiences and life of people of color. I make the piece modern by focusing writing about an scenario that is very relevant in today’s society and that my community has to continue to endure.

-Israel Alonso

Advertisements

Merced, 2017

I took “the bus” through chartered street,

Near where Nortb Bear Creek does flow,

And finally arrived at the Merced Swap Meet,

Marks of joy, scents of tacos y churros

 

In every lane, cars parked without man

In every infants cry for toys

In every voice, in every price,

The sounds of community I hear

 

Work in progress. If it is not already clear, I am working with William Blake’s piece.. I will limit my creative writing peace to four stanzas. I will not pay that much attention to the number of syllables in each line, as I feel that doesn’t sound very new-world-ish. In terms of the content, I made sure to include the name of places that are relevant to the City of Merced.

 

-Israel Alonso

Romantic Yellow Nature

Wordworth’s poem “Lines Written in Early Spring” and Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Monk by the Sea”
reveal reactions to the Industrial Revolution by Romantic artists. In both poems, nature is depicted as
unhealthy; and who fault is it? Humans’.
In Friedrich’s painting, the sky above the sea is full of heavy clouds. There seems to be a blue sky in the
work, almost like behind the painting. In a sense, the sky is obscured, the clouds seem mudded and the
sky is unclear. The clouds have a yellow-like tint to them, something doesn’t seem natural about the sky
in the painting.
The blue sky, as we know it, is a result of the sun’s light entering the Earth’s atmosphere and scattering
once that incoming light collides with gases and particles in the air. So, the particles and gases in the sky determine
the sky’s color: dust and pollution particles create more reds and yellows in the sky. Friedrich captures a
traditionally beautiful scene, and depicts it by adding a yellow that shows the toxic pollution particles of
the Industrial Revolution. Instead of feeling calm and escaping into a scene away from the real world,
Friedrich creates a painting that doesn’t invite anyone to escape to. Instead, I think he poses an
interesting question: Why should we need to use a painting to escape the real world and go somewhere
else for a few minutes, when we can just go outside and commit to appreciating and protecting our own
environment.
Similarly, the speaker in Wordworth’s poem is in a state of reflection. The speaker knows exactly what
spring should look and sound like, but it just isn’t. The third verse really highlights the state in which
nature finds itself after the Industrial Revolution; there is diction that suggest unhealthiness in nature.
Wordsworth provides a very insightful line loaded with dark imagery carried through diction, “The
periwinkle trail’d its wreaths;/and ’tis my faith that every flower/Enjoys the air it breaths.” The
periwinkle is a wild-like yellow flower that blooms in early spring. It’s a naturally beautiful flower, but
when accompanied with “…trail’d its wreaths”, there is a funeral and death-like imagery here with the
word “wreaths” as well as a the gasp for air that the word “breaths” requests. We can see again, that like
Friedrich’s attempt to appreciate the environment, Wordsworth creates a sense of immediacy in his
poem that really yells: Nature is dying! Do something about it!
I think that the yellowness in both these works, along with a more realistic representation of the current
state of the environment really interrogates their audience and there is a “heightened examination of
human personality and its moods and mental potentialities” as described in the Lecture Note 8. I think
what both works accomplish is really reminding the audience of how much individual potential everyone
has. Wordsworth gets at this interrogation with repeating the phrase, “What man has made of man.” He
ends the poem with the same phrase, phrased as a question: “What man has made of man?” The
responsibility is on the reader now. They have the power and potential to change the world!
But I am curious who Romantics have in mind when they broaden their work up to encompass “human
personality.” Is it truly “human personality”; is it every human? Or is it just who they deemed human?

-Israel Alonso

Romantic Heavy Metal

The Ancient Mariner is not a piece of work talking to another piece of work. It’s a poet talking to it’s readers, anyone reading it. The goal is no longer to impress anybody or produce a “good” poem. Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a common man that writes about what he wants to write and focuses on the inner struggles of the Mariner in his story. At the end of the first section we see the Mariner recall his inner struggles: “’God save thee, ancient Mariner!/From the fiends that plague thee thus-Why look’st thou so?’- with my cross bow/I shot the Albatross”(263). I would describe the poetic tone as both reminiscing and self-focused. It’s the Mariner’s story and even the wedding guest who didn’t want to hear him now is so invested in this common man’s story.

Similarly, Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” ascribes to the same requirements for romantic poetry: it is self-reflective. At minute 2:26, the band makes the song about them. Their song is a self-reflection about them. It’s more than just retelling a tale written by Coleridge, it’s a telling that revels the inner struggles of the band members. The lyrics read, “And the thirst goes on and on for them and me.” The band refer to the ancient Mariner, it’s not a song where the ancient Mariner is narrating. So, the “me” is self-focusing in this song, like it is in the poem.

While the song seems like an adaption of the poem written many years ago, it is a completely new piece of literature. But, instead of referencing the ancient Mariner, Iron Maiden tells the story of the ancient Mariner. It was very romantic of Iron Maiden to give a wider range of people access to this tale by retelling it and making it available to more common people that might not have read it in an English 102 course at a University of California.

-Israel Alonso

 

 

Read This Post About Evil Equiano

Yes, this book “was reprinted and widely read well into the nineteenth century.” But who was reading it? Olaudah Equiano even claimed that he doesn’t expect “immortality or literary reputation”, only the satisfaction to of his “numerous friends” (43). But, which friends?

The narrative is written for the English slave owner. In a narrative that describes the individual struggles of an African Slave man, it upsets me to say, he actually put up a barrier for other narratives to be heard. This narrative, while it speaks on the experiences of one African slave, decentralizes the conversation of African slavery. It does so by not welcoming new narratives. In the opening letter, Olaudah Equiano doesn’t only discredit himself by apologizing for his lack of literary merit, but he also discredits the “unlettered African” (41). Instead of “becoming an instrument towards the relief of his suffering countrymen” (41), it appears he is upholding white supremacy. Because his narrative, along with his clothing in the front cover, is heavily informed by English culture, Christianity, and economic interests.

The Robert Cruikshank’s cartoon also blurs the individual struggles of African slaves. In both pictures, African slaves are given very little space on the picture. However, it puts the white people in the foreground. I think every attempt to branch away from slavery and start talking about something else is a waste of time. Of course, when the goal is to talk about slavery. In response to the question “Are they anti-slavery or pro-slavery?” In this particular instance, by not talking about slavery, both cartoons are pro-slavery.

What about Equiano? I think Olaudah Equiano does a good job making the white reader pick up his narrative and actually finish it in it’s entirety. But his work refutes the cartoon. While his narrative focuses on Englishness and whiteness, the impact might have been different in the long run. In the end, the English slave owner who put the book down had a different idea of slavery, himself, and the people working for him for free against their will. They were moved, granted, in a different way that we were moved in.

But should we forgive Olaudah Equiano for discrediting African writers? Or can we say that his work began to move people to be more compassionate than yesterday?

-Israel Alonso

Only English Women

 

Letter IX has a reference to George Lyttelton quote, “Seek to be good, but aim not to be great; A woman’s noblest station is retreat; Her fairest virtues fly from public sight: Domestic worth – that shuns too strong a light.”

George’s quote meant, by itself, that women should not aim “to be great.” That is the aim of men. His quote serves a different function on its own. The quote is a literary tool to oppress women, especially women who are trying “to be great” by doing anything that went against the dominant social definition of a women. A definition that was shaped, confined, and decided by men; men like George.

In “Hartly House”, however, the quote has a different function. As she describes the different buildings in the town, Phebe Gibbes utilizes the reference to challenge the ideology that deems men as superior. In her description of “The Writer’s Buildings” Phebe Gibbes also says, “This…is the nursery of all the great men; for; from being writers they are advanced…to the highest civil offices…” But, Phebe Gibbes is doing exactly what George says women shouldn’t be doing. Phebe Gibbes is a writer!

Right before she quotes George, Phebe Gibbes acknowledges, “ we are taught to believe, that a woman’s noblest station is retreat…” By using “we”, the character Sophia empathizes with her friend Arabella, in England. But if we zoom out, it is really Phebe Gibbes acknowledging a larger systemic issue, and is therefore empathizing with all English women and also serving as a symbol of resistance an resilience. Because an English women, Phebe Gibbes is ABLE to be a writer “smart enough” to use the master narrative against the masters, men.

But of course, while this narrative does uplift the voices of ENGLISH women. It oppresses women of color. This is a well-too-often issue that we still see happening in social justice movements today. I think this piece of literature offers an opportunity for us to find reasoning behind intersectional advocacy.

 

  • Israel Alonso

Whitewashing Learning

By 1835, when Macaulay’s Minute was sent to the English Parliament, the English vernacular carried with it science as well as the bible. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary helped accomplish this. It was a huge literary accomplishment: Language became a science. Just in time to save it from The Royal Society.

In English, the English found their science and their religion. But once Indian literature began to be interpreted and shared with Europe by orientalists, it posed a challenge to the English language, and the Status of English. Instead of learning and sharing knowledge with India, Macaulay advocates for a educational system that produces “-a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” (34).

The Status of the English improves, because of the production of ideologies that place the English in a dominant social category. How can Mecaulay suggest this, he doesn’t even know what he is talking about: ” I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic” (10). It is a good bureaucratic move that uplifts English voices, but feeds to the cycle of white supremacy. “Indian in blood and colour.” So basically the color of their skin and their culture is reduced so low and unmoral. It’s disgusting, and  I think it feeds to the contemporary idea of “professionalism” in this country today, a world that kneels to lighter complexion and steps on anything different.

  • Israel Alonso

 

Humanizing Not Dehumanizing

 

I think Swift suggests that human kind is very distant from the Houyhnhms. The distance Swift creates works interestingly in Chapter 4 of section 4, as Gulliver describes the difference between how Houyhnhnms are treated in their land and how horses are treated in Gulliever’s place. The distance created between the two contrasting treatments brings light to the fact that humans, and their ability to think differently, justifies the way they treat horses. When they ask Gulliver about how they treat horses in his place, there is a lot of focus on money and sort of the usefulness of horses. But, when Gulliver sits and talks about how his people treat horses, and when it is contrasted with the way Houyhnhnms live, it becomes almost funny to think how crazy and unfair it is. I think Swift takes an interesting approach: instead of dehumanizing a race or group of people, he humanizes living things that are not humans, which is another way he challenges the traditional captivity narrative.

  • Israel Alonso

History?

Rowlandson’s life story confirms the history of intolerance and genocide central to the colonization of Eastern North America by the English. Her narrative sustains the long history of hyper-nationalistic common core in the United States. History that is also rooted in white supremacy that sheds light only on one side of the story, the white-washed side. But it even goes further than white washing history in k-12 education.

Children in public school systems are frowned upon for not having English be their native language. If it was not bad enough that other students bully English language learners, educational institutions contribute to the dehumanizing culture at the school by pulling students out of classrooms to practice their accents and making them take extra exams in order to relieve themselves from the ELL label. Talk about colonization of a continent? How about colonization of children of color in American schools that force students to internalize Eurocentric values that previously mascaraed their ancestors.

Rowlandson’s account is just one of the building blocks. It’s just another American textbook in an American educational institution.

But I must add that there is a sense of resiliency after reading Rowlandson’s account. Right? Because we are a product of neocolonialism, but we continue to engage with (and change the meaning of) texts that helped mold institutional oppression.

-Israel Alonso

Science in Policy Making

Francis Bacon, Thomas Sprat, and Sir Isaac Newton are three of the most influential people that helped mold the Royal Society into what it is today. The Royal Society, on their History website, demonstrates how indebted they are for Newton’s work without failing to credit themselves. They eulogize Newton and their history by including his name in the list of things they have published, “We published Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica.”

Of course, things have changed. One major difference is the role they play in policy making and society. Policy makers, though choose what science they want to use and not, do use scientific findings to pass laws that will “benefit” society. Another difference worth mentioning is the amount of funding the scientific enterprise receives. Before, Charles II might have been the largest contributor, today, I think they have much more financial support from private donations.

-Israel Alonso