Vip Wan Rinkle and the New Generation



Vip Wan Rinkle was a hasty young man, always in a hurry to see the world’s newest advancements as shown on those hip movies like Back to the Future II with hover boards and flying cars and all. Oh how rad that would be! Yet here he was, trapped in lame old 1999, where wheels were still a thing. His mom would always nag at him to appreciate the present because it was a gift and all that junk. He just knew that there was a whole new world of innovation waiting for him in 20 years, so why should he have to wait for it? He imagined the possibilities: artificial intelligence roaming the streets, holographic phones, and overall a world with little to no problems to worry about. With a newfound stroke of inspiration, he hollered at his loyal canine companion Doug to be his Doc to his Marty McFly and help him create a time machine to 2019. The details of this massive undertaking are far too complex for this story, but it was finished in one afternoon sitting if you can believe it. With the press of a button, Vip could finally ditch his preachy mom and live his own life in the future. As he passed through the time gate, he found himself in another body, one much like his own, but larger and hairier. It had seemed that time caught up to him as well. Doug had grown so old he could no longer move his paws,  leaving Vip no choice but to roll down a window and leave him in the car. As he entered his hometown of Fresno, he noticed it was not the metropolis he had envisioned and that it was mostly unchanged, save for a few buildings. The town seemed unaltered, maybe slightly larger and more populous. There were rows of houses he had known for his whole life lined up in his neighborhood with the same boring paint-job. That made it easy to find his house, where he expected to hear the shrill voice of his mother. And she did, unsurprisingly. “I can’t believe you ran away into the future so you could avoid paying my healthcare when I got older!” she nagged. “Not like I expected you to get a steady job anyways in this economy.” “What do you mean ma?” Vin asked confusedly. “Wasn’t the future supposed to fix everything? There was gonna be flying cars and hover boards!” “Oh you still won’t let that go you dolt? The future’s not always going to be about new fangled gadgets, spectacle, aesthetics and what have you– though it does scare me how much my phone can gobble as much as a turkey now. A lot more has changed in this nation’s soul than its shell.” After catching up with the media later that night, Vip understood what his mother meant, and how much work was left for this world that couldn’t be solved with a simple wheel removal. For now, his future fantasy would have to wait.



This piece is an imitation and a parody of Washington Irving’s short story “Rip Van Winkle” in which a man finds himself lost in time when he wakes up 20 years later in an entirely different America from the one he knew. In that story, Rip was genuinely shocked at the changed world around him, as the people and policies he once knew were entirely different. This imitation goes in a different direction by focusing on the fantastical and ideal nature of the future that people dreamed of by watching movies and media such as Back to the Future II, and demonstrates humanity’s constant hope of the future when things don’t go their way in real life. Just like any average 90’s kid, Vip thought that going into the future and skipping 20 years of his life would lead him to a world where technology was so advanced, there would be no worries in the world. Instead, he finds an America that is largely the same aesthetically and whose major developments have actually occurred within his country’s soul and ideals. While 90’s kids might not be impressed to hear that Marty McFly’s automatic drying jackets and playing cars do not exist in 2015, or even 2019, they might find it more interesting how far representation has come for minority groups in the media, how the internet has made it possible to have open conversations about the world, or how LGBTQ couples have generally become more accepted in society. The future has not completely fixed any of these issues, but it is clear people have made great strides in creating the America they want to see. Overall, “Vip Wan Rinkle and the New Generation” shows that while society may be evolving at a slower pace that most prefer, it is changing every day, and everyone has their own part in shaping the definition of what it means to be an American.

–By Jose Ramirez

Forgotten Strings: A Close Reading of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’s “The Harp of India”


(This is more a lyre than a harp though…)

From its inception as “the epitome of Gaelic aristocratic culture” to its eventual inseparable ties to Irish culture as a “quintessential musical, visual, and metaphoric representation of Ireland and the Irish people,” the harp only flourished as much as it did “due to the ingenuity and versatility of Irish harpers to adapt constantly to social and cultural changes” (Harp Spectrum). Without its dedicated following, the harp fell into obscurity and struggled to persist in the musical realm. In his poem “The Harp of India,” Henry Derozio conveys the stringed instrument’s difficult task to remain relevant thought history.

The beginning of the poem sets up the harp’s drab and dilapidated status as a forgotten artifact as it “hang’st…lonely on yon withered bough…unstrung for ever, must thou there remain.” Being an older instrument, there no longer remains anyone willing to pick up and play it as it is seemingly now used as a dusted decoration on a damaged wall. With its main instrumentalists no longer around the modern world, it remains “neglected, mute, and desolate,” utterly stripped of its sole purpose to produce sound despite its past prevalence as a nationalistic icon for the Irish.

Yet not all hope is gone for a chance of the instruments revival, as the speaker acknowledges “thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave, And many a wreath for them did Fame entwine,” alluding to the harp’s incredible potential to produce unrivaled “sweet” music and cementing its place in the musical realm. Ultimately the speaker believes, just as the harp’s devoted followers before, “if thy notes divine may be by mortal wakened once again” as the “harp of my country,” indicating the harp’s influential power to expand outside the mere realm of music as a national symbol once more as it was for the Irish. While its strings produce moving melodies, Derozio’s poem shows the harp’s importance as not only an instrument that has brings the musical community together, but an inspiring symbol that binds entire nations together with its crucial cultural significance.

You earn a spot in history harp.

–Jose Ramirez

Source: (Harp Spectrum Site: )





Merced 2019

This is an imitation and modern adaptation of William Blake’s “London”:
I wander thro’ each smoggy road,
Near where the specks of dust do flock.
And mark in every bag I load
Marks of aches, marks of pocks.
In every car of every lane,
In every driver’s cry of stress,
In every mind: in every pain,
The overwhelmed schedules, I digress.
How the workaholics yelp,
Every morning appalls,
And the hapless slaves receive no help
Feeling trapped within occupational walls
But most thro’ morning streets I see
How the youthful students also tire,
Blasting through each day, each tree
Also blight with plagues just as each new hire.
–Jose Ramirez

An Isolated Ocean


In the poem “The Mad Mother,” an isolated and deranged woman speaks to her newborn child after being abandoned by a “poor…wretched made” man “that’s gone and far away”(117). Caspar David Friedrich’s painting “The Monk by the Sea” depicts this premise well as the single figure amidst a vast ocean captures the essence of the woman’s newfound loneliness having traveled “far over the main” herself after separating with the baby’s father (114). Yet the painting’s darker color palette, such as the blackened sea and cloudy sky, conveys uneasiness and discomfort, just like the woman’s morbid demands for her baby to “suck, little babe, oh suck again” and cool her blood and brain, as if the baby serves to pleasure her and satiate her sexual desires since her husband left her and “cares not for my breast” (115;116). Though their new lives together have limitless potential as the open sea depicts, until the waters clear up, their relationship will always be one reminiscent of hatred and manipulation of the past instead of one that moves on in search for a hopeful future, as they only have each other to face “the sea-rock’s edge” and “leaping torrents when they howl” (116). The woman is merely one of many tormented and deserted mothers left with the untimely burden of raising a child on her own, a burden that can feel like an empty, directionless ocean.


–Jose Ramirez

Bellowing Ballads


In their song, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the rock band Iron Maiden sings passionately of a mythical tale with albatrosses, curses, and sea travel, all otherworldly elements that lend itself perfectly to romantic literature. “The Mariner tells his tale” like a piece of folklore passed down to each generation and even alludes to spiritual powers that exist beyond reality when “Death and she Life in Death… throw their dice for the crew.” Beyond these observations, the song’s rock genre greatly increases its romanticism due to its reputation of appealing to the common folk in middle and lower classes, just as romantic literature and poetry aims to depict the “low and rustic life” that possesses “the essential passions of the heart” (Woodsworth 174). The lyrics themselves tell the events in chronological order and are simple for anyone to follow along without needing to over-analyze to find a deeper meaning, such as when:

“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”

Furthermore, the band’s passionate delivering of the song through intense wails and high pitched screams, as rock songs usually consist of, allow the audience and the band to connect with the song through “general exaltation of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect” that other art forms do not allow (Lecture Note 8). While there are basic melodies and rhythms to follow, rock allows for more expressed freedom than most other musical genres as singers can change their vibrato on a whim and accompanying instrumentalists can execute a solo however they want. This pure form of human expression along with with its fantastical elements demonstrates romanticism’s appeal and its far reaching influence through many art forms long after history’s initial romantic turn and may indicate its continued dominance within human culture.


–Jose Ramirez

Everyone’s Literature

Throughout his autobiography The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano constantly uses quotes or references other popular literary works to describe his current situation. In one such instance, Equiano quote’s Homer from the famous epic poem The Illiad as he and his ship crew prepare to fight as they set sail after dark by exclaiming:

“Oh Jove! O father! if it be thy will

That we must perish, we thy will obey,

But let us perish by the light of day” (78).

This small nod to the famous story about the Trojan War does an appropriate job of setting up the scene, as in similar fashion, his own ship is about to head straight into unknown circumstances before “the light of day,” and as such, he knows they must be thoroughly prepared to accept defeat and death if need be.

More importantly, however, is Equiano’s fascination for using such profound works of literature in his own autobiography and adventures, as choosing to exclude them would do little to change the meaning of his experiences. It seems his decision to refer to established writers and stories shows the importance of literature as a whole not only within this time period, but also to Equiano himself, and serves as means to prove his intelligence to his audience. As a Black slave in the 18th century, Equiano wants nothing more than to be apart of English society and desires “to resemble them; to imbibe their spirit and imitate their manners” (74). By using the exact words of the very people he aspires to be, he attempts to convince his audience he is no different than everyone else. With each author he cites, he not only increases his credibility, but also demonstrates the potential people have despite coming from such a harsh background. Equiano shows that literature belongs not just to the high-class and high-profile English society, but to everyone from any background.

–Jose Ramirez

Cimmerian Gloom

Pope visual satire

(Image #1: The Brothel Incident)

Despite his struggles growing up alienated by society due to his religious faith and fighting against his disabilities and illness, Alexander Pope managed to break through the realm of English Literature against all odds with his skills and poetic finesse. Unfortunately, his mass attention also drew in several critics and harassers who wanted nothing more than to ridicule Pope and tear down the success he worked so hard to build for himself. As a result, several examples of shameless bullying arose in the form of various drawings that teased Pope for his various features, such as his short size. One such image depicts Colley Cibber, a renowned English writer during Pope’s time, pulling a dwarf-sized Pope off a naked woman’s body as the seventh Earl of Warrick looks on this scandalous activity. No doubt this rumored event brought much shame and further harassment towards Pope’s established image, yet Pope would soon have his chance to return the gesture to his rival in his satirical piece The Dunciad.

Within his own epic poem in which society values sloppy writing and techniques over skillful ones, Pope, in he revised version of Book 4, places Colley Cibber himself as “the king of Dunces,” going so far as to tease his “Cibberian forehead” and “Cimmerian gloom” as Cibber once teased Pope over his own proportions and character:

“But she, good Goddess, sent to ev’ry child
Firm Impudence, or Stupefaction mild;
And strait succeeded, leaving shame no room,
Cibberian forehead, or Cimmerian gloom” (ll. 529;532)

Connecting Pope’s revenge for Cibber’s crude bullying shows how far Pope delved into his epic in order to retaliate at everyone who tried to put him down when he was at his most vulnerable state. Given the content contained within The Dunciad, Pope seemed determined to right all of the wrongs he had received throughout his career and use his developed satirical style to properly evaluate and criticize those who deserve it instead of the shameful bullying he endured.


–Jose Ramirez


Dear Mrs. Rowlandson

Dear Mrs. Rowlandson,

It would seem that among the entirety of your people you were given the chance to experience the culture of your prey, that is to say, the courageous Indians your people so maliciously demoralized and demolished throughout your countless self-centered conquests. You had a chance to learn the error of your ways and shed new light on the wholesome lives of those scarred by years of unnecessary and excessive torment: Their unyielding compassion and hospitality towards you in your darkest hours, their unwavering tenacity against all odds. Yet here I lie with my mouth agape in disgust of your ignorance that harbored not a journey of trials and tribulations, but a wasted opportunity through your sheer lack of growth and willingness to understand a society foreign to your own. Instead of paving the way for a new future without the need for prejudice thoughts, you mercilessly overshadow every and any instance of the Indian’s humanity through savage language, constantly referring to them as beasts and animals that stoop below you. In turn, you cannot fathom to think of anything but your own well-being and faith as your transform your narrative as a story to serve nothing more than to add to you and your people’s inflated pride. Yet despite all of this, I would still like to thank you for your contribution to history, as your piece provides undeniable proof of my assertions that you and your people were indeed “the most mean, abject, miserable race of beings in the world”.
William Apess
–(Written by Jose Ramirez)

Through the Lens of a Heartless Puritan


Within Mary Rowlandson’s captive narrative and John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill”, it is clear that there was no room for acceptance for indigenous people within the egotistical Puritain society. Through Rowlandson’s retelling of her traumatic experiences, this notion becomes clearer as readers are able to experience the cold and selfish mindset of prejudiced Puritan’s as herself through her own voice, such as when she “chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous beasts” (1). As horrid as her situation was, witnessing many if her loved ones die before her eyes, it is telling that her prejudiced nature was still able to overtake her emotions in this moment of despair as she never fails to to refer to the Algonquian people as animals, knowing full well their shared history with her people. Furthermore, she demonstrates the Puritan’s strong religious beliefs that, in their mind, justify their animalstic outlook on indigenous people as she note the “solemn sight to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here, and some there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves, all of them stripped naked by a company of hell-hounds, roaring, singing, ranting, and insulting, as if they would have torn our very hearts out; yet the Lord by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death, for there were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive”(1). Despite belonging to a society that committed countless sins to drove out thousands of innocent people out of their homeland for their own selfish reasons, Rowlandson still believes her people as God’s the chosen ones with a plan they will blindly follow until death.

It is ironic that Rowlandson would associate the Algonquian people as animals while trying to paint her people as devoted religious victims in her capturing when her people behaved savagely when colonizing. In Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” he describes the gruesome acts of “(Native) Infants… torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone”. These acts only demonstrate the pure evil that resided in colonists hearts as they shamelessly tore apart every aspect of native’s lives with no reason other than to cause agony.

In an attempt to convey a sympathetic tale about facing trials and tribulations through the devotion to God, Rowlandson only proves that her and her people’s horrible prejudice against indigenous people created a wretched blotch of history that too many had to needlessly suffer.

–Jose Ramirez

Maintaining Pride


In his play The Indian Emperor, John Dryden sets out to create a piece of imperialist propaganda elevated through the structure of the heroic drama that explores themes of honor versus love merely to capture the audience’s attention and romanticize brutal concepts like war. As such, Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortez and his love interest Cydaria, daughter of the Emperor of Mexico Montezuma, never had a chance to truly be together as it risked detracting the play from its true purpose and damaging the brutal conquest’s idealistic image. First and foremost, the play serves to embody the ideals of Spainiards at the time, represented through Cortez, the supposed hero of the story that will eventually bathe in the glory for creating an empire before it became an empire. The love he holds for Cydaria only serves to add to Cortez’s all-powerful demeanor that goes hand in hand with a heroic drama. Along with his undying devotion to his nation by staying loyal to his king, Cortez’s love for Cydaria propels his status , and that of the Spanish, even more, as is the intention with a propaganda piece such as this one.


Another reason Cortez and Cydaria’s love remained unresolved by the end of the play was because it would destroy the proud and strong image of Spain it is trying to uphold and elevate. When it comes to National Propganda, one of the main focuses is to convince anyone who consumes it that the nation being represented is the greatest of them all and whose accomplishments were possible through sheer will power, not through alliances. Having Cortez and Cydaria accept one another would severely diminish the propaganda’s effect along with Cortez’s loyalty to his own nation. Overall, Dryden decides to forgo a fairy tail ending in the end in favor of maintaining nationalistic pride.


–Jose Ramirez