Garcia’s Travel

Monday, April 8th

I had arrived early this Monday morning to meet with my teaching assistant Zakir to go over the lesson plan for Romanticism. After our meeting, we began walking to our classroom to view our school’s beautiful fountain. It was there that I first heard the ducks. Not that I had not heard them before, but that I really heard them this time. I understood every quack as I understood English and found it very difficult to listen to Zakir. I thought I was going insane and I was quick to dismiss this for my lack of sleep the night before and the accumulation of stress that naturally progresses as the semester drags on. Yet, the situation was much too odd for me to not pursue this further. Zakir brought back my attention to inform me that students were coming and that it was nearly 10:30. I decided to take one last look at the ducks, but they were silent.

 

Wednesday, April 10th

I arrived extra early this morning—alone this time. I sat there bundled up by the small man-built lake at UC Merced, waiting for the ducks to show up. The sun had barely began to rise and I wondered if the students (who were slowly beginning to awake and roam about) would find me strange to be here, but my fascination with the ducks overcame any insecurity about how I might be perceived; no one seemed to notice me anyways. Sure enough, a duck eventually flew down near me and I stared at it until it stared back and quacked. I was astounded. I understood it. It had asked what I was looking at and upon seeing my astonished look, it inquired if I could understand it. I said I could, but it just cocked its head and looked at me. I decided to try a new approach. I quacked back at it with the words I intended in my mind. This seemed to work well enough as the duck responded. My God…I was conversing with a duck!

 

Wednesday, May 1st

I have found this duck’s name to be Quackington. He is the leader duck of all the ducks to come to the Merced area. He had been flying to our school for some time now to find ways to get back at the humans for destroying the natural landscape. The more I spoke with Quackington, the more I sympathized and understood him. He has introduced me to other ducks since my initial contact with him. I have found myself finding more in common with the ducks than I have with other humans. I agree with their free lifestyle and their emphasis on the ecosystem. How I wish I could fly and be free; free of responsibility and materialistic humanity.

 

Wednesday, May 8th

I have had it! Today is the day I become one with the ducks. I have learned their language well enough these past few weeks. I find the ducks completely superior to my human counterparts and completely more intellectual. I feel no remorse leaving behind my human life here in Merced. Farewell Zakir, my students, and my colleagues! I will no longer be called Humberto. I will now and forever be known as Quackson Quackcia! I am off! Here I come Quackington!

—Quackson Quackcia (Formerly Humberto)

 

Wednesday, May 8th

Today was a weird day. My professor stripped off his shirt, shoes, socks, and ran into the water today before class. He was shouting many different quacks and different forms of the word. The whole situation was just so confusing, especially considering how much we like Garcia. The police were called, and he is being carted away now in an ambulance. He keeps shouting, “Long live the ducks! Be free, Quackington! Be free and end this human oppression!” I think Garcia took that Romanticism lecture a little too literally.

—Joseph Rojas

 

 

 

Creative Review

I hope it was apparent that I was making a parody of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Specifically, Gulliver’s fourth travel. Of course, instead of the horse people, I chose our normal, everyday ducks based here at UC Merced. This also works as my love letter to the class, as I use many references to parts of the class that happened. This is much more than me writing my professor’s descent into madness, but rather a simple parody with hints of Romanticism. It isn’t represented too strongly, but the main appeal was for Garcia to really get in touch with his natural side and favor the side of nature against humanity and industry. He sympathizes and relates to nature loving ducks and decides to side with them. The choice to use Garcia as my main character was more of my final love-letter-send-off for the semester. I respect my professor so much, and I appreciate his humor and for allowing me to be myself. This is my weird way of thanking him. He puts up with my antics for a semester, so naturally I write him in my story having a mental breakdown, stripping to his boxers and running into a lake quacking wildly.

I decided to use a journal-entry format for this to give my narrative structure, but to also make it more personalized and stylized. It documents the start of our Romanticism lecture, and leads up to the due date of this creative project. So, perhaps I am prophetic and this does come true. As of writing this post- review of my work, there is still time for Garcia to quack into the morning. Also, pay attention to the use of ducks and quack. No offense to Garcia, but I just thought the word and its absurdity fit the material.

P.S.

I will oddly miss this class. A lot of memorable moments and friendships made here. Thank you.

—Joseph Rojas

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I am Free. No More Blog Posts.

Thomas Moore uses the harp in his poem as a way to extend its significance. He addresses the harp as the symbol of his country in the first line. He finds the harp in darkness, as he describes, which I find as a him using the harp as the pride of the Irish. It is stated that in the history of the harp, “…the skill of the Irish harpers as the sole redeeming characteristic of an otherwise barbaric race” as stated by the Welsh cleric Giraldus Cambrensis. The poem Dear Harp of my Country is a statement of pride for Ireland and the Irish. The harp is considered a source of pride and is a respected aspect of the otherwise demonized Irish. Much more as a source of pride, “…the harp icon became increasingly prominent as a symbol of Ireland under English rule and later as a marker of identity in contemporary Irish politics and culture”. Therefore, the harp is an identifier for the Irish, for those deemed worthy. Moore writes, “If the pulse of the patriot, soldier, or lover,/ Have throbb’d at our lay, ‘tis thy glory alone”. It is perhaps the harp that reigns above the life of all else as the harp, the heart and soul of the Irish, that is most worthy and influential.

—Joseph Rojas

This Poem Makes Sense if you go to UC Merced during the Latter Half of Spring

UC Merced, 2019

By Joseph Rojas

 

I meander at first, then pick up speed

Along the imaginary arrow.

On this journey I walk to take the lead;

I pass others on pathways too narrow.

United as one with our heads that burn,

Out in the open—victim to the flame.

Some may complain at every step or turn,

Others mute, with only themselves to blame.

We claim our brilliance, but yet we toil;

Constantly searching for a better way.

But until then, our heads and blood shall boil

Unless we should lose our courage to stay.

The proxy elite preach the worth of work,

But until this walk fades, our rage will lurk.

 

P.S.

I Like Sonnets.

P.P.S

It did not say toin the directions to mention this, but I read William Blake’s London and this poem was inspired by that. At least I don’t think it did. I didn’t read the directions that well.

Garcia Gave me all the Answers. I did Nothing

Caspar David Friedrich’s painting The Abbey in the Oakwood is ominous, there is death in both nature and humanity, and the architecture looks dilapidated and frightening. The colors are just an awful, depressing shade and the dilapidated structure looks separated from the outside world. I compare this to Wordsworth’s poem The Convict. I read this as Wordsworth being highly against the conventions of prison, as prison is death and destruction of the soul.

The poem does not at all paint prison as a haven. Lines 13 -16 read, “His black matted head on his shoulder I bent, / And deep is the sigh of his breath, / And with stedfast dejection his eyes are intent/ On the fetters that link him to death”. The convict here is trapped as stated by the fetters but is also is next to death. By linked with the chains, the convict is also linked to death. The poem also points out that, “His bones are consumed, and his life-blood is dried” (l. 21). Again, there is reference to death, specifically pointing out that death is inevitable. There is no hint to life after prison or some sort of spiritual rejuvenation or correction for the convict, only death. There is a reference to a better alternative for convicts other than the systematic grouping of a dead-end life sentence. The last two lines read, “My care, if the arm of the mighty were mine, / Would plant thee where yet thou might’st blossom again” (ll. 51-52). According to the footnotes, the “blossoming again” is in reference to sending prisoners away rather than placing them in prison. The poem is explicit about prison being life draining and dead-end, but there seems to be virtue in being sent away to start again. There is no place for the darkness that is prison, but there is greatness to be experienced outside of inevitable death.

This relates to the painting as there is a clear presence of death in the painting. The dark tones in the painting reflect how prison is depicted. The graves and the church that are shown give an understanding of death, but also life after death or away from death that a convict being sent to Australia could possibly experience. The sentence that a person would receive would be a death sentence but having the opportunity to start over is a new beginning.

—Joseph Rojas

Only Garcia Would Tie Together Romanticism and Iron Maiden

To answer the question of how the poem and song are different, well for starters, it is a lot harder to play than it is to read. I can promise you that. The basic palm-muted gallop in the intro is just an open E string with your ring finger on the 9th fret A string and your index finger on the 7th fret D string. That part was not too hard, but then the song got a bit faster. Also, I do not think Samuel Taylor Coleridge nor William Wordsworth intended a face melting guitar solo, though if they did, that is some very good close reading by Iron Maiden.

On a serious note, I would say that this song is rightly called Romantic poetry. One of the key points to Romantic poetry is less of a stress on formality and more on creative expression. In this sense, I would say a 13-minute heavy metal rock song constitutes as being creative. Though I feel that some may argue that this is just an appreciation piece to Coleridge’s poem and that the imitation is not original, I would find that completely incorrect. Iron Maiden takes the poetic form and appropriates it to a musical audience. It still holds true to what Coleridge initially placed within the poem. This song praises the importance of nature and of God’s creation/ creations, it provides an emotional take over what would be deemed logical (i.e. The Mariner’s murdering of the Albatross), the punishment of the curse laid on the Mariner and his dead crew showing the effect of the Mariner’s actions, the original spiritual or inner understanding of the Mariner’s actions, the origin of God’s creations and their duties in life, and of course the strange occult emphasis with curses and the rising of the undead. This of course, as I stated before is all re-worked in a new, heavy metal version with an amazing guitar solo.

There is little restraint placed on creativity. Though Iron Maiden is confined to what was originally written by Coleridge, their rendition with modern instruments more than makes up for the lack of story telling that had to be withheld to the original source material. Further, I would also argue that the music genre is perfect for such a harrowing tale. The sharpness and the rhythm of the electric guitar create an anxious, but excited mood. It spells what tragedy is to come, but also captures the severity of the tone. These are the liberties taken by Iron Maiden that both hold together, but also reinvent Coleridge’s poem. It is upheld by its recreation of the lyrics, the ominous tone, and the creative liberties, but also reinvented with its creative liberties. There is nothing high-brow with heavy metal and Iron Maiden except to fans of heavy metal or bands less than Iron Maiden. Though famous and well-known to their inner circle (and quite possible fans of music), one would not think a band such as Iron Maiden to take on the work of a Romantic poet. This very contrast is what makes this comparison so ridiculous but also what makes it work as a form of romantic poetry.

—Joseph Rojas

We are all Lost

“That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed, / In the Beginning how the Heav’ns and Earth / Rose out of Chaos” (Milton 1. 8-10). What Milton is describing, the shepherd, Moses, teaching the Jewish people the beginnings of their land, their earth because pious Moses has had the life of God breathed into his sight. This is the line, the very text Olaudah Equiano would have read when reading Milton’s Paradise Lost. In his narrative, Equiano quotes Milton on page 84. “Wing’d with red lightning and impetuous rage” (Milton 1.175) is the line Equiano brings attention to. The full scene, which I believe to be relevant to Equiano’s full point reads:

Back to the gates of Heav’n: the sulphurous hail, /

Shot after us in storm, o’erblown has laid /

The fiery surge that from the precipice /

Of Heav’n received us falling; and the thunder, /

Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage, /

Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now /

To bellow through the vast and boundless deep. (Milton 1. 171-177)

From the words of Satan, this is describing his fall from heaven, the attacks from heaven barely missing them; the careless rage of the fiery thunderous hail that was meant for his evil spirt. I found it curious that Equiano would use this line from this scene to describe his circumstance with another boy during a battle against the French. One bullet in particular is “Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage”. But, if you look back previously, before this scene described by Equiano, you would have learned that he is a religious man. On page 74, he states, “…I could not go to heaven unless I was baptized. This made me very uneasy; for I now had some faint idea of a future state”. He expresses a desire to be baptized because the goodness that is heaven is enticing, but also, consequentially, the threat of hell is damning. This is not a baseless desire, as he does believe in the intervention of God. He writes, “…my belief of the interposition of Heaven, and which might not otherwise have found a place here, from their insignificance” (82). This proclamation of divine intervention is substantiated by accounts of moments where he and others miraculously survived deadly incidents unharmed. He ends his thought with, “…and to implant the seeds of piety in me, even one of the meanest of his creatures” (83). This is the line I find most intriguing that relates to Milton’s Paradise Lost, specifically the line Equiano chose. It is in this moment that he also confesses his lack of fear in man, but places all of his fear in God. Therefore, the moment where the bullet comes particularly close to ending his life, he rightfully compares this to the scene in Paradise Lost. Equiano is man, of God’s most evil of creatures. He is not in heaven, neither is Satan. But, just as what happened to Satan according to Milton, a fiery hail misses him, just as what happened to Equiano. A fiery hail also just misses him. To him, this is a sign from God. Satan, being the adversary of God, Equiano, comparing himself to this, being in hell because he is not in heaven.

—Joseph Rojas

Title Doesn’t Matter. Just Read the Post.

In all fairness, I could be wrong in my assessment. In fact, I can almost guarantee I will be because in reading everything that was asked of me, even the primary text twice, I am at a lost for words. I have no idea what I read, I have no idea what I was reading, thus I am very apathetic about Alexander Pope and The Dunciad, Book 4. But, What I do know,  is that Pope was a very small, burdened man who, through what I am sure was an extreme amount of bullying, created a man amused by making fun of his tormentors. In analyzing photo 1, what I immediately gather is a very small Pope (probably to size) is reaching for what I read is assumed to be a prostitute, and the hero of his poem is trying to hold him back, pulling him off while a voyeur watches.  Then of course the poem on the critical political cartoon is mocking the satirist by saying that at least the fictional creation of Pope could save Pope from disease so he could provide the world with his translation of Homer. I ask myself what any of this means or why I should care. Well, I decided to look at this, and again, comparing to photo 1, Pope praising the under-looked genius that he is. From lines 96-100, he writes:

With-hold the pension, and set up the head;
Or vest dull Flatt’ry in the sacred Gown;
Or give from fool to fool the Laurel crown.
And (last and worst) with all the cant of wit,
Without the soul, the Muse’s Hypocrit.

From my understanding, only in death do writers receive the recognition they deserved when they were alive. He then mocks the poet laureate by saying that its passed down from person to person who does not deserve the title. Then he compares the poet laureate to a hypocrite because they do not have a soul, therefore, because he adds the word muse, he is really saying that the poet laureate is hypocritical because they are not actually creative and soulless. In context to the photo, this really does not mean much other than showing that Pope was not liked by his critics and that he was bullied. What I am paying attention to is the poem in response at the bottom. This neglects Pope’s other satirical work and telling him to remain in proper academia by only translating Homer, which is deemed worthy and non-confrontational. Taking the quote from The Dunciad, he not only mocks The Iliad with the title, mocking what is deemed proper literature, but he also straight up states that his work is better and will be admired after his time. For a man bullied throughout his life, he certainly has a proper outlook on the after-life, being unusually hopeful and optimistic. He is certainly right, though, as in 2019, an entire class is focused on his satire, mocking those who mocked him.  Here, Pope is truly the creative being, the person with the lively soul, and perhaps in the only way he could be, is the bigger person.

—Joseph Rojas

When you Pay Attention in Hatton’s Class and then Write a Blog Post that Night

First, thank you Nigel Hatton. As always, whenever I am stumped, all I ever have to do is look at my notes.

It is unlikely that a force much greater than yourself should appear, but in the event that it does, one would like (and hope) that this hypothetical monster is at the very least friendly. But how might a person identify themselves as friendly if there is not an other that exists to reaffirm your own beliefs? Everyone would like to think themselves to be the mighty protagonist, the undeniable hero that ultimately achieves glory, admiration, and a legacy that is favorable. Yet this cannot always be the case. The duality of knowing one another, oneself as the self, and another as the other is none other than a friend versus a stranger. To see this in the context of our class, one must not look any further than our most talked about text in the past two weeks in Rowlandson and the one currently being read, Gulliver’s Travels.

The one coming to a new land and the one who was already there creates a tension like no other. On one hand, someone or some people have made this land their home, their children run there, their friends are next door, and they are immersed in their community. On the other hand, those coming are large in numbers, have modern technology, are powerful, and have their best interests in mind. I look at Gulliver’s Travels as this, two strangers, the Lilliputians and Gulliver, untrusting, unaware of either’s existence until fate would bring the two together. In this case, it is extremely unlikely that Gulliver should find himself at the mercy of those the size of his finger, but equally as strange, the country of Lilliput could have never guessed they would encounter a man of this extreme size. Just like the colonizers to invade this “new world”, those already there had no idea of their existence or intentions. I could imagine how frightening that unknown was, and the questions that followed, but none more basic than where did they come from? On the fictional side of Gulliver, this question is hilariously answered as:

“For as to what we have heard you affirm, that there are other Kingdoms and States in the World, inhabited by human Creatures as large as yourself, our philosophers are in much doubt, and would rather conjecture that you dropped from the Moon, or one of the Stars; because it is certain, that an hundred Mortals of your Bulk would, in a short time, destroy all the fruits and Cattle of his Majesty’s Dominions” (47-48).

I tie this directly to what Rowlandson represented to the Algonquians that captured her. Though, obviously they were aware of the English at this point, it is a justified question to ask how could a group of people go around the world taking what is not theirs, being wasteful, destroying life, and creating a damning self-identity that would be looked upon unfavorably in a time such as ours today? How could we have many colonial powers doing this? This seems much more like a warning than a question as I read the last line of the quote again and again.

Though I do not believe that Gulliver came from outer space, in fact, I know he did not, but the point is clear. The real answer is directly given, but still represents an unknown to the country of Lilliput. They have never seen the lands Gulliver talks about. They probably never will. Now, I cannot relieve tensions of two unknowns, but I can answer how this satirical travel log breaks the barrier of stranger and friend. This actually is not all that strange of an answer because as surprising as it may sound, the very answer is also seen in Rowlandson’s narrative. Though initially strangers, Gulliver is awarded hospitality. They integrate him into their society, offer him their resources, honors, and teach him their culture. This becomes a relationship of commonality and mimesis; Gulliver finding himself one with Lilliput, striving for ubuntu, not vengeance. This, too, is seen in Rowlandson. She too becomes immersed in the Algonquian culture, works for a small wage, and goes as far as smoking with King Philip. Therefore, I argue that this scene and overall, this first stop in Gulliver’s Travels mirrors Rowlandson’s capture narrative and the overarching narrative of colonial England towards the native tribes they displaced. And, at the very least, to my amusement, Gulliver’s Travels makes the situation far more enjoyable and humorous.

—Joseph Michael Rojas

A Letter to Mary Rowlandson 151, or 337 Years Later

Dear Mary Rowlandson,

I ask not that you continue your views perplexed but awaken to a truth that I believe you have seen in person. How different is our skin, our way of life, and our culture that you cannot see the similarities, the love, the assimilation of our way of life into yours? We have our families, our hopes, strife, and are all the same in the eyes of God. You may quote the Bible, and so can I. I ask of you, and I recite, “Let us not love in word but in deed” (1 John 3.18). You have had such atrocity afflict you, and the Native or Savages that I come from, have too dealt with atrocity. So, I ask of you, not forgiveness, and I ask of you to not ask forgiveness either, as too much has been done, but to accept peace. What does it matter what we look like? What our way of life is? We may not ever see eye to eye, or trade the kindest of words, but at the very least, I wish for mutual respect for those alive, those who have already suffered, and for those who will live.

Cordially,

William Apess

—Joseph Rojas

Tension Before, Tension After, Nothing Done

Yes, what happened to Mary Rowlandson was unfortunate. Perhaps that’s an understatement, but that degree of sympathy may vary from person to person. I do not at all believe that there is any contradiction in history with her exchange with the Algonquians, as her interaction is all but a small part in a racially charged, hatred and ignorantly fueled relationship of colonizers and indigenous people. One exchange does not change the actions of many before and after her. That is not even to mention how her initial biases are towards the Algonquians are, as she is quite fearful and hateful towards them. I will admit that she has every right to feel that way towards her kidnappers, especially considering that her child takes the full force of the exchange, the ultimate consequence of death is, or was, his to hold. Now, I cannot say I understand feelings that are in anyway relatable to her, as I am neither a mother, nor, for that matter, a parent at all. But, I can say that I could imagine that were it not for the influence of God in her life, she might not have been so understanding.

Now, there are exchanges of kindness by her captors, and she does not refute this. What is known of her experience as written by her, is that with all things considered, she was treated quite well. Again, I cannot say that this contradicts or complicates anything of the already completed history. Though not the case for everyone, as I fully admit that it is possible that many could have sympathized with King Philip and the other Algonquians, but not enough to stop. Not enough people sympathized. Not enough tried to stop. Not enough tried to right any sort of wrongs of the atrocities committed. Fact of the matter is, what we have here is a white woman, a mother, and most importantly, someone in the public eye, directly in her social sphere, being kidnapped when tensions were very high already. Written history admits what came of the situation, and it is not favorable towards those already here in North America.

—Joseph Rojas