Lines From Above the Griffith Observatory

Four long years have passed; the summer never ending
And again I hear the cars zooming
The actors, immigrating from their small towns

All with the same hope- Once again.

I look upon these concrete rivers
So wild and connected they boast

Thoughts of connections and collusion
The landscape molded with our hands
And sky colored by our minds
The day has come when I recall
Here, under this great palm tree

The sprawling urban print

Always in season, you can find it all
Clad in a heavy haze, never to see a fall
I see again the rows of hedges, trimmed in perfect geometry

Fairies take care of them all

Sent up, in silence, among the trees!

Where they dwell, no one knows
Uncertainty is evident, in a sanctuary
We are so connected, I see you in my hands
Neighbors sit alone  


Now, with my attention waning
As I sit here in traffic, in wait
What comes to mind is my beloved city

She thrives and pulses with energy

I recall all about that career

The food drove around with life

The concrete unchanged from our last affair
The gentle brown dust floats above

And kisses us all

From the Valley to Santa Monica
I drove endlessly through the pathways
Over the Great River, her character and resilience so apparent    

Wherever business travels, they will follow

The 405 rumbles with excited and mystery
haunts me to this day

The vibrations of the motors, the plastic bag floating through the air carelessly
And the smell of industry, were then to me

An imperilment, a feeling of love

It oozed with a crowded glamour

Gripping the world’s interest, it’s time surely has not passed

For those dreamers who seek to find meaning
Join the game in all of its magic

For I have learned to look on the concrete

Not in my high school days
At all of the people I could help

Tents and blankets line the way

The beat of the machine, so powerful and mighty

Will have some unfortunate casualties

I have felt a presence that fills me with desire

Of calculated thoughts, a sense of invincibility

Of something deeper in my history

Whose origins are mixed and messy
And the fresh ocean and the heavy air

And the tinted sky, and in the mind of us all

A goal we all desire

All cultured factions, all people of greed
All go through the motions. Therefore am I still

A lover of PCH and Hollywoods
And mountains, all that we infect

From this concrete land, an all powerful world
Of importing, of communicating- both what they half create

And what is celebrated and acclaimed

The anchor or my industrial thoughts, the promoter

The model, the keeper of my wallet, and soul

Of my moral being

 

  
Dear Red Hen,

The choice to name the poem after the Griffith Observatory is very meaningful when you compare it to the work this poem is parodying. This beautiful building is a place of worship for the modern Angeleno, their religion is science. They look up to the heavens and are struck with awe at the ever expanding and powerful universe.This relates to the underlying theme of power in the poem as it is secretly what every citizen is truly after. There is also something very curious about how a godless society treats their environment. The environment cities have today is very manufactured and has little to no nature in it.  If you compare this to Wordsworth’s poem about the natural phenomena he observes one must question how much of that is inspired by the faith demonstrated in that period. The problems that face the environment and society are swept under the rug as charms of the magical town where dreams are made. The fascination with LaLa Land and its objectification as a mecca for industry causes people to fetishize it. Los Angeles is no longer a city it is a flawless destination. In reality there are issues with smog, traffic, and immigration. The concept of sanctuary cities is mentioned and is an incredibly important topic many fortunate individuals can afford to look over. There is also a large homeless problem that has led to the development of shanty towns beyond the infamous Skid Row. The root of these issues is suggested to be people’s overwhelming desire for power and fame. The city is being used to facilitate people’s selfish desires and as a result it is being destroyed. The author of this poem stays true to the conversational tone of Wordsworth’s poem as even uses some of his original lines to display irony. This poem is a critique on the careless mindset of the power hungry Angelenos.

-Maya Gonzales

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An Identity Justified

The harp in Thomas Moore’s poem is a physical object that emobodies the characteristics Irishmen identify with. This object is used in order to make a positive Irish identity real. By likening an Identity to an object which is favorable they can break through the untrue stereotypes forced upon them.

 

 

-Maya Gonzales

La Verne, 2017

Cruise Cruise, slow moving in a white Chevy
Nothing seems that heavy
The defamed chariot explores streets
already known

Look look, smile and wave
Do you know how much money they’ve poured into a grave?
Do you see it there in their eyes?
Or is it too difficult through that assumed guise?

Green green all around
They tell you we are living next to a pound

No No, not here
Citizens of safety begin to fear

help help, we need you brother
Oh I’m sure they will find another

Shots  Shots, did you hear that dear?
Lets go talk about those poor souls
Over a craft beer

La Verne is my hometown. It is very small and it is the type of place where everybody claims to know everybody.  I modeled this poem after Woodsworth’s London 1802. In the poem I purposely begin each stanza with a repeated word. This is purposefully done and diverges from the poem I draw inspiration from.  I did this to mimic the repetitiveness of a small town. Everyday the citizens of La Verne take the same route to the same job. They see the same people at the grocery store on weekends and strike up conversations that never really move anywhere. It is a comfortable place to live. With the last economic recession people in my town and in the surrounding areas were hit in various ways. A town which borders La Verne is called Pomona. This town is now revered as incredibly dangerous and a ghetto. People living in La Verne often look down upon Pomona and the people who live there. This poem tries to shed light on the hypocrisy of being a family friendly town that is not willing to help its struggling neighbors.  The last line draws attention to a new brewery that opened up just on the border of La Verne and Pomona. This brewery is looked at as a hip new place, there aren’t many off brand establishments in La Verne. People who frequent this brewery are pleased with their edgy choice and ingenuity. In reality they are just trying to experience danger without having to suffer any real consequences. This leads to the Pomona identity of struggle less significant. In the poem I try to encourage the reader to evaluate their own experience and challenge the authenticity of it.

Maya Gonzales

The Peaceful Monk

The poem The Nightingale focuses on the idea that nature itself cannot be melancholy, only the human describing it can be. The painting I chose to interpret this poem is The Monk by the Sea. This painting at first seems very melancholy. It’s dark and eerie. There are only shades of black present. Standing, alone, is the Monk. he looks out into a sea or perhaps he is looking beyond the sea into the vast darkness.

At first glance the painting may evoke powerful emotion that will make the observer depressed. Coleridge is trying to argue in his poem that nature is always beautiful and perfect and it is only the man which turns it bad. The poem states:  

“In nature there is nothing melancholy. But some night-wandering man, whose heart was pierc’d With the remembrance of a grievous wrong, Or slow distempter or neglected love, (And so, poor Wretch! Fill’d all things with himself And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale Of his own sorrows)”      

The painting features a lone individual staring into the beyond. We know that person is a monk because of the title of the painting. The title of a monk is very important when analyzing the painting. Monks are held to a high regard because of their intense spiritual practices and love of nature. This monk looks out into the beyond, but not at the turbulent sea. He looks to the sky. We see dark clouds closing in on the sky, but in the middle of it we see light. This gradient is an metaphor for the monks spirituality. There is darkness in him, as there is in all of us, but because of his profession he has the ability to overcome that. This overcoming is represented in the picture as the light. The monk is standing there alone observing this scene which seems melancholy and sees it for what it really is- nature. He appreciates the balance in himself and in nature.   

 

-Maya Gonzales

Headbanging in a Romantic way

Iron Maiden’s ode to The Rime of The Ancient Marinere mirrors the original poem in many ways. There are portions when they directly quote the poem. This direct quoting is sung by an aggressive and passionate  singer accompanied by very skilled musicians who play high tempo and energizing music. There also seems to be an urgency in the way the lead singer orates the tune. Though this song is full of emotion and definitely causes an emotional response from the listener. However, I do not believe the poem did The Ancient Marinere justice.    

The overall tone of The Ancient Marinere was somber and eerie. Iron Maidens portrayal is incredibly harsh and aggressive. With a fast guitar and hammering drums it gives you a feeling that you are in an action movie, not listening to romantic poetry. This may be the band’s interpretation of the tone. I believe it their song leaves room for only one interpretation of the song.The song does not do justice to the poem because there is no room for the listener to interpret their own feelings for the poem. The song is just the feelings and thoughts of the people in the band.

In contrast to Iron Maidens ode to romantic poetry there is Fleetwood Mac’s piece titled Albatross. This was written by Samuel Coleridge and is inspired by The Rime of The Ancient Marinere. This song is biggest selling rock instrumental of all time in the UK. The song has a continuous drum beat throughout the song accompanied by the light tapping of symbols, it’s almost ominous. There is also a very steady but structured guitar solo, the center of the song. In the background there is chimes from a second guitar. It fills you with a somber yet hopeful feeling. There is also no words in this song. I feel this is incredibly important because this song is pure emotion felt from reading the poem. The listener can identify with the emotion but can make their own opinion on what the meaning of the poem is to them.   

-Maya Gonzales

The first cartoon is a critique on the true intentions of the abolitionist. The cartoon depicts the abolitionist as deceptive Quakers wit economic interests in East India Sugar. There is also a Irish man being ignored at the bottom of the cartoon. There is also a depiction of Africa and free Africans dancing. The author is trying to convey to the reader they should be more concerned about the corruption and injustices in their own country before focusing on something they aren’t even getting accurate information. The second cartoon draws on this same principle. I don’t believe that the artist of the cartoon is making an argument for or against slavery but an argument on where the interests of Englishmen should be. Due to all the troubles in England, such as hunger and corruption, the author does not feel like the public should be concerned with slavery. It also continues the narrative of the happy slave by depicting Africans with full bellies and dancing. In both cartoons the Africans don’t appear to have any attachment to slavery.  There are no white men, no shackles, and no sign that they are anything but happy. The artist possibly did this in order to convey that the real slaves are a different group of people.  

Equiano’s narrative, though polarizing at times, embodies what the cartoon says in a way. He states:  “tortures, murder, and every other imaginable barbarity and iniquity are practiced upon the poor slaves with impunity. I hope the slave-trade will be abolished. I pray it may be an event at hand. The great body of manufacturers, uniting in the cause, will considerably facilitate and expedite it; and, as I have already stated, it is most substantially their interest and advantage, and as such the nation’s at large…”. He acknowledges how terrible the slaves were treated but then goes on to say how he thinks slavery will only grow due to its economic benefits. Just like the cartoon, Equiano is in a way accepting slavery because it’s too tempting of an endeavor. Equiano also chooses to add “the nations at large” to his explanation. By doing this he is giving another explanation as to why slavery will not be abolished. There is a whole nation at stake! By using this utilitarian argument to explain slavery we can see why cartoons like the examples given were so focused on the economics of slavery and not the humanity.      

 

 

-Maya Gonzales

 

 

Comedy and Drama

 

They ask no angel’s wings, no seraph’s fire

But think, admitted to their native sky

Their faithful dog shall bear them company

 

In the passage where Sofia uses this quote she is describing how pure and good the people of India are. She comments on how they are raised to be kind and non-violent. She is idolizing them. She describes their tents as “Pythagorean”. By saying this she links their communities with something divine and mysterious. Comparing the native people to the Greeks is a common theme we see in the text. Perhaps to comment on the importance of the Indian culture or how important Indian culture should be to the rest of the world. Sofia claims that the native people are perfectly described in Pope’s quote. Quoting Pope is holds up another theme throughout the book. Gibbes repeatedly quotes English authors. She does this to show that even though her character make an ass out of her main character. Pope was satirical writer, and not exactly the right person someone may choose to describe the purity of people. By using him she is hinting at her own satirical writing. Gibbes intentionally makes Sophia a sexist stereotype of a girl. She is made out to be someone who just throws out names without really thinking. When Sophia uses these authors in the wrong context it could also be a comment on their importance. She is throwing “shade” at them by totally overlooking what the real meanings of their text are. Gibbes makes them look unimportant and forgettable, this is probably how she truly felt.

Next in the passage Sophia states that she must go learn about the culture that is so foreign to her. She does so in a condescending way. Gibbes message here is to comment on how condescending people can be when they quote English literature, even if they do it in the wrong context. Maybe if we take it a step further we can compare this to how arrogant she thinks English people are.

She also inserts Pope into her own satire for the reader to make a comparison. Who is funnier? Gibbes is trying to make a statement. She is saying “you call me one of these ditsy girls, but it looks like I am just as good as you”. She is making people face their stereotypes of women head on.

-Maya Gonzales

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Swift and Free Will

The Houyhnhnms live in a utopia. There is no disease, they live simple lifestyles, and they exist peacefully among themselves. Gulliver is so in awe of this perfect society that he wishes to stay there forever. He is repulsed by the idea of returning to live with European Yahoos. Swift suggests that the harmonious lifestyle of the Houyhnhnms should be adapted by the common man. I disagree with this notion.

Swift uses the Houyhnhnm society as a metaphor for nature. Not only are they horses but they function as a pack without harming their environment. They take what they need and nothing more, much like all species besides humans. There are many lesson to be learned from nature. Nature teaches you about balance and harmony. It teaches you about life and death. One can become a much happier and enlightened individual if they implement the lessons nature gives into their life. Despite all of the good things which come from nature, there are many things which it lacks. For example (and most importantly) love. The Houyhnhnms chose their mate solely on which partner will produce the best offspring. Imagine a world where the only point of intimacy is to produce the best product. No thank you! A society where the choice of something so personal is taken away from the individual is not just. I would want no part of that society. Think of how hard people in America have fought for the right of everyone to love whoever they please in America. Marriage between same sex couples was legalized only a few years ago. The normalization of same sex couples has been met with hate and defiance for decades. In the Houyhnhnm society same sex marriage of marriage would never exist because a man with a man or a woman with a woman cannot produce a baby. This utopian society looks enticing when you read about it. But free will must always be preserved, and this is something utopias do not have.

There is also little to no pain in this society. There is only mention of “accidental bruises and cuts”, “frog of the foot”, and “other maims and hurts”. Despite these very minor ailments there is herbal medicine to cure everything. Generally they all live to be seventy and before they die they “feel a gradual decay, but without pain”. Minimal pain your entire life and when you die you just get tired. Sounds great! Except for one thing: it is impossible to feel intense joy and happiness without feeling intense pain and sadness. Humans are deeply saddened when someone they know dies because they love that person. When humans get sick they think “I will never take for granted my health”. A life without pain and sadness sounds great, but if you live this way you will also live without joy and happiness.

At first glance the Houyhnhnm society looks amazing. Especially since it is compared to the Yahoos which represent all of the terrible characteristics humans have. Swift is clearly trying to communicate to his readers that humans would be much happier if we lived as the Houyhnhnms did. I disagree. Humans are complex creatures who love, make love, cry, laugh, get hurt, hurt others, and anything else you can imagine. To live in a society where there is no free will and no pain would be terrible. Humans are messy, therefore we live in a messy society.

-Maya Gonzales

A Pattern of Genocide

Rowlandson’s narrative brings to light a very important perspective from the eyes of a person who is complacent with genocide. This narrative is filled with justifications for the savage treatment of Native Americans. Genocide is a human error that has been made countless times. We see examples of this all over the world from the Greek, Armenian, and soviet genocide to the Cambodian and Guatemalan genocide. The pattern of behavior which allows for genocide to happen is displayed in Rowlandson’s narrative. It perfectly displays the eight stages of genocide. The first stage is classification, humans are divided into “us” and “them”. In Rowlandson’s narrative we see this….. The second stage is symbolization, when names or other symbols are used to refer to “them”. In Rowlandson’s narrative we see this when she refers to the native people as “……”. The third stage is dehumanization, members are equated to vermin or animals. In this example the native people are referred to as demons. The next stage is organization, plans and armies are assembled. Rowlandson’s husband, although well intentioned, was apart of the organized effort to silence the indigenous people. Polarization is the next step, groups are completely divided. We can see this when……Extermination is the seventh and most heinous step. The full extent of the American genocide is not portrayed in this narrative but as informed readers we know that millions of native people were killed by disease and violence. The eighth step is denial. Rowlandson is in denial when she justifies her capture as a test from god and not a desperate act of war. She chooses to use another reason other than the one which is clearly presented to her because admitting that you are apart of the systematic slaying of people is pretty hard to come to terms with.

 

-Maya Gonzales

Science History

Francis Bacon wrote of a world which was so perfect due to its inhabitants thirst for knowledge. This Utopia he describes would “enlarge the bounds of the human empire”. The Royal Society of today is aims to “recognize, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.” There does seem to be a parallel here between Bacon’s vision of a utopia and the Society. The society states in their Strategic Plan for 2012-2017 “Scientific knowledge is a public good, contributing profoundly to human culture and leading to wide economic and social benefits”. This sounds incredibly similar to Bacon. They see science as a necessity for culture to function. What has changed between now and then would probably be the Society’s wish to reach out to the working class community. In the 17th century the Royal Society was for the elite. If you had money and status you were able to enjoy the benefits of learning and discovering science. The present day Society states in their Education subtitle that “the Society is committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to appreciate the value of and engage with science”

-Maya Gonzales