Pip Jenkins: A Reflection of Modern Day Disconnect

As the car drove into the outskirts of the city, Pip saw that many new houses stood in place of where the vast fields once had been. The cars that lined the streets were sleek and shiny, the streets themselves littered with garbage. As they drove deeper into the city and past the buildings, he realized they were taller than he remembered and with different signs attached to them, each flashier than the other. On every corner he saw a shop of sorts, named ‘Starbucks’, and in it were people who looked like they belonged in magazines. He glanced at his reflection in the glass of the car, he looked disheveled, his hair was much too long, and the end of his beard rested on his lap. After twenty minutes more, the kind stranger drove into his neighborhood, which looked almost exactly to how he remembered, but didn’t. The people were also unfamiliar. This street was his, but it wasn’t.

He looked back, in the distance he could see the Sierra Nevada’s, the street was Waterfield, he had stared at the sign as they passed it. This was his street, his house was approaching, but nothing made sense. Pip stood still after exiting the car, this had to be a dream, for he had only left yesterday, yet it seemed like many years had passed. Thanking the kind man for driving him home, he thought back to the pair of women who had shared with him their meal while in the forest. For it must have been magic! No other explanation made sense!

As he stood there, he was surprised his wife did not come out to greet him. Miss Elizabeth Jenkins always greeted him with a kiss and a smile on the doorstep of their home. However, no one exited the home, and as he payed closer attention he realized the fence was not the same. The curtains to the living room which has once been a pale lace, now were a dark slate color. Even their lawn was different, fake it seemed! It was his house but wasn’t.

He attempted to enter the house, but it was locked! Next to the door was a light up button with what seemed to be a camera. He pushed it repeatedly, but no one came to the door. Not his wife, nor his kids or his dog. No one was home, no one was there.

He hurried down the street to his favorite diner on the corner. However, the building that housed the diner was now a gas station! The price advertising the price per gallon at almost four dollars! Great God! On the sidewalk he spotted a newspaper box, he reached it quickly and saw that it cost twenty-five cents per paper! My lord!! Luckily, he carried a spare quarter in his pocket at all times and deposited into the slot. He reached in a pulled out the paper. The headline read “Mueller Report Released: President Trump Not Innocent Nor guilty”, underneath it read “How this will affect next year’s 2020 Presidential Elections”. He must have looked wild standing on the sidewalk with his eyes almost popping out of his head and a sense of devastation setting in. A younger man in athletic wear approached him “you alright man?” He turned to the newspaper in his hands, “Oh yeah, I read about that this morning”, “I was hoping this would be it, Trump has caused enough upheaval in the White House”.

Pip stared down, “but… but… last I recall Bill Clinton was President and he had been Impeached, Donald Trump had illusions of being President, but they were just rumors” The young man stared at him, “Uh… nah man, that was a long time ago, uh I got to go, here’s a dollar” and walked away muttering something about drugs. I sank down to the sidewalk, a plethora of emotions came to surface, but all I could thin was “what happened to my world?”

Review 

In my creative project I focused on Washington Irving’s  “Rip Van Winkle”, the section of the story where he returns and finds everything different. Pip Jenkins is a middle-class man who was living the American dream, a loving wife, two kids, and a perfect city home. Overwhelmed by his routine he takes a day trip to hike in Sequoia National Park, on this hike deep in the forest he encounters two older women, who very kindly invite him to have some of their stew. Next thing he knows he wakes up, to the bright sun, he crawls out of the dense bush, but when he goes to his car he realizes it is gone. He hitchhikes, and the man who picks him up drives him back to Fresno.

The world in the past twenty years has changed so much very rapidly. When Pip left it was 1999, the world’s population was about Six Billion. The world was preparing for the new millennium and mobile phones around the world were opening the world for many people. That year saw their very own presidential scandal with Clinton, and Trump was simply a very rich man with an aspiration to run one day. Fast forward to now, our President is a worldwide and continuous scandal, the planet is dying, and everyone seems to be entranced by social media and technology. Now more than ever, we are wrestling with our identities as “Americans”.  Pip is what one would describe as the “perfect” American, and he has come into a society that seems to have a large disconnect with the word.

Whereas his wife used to greet him at the door warmly, present day he was greeted by a tech forward doorbell. The flowers that once were, had to be replaced by turf because of the drought. A mom and pop diner had been knocked down and replaced by a gas station. Lastly was his encounter with the young man, instead of attempting to listen to Pip, the man walked away condemning him as a drug addict. I made all these changes to emphasize the growing gap we have with others and nature. So much is happening, and although now more than ever we have more lines of communication, that disconnect is larger than ever. Our world is in turmoil, and we much like Pip seem to be sleeping through it, but one day it will hit us all at once.

 

Sabrina Vazquez 

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The Resilient Harp

The poem Harp of India written by Henry Derozio is analogous with the metaphorical death of the works of Indian poets and writers. With British Rule, English works had been canonized and made to seem superior. In the poem, the narrator mourns the forgotten poets and writers who at one time were glorious but have since lost their importance. The Harp is meant to represent all the works which have “withered” and been “unstrung” (1-2). Whereas one day India was alive and thriving with the works of its native writers, now they are no more. Derezio wrote,

Thy music once was sweet — who hears it now?
Why doth the breeze sigh over thee in vain?
Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain;
Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou, (3-6)

Here, the sadness that the British intrusion brought upon India can really be felt. The desolation felt from the literature and poems going unread feels like the death of a piece of their past. “Who hears it now?”, it could be read, but the works were not spoken about. British influence made the literature works of India seem unworthy of being read, let alone be brought up in conversation. That constriction, that idea that English was better, allowed for a stigma to be made against any work not deriving from English roots.

However, the narrator feels hopeful because although he/she mentions the cold hands which here represent all the deceased poets and writers; they can still be brought to life. Poets and writers live on through their works, and although much like the harp the works seem beyond saving, there is always hope. Indian literature and poetry have been pushed aside in favor of British work, but magnificent works can only go ignored for so long. The ‘divinity’ of the poems, books, and literature from native Indian writers will once again regain its former glory and be heard once again.

In this case the harp is also used as a beacon of hope. Regardless of it being pushed aside, stripped and unstrung, its beauty cannot be contained. This harp much like Indian literature and poetry can be devalued in the eyes of society, but its true worth will always be in its resilience.

Sabrina Vazquez

Merced 2019

I wrote my poem in the style of William Blake’s “London”.

I scroll through the headlines each morning

And my chest constricts with empathy

We should all heed the warning

The world is turning to one of apathy

 

Mothers holding their dead children

Countries going weak without water

There are more lives than 327 million

But most only care about a millionaire’s daughter

 

Conversations overheard hold no weight

Destruction and devastation happen everyday

Many it seems, have turned a blind eye to their fate

Soon, the repercussions will be at our doorway

 

The country is built on bureaucracy and hypocrisy

We hear the discontent; yet seem powerless

We have been reduced to Kakistocracy

People cry, people die, the world is not colorless

Sabrina Vazquez

Necessary Darkness

I used Joseph William Turner’s work, Buttermere Lake : A Shower, as a lens for William Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven”. The painting is a very dark work with one single streak or center of light, which could be described as a rainbow. There is what seems to be a man on a boat in a vast lake, seeming to go toward the light. The poem tells of an encounter between what I would believe to be an older man and a young cottage girl. The conversation revolves around the number of siblings the girl has. When she divulges two have passed, the man states that there are only five than and she still adamantly states that in total there are seven. The first stanza of the poem begins quite shakily,

A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels it’s life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

In the painting we get a sense of mystery and trepidation of what is to come. Something very similar can be felt while reading the first stanza. The very first line is incomplete, almost like as if the narrator took a breath between stanzas. Was he convincing himself that the small child was not to be feared, that she was the light within the darkness that is death? I believe so, it almost seemed that the child left him in shock. He also described her as rustic and had very fair eyes. Much like the man in the boat, it almost seems that narrator took a moment to embrace the lightness the little maid had within her.
The poem is set in a graveyard, a place that can generally be considered dark and sad. Turner’s painting is quite dark, although not sad, it feels quite serious. The beacon of light, or rainbow is what seems to give the man in the boat a purpose and or hope; and it gives us the viewers a sense of tranquility.

Wordsworth’s poem is dark and serious, the little girl is physically alone, she has lost two of her siblings. Her mother is not present, she even foreshadows a possibility of her brother John having been murdered. Yet, her presence is light and happy, she seemingly embodies the ray of light that is in Turner’s art work. Although she is light, she has required of that darkness to be who she is, that is why she embraces her siblings and refers to them as being present. The light in Buttermere Lake would not be as beautiful or as valued if it was not surrrounded by the darkness in the painting.

Sabrina Vazquez

The Rime of Romanticism

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” apart from telling a fantastically ghostly tale, is an English ballad. When one thinks of ballads, they think of catchy pop music, but in the realm of poetry is seen more so as a long narrative, or story, told through a poem. Thus, this poem was ready for the, shall we say, ‘musical taking’, or adaptation. The content of the poem really does belong more so in popular culture. One can read the poem and think, it is a long drawn out poem of the Mariners unfortunate voyage. However, if one pays attention to popular culture, this poem has influenced so many works, from Pirates of the Caribbean, to music like, Iron Maiden’s adaptation of the poem. The Mariner is a sad and older man who goes around the world telling his tale, to make it known. Iron Maiden’s adaptation than can be accepted as an extension of the Mariner telling his tale, it exceedingly makes sense in my mind.

As to whether it is romantic literature, I vehemently believe that it is. In “Lyrical Ballads”, William Wordsworth states, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”. Now, it could be argued that under this definition of poetry by the well-known romantic poet, most music could be placed under the genre. Iron Maiden’s adaptation is simply the retelling of the Mariner’s emotional voyage and expressing their own overflow of powerful feelings. Thus, it can be said in conclusion, that Iron Maiden’s retelling of romantic poetry, is an expression of  their emotion, and thus romantic within itself.

Sabrina Vazquez

Holy Home

In “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” the Bible was used frequently by Equiano and besides his religious convictions, it served a much more powerful purpose. While he was in the Ætna, Daniel Queen,

            He taught me to shave and dress hair a little, and also to read in the Bible,                    explaining  many passages to me, which I did not comprehend. I was                              wonderfully surprised to see the  laws and rules of my country written                         almost exactly here; a circumstance which I believe tended to impress our                    manners and customs more deeply on my memory. (Chap. IV)

While I know this is not a direct reference to content within the Bible, the two different times of his life, he bonds through the Bible. This is a huge step within his narrative, and he does so various times, Equiano wanted to depict his life before slavery in terms that everyone would understand. Merely mentioning his past, could have led to misconceptions about how his life in slavery was better off. By recalling his country through the laws and rules of the Bible he is clearly stating that neither his people or him lived without purpose. They (his people) much like slaveholders followed similar life ideals just in different ways.

He also presented this idea after stating the kindness of Queen, trying to make the connection as amicable as possible. Somehow saying that a father figure of sorts, taught him the likeness between his home and the Biblical ideas. Besides that, there are many ways that one could interpret this connection, but I choose to believe that in some way Equiano alluded to his home being holy. While in one place they read holy scripture, at home they lived they practiced it within their laws and rules. Therefore, stating that since he had been ingrained with these ideals before having read them, he himself was able to live a holier life.

-Sabrina Vazquez

Questionable Criticism

Alexander Pope was definitely an interesting character. Thus, I decided to go with Image 1, which is a reflection of the treatment Pope dealt with.  The printed image maliciously depicts Popes physical disability as well as his standing as a civilian. I believe the image was primarily made to discredit Pope’s satire about the institutions rising dullness. Pope was not so subtlety calling out the suppression of the arts, education and the sciences to dullness, and doing so insultingly. At the very end of the poem Pope wrote

Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;

Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!

Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored;

Light dies before thy uncreating word:

Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;

And universal darkness buries all. (The Dunciad)

Once England has been handed over to Dulness, everything lost sense, and the people of the land grew tired, physically. Without stimulation of the arts and different schools of education, the masses have nothing to keep them alert. Pope was certainly extreme in depicting this, but in precarious times, extreme actions are sometimes the wake-up call the people need. The image “The Poetical Tom-Titt perch’d upon the Mount of Love, Being the Representation of a Merry Description in Mr. Cibber’s Letter to Mr. Pope”, was only made to distract the population from the truth of Pope’s satire. The image shows Cibber saving Pope from what is said to be a prostitute, the door is flung open demonstrating the “real” Pope. Pope himself is shown as a very small man clinging to the body of a half nude woman, with a rather small head. This suggests that he was clinging onto a half-truth, the size of the woman’s head could be a statement about the legitimacy of Pope’s argument.

The image began printing the same year the fourth book of The Dunciad was published. While this could have been true, I believe that it was just a mean picture meant to discourage the population from believing Pope, and Pope from continuing his writing. The topic and nature of his words really lit a fire beneath people and the response was a satirical image. So, while images like these are important to contextualize work, one should really take them with a grain of salt. Always learn more about why an image depicts what it does, and the message that it is sending out, because this image was just a direct response of Pope’s satirical work.

– Sabrina Vazquez

Literally Belittled

In part one, “A Voyage to Lilliput” of Gulliver’s Travels written by Jonathan Swift we read about Gulliver’s capture and his experience with the Lilliputians. I specifically found the scene where he discovers he has been captured by these minuscule people. In the scene he wakes up and is unable to move, and soon after discovers that people not even five inches tall are responsible. However, he never seems to really feel in any type of serious danger, mostly because of his sheer size in comparison to the Lilliput peoples’ size. The entire nature of the scene is ironic, although he is much larger than any of the Lilliput‘ she is not able to free himself because of his hair. He becomes their prisoner and even though he is not really trusted, he is treated quite well and grows to have appreciation for his captors.
While reading this it continuously reminded me of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Both the captive and captors eventually built a relationship where they did not completely loathe each other. Swift however satirized this relationship because while Rowlandson verbally belittled the natives, Swift literally made them little. The whites captured always felt superior, metaphorically larger and more capable than the natives and Rowlandson made that obvious in her writing. Gulliver is a very large being compared to the five inch natives and is still captured and kept captive. Swift emphasizes the irony of how white’s always thought they were superior but that did not stop them from being captured nor did it make natives less capable. The air of superiority that they walked around with only worked to prove that natives were much more capable beings than given credit for regardless of how belittled they were. Much like demonstrated in Gulliver’s travels, only with literal size differences.

-Sabrina Vazquez

May I speak to the Mrs. Rowlandson

To Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,

Now I must say, when I came upon your work I prayed that it would be to speak on behalf of them. The disdainful words I found describing them, appalled me. I acknowledge that you suffered from the loss of your child and from seeing much bloodshed, I however do not excuse your ignorance. They took you, yes, but your conditions were no different than those that have been imposed unto them, or are they not? What makes you better than the native women? Your skin color? The absence of color at all? Well let me tell you it does not. I will repeat what I wrote in “An Indian’s Looking Glass for the White Man” if you were disenfranchised from all your rights simply because you were white and for nothing else, how would you like that? I ventured to say that those who claimed the skin color to be such a barrier would be those you would first cry out “Injustice! Awful injustice!”(1081). I strayed not far from the truth, you sat there day after day not crying out against the injustice done to those with red skin, but the moment you were afflicted, the unfairness was intolerable. You Mrs. Rowlandson prayed to God about saving you, but never realized that in your captivity, you found salvation, only to throw it away with every single insult. He tried to save you from yourself, from your ignorance, and from your narrow minded upbringing, but it was all fruitless. God created each and every one as equal, and in his image, so why I’m disrespecting a fellow being, you could not see the assault being done to him, your savior? He created an array of colored people and only one of whites and how disgraceful would it be to have them be disrespected and treated as less, as something as superficial as skin. You ate from their plates, you sat with them, you shared lives with the Indians for 11 weeks and dishonored them with your narrative. But I know that you lied, you enjoyed their presence, you in reality know who they are underneath their skin color. You were able to only write something that was skin-deep and for that the Lord will not reward you, he will treat you accordingly to how you have treated the Indians, and anyone different from you.

Sincerely, William Apess

Sabrina Vazquez

Breaking Unfounded Intolerance

It is difficult to read so many stories and narratives surrounding the native and understand how high the ignorance was. In the beginning of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, the scene she depicts is quite gruesome, but as modern readers it can be understood that the native’s violence was an effect of intolerance. However, in her narrative Rowlandson demonstrates that the ingrained intolerance can be forgotten when interacting with the natives. Cross-cultural exchange has both confirmed and complicated the history of intolerance, and all while depicting the effects of native genocide.

Within her narrative there are passages where Rowlandson demonstrates her ability to show tolerance. This struck me over and over, and I believe this demonstrates how damaging ignorance can be. Most people with open minds can come to comprehend misunderstood groups of people. Of course, taking the time period into consideration, it can be said that going against the grain was much more difficult. This however does not justify the atrocities committed because the natives were unlike them. Rowlandson in her narrative seems to slowly come to the same conclusion; her intolerance was unfounded. She wrote,

Before I knew what affliction meant, I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I              lived in prosperity, having the comforts of the world about me, my relations by me,            my heart cheerful, and taking little care for anything, and yet seeing many, whom I            preferred before myself, under many trials and afflictions, in sickness, weakness,              poverty, losses, crosses, and cares of the world, I should be sometimes jealous least I        should have my portion in this life, and that Scripture would come to my mind,                   “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he                        receiveth” (Hebrews 12.6). But now I see the Lord had His time to scourge and                      chasten me. (Rowlandson, Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary                Rowlandson)

Her narrative undoubtedly confirms intolerance, and complicates it in the sense that her world view shifts in the span of the weeks spent with them. Intolerance is judgement of the unknown or the different and that is clearly demonstrated here. It becomes more than just intolerance when the group subjected to it feel so frustrated that they become something not ingrained into them. They in their frustration and anger retaliated and it is sad because in doing so, they confirm the blanket statements made about them. In the quote above she seems to say that God punished her for her want of affliction, but I believe that she believed more so that he chastened her for her intolerance of a group she did not know. He put her in that situation to rectify her way of thinking and to not blindly believe in the generally popular portrayal of natives. While intolerance was present in her narrative, she also subtlety wrote about how in her captivity she tore down all  the preconceived notions of who the natives were.

-Sabrina Vazquez