Robert Van Winkle (Vanilla Ice)

There was a crowd of people nearby, but none Robert Van Winkle could remember. Rob was confused by the clothing they were wearing: no longer with the buttonless jackets and parachute pants, instead there were hoodies with different logos on them and jeans. He was a man on a mission to find his old colleague MC Hammer, with his reading glasses, signature hammer pants, and unique dance moves, dancing away from haters by not allowing them to touch him; or Marky Mark, the leader of the Funky Bunch, looking at newspapers with openings for extras in movies. In front of Rob was a skinny male, shouting about conscious hip-hop—rappers that speak about social issues—Trump’s presidency—Kendrick Lamar’s new album had everybody shook—and other terms sounded like gibberish to the baffled Van Winkle.

The appearance of Rob with his sunglasses, high-top fade, his buttonless jacket, and parachute pants, the group of people surrounded him. The crowd was eyeing him from head to toe with such intensity. The bartender pulls him to the side and asks him “are you one of those nostalgia freaks?” Rob stared at him blankly, dazed and confused. Another man pulled him by the arm and whispered into his ear, “are you one of those mumble rappers or conscious rappers?” Rob was even more confused by this inquiry; suddenly, a shift in atmosphere when a man arrives. He wore a black beanie and made his way towards Rob by pushing people aside. He finally made his way to Rob, with one arm holding a cell phone, the other holding a Starbucks coffee, his discerning eyes stared into Rob’s soul. He questioned him in a very monotone voice, “what brought you here with a mob swarming around you? Are you trying to start something?” “I’ve had enough!” cried Rob, horrified by the reaction of the people, “I’m a rapper from Florida, a hip-hop/metal enthusiast, and a loyal fan of Rage Against the Machine, God bless them!”

Suddenly, a chant emerges from the crowd—“A phony! A phony! A culture vulture! A metalhead! Get him outta here!” The man that was in front of Rob demanded an answer for why he came here and whom he was seeking. Rob assured that he meant no harm and just wanted answers; explaining that he came here to search for his old colleagues.

“Well—who are you looking for? Name them.”

Rob thought to himself and asked, “where is MCA?”

The crowd was silenced after the question. The man replied, “Adam Yauch? MCA from the Beastie Boys has passed away from cancer. There is a park dedicated to him in New York. “

“What about MC Hammer?”

“Oh he went off to release more music but they turned out to be terrible; some say his music career is dead—others say he’s making a comeback in movies. I don’t know—but he has never made another #1 hit ever since.”

“What about Marky Mark?”

“He went off to an audition for ‘The Basketball Diaries’, he turned out to be a very good actor, and now lives in Hollywood.”

For Context here are the characters:

Robert Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice – Before & After

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MC Hammer – Before & After

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Marky Mark (and the Funky Bunch) aka Mark Wahlberg – Before & After

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Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beastie Boys – Before & After (RIP)

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  • Christopher Luong

 

Dear readers,

My parody is based on Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, a short story about a man sleeping through the American Revolutionary War. I used this story because Robert Van Winkle (rapper Vanilla Ice) goes through the same thing as Rip Van Winkle. There seems to be a paradox between the two because Robert’s rap style changes, especially comparing his number #1 single “Ice Ice Baby” to something like “S.N.A.F.U.” from his rock album, ‘Hard 2 Swallow’. His four-year hiatus from music and change in direction musically reminds me of Rip’s awakening of his twenty-year coma and living happily afterwards from it.  Compared to his earlier career, where he was signed to a label releasing a more funk/pop mix with rap—Robert was much happier when making rap music independently (without a label) by mixing a darker tone and metal/rock elements after his hiatus. Such as how Rip’s life was much more enjoyable after his wife’s death. In a sense, they both eliminated the negativity (the nagging from the wife and record label expectations) in their lives as they enjoyed life much more.

I did enjoy imitating the original work by trying to replace some words with modernized vocabulary. I also kept some original words to maintain the storyline. However, the difference between the two are what time period they were living in.  One lived through pre-revolutionized America and post-revolutionized America, while the other lived through a funkadelic style of rap to a more hardcore style of rap. Two different movements, two different times. A change in politics and a change in music trends. But there is something the two share: change. Once they came back from their hiatus, the clothing style was different, the topics of discussion were different, and even people were different. From King George to George Washington, MC Hammer to Drake, parachute pants to jeans—things have changed. And that is what I’m trying to convey with this imitation.

Although Vanilla Ice’s hiatus was only four years (1994-1998), my imitation was more of an imagination of him being on hiatus for twenty plus years (1994-2017). To see how much has changed in hip-hop music and its culture since then. The outrageous clothing is no more and the fashion sense is more simplistic now-a-days. The style of rap has changed as well: something like Kendrick Lamar’s Damn (2017) is a total 180 of Vanilla Ice’s To the Extreme (1991). I wanted to write more by adding my own interpretation of Rip having an identity crisis but I would surpass the 500-word limit.

All in all, this writing project has made me see multiple paradoxes in history and the world. How things can be so similar but at the same time, very different. For example, how Rip and his relationship with his nagging wife is paralleled to Robert’s relationship with his first record label’s expectations and pressure.

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Freedom Harpers

In Thomas Moore’s Dear Harp of my Country, he discusses the condition of the harp of Ireland in the first four lines.

DEAR Harp of my Country! In darkness I found thee,

The cold chain of silence had hung o’er thee long,

When proudly, my own Island Harp, I unbound thee,

And gave all thy chords to light, freedom, and song!

After years of being ruled by the English, the harp of Ireland has disappeared and faded into darkness. In addition to that, Moore’s writing also implies how the harp has become “silent” due to the oppression of the British. The true Irish culture has been held captive and the only way to release it is to remove the English from Ireland. And according to the link provided by Professor Garcia, the harp is not much of a symbol for Gaelic culture during the 17th-18th century, as the “Winged-Maiden Harp” stands for English rule over Ireland. Thomas Moore, is regarded as “one of the champions of freedom of Ireland”. Knowing this, he is calling for a revolution. He is going back to a time where the harp was more than just a reminder of English oppression, he is trying to remind the people that the history of the harp meant so much more to their history and roots. If anything, it becomes more of a reminder and more of a warning of how the harp will lose its meaning.

The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness

Have waken’d thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill;

But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness

That ev’n in thy mirth it will from thee still

As mentioned in class, the harp conveys both a positive and negative emotion when we were listening to the song. Although it may sound peaceful, it also creates a sound of sorrow and tragedy. This excerpt of the poem is a very good description of how the harp sounds and how it is heard through our ears. Furthermore, Moore could be talking about the origins of harp symbolism. In the 12th century, a Welsh cleric accompanied English Prince John to a visit to Ireland. His key observation of harp players were identified as the most remarkable characteristic out of a barbaric race. This created the foundation of what the harp symbolizes today: the freedom and true spirit of Ireland. Throughout the test of time, harp players managed to adapt to their surroundings while catering and captivating new audiences. Thus, showing the “warm lay of love and the light note of gladness”. However, there were also tragedies in Irish history, such as the Battle of Kinsale (1601). That battle could be the “deep sigh of sadness”. Because after that battle, the harp was not a symbol of freedom and Irish culture, it was a symbol for English rule. And even so, the harp might lose its Irish roots and culture if the English decides to make it their own. Moore is writing to keep the symbol of Irish identity, culture, freedom, etc. alive before it is forgotten and taken away by the English as well.

-Christopher Luong

Tenderloin-San Francisco, 2017

I decided to rewrite William Wordsworth London, 1802. I chose the Tenderloin neighborhood because I spent most of my childhood down there. It is riddled with crime, drugs, homelessness, sex, etc. When people think of San Francisco, they think of the beautiful landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Chinatown, etc. Or maybe how it is an expensive place to live and how it’s a city that is always developing–especially downtown. However, nobody ever talks about the flaws of the city. Sure, price could be considered a flaw but nobody ever mentions the dark truth behind downtown. Every time I drive by the Tenderloin, I feel paranoid and unsafe. I’ve seen my fair share of drug dealers, prostitutes, and crime scenes throughout my life and I have the Tenderloin to thank for that. This is why I drew inspiration from Wordsworth, he saw London differently during the Industrial Revolution. He saw the flaws that the Industrial Revolution was creating and hope he could go back to a time when John Milton was alive. So every time I have to get across town through the Tenderloin, I see the problems that are often hidden from our eyes in the media. In discussion, Hannah showed us a music video by Lily Allen. The video is inspired by Wordsworth’s poem. And because of that, I was also inspired by the music video to rewrite his poem. So next time you drive downtown, “blink twice and you might see all its lies”.

 

Dirty streets, incapable to have tourists walk by.

Day and night, parents keep their children in-doors,

Drugs and porn all sold in various video stores.

Criminals are caught with no alibi,

Yet they still deny.

Everyone here is poor,

The city is rotten to its core.

It feels as if the police don’t even try.

A horrendous city filled with blood.

It’s a shame that only a few share the wealth,

While the rest are in bad health.

No hands are clean,

They all swim in mud.

No one lives beyond their teens.

  • Christopher Luong

Don’t Forget About Us

We Are Seven by William Wordsworth is best represented by The Abby in the Oakwood by Caspar David Friedrich. The painting has a very dark feeling to it, as it displays what seems to once be a church with graves surrounding the area. Along with the graves, there are dead oak trees that accompany the remaining pieces of the church. Both image and poem convey ideas of death and darkness. However, there are visuals of light: the sky. In the poem, the child believes that there are seven siblings in total. Technically speaking, that is true but the girl is disregarding the fact that two of her siblings have passed away. The man argues that there are only five in total with two siblings dead in the physical world. Throughout the poem, both argue until the poem ends ambiguously for the reader to interpret.

So, let’s break it down to how this painting is so similar to the poem and the idea of romanticism.

Then did the little Maid reply,
“Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree.”

  • William Wordsworth, 1805, Stanza 8, Lines 29-32, page 53

This following excerpt seems to be best represented by the painting by Friedrich. What lies beneath the church-yard tree are graves. In the painting, there seems to be a cross on the ground. The cross could be where the two fallen siblings lie. This excerpt also shows the innocence of the little girl as she directly states that her two dead siblings are buried beneath the church-yard tree while disagreeing with the speaker. She goes on to say that she spends time with her two siblings by singing, eating supper, and even playing there. She kind of paints a colorful image of how she spends her time during her visits. In a sense, she is showing her perspective of death. She doesn’t view her brother and sister as dead, but she sees them as if they were still with her. Whether or not that if that seems creepy to some, it definitely shows the innocence of a child– blind from the realities and concepts of physical death. Yet, this painting by Friedrich doesn’t really show any of that innocence or feelings of togetherness. Although, it does have a bright contrast as the sky is full white. The sky can be a representation of the girl’s innocence or Heaven. However, the speaker (man) that the little girl is speaking to seems to be seeing what the painting is showing.

“You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five.

  • William Wordsworth, 1805, Stanza 9, Lines 33-36, page 53

The man argues that there can only be five siblings if two are dead. He is showing signs of skepticism to her explanation of seven siblings. Now this is where the image that the little girl was once painting turns into dark reality that the painting is presenting. Yes, the two siblings are dead and the facts are there. The little girl said it herself, John and Jane are buried underneath the church-yard tree. As the reader goes through this poem, they see how things are changing as the two are arguing. It goes from the perspective of an innocent child to an adult–a total 180. With the aid of the painting while reading the poem, it shows how this imagery of pure innocence may be cracking as the man is stating more facts.

Or maybe the painting and poem display low and rustic life. To the speaker, he thinks the little girl doesn’t understand the concept of death. Maybe that is due to a lack of education–little to no knowledge of understanding physical death. Or maybe the man is Death himself by warning her to not interact with the spirits of the dead. Maybe she can’t let go of them, thus leads to the interaction between the man and the little girl. Let’s be honest, why would a man talk to a little girl in a graveyard? Anyways, one of the reasons why I believe the man could be Death is how he says that the girl is alive because of her limbs. And the reason why he is so algorithmic is because he is keeping count of the dead–keeping an equilibrium between life and death.

“But they are dead: those two are dead!
Their spirits are in Heaven!”
’Twas throwing words away: for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

  • William Wordsworth, 1805, Stanza 17, Lines 65-69, page 55

The poem ends with a heated conclusion between the speaker and the little girl. After explaining herself to the man, he says that her two siblings are no longer here (physically), but are in heaven (spiritually). Although the man is right in a realistic perspective, the little girl has the last say as she yells “we are seven!”. All in all, I visualize the little girl maintaining her innocence and the picture she painted for the reader mentally. Yes, her siblings may be dead, but she treats them as if they were still around by spending time with them. Her perspective on death is not so much about realism, but more on how she deals with it. Throughout the poem, she urges that she can have relationships with the dead. But the speaker is shoving the idea that the poor little girl is just delusional. From what he sees, he sees the painting. Nothing but the dark, harsh truth– and he only counts five because the painting shows five dark figures in the painting. Not seven dark spots, but five dark spots in the middle of the painting.

Screenshot at Apr 12 09-15-08

But I say this is a very good execution of one of the characteristic attitudes that define romanticism: the exaltation of emotion over reason and relying on the senses over intellect. The little girl is the embodiment of this characteristic. She would much rather believe that her brother and sister are still with her (emotion/senses) and is denying the fact that they are dead (reason/intellect). The man is stuck on the physical plane of the world, yet the little girl is able to see beyond that. To the little girl, the dead siblings still counts as being part of our physical world–whether it be physically or spiritually, she feels that they still belong.

  • Christopher Luong

The Rime of the Modern Mariner

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
He prayeth well, who loveth well

Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part VII
          This part of the poem is the moral of the story. As it is stated in the very end, it pretty much sums up the whole story with the mariner finding his appreciation of nature. He says farewell to the wedding guest and advises the guest to respect all of God’s creations. “All things great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.” Every part of nature that the mariner has encountered are made and loved by God. And in return, people should love nature. As stated in the lecture notes, one of the characteristics that defines Romanticism is “a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature”.
         Furthermore, Iron Maiden’s take on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner covers this part at the very end of the song. Although it is not quoted directly, it is paraphrased and rewritten into:
The Mariner’s bound to tell of his story
To tell his tale wherever he goes
To teach God’s word by his own example
That we must love all things that God made.
– Iron Maiden
            Again, it is stating how the Mariner is telling his story to the wedding guest and how important it is to appreciate the beauty of God’s creations, all things of nature. But it shows more than just appreciation of nature, it also implies a change in the character’s personality and a sense of transcendence and spiritual truth. The three things I just mentioned are one of the many different characteristics of romanticism.
           An example of this change would be the albatross they encounter in the first part. The mariner shoots the albatross and would eventually live to regret that decision. The turning point starts with the shooting of the albatross and it is then the mariner learns the hard way that humans should respect nature. A series of unfortunate events occur after the shooting; the ship starts to enter uncharted waters and is visited by Death and The Nightmare Life-in-Death.

“One after one, by the star-dogged Moon,

Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.
Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.”
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part III
This sets up the turning point for the Mariner, as he begins to realize that after his crimes against nature that it is time for him to pay up. It is mentioned that Death and the Nightmare Life-in-Death had played a game of dice in which something was at stake. It turns out that it was the crew’s lives that were at stake. One after one, the crew would die off. This could be cruel irony as the Nightmare Life-in-Death’s name could be an implication of the mariner’s fate. A fate where he will suffer far worse than death for killing the albatross. Thus, he changes his mindset and realizes his wrongs for committing such crimes against nature.
          The prayers that follow after the visit from Death and She-Death and the realization of the beauty of the watery snakes were all changes in the mariner’s personality and spiritual truth. At first he referred to the watery snakes as “slimy things” and would eventually describe them as:
O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Part IV
This description of the watery snakes show a change in the mariner and stresses how important nature is to him. He is now appreciating these snakes he once despised earlier in the poem. And within the song, the mariner doesn’t pray for the doom of the sea creatures, but instead, the beauty. This signifies his change in personality as he would’ve prayed for the death of all sea creatures earlier in the story that is being told. He has finally overcome his beliefs he once had. Not only is it showing the change of the Mariner as a person, but stressing the idea of appreciating nature.
          Finally, the use of language in the Iron Maiden song tells us something about it. The terminology wasn’t very technical, but very easy to understand as the lyrics were “plain”. And one of the objectives of poetry is for the “low and rustic life” where the use of language shouldn’t be so complicated but more empathic. But are the lyrics relatable to the common man? Somewhat. Seamen make as much as the working-class in today’s world (“Able Bodied Seaman Salary”). If we were able to understand and like the song then maybe we are the wedding guest. And if we were able to understand the meaning of it and become a “sadder and wiser” person after it, then yes, the song has romanticism roots all over it.
– Christopher Luong

New Slaves

These overseers are indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, by not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers, who cut and mangle the slaves in a shocking manner on the most trifling occasions, and altogether treat them in every respect like brutes.

– Equiano, 105

This quote describes the overseers stationed in plantations of the West Indies. The overseers are described as the “worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies” (105). Out of every single person from the West Indies, the overseers take the title of the world heavyweight championship for being the worst. In other words, the overseers are jerks and are so because of what they’ve done to the Africans. Equiano compares the overseers to butchers, as they “cut and mangle the slaves”. The description alone suggests how much torture and misery the slaves have gone through while working at the plantation. To be scarred and obtain scars, the overseers are not nice people and Equiano confirms that. Throughout the reading, he brings up the topic of religion. In this case, the overseers are religious and believers of God, yet they commit such hateful and heinous things toward the slaves. So why is that? Why are “good people” doing bad things? Equiano is definitely showing some sort of irony here with his type of writing.

Afterall, Equiano sort of becomes a hypocrite because after he becomes a free man, he accepts the job of becoming an overseer anyway. Even though he is not as vicious as the overseers he’s describing, it is definitely unpopular to accept the job of being an overseer. Kind of ironic don’t you think? Furthermore, this goes back to the title of my post: “New Slaves” by Kanye West. The song actually has some weight on this issue. In other words, Equiano would rather be a leader than a follower. To go with the unpopular opinion (becoming an overseer) rather than going against slavery. Or in another sense, he is becoming a new slave to European culture. He might not be in the fields working for them, but he is definitely on the fields working with them.

In the first cartoon, John Bull Taking a Clear View of Negro Slavery Question, by Robert Cruikshank, the quote by Equiano gives us context and helps us put the cartoon in perspective. As seen in the first satirical cartoon, here is a photograph of what seems to be a portrait of an overseer torturing a slave. This photograph is shown to a man who is looking at an island through a telescope. In my interpretation, it looks like the island could be the West Indies. However, from the viewer’s perspective we can see the island is filled with happy inhabitants dancing and celebrating. Zoom in the middle of the group of dancers, it seems to be an African woman dancing with a white man (or maybe the cartoon wasn’t painted completely). This might be a counter to Equiano’s statement about overseers– maybe they aren’t “brutes” or “butchers” but are instead “fun” and “relatable”. I mean why would an overseer dance with a group of slaves if they were these terrible human beings and vice-versa?

Anyway, back to the man looking through the telescope. The man holding pictures of slavery seems to imply how politicians use propaganda to support their cause. And in this case, it must mean that the man holding the photographs is an abolitionist and is trying to persuade the man in front of him to side against slavery. So who is the man looking through the telescope? Possibly John Bull. But who is John Bull? An Englishman that’s for sure. But why is he so important to be in the title of the cartoon? In my opinion, John Bull is the representation of the people of England. The abolitionist is trying to sway the people to see the cruelty and painful torture slaves go through. Now Cruikshank seems to be poking fun at abolitionists and politics in general.

Another major thing in the cartoon is the issue of the production of sugar. We have the West Indies vs the East India Company. As you can see in the left, a Quaker-like fellow is holding a sign that says “Buy only East India Sugar, ‘Tis Sinful to buy any other”. In his back pocket, it is seen that he has some stock in East India sugar. More or less, he doesn’t really care about the issue of slavery and how the production comes along, but more about promoting the brand and keeping his stocks up.

And on the far left of the cartoon is a petition to Parliament to remove the sugar production duties of the East India company. He goes on to do this by showing kids signing petitions on the left side of the cartoon. But why are kids signing a petition? Aren’t they too young to vote? Maybe he’s poking fun at petitions and how effective they are. But it’s definitely poking fun at how credible and valid they are (since children are voting). If anything, this is more of a cartoon about anti-abolitionist and using the issue of slavery to distract the viewers. Especially a sensitive issue like this one about treatment and dehumanization of others. Cruikshank throws in another worthy image in this cartoon about the mistreatment of others: the homeless man with children next to him. This seems to be a comparison of the poor families in England and the slaves in the West Indies. It seems that “Poor Pat” (term for Irish immigrants) is a representation of the Irish immigrants. He even draws a dog urinating on his sign! A sign that has incorrect spelling! This isn’t about slavery anymore, this is more of a wake-up call. Sure, there are people suffering in the West Indies (outside of Europe) but there are people suffering at home too. Maybe the abolitionists should look at the cruel and mistreatment of people at home instead of the slaves in the West Indies. All in all, this seems to be a satirical take on the abolitionist movement and ironic for Equiano. Equiano talks bad about the overseers but becomes an overseer anyway. Just as the cartoon pokes fun at England’s own problems vs the problems outside of England.

  • Christopher Luong

 

Fifty Shades of Golds…borne

Her fairest virtues fly from public sight.

Domestic worth, that shuns too strong a light.

-Gibbes, 58

Sophia Goldsborne is using a quote by George Lyttelton, the 1st Baron Lyttelton, a member of Parliament and the Royal Society. It is unknown where the exact quote came from, like was it from an interview or from one of his works? Anyway, Sophia is using this quote to help explain her point to Arabella. Before she brings this quote up she says “…for we are taught to believe, that a woman’s noblest station is retreat…” (58). I believe that she is saying that the quote by George has been a stereotype set upon women. That not only are women hidden from “public sight”, they are nothing but “domestic worth”, in other words, just housewives. It could also mean that Sophia, herself, is becoming a young adult in the world despite her being only 16. And she doesn’t want to just be some housewife, she’s too good for that! She goes on to say “…Indostan is the land of vivacity, rather than that of sentiment” (58). Indostan, also known as Hindustan, is a geographic term for the Northern part of India. I believe what Sophia is trying to say here is that Calcutta is a place that is very animated and lively whereas Europe is this place that is affected by many (tragic) events. All in all, Sophia is trying to rub it in Arabella’s face that she’s in Calcutta living the life. In fact, it sounds like she enjoys her stay in Calcutta as it is “the land of vivacity” and she doesn’t want to just be a housewife in such a lively place.

Another One 

On a side note, I did more research on George and found out that he was a supporter of Alexander Pope, Henry Fielding, and had a poem based on him by James Thomson. All of which do have a presence in Sophia’s letters. She has referenced Pope in Letter XIL:

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

But think, admitted to their native sky

Their faithful dog shall bear them company

-Gibbes, 87

By using this quote, she is admiring the people there. She goes on to describe these traits that make them look like Saints, where they would never do anything offensive or hurtful. And because of that, she would love to learn more about their values and traditions. It raises her curiosity of the Indian culture. In addition to that, she misquotes Pope entirely. And this is where it shows her ignorance and arrogance. Ignorance in misquoting, and arrogance in labeling all foreigners “they” and superiority in “native sky”. In Pope’s original passage, he uses “equal sky”. Thus, highlighting her weird usage of these references of literary works. In a sense, she might be misunderstanding the works or just doubt of her own knowledge in this foreign land. Whatever it may be, Sophia represents everything the English is: arrogant.

However, because of her interest in learning more–it could also mean she is working another angle here.

Greek Life

Hear me out on this, Gibbes might be using Sophia as a representation of the English language. Sophia is interested in learning more about the tradition and culture of India, but yet she compares them to the Greek. In my understanding, the Greeks once held knowledge that was very important but are now gone from relevancy. Also on page 7, she refers to the Greek god Apollo.

…though I cannot, like Mr. Apollo, lay aside my rays, that your optics shall be enabled to contemplate, however brilliant, the dazzling objects I gradually open on your view

-Gibbes, 7

She refers to Apollo as “Mr. Apollo,” but why? It may be to make her sound sophisticated to impress Arabella to see how much knowledge she has attained but Apollo is the God of Science, Music, etc., his presence in this quote may imply that she either knows Apollo personally because of how she addresses him or that maybe she believes that she is Apollo herself. To be able to say something like “I gradually open on your view” sounds like Sophia is lowering herself just to talk to Arabella. Again, shows how Sophia could be a representation of the English language: it’s ready to expand because of its amazing value it has behind the language (the Enlightenment, literary classics, etc.).

But is it also a foreshadowing of what is to come for India? I mean think about it, according to the lecture on Monday, this was written before Macaulay went on his conquest to impose English education on Indian land. Once she has “learned” all these things; what is to stop her from imposing her own culture and tradition on them? I mean, she juggles between admiring her own roots but also the things around her. As stated on page 58: “At the back of the Writers’ Building is the Calcutta Theatre…it equals the most splendid European exhibition” (58). To me, it sounds like she is impressed by the things around her but at the same time, she’s trying to play it safe by expressing her love for her European roots. And once she has completely settled down, what is stopping her from changing her mindset to Macaulay’s.

Macaulay’s Inspiration?

Last week, we read about how Macaulay compared the English language to Sanscrit and Arabic.

“…I certainly never met with any orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England”

-Thomas Babington Macaulay, 11

Sure, what they [Macaulay and scholars] learn there was good and all but in comparison to the English language? Not a contest. It’s like comparing Charles Barkley to Michael Jordan (one is a multiple time all-star but the other is a champion, MVP, and a multiple time all-star. Well, this is what the English were probably thinking). Goldsborne incorporates many English literary works here and there which makes me think that she’s trying to promote the English language as much as possible. Thus, showing the status of the English language. Domestically, it’s amazing. But should it be spread throughout the world? Maybe. But this book tells me that this is the very foundation of what Macaulay is preaching. Again, “Her fairest virtues fly from public sight. Domestic worth, that shuns too strong a light” (58). This could potentially stand for the English language as well. The English language might not be available worldwide for “public sight” but is too valuable to just be at home (in England). And now this goes back to how valuable the English language really is, it has literary works from Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, etc., yet it isn’t for the world to see. Not only that, but also Sophia’s characterisitcs of being ignorance and arrogance, it promotes the mindset of British power. And that, is what Macaulay is fighting for, to spread the language internationally because of this represenation.

  • Christopher Luong

How I Met Your English Language

In Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, he expresses his feelings clearly in the preface. “…I found our speech copious without order, and energetick without rules: wherever I turned my view, there was a perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated…” (1). In this quote, Johnson is clearly showing his disdain for the English language as it is “copious without order” and “energetick without rules” and so on. In other words, he believes that the English language is chaotic and ruleless. In a way, Johnson is eluding that the language is pretty much an anarchy because it has no order or established rules. He goes on to say “…choice was to be made out of boundles of variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity…” (1). Johnson continues to express his dislike of the English language yet again by characterizing it as impure as there have been adulterations within the language. Think of it as a recipe for apple pie that has been ruined by ingredients that aren’t supposed to be there. With the use of apples (European fruit), the chef decided to add lemon (origin from India/China) and watermelons (origin from Eygpt) into the recipe. Obviously, the aftermath won’t be apple pie but something that is made out of “boundles of variety, without any established principle of selection”. The English language is not perfect, but it isn’t great either. However, Thomas Babington Macaulay would like to have a word with Johnson.

Although Johnson expressed his difficulties in understanding and explaining the English language, Macaulay believes the English language is the key to success. Even though Johnson had troubles with the impurity of the English language, Macaulay sees the rich history of the English language. To be fair, Johnson had to write a whole dictionary for the English language where Macaulay was only an advocator for the language in the British colonies. In the Minute on Education, Macaulay expresses his belief that the English language is “immeasurable” compared to others. In comparison to Sanscrit language, the English language puts it to shame in terms of value. As he states in excerpt 11: “…I certainly never met with any orientalist who ventured to maintain that the Arabic and Sanscrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations. But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which facts are recorded and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England” (11). In the beginning of this excerpt, Macalulay talks about the highest form of literature in India being poetry. Sure, the poetry there might be great before but it does match the value those of English poetry. And when people look back in history, the only poetry people will remember are those by the English. Tellingly, he is saying that even though India’s highest form of literature is poetry, the English can do it better. The value of English poetry is much more memorable than that of Eastern poetry. And because of that, it is one of the many reasons why the English language should be implemented in the educational systems of the colonies.

Throughout the passage, Macaulay is suggesting that the language of Arabic and Sanscrit are not as great as English. But not in terms of being a language itself, but the value of the language. “I have never found one among them [scholars of Sanscrit and Arabic] who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education” (10). As stated before, the value of the English language is so rich and great that the libraries of any European nation would be much better than the literature that has been produced by India and Arabia. Overall, Macaulay is definitely suggesting that the language spoken by the colonies are worthless when being compared to the English language, a language that has such amazing value and history behind it. Macaulay is not only expressing his distaste of the other languages, but also the history and culture behind the language. Not a single literary work can come close to European literature because the language and the history behind it aren’t as good as the Europeans.

But why is the English language need to be taught to these colonies? Because the English language holds the key value of science. “To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge…” (34). Macaulay then puts the language and culture of Sanscrit and Arabic in full blast: “We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion. We abstain, and I trust shall always abstain, from giving any public encouragement to those who are engaged in the work of converting the natives to Christianity. And while we act thus, can we reasonably or decently bribe men, out of the revenues of the State, to waste their youth in learning how they are to purify themselves after touching an ass or what texts of the Vedas they are to repeat to expiate the crime of killing a goat?” (31). All in all, he is explaining the importance of the English language because it was them that went through the age of science through the use of the language. In addition to that, he is not a fan of the practices of Indian traditions and sees them as a waste of time for people to learn. Therefore, he is promoting the use of the English language to be the language to promote the knowledge of the Enlightenment to these countries that lacked valuable knowledge.

In the end, the goal is to assume the colony with their own agenda. And in this case, that is to promote the English language. To be more surgical, they would need to promote the language so they could replace the history that is already there with something else. If the Sanscrit and Arabic languages are displayed as inferior to that of the English language, then the culture and history behind it will be diminished as well. And throughout the passage it is seen to be deconstructed each time and deemed less important. And once it is gone, it is justifiable to colonize the nation without any backlash from the colonizers and sympathizers. Regardless of the English languages “impurities”, the language has evolved in Macaulay’s eyes and it needs to expand.

  • Christopher Luong

Man In the Mirror? Or Horse in the Mirror?

Is Jonathan Swift Taking a Shot at Colonialism?

“I have already observed that they are subject to no diseases, and therefore can have no need of physicians. However, they have excellent medicines, composed of herbs, to cure accidental bruises and cuts in the pastern or frog of the foot, by sharp stones, as well as other maims and hurts in the several parts of the body” (349). This seems to be taking a shot at colonialism because it is well documented that the colonists brought diseases to the west. However, these Houyhnhnms have never been in contact with any type of disease. When Gulliver talks about the use of herbs it could be interpreted that the Houyhnhnms could also be a representation of the Native Americans. Before the arrival of the British or any European nation, the Native Americans were disease-free. There were no such things as smallpox or measles, but there were remedies for aches and pain in the form of ancient herbs. In my opinion, Swift intends to make the Houyhnhnms as innocent beings; just like the Native Americans.

But is this the case for Yahoos? In some way, the Yahoos could be a representation of what has become of those who have “fallen”. They are also animals, and very similar to those of a human. The reason why I say Yahoos are a representation of Native Americans that have become affected by the Europeans is because they are the only animals to have ever gotten sick. Not only that, but also their form of medication is just as bad as poop. Yes, poop!

“Their next business is from herbs, minerals, gums, oils, shells, salts, juices, sea-weed, excrements, barks of trees, serpents, toads, frogs, spiders, dead men’s flesh and bones, birds, beasts, and fishes, to form a composition, for smell and taste, the most abominable, nauseous, and detestable, they can possibly contrive, which the stomach immediately rejects with loathing, and this they call a vomit; or else, from the same store-house, with some other poisonous additions, they command us to take in at the orifice above or below (just as the physician then happens to be disposed) a medicine equally annoying and disgustful to the bowels; which, relaxing the belly, drives down all before it; and this they call a purge, or a clyster” (323).

Just like the Houyhnhnms, they have their own types of remedies but they also use the likes of spiders, dead human flesh and bones, poop, piss, etc. These all seem to be things that are less than likely to be actual medication or remedies. But they mix their medication with their own excrements and that sounds dangerous because it could potentially cause diseases to spread around. Other than that, the intention here is to prove how far these animals have fallen because of these “evils” that have consumed them. In such a manner, that I believe Swift’s intention here is to represent two sides of the Natives: the innocence and the destruction that has been set upon them.

Houyhnhnms: How the Enlightenment Should Be Like

Swift writes about the Houyhnhnms as if they are the ideas brought up during the Enlightenment. This is based on Gulliver’s observations of the Houyhnhnms in chapter 9, “They calculate the year by the revolution of the sun and moon, but use no subdivisions into weeks. They are well enough acquainted with the motions of those two luminaries, and understand the nature of eclipses; and this is the utmost progress of their astronomy” (349-350). Thus, showing the advancement of intellectual movement like the Enlightenment. By knowing the revolution of the sun and moon, they are able to identify how long a year is. Just like us today, we would also rely on this knowledge to calculate the days of the year. However, the difference between humans and Houyhnhnms is that humans actually divide the year into months, days, and weeks. Other than that, the Houyhnhnms do have knowledge of astronomy which was a very new concept within the Enlightenment era. The age of the Enlightenment showed the development of science, and so on it spread throughout Europe. In the lecture notes, it states the book satirizes ideas of the Enlightenment. And on top of that, during lecture, it has been noted that Swift was a supporter of the movement as well. I believe this is one of the many implications where Gulliver suggests that not only are Houyhnhnms the perfect example of followers of the Enlightenment, but also an example for mankind to follow. But Swift? Maybe their ideas are great but not everything is so perfect.

Poetry in a Reasonable Society? Nonsense!

Gulliver also makes a good point in chapter 9 when he states “In poetry, they must be allowed to excel all other mortals; wherein the justness of their similes, and the minuteness as well as exactness of their descriptions, are indeed inimitable. Their verses abound very much in both of these, and usually contain either some exalted notions of friendship and benevolence or the praises of those who were victors in races and other bodily exercise” (350). Here, he states that the Houyhnhnms are free to do create poetry. They are very skilled at creating poetry that it is impossible to imitate. And the message behind their poems would be either of positive things such as friendship, love, kindness, and winners. This to me, seems to be a response to Thomas Sprat’s perspective of the use of storytelling, poetry, and metaphors: ““…nothing may be sooner obtained than this vicious abundance of Phrase, this trick of Metaphors, this volubility of Tongue…” (Sprat, p. 2176). The Enlightenment was more than just a science revolution, it was the age of reason. And because of that, poetry was put on the shelf during the movement.

I believe what Swift is trying to convey here is that the Houyhnhnms are capable to do anything they want without being criticized for not being “reasonable”. In addition to that, I think Swift is saying that poetry can be great on its own category. The society that the Houyhnhnms have created for themselves are “perfect”. In a sense, where they can do absolutely anything without the interference of evil or corruption. And as innocent as they are, in a society where Sprat wants only reason and evidence, the Houyhnhnms wouldn’t know what they have done wrong because they believe it is right to create poetry. They are able to make poetry and work on science at the same time; unlike the actual Enlightenment. Therefore, I believe Gulliver is suggesting that it would be better for mankind to allow the use of storytelling in the age of science/reason. But Swift is saying that this is too sweet, and to have a utopia this good-there must be some bad, bad things going on behind the scenes.

Conclusion

Think of it like make-up, maybe the Houyhnhnms are born with it, maybe it’s Mayebline. All jokes aside Swift states, “The question to be debated was, ‘whether the Yahoos should be exterminated from the face of the earth?’… they were the most restive and indocible, mischievous and malicious; they would privately suck the teats of the Houyhnhnms’ cows, kill and devour their cats, trample down their oats and grass, if they were not continually watched, and commit a thousand other extravagancies” (346). 

This is a not so subtle warning from Swift. In order to create a perfect utopia, they must remove the Yahoos from existence. Not only that, but they also hint at Eugenics by having a standard for their own species. I see parallels to not only Hitler’s regime, but also America’s attempt at Eugenics in the early 20th century. And on top of that, we also have parallels to the witch-trials during the early western world with the description of sucking the teets of cows, killing cats, etc. It sounds eerily similar to things that have yet to come, but it just shows how the literature of power has moved one single idea throughout centuries. 

– Christopher Luong

“Word? I studied you in social studies.”

Context for the title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XLUrW_4ZMs (Warning: NSFW Language)

One of the things that Thomas had pointed out in his blog post was John Winthrop’s idea behind the City Upon a Hill. Thomas stated that the City Upon a Hill was a “…fanatic’s fantasy of religious superiority and human inequality”. All of this makes sense with the evidence that Thomas provides throughout his blog post. How Winthrop despised Anne Hutchinson and her ban from Massachusetts-which ultimately led to her death in New Netherlands. As stated by Thomas, New Netherlands was religiously tolerant but the followers of Winthrop and his “fantasy of superiority and human inequality” were responsible for the many deaths in the colonies. And because of that, it fueled the events that would eventually lead up to what we know as the American genocide. Whether it be Native blood or colonial blood, there were casualties of war and it all goes back to one simple idea by Winthrop (allegedly).

In regards to Mary Rowlandson’s life story, it confirms the soon to be history of intolerance and genocide. The attitude towards these indigenous people are not hidden, Rowlandson is clearly stating her true thoughts of the Natives. As stated in the twentieth removal, “They mourned (with their black faces) for their own losses, yet triumphed and rejoiced in their inhumane, and many times devilish cruelty to the English. They would boast much of their victories; saying that in two hours time they had destroyed such a captain and his company at such a place; and boast how many towns they had destroyed…” (Rowlandson). She could be insinuating something here with the description of their appearance of “black faces”, such as being evil, demonic, or just to insult their skin color. And then she would describe how the Natives celebrated after destroying colonial towns and killing colonists. She doesn’t even consider why the Natives even do these things to the colonists-instead, she just adds more negative connotations about the Native Americans. Not only is that the case, but she also has to remind herself who these people are. That they are not equal, but are savages and monsters (Rowlandson).

Now get this, Thomas stated that Winthrop’s true intention of the “City Upon a Hill” was some sick fantasy about superiority and inequality, if that is the case then Rowlandson’s life story is propaganda for the colonists to fight the Natives. As noted in class, the story was a best seller during its time. This story right here, gives the colonists a reason to commit such heinous things towards the Native Americans. And just like Winthrop, she’s using religion/the Lord as a way to rile up the people with her story. In the twentieth removal, she states “And the Lord had not so many ways before to preserve them, but now He hath as many to destroy them” (Rowlandson). This right here is belittling the Native Americans because she is clearly saying that they have no place in this world. Why? Because the Lord doesn’t even have a reason for them to live. However, the Lord has many reasons to destroy them now. That doesn’t sound so good because it literally means that the colonists (followers of the Lord) should just eliminate those the Lord do not care for. If anything, this should confirm the soon to be history of intolerance and genocide during the English colonization of eastern North America.

John Locke has two types of war: in society and in nature. This whole history of genocide and intolerance is definitely a war in nature. This is because “…the state of nature… once a state of war has begun it continues—with the innocent party having a right to destroy the other if he can—until the aggressor offers peace, and seeks reconciliation on terms that will make up for any wrongs he has done and will give the innocent person security from then on” (Locke, 8). If we look back in history, the war only started because the King had sent people over to the colonies to tell them how to rule. Sure, there were people who did tolerate the Natives and there were some people that didn’t like the Natives. However, Rowlandson’s account of her captivity and the true meaning behind Winthrop’s request does play a role in how tolerance living changes. Because it ended up bloody, so bloody that the Americans nearly wiped out the Native population a century later. And because of that, it gave the Natives a justification to fight back (as much as they could)- and that is why they held Rowlandson captive; to get back at the aggressors (colonists). And as war went on, the further the Natives were pushed away from their homeland. So far that in 1830, Andrew Jackson signed off on the Indian Removal Act and pushed them even further west and thus came “The Trail of Tears”. And then they were forced to live in reservations only for Native Americans. Some may say this is a sign of peace offered by the aggressors, but is it really though?

-Christopher Luong