Mid-City/ Los Angeles, 2017

For this weeks blog post I have decided to make a parody of William Blake’s poem London. I decided to use this as a guide in creating my poem of the city where I was raised. This poem was very helpful because it provided a rhyme pattern to follow, abab cdcd. Blake’s poem sets a sad tone but still seems sincere in wanting to desire the city. This is the same approach I wanted to take on my poem. I am both showing the negative and positive aspects of the city. I was able to create a sad tone by expressing the way the city is over  glamorized. The positive tone is created through showing the beauty of what the city truly is.

The true city of Angeles, where we fly

Not the one that has been glamorized for its Hollywood sign

The real city where we lift each other high

Not the one where everyone is trying to make the headline

 

The city that is filled with art they like to call graffiti

Where the palm trees stand high

There is not a moment of silence in the city

Because when you look above there is always a helicopter in the sky

 

The true city of Angeles where we all look different

Where our cultures are mixed into one

Where the Angeles are magnificent

Because we are all kissed by the sun

 

Don’t be fooled by the luxury

Because when you are in deep

You will make the discovery

That in the real city these Angeles never sleep.

-Alondra Morales Aguilar

 

 

The Swift Way

I think Swift is utilizing the Houyhnhnms not to present the idea that society is better off if we think and behave like them, but presenting the notion the real ‘yahoos’ are the ones that care so much about unsubstantial things. In every story so far, Gulliver has always attempted to learn the language of the land and learn the customs but has wanted to leave but now in a land of horses he wants to stay. These horses live in a society where they don’t have any word or natural comprehension of what society would equate with ‘sin’ which seems pleasant enough to l

Swift demonstrates that he wants people to neither be the yahoos or the Houyhnhnms when Gulliver states “But I must freely confess, that the many virtues of those quadrupeds placed in opposite View to human Corruptions, had so far opened my eyes and enlarged my Understanding, that I began to view the Actions and Passions of Man in a very different Light, and to think the Honour of my own Kind not worth managing; which, besides, it was impossible for me to do before a person of so acute Judgment as my Master, who daily convinced me of a thousand faults in my self, whereof I had not the least perception before, and which among us would never be numbered even among human Infirmities, I had likewise learned from his Example an utter Detestation of all Falsehood or Disguise; and Truth appeared so amiable to me, that I determined upon sacrificing everything to it.” (swift 237).

Gulliver has finally chosen a race of horses over his family essentially and England, but this is done by Swift to not encourage happiness through a Houyhnhnms type of lifestyle, but to demonstrate the error of prejudice over all types of the lifestyles presented throughout the novel. Here Gulliver who has not favored the previous travels witch involved different versions of people such as the giants or the miniature people, and instead choose horse (which he still first believed to be magician humans). Gulliver who was adequately emerging himself into a society and culture he clearly as stated above was in full support of, was kicked out because his native culture was seen to be too similar to the ‘yahoos’ especially his physical appearance, and kicked out. No matter which culture he went to Gulliver was never able to fit in and I think the larger message that could also be presented is that the current societies at the time that this was written made it impossible for anyone to fit in. In England you had all these scholars and authors competing for knowledge and presenting it but if you didn’t fit the mold you were exiled from society in a way or found yourself wanting to leave to somewhere better much like Gulliver. This quote also demonstrates the possible theme of the error in Human Understanding. Gulliver has fallen in love with a society that has no regard for the individual or feelings, their interchangeable nature at times seems almost scary. They have lost their sense of self at the cost of providing for the over all good. Through this theme and juxtaposition of firstly Gulliver’s admiration for the Houyhnhnms and then his forced exile from their society due to miniscule similarities to Yahoos, demonstrates the error of each type of extreme society and by placing values too much value into something can be harmful.

-Haley H.

Gulliver Conforms

The suggestion given in Gulliver’s Travels aludes to the notion that Houyhnhnm way of living is the key to happiness, is perhaps Swift’s satiric method in showing how such a society is impossible, if anything, hysterically fictionalized.  In addition, as the reader, we can’t help but find it odd that the species do not carry a sense of their own individuality. If anything, their identities are rather ambiguous, thus the world that they live in lacks variety; in other words, there is no diversity, hence all Houyhnhnm are seen as perfect based on the reflection they see in one another.  

Gulliver’s arrival to the foreign land, and reception by the Houyhnhnm even shows their curiousity towards him for appearing different and for his choice in having migrated there. Gulliver describes in Part IV, Chapter I, “They were under great Perplexity about my Shoes and stockings, which they felt very often…using various gestures, not unlike those of a Philosopher,…when he would attempt to solve some new and difficult Phenomenon (209).” This not only shows their “perplexity,” but it also shows Gulliver’s as he can’t help but compare their characteristics, even in the way they delegate, versus what he is used to with the English.  

Later in the chapter we learn that the only diversity that does is exist is between two kinds, the Houyhnhnm and the Yahoos; of course, one is seen as less civil.  The irony in that is that Gulliver cannot distinguish the difference until it is brought to his attention, therefore again alluding to the impression that that species themselves are living a lie, a lie they have been conditioned to believe since their beginnings.  

Slowly, but surely we see Gulliver begin to remove any previous ways of thinking and beliefs he had, previous to arriving on their land.  He puts them on a pedestal, and eventually assimilates himself into their culture.  He disregards anything that seems unfair, especially the perspective they have towards the Yahoos; hence, we can assume that society would rather turn a blind eye to social injustices rather than resist.  Gulliver basically blindly conforms to the Houyhnhnm “enlightened” society.

-Maricela Martinez (Marcy)

*eugenics

*slave

*deportation

Travel Points for Gulliver

Yahoos is a word that is constantly being repeated and I noticed that there is a personal beef with the Yahoos in how the Houyhnhnms look down on them. There is a very bold elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. The Houyhnhnms are looking at the Yahoos as literal fecal matter and it becomes closely related to the genocide ideology we have seen with the Nazis. This repetition allows for us to keep consistently thinking on what the outcome of the Yahoos is going to be. The irony is that they are horses and usually horses are ridden and owned and tamed by their masters in real life. When Gulliver seems to go crazy after trying to talk to his horses, it really questions as to how far the imagination of someone can go from envisioning fiction and trying to bring it into real life.

Master seems to be a word that sounds out of place. It makes me uncomfortable in the sense that someone is praising a horse and is ok with someone being second-class. I guess I can relate an example to how we look at celebrities and envision everything they do to be perfect so we place them on a pedestal. We think everything a celebrity does is godly and would not mind being their doormat to be walked on everyday. There is a funny meme that says someone could get slapped by Beyoncé 20 times and say thank you every time. So it seems ok ideally that Gulliver would idolize these horses since they seem to have much more down in their ideal Utopia and don’t have any problems. Gulliver unfortunately is too clouded to see that they are not the best people to be inspired by.

Subtly, I see that Swift makes it aware through the satire to us that it is not ok for this superiority mindset. While Gulliver is awed in all the glory the Houynhmnms seem to present, it is to be shown to the reader that exterminating someone for their own good is not morally ok and presents a sense of disguist in how people “horses” can be perfectly comfortable with this decision in the sense that they are doing the world a favor. I would like to know in more detail or as a footnote or attachment why Gulliver was so fascinated by Houynhmnms in an explanation from Swift. I also would like to know what drove Gulliver to look like a lunatic once he started speaking to horses. To the average reader who cannot see the bigger message Swift blends in the satirical-style writing, it may bring forth the intent of the writing in a way that people can see thing that are not ok in a form of bullet points.

gulliver-pindar-houyhnhnm-mare

 

-Daniel Estrada

“Perfection of Nature”

The Houyhnhnms (the horse civilization) in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels seem like an ideal place in the eyes of the titular Gulliver, as they often seem to be surprised by the problems facing his society. While disregarding the fact that it is a race of horses, Gulliver was venting to his “master” how humans in his civilization “could never have enough” (Gulliver 231) money to spend so they are always in necessity of it because they feel it is the most fundamental basis for life. It is actually kind of Marxist of Gulliver to explain this to his “master,” and it is also kind of Marxist of the talking horse to respond with saying it is a “miserable country which cannot furnish food for its own inhabitants” (232). The Houyhnhnms seem to be the perfect civilization in the eyes of Gulliver, despite having to call one of them “master,” and being subject to the inspection and vetting of them to make sure Gulliver is not a Yahoo.

The Yahoos are a human civilization that the talking horses consider savages, which gives the Houyhnhnms the reason to believe Gulliver is one of them. The Houyhnhnms use their own frame of reference to inspect Gulliver and differentiate him from the Yahoos they have not known to be “teachable,” civil or clean (216). We have to pick up the subtle clues that these horses are not in fact an ideal race, or a city upon a hill, as Winthrop would put it. The reason the horses think of Gulliver as an exceptional Yahoo is because the Yahoos are othered in the eyes of the Houyhnhnms, so they see him as a kind of anomaly and nothing more. In other words, Gulliver is othered as well, because he is still filtered through the original stereotype of the Yahoos. Swift goes as far as to use linguistics to make this race of horses similar to the Eurocentric behavior of the people in England. Gulliver notes how the etymology of the word Houyhnhnm means “perfection of nature” (217) as jab from Swift to the hubris of the elite in his own country. The satire here is that, as readers, we cannot seem to get our mind off the fact that these are literally talking horses. This ridiculous choice from Swift is to play with the subjectivity of the reader.

Cesar Ramirez

Shipwrecks and Hardships: Hey I know, I should go Sailing again!

In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift takes his reader on a journey through the eyes of his comic hero Gulliver. This satirical novel pokes fun of a lot of the ideas that were common in that time. One of these ideas is Imperialism. Swift, who was Irish, saw first hand how negative the effects of Imperialism could be. His book is somewhat unkind to the English, and this may have been a direct result of the attitudes between England and Ireland while Swift was writing his book.

Art is not created in a vacuum, it is a reflection of the culture and politics of the time. This is true of all art to some degree, but it is strongly reflected in Gulliver’s Travels. Not only is Swift mocking the English, but he is also attacking the prevalent idea that imperialism and colonialism is a good idea. While this book is certainly meant as a political discourse, I also think that there is a direct discourse between Swift’s book and another that was written just 7 years prior to the publication of Gulliver’s Travels. This book is Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe.

For those that haven’t read this pro imperialism/ colonialism novel I will give a brief synopsis  (spoiler alert). Robinson Crusoe decides to go to sea (against his families wishes) gets shipwrecked he lives but still doesn’t go home (even though everyone thinks he should) he goes to sea again and gets shipwrecked… this happens multiple times and he is made slave, escapes and then once again goes to sea and, you guessed it, gets shipwrecked by himself on an Island for over 20 years. Robinson gives a highly detailed account his time on the island.

There are a number of parallels between between the two novels, for example, when Robinson Crusoe was first published the author was “Robinson Crusoe” and the book was implying that his adventures actually happened, not unlike Swift’s tale about Gulliver that was molded after several popular non fiction genres. Defoes book also has several genres such as a captivity novel (when Crusoe gets captured and turned into a slave) and a very detailed travel journal, there is even a little Utopia in there because Crusoe becomes “Lord” of his only little colony.

What really struck me was the way in which Swift mirrored his character to have a similar idiocy to that of Robinson Crusoe. After his perilous adventure among the citizens of Lilliput he returns home and then just 10 months later gets on another boat. Swift writes, “Having been condemned by Nature and Fortune to an active restless Life, in ten Months after my Return, I again left my native Country…” (79). Condemned by nature he says, condemned carries negative connotations and, it is as if the character realizes he should stay home but cannot. This is mirrored in Robinson Crusoe, and by using this framework but opposing Defoe’s message, Swift is commenting on the negatives of imperialism.

While Gulliver finds enlightenment among the Houyhnhnms, I don’t think Swift is nessesarily saying that we would be better off if we were just like them. Instead I think Swift is offering the opinion that we should be tolerant of one another’s ways. Furthermore, people should look to there own issues among there own people instead of going out an trying to conquer people we may perceive as “savages.” In other words if you keep getting in wrecks at sea and you have responsibilities at home, maybe you should keep your ass  on the shore.

Katie Oswald

They really aren’t that great

Although the Houyhnhnm appear to be rational creatures, I don’t think the world would be better places if it could think and behave the way Houyhnhms do because it is to similar to the way in which humans have taught and behaved in the past. For instance, when Gulliver was learning the language of the Houyhnhnms he was treated as piece to look at because many were “convinced that [he] must be a Yahoo, but [his] teachableness, civility, and cleanliness astonished him; which were qualities altogether opposite to those animals”. The dichotomy between Houyhnhnm and Yahoo is similar to the hierarchal structure of races. The Houyhnhms believe themselves to be better beings than the Yahoos because the Yahoo’s way of living does not coincide with the Houyhnhnms way of life. Also, Gulliver was to refer the Houyhnhnm who take care of him as “master”, which thus created a master and slave relationship between the two. No matter how much Gulliver were to learn the language and communicate with the Houyhnhnm efficiently, Gulliver was still going to be viewed less than due to the fact that he is to call his teacher, “master”. He would never be seen as an intellectual equal of any sort, always as a less than outsider. At times, it seemed that Gulliver was less than the slaves because the slaves would find him so intriguing as well and enjoyed teaching him the things he did not know.

Nancy Sanchez

Happiness is more than Perfection

 

Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing.

George A. Sheehan

Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Sorrow and Frustration have their power. The world is moved by people with great discontents. Happiness is a drug. It can make men blind and deaf and insensible to reality. There are times when only sorrow can give to sorrow.

-Winifred Holtby

Would we be happier if we acted a bit more like the Houyhnhnms, and also reasoned in the same manner they do? Perhaps in some regards, as suffering and conflict would surely be diminished, but the happiness we live and breathe for entails a notion that is evidently separate from the seemingly perfect philosophy of the supposedly superior horse-people in the land of the Houyhnhnms. Happiness is found to occur over accomplishment and triumph, over the strife and struggles present in our society, that seem to be devoid or lacking on this horse-run island. Happiness is infinitely defined, and can be seen also  alongside the vices of our world and the insinuation of terror,  and in the ways blissful innocence and enlightened thinking may. I believe that Swift does a commendable job at putting into perspective the imperfections and ethically digressive actions we partake through the characterization of the Yahoos, and I sense an underlying presence of irony in that Gulliver becomes too caught up in his own fantasy of a Utopian society, forgetting the beauty of the challenge and the triumph of adversity.

Through the doubt of those who have denied your capabilities, you have many times succeeded in life and felt the elation of such a victory. Opposition and challenges are what opportunities to succeed and overcome. They are scenarios in which brave individuals and daring souls have resisted and rejected attempts of tyranny and authoritative rule. Swift shows the fault of laws, greed, war among other repulsive aspects of our culture, but he begins to lose a grasp of what makes us human. Ironically, in his attempt to convey the grotesque and undesirable reality of mankind, he  inadvertently reveals the magnificence of imperfection. There is a severe lack of joy and happiness in the world of the Houyhnhnms. The unpleasant realities of our world give us a platform to contrast onto our perceptions of good and righteousness. Heaven in the bible wouldn’t seem so amazing without the depiction of hell. However Swift brings to light our perception of happiness directly. Truly, happiness can be a result of maniacal fervor, or blatant addiction, but this is where the unique existence of our kind is shaped. For those who find happiness in the light of positivism and ethical behavior, then evil is indeed necessary.

We have come to define happiness in our own ways throughout time, and to extract a more perfect definition of this, would oppose and detract from the original meaning of the word itself. Like each and every human, our world is imperfect in its very own beautiful way, and happiness is defined with this imperfection. Johnathan Swift implies a more peaceful and desirable way of living through the Houyhnhnms, but demonstrates that ultimately a transition to a more perfect society would inevitably dismantle the true definition of happiness that we surely all pursue.

Swift is evidently targeting John Locke’s philosophy of nature, war, and society. Locke seemed to justify European colonization attempts with his doctrine on the necessity of society. The enlightenment aimed to glorify the intellectual, but at the expense of those who were deemed as not within the category of a society, the uncivilized. The Houyhnhmns seemed to emulate this Lockean philosophy, and were willing to exterminate the Yahoos for their own well-being. With Gulliver’s Travels, Swift expresses his concern over the dangers that Enlightenment thinking can insinuate. He insists that superiority will involve gruesome and heartless actions. He makes it clear that happiness is not present through the path that the enlightenment might proceed to. Johnathan Swift defends those who would otherwise have no say, and presents a rare defense to the encroaching oppression of tyrannical governments.

-Thomas Pham

il_fullxfull-363848000_hs61

 

Utopian Society: A Society to Imitate

In the fourth section of Guliver’s Travels, Swift is critical to humankind as he illustrates the present corruption by creating an ideal society of rational creatures such as the Houyhnhnms. Houyhnhnms are described as kind, noble, and intelligent horses who are unable to lie, hate, and other humanlike practices. In contrast, the human equivalent in this utopian society appear as Yahoos which are ill-mannered and deceitful. “When I thought of my family, my friends, my countrymen, or human race in general, I considered them as they really were, Yahoos in shape and disposition, perhaps a little more civilized, and qualified with the gift of speech, but making no other use of reason than to improve and multiply those vices” (255). Swift is illustrating a negative image of humanity in this passage and compares people (even his family) to these uncivilized and savage-like Yahoos. Swift suggests that we imitate the Houyhnhnms because of their honorable characteristics as he criticizes corruption within English society.

-Rahma

A life without connection

Swift suggests that human kind would be happier if we lived liked Houyhnhnms do, however, I don’t think we would. Houyhnhnms live a very safe life and don’t take any risks. They are conformed to what they have and don’t have the drive or motivation for anything more. Living a safe live does not necessarily mean you are living. Life is all about taking risks and finding something you love that gives you motivation to live and try new things. The way Houyhnhnms choose their mates goes to show that they do not seek an emotional connection, but rather features that would benefit their offspring.  Human kind would definitely be safer, but that doesn’t mean we would be happier. Although Houyhnhnms have interesting and good qualities to them, like the way they put others needs in front of theirs, they still have no one to share their life with in a deep and emotional connection.

-Natalia Alvarado