A Beautiful World of Ethereal Places and Ephemereal Wonders

Their colors are distinct as those of the sun and regularly and obviously blended, though less vivid, fine specimens may be found any night at the foot of the upper Yosemite fall, glowing gloriously amid the gloomy shadows and thundering waters, whenever there is plenty of moonlight and spray.

– John Muir

Dear my fellow venerable peers and aspiring scholars, I present to you a plea.

Awaken your slumbering reverence of nature within. This world that we share asks for our appreciation now more than ever. The strength of a movement is determined by the collection of the will of its individuals. Wordsworth intuitively composed his poetry at a time of boiling industrial forthcoming, but do not hesitate to relate its antiquity to the pertinence it has in a world of modern environmental peril. Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads is as contemporary to our present problematic endeavors with Earth as you could possibly imagine. Their words continue to speak for a voiceless mother Earth, the most beautiful of all planets we have ever encountered. As students of the University of California, Merced, we are granted an opportunity to embrace a pioneering spirit that has fueled and characterized the United States of America for centuries. Considering our proximity to the greatest wilderness of them all, Yosemite, we are living embodiments of Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis, which spoke to the roaring passion for Western expansion and human inquisitiveness. Go forth and revel within the temples of awful (awe-inspiring) natural wonder, avoid the temptation and distractions of modernity, as they serve no true purpose to your free-spirited soul.

Wordsworth and Coleridge have me lost in a world of beauty and pain. Romanticism speaks to me like a siren-wailing fire truck calls to a lonesome canine to howl incessantly. I’m enamored by this imaginative prose, delicate as a rose, insinuating thoughts of philosophical scorn, like an unforgiving thorn. I have literally and figuratively lost myself in the forests of the Sierra Nevada, blanketed by chilling darkness, but it was then, that I had ever felt more alive. I was young then, and my eyes scrambled in the twilight in fear of black bears. I know now, that these lovable bears in comparison to fearsome grizzlies of the north or population dwindling from receding landscapes of polar bears, are not to be feared. Fresh mountain wind,  towering sequoias revived me from my past loathsome troubles that lay insidious within my mind for so long. The landscapes of this breathtaking mountain range lay etched in my thoughts even with my eyes closed, and are now ingrained in me for the rest of my existence.

The painting “Buttermere Lake: A Shower”, instills moody thoughts in a gloomy overcast. I initially see a bleak landscape of melancholy, that speaks of a desolate past. The rainbow from the painting reminds me of Lower Yosemite Fall’s moonbows. We are within 2 hours of North America’s tallest waterfall. An exciting thought to contemplate itself. I look within these dark clouds of anguish and uncertainty, however, and I find hope. Just as I once lost my wallet and my keys in Yosemite and panicked for my life, I would eventually calm down and see that they were exactly where I had placed, underneath a pile of my belongings. There is always hope even in death and absolute remorse. Even if you cannot see it, there is always light somewhere within or somewhere far beyond the twilight zone. It is only in darkness that light truly shines. Be courageous in the face of overwhelming odds. Fight on until your last dying breath, and submit to no oppressive force. I reference another poem that carries my sentiments. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” – Dylan Thomas

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower exhibited 1798 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Joseph William Turner’s painting carries multiple aspects of Romanticism within its frame. It is an encapsulation of the feelings and emotions of The Lyrical Ballads. Expostulation and Reply discusses enjoying nature even if its morals and lessons taught are not as direct as a lecture of philosophy or a laboratory session of science.

"You look round on your Mother Earth,
          As if she for no purpose bore you; 
          As if you were her first-born birth,
          And none had lived before you!"

William is expostulated by Matthew. Why does he seem to mindless observe the world with his mind adrift in solitary rumination?

"Nor less I deem that there are Powers
          Which of themselves our minds impress;
          That we can feed this mind of ours
          In a wise passiveness.

William explains his penchant for wonderful Mother Earth. He feels that he assimilates notions of patience and lessons of wisdom in the stillness of meditation and deep contemplation.

Landscapes like the one Turner paints and the ones that you can come across after hiking to a viewpoint are so powerful, that you can’t help but lay speechless. I recall the times I’ve been such amazing views like Glacier Point and Angel’s Landing, and I sat startled and comforted by the immense grandeur for hours.

I make one last reference to another one of Wordsworth’s poems. I ask that you consider your lifestyle and your attachments to materials, just like Wordsworth attempts to convey the contempt of materialism. A life is meant to be fulfilled with experience, and not meaningless objects.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers
.

The World is Too Much With Us

William Wordsworth

Earth day is on April 22. Also, National Park Week is April 15-23. On April 15 and 16 and again on April 22 and 23 you can visit any national park in the country free of charge. As the heavy snowfall from this year’s dramatic winter begins to recede in the Sierra Nevada, I encourage you to take part in experiencing our world within its raw natural boundaries, rather than dwelling within unsatisfying cities. The following link is a website that has been instrumental in my transition from childhood to young adulthood. It has guided me with a knowledgeable content of incredible hikes in Yosemite and also carries a comedic and informative style of prose. Check it out! http://www.yosemitehikes.com/hikes.htm

One last note. Last winter I explored Zion National Park, and after embarking on a notoriously scary but enjoyable hike, I found a drone sitting atop Angel’s Landing. Flying drones are strictly prohibited in these National Parks, and I felt obligated to find the owner before a ranger confiscated it. I’ve been looking for the owner ever since. After a considerable amount of time debating with myself internally over ethical matters, I decided to examine the footage of nature. I was absolutely blown away, and I feel compelled to share. I hope that everyone has the desire to embark on their own expeditions. I recommend the HD setting for enhanced theatrics.

 

Sincerely,

Thomas Pham

Sophia the First

Sophia Goldborne finally had a chance at an exciting life when she was able to travel to Calcutta. Girls didn’t have many opportunities in the 18th century to have anything but an ordinary life even though they were given minimal education advances. It is quite evident that in her letters she has a condescending tone towards her supposed friend Arabella and is snarky when relaying her experience. Throughout all her letters there is a myriad of literature allusions and they get a bit tiresome, as she will through them in frequently. But if we look at the formal education young women were allowed to receive in the 18th century, English literature was high on the list as opposed to other subjects like politics. In many of her letters she doesn’t utter anything political or if she does it is just a surface remark, although she is in the midst of political tension in Calcutta at the time, which is odd. Perhaps that is why she fills her letters with literature references because that is all she knows. It can account for a plethora of things, like how many 16-year-old girls probably just aren’t interested in political agendas.

Did these English literary references even add anything to the letters? In discussion class on March 8th we close read an excerpt from Letter II in which Sophia belittles herself to Arabella’s level in order to describe the house. She remarks, “I will begin with the circumstances of my first arrival, and so contrive to temper, 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” (7). She mentions Apollo, and formally adds a Mr. in front of his name as if she is on a first name basis with him, just to compare herself that she isn’t as humble as Apollo, even though most Greek gods were chaotic and solved problems emotionally rather than logically. We can’t assume the kind of education Arabella has received but if she is Sophia’s friend we can hope they have the same education, which means Sophia knows Arabella understands her references but must find other ways in order to show that she is superior to Arabella for specific reasons. It shows that although Sophia may be well educated in literature but she might just have nothing else going for her and no other education for her to flounce about. This is why Sophia uses so many references; perhaps she has a limited repertoire of skills to show how high class she is.

— Alison Vining

English Literature & Status: A Display through Gibbes’s Hartly House

English literature was just starting to become a primary symbol of status, one that served as a trophy of sorts, not simply regarding material wealth but rather one of intelligence. Sophia Goldburn seems to follow this social drive to constantly reference and allude to others’ works, on some occasions as a method of validation and reinforcement. Though Phebe Gibbes’s was concerned with extinguishing a bias against indigenous Indians in her work of Hartly House, there is still a typical sense of the scholarly English(wo)man, Sophia seems to represent the very expectations of what an intellectual should be, familiar with so much literature of their homeland.

This desire for an outside source as light manner of validating her statement, can be seen through a certain passage on page 68, where she uses Rev. Edward Young’s satirical work, Love of Fame…, to add emphasis to a warning. This warning is one she gives to her friend whom will see a rise in status through marriage, and though Sophia congratulates her, she uses the following as a summary of why she shouldn’t be too interested in her newly found material gain: “Can wealth give happiness ?—look round and see – What gay distress. what splendid misery!” (68). Through the short lines, Sophia can give this warning against using luxury as a main tool towards happiness, that though indeed wealth does bring “gay” and “splendid” gifts, “misery” and “distress” will still lie in the background, tainting these pleasures if unanswered through more personal, genuine means. This essentially leads to this notion of remaining modest, of fulfilling one’s emptiness through more righteous means rather than to simply fill it with materialistic worth. Sophia could have just as easily said something similar on her own, but she didn’t and continues this pattern of reference towards older works, notably only after she generates her statement, just as if she were using it as a conclusive validation for her claims.

Phebe Gibbes seems to use this to showcase two major aspects of the English literature of her time. The first regards this necessity to quote everything from classic and popular texts, to prove one’s intellectual worth through the worth of another, more renowned person. There seems to be this odd notion of a chain of reference, authors quote older, more known authors, who do the same, and even those continue to do the same. It doesn’t seem to be a criticism, rather more of a display. There is something different about Sophia, which brings me to the second aspect that Gibbes has portrayed. It is the fact that Sophia is a woman citing and referencing herself just as an educated man would, displaying herself just as capable of having the same library of literary expertise as any man could. Although the Hartly House aimed to clear the air of Indian bias, it still displayed what English literature was for its time: a source of evidence, a work capable of serving as a validator, and ultimately, as proof of one’s intellect.

-William Fernandez

English: the best in the West

Here were are centuries later, far from the beginnings of when the English language started.  So, how did it get started? Pretty much the way writers like Johnson, are being highly critical of.  A melting pot, so to speak of a language, consisting of French, Spanish, Latin and Greek.  But the issue with the language doesn’t stop there. Macaulay with an ethno/eurocentric, upholding of the English language, feels appalled that there is even a debate about the matter of incorporating the teaching of the English language; and there is Ray with the strong belief that certain studies should be added to the curriculum.

While they all have different stances, and pitches when it comes to schools of thought, what they do have in common is that they disregard the afterthought of this way of thinking.  In other words, a set group of people’s way of reading, speaking, and thinking will cease to exist and, therefore, putting an end to a culture. Another common theme between all of them is that they have automatically taken on this authority, as if they all have the credibility to do so.

We have Johnson, who feels as though he has been divinely sent to correct such a mess of an entanglement, and the irony is is as he speaks ill of others forms of communication by referring to it as “jargon,” he himself, is going against the very claim he is arguing about -using specific words that most likely did not belong to his ancestral line.

Macaulay, felt that it was only through English that education could be properly transferred, and this attitude has is not far behind us..  It is still quite prevalent, and even in so much as to say that many of us whom are bilingual, have been told, directly or not, that if we choose to speak a foreign language (whatever that means), then we ought to “go back to” our “country.”

And finally, Roy, who while with what I believe had the best intentions, still intervened on the natural state of  learning in India, where the natives could have evolved with their own unique identities.

Essentially what we are looking at is the repeated act of unsolicited interference, and a lack of reciprocity when it came to learning new thoughts.  It was merely one sided teaching!

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez

Image result for ethnocentrism comic

 

Curiousity within the “English” Language

Samuel Johnson not only shaped the English language but has also proven that this creation is like many things European people create, not including marginalized groups. As stated, “Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language” (10). This phrase suggests that anything outside Europe ideologies can be a threat to the English language.

Additionally, Johnson has also built a dialect centered around his views and intelligence rather than considering what other citizens had in mind. It becomes an issue since we’re led to “live up to” the expectations of one man whereas a society should consider other viewpoints. In our contemporary world it becomes interesting to hear and see the slangs words and multilingual dialect in our conversations because it’s an opposition to what Johnson, typical European man, expects from society. I’m not inferring that having structure in our language is obsurd however what made a society agree with Johnson’s dictionary? If many people were not as educated as Johnson did they have an idea of what they were agreeing to when adopting the English language? For those that did not, what would our linguistics look like if given a translation of Johnson’s Dictionary?

Taking a look at Macaulay’s work, Minute by the Hon’ble, I see an attempt at trying to understand the language structure outside of Europe. He states, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed, both here and at home, with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern tongues. I am quite ready to take the oriental learning at the valuation of the orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them 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). The phrase “I have never found one among them who could deny” right away suggests that this overview is not merely his own but others he’s observed but is that so? How can we take Macaulay’s word just because of the way it’s written despite its’ lack of evidence? He speaks as an intellectual thus it makes readers, such as myself, interested in hearing more. This pretentious way of writing is similar to Johnson and the way reader’s react to both has not changed, in my perspective. The way the passage begins is also contradicting to what the rest of the text say since he starts with, “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic” because it implied the author had no interest in looking beyond his eurocentric ideologies. The contradiction is also a reason as to why i’m iffy of Macaulay’s viewpoint, since there’s no evidence on whether the stuff he’s implying is true.

-Kristy Frausto

 

English literature’s relevance exemplified through Shakespeare

Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary prescribes concrete definitions to the English words in order to annul any attachments that may eliminate their actually meanings.  At the time Johnson took serious measures to improve the English language and the veneration associated with literacy.  Even after his nine years of compilations of definitions, he still improved upon his work, and newer editions were published later in his lifetime.   In comparison the French Dictionnarre made use of forty scholars in the span of fifty-five years to publish their own edition.
Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary served to educate people on the English language as a means to avoid the “pedantry” of older tradition learning, in order to evoke a flexibility with English terminology rather than an authoritative way of thinking.  Much of the dictionaries beforehand not only lacked organization, but also were not thoroughly researched for the difficult words they had written about.  Not only were his definitions less authoritative, they were witty, especially when he uses the term “oats” to define a grain given to horses, and in Scotland means to “support the people.”
The status of English transitioned in India, especially with the appropriation of English literature.  Macaulay argues in the Minute English language encourages an academia and intellectual thinking that creates “a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals, and in intellect.”  Even Roy was convinced English education aided in independence and a separation of their servile reputation due to colonialism.  The status of English language was accounted for as a serious education, like the era before Samuel’s dictionary, but the incorporation of literature such as
Shakespeare, who indeed writes eloquently, but also includes puns that make fun of the english language as well and manipulates it in a way to serve his jokes.  Like Macaulay and Ray claim, English literature, exemplified through Shakespeare, reveals how his literature and his interpretation of the English language has such a cultural relevance, contains a universal appeal and can be applicable to any ethnic individual.  Shakespeare’s universality, in this case pertaining to Indian culture, can be effective in infusing their values and relating the text to the conditions of India and the Indian people.  As I have learned from taking my Shakespeare course, I agree with Macaulay that learning English literature, i.e. Shakespeare in this sense, is best suited in learning it from the English language, since Shakespeare’s terminology can not be applicable the same way in any other language besides English.  Like Johnson, Shakespeare made fun of the English language and developed his own names and words in order to make sense with his rhyme scheme, etc.  Although Roy and Macaulay take western curriculum seriously, the English language still proves beneficial in their culture, since  they aim to represent academia in their culture and stress the impact it has made in the advancements of their education.
-Jessica Mijares

Global education of the English language

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Samuel Johnson took nine years to write his publication until he finally realized that the English language was impossible to “fix.” Samuel wanted to pin the definition of words as one specific meaning. However, words are always evolving and the nature of their meaning changes depending on the different context. If they are pinned down and bound together in useless pages of paper, we are just restricting the freedom of words. We are restricting communication and the ability to express ourselves.

Samuel argued that commerce corrupts language because people have sex with strangers and over time learn a mingled dialect,”[Commerce] corrupts the language; they that have frequent intercourse with strangers. . .muft in time learn a mingled dialect” (Johnson 10). He is concerned with keeping the “purity” of English when really English is as pure as a brothel.

Although Samuel would disagree, learning more than a language other than English is really beneficial. Truthfully, other countries kind of make fun of us for not learning how to speak more than one language in our education. We don’t teach our younger generation to speak more than one language. There are countries where the average person knows about five languages. The US has become a sort of melting pot because many people from all over the world immigrate to the US yet we still haven’t been able to offer bilingual education.

We make fun of people or think it’s funny when they say things with an accent which is ridiculous because Americans do not speak another language and if they do, they also have an accent. For instance, Melanie Trump gets made fun of for her accent and ‘barely’ knowing how to speak English but she knows how to speak six languages fluently: Slovene, German, Italian, English, Serbo-Croatian, and French.

We attempt to correct pronunciation of things we don’t really know how to pronounce. Ironically, we also attempt to correct people who speak the language familiarly and actually know how to pronounce the name of their capital city. Yes, Berlin is pronounced as Bearleen.

We need to be more open to people trying to speak our language.

After all, there are people who only know how to speak English but still don’t speak English good.

A german international exchange student that I spoke with told me that all academic papers are nowadays in English so that people who studied science, for example, had their lectures in their mother tongue meanwhile, their books are in English. They told me that they do this so they could work in both German and English research teams. Additionally, they would have to publish their papers in English. In Universities, English is pretty much a standard language.

 

-Ana Diaz-Galvan

Defining A Bleak World: The Royal Society

Trapped in a state of modernity, Charles II and many others found themselves in despair that the entire construct of government began to flow with indecency, adultery, mistresses, the basic lusts of man. For the time, it must have felt much worse to feel like the world that once felt carefully crafted was slowly beginning to unravel. People were scared, intimidated, lost by a world that seemed to lose regulation for a moment. What could a king do then? The beauty of language and human conscience, is giving definition and establishing rules that technically do not exist. The universe, unbound by labels or true laws, does at least seem to follow a certain schematic of physics, and science seemed to be the way to analyze the one comforting aspect of existence. The Royal Society was born to find this comfort, to establish order in a dreadfully random world.

This lust for knowledge, more towards definition, is perfectly described in Sir Bacon’s tale of “The New Atlantis”. It is important to note how despite being a utopian paradise, this is not a place of complete bliss. Though beautiful, the description of the island lacks other things that would provide aesthetic or materialistic fulfillment. In the lack of said detail, Bacon has thus made clear what is important. Yes, the island has bountiful harvest and beauty, but gold and silver does not line every road, people cannot simply relax and are not merely blessed with knowledge. No, no, it was the fact that the people had the motivation and energy to experiment and test, to theorize and create. “The New Atlantis” is not merely a paradise, rather an intellectual’s dream. All the gold and all of the pleasures in the world will not fill a void where the universe is not defined. Instead what is essentially comes down to, is those blessed mentally will flourish and find their minds in constant pleasure at both the freedom and access to tools to expand their knowledge. Scholars are in pleasure of having definition in their life. Intelligence, knowledge, these are the key treasures to Bacon, and though religion has been an element that has sharply decreased its influence on the Royal Society, one can see that the main point of the organization is to bring greater understanding, to provide laws in a place where things seem to be unruly and lost. Science, in this case, illuminates a bleak world, just as long as you are willing to be in pursuit of more and more.

 

-William Fernandez