The new Land of Mexico

I was very happy, I know now, at home with my trophy wife and two kids. But one day I accepted an advantageous offer to be the driver of a Truck. I, as a diesel gas-guzzling American couldn’t turn down the offer to drive the roads built by taxes and fire guns freely in the Land of the Free. I bought a Truck on the 2nd day of March 2017, acquired some haul (burgers for a McDonalds in Texas) and set off on the Freedom trail on the 3rd. If I had learned my lesson of knowing when I was happy I would never have set out on this dreaded adventure.

The closer to Texas I got, the more misfortunes were beset upon me. After the third time that I was mugged driving through LA I was out of tires and began carrying my truck, fireman’s carry style. I made it all the way to Nevada, trading and making discoveries and inventions as I went but I was soon apprehended by the police for not having a Truck-carrying permit and thrown into a police van. I expected nothing less than to be murdered at the hands of these police but then I remembered that I was a white male, and would likely be let on my own way soon.

Upon the 3rd day of March one of the Policemen came into my van, and said “you’re going back to Mexico where you belong”. I told him that I was a white but the dark light of the van prevented me from being seen properly. They forced me into another van, drove several miles, and threw me out of the van in a totally new land, immediately turning tail and going back across the border to the US, and in so doing said their goodbyes.

In typical American fashion in a new land, I walked confidently knowing I was the true owner of the land regardless of who was there already. This land was covered with dust and sparse trees, and I walked carefully to not be surprised by any drug cartels. On the ground I saw strange tracks, feet that were spaced out very far from each other and then very close. At last I came upon the inhabitants of the land, a sight which disconcerted me greatly. I beheld a great number of people. The women among the group were all dancing and had long black hair, and the men simply sat and stared at my shimmering white skin. Never, in all my years, had I come upon a sight so disagreeable. Full of contempt, I attempted to go on my way when an ugly monster blocked my way. “Amigo,” he said, “necesito su libertad“. I drew my .45 from my leather-plated holster and, striking him, informed him that “Freedom ain’t optional. It’s coming for you no matter what”, as the US army materialized out of nowhere and liberated the poor people of Mexico.

 

To Mr(s). Editor,

This piece strictly adheres to the requirements sent out by your agency. It formally follows the conventions used in the fourth part, first chapter of Gulliver’s Travels. It adheres to the language – the story is set in the past tense, it depicts dread in the first paragraph, capture in the second, leaving the comfortable world in the third, and discovery and rescue in the fourth, just as Gulliver’s travels does. Furthermore, it uses similar diction – rather than contracting words like prevented, disconcerted, disagreeable, etc. as they are used in the text. This post also engages with the modern reader, it uses stereotypes like having a full family, being a proud American, and feeling superior to other cultures that are sure to be familiar to present readers. The artistry of this writing is like the source text, it is descriptive rather than poetic and metaphoric. The diction was carefully chosen so as not to remove that feeling of the narrative. Finally, the use of the medium to communicate the ridiculousness of American superiority was carefully chosen – it could not have been done by a poem about nationalism in playing a harp, for example. Thus, the parodied content matched the source.

The message of this imitation or parody was that the imperialism and believed superiority of Americans in other countries is ridiculous, and that the manliness inherent in American culture is ridiculous as well. There are many other messages within the poem, for example the arrest for not having a license for a fictitious mode of transportation criticizes the over-regulation of the American government concerning modes of transportation. The portrayal of the Mexicans was kept short because the message of the piece would possibly have been obscured by racist stereotypes, meaning it was not a stylistic choice but a question of prudence.

 

Joshua Jolly

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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.

Thomas Moore’s poem about the harp is short and to the point. It talks about a harp that once was a symbol of nationalism now being left unused and “mute” (3). This clearly is a metaphor for better “former days” (5), now that “glory’s thrill is o’er” (6). The past glory is personified by referring to its now unfelt “pulse” (8). This poem takes that image further, referring to Freedom that is barely moving anymore either.

An important component of this poem is the personification. Freedom is personified as a person or animal as is doesn’t wake often, is referred to as a she with a heart, and is referred to as living. This referral to Freedom as living is important to an understanding of the poem. The poet is not only talking about the past, he is talking about a present that has hope, that there is still a small amount of life to be found. Glory, of course, is personified and so are former days, whose pride now “sleeps” (5). The personification changes these ideas from the abstract to the physical world. The reader is presented with an image of a heart that is literally beating.

This poem’s rhyming structure is as follows: ababcdcd etc. Its meter is 8/6/8/6. These patterns are consistent throughout the poem. Thus the poem has a very rhythmic structure to it. This rhythm adds to our understanding of the old nationalism in that it appears there is a regularity to it. The heart beating in the present only occasionally at one point held the very “soul of music” (2).

Overall, there are several clear observations that can be made about the nationalism this is talking about. It is clearly alive, it is now dead, and rhythm and structure is the way of nationalism.

-Joshua Jolly

Irish Harp as a Poetic Burden

Thomas Moore’s poem, “Dear Harp of my Country” sways between being proud of being Irish, but also nostalgic or melancholy for the situation the country is in. Thomas Moore tells in line two about the “cold chain of silence” that burdened the titular harp. In the same stanza, Moore talks about his own “Island Harp” as if to say the harp and his country are one in the same. The harp has taken on this epistemological identity of Irishness and with it, one can then relate the sound it makes to the connotation of the country of Ireland. Ironically, “the cold chain of silence” could be a clear indication of the English colonization that may have stripped the epistemology away from the Irish. This is where the nostalgia is evident because it seems to be lamenting over a time when Irishness was more solidified. To be under the thumb of England affected Ireland on a political level, but also on the level of intrahistory–that is, on a personal level, Irish people became subjected to being second class citizens in their own native home.

The Sound of Life

As we’ve looked at the history of the harp, it has been an influence not only musically but  has also made an impact in the political world. As stated in its history “The harp was employed as a symbol of English rule in Ireland”, which makes me perceive it as an intruder. The harp ultimately was forced on the Irish by those who weren’t Irish. It is represented as a western intrusion.

There is the same concept illustrated in The Harp Of India, now it can be easy to dismiss  this as having no relation to the Irish community, yet it still resonates with it. In just the title, India is the location the poem is directed towards. India is by far very cultured centered, the foods, the spices, the oils, and so forth is under attack from a foreign nation.

“Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou,

Like ruined monument on desert plain:”

India is described as being treated from a “neglected”, “mute”, and “desolate” harp.  The harp no longer has its sweet melodies but rather has its “mute” sound, a sound that no longer moves those who hear it. The harp is the corruption brought into the nation, where those who are near its sound will be corrupted by it.

The harp is political. It is the westernization of a nation. Just as the British did to the Irish Nation.

 

-Viviana Ojeda

 

Harp of Ireland

Since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the harp became synonymous with Irishness, an association most notable today in the Guinness Beer Company’s trademark logo (est. 1759).  For next Friday (4/28), students will write a blog post on the symbolic significance of the Irish harp in ONE of the three assigned poems for that week: Thomas Moore, Sydney Owenson, or Henry Derozio.  How do these poets use the cultural history of the harp to convey their nationalist message?  Explain how their poems extend, rewrite, or complicate this history. To help you answer this question, I’ve inserted a link to a scholarly website that traces the long and complex history of the Irish harp in Britain:

 

 

The poem by Thomas Moore “Harp of my country” utilizes the Harp as a form of Nationalistic Pride. When there is darkness Moore states he found the harp and thats symbolic of the Irish that are now controlled by the English. And in a way Moore is expressing his reminiscent outlook on the drastic changes that have come about as well. The Harp is the pride and  Joy of the Irish and now he feels as though it has been tainted by the foreigners that don’t really appreciate it which he expresses when he states ” Til touch’d by some hand less unworthy than mine” . This extends history in that it is drawing attention to the changing of the times. Where once the Harp took on a message of freedom and joy it is now the thing that keeps the Irish people bound to the English as almost a form of slavery. It is not used to express freedom and Joy but to entertain the new foreigners diminishing the original feelings the Harp once brought.  The Harp is something that had been mastered and specialized by the Gaelic people for many generations and now it is being glorified in a sense for the wrong reasons. Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.10.32 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-28 at 11.10.21 AM.png

Dear Healing Harp of my Country

Thomas Moore’s Dear Harp of My Country carries a theme of healing throughout. Given via lecture and discussion that the harp itself is a symbol of Irish/Scottish/Celtic/Gaelic nationalism, Dear Harp of My Country can be read as an extended metaphor for rediscovering Irish pride and healing the Irish people through that same rediscovery.

Dear Harp of My Country begins with the lines:

“DEAR Harp of my Country! in darkness I found thee,

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

In so doing the poem brings immediately a sense of pain and suffering to the poem by using such phrases as, “darkness,” and  “cold chain of silence.” This contrasts strongly against the final pair of lines:

“I was but as the wind, passing heedlessly over,

And all the wild sweetness I wak’d was thy own.”

Following the thought-thread that the harp is a symbol of Irish pride, or in this case perhaps even the northern islands themselves, it seems as though the darkness and binding in the beginning of the poem has been healed, contrasting the “chains” of the beginning and the “wild sweetness,” brought upon by the newly freed harp.

So, this is where this interpretation becomes quite personal.

I once dated a harpist. She spoke extensively of the healing and therapeutic properties of the harp, and how the harp has been classically hailed as an instrument of healing. She even went so far as to become involved in a project to use the harp to heal the California redwoods. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G_eRrZKvkM

Now, then, with these two concurrent thought strings, one of the harp as a symbol of Ireland and another with the harp as a symbol of healing, I see this poem as a rediscovery of two things. Firstly, the rediscovery and freeing of the harp is a rediscovery of Irish pride. Secondly, the rediscovery and freeing of the harp is a rediscovery of the power of healing.

This is a poem of healing, in more ways than one.

-Ross Koppel

Nightmare on a Boat

As you search for purpose and reason in your life through the realms of academia and erudition, perhaps fervent scouring of the vast depths of philosophy and science have sapped the essence of your weary mind; it is now then, the time to embrace your unique soul and the boundaries of raw emotion to harness your latent aptitude. Romanticism embodies the feeling you get after finishing all of your finals or papers, an exuberant spark of joy, the exclamation mark, the incessant cry of a newborn, a declaration that emotion holds more meaning to the human experience than the infinitude of logic.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner takes you on a distortion of reality, an eventful mind-bending tale of confounding sequences. The journey that you embark upon while reading of the experience that the Ancient Mariner shares, encourages you to look beyond what you see, to listen to more than what you can hear. Your imagination is paramount and to neglect it would spell emptiness and suffering altogether. Coleridge’s poems tell us to live fruitfully and experience continuously, reinventing the norm and insinuating creation and originality. Centuries later, his tale of a nightmare at sea, would continue on.

Plug the amp, align your cymbals, tune your six-strings, where else but music lays the ultimate expression of individuality and freedom of spirit? Iron Maiden breathes horror, excitement, uncertainty, fear, and wisdom in their reinterpretation of the romantic classic. The phases of varying tempo in Iron Maiden’s version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner express the development of emotion in the story. Repetition echoes the lament and suffering of the Mariner. The sudden intensity of the climax breathes raw emotion and absolute passion through persistent beats. Perhaps the spirit of Coleridge remains head-banging to this metal classic Although the song represents creative ingenuity, the powerful imagery of Coleridge’s Poem is unmatched through the metal reproduction.

The ominous feeling of grief and hopelessness captured by Samuel Taylor Coleridge can not be imitated. “The water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt green, and blue and white.” (30)The unusual coloring of the water signifies an abnormal otherworldly presence. The lines of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner induce spooking chills and a sense of uncertainty.

The juxtaposition of intense metal and image-inducing poetry enables us to understand the capacities of human imagination. Emotion can be represented in an endless number of ways. As Iron Maiden’s classic, of a romantic classic, lives on to entertain new audiences, we are reminded that imagination and individuality live on and on. I’m sure Coleridge would be proud, in some way.

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Thomas Pham

Iron Maiden: The New Romantics

Although many did not consider Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem as a romantic poem, I beg to differ. For Coleridge, the Romantics should be breaking away from classical and elaborate styles, such as that of Pope’s. Romantic poetry should be accessible to the common man, whether or not he achieved this is a different story. It should provoke a powerful feeling of human emotion and I feel that Iron Maiden stays true to that idea more than Coleridge actually does. Iron Maiden has evolved and become representative of Romantic poetry in the 20-21st century.

In the first stanza Iron Maiden phrases it as “Hear the rime of the ancient mariner/ See his eye as he stops one of three/ Mesmerizes one of the wedding guests/ Stay here and listen to the nightmares of the sea” while Coleridge writes “It is an ancyent Marinere,/ And he stoppeth one of three:/ “By they long grey beard and thy glittering eye/ Now wherefore stoppest me” (Coleridge 51). They both are discussing the same thing, but take different approaches. In using a quote to tell the reader what the mariner says, Coleridge evokes the presence of the mariner that creates a different experience through out the poem. We become a part of the story because it is as if he is speaking to us directly. While Iron Maiden does not quote the mariner, but chooses to just tell us what he’s doing and what is going on. In doing this, Iron Maiden create the sense of oral folklore, as if we were sitting down around a campfire hearing an old sailor tells us the stories told while out at sea. They both portray the experience differently, but they both give us a rich and powerful experience nonetheless.

Iron Maiden’s version, at least to me, is much truer to the statement of romantic poems being universal for everyone. Anyone can understand and relate, which can explain their popularity. They’re use of musical instruments even enhance the experience and human emotion. I don’t need to count the rhyme schemes or anything, I just have to listen. Through the act of listening Iron Maiden take us on a different voyage of human emotions that are stimulated by sound and touch. I know it’s cliche but you feel the music too, you feel your foot shaking, for fingers hitting the desk and your focus on the experience more than anything else, which can’t be replicated by just reading the poem.

-Nancy Sanchez

 

Snap. Crackle. Rock

 

 

The Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like Romantic Poetry as the voice’s inflection and delivery brings the lyrics to a whole new lights.  Similarly to what the turn of Romantic Poetry created, is a sense of modernity -detaching from a traditional form of poetic speech and bringing it to a modern one.

The line “And now the Storm-Blast came and he was tyrannous and strong: he struck with his oe’r taking wings, and chased us South along,” when heard through Iron Maiden’s version definitely creates an imagery that otherwise could not be felt from just reading. Its as though one is experiencing the chaos of the undertaking and a thrill comes over as the shouting of the vocalists voice, along with the thick, loud and massive sound of the instruments used in the song.

In terms of the lyrics, the words “and now the Storm-Blast” is in syncopation with the blasting of the bass and electric guitars, as well as the drums, invoking even more the feeling of being in conjunction with the raging ocean’s waves and tide.  This is the same, incidentally, with what the purpose of poetry was supposed to cause, during the “turn.”

Just like this choice in music, that was looked down upon, Romantic Poetry too, was deemed as odd and almost bewitching, for, to many, it was almost spell like.

-Maricela (Marcy) Martinez