SF in 2019

LONDON 1802, WILLIAM WORDSWORTH— TODAY

architecture atmospheric bay bay bridge

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LUCY LOO! How dare you,

SOMA hath need of thee: she is narrow

Of stagnant flutters: altar, sew, and fluidity,

Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,

Have been sent down and San Francisco

Of inward peace. We are selfish women;

Oh! raise us up, return to us again;

And give us love, virtue, freedom, power.

Thy soul was crafted and dwelt apart:

Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like a symphony:

Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,

So did she travel freely

In happiness and in glory

The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

Now go get in touch of today.

  • Maricruz Solano
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Equiano’s Rhetorical Strategy

In his autobiographical work, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano integrates a portion of Thomas Day’s “The Dying Negro” into his writing. “The Dying Negro” was an abolitionist poem published in 1773 that sought to express sentiment against the institution of slavery. Similarly, Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative was another form of literary work that contributed to the abolitionist movement. While aboard a ship, Equiano has a frightening experience and states that “[he] called on death to relieve [him] from the horrors [he] felt and dreaded, that [he] might be in that place”. This statement reflects the fear that Equiano felt in that moment and how death felt like a better fate than whatever was to come after. Right after that statement, Equiano references Thomas Day’s poem and writes that he wished to be

“Where slaves are free, and men oppress no more.

Fool that I was, inur’d so long to pain,

To trust to hope, or dream of joy again.”

This part of the poem is mentioned by Equiano in order to demonstrate that he was able to draw parallels between other works of literature and his own life. Equiano longs to be free and live in a place where he could dream of joy, but he knows that because of his situation, it seems foolish. Equiano also continues to cite the poem and substitutes Day’s words stating

“No eye to mark their suff’rings with a tear;

No friend to comfort, and no hope to cheer:

Then, like the dull unpity’d brutes, repair

To stalls as wretched, and as coarse a fare;

Thank heaven one day of mis’ry was o’er,

Then sink to sleep, and wish to wake no more.”

The use of this part of the poem highlights the misery that slaves faced and Equiano is able to verify Day’s words by attaching them to his own story. The fact that Thomas Day was white was significant because it meant that even white people knew that the actions taking place during that time by their fellow brethren was wrong. Using Day’s words is meaningful because literature was considered to be an important attribute of civilized and respected people. Equiano is demonstrating to the readers that just like any white man, he was able to read and write just like them – reducing the differences between them and suggesting that he was literate and trustworthy (just like the white man). Furthermore, Equiano is making it clear that he understands English literature perfectly and he is using it as a rhetorical strategy to bring the white readers to his side in order to ultimately make them agree that slavery should be abolished. Equiano continues with his narrative and once he reaches land, he continues to use Day’s words as a description of the thoughts he had when he saw those

“Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace

And rest can rarely dwell. Hope never comes

That comes to all, but torture without end

Still urges.”

Thomas Day never experienced slavery himself, but the fact that he was able to depict the situation so vividly and accurately enough for Equiano to use his words to detail his own experience as a slave is significant. Therefore, Equiano is using Thomas Day’s literature in order to prove the point that even free, white males can relate to Equiano and feel his suffering without having to actually live through the same experience. Thus, compassion and sentiments opposing slavery do not have to be expressed by only those who have gone through the same circumstances. This allows Equiano to use his own slave narrative as a literature of power in order to move his readers and persuade them subconsciously to fight against slavery just like Equiano and Day.

-Maria G. Perez

The Complication With Falling in Love

Out of all of the emotions, love by far is the one that is the messiest and most complicated of them all. So when looking over at Dryden’s piece we can expect that love will be no friend of ours. At first glance, taken by the title, we can guess that the work is a typical takeover story where the weaker man only becomes weaker and the stronger man only gains more power. In a sense we get that but we also gain much more, the evident affection between Cortez and Cyndria being one of those things. However we are left to ponder on what could have been for them. Like the ending of Romeo and Juliet we are left to wonder what the love could have become if the two had live, in this case we are left to wonder if times were different what could have been of Cyndria and Cortez’s love.

Now while Dryden makes Cydndria and Cortez’s feelings for one another evident to audience, he also makes Cortez’s feelings for doing what is “right” in a sense evident to. As we know he chose what was “right” serving his country, upholding his honor and gaining power. There is no accident showing both of these emotions and leaving audiences to wonder but rather for the time it was produced it showed how regardless one had to do what needed to be down to bring power, glory and honor to your own home nation. To viewers at the time being, and even readers now we know that their romance in a sense is frowned upon and it is this very idea of forbidden love that just makes viewers want them to be together even more. Dryden romanticizes the idea of conquest and power showing viewers and saying, yeah he fell in love but between clashing cultures and ruining your honor or gaining power and wealth which would you be better off? You can always find love again in someone else but if you miss your opportunity  at great power and wealth you are the real fool here.

 

Diana Moreno.

 

 

Forcing Violence Onto Love

Samantha Shapiro

In the play The Indian Emperour, or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards by John Dryden, the relationship between the Spanish conquistador Cortez and the Aztec Cydaria is inherently one-sided by Dryden’s choice behind forcing honor against love. In a culmination of the two’s conflicting pulls throughout the plot, Dryden ultimately doesn’t see the relationship blossom due to imperialism forcing power dynamic between the two characters.

Dryden conveys a power dynamic between Cortez and Cydaria to add “edge” to the plot, and in doing so, forces violence into love figuratively and literally in the relationship and plot. Cortez, in many instances, is shown to adore Cydaria passionately, “Like Travellers that wander in the Snow, [he would look] [up]on her beauty…till [he was] blind,” even desiring to go to great lengths for her to “once more…[crown his love] In bright Cydaria ‘s Arms” (Dryden 13, 32). However, in these proclamations of love and dedication, the choice in phrasing by Dryden forces a power dynamic between the two to artificially advance the plot in an otherwise straightforward story of conquest. To establish the dramatic action the characters go through, Cortez’s dialogue paints his love for Cydaria, and her influence over him as captivating and powerful, even over such a “strong hero” like, him, with sayings like “I can bear Death, but not Cydaria’s Tears” and him later “melt[ing] to womanish tears,” courage betraying him (36, 52). These types of declarations of love artificially create a power dynamic, and are easily seen through and nullified with Cortez’s proclamation: “I dread your anger, your disquiet fear, but blows from hands so soft who would not bear” (24).

Cydaria’s dialogue also contributes to this power dynamic, while initially giving her a strong impression, ultimately adds to a submission. She initially poses this interesting question to Cortez, “what is this Honour that does Love controul?” almost taunting and questioning the hold honor has for him (18). After arguing with him over his duty in conquest for his honor, he attempts to concede, even stating, “I till to morrow will the fight delay, Remember you have conquer’d me to day” (19). This further ties a power dynamic between the two, creating tension between passion. However, this ends up taking a more realistic turn with Cydaria almost bowing down to him symbolically in submission. When he later pleads with her to let her be led to safety, she says, “leave me not here alone, and full of fright…I beg, I throw me humbly at your feet” (51). All of these types of proclamations tie love in forcefully with violence, and in doing so establish a power dynamic between the two lovers, something false given the power he has over her in attempting to take over her country. In the end, conquistadors are still conquistadors — “honour once lost is never to be found” (18).

The Love for Power

John Dryden’s play The Indian Emperour is ultimately imperialist propaganda that promotes  European superiority, particularly that of the English ruling class, above the rest of the world. The romanticized relationship between the Spanish conquistadors and the Aztecs, especially that of Hernan Cortez and Cydaria, Dryden depicts is only a mask used to distract from the barbarism of imperialism on conquered people that comes as a result of the love of domination and power.

While Dryden depicts a love between Cortez and Cydaria, there is also a love of power, both imperial and hierarchical. By conquering Mexico, he increases Spain’s power as a global force, and consequently his own as a Spaniard. With this land he steals for his king, Cortez will also gain recognition as a imperial leader and possibly achieve greater ranks.

In looking at Dryden’s play in this manner, the ambiguity at the end of the work, in regards to Cortez and Cydaria’s relationship, is metaphorical for the abrupt end of the Aztec Empire and the preservation of power by the noble European classes. Cortez’s desire to bring honor onto his king and elevate his own power, like that possessed by imperialist England, outweighs his love for the Cydaria. In not uniting them in matrimony, Dryden prioritizes the national agenda of the Spanish and places a good relationship with the Aztec people far behind their imperialist aspirations. With the potential to be the most powerful nation in the world, there is no time for romantic love, much less that between a European and native woman, and risk losing authority by coexisting with the inferior. The play runs out just as the relationship between Cortez and Cydaria seems to be moving forward into harmony, reminding the audience to not forget their agenda and the benefits conquest will bring to their nation.

This message would resonate with an English audience, on a national and class level, assuming they paid attention to the play instead of gossiping about those there. While there would be a diversity of English citizens under the same roof, they wouldn’t necessarily be united. Nobility maintained status in their seatings at theatres above the lower-classes. They would not want their status to be tarnished by involvement with the inferior classes segregated to another spot in the theater, just as Cortez’s romantic involvement with Cydaria would undermine his authority as a powerful colonizer. However, audiences were united as Englishmen and women who would not want to be inferior to another country and, as a result, must conquer to stay above other nations.

Similarly to the termination of Cortez and Cydaria’s romance, the existence of the Aztec Empire and the rest of the New World ran out and Spanish European dominance over the world was just beginning. It’s no coincidence that the play ends with Cortez saying the final words: “I loud thanks pay to the powers above/Thus doubly Blest, with Conquest, and with Love.” Cortez appeals to his two superiors: God and King Charles II. He thanks God for granting him the opportunity, or the God-given right as the Catholic imperialists would view the conquests, and King Charles II for choosing him to conquer, appealing to English and European desires to be regarded as a person of importance. Dryden may have conveyed love between imperialists and the imperialized on the surface of the play, but that love is actually directed towards power, dominance, and approval from English royalty to achieve individual and national goals at the cost of the suffering of non-European peoples.

– Wendy Gutierrez

The Harp as Poetic Resistance in “The Harp of India”

In Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’s poem, “The Harp of India,” Derozio appropriates the image of the harp to connote the consumption of Indian culture within Britain, similarly to the consumption of Irish culture into the British. For Ireland, the harp is an image which represents cultural, musical, and artistic heritage, and it is a uniting figure for Irish liberation movements contesting against the colonial rule of Britannia. Therefore, one might wonder why Derozio decides to use a typically Irish image to within an Indian context, but, rather, it seems like an image which works well as a poetic device for speaking to colonial power.

Like the poetry of his Irish counterparts, Derozio uses the image of the harp to represent cultural celebration, a reclamation of culture within a society plagued by colonial influence. Derozio represents his harp as a broken instrument: “Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;/ Thy music once was sweet — who hears it now?” (ll 2-3). If the harp represents national identity and cultural pride, the “harp of India” is busted, unstrung and in need of repair.

Although it is broken, the speaker of the poem indicates a familiarity with the instrument, as the poem reads: “O! many a hand more worth than mine/ Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave” (ll. 8-9). Despite the fact that the harp cannot be played, and the speaker of the poem acknowledges their own inadequacy in playing it, there is a similarity between the act of playing the instrument and writing the poem, as both conjure a musical quality: the harp literally the plucking of chords and the poem stringing words together with a rhythmic pattern and linguistic mastery.

Likewise, the poem is itself musical, conjuring the sonnet form to laud the beautiful music of the instrument. Additionally, the speaker notes the “flowers still blooming on the minstrel’s grave,” the undoubtedly given to the skilled master of the harmonious instrument (l. 11). Although the musical minstrel is dead, the poetic minstrel lives on, within the pen of the poet. The last three lines of the poem celebrate the return of the minstrel, this time through the hands of the poet: “Those hands [the minstrel’s] are cold — but if thy notes divine/ May be mortal wakend once again,/ Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!” (ll. 12-14). Derozio, although crying the death of the minstrel (the old guard of Indian culture), shows the bards of language to be the new holder of the torch, a new minstrel by which the people can celebrate their national heritage, their cultural pride, and their rights to national sovereignty.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

Hippies of the 18th century

For me, “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth is represented in Théodore Gericault’s Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct. On a superficial level, the painting shows how one should immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the world around them, rather than live their lives through the guidance of books and science as noted by Wordsworth. For instance, in “The Tables Turned”, the speaker says, “Up! Up! My friend, and quit your books” because “Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife”. The speaker notes how living life and learning about life through books is not the right way to gain knowledge, they must “hear the woodland linnet…there’s more of wisdom in it”. It seems that for the reader, learning is an experience that cannot be encompassed through books and science. We must learn from nature, something that has not been interpreted or created by man. We must reach our own interpretations of the world by going out into the world itself rather than reading about what other people have to say about it, for “one impulse from a vernal wood may teach you more of man, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can”. I feel that the same idea is invoked in Gericault’s painting. The men in the painting do not seem to care about anything that is going on around them, they are just swimming the water naked. They have stripped away from science and knowledge that would find being naked in the wild as something absurd. The one who is clothed, is not fully clothed as if they are the person the speaker of the poem is trying to convince to be one with nature. The color of the sun is very warm, indicating it is a late part of the day that I often find to be the most peaceful time of the day. It seems that time does not exist in the painting, for the people do not even seem to care that the day is almost at an end, they are still enjoying their time outside.

-Nancy Sanchez

Back at it again with the imperialism

The English language has changed from the time of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary to Macaulay’s a call for English language in India. Johnson’s standardization seemed to be more technical in trying to find a universal use of the language, while Macaulay uses language to exercise power.

The English language has been more than just words, it has been about power. English holds no power if it were to only be kept among high society or England for that matter. The fact that English has reach most parts of the globe has been a form of verbal imperialism. It’s unbelievable how righteous these people feel that they deem the Indian language as insufficient for the grasp of knowledge. As Macaulay explains, “that the dialects commonly spoken among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information, and moreover so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them”. There seems to be a negative connotation when people refer to a language as a dialect. When a language is called a “dialect” it sounds as if the language is considered to be untamed and unrefined. As if people of little to no intelligence speak dialects because language is for those who are refined.

Macaulay admits that he “[has] no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic”, but that his decision is well informed because he “[has] done what [he] could to form a correct estimate of their value. [He] has read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works”. That’s like saying, “I’ve only tried Little Caesars’ pizza, so I have a good idea about the quality and value of all pizzas”. The fact that he has only read translated works is not enough to form an opinion about the value of language. He doesn’t seem to consider that works can get lost in translation, especially considering who translated the work. How can he trust that those translations he has read are the best translations? He is reading translations, not the language itself and therefore cannot judge the language. English works translated into other languages do not sound the same, sometimes they even suck or loose the significance they had.

In some way, it seems that Macaulay is criticizing the English language itself without even knowing it. He is judging the “most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works” because of their English translations. Maybe the English language isn’t sophisticated enough to translate the greatness of these texts. Furthermore, in trying to consider English as the greatest language and deemed other languages as less than, Macaulay has impeded the pursuit of knowledge by limiting knowledge as something that is exclusive to the English language.

Nancy Sanchez

The Linguistic Hegemony of Empire: A Language of Power

On the first page of Johnson’s Preface to A dictionary of the English Language, Johnson indicates a distaste and a frustration with his difficult task of working to comprehend, understand, and taxonomize the English language. He notes that “wherever [he] turned [his] view, there was perplexity to be disentangled,” “choice was to be made out of boundless variety,” and “adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity” (Johnson 1). For Johnson, English far from a perfect, ornate language capable of moving souls and spirits.

While this represents a lexicographer’s desperate, frustrated attempts at wrangling in language (tying it to signs and signifiers, phrases and definitions), essayist, Englishman, and colonial thinker Thomas Babington Macaulay sees English as the only reasonable platform for education within the British colonies. Forgoing and disregarding the problematic, wordy overgrowth that is the process of linguistic evolution, Macaulay expresses concern that teaching the natives of the British colonies (i.e. India)in their native tongue would be a inconsequential waste of colonial resources, noting that the languages of colony, such as Sanskrit and Arabic, “may become useless” and the sciences of those languages “may be exploded” (Macaulay 2). For Macaulay, these languages are simply the platform for “bad” knowledge: “the dialects among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information” (2). Not only do their languages contain little worth knowing, but these natives are “so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them” (2).

The question then becomes: what information is Macaulay privileging as knowledge worth knowing?

It is certainly not the spiritual practices of India, as Macaulay believes that the indigenous “waste their youth in learning how 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” (7). It is certainly not the poetry, given that Macaulay believes that no many would argue that “the Arabic and Sanskrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations” (3). And, it is certainly not the history of India, because Macaulay thinks that “all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England” (3).

So, it is not that the language of Sanskrit or Arabic is naturally worse than the dialect of English, it is simply the ideas that these languages promote and disseminate. Put simply, Macaulay believes that the culture, history, and spirituality of this colonized culture are intellectually worthless; it’s just that the language of these beliefs, truths, and ideologies is part-and-parcel. For Macaulay, the ideas of a society, and the language upholding those ideas, are elements by which a society can be judged. This is to say: Macaulay thinks the language is bad, because the ideas are too.

This is a very convenient, and safe, ideological position for the colonizer to take. As you take away the language, you take away those messy, subversive ideas that make colonial subjects so difficult to subdue, suppress, and repress. While there is no intrinsic value to English as a language, the language of the colonizer must be the language of power, for the colonized must think, feel, and reason with the language of the colonizer, for this is the only way for the colonial psychology to dig its claws in the colonial psyche.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

Just A Bunch Of Yahoos

Jonathan Swift uses the Houyhnhnms to portray what could be a perfect civilization for us meager humans to follow. A civilization that is focused around “Friendship and Benevolence” and treating the strangers as though they are their closest neighbors. The Houyhnhnms believe in equal education for both sexes. They focus around solving problems carefully, and use reason rather than opinion (238-239). Their way of life is one  to strive for, to set as the highest standard. With their standard, humanity would be at its greatest.

At least until it comes to dealing with a race that is constantly considered inferior to their own and in result decide it’s best to get rid of them all. The Yahoos are constantly described as being vile and a nuisance to the Houyhnhnms, something that must be handled accordingly. The hatred that has formed for the Yahoos cannot be ignored. Swift has created a literal call for the genocide of the human race, and in doing so aims to portray the Houyhnhnms as the divine humans, the standard desired. However, creating this causes a mass loop for the Houyhnhnms, a fatal flaw.

The Houyhnhnms describe the Yahoos as those who are power hungry and violent, for they seek control over anything set in front of them. However, could it be said that by desiring to have the Yahoos “exterminated from the Face of the Earth” (249) is one step toward Yahoo? Or perhaps if not only wanting to kill off an entire race isn’t enough, then how the Houyhnhnms instead choose to take a note out of Gulliver’s lifestyle. Though Gulliver is considered a more advanced Yahoo, it doesn’t make for the fact that the Houyhnhnms have instead moved backward. In other words wanting to be a Houyhnhnm isn’t possible, not even for the Houyhnhnms themselves.

-Elizabeth Dominguez