A Visit to my Fiancé’s Home: A Study

It has been two days here at my in-laws’ house, and seeing my fiancé here makes me scratch much of the assumptions I had previously made about creatures like her. I made an amateur mistake, and I should have factored in the variable of a natural habitat in to the formula of understanding my fiancé. Fortunately, I have taken several notes while I have been here that might help me compose a perfect synopsis of her family and genealogically determined characteristics.

For one, when I first met her father at a BBQ at the park, I noticed he was wearing a baseball cap, so I was very quick to jot that down since the sun was not as shiny as other days. What was his conviction? What could have possibly made him put that hat on before he walked out of his house?

Now that I am here in his natural habitat, I noticed that he does not have hair on the uppermost part of his head. This bewildered me, for he was only 48, while my father is 52 and has most of his hair. When he took his hat off, I gave a quick ocular study of my fiancé to see if she had most of her hair, and she did—albeit she is only 22. However, it struck me as a potential issue if and when my fiancé turns 48. I quickly took out my notebook on the table in front of me and wrote down what I had noticed. When I quickly whipped it out from my luggage in the guest room, and made studious observations of everybody around me, they looked at me with perplexed faces—as if it were unforeseen that I wanted to study them while we all had dinner. I slyly grabbed the adorning centerpiece of the table, and moved it front of me as an attempt to camouflage myself in order for them to act natural. This did not seem to work as I planned.

It was my fiancé, her father and her mother at the table. As I was writing in my notebook in front of me, they all stopped eating, and the only thing that I could derive from this habit, was that these creatures could not eat while I had my notebook out. They suddenly acted outside the natural tendencies of animals to eat when hungry. Any motor function that facilitates eating or digesting was slowed or stopped altogether. The only reason I say slowed, however, is because I noticed the father had food in his mouth already, but chewed very slowly while he looked at me with a confused face. I found it quite troubling in my near future if suddenly my fiancé decided to not eat even if she were to be hungry.

I am finding it consistently more difficult to assimilate to the living standards of my fiancé. Although I am able to find some similarities between our dichotomies, the differences have caused me much to be worrisome about. If we are to get married, what are the chances that I will assimilate to her genealogical determiners?

 

Review:

For my creative project, I chose to mimic the style that Jonathan Swift used in his novel, Gulliver’s Travel’s. I liked the absurdity that Swift used in his novel to make Gulliver seem like a fool despite Gulliver’s ironically objective approach. The fact that he takes it upon himself to study the unknown world around him in relation to his subjectivity makes it the perfect way to expose any type of gaze. From reading Swift’s novel, I learned how arbitrary cultural differences are, and how misconstrued they can get if any outside gaze tries to sum them up into categories.

For my version I chose not to go “political” because I liked more the way in which Gulliver as a character is made to look, and how he could be made into a real person who believes his vantage point is one without bias. The character I created shares this with Gulliver because he tries to breakdown and study his fiancé’s family as if he were there visiting to objectify them. Although the way in which he does it is lighthearted, it is a type of dehumanization because he is sees them in a two-dimensional manner, and the things he tries to relate back to his own background are arbitrary—so in effect, he misconstrues them.

Cesar R

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The Complaint of a Forsaken College Student

Review:

One of my favorite poems of the semester was William Wordsworth’s poem “The Complaint of a Foresaken Indian Woman”. I sympathized with the tragic situation that was at hand for the speaker of the poem, and I could not imagine the amount of grief, nor do I wish to know. The forsaken “Indian Woman” is dealing with her probable death, and in her hour of death she is lamenting leaving her child. However, the diction of “complaint” in modern language sounds as if the woman is overreacting, and simply complaining. I’m sure that because of the change in connotation of words, maybe it wasn’t originally intended to sound insignificant. Nevertheless, I was inspired to write an actual complaint about a situation that isn’t nearly as tragic, or tragic at all.

My poem is about party culture within colleges. Often times, some of the smartest people on paper are the dumbest when it comes to self-preservation. I’ve tried to write about a funny/light hearted situation that turns into self analyzation for the speaker. I could think of several ways to turn this poem into a tragic occurrence, but instead I want to just focus on a good time (unlike Wordsworth’s poem that is very serious and sad), and how hyperbolic people are.

I emulated the form of the original poem, following the same end rhyme sheme. However for the last two stanzas I changed the rhyme scheme in order to give it my own personal style. 

I also wanted to satirize Wordsworth’s poem because I think that often times in the middle of our lives and our privilege, we fail to remember that we are fortunate enough to have fun/leisure. This can apply to a modern audience because everyone within the classroom has probably encountered guilt over living comfortable lives while others suffer terribly. During the aftermath of the election I was especially bitter towards everyone having fun even when a fascist was in office or when people I knew weren’t talking about what was going on. Although, I’m still mad, I understand that there is a lot to be done, but I can’t blame some people for having fun…including myself. I also garnered inspiration from a new show I’ve started on Netflix called Dear White People. The show is essentially about Black Students at a prestigious university that still navigate towards racism within the campus. One of the characters in particular, is named Reggie and he deals with guilty feelings that he’s not doing enough for the cause because his father was black panther, and he wants to live up to the standard even when he is just having fun and being young. I hope my poem isn’t read in the way that it sounds as if I am not taking the actual misery of the mother seriously, or the pain of others who are going through actual misery.

Poem:

The Complaint of a Forsaken College Student

[When a Drunken College Student, from pure intoxication, is unable to continue their party night with their fellow idiotic friends; they are left on their couch, supplied with a water bottle and dreams of redeeming what is left of their dignity. The unfortunate fool is left with an idea of how they accidentally spilled their drink all over a freshman, so it is, after all, forgivable. There is hope that they will regain their strengths, and shot gun just one more beer. Highly unlikely though, most of these people are left to wake up with a major hangover on Sunday, or as the ancestors named it ‘Homework Day’. Hopeless and docile, they think: this is totally like that poem by Wordsworth. It is not.]

Before I see another angry text about how I am usually wrong,

Let me play just one more round of beer pong!

In my drunker hour I heard the loud screams;

The red and blue lights still in my dreams,

Wait… who drinks this much? How’d I survive,

They wont tell me,

Yeah I’m definitely still alive,

I have to pee,

Before I hear another badly remixed song;

Let me have some water, I haven’t had some in so long!

 

My liver is probably not okay; it knew no bright day,

Yet it’s sort of okay, Guys, I’m on my way,

Full of watered down alcohol, the cups still lie;

And they have been abandoned, as will I,

When I was sober, I wished to not do this to myself every week;

But that was a distant time, before I had a drink,

Maybe it isn’t the alcohol that tastes so bleak,

I ignore the negative thoughts and instead hear cups clink,

I’m dizzy and there is more fun to claim than to feel;

My parent help me pay for school, for what?, for me to be a misdeal:

On a couch I lie;

In a room full of people laughing, while others in the world die

 

Alas! It was my friends who dragged me here;

With promises of another fun night like those I used to hold dear,

It’s too soon for me to be bitter,

So I go on the dance floor as I am not a quitter,

I watch the room move in slow motion as I trip and fall on the floor,

Oh hey Denise!

My drink is no more,

I wish I could make peace,

Still dizzy I sit;

Why am I still lit?

 

My bottle! Who gave it to another,

Another who didn’t go through the work of sneaking it out of a party of another,

When from the couch they took my sweet bottle;

It was probably that guy in my class about Aristotle!

 

I want to go home, my little bottle is gone,

I’m no longer having fun;

I search for a friend,

I feel as if I have been stolen too, by the end

My father fought for our rights;

And all I do, is party and waste my nights

 

-Beyanira Bautista

The Island of Satire

The author leaves Lagado, arrives at Maldonada. Then takes a short trip to Glubbdubdrib.

I arrived at Maldonada with the help of Google Maps. The man at the docks told me that the ships heading towards Luggnagg for an entire month. An entire month! I’ll have to make sure to find a way to charge my phone throughout that time. Another man at the dock told me that I might find it entertainable to go to the island Glubbdubdrib, which if Google is correct translates to Island of Sorcerers or Magicians. When I arrived to the island, the governor was extremely friendly and treated me to a fine feast in my honor. After dinner, the governor told me I was able to call up and shade from the past and talk to them about anything that I would want. The first person I decided to call up was Alexander the Great. Although he only spoke Greek, I was able to understand him and communicate with him through the help of Google translate. Alexander the Great told me that he had died not from poisoning but from alcohol intoxication which astounded me. History had painted him in such beautiful lighting. The next person I called up was Barrack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. I asked him what he had thought about Trump’s campaign and his controversial claims. He then told me that Trump should have stayed quiet about deportation. Obama told me that he had been the president that had deported the most people during his two terms as president. He then also laughed about how people overreacted when Trumped bombed Syria and continued to tell me how he had dropped 26,171 bombs all over the Middle East. Using my calculator app, I calculated that to be seventy-two bombs per day, meaning every hour three bombs were dropped. I was astounded to find all this out about Obama since it was never really brought to light, only his achievements were, such as Obama Care. After trying to wrap my head around everything I had just learned, I decided to call on Winston Churchill. Winston had led Great Britain to victory over Nazi Germany. I had asked him why some saw him as the greatest Britain ever while he was controversial to others. He told me it was because during the Bengal Famine he let four million people starve to death because “they breed like rabbits.” After talking to everyone I finally understood what is was meant by the saying history is written by the victors. I finally understood that historians skew the way we see leaders. They choose to show us how they want us to see them not for who they really were. It’d be better to see people for who they are through literature rather than through history.

Review:

I choose to write a parody of a parody. I choose to write about Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, specifically part three, chapter seven. I chose this section because it was where Gulliver met great men of history and was shown that wisdom does not come with age. It helped undermine great political figures and helped undercut standard learning. In this chapter, Swift was satirizing historians and skewing the view of his political opponents. He also was able to elevate certain people while simultaneously bringing them down. I chose this scene because I felt that the same could be said about our current leaders. Everyone seemed to love Obama and believe he was doing great thing for the country, and I am not saying he didn’t, but I felt as if not everyone really knew everything he did. Ii felt that Trump was getting a lot of heat because of his blatant comments, not protecting him but just saying what I saw. Everyone was outraged by what he said about immigration and deporting people, while Obama was the president that had deported the most people so far. To top it off, the Obama administration was bombing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. He had authorized over ten times as many drone strikes as George W. Bush had. Winston Churchill was also a controversial figure because of his decisions to take no actions to relieve the Indians from their famine has he had believed they had brought it upon themselves. He had also evicted Kenyans from their homes in the fertile highlands of Kenya because he believed that that are should be preserved for the white settlers. I chose to keep the part about Alexander the Great the same to pay homage to the original parody, for it is a great part in my personal opinion. I also tried to modernize it a bit more with the simple added feature of a cellphone because I believe it would be more believable that he was able to communicate with those who spoke different languages because of Google rather than him being a language savant.

-Andres Quezada

Tomy’s Explorations

Tomy’s Exploration

Chapter 8

The blogger can relate to resemblance to the Moples. The perfectionism of the Bonobolopos.

My Master Bonobolopos implored me to visit the dry desert nests–from the little I understood with his body language– in order for me to observe the nature of the Moples for I did not see the resemblance to humans. Of course I could not pass up that opportunity for I as a blogger had the biggest opportunity of a lifetime to create a story that had never been written about outside my own universe. That is until I return back to my wifi connection. Moples lived in really disgusting desert conditions with dry heats and freezing temperature. They attacked each other, they seem to be like the way snowflakes live. Their screeches were daunting but they most of all they were shamed for being so wrinkly naked. They seem to divide each other, but my question was ‘for what if they all seem to hate each other equally.’ That made me think their form of communication was sort of similar, the screeches they made as they came out of their caves and began to interact with, it was somewhat comical to watch each other fight over unnecessary situations.
Upon my return from the Moples nesting grounds, I was able to convince my master Bonobolopo to have an interview on the daily lives of their culture. Unlike the Moples, my masters Bonobolopo body language came really easy and natural to learn. I had never noticed that each interaction was more personal and rarely was there any need for more than two people to communicate with each other. Although the body language was a bit slower, it was more efficient because a response would answer more than what was originally asked for with great ease. It was more difficult to translate the reason I was doing the interview, and what purpose it had for our human culture. The language has a more calm nature and the technology that they did have only served to warn each other of dangers and to help each other navigate through dangers instead of exasperate each other on the different views they had. This calm nature in their culture reflected in their interactions Whatever disagreement one had with the other person was gone before they would finish their thoughts because there was no noise disruption in the bonobolopo’s conversations from fear of looking like the Moples.
My first question for my Master Bonobolopo was why they did not try to conversate with speech. Which to my surprise, his reply was really simple ‘we do not use speech because communication is distorted in that form, such as the Moples schreech seem to get in the way of their comfort and create boundaries of oposition.’ For my master was correct, I had so much difficulty trying to find the correct sounds in my head to translate this much onto my word doc, even emojis were useless. He continued by explaining that they had studied the Moples and their discovery showed that they tend to prefer certain sounds and divided each other’s communities despite each of them despising each other anyways. He called speech a deformity in which any other creature used was would be doomed to destroy themselves.
He continue not noticing that he had answered several of other questions I had in mind. Like my second question, ‘why do you all not wear any clothing?’ to which his previous explanation manage to be answered. His reply went as so, ‘we don’t wear “clothing” which he referred to as fur, do to the fact that they had no word for clothing. His reasoning was because nature had already provided them with natural fur that covered every aspect of their body. Which he argued that if nature did not provide a group of species with the right equipment, then that society was meant to be chaotic and not peaceful. But I would disagree, if you primates want to place yourself in a pedestal of perfectionism that’s okay, but don’t tell me that your ways and your simple language is better than our most advanced form of communication because we have better form of living for everyone. This is Tomy’s Explorations and Those are my final notions.

Review
The short excerpt above depicts a sort of imitation adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. In particular, part 4, chapter 8 of Gulliver’s travel to the land of the Yahoo!’s and the Houyhnhnm’s. As Gulliver’s Travels is already a satire Tomy’s Exploration imitates but also satirizes the way in which the story undergoes. The most obvious way in which it is imitated is the way in which takes a person from the human society and places them in the middle of two opposing society that range from chaos to perfectionism.
Taking ideas from what seem to be a combination of naked mole rats as a comparison to create the “Moples” these semi representatives of the humans from the Bonobolopo’s point of view, but not from the Tomy’s perspective. Bonobolopo’s seem to be a society of bonobos society perspective but in terms of more domesticity, ethical, and polite. Although they are not too perfect themselves, the societies they live in are exemplified by the Tomy and her Master Bonobolopo. Tomy, changes their mind about the similarities the Moples and human have not once but twice this creates a satirical form. Because it mocks the way that no one will be willingly change their ways unless they stay in that society for a long period of time, and when Tomy rants about her blog towards the end that it is all okay but once she shifts her audience thanks to the internet that she will be returning to she shifts her focus of the social norms of the world she came to, because she knows she is guaranteed that return home.

Enrique Ramos

Don’t Get Wor(l)d(l)y With Me!

For my creative assignment, I decided to work with Samuel Johnson’s “Preface” to The Dictionary of The English Language, with an emphasis for the way in which Johnson write the preface. Instead of channeling his work and writing a version of it that would applicable today (a new preface for the OED or something of that nature), I decided to do a parody of his work. With this thought in mind, I borrowed the tone of Samuel Johnson and reworked him into my character, Dr. Johnson, who is a linguist professor teaching in the 21st century. I decided to do this because I feel as though there are many people in academia who still practice the same sort of exclusionary methods of analyzing literature as Johnson did back in the romantic era. My second character is Mavis, Dr. Johnson’s child. Mavis represents the future generation of people to use the English language (which was Johnson’s target audience when making the Dictionary). In this play, Mavis questions his father’s ideas about the English language and its “proper” usage, bringing up many of the complaints and contradictions we have talked about in class while studying Johnson. I thought this would be a neat dynamic to focus on because Johnson’s preface really doesn’t have a rebuttal. It doesn’t leave any room for someone to respond or challenge his ideas. I thought it would be interesting to explore what the creation of Johnson’s Dictionary would have been like had it been more of a collaborative process. I chose to write this piece as a short play because not only is that my favorite medium to write in, but also because I thought it would be an interesting and creative way to talk about Johnson’s preface which comes across as so flat and one sided, given that plays are so vibrant and interactive.

DON’T GET WOR(L)D(L)Y WITH ME!

By Elle Lammouchi

Time: Present

Characters: Dr. Johnson – an English professor with an emphasis on linguistics

Mavis – Dr. Johnson’s 20th/21st century born child

Setting: Dr. Johnson’s office

At Rise: Dr. Johnson is banging on his laptop. Mavis is reclining in a chair, texting.

Dr. Johnson

God Damnit! The wi-fi is down again.

(shuts laptop)

Mavis

Hashtag, first world problems

Dr. Johnson

What… does… that… even… mean?!

Mavis

It means that you’re like totally privileged. Like, the only reason you can even think about this problem is because you’re not starving to death.

Dr. Johnson

I need a drink.

(starts rummaging for alcohol)

Mavis

First world problem number two….

Dr. Johnson

Why do I spend all this money to send you to an Ivy League school, to study English no less, for you to come home and talk with such lowly, savage, convoluted terms? It’s barbaric. You would think I didn’t bring you up to have a command over the English language.

Mavis

You totes need to calm down.

Dr. Johnson

DO NOT TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!

Mavis

Chillax, yo.

Dr. Johnson

I am not “chill.” In fact, quite the opposite, because my child, whom I have nurtured, formed and molded from the very beginning has thrust themselves headlong into the contemptible brambles of slang. Are you aware how uneducated you sound?

            (pause)

Mavis? MAVIS!

Mavis

             (texting)

 Huh? Oh, my bad, wa’sup?

Dr. Johnson

Have you been listening to a word I’ve been saying?

Mavis

            (Mimics the voice over from the Dos Equis commercials)

I hang on your every word, even the prepositions… You are the most literate man in the world… I don’t always use the proper English, but when I do, I prefer Samuel Johnson’s.

Dr. Johnson

What? Why? Why are you using an accent? That’s not even a real accent. Why won’t you just speak proper English? Oh, and by the way, Johnson is outdated. You should be using the Oxford English Dictionary now.

Mavis

No, you’re the one that’s outdated. You’re behind the times.

Dr. Johnson

Don’t get worldly with me!

Mavis

Well, don’t get wordy with me! What’s it matter to you if I use slang with my mates? You think they don’t understand me? Honestly, they probably understand me better. I think you’re just jelly because you don’t know what’s hip and happening. You can’t just bury your nose in books and not look around you. The world is changing. It’s reviving and thriving and being destroyed, being restored all at once. You know, you just…

Dr. Johnson

Mavis, that’s quite enough…

Mavis

No, it’s not enough. It’s never going to be enough. You can’t contain and maintain a language so vibrant and alive. Don’t you see how making everyone speak the same is just another form microaggression? Acting like it’s better for everyone… Who’s it really better for? Why don’t you pop in your wayback machine and go ask Johnson over tea if his little exclusionary process made a safe space for the English language to flourish… Do you want to see what I was tweeting right now? While you were blabbin’ away? You want me to ping you on this post? I could tag you, you know.

Dr. Johnson

I don’t know.

Mavis

You’re right you don’t know and that’s exactly what I’m tweeting here, on social media, for all the world to read.

(reading)

Your voice matters. Speak your own words. #GetLit.

Dr. Johnson

Get lit… as in, literature?

Mavis

Yeah, as in why don’t you get fired up about that?

(exits, defiantly)

Dr. Johnson

            (sits at the desk, astonished, and downs the Bourbon, grimacing; picks up dictionary and sets it aside, opens laptop and begins speaking as typing)

Google: First World Problems.

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.

Sarcasm in Nature

Inspecting the second image provided one can see a division amongst race but above all there are some differences in the two portrayals of race. On one side there is a couple seems sad about something as the man is sitting with his head down covering his face in shame. The woman seems to be trying to comfort him while holding a child which I can only assume is their child. The colors on their clothing seem dull and worn out as the background around them becomes gray and ominous as if there is an emptiness filling their void. While on the other side there is another couple with their child playing under a nice painted palm tree and fruitful vegetation surround them. The colors on their clothes are brighter compared to the couple on the left. The difference however being that the couple on the right is of African American descent. The image is sarcastic in nature as the division between the two couples is a pudgy white man stating to think of “the poor suffering African” “that while you sit under the vine of your Reform Bill and the fig-tree of our Magna Chart”. Basically while the white man is over there suffering the African American are clearly blissfully unaware of the things that plague them as a whole. Clearly the image wanted to misrepresent the African Americans in order to make those who saw it feel no sympathy for what they were going through. They wanted to paint the white people as the victims of the growing responsibilities of having Africans being imported into their land. It was forcing them to become malnourished and become increasingly difficult to maintain a job. However in Equiano’s piece clearly he remarks “I had frequently told several people, in my excursions on shore, the story of my being kidnapped with my sister, and of our being separated as I have related before”(85). Equiano’s experience of being a slave has some degree of truthfulness because he went through the experience of being taken away from his family. His inability to communicate with his family and his experiences as a slave contradicts the image placed by the people. However propaganda made it so that the “savage” people would be the ones that are the victimizers, not the victims.

-Alexis Blanco

Deceitful Politicians

There is much going on in the first picture. There are three visible Quakers, that act as politicians, leaders of a movement to abolish slavery. Although all three seem to depict a sense of anti-slavery; the note on the Quaker on the far left-hand side, who is the only one facing away from the viewer of the political cartoon as a form of symbolism, a spectacle that truly depicts the nature of the political cartoon. While the right hand Quaker presents a narrow view (represented by the telescope) the treatment of the slaves daily life, is an actual representation of the treatment of the “negro slaves” while the cartoon satirizes that the slaves on the far right side, are actually happier than the Quaker represents to the citizens/ followers. There are several other representations of satirizing the Quakers movement as an anti-slavery, but this political cartoon is pro-slavery, this is because the there is so much chaos in one picture with multiple and overwhelming protests, which seems to me, is being made fun off with the simple fact that the Quaker who is on the left side facing the away from the viewer has a sign that says “Invoice from E.I. sugar.” This simple phrase represents the whole cartoon as a whole because it contradicts all other cause, especially the large sign he holds, which does support slavery to produce sugar.

Much like the Robert Cruikshank, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano too faces with deceit. In volume II chapter VIII travels between island he calls New Providence. On the first Bahama island; or “keys,” they come across with “very large birds, called flamingos” which were new species to them. The captain that he traveled with attempted several times to fool Equiano and the other slaves that were there with them, “our captain swore they were cannibals. This created a great panic among us, and we held a consultation how to act” (145). This is already proof that he is aware of the deception that goes around with the society standard in treating not only slaves but the free black man like Equiano. But this is one of the least extreme examples, later on in this chapter, two white men, try to steal off Equiano and he claims that he knows their deception process “I told them to be still and keep off; for I had seen those kind of tricks played upon other free blacks, and they must not think to serve me so” (152).   

All in all, Equiano takes the time to reflect this experience and possibly make a connection with the popular satire novel from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. He sort of matches this experience to how works like Gulliver’s travels satirizes works to persuade people for political purpose to push forward an agenda. Although this passage chapter seems to make no sense too much on the political structure of pro or anti-abolition, it does serve the purpose to shed light propaganda from false politicians claiming to be anti-slavery like Robert Cruikshank political cartoon that is misleading to the people that strongly believe that abolition should be taken into action.   

Enrique Ramos

Internalization

Olaudah Equiano’s narrative highlights his personal experience being under slavery, and escaping the institution. Equiano conveys a message of abolition. However, there are instances within the text that he, too, falls for looking at aspects of slavery with justification. The prime example is a certain passage from the text that I found troubling.

When Equiano is speaking about the overseers he says they are “indeed for the most part persons of the worst character of any denomination of men in the West Indies. Unfortunately, many humane gentlemen, by not residing on their estates, are obliged to leave the management of them in the hands of these human butchers..”

This quote is conflicting because while it does denounce the horrors of slavery, and the overseers,  it suggests that the owners of the estates are ‘humane gentleman’ who are simply “obliged” to leave their slaves under the cruel overseer. This idea is conflicting because even if the owner did not horribly abuse their slave (which is impossible to even phrase because owning a person is abuse itself)…the fact that the owner’s have a slave at all isn’t the least bit humane. The passage can be compared to the satirical cartoon.

The satirical cartoon that is by an unknown author in 1832 (bottom) is arguing that there was mass production of literature and reports of the horrors of slavery. It’s apparent that this is a point that is being highlighted because on the bottom of the cartoon there are books and papers scattered all over the floor that read “Slavery” “horrible punishment” “brutal outrage” etc. The man that is coming out of the barrel is saying that the “suffering African called a slave” is facing violation of rights, he is saying that the slaves don’t have the reform bills that the white Britains have. However, the right part of the cartoon shows the slaves dancing with joy. There is a depiction of a mother, father, and son. The mother is grabbing the son, a toddler, and the father is telling the baby that he ate “yam yam” and that his belly is full. This is contrasted with the left that shows a white European family where the father has his face buried in his hand, and is grieving. The mother tasking the father why an “industrious and honest man” is starving in the country. The father is basically saying that the only way he wouldn’t starve is if he was a slave “fed by the parish”.

The cartoon is depicting the typical rhetoric used to further oppress people that have been victims of abuse saying: “it’s not that bad. Everyone is just sensitive” and “other people have it worse than you”. Similarly, the passage is excusing the owners, and saying ‘well they weren’t terrible, it was the overseers that were terrible’. While Equiano was for abolishing slavery, and his voice is extremely important,there are parts in his narrative where we see how the slave trade subconsciously internalized justification of certain parts of the institution.

-Beyanira Bautista

New Slaves

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

– Equiano, 105

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Christopher Luong