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Reading Harrison Bergeron was a great awakening for me. This might sound like a sort of like a conspiracy theory, but it seems like today's society. Maybe not to the extreme of physically having restraints on you. But people are willing to give up their freedoms in order to keep this country safe. The thought of not being able to think for yourself fully might as well be welcomed by people. This wont happen immediately but gradually where government will make it seem like it's the best decision for society and people will go along with it out of fear.
Patricia Smith's version of "Skinhead" in Def Poetry Jam was a powerful one. She spoke as the skinhead man who was pissed off at the world. He believes that he is superior to the blacks and the gays, that whites are a superior race. When in reality Patricia is trying to get people to understand his perspective and humanize the man. No one really knows what goes on in one's mind. She tried to put that in perspective by the way she voices the poem, her stance, and facial expressions. This was an act of resistance against the global hate.
So I watched Neil Hilburn's "OCD" video and it truly touched my heart. I have had people walk out on me and this reminded me that love is completely worth the time. The poem opened my eyes. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is no joke. But the love he had for that woman was unlimited. He payed attention to the details. This woman affected him so much, that the habits of locking the door 18 times a night or shutting off the light 15 times before bed changed as soon as she walked out of his life. This is a heartbreaking moment.
For chapters 1-3 in the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, it's fast-paced the way it goes from the gym and remembering a different time to the way it is with Aunt Elizabeth paroling the women while they were sleeping, to the room Offred is staying with her current Commander and his wife. Seems to be a cold type of society. Where people don't care much for the Handmaids but they are a necessity for the society to continue. People in power make the handmaids think that it is a privilege to live the way they are currently living.
"There is more than one kind of freedom said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of the anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it. This was in chapter 5 of The Handmaid's Tale. While this saying can be true in certain circumstances, the circumstance of the handmaids is not one if them. This infuriates me to my core. The handmaids aren't free at all. This is irony at its best. They used to be free to make choices, now they are free to shut up and obey government.
In the Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin, Mrs. Mallard is gently told the news of her husbands "death". She goes to her room alone and contemplates her new found freedom and her future as a widow. Instead of feeling sadness, she feels relief. She, of course, puts on a show for those who tell her. But then she looks outside of her bedroom window in relief and hop for the future. Her husband must have been a real pain. Chopin leaves this to us to interpret why the relief. She then drops dead when her husband didn't die.
In Susan Sontang's, "Against Interpretation" she expresses her view on the readers interpretation of literature. She says that interpretation makes art have less value. As human beings we have to have a reason for everything. Why did the artist use their precious and limited time to make this piece, or why did the author choose to write it's story this way? These are the questions we tend to ask ourselves to have it make sense and to conform the work into what we want it to mean. Why can we just appreciate the art instead of trying to change it?
Harriet Hawkins's, "Should We Study King Kong or King Lear?" is a work that contemplates about when studying and learning about certain parts of literature, should we stick to the classics (such as Shakespeare) of the literary canon created by a bunch of old white dudes, or should we also study the literature of today. There are those who would defend the traditional literary studies, claiming that since it is already known, it would be easier to each. While there are critical arguments insisting that what counts is the way you read the story, not what story that is chosen.
"Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway is a story about, an American man got his girlfriend pregnant and wants her to have an abortion. She is indecisive and he tried to tell her that he supports her either way. There are so many factors that could be in play and Hemingway left that for us to decide. But we never know whether she has the abortion or not. But that woman was in fear. She was afraid she would lose her man if she did it or kept the baby. Either way he was telling her anything she wanted.
In "The Star" by Arthur C Clarke, the Jesuit priest (also an astrophysicist) has a inner struggle throughout the story, about God. They go to the Phoenix nebula where they find the last surviving planet from a supernova. He struggles because everything he knew to be true, is questioned once this planet is found. They found evidence of life on this planet. As Christians, we are told that our earth is one of a kind and is a gift from God. But in the story, the priest is so confused about what is the truth and what is not truth.
"A & P" by John Updike talks about dress code. What is considered appropriate and inappropriate. If this were the case today, that manager would be labeled a sexist. There is a time and place for everything. They were wearing bathing suits in the middle of summer...shocker right? They should have been fine if they were just going to be in and out of they store, which they were. It is not like they were wearing sheer clothing where you could see everything, they were covered. And that shouldn't have been a problem. But then again it is 1961 after-all.
In "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Conner, the grandmother thinks that because she has lived longer that she can act like a hypocrite but she soon learns different when she meets The Misfit. In one of the last lines after The Misfit shot her dead, he says "She would have been a good woman, if it had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life". I know a few people who are that way. It is just a shame that it's when someone's life is on the line they change for the better.
"Popular Mechanics" by Raymond Carver is such a depressing story. It starts off in the middle of winter, with a man packing his bags because he's leaving his girlfriend/wife. They have an argument about who is taking the baby. They go outside and have the physical altercation with the baby in their arms and they end up dropping and killing the baby. I think it is ridiculous for them to try to peel the baby away from each other because look where it got them. They both lose the baby because of this fight. They should have walked away.
"Videotape" by Don Delillo is very frightening. To be honest, I think that the narrator is the Texas Highway killer that they mention later. He talks about the way one enjoys watching the video repeatedly, and the man having his wife watch it. That is fearfully our human instinct. Whether it is in our subconscious or not. We are captured by the entertainment of fighting, watching gore, and seeing blood spill in video games. It is human nature. Some are more captured by then others. The girl in the story must have been horrified accidentally videotaping the man getting shot.
Margaret Atwood's "You Fit Into Me" poem was strong in meaning. The first stanza and the second stanza contradict each other but also compliment each other well. The meaning of the poem is that a woman was loved and then hurt by someone she had feelings for. Could have been a toxic relationship where they loved each other but they were not good for each other. This poem went from love to hatred. It expressed emotional and even physical pain. Whether it is the pain she is feeling or is wanting to make the other person feel. She was hurting.
"This Is a Photograph of Me" by Margaret Atwood, goes from a remembrance poem to a dark one. It somewhat reminds me of The Lovely Bones, where the main character can look into her family's lives. A person came and took a picture of a lovely scenery. Including a beautiful tree with a cute small house and a lake. It could either be a random scenery picture, or it could be one of the pictures that the police investigators take at a crime scene. Either way the girl knew the place and she was describing the day in the afterlife.
Gwendolyn Brooks's "We Real Cool" is a poem about partying. The cool kids in the 1960's would skip school and smoke cigarettes and think that school was a waste of time. They wanted to get into enjoying life. Having fun was their number one priority. But they also knew that they would "die soon". They were afraid that they were wasting their life away on subjects that would not really help them in real world. They wanted to experience life itself, not read about it and wait until they were older. Life was passing by them and they needed freedom.
In Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken", "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference". This has me thinking. Most people would take the road most traveled because they know it is safe, that it will will lead you straight and true. But what is the difference between the road mostly traveled and the one less traveled? Does it only take one decision to change your life or does it take a series of decisions to get where you are? To choose a path not knowing the outcome is truly an act of faith.
Sharon Old's, "Sex Without Love", though written in 1984, it applies to day as well. There will always be those who have sex without needing love. It's just a physical thing. That is all people want today. Sex, without meaning, without any strings attached. Was there ever a time where sex had meaning? Where it was not just physical but also psychological and emotional? Does it mean anything anymore to the majority of the public? There are special cases, as usual with any other circumstance. It used to be more than "a mistake", or wanting side chicks at the ready.
In The Handmaid's Tale, there was a section of the book where the Commander asked Offred about what the missed and she said love. He explains that it's all science. How in the "old times" women would have different clothes to become "different women" and then currently there are now multiple women. Justifying in sexually objectifying women, and using women for their pleasure. Portraying them as objects. Of coarse myself, being a woman, I could not disagree more, but this was the meaning of the book. Love wasn't the point in Gilead. Reminds me of our current, millennial, young community.
Today I watched, Neil Hilborn's "The Future". He talks about having bipolar disorder and how it makes him unique. He talks about contemplating suicide. He talks about having disturbed cognitive functioning and that he calls it a superpower. He talks about seeing the future. How in the future, everyone is going to become like gravity and start drifting towards each other. And that he has "seen the future", and in it he saw himself. This video was truly inspiring because it helps those who have lost their way, realize that there IS more to do, and see in our lives.
Today, I am going to talk about the teachers of our community. Those who work in public schools, who have presented good grades and test scores of the students they teach...just to be betrayed by the Board of Education. The salaries are already low anyway but there are those teachers who love the job enough that they do not mind the pay. These teachers who care about their students should get raises. Teachers are starting to protest and actually not show up for work because what have they got to lose? They could get paid more in another profession.
Sabrina Benaim - "Explaining My Depression to My Mother". This video opened a part of myself that I locked away long ago. I too have tried to explain my depression to my mother, but she either did not want to understand or she just didn't care. I didn't understand it myself. I just knew that I never wanted to leave my room. It was like my safe haven, my way of never getting hurt by the world, but also feeling lonely at the same time. It was like a deep dark hold in the ground that I couldn't get out of.
William Faulkner's, "A Rose for Emily" is a strange short story. It is about a woman who is almost as old as the town itself, who became the town shut in when she reached old age. She was secretly psychotic. She kept her fathers corpse in her home when he died. I assume it was because he would not allow her to be happy and find a husband, so she felt he did not deserve a proper burial. She also kept him in the house to cover up her lover's murder she was hiding in the attic of the home.
Nayo Jones - "Healing" is a heartbreaking video. It makes me wonder how someone at such a young age would hate themselves so much and would want to die so young. But I have also been through the self hatred. I too have been told that I can not love anyone else without loving myself first. That is simply not true. Instead of loving myself, I make use of the love I have and spread it. There is a huge issue of young women at a young age who hate themselves but still out on a smile as if nothing's wrong.
A quote in chapter 10 in the Handmaid's Tale has gotten me thinking of our society today. "We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn't the same as ignorance, you have to work at it". Whenever we see something that makes us uncomfortable, we turn our heads away. We always ignore the true problem. When a homeless person is seen begging, does someone give them money every single time? Or do they turn their heads away and create an excuse. We live in a world where we doubt one another and ignore the problems we have to provide out own comfort.
There is a particular part in chapter thirteen of the Handmaid's Tale where Janine was telling her story of how she was gang-raped at fourteen and had an abortion. They made her think it was her fault. This was the mentality in the United States back in the 1980's, when the story was written, as well as today. They still try to blame the victims. Asking what they were doing, what they were wearing, why were they out so late. Trying to find any excuse to blame the victim. How was it her fault? She was fourteen years old.
"" a quote from The Handmaid's Tale. I wonder if Atwood meant that quote only for Offred when dealing with life in Gilead, or if she also meant it as a quote for those who were oppressed by the government at the time in the 1980's and anyone in the future. Did she use the novel as a means of resistance towards oppressive government. Or as a prediction of what path we are on? Giving us a quote that we could live by and tell ourselves in times of great sorrow. Dystopian societies seem more realistic every day.
"Sanity is a valuable possession; I hoard it the way people once hoarded money. I save it, so I will have enough, when the time comes". In chapter 19 of the Handmaid's Tale, this quote is said before the birth van comes and takes her to where Janine has her baby. This seems to be a foreshadowing of when Nick helps her escape. She could have let her subconsciousness disappear by this time and just be brainwashed like Gilead wanted. She holds on to her past. It is all that is getting her through the madness of her current situation.
"But remember that forgiveness is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest". In chapter 23, this quote had me thinking. Forgiveness is a power that we could use for this generation today. We could forgive generations before us who judge us and who practically lies to us in childhood. My generation was told as long as we work hard and do well that everything will be provided, as just the American dream. But that's just not enough anymore in today's economy. To forgive is our power.
The overall novel of The Handmaid's Tale was inspiring. No matter what you are put through, there is always hope, and there is always a way out. My question is though, if she had been like Ofglen, would she have been able to escape sooner or not at all? Was playing it safe the best option to get out of there? This makes me think that risk taking is not worth it when "slow and steady wins the race". I understand that to a certain extent that risks are worth taking. But all in all, should we play it safe?
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