Sunday, May 15, 2011

Response to "The Tell-Tale Heart"

     The Tell-Tale Heart is an incredible manifestation of literary suspense and with this single aspect of disillusionment imposed upon the reader, Edgar Allan Poe creates a Gothic short story worthy of a complicated analysis. With alternate fact-based opinions, analyzers debate over the central character's sanity and verity, proclaiming the invalidity of the actual transpirations told of throughout Poe's work. However, with biased but significant evidence, the Tell-Tale Heart can be interpreted as an actual murder which happened within the story which was meticulously executed by an insane or schizophrenic individual.
     The recurring central motif featured in Edgar Allan Poe's short story is the beating of a heart. In the initial lines of the tale, the narrator clearly identifies his tribulations with anxiety. This detail leads readers to his heightened senses such as the case with his hearing, commenting he has the ability to hear occurrences in hell and heaven. Due to the narrator's acute nervousness during commonplace events, it can be assumed that his heart would beat at a much higher rate. During his malevolent stalking and eventual killing of the old man, the narrator often hears "the old man's heart beat" which loudly permeates through his chest to become an overpowering tenor. As a human heart cannot surmount such a volume, the narrator must be hearing his own heart-beat accelerating as he executes his schemes. After the man is killed, the narrator is subsequently confronted by police officers, inquiring about shrieks heard by neighbors. When nothing sinister is apparently revealed to them, the police sit by idly on the floorboards where the old man's remains were contained. Soon the narrator notices a tapping, resemblant of a heart-beat and with the polices' presence, the sounds can be seen as the narrator's heart beating more and more rapidly. His removal from his own bodily functions leads him to deduce that the old man's heart is beating under the floorboards.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Looking Through This Kaleidescope

     January isn't December. And the place of our sun isn't the difference. Sheer kinetic energy seems to fall down in people's minds, just as the temperature does when the nights sleep deeper. The frosty passion expressed weeks ago slides into the tundra of discontent and thick wooden doors creek shut when December withdrawal sets in with snowy tempests whistling through the old-growth oaks and silver maples. But those winds soon stop blowing and I open my door to the sound of absolute nothing.
      After slumber occupies my family's night, I awake to an overcast late morning. I stumble past the foggy windows and the pure whiteness coupled with the rays of light sneaking through the clouds cause my half-open and vulnerable eyes to cringe. While my backyard bequeaths me with its new glory, I adjust to truly view the architecture of the snow upon frozen tree branches and houses with steady smoke billowing from their brick chimneys. Content with my keen observations, my thoughts diverge to my sister, sleeping with no intent in getting up any time soon. Knowing this, I still feel she should join  me in the snow. So I loudly run to her room and stand next to the side of the bed she is on.
     No use, calling her name and tapping her shoulder in swift succession causes her to only stir. I resolve to search for another to plow through the now still and pristine neighborhood because suddenly, this snowfall transforms into an undiscovered wonderland, packed with undiscovered possibilities. Before, fields of sparse grass were simply fields, jungle-gyms were attractions already visited. But now, now I imagine the fields as enormous blue glaciers I can traverse to reach the base of Vinson Massif in Antarctica or Aconcagua in the Andes. The jungle-gym now served as a training camp for our daring pursuits to scale its slippery structure and fall carelessly down into the snow if we had the guts.
    
  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Silver Lining

"Silver Lining" by Rilo Kiley

And I'm not going back
Into rags or in the hole
And our bruises are coming
But we will never fold

And I was your silver lining
As the story goes
I was your silver lining
But now I'm gold

Hooray hooray
I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray
But now I'm gold

And I was your silver lining
High up on my toes
You were running through fields of hitch-hikers
As the story goes

Hooray hooray
I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray
But now I'm gold

Hooray hooray
I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray
But now I'm gold

And the grass it was a ticking
And the sun was on the rise
I never felt so wicked
As when I willed our love to die

And I was your silver lining
As the story goes
I was your silver lining
But now I'm gold

Hooray hooray
I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray
But now I'm gold

Hooray hooray
I'm your silver lining
Hooray hooray
But now I'm gold

But now I'm gold
But now I'm gold 


     The initial lines of "Silver Lining" by the group Rilo Kiley allude to a time when the speaker was confined to a lesser and belittling condition as is evident by "rags" and by "hole." In the following lines, the speaker tells of how the hurt of the past (bruises) will surface but even with the pain outwardly manifesting and submitting to it is unheard of. The rags or the hole could be the neglect she inflicted upon herself by investing in the relationship. The events and emotions expressed with the former partner may be enticing but looking back, the speaker can't succumb to the old way of life where her own interests took the back seat. 
     The metaphor of the speaker as silver lining illustrates her position within the rapport, explaining how she helped make the relationship coagulate by giving up her true self. The speaker is only an addition to her partner and for this fact, she notices how her self-worth has depreciated in her opinion. In the fourth stanza, the speaker demonstrates her anxiety and displeasure whilst participating in the relationship and the partner realizes her thoughts, scrambling for ideas or ways to get to their ideal destination. However, in following lines, the speaker has a heart-breaking and terrible epiphany to end their correlation for her own good. Finally, with the inhibitions built by her partner cast aside, she can rise to her potential to be the person she was meant to be, thus achieving her idea of fulfillment or "gold" rather than "silver." This song isn't necessarily confined to love but encompasses all relationships where being true to the inner-self is torture.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the Reservation

     Native American reservations in the United States and in Canada are the epitome of imperialism. In short, "more sophisticated" civilizations stepped on land and deemed it their God-given burden to have dominion over the indigenous peoples. Succeeding this indignant annexation, the imperialists, or "patriots and nationalists" as they called themselves, encircled the native population, told them to pick-up all of their belongs and put them in secluded areas where they could "continue their lives" without Western interference. These reservations have existed as a constant reminder of who was ultimately stronger and who "acted on behalf of the people." Colonists and pioneers proceeded to destroy the landscape and to purge the land of plants and animals.
     Life on the reservations wasn't technically identical to the Native Americans' initial conditions. They were allotted a specific area of land in the wild and they had to make their bearings off where they lived. As is the case in Larry Watson's Montana 1948, Native American life was close to unbearable; their people weren't normally viewed as socially acceptable within the white Americans and if they tried to acclimate to the typical dwelling of a common American, they would be seen as "trying to be white." The physical land which the reservation was situated on was particularly unfavorable. No food could grow from the rough earth, summers were oppressively hot and winters were unremitting in its abuse. The new Americans may have rationalized that by taking Native American land and simply moving it somewhere else was justified. However, they failed to realize by acting as such, they stole what was most prized by their own kind: liberty and freedom.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who's tellin the truth?

     In periods of civil unrest and displeasure, the most effective vehicle to inflict an indentation among society is propaganda, an observation corroborated  historically. Propaganda acts as an appeasement, as a rallier or as a brain-washer. Wars and crises are where propaganda is used most efficaciously due to the people's support for their nation and their fellow citizens. However, since propaganda denotes a twisting of truth or in short, a lie, it can cause people to be led erroneously to commit immoral actions. Such has been the cause with every single war in the 20th century on both sides. Now all instances may not entail lies but still vicariously attempt to push people's favor to the group's ideas or ideals as is evident in the specimen above where the United States of America insinuate that Communism which was slowly taking hold around the world would be the ultimate demise of the country. It promotes a feeling of contempt for the Soviet Union and its influences deterring Americans from looking into Communism and causing it to become a taboo subject.
     Propaganda can also be applied locally especially with race. In the United States, racial propaganda was used to unfavorably cast light on African-Americans following their Emancipation. However, it was also used by America during World War II to isolate Japanese citizens because of the country's involvement against the Allies and it was also used against Native Americans to suppress sympathy for their plights. The America of yesterday wrongfully published stereotypical material to aid in its complete control and "safety" of white citizens. With all of the acts committed following the distribution, it is evident that the messages in the propaganda took hold and the pain these races endured stemmed from the brain-washed ignorance of those unethical people. Ironically, lies can resonate louder than the truth can in places where the truth is fostered like America.        

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hip-Hop nowadays...

     Hip-Hop or urban culture is in crisis. The problem is that these artists make music or art only to please others. In return, they are award a large sum of money and continue producing mediocre and sometimes ridiculous works which at first glance or at first note already seem uninspired and mainstream. For physical art just as graffiti and paintings, artists aren't in such of a dilemma as music "artists" are. Rappers write about partying in clubs, drinking and having twenty women in the back of the limo on their way to the hotel where they will  party some more. Hip-Hop stars will sing about ANYTHING to become famous such as catching grenades and sound like broken records when the majority of their songs are syllables or vowels repeated ad infinitum. In short, they are generally sell-outs that need the money to keep up their mansions' taxes.
     Hip-Hop culture showcased in the movie Beat Street is on the whole other end of this spectrum. The characters in it create music and art as a form of expression where they don't need compensation for their work. They do it for their own inner gratification and also for the pleasure of others. Making music, break-dancing, graffiti and singing all are their passions and they continue to make art even when they aren't recognized or reimbursed. They are original and true to themselves and it resonates with the quality of their work. A look back at earlier times of Hip-Hop culture would benefit this suffering society.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"It's time to get beat"

     Richard Wright has countless issues with "hunger" in his autobiography, Black Boy. His childhood family is incredibly dysfunctional and every adult he meets he gets abused by. Richard develops a hunger for attention which stems from his experiences of being mistreated and disregarded. If he asks a question, he will get shot down by his mother and eventually beat which becomes a commonplace happening in his day because of his countless "transgressions." If he reaches out to someone, as he did with the teacher, Ella, he will be called a devil worshiper by his grandmother and the beatings will commence. Since Wright has no social outlet within his family who all but dismiss him with threats of a whipping, young Richard attempts to connect to with total strangers at the local bar. There he is the center of attention; drinks are bought for him, jokes are told to him and he is carted around the room in his innocent drunkard state. However, after his stint as the bar messenger, he is back in the same predicament. In the initial chapters of the book, Richard Wright focuses on his mother's outward relationship with him and this section is riddled with hostility. He disobeys his superiors because they anger him with their hurtful actions such as when Richard killed the kitten after his father scolded him. He misbehaved just to spite them because they didn't provide the attention he needed. A normal person cannot live a life of isolation and neglect before turning bitter and deranged. It traumatizes and disables trust to exist in that person. Wright becomes mentally scarred from the lack of attention and retreats to his thoughts and to his misbehavior.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"On Being a Mexican American"

     In Jose Mendoza's short essay describing his Hispanic childhood and then his Americanized adulthood, some interesting points are brought up that resonate with me. The author tells of his transition from a person engulfed in his ancestor's native culture to a man who has set these traditions aside for new ones. I hypothesize that when he became "anglocized", he truly became an American who now embraced this lifestyle. I feel that to be a bona-fide  American, a person cannot have culture. America contains such an enormous spectrum of people and backgrounds that a pronounced identity isn't evident to me. In this regard, I would be an American because my European roots have been all but suppressed in preceding generations. Maybe this fact is why my family is so extremely open to new experiences and especially new foods. In fact, we fervently seek out culture via restaurants and traveling. 
     In my view, most immigrants come to the United States to obtain a better life, more prosperity or safety in our tolerant land. However, they aren't willing to turn away from their culture to become American; they only seek solace and opportunity. With Mendoza, his ancestral identity was still "Mexican" for the initial years of his life but they appeared to reside in an only Mexican neighborhood. Therefore, they only left the geographic vicinity of Mexico, not the cultural vicinity. So these people retained their culture and were only pseudo-Americans. However, this isn't a bad thing because everyone who lacks culture wants it but I believe that it is a sacrifice to be apart of a culture-less nation. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

King still KING?

     Without a doubt, the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are absolutely still prevalent and relevant in today's society. However, now, his cause in the United States isn't as large and significant of a problem within most current communities. King did also preach about acting against injustice which he believed was a extraordinary moral obligation of those who witness it. Nowadays, if a law is passed and viewed as a transgression against the people's rights, there will definitely be an uproar of grievances, leading to fervent protests by the opposition and by proponents such as the outlawing of guns in certain areas and the refusal to marry homosexual couples. However, in my opinion, King's most relevant teaching is that if a person witnesses injustice, they must act to help to bring justice to those who practice it. I feel that those who observe such an act and do nothing about it are as guilty as those who committed the act which is a slightly altered version of Martin Luther King Jr.'s opinion. Allowing these events to take place, in the long run, condones them and it will be continued to be so until someone makes a move to stop it, like Dr. King and the thousands of others who fought or are fighting for equality on all levels internationally. Injustice will always be present so long as privileges are in place for a certain group and to counter this inequality, people should take the initiative to make sure they don't get away with it. In the words of MLK: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Children of Seattle

     The downfall of civilizations is always of vital importance when analyzing history. The multiple despotic regimes of Haiti and the numerous invasive Americans of European descent contribute to the dissolving of innocence and to the presence of death in the regions they inhabit. In Edwidge Danticat's narrative (Children of the Sea) of two ill-fated lovers in Haitian apartheid, the submission of the peaceful but frightened citizens resembles the outlook of the author of other short story soon discussed: This Sacred Soil by Chief Seattle. A prominent theme in Children of the Sea is sacrifice; the female counterpart's father saves her life while risking his own and the male counterpart witnesses a mother's grief and sadness overcome her when she must submit her stillborn child to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The mother jumps in with the baby and is lost to the sea like many other Haitians who attempted to reach the United States via boats. This detail can be then specifically related to the other story.
     This Sacred Soil by Chief Seattle describes his people's downfall and ultimate acceptance of "White Man" occupation. However, he acknowledges how the Native Americans are more connected with nature and the earth, respecting each living being and each other. Chief Seattle notably comments on how his people will remain on earth, "haunting" the land they lived on, in a sense. Now, like the Haitians, a people neglected by Western society succumb to the ever-present pressure from them and fade into time. Their soil becomes hallowed with their souls and past memories just as the Gulf of Mexico was by the multitude of African descendants how lost their lives to escape to a better place.