Friday, October 30, 2015

Sample Map

Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Override Other's Pride

Hola all,

            I talked quite a bit in class on Tuesday and said pretty much what I think about the situation. I do believe that canons are a positive contribution to the literary world. I think that because is also looked as a means of “classification” it gets a lot of backlash. However, these authors have an identity and having a literary canon in a sense is only forming a sort-of literary community. This, as I see it, only mocks the “activist” aspect of our society. We have communities like LGBT, African Americans, Feminists, Physically/mentally impaired, etc. based off of the premise of activism, communal support, and calling for equality. These groups are grounded in the declaration of “being” the very “thing” that “casts” them as “different”. More often than not I have heard someone from the LGBT community (please correct me if I am misspoken, because I would hate to have done so) saying something along the lines of “I am gay and I am proud”. And most communities follow this form: “I am black and I am proud”,  “I am a strong and independent woman”, “My disability doesn’t mean I am unable”….etc. These groups openly claim these “labels”—not because it classifies them, or even is labels them in the restricting sense—but because it is an undeniable PART of whom they are. The inner identity, exterior identity—the identity—of a person is explicit for a purpose, and irrevocably theirs to determine.
To “come out” of the “closet” is a declaration of an inner identity. To not deny the person you love and your ability to love. It is to not deny yourself a chance of the most fundamental and instinctual forms of happiness—good sex (…and love). To be proud of your blackness is claiming pride in your heredity, the hurtles they and you overcame, your very being, and your essence. It is to truly love what others determine to hate. It is to recognize the power of strife that brings wisdom in the face of others’ ignorance. To claim your strength in womanhood is acknowledging the strength of your womb. The womb that: sustains the existence of humanity, sacrifices her nutrients, her form, and herself in order to nurture a new life--and, which all-the-while, has been the defining factor of her womanhood as being inferior to men. And to identify your impairment, you identify the abilities gained, which eclipse the ones compromised—the same abilities that surmount the average abled person’s. It is a declaration of achieved endowments, which exposes that even an abled body is an impairment when trying to facilitate the same level of achievement and capabilities of a “disabled” body.

If these communities were to dissolve into the acidic singularity of sameness, then where would individuality be? Where would someone be able to find pride in themselves and those alike by declaring their “difference” as an equal and special part of who they are? Or even, where would someone go to learn about one way of life to help put his or her own life into more perspective? Or where would someone go to support those alike or different from himself or herself? How could one celebrate themselves and others if the space has been suppressed into a bleak unidentifiable plain of? …something I cannot even comprehend. No longer would one allowed a space to rejoice in self love and take pride to combat hate. I personally see the function of cannons to parallel how our society has functioned. I would not deny the essential parts of myself because they are also the words that define the hate for others. I take pride. Cannon’s provide the space that accepts the surpassing greatness of each individual in light of a shared strife. If cannons were to be removed then, in my view, the very aspect of accepting the individuality of an author and their work along with acknowledging their role as a progressive piece in a common collective movement would be undone. To erase the specific role that someone played as an individual and in a particular community, in order to make a greater sense of “oneness” (as in no labels) is a turn away from acceptance, and towards tolerance. To only tolerate their uniqueness as being part of a general majority. Not to accept, appreciate, and honor the beauty those who defy the norm, define a personal norm, and celebrate it with those who share and support their chosen identity. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

No conclusions whatsoever...

I know I didn't contribute much to the discussion on Tuesday.  But that was because I wasn't even sure of my own opinion in regards to the one major comment I made.  Even now, days after our discussion, I'm still not at all sure of my own opinion on this subject.  I see the merits of forming a gay canon.  It would allow for a more open discussion of the issues and the things people in the LGBT community have to go through.  It would also form a definitive community of support for LGBT authors to which they could find a sense of belonging as well as from which they could gain recognition.  And I'm sure there are other merits as well that I'm just not thinking of right now.  However, I have a few fears or reservations regarding this formation of a gay canon.  For one, it would necessitate removing authors from the primary canon, which seems in some way wrong, like we're now saying they're not good enough to be in the primary canon anymore or like we're othering them.  Also, there would be a tendency to label gay authors as just gay and read their works from that point of view only when the authors might have wanted to say something different/make a different point.  So I'm not sure where the happy medium/solution is there, or if there is one at all.  But I think it's important to discuss it, even if we don't come to any answers, because it can at least make us more aware of the issues and other people's points of view.

Sorry this is so short and so late.  I didn't know what to think right after the discussion, and so I thought a few extra days to mull over the issues might help, but apparently they didn't...  This is a tough issue because it is so personal and involves the issue of identity, which is unique to each person.  Each person will have a different view of the issue, and because I'm the type of person who likes to take in all different viewpoints before formulating my own thoughts/opinions, this is a difficult subject for me to work through.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Reza Aslan Interview

Ok, guys, this is the video that both Nathan and Brenna mentioned last class. It raises the issues we were discussing last time--identity, authority, and who has the "right" to speak of what in an academic context--in a very dramatic way. I don't know what I find most amusing/disturbing here (though I'm partial to Aslan's insistence on the length of his endnotes.).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

You Get a Label! And You Get a Label!

What's up guys,
                        I know I really didn't say much in the conversation we had on Tuesday, but nonetheless I think they were important to address since a lot of us have very strong feelings about these certain issues. I want to start off by meditating one the "labels" point that we all got pretty hung up on. I understand that many of us want to say that we don't care about labeling people, beliefs, sexualities, whatever. I think we need to understand that from the start of large societies in the world people have been labeling people. Today, we label our clothes, TV shows, etc.  What I think is a negative aspect about this whole "labeling" dilemma we brought up is the fact that we use labels in negative lights most of the time. I think Sedgwick is saying the same thing when she brings up the strictness of canon, and even the creation of the "closet" in our society today. 
                     On page 71 Sedgwick writes: "The closet" and "coming out," now verging on all-purpose phrases for the potent crossing and recrossing of almost any politically charged lines of representation, have been the gravest and most magnetic of those figures." 
                     I think what Sedgwick is trying to get us to understand is the fact that our society, politically, socially, and morally, are attracted to using these labels of "coming out," "closet," and even "gay." This has plagued an opportunity to make our society more open, and meaningful as a whole. If we adopt a gay canon, it wouldn't exclude all the other great works of literature, or put the gay canon high up on a shelf where no other texts can be paired with it. It will increase an open-mindedness toward situations and conflicts that have been swept under the rug by human beings because we have a hard time facing the truth that we are not the same cookie cutter molds of beings like Son Mi in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. Sedgwick wants the literature we read to become less rigid as a "Canon." In fact, if we adopt these canons we can only diversify and make the canon that has been in place for years look itself in the mirror and question if it needs to change or not. 
                 Maybe I just went on a little tangent so I'm going to attempt to wrap this shit up nicely. We are delved in a society where there will always be labels. Good and bad. What makes them bad is the fact that our society puts a negative connotation, and the masses follow that connotation. Just like the masses follow the classic canon. I think we need to open our minds to the fact that with or without labels, we can actually do some good by delving into these labels, finding out where or why they came about, taking a good long look at ourselves and try to figure out a way to change the labels to an open-minded, and accepting identification of human beings. Sure, it's idealistic as hell but the conversation we all had on Tuesday is just a small step for changing something in this highly judgmental and prejudiced world. 

And the Hatemail Begins...

First up, in light of our discussion last time, I'll leave you with two links to two things I've already written on the topic.

One, the aforementioned Grizzly article that just got released today (Thursday). So far I've only received one positive email. Kind of a let down considering I was expecting Sports-Overvalued-At-Ursinus level retribution off the bat. I suppose we'll see:

Second link, the blog post that the Grizzly article I wrote was based on, that's a bit different but very similar obviously. At the very least, the title is less inflammatory:

Since I've already pitched my piece in class and now twice with those links, let me just take this space to respond to counterargument.

Here's how the most common one goes, which was levied frequently in class the other day:
"You just don't understand/grasp it. There are so many things about being an X that you can't know about since you're a Y. You may be able to intellectually comprehend (understand what I'm describing) this specific issue, and you may be able to emotionally empathize/sympathize with it, but you're still missing something important, namely the first hand experience of having gone through the experience."

Granted! There are things that I haven't experienced that I can't experience, and until you tell me about them as the X to my Y I won't know about them. I'm simply ignorant. You've conceded that I can understand them once you tell me about them, however. And you've conceded that I can empathize. So here's my question in response:

"I see you think that even though I can empathize and intellectually comprehend the present issue, you think I'm still missing something. Clearly I am. But, what practical implications does that gap really have? Does it severely impair my ability to discuss the issue with you? In what ways? It seems to me the ball is in your court. Unless you can tell me what my lacking the experience you've had does to my ability to talk with you, I'm not convinced that it does anything, especially if I've already been made aware of it."

I'd also respond with this pressure: If there's an irreparable gap between individuals based on personal experience that prevents them from discussing certain issues, how can we ever hope to fix that problem? Even within the same groups, say within the body of black female homosexuals of low socioeconomic status, I'd imagine that there are tremendous gaps of personal experience. Certainly you don't think that those gaps also prevent people from discussing relevant issues to them as a group?

Here's the second objection: "I'm not trying to say that you can't discuss the issue with X group! Certainly you can. But you have to realize that that something you lack is important."

Again, granted. But what practical implications does this have? I get that there are things I don't know about until I'm told because I haven't experienced them, and I get that I can't experience them. But where does this leave us? I don't think it changes anything, unless more argument can be provided to the counter.

Third objection: "You have to understand, as you are a straight upperclass white guy, you have a level of privilege that lots of others don't have. You can get your voice heard where others can't in larger society. That's a problem, because when you try to talk about issues relevant to a small demographic that has been oppressed in some way, you have the potential to intentionally/unintentionally silence them."

Granted! But, we have to recognize that this is a potential, not a guarantee. My desire to weigh in on feminist issues doesn't mean that women have less of a say in the discussion than I do, or that I'm trying to take away their voice. To the contrary! I hope that everyone, regardless of who they are, can work to ensure everyone else has an equal voice in every discussion, regardless of topic.

My thesis is, essentially, the argumentor ought to be wholly irrelevant to the evaluation of the argument. That is, I'm working to combat what I see as systematic ad hominem.