Professor Robb’s Unit
Plato: This allegory reminds me of the idea of subjecting a child to a world devoid of color, and have this experiment continue for some years until one day they are exposed to an apple in full color. I think about this a lot, because I imagine like in the movie Pleasantville that this would be a fantastic new experience for someone that is also quite scary. Beyond that, it makes me wonder whether there are any senses or experiences or colors that we are missing out on (certainly so) and in that case how I would react if they suddenly became apparent to me. This also connects to that one species of shrimp that are able to see a plethora of color wavelengths and how for all our complexities our eyes only absorb a very narrow slice of visible light in the color spectrum. We are surely limited in these various ways but it also makes me wonder what life would be like or if it were ever possible to put a person who has experienced the real world back into Plato’s cave and how long it would take for their brains to let go of the systems of reality that it previously held.
- Upon finishing the reading it also makes me wonder whether returning to the cave and forgetting the sun and whatnot might be the most ideal move for a former resident of Plato’s cave. Arrival does make me wonder about the merit of not returning to this state similar to how Louise choses to have a child despite knowing her tragic ending.
Borges: I like the idea of nouns being replaced with verbs, it makes for an interesting thought about what constitutes and object and why we view them as fixed beings or bodies instead of, as they are, constantly changing and shifting due to the flow of time and space and more. I can also get behind the idea that time does not exist, and I particularly enjoy the description of the future as simply hope for the present. It is easy to believe this since time’s impact on us is intangible. It also sounds like the idea that the universe is a tomato slice on a cosmic sandwich would be welcomed on Tlön. I also love the idea that the first nine coins lost in the desert are not the same nine coins you find on the days following when you lost them, it reminds me of the idea that the universe is only what you are immediately aware of right now in front of you and, like a video game, everywhere you aren’t is simply paused code waiting to be rendered by your peripheral glance for example. It then follows that maybe the things you return your eyes to after looking away are not the same objects you were previously looking at. The one electron theory is also popular on Tlön.
Professor Green’s Unit
There is so much in Fanon that helps explain the realities of Omari’s world and the complexities of his experience as a Black man. Fanon writes that “I was responsible at the same time for my body, for my race, for my ancestors” (Fanon 84) which is no less true for Omari. In that classroom the moment he pushed his teacher, he was being treated in a fashion every Black student can relate to with expectations placed on him to speak up because the topic concerns Blackness. On top of that he is pushed further by the material being extra uncomfortable to talk about but he is nevertheless pressed. Here I see him being responsible for Bigger Thomas, who though fictional is still someone he has to answer for and it is an unfortunate reality because he should not have to.
One quote that illuminates Omari and Xavier’s struggles in general that would have led up to that moment is the line “I am the slave not of the ‘idea’ that others have of me but of my own appearance (Fanon 87) during the discussion of juxtaposing antisemitism and Blackness. Here, Fanon is explaining the unique plight of Black people where they are unable to avoid persecution because of their obvious physical features. Because of the color of their skin they are immediately subjected to prejudicial treatment and discrimination. In every room they enter and during every interaction they have it is an unavoidable consequence.
On the subject of animals, I think Fanon explains it well that “his customs and the sources on which they were based, were wiped out because they were in conflict with a civilization that he did not know and that imposed itself on him” in reference to Black men. These men’s anger is totally traceable to the fact that they are confronting which is that they have been put into a box where they cannot be seen to be anything else. The awkwardness being Black in this world can manifest itself in anger but also in the appearance of the impossibility to exist as anything else, that those roles have already been reserved for white people and in order for that to be true they must force Black people into their role. In order to maintain the status quo of superiority white people have to continually oppress and provoke Black people into confirming what they believed to be true, and that is the legacy of what these characters are experiencing in this moment as they struggle to connect in a way that might have been possible had they been spared from this truth.
Professor Fache’s Unit
This article had a lot of lines relevant to our society today, but a lot of the discussion around the savagery of the colonizers can be applied to Sara Baartman’s story. Her act is equatable to the “sadistic pleasures, nameless delights” that dehumanize colonizers. Throughout the reading I found it unusual to describe the colonizers as the ones being dehumanized given the literal animalification of Sara and Black people in general throughout time. But it was an apt description as the figures Césaire mentioned went to lengths I wouldn’t have ever even imagined, yet these brutalities did happen and were even seen as a source of pride. For these actions and actions like it, detailed by beheadings and wheelbarrows of ears and more gruesome acts, I can understand how they lost anything resembling of a conscious in committing them. Furthermore, the idea that in viewing another human as an animal one becomes transformed into the very animal you pretended to see is a perfectly tragic example of irony that relates to Sara’s handlers in the film.
Some more lines I found interesting in general were the idea that “they tolerated Nazism before it was inflicted on them” and the complicity of Europeans in the subjugation of Black peoples was something I hadn’t thought about before but is so true. And another poignant part of the article was the inspection of where colonizers and the colonized come face to face, and how brutality and oppression run rampant. This sad, systemic cycle was still there when Sara was alive, was there when she was laid to rest in South Africa, and is still present today.
It is impossible to talk about Josephine Baker without acknowledging her Blackness and how influential that was to her life, which Fanon perfectly sets the foundation for. From when Josephine Baker was born and alive to now it is an awkward thing to be Black in a white world. The idea of corporeal malediction is doubly applicable for Baker considering the importance of her body to her identity and how Fanon provides the language to describe how the world imposes a certain box almost for Black people and the dysfunction having a Black body has as it grinds against the world’s standards. It make a lot of sense to me now why we are studying her with the title of this unit being ‘the Body,’ and why this reading is so important in developing this concept as it in particular illuminates the realities of the Black body. One way it does so is by explaining that the “black man’s metaphysic…was wiped out because they were in conflict with a civilization that he did not know and that imposed itself onto him.” The body makes so much sense here as there is a clear lack of autonomy detailed which sets the context for Baker and the struggles and successes she sees.
Professor Tamura’s Unit
even in davidson / followed by the the world’s sins / the dirt of the graveyard screams
Professor Bory’s Unit
I’m really beginning to see the connection between no form and the language of loss. In looking for things that’ll be up to par with what my classmates have put forth, my eyes caught the flowers sitting perched on my wall. I was planning on writing 2-2= 4 on a piece of paper as an ode to how no form is very punk rock and postmodernist in how it approaches our most steadfast and conventional rules, but that felt too stark but now this is feeling too deep so this is my way of cheating and putting both to split the difference. (To go into that quickly, it’s written square in the middle of the first page of our little red notebooks where I looked at it really hard trying to conceptualize what this would actually mean, if this were the case but everything stayed the same. To have no form is something that runs counter to what we believe about our universe yet paradoxically exists within it. It’s a fun exercise to feel the tickle in my brain trying to envision this and spinning on its tracks. I’m gonna read into the list of paradoxes that I have a tab open on later on account of how mind melting this experience is).
Onto the roses, I have no reason for loving them as much as I do. These flowers are old, dry, brittle and wilted. They are from a time I don’t remember nor want to for fear of that transient moment in between time where they come from grounding itself in reality and losing its specialness (I’ve had them for forever though, and they did die in my care – not a great botanist). They’re from a place I, again, only ever briefly catch a glimpse of in my minds eye and that’s as much as I want. To add, these weren’t some special flowers or something, they just sort of came into my possession, died, and made their way onto my wall. I couldn’t have anticipated their impact. A formative album and song from my childhood was called ‘dead roses,’ a clue maybe, but that album is formative in the unconscious way that you only realize once you’re much older (basically now) so I’m unconvinced this is related. I do find them aesthetically pleasing to look at which, and when I’m older I might continue the tradition and keep some dead flowers around but I wonder if the memory of how these ones make me feel is the only way to keep the magic alive.
That’s the intertwining of the language of loss and no form: the feeling these flowers give does not belong to me, I find it every time my eyes wander over to them. I can’t really describe it as anything in particular. This disembodied feeling grasps onto the flowers like a conduit and I didn’t realize what this was until finishing these readings.
Professor Luis’ Unit
Joel Simon’s “The Sinking City” is an informative piece on the lack of water in Mexico City. It is historically minded and explains exactly how these conditions were brought about due to the choices of those in the past and how they were responsible for creating the crisis. “Despite the report on the sinking, the Mexican government went right on pumping water from the aquifer” (4). The piece acts as an accounting of the trail that starts centuries ago. In fact things have been so far in motion for so long that it is unlikely to be easily reversed. The theme of bearing witness to the decisions history might let repeat if we don’t remember becomes clear throughout the passage. Within the conversation we’ve been having this unit, the tendency to skirt culpability and push off responsibility to generations that will be powerless to act upon such knowledge is key. Likewise, the malleability of history is connected because the existence of and spreading of awareness of otherwise unfavorable narratives like selfish business decisions is the only antidote and weapon to fighting this and getting the truth out there no matter the political cost.
Professor Will’s Unit
With the liberty of thinking of passages that might not even actually be in the Bible, my mind went to the story of a father who had sex with his daughters in the old testament and was punished by God. It was for some purpose like child rearing which was a normal thing in the earliest stories of the Bible post Cain and Abel but when this story in particular happens I think it is not very acceptable, hence the punishment from God. The punishment is something very biblical like they all die or someone kills the sons unexpectedly or something. I believe the father was tempted by the daughters which is why I remember it so vividly because it’s a really weird story but it could possibly have been the other way around if at all. I also remember the visual of the a cave it might take place in. As I recall I could be confusing this with the story of Job and if any sex happens in there. Even if the individual story I have in mind is inaccurate God punishing a father that has sex with his daughters has to have happened at some point so I give it a 9/10 confidence rating.
Professor Denham’s Unit
! this is an insane time to live in across the globe the only comparison I can make to my life now might be the pandemic and other recent current events but a more sustained era of more political revolutionaries seems to be long gone. It makes me think about why this might be, what caused this decline in the popularity of leadership and movements like this at this scale. Was the terrorism and violence too much for the 21st century? But even leaders like MLK have been assassinated and their memories whitewashed by history with nobody taking their place.
? There were lots of bullets flying so it was hard to get a grasp of what was going on in between the more action packed scenes. I just watched the movie Network and it makes reference to an American heiress and socialite that was sucked in to a similar political terrorist group and developed Stockholm Syndrome and became a prominent member of said group, carrying out bank robberies and such and so I wonder in what ways these situations parallel.