Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sexism: The Archaic 50's

Repression. Pain. Anguish. The screams of the forgotten bellow amidst the lines’s of Syliva Plath’s poem “Daddy.” Plath depicts the totalitarian conformity of femininity throughout her work. Her father figure was simply that; a figure. A statue of manhood in command of his home. She recalls “so I never could tell where you put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you. The tongue stuck in my jaw”(Plath). Plath feared her loathsome father. He did not respect her as a person. She was controlled by the pressures of societal expectations. Her depiction of the dominance over femininity is quite accurate and enlightening. In no way is her portrayal offensive in regard to her mention of the Nazi Regime. It was simply a metaphor of epic proportions. She so desired to depict the fallacy of the prominence of man. All must be equal. All must be free. 

Syliva Plath not only depicts the injustice of the American man, but also his sinful nature. After being married and separated, Plath writes “the vampire who said he was you and drank my blood for a year, seven years, if you want to know. Daddy, you can lie back now. There’s a stake in your fat black heart”(Plath). Men not only desired unparalleled control, but also indulged in gluttony. Man held the reign guiding the government into the bowels of sexism and subjugation. He desired to “feed” off the woman. Take all she could give for his own. Plath’s illusion of the vampiric, parasitic nature of man simply evokes a necessity for change in regiment. Was Plath just in her metaphor of the Nazi Regime? Does she accurately depict the nature of society during her exploration into the fallacy of the male role?  
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A Vibrant Stream of Exploration

How does one begin to expand consciousness? The mind is the apex of a physical being; blood rushing, pumping into the all mighty power source. Many think the heart is in regulation of emotion, while in fact it is not. The heart does not break in times of despair, the mind does. The mind breaks down into its rawest state. The mind holds the answers. “No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride... and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well... maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten”(Thompson). In times  of exploration, the culmination is the point in which the mind frees itself from the norms of reality. The two men were not sure as to what they were getting into, but knew it would be a wild ride. The goal was not destroy the body, but yet free the mind. It is simply about the ride. Let it take you. Glide into a real where conformity is obliterated into fragments of delusion and chaos. 

Piece by piece we entwine the enigmatic pieces of the puzzle which define our lives. Some refuse to adhere to a world of such normality. “But our trip was different. It was a classic affirmation of everything right and true and decent in the national character. It was a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country-but only for those with true grit. And we were chock full of that”(Thompson). To escape from the bounds of reality is to surge into a world of sustenance. In an era of newfound freedom, drugs released the true being into a world of colors and emotions. The world was no longer black and what, but a vibrant stream of stirring pigments. To jump into the water was the first step to becoming a new, enlightened being. Is exploration necessary for the human experience? How did the drug use of the 60's and 70's change an era?  

Also, I apologize for the lateness of my posts. I had strep throat all last week and was exhausted. I guess better late than never! 
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Where have you been

Joyce Carol Oates' "Where are you going, where have you been", was an extremely uncomfortable read.  Connie seemed at first like a typical pretty high school girl.  She would look at other people to guage how she looked or felt herself.  Her mother was a bit on the unloving or unfriendly side, maybe because she wasn't as pretty as her daughter, and had some jealousy because of it.  The line about her having to sides to everything, one at home and one everywhere but home gave me the sense that she was always hiding something and always putting on a front.  At the end of the story, when the two men are threatening her and she wants to call the cops but knows by their tone that they will do what they have to in order to have their way with her.  This is where Oates draws the line of Connie going from child to adult.  She wanted to let her family remain safe, and in turn gave the man what he wanted, we can only assume.  I guess at a situation like that, considering that the most heroic thing she can do is basically volunteer to get sexually abused, I  don't know what to think.
Arnie Friend is a lunatic who found out everything about Connie so he would know just when to come to her house and do what he wanted.  He was a master manipulator who eventually got what he wanted, and likely ruined Connie's life for self pleasure.
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The Boston Poets

Lowell, Plath and Sexton. It's strange how these three influential poets lives crossed, and how parallel they seem despite thier differences. Lowell was my least favorite of the three and I guess that's because I felt unable to understand his struggle as much as with Plath or Sexton whose lives were unimportant they felt if they were not married. I believe Lowell felt the same but to a much lesser degree, his poetry reflected his failed marriage and the seperation of his son, he wrote the poem "Near the Ocean" for his former wife Elizabeth Hardwich Lowell. Honestly even that poem to me seemed trite and I had a difficult time absorbing the meaning of his words and what exactly he was trying to say or feel. Where in Sexton's poetry especilly I made an immediate connection and I feel like I understand her. In her poem "Housewife" she talks about losing yourself to become somone else, some THING else, a housewife. " It's another kind of skin; it has a heart, a liver and bowel movements." (Sexton 3049). She's talking about this seperate thing you become apart of when you are married, this role you are expected to fill and the way you lose your identity when you fill it. That happened to me when my husband and I were first married, I fell into a depression and felt like I'd lost everything about me that I'd love. I cleaned and cooked, did the laundry and pleased my husband but I was so unhappy. I see all of this in her poem, of course I found myself again and my marriage is much better for having gotten out of that and talking about what was going on with me but reading this immediatly took me back there, and reading Sylvia Plath's introduction shined a light to her depression and why both women were emotionally unstable and spent a fair share of time hospitalized and both chose to end their lives early. It's so unbelievably tragic, their pain and suffering is so beautiful in their writting and you truly fee what they were feeling. Living in a society with expectations that they could not fulfill, I think that's why for Lowell despite having similar struggles it's different, there isn't this extreme pressure or expectation to get married. And womans worth is determined by her martial status and a mans is not and that's something he just couldn't understand. Yes it hurt him that he and his wife divorced but it didn't define him, but for her and Plath and Sexton when they left their husbands there was a stigma of FAILURE places upon them despite all their academic and literary success they were less than because their couldn't stay married. It's tragic. 

Is the role in life Plath and Sexton were expected to fill comparable to the role that Lowell also filled? If there a gender to topics in poetry and in suffering? Does the death of the authors or the way that they died change the way their poetry is read? 

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Sunday, September 28, 2014


Says the man who wrote Manhattan, romanticizing a grown man's relationship with an underage girl. Apparently his life's story was fine for the page.  It's a funny thing that Kerouac and Hemingway's escapades can be written and re-written about and rarely see the same scorn.  We as a culture tend to romanticize young deaths, suicide or otherwise, James Dean, Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe - because of the potential that was lost, and the eternal youth we're now left with.  Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, and Cory Monteith will be this generation's group - Amy even joins the proverbial "27 Club" and Joan Rivers still joked about her death.  Why do people feel the right to scorn these young people, even in untimely death?  Whereas I've had plenty of people jump down my throat for saying anything il of Ms. Rivers - someone who got to live a long life and got to tear down those who were already down.  Does age allow us a level of respect not offered to (basically) kids who die?  People like Woody Allen, Joan, and others who are now older than these tragic youths feel the right to scorn them even if death?  If Sylvia had lived a long and tragic life, dying of old age - would she still be considered the hero of silly college girls?  Would her books still be sold in Urban Outfitters, much to the scorn of our parents?
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

How much sin can one take?

"In a town full of bedrock crazies, nobody even notices an acid freak." (13)

I find the idea of the people raised and working in Las Vegas more interesting than the city itself a lot of the time.  The people who have to accommodate the guests coming and going around them, all looking for a very specific "Vegas Experience" and expecting to be handed whatever that entails.  It's a lot to live up to, like any big city, Milan, Los Angeles, Tokyo, out-of-towners have certains ideas in their head of what they're going to see.  Vegas however, is the only place I can think of, where your expectation, and intent, is to do bad things.  You expect to be able to go to Vegas, live in a land of vice for a few day and skate away.  Now many of the people living and working there, have no interest in giving you that experience, it's not actually their job.  They're restaurant works, bartenders, cab drivers, and even most of the people who work at the hotels along the strip.  However the fact still remains, this is where you go to be bad.  No wonder Gonzo Journalism is the perfect fit.  Take a bunch of drugs and just write everything until you pass out - in a town like that, it's the only way you can write.  No one is going to go to Vegas and sit in their hotel room typing away on their work, usuing only their imagination and taking in the scenery.  That's for Paris, London, New York - those are cities you can sit in.  

Anthony Bourdain went to Vegas for his show Parts Unknown, highlighting many of those very people, the ones who are still there, even once the dust clears and the crowds fall into a stupor.  Most of the people there are much more cynical than those who arrive - so the question remains, what's the point?  What does it really offer?  

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Sylvia Plath makes me sad

I've always heard that Sylvia Plath's poetry was fairly depressing, and I've come to find out that's in fact very true. They not only had sad topics (especially Lady Lazarus), but they also all had incredibly somber tones. All I'm saying is that I'm glad I read this at the end of summer and not the beginning because I probably wouldn't recover. Not that these are issues with the work itself, I'd just rather not be sad. The fact that I'm that worried about it ruining my summer actually says a lot about the work itself. It has a certain level of class without feeling too informal and unrelatable. It's really authentic and honest.

But of all the poems for this half of the week, the one that stood out to me the most was Housewife by Sexton. Unlike something like Lady Lazarus, it doesn't feel like this thorough, epic confession, but it's very short and says exactly and only what it wants to say. It goes right back to the whole feminism thing that came up in the reading last week and I think I found this one more interesting than those. It just has a really interesting approach to the (at this point in time) well used criticism of the role of the housewife, and by not making it anything too big and stays really direct (it doesn't go into too much rational behind the argument, just state the argument itself), I think it makes itself harder to argue against and easier to keep in the back of your mind.
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As you see I really fell for the girls out of the three authors in this section.  They both cam from extreme families.  They both went to top rated schools and I enjoyed their readings.  Sexton poem 'Housewife" when you read this it doesn't sound like the title.  A housewife is a person that takes care of their family by making sure there needs are fulfill as to what they need as food clean clothes, and a clean home.  But as you look at  the first line "Some woman marry houses" To me that is the woman that thinks more on how well she want that building to look.  That still does not mean that a home or a house.  Line 5 "See how she sits on her knees all day."  I take that as she is praying for her family and praying that her house is a house of peace.  Her Poem 'Somewhere in Africa " really lets you know that she was a spiritual woman and she put God first in her life.  The book should have put this poem before "Housewife" then I think you would have gotten a full understanding of what  her poems was all about.

     Now as I look at Plath poems her writing was really about becoming a single parent and raising her sons.  Her poems that was really written for her children because she  knew after separating from her husband that  they was going to need something to remember him by.  But she then took her own life, so now her sons have two voids to fill.  To me I think both of these ladies was always thinking about the other people or family members that they really cared deeply about.  So you can say that they did  have something both in common.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

the Gonzo

My husband and I are huge fans of Hunter S. Thompson. There are few authors we agree on but we love him, Palahnuick and Vonnegut. He introduced me to this maniac writing style of quasi-journalism mixed with person testimony and a whole lot of hallucinations. I found it quite entertaining; the thought of a man paid to tell the story of a race in the middle of the desert instead telling the story of his drugged out adventure on writing the article itself. Of course this style of writing now has a name but before Thompson Gonzo journalism wasn't really a thing and even during his time he wasn't often taken to seriously. Even by the liberal media as far as his news reports were concerned. But no one could deny that this style of writing was entertaining. Rereading this excerpt played out exactly like the movie staring Johnney Depp. Drugged out speeding down the high way with Benecio Del Toro in the drivers seat and a very strange looking Tobey Macquire in the back. I feel as though I can literally see Thompson swatting at these imaginary bats. One element of the story that I believe stands out in the book far greater than in the movie is the sense Thompson and especially his lawyer have that the world around them is full of crazies and going to shit and in fact they are the last few sane members of society. When Thompson's attorney threatens to bomb the electronics store and burn down the sales associates house then says "'That'll give him something to think about,' he muttered as we drove off. 'The guy is a paranoid psychotic, anyway. They're easy to spot .'" (Thompson 7). It's just the irony that makes me laugh calling the sales man a psychotic but they see nothing wrong with speeding down the highway at 90+ miles per hours tripped out on qualudes. But this is why I think I find Thompson's style so enthralling. I've been around my fair share of drugs even though I chose to stay sober I've seen my friends 'tripping balls' and for some reason I see all those old times, friends, parties in the writing of Thompson. Laughing at the person seeing dragons while watching CNN. Playing baby sitter to my friends on robatussin watching them walk like they've never used their legs before and move so awkwardly it's hard not to laugh. I understand that was childish and unsafe but I can't pretend that reading "fear and loathing" doesn't take me back to that place. Of feeling like you're in the underbelly of life. Walking a thin line and like this balancing act gave you a deeper understanding of reality. I know now that I was wrong and I enjoy being a "square" and have unfortuatly had to cut most all of those people out of my life but I know I'm better for it in the long run. Thompson lived fast and died tragically. I saw a documentary made by his friends, in particular Johnny Depp who built a Gonzo fist in his memory to celebrate his life and existence. And maybe like his bio said he didn't want to become the english professor reliving his glory days by retelling the same story about the time he drove through the desert high on ether. He didn't want to even say goodbye to his youth and instead ended his life before that happened. 

Would Thompson have been as influential to the world of writing without the drugs? Is Gonzo journalism really even journalism or is it more a column of personal biased opinion? Did Thompson have an understanding of the world and a clear insight of the people around him like him and his attorney believed?  Or was he just a really eloquent drug addict? 

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Robert Lowell seemed to have a pretty stressful and crazy life, and his poems were pretty odd to me as well. In Skunk Hour, I think I liked the meaning behind this poem, or at least appreciate what he was saying about what New England was, and what New England is turning into. "Nautilus Island's hermit heiress" was buying up property around her so she could be alone, private, live her life according to her. She had the right to do this, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, and Lowell thought not. She wasn't helping the problem his part of New England was facing, she was adding to it. After she bought the property, she didn't fix them up in order to keep the area nice, she only bought them in order to keep people away from her. I think "we've lost our summer millionaire" refers to the rich people living up there for the summer have moved back home for the fall and winter, and now the "season's ill" because there isn't money left in the town. The town he once loved is changing for the worse, and turning into a tourist attraction, and when the season is over, it's only the locals left over, and they need the tourists to survive . When he talks about only seeing skunks looking for food, I believe that is further showing the emptiness of the town he once knew and loved, only to see it depleted without seasonal tourism. Is he asking what happened to the time when the locals could survive on their own? Was skunk chosen to paint a picture of the towns current state?
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Lowell, Sexton and Plath

When I read the assignment for this week I immediately recognized Sylvia Plath’s name. I guess because a film starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia was released a few years back. I had never heard of the other two poets: Lowell and Sexton. I read all the poems but the poet that I enjoyed the most was Anna Sexton. The poem “Her Kind” was interpreted by me to represent her mental breakdown. The reference on the first two lines of the poem: “I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night” (Sexton 1-2). I think this suggests the fearful superstition people harbored that mentally ill people were witches. People burned witches at the stake “Where your flames still bite my thighs.” (Sexton 18). Sexton is admitting that she suffers from mental illness too when she writes in the last line of each stanza “I have been her kind.” (Sexton 7, 14, 21).

The other poem that I enjoyed was “Young”. Sexton captures the essence of a young girl who dreams of her future and her longing. “and I in my brand new body, which was not a woman’s yet, told the stars my questions and thought God could really see.” (Sexton 19-21). She writes of an innocent time in a young girl’s life where possibilities still exist. Her first line in the poem “A thousand doors ago” (Sexton 1) she is reflecting on her past and the thousands of door signifies choices in her life and the consequences of the choices. Her last line is a mirror opposite of her first line. “elbows, knees, dreams, goodnight.” (Sexton 24). I feel that she is describing how adolescent’s bodies are growing and changing and their dreams hold sway over their young perceptions of reality
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Kill the Body, and Head wil Die"

I enjoyed reading, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S Thompson.  I have read parts of it before and was not thrilled by it.  The background on the literary style helped me to appreciate it this time.  Thompson's candid style of recording all of his experiences was refreshing.  It felt like he wrote without an audience in mind.  But from his own passion about the loss of the American dream. His drug use in the story is over the top which suggests to me that its not about consciousness expanding but escape.  He does not want to expand his mind but escape from the reality of world as he views it.  He says, "Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can." (Thompson 1)  He is disillusioned by the loss of the ideas of the 1960's.  The new decade seems to hold no promise for him.  He writes about the sixties in a very forlorn way, "...But that was some other era, burned out and long gone from the brutish realities of this foul year of Our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy One.  A lot of things had changed in those years." (Thompson 12)  Thompson's view of the American dream seems to have vanished in the haze.  Was the dream gone? Why go to Las Vegas to look for the American dream when it is the city of make believe?
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Thompson and Lahey

Gonzo journalism definitely is Hunter Thompson’s body of work. I looked up “Gonzo” journalism and discovered it is about not objective reporting but subjective reporting and putting yourself and feelings often written in 1st person into the writings. Thompson’s writing about his drug fuelled trip to Vegas is definitely very “Gonzo” I can’t even the number the amount of drugs, booze and ether both Thompson and his Samoan lawyer consumed during their trip. The most important thing for them to pack was a healthy supply of drugs for their trip. As I read the story all I could think about was how they were driving under the influence and I hoped that they did not cause any accidents. I was not especially entertained by Thompson’s drug induced hallucinations “The woman’s face was changing: swelling, pulsing…horrible green jowls, and fangs jutting out, the face of a Moray Eel!” (Thompson page 13) I would have to say that I agree with Bill Clinton’s put down of Thompson and his recklessness. The picture of Thompson in the biography looked like Jim Lahey of “Trailer Park Boys.” Lahey is a character who was never sober in his adult life. The character Ricky could also be styled after Thompson. He uses drugs as if it is common place and what’s wrong with you if don’t use them. The most positive thing I can say for Thompson’s style is that he keeps it very real, graphic and fast paced. He doesn’t care a great deal for moral issues but seems to live in the moment as if his actions have no negative consequences.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fear and Loathing

As I read the bio of Thompson I was amazed  of his articles that he wrote.  After reading about his life as a young child and how he  was raised as a kid.  His father deceased and his mother was an alcoholic.  As from my understanding of this reading he did use drugs and was in a gang or a gangster as they called it back in the day.  This caused him to go to jail because of all the things he did and the trouble he was in.  So that lead him to enlist in the military.  The dialog that he used in this article is all on what he thought and how he explained it.  But as I read it I still didn't think this was him being a bad boy or a good boy during this fear or loathing.  Then as you read this you will see that his lawyer was with him at all times.  So was the lawyer his protection or was he there as his partner of crime?  This could have been something that was made up.  The boy that they had with them was someone that they picked up along the way. Amazing how he traveled with drugs, weapons, and alcohol and firearms across country and he was never cult.  How would you really take this story, when I read the next segment I hope to have a better understanding.
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I'd never read Fear and Loathing before, but I've always wanted to and I can definitely see why it's talked about in the tone it is. The closest thing to Hunter S. Thompson I've read before was part of a comic series called Transmetropolitan, which is more or less just Thompson in the future dealing with politics of the future, but still relating them back to modern issues in it's own way. That was really the only thing I needed to know that I should read Fear and Loathing.
I really liked his writing style as a whole. It reminded me of a Hubert Selby Jr. quote I read once, "Keep your balls out of your writing." And it really does that. There's no sense of pride, nothing is built up to feel crazy epic, it's all just very nonchalant. My favorite example being at the very beginning when the drugs start kicking in and he's hallucinating, "No point mentioning
those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough." Things are that straight forward throughout the entire thing. There really aren't a whole lot of flowery language, nothing is made to sound cool or really does anything to set a tone, which in it's own way sets it's own tone if that makes any sense. And I really liked that approach. It didn't have to try but still felt well thought out and authentic. The interaction with the hotel clerk even seemed awkward on paper (even if he hadn't seen her face change, it still wouldn't have been the most conventional conversation ever). Not really sure why that minor part stuck out at me other than I feel like I've probably been the clerk in this conversation before for someone else.
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Fear and Loathing

Believe it or not, I have never read Fear and Loathing before, nor have I seen the movie.  I know it is super popular but I have never seen it.  I have never heard of Gonzo journalism before this, and I like how free and honest it is. He really didn't hold back, said what he thought, told the REAL story with no filters or editing. There were times I couldn't stop laughing, picturing how freaked out the kid in the backseat in the beginning of the story must be.  "Thanks for the ride," he yelled.
"Thanks a lot. I like you guys. Don't worry about me." He was probably never more scared or at least uncomfortable in his life.  The drug filled bender they were on was chaotic to say the least.
As for effectiveness and fairness of America's war on drugs, the sign saying 20 years in prison for having possession of pot in Nevada is remarkable. I would imagine it was true then, but that's amazing. Probably not the fairest of laws at any point in time.
What is American? The line in close reading from page 9 talks about the possibilities of life in America, and like it or not, their trip was American. They got to do what they wanted, being drug filled on a long trip through the desert to get to Vegas and make an ass of themselves, while having a hell of a time and meanwhile getting freaked out from the drug hallucinations.
I have to think his drug use definitely broadened his creativity, you can't make this stuff up.
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

What a Woman!

Before I start writing about Brenda (Bonnie) Frazer's writing can I first comment on this woman's life? I mean wow, reading her bio and listening to the lecture this woman has lived. I won't say the most lavish life but she have experienced life and clearly has a story to share so beginning te excerpt from Troia: Mexican Memoirs I was enthralled, a woman that transformed from free thinking scholar, to mother and wife, to motherless prostitute in order to survive must have something amazing to share and she did. Her writing is so personal, I feel like I'm reading someone's journal and that I should respect their privacy and put it down and yet I don't want to. This excerpt begins with vigor, a mother worried, traveling a bus line to Mexico, worried for her daughters health, their safety and managing to keep a marriage a float. I feel for her, she sounds so tired and yet the journey is just beginning, what should she do, obviously the right thing would be to follow her husband, take his lead and go with him to Mexico with their baby right? She's doing the right thing, right? She's so unsure I'm afraid for her. When her husband left them to continue on while he stayed in Mexico City my heart broke for her. "He always was ahead of me in that respect, and I do respect, although it in fact leaves me behing," (Frazer 2995). Although Frazer was specifically talking about Ray appreciating the beauty of the world, something she might not immediaty notice like the stars that she saw burst outside the window in Mexico that she'd never seen because of light polution in the United States, (2995) it's pretty clear she's realizing that Ray also has a plan that she's not seeing. He's deciding to change things for his own better meant and staying behind while she continues her fearful journey into a new life alone with their daughter. The story ends with her describing the feeling of falling and not having a branch to cling to because of her speed and disorientation. That's her life, marriage, a child, on the run and now a semi-sexual encouter with this "N" fellow and she can barely hang on to. 

Who is this "N" character? Did Brenda really have to live life so fast or where these her choices, can she blame Ray for leading her down this path or blame herself for allowing herself to follow him? If Brenda could see the signs of trouble in hind sight was she ignoring them while they were infront of her, just like when she doesn't see the beauty Ray sees?
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The stories that Brenda frazer and Joyce Johnson  are easy for women to relate too, but clearly state that not all women seek the same thing. The stories clearly tell a story of love and it's difficulty, but also explain strength and independence. Frazer moved to Mexico with her daughter, so her family could be together; but her husband never never wanted her there. She traveled far from home for unwanted love, and ended having to give her daughter up for survival. I can only imagine how hard this decision was, but she wanted what was best for her daughter, and staying with her was not that.
Frazier was a feminist. She learned how to disconnect her feelings from prostitution and became what we would call promiscuous today; where normally women would have an issue with this way of life, but she did not. She believed that women could love, but also repress emotions.
Joyce Johnson's was just the opposite. She wanted Jack to know everything she was thinking and feeling. She couldn't stand the distance between them, and wanted nothing more than to be by his side. The days until she moved to Mexico couldn't have passed fast enough. "I've spent a sad week, wanting so much to write you," she explained. Joyce was lonely and vulnerable, and she made that very clear. She had true love
Frazer and Johnson explain the fight between desired love and true love, and the journey it takes. Frazer sought love from her husband, but found it in herself; as for Johnson, her heart was for Jack.
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As I read the first few lines of the Howl, by Allen's Ginsberg, I had trouble understanding what he was saying. I'm still not sure if I know exactly what he is talking about in his poem, but I tried my best to make since of it. He said, "I saw the minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix," and I automatically assumed he was talking about American Americans and how they weren't socially accepted yet. As I read further, I realized that he wasn't talking about this at all, but instead, about the common, poverty stricken, white man. Ginsberg was a unique man. He was a "wallflower." He understood and accepted others for who they were and immediately knew their flaws and their talents, but also noticed that being a CEO of a major cooperation didn't make you smarter than the poor man.

The people that he described seemed to have a passion and were completely content with being who they were. This is the part of the poem that hit home for me, because this is still true today. You can learn so much from the people you least expect and it's hard to not think of why they aren't somewhere else in life; why they aren't the CEO a major cooperation; why they chose the path they did; why they didn't change their path; or maybe if they did change there path, why were they in the position they were. Personally, I have a weak soul and I see the good in every person, and it's seems as if Ginsberg did as well. He took the time to understand that the man living on the street wasn't just a drunk or a drug addict, but a "mindful man." A man that if given the opportunity could empower others; but unfortunately, society doesn't accept such, and his intellect was waisted.
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Minor Characters

"Minor Characters" resonated on a deep level with me.  The feeling of excitement and eagerness over being a writer, being a female writer, only to be told you're too late, the men have already done it better.  Told be told to go out into the dangerous world, a place far more dangerous for you than it was for Kerouac, Twain, London, any of the rest - go out and "live" because nothing about your life is interesting enough yet, there's no way you're good enough on your own.  Once you do of course, once you take up or pack up, once you move or leave everything behind, suddenly the questions come.  The concerned glances and fearful leading questions, "You're not running from something are you?", like when the super asks her mother if she's pregnant (3001).  I feel such a kinship towards her and her bravery is inspiring.  This move of hers was a true movement, in every sense of the word.  Young women leaving their homes, taking charge of themselves; this wasn't an en mass bra burning or march on Washington, these women weren't trying to be political, they were trying to live for themselves.  Unlike men such as Kerouac and Burroughs, leaving comfort for the thrill of a fabricated adventure, these young women were in danger of being completely cast out by their families, many moved to dangerous neighborhoods or couldn't find work.  They made real sacrifices following their dream.  Why then are they not remembered?  
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Erasure and Inaction

I've been sick all week so I apologize for both of these posts coming today.  I had fully planned on getting both of these done at the beginning of the week but I wasn't sleeping at all and I couldn't focus.  I'm better now and at least I'm getting these in!

I'm trying out a video too!  We'll see how well this works
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Joyce Johnson Minor Characters

The Beat movement may have been apolitical but the female writers of this movement-whether intentional or unintentional-helped to fuel the desire for change for women.  To be able to contribute a female voice to a male-dominated style of writing-the Beat movement, Johnson knew she would need to share in the same experiences.  She would need to live on her own and go on the road with all that that implies, drugs, unmarried sex, alcohol.  Most of those ideas do not seem so radical now. But, as Johnson writes in, Minor Characters, about living on her own, "Everyone knew in the 1950s why a girl from a nice family left home.  The meaning of her theft of herself from her parents was clear to all-as well as what she'd be up to in that room of her own."  Her need to write from a new female perspective had her living like her male counterparts from the Beat movement and not one of "good" girl who lived at home until she marries and the living under her husband's roof and obeying him.  She lives a unconventional life for a woman in the 1950s and shares those experiences through published writings.  She, as well as other female writers of the Beat movement, gave women of the time a new way of living their lives. 
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From Door Wide Open

The letter presented, from the collection of correspondents between Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson, is truly an enticing read. Joyce, while never fully achieving a status as legendary as Kerouac, spent time writing to Jack as they moved from affair to fading into solely friendship. To me, this is an amazing look into the life of a woman in the Beat movement; while she writes in the confessional, tell-all manner of the Beats, she still manages to give a glimpse at being a young woman in the 50's. This is an era that is depicted nowadays through television shows such as Leave It to Beaver, etc. The idea of women being more like a servant (cooking, cleaning, raising the children) is usually the idea conveyed through the media of the time—did June Cleaver have any personal interests? Yet, through her letter, Johnson managed to completely throw that idea out the window. Her letter to Kerouac shows a young Bohemian love, one where the modern convictions of the time did not drown out their detail on how they felt. In a time where women were not treated as equals (not that they are entirely now, but it was much more severe) she shines through, showing her intelligence; not just in what she has learned, but what she has discovered about herself. The most empowering part of this letter was for me is just how much she cares for Jack, and you can see it throughout. Whether it be her praising of On the Road (2998) or her beautiful confessions, "I remember walking with you at night through the Brooklyn docks and seeing the white steam rising from the ships against the black sky and how beautiful it was and I'd never seen it before—imagine!—but if I'd walked through it with anyone else, I wouldn't have seen it either" (2998), she makes her point clear and shows how strong and dedicated she is.

Another thing that this letter had me thinking about is if this would have been seen as unorthodox. Women were not always seen as the ones to express themselves so forwardly. Of course, it's been around all throughout history, but in the 1950's, I can't help but feel people might have been a little off-put by a woman being so open, and so expressive. Many may argue it shows weakness, vulnerability; I, however, think that this shows more strength than anything. 
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Joyce Johnson

This story was a good story to read.  What I like about this story is that a girl from a nice two parent family, decided that she was going to get her a job and save here some money and move out of her parents home.  What she did first was took some money and found her a room.  Then a few weeks later she bought her some essential things that she would need. Then when the day came she got up early that morning and went into her parents room and told them that she was moving out.  she knew that in her town that she lived what the down fall would be.  And as soon as the neighbor seen a single girl moved in and he knew her family he called her mother and told her that she was with child.  The girl knew that would happen.  When her mother called her she explained know that was not true.  She just was growing up and trying to be independent.  As for me growing up , she reminds me of how I was.  I became independent and had my first job when I was a junior in high school.  I bought things for myself, and there was know pressure for my parents.  I think that I am always the person in my family that will be called on the most.  what do you think do a man move out and able to take care of themselves?   
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Thoughts of Joyce

I thought Joyce's work (specifically over Frazer) was really interesting since I happen to have recently made friends with someone really into feminism who happens to post a lot about it on Facebook, making me somewhat more aware of the issue than before. The piece about her moving out specifically reminded me of her. It just really hit me how far women's rights and social perception have come since I wasn't really aware of just how far back they used to be. How scandalous it was for the people around her to find out that she was moving out of her parents and single. But it all came down to her trying to avoid the mistake she felt her mother might have made and that the fact that she was a women wasn't going to stop her from being a fully realized person. She couldn't tell her parents that though, it was a decision completely individualistic, something that women weren't really expected to do at that time.
 I wasn't really sure why the letter to Kerouac was thrown in the book though (other than the fact that it was just kind of cool that it was a letter to Kerouac). Most of it seemed really passive and casual. I never felt like I was getting any sort of insight to anything of much importance to anyone that it wasn't directly written to.
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                   Minor characters indeed! I hope this blog does not sound
more like a rant.  I really had a difficult time with this week's blog on the
beat movement.  I understand Kerouac and his analogy that the American Hobo
could represent Americans love of freedom and personal choice.  The founding
fathers, mountain men, forty-niners, and adventurous people often chose the open
road for their great adventure but the establishment pulled them back into their
predicable routines.  I found both of the women's stories rather dated. I know
at the time it must have been shocking but I didn't find the story of Bonnie
Frazer and her trip to Mexico and her seeking pleasure on a crowded bus going to
Veracruz even slightly interesting.  I did relate with her about how the woman
always takes the baby responsibility.  ""Ah bitter, I was not about to accept
with grace my maidenly burdened-by-baby responsibility at this particular time"
(Frazer 2995).
             Johnson's story about her moving away "the meaning of her theft of
herself from her parents was clear to all."(Johnson 3000).  I thought that
comparison very unique.  She goes on to say that she wanted sexually freedom.  I
think this would have banned her writings from many public libraries at the time
but now with Fifty Shades of Grey in any library today it seems rather tame. I
know that the beat movement was the vanguard of the Hippie Movement but I find that I would not like to read any of Timothy O'Leary's writings either.
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The Beat Goes On: Joyce Johnson

The beat goes on. Enchanting harmony flows through pen to paper as the locution of Joyce Johnson comes forth bringing to light the strength of womanhood. The preacher  of empowerment delivers divine dreams of possibility into a world of misogynistic notion. Johnson brings to light a writing style never before seen. In a world where man is “blind to the truth he can’t foresee the end”(Johnson). Johnson’s “cool” style of writing renders the the fallacy of the American Dream in terms of the nuclear family and stay at home wife. Woman are strong. Woman are capable. Johnson capitalizes on her self-possessed style to omit the delusion of the superiority complex in the male figure. 

What is the Beatnik methodology? Johnson conforms her works not only to that of femininity, but on a level of human acceptance. The Beatdom was an era of heightened psychological hallucinogens, alcohol abuse and casual intercourse. Freedom was a sensory exploration(www.drugabuse.org). The elixir to knowledge simulated an odyssey of discovery. Johnson, too, desired to attain the cognizance of mysticism. A formal proclamation by Johnson expounds prejudices in saying “tolerance is learned and intolerance the same. Parents of impressionables, don’t be the ones to blame for making racism and others, a means to spread your hate”(Johnson). Just as Ginsberg and Kerouac, Johnson yearns to bring forth the abhorrence found entangled amongst the cross-grain of Civil liberty.  As temperance ensues through her writings, it is at times difficult to deduce that she too exudes a Beatnik style. Johnson’s design is simply to promote a sense of justice and emotional ratification for the female psyche. Is Johnson effective in her presentation of Beatnik opposition? Does Johnson hold validity in the Beat Generation? 

Michael Bowen 

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Vanishing American Hobo

"The hobo is born of pride, having nothing to do with a community but with himself...." (Kerouac, 2978)  So states Jack Kerouac in The Vanishing American Hobo. Kerouac's essay is about the loss of Americans' personal freedoms and individuality.  The hobo is not a conformist, but an individual-someone who does not appear to be like the rest of society.  That difference can lie in their way of thinking, living, or spirituality.  He gives examples of people he considers hoboes like Beethoven, Einstein, Jesus, Buddha and many other well-known people.  These people were not hoboes in a traditional sense but in their ability to speak freely and think in ways that are typical of most people. 

The vanishing  hobo symbolizes a loss of individuality in society that has traded it for social protection.  The hobo becomes the marginalized of society and not respected for the contribution that he can make.  The desire for social protection and  conformity has demanded the increase in the need for police protection-  another threat to the hobo and his non-conformity.  Kerouac states several times in his essay about the police harassing the hobo. I wonder if the bum on skid row is the middle class American who has given up their freedom and individuality in exchange for the social protection of the police state.
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Ginsberg and Kerouac

Jack Kerouac talks about the vanishing American Hobo. He writes about the hobo before massive social services tries to take care of everyone and does not take into account personal choices. Kerouac maintains that Benjamin Franklin could be considered a bum because he walked the streets of Philadelphia with no money. John Muir could be considered a bum even though he is the father of conservation and played a major part in establishing national parks. Kerouac romanticizes the freedom of the open road. He talks about how noble the life a hobo lives. He even breaks down the categories of hoboes: forty niners, black hoboes, etc… The hobo is the only truly free man. Kerouac states that people cannot have privacy even in the primitive wilderness because there are always helicopters snooping around the woods. The proud American Hobo is being turned into a beggar who sleeps in the doorway and can’t go into the wilderness because “the woods are full of wardens.” (Kerouac) Hoboes are persecuted by cops who have nothing to do but harass bums.

I loved the poem “A Supermarket in California”. Ginsberg following Walt Whitman through a supermarket where fruit and produce gleam. He sees families, husbands, and children shopping. He also sees Lorca, a Spanish poet. The language is so smart and wry. “Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight” (Ginsberg 21-22). I guess I should mention the poem “Howl” but I felt that it was difficult to read because I didn’t understand the slang of the day. For example,” who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York?” (Ginsberg 21-22). I guess that he was strip search and got caught with weed in his pants.
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Door wide open

"Yes I will come to Mexico!"
Johnson starts off this reply with an enthusiastic expression seemingly desperate to go somewhere that isn't where she is now.  Immediately after though she takes a different tone, scolding and comforting Kerouac for calling himself a bum while assuring him he is not.  Hobo is better put, as said in previous works. Traveler, journeyman. This adventure she is about to embark on really is making her excited about what the future holds, and thinking of the past and how things ended up for her and her friends gets her reminiscing and missing her old friends who have gone off to different parts of the world.  All of that seems to not matter because she is excited to get to Mexico, where she doesn't know what the weather is like.  It is clear how much she likes him, when she writes how only he can make her feel safe in an otherwise "bad neighborhood". He puts a change in her, something only he can do.

I don't really get where she fits in with the Beat style, I see that she is "cool" compared to Ginsberg and the others, but I'm not sensing beat in these writings.  When describing the marriageable middle-class white woman, she makes it out to be a negative thing, or at least that is what I am getting.  Can't it just be "not for everyone" instead of all around bad? I am sure lots of women don't want or consider to get out and write on their own.  I do see the pros of being able to be out on your own, make your own rules, live according to no one but yourself, but lots of people like structure in their lives.
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Problems for America

I believe that Ginsberg had seen enough wars and poverty in his lifetime that made him question the philosophies of the United States. At the time that he wrote “America,” he had lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War. Ginsberg seems to be speaking his mind on how he feels about the way America was handling things in that era. He talks about what America can do with the atom bomb in reference with World War II. (I wasn’t going quote that one.) Ginsberg wrote “When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?” (15). I think he is upset with the economic situation due to the wars. When Ginsberg writes, “America when will we end the human war?” (5), I think he is referring to just getting out of World War II then the Korean War. I believe that he is referring to the onset of the Vietnam War when he writes “Asia is rising against me” (55). 

I believe that Ginsberg is ranting due to all the money that America is putting out all of this money to fund wars and he feels that America has no business to be in the middle of it when America has problems right at home. I believe that Ginsberg feels that America should take care of America first. If this is his meaning behind it, how does it relate to America today? How would he react to the way America is today, between wars and homelessness, America’s deficit?
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hobos Yesterday and Today

What we know as  homeless people in todays society was called hobos in the 50's though the 80's or maybe somewhere in the early 90's. Back then a homeless person or hobo didn't have the trouble that they have today.  They have no where to lay their heads or to take a good hot bath.  As we seem them in our city they are laying on sidewalks, bus stop benches, park benches, or just in a grassy area.  They are always standing in what might be a busy intersection with signs asking can you spear $1.00 so I can get something to eat.  When they ask for this you can see that some of them really only want the money to buy booze, cigarettes, or illegal drugs.  We look at them and we judge them as being dirty and contaminated.  I must apologize because I might have judge someone without thinking.  On the other hand as I read this article this is not how the hobos was treated back in the day.  They were sleeping in some fine places, they was not disturbed by the local authorities like they do today.  People would hand out money and food and some would even invite them into there homes and think nothing about it.  They where friends to some of the children and would help with handy work around the homes.  So why is things different then yesterday or today as you look at this situation.  They are both the same kind of issues in todays society as it was in the early years? 
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Romancing the Hobo

I think it's really interesting how Kerouac romanticizes the hobo life. Not so much hobos specifically, but the idea of how they live simply and appreciatively, but also how the direction American society and culture are moving is trying to kill that ideology. Kerouac on the other hand obviously has a great appreciation for this philosophy and resents people turning against it. I feel like a lot of his defining people like Whitman and Franklin is his argument not necessarily for this way of living, but against the arguments against it, like a counter-offensive. That the great people who built this country and shaped it's culture and are ingrained into every Americans lives either directly or indirectly (depending on the individual) lived by this philosophy and by rejecting it would be to loose what once made us great.
I loved how he even tried to explain why the shift against the hobo occurred: we became afraid and self important. We began looking down on them, and without a proper understanding of the situation, we got scared. He describes the shift as "In Brueghel's time children danced around  the hobo, he wore huge and raggy clothes and always looked straight ahead indifferent to the children, and the families didn't mind the children playing with the hobo, it was a natural thing. - But today mothers hold tight their children when the hobo passes through town, because of what newspapers made the hobo to be- the rapist, the strangler, child-eater.- Stay away from strangers, they'll give you poison candy" (2977).
My problem is that times have changed even since he wrote this and "hobo" doesn't seem like the most appropriate metaphor anymore, although the point still gets through tremendously thanks to Kerouac's writing. Today I feel like people who choose this kind of lifestyle are more stereotyped as the hippies and such, as where the hobo is more of a homeless bum, stereotyped as a drug addict panning for money for more drugs. But that's not really Kerouac's fault, it was just a point I thought of and found interesting enough to see what kind of reaction it would get here.
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They Used to be Adventurers, Now They're Just Pathetic

First and foremost I think Kerouac makes a distinction between bums and hobos and yet they are in essence the same people. They've just changed. He characterizes hobos as wanderers, seeking solace, celebrated in towns, and people that enjoyed experience. He named famous hobos like Benjamin Franklin, Jesus of Nazareth and Buddha. But he also names the reason for the change from hobo to bum, Kerouac blames propaganda and police for turning an American icon into something to be ashamed of. "In America camping is considered a healthy sport for Boy Scouts but a crime for mature men who have made it their vocation," (Kerouac 2977). There is a hostility against police officers that I had a little trouble understanding until he described his own experiences hoboing, running into police that didn't understand his plight and didn't offer any type of assistance beyond their judgments. The last line of the essay really sums up his feelings about what had changed things in the world of the traveler, "the woods are full of wardens" (Kerouac 2982), men were no longer allowed to roam free. There were always eyes watching, judging, and stopping them from truly exploring the world and being totally alone. Kerouac believes this police presence and over bearing nature chased nomadic hobos to cities and created the modern day bum. Even the word is less pleasant than hobo. He describes bums in a more pathetic sense, even though the hobo also relied on the help of strangers often to eat and get by the bums out stretched hand is seen as something to ignore and create tension and unease. 

Is Kerouac just romanticizing a time in his life by creating a distinction between being a hobo and a bum? Did police really perpetuate this negative stereotype of a nomadic way of life or was  the transition of hobo to bum more of a cultural change? 
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America the Great?...

To what is owed to the vast lands of red, white and blue? Is conformity consensual? Do the angsts of societal pressures eventuate in uniformity? Decamp from under the restraint of America while her head is turned. Break free of injustice. 

The Beat Generation “advocated personal release, purification, and illumination through the heightened sensory awareness that might be induced by drugs, jazz, sex, or the disciplines of Zen Buddhism”(Britannica.com). The beatniks, as they were referred, offered a differing view from that of conservative America. “America” by Allen Ginsberg catechized the straight-laced beliefs of the “average” American. Deference to conformity was commonplace behind the regimented white picket fences lining the barren streets of homogeneity. In advancing toward the fallacy of the American Ideal, Ginsberg affirms “you should have seen me reading Marx. My psychoanalyst thinks I’m perfectly right”(Ginsberg2972). Not only does Ginsberg critic the illusive lifestyle of fellow neighbors and friends, but that of his own life. There are times in which he, too, succumbs to the paradox of normality. Societal expectations allude to the conventionality of the American People. Were the lands of freedom not once a melting pot? A messy concoction of eccentricity coming aboard overcrowded boats from daunting lands. To differentiate from normality is the first step to freedom. 

In conclusion “America is this correct? I’d better get right down to the job. It’s true I don’t want to join the Army or turn lathes in precision parts factories, I’m nearsighted and psychopathic anyway. America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel”(Ginsberg2974). To be heard, the voices of the dreamers, the thinkers, the quite screaming inside for justice, must rise above the static of the so called congruity streaming through the broadcasts of the nightly news. Fight the oppressors with individualistic thought. 

Is there a sense of “normality” in today’s society? Does the Beat Generation appear to be permeating into issues of the present day? 

"In this modern jazz, they heard something rebel and nameless that spoke for them, and their lives knew a gospel for the first time. It was more than a music; it became an attitude toward life, a way of walking, a language and a costume; and these introverted kids... now felt somewhere at last."  ~John Clellon Holmes 

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Long Live the Hobo

In Kerouac's essay "The Vanishing American Hobo," the reader is absorbed into the world of the homeless during the 50's to 1960. Kerouac goes on to paint the picture of a hobo as being a grand spectacle, a national treasure of sorts. His descriptions brought out this sense of profoundness in the homeless; it were as if the hobos were enlightened, or at the very least, more intelligent, and more American. Being a hobo is seen as the ultimate freedom (on page 2977, Kerouac describes it as "the special footwalking freedom").

Kerouac names many—as he considers them—famous American hobos, who he believe truly represent the idea of America, and the idea of freedom. Such examples include:

"Benjamin Franklin was like a hobo in Pennsylvania" (2977).
"Did [Walt] Whitman terrify the children of Louisiana when he walked the open road?" (2977).
"...a definite special idea of footwalking freedom going back to the days of Jim Bridger and Johnny Appleseed" (2977).

Kerouac uses these men to identify the hobos not as criminals, but as educated, free individuals. He argues in the essay that the culture of the time was boring, and uninspiring. He views the hobos as being the truest of individuals, living in a whole other world, one where they are constantly inspired by the struggle to survive, as well as the freedoms they endure without things like bills, work, etcetera  to hold them back. Kerouac views the society of the time as being startlingly un-American. He sees the policing of the homeless, as well as the negative stigma placed by society, as a horrible crime to our country, as well as crippling our founding values. By discriminating against the homeless, we are discriminating against the true individuals, the ones who are truly free.

The final line of the essay makes strong his point: "The woods are full of wardens" (2982). Through this one line, the reader can seemingly pick up on the tone of the essay. While it maintains a light-heartedness in its telling of a hobo and their lifestyle, it is a rather dark essay. It warns us of the cost, of the way society looks down upon these people, and how it can harm you rather than bring you the enlightenment you seek. Kerouac has a very amazing presentation of moods, and this essay is a great example of it. 
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After reading this poem I thought Ginsberg fit perfectly the San Francisco hippy persona of that time.  The first line "America I've given you all and now I am nothing" sets the tone for the whole poem because he feels like he is an outsider who doesn't fit in with the American Way.  He would rather get high and be be on his own than conform to traditional ways.  The way he wrote the poem painted a perfect picture of his feelings, values, and attitudes, and whether someone agrees with him or not doesn't matter because he probably doesn't care.  He wants to live his way and thinks that America failed him in the past, or at least that's what I got from it. In this poem, Ginsberg's view of America is everything he doesn't like just about.  His view is that America is going in the wrong direction, getting to complex, moving too fast.  "Your machinery is too much for me".  "I'm sick of your insane demands".  I would imagine he is speaking for a lot of people at that time, especially in his city.  Accuracy is probably not the main goal, his point is to call out the American lifestyle, and that it is too confined, as in "you must do this, not that".  Validity in his mind is more important I would say,  He wants to get a point across.  He is speaking for his own lifestyle, and underworld.  What life is better? The "normal" Americanized way of life, or his view of the way life should be, making his own rules, setting his own goals and ways.
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Sonny Blues

As I read this story it brought back memories of my childhood and how my family is today.  As a family first of all we were brought up in church and we went every Sunday even to Sunday school.  My mother was a woman that took care of the house and the children and my father was the bread winner of the family.  There are three children 1son and 2 daughters, with that said my brother is the first born.  He was always looking after my sister and I.  When in school he would ask me if  I had lunch money.  He had a car and drove to school in high school I new that I always had a ride home.  This story takes me back to the 70's and 80's era with him being three years older then me.  When my sister was born she and I are six years apart.  And I made sure she was taking care of.  Now as we gotten older I think we are like Sonny and his brother.  Sonny being the youngest his brother felt like he had let him down.  And in Sonny's  case he felt like all He let drugs and alcohol rule him.  When he was  confined for several years I think that is when he started trying to clear his mind and get his life on track.  When his mother died that really bought him down and his brother thought it was nothing that he could do to help him.    At some point in life I think every family goes through that  when we feel like you have grew up and you should be able to stand on your own two feet.  I did that with my family and sometimes they just need help on getting started.  when him and his brother had a conversation about what was on his mind.  Right then he knew that his brother was reaching out to him.  The revival was a breaking point as well.  I can tell that their mom must have taken them to church as kids, because of the songs that was  sung at the revival brought back memories.  When he told his brother he wanted him to go and her him play that was truly the day that they became really close.  We cannot judge a book by its cover and that goes for people we cannot judge a person by the way they look or act?
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

"Nothing would sleep in that cellar,"

“Root Cellar” by Theodore Roethke was one of his greenhouse poems. His father owned a large greenhouse and much of his childhood was spent inside it" (http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/can-somebody-tell-me-what-this-peom-about-root-373002).

"Nothing would sleep in that cellar," was a perfect start to this short, but descriptive poem. Theodore's poem, "Root Cellar" along with others from the text include a large amount of emotion and imagination, and allow you to feel as if you are living the story of the person he narrates. As the website mentioned, many of his poems are describing his experiences as a young boy at his grandfathers greenhouse, and "Root Cellar" truly made me feel as if I was walking into a musky old cellar, cowardly opening the door, as I shouted, "hello" into the darkness of shadows reflecting from the walls. Let's face it, children don't like basements! Personally, I still don't like basements.

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Sonny's Music

We've had a few stories/poems this week that seem to deal with what it takes to truly view your fellow man as a person.  In Filling Station, the narrator at first sees a terrible, dirty gas station and then sees the love and care that's gone into it and realizes a loving family lives there just like hers. In Sonny's Blues our narrator never really understands his brother until he sees his reaction to the revival and then ultimately when he sees him play.  What it the spark that sets off this recognition in us to ultimately empathize with our fellow man?  What is the edge that we must cross or go over in order to see our struggling brothers or young children sitting at home as human beings just like we are?  The narrator has faced many of his own struggles in life, personal tragedies that have shaped his personality.  Why though are Sonny's tragedies not perceived until his brother sees him perform?
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Rebellion of an Era

Day after Day, the youth trample past the monotonous ivory. A dreary pathway of apathy; hierarchy reticulated like the ever-growing vines entangled on an aged oak. The school holds no enticement to the youth of an inverse era. For African Americans in the 1960’s there was only half the chance of completing high school(digitalhistory.com). Education was of lesser importance, which is of veritable notability when reviewing the writing of Gwendolyn Brooks.

To begin, “we real cool. We left school”(Brooks). The sixties was an era of “flower power.” School was a “drag” (grammar.yourdictionary.com). “Cats” and “chicks” were constantly “bookin” from the insipid corridor(pbs.org). Societal popularity was contingent on opposition from the Man. Brooks describes the connection between defiance of the accepted norm simply the in first statement.

As the adolescents descend into the pool room the deafening chant divides the inundating smog “we lurk late. We strike straight”(Brooks). Billiard was reestablished by two varying events, the first being “the release of the movie, The Hustler, based on the novel by Walter Tevis. The black and white film depicted the dark life of a pool hustler with Paul Newman in the title role”(bca-pool.com). The Pool Room was a place where the conscience of the Man could not be infringed upon by another being. The ideals of the era were simply compacted into a single building, the Billiard. It is only logical that rebellion is centered at the end of a cue soaring across the green oasis. 

The party rages. “We sing sin. We thin gin”(Brooks). During the era of the blues, sin was “celebrated”(lit.genius.com). The youth reveled in the sinful nature of the blues. Rebellion during this era is considerably deemed the most imperative means of acceptance. Drugs and alcohol were integers of prominence for adolescents as well. As money was not a relevant eventuality of the free spirited era, adaptations were necessary. Diluting gin with water was a common practice as a means of payment was scarce. The youth had to do what was necessary to find their own version of happiness.

The poem concludes in saying “we jazz june. We die soon”(brooks). Simply, jazzing in June portrayed the importance of the jazz in the African American culture of the sixties. In following, “we die soon.” The blight lifestyle is affirmed. Death is imminent when running with the big “cats.” Do you feel the youth of the sixties lived a fast life? How have adolescents evolved today? Is it a positive change? 

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Music: The Power to Heal

Music: The Power to Heal
This story kind of hit home because I have had friends that has had problems with addiction to drugs. I actually have had two friends that over dosed on “Horse” (Baldwin). I especially liked how James Baldwin went into great detail when writing this story from beginning to end; how Sonny’s brother returns to different times in his life to tell Sonny’s story in such a deep and emotional setting. I think Baldwin is trying to explain that the heroin addiction that Sonny is dealing with has such a great hold on him just as it does with so many people in society today and how after rehab it still has such a hold on a person that it turns into a lifelong battle.

I think that Baldwin is trying to express that the music is helping Sonny battle his inner demons over the hold that the heroin had on his life. Sonny’s brother stated “All I know about music is that not many people ever really hear it.”(Baldwin). I think that this is true for people that really don’t understand the art of music. Personally, I feel that music is very therapeutic when it comes to helping with a person psyche, and also to express someone’s feelings. I believe that Baldwin did an exceptional job painting this picture in his story. Can music have such a hold on someone that it could heal them? What other forms of art could help a person through such a rough period in their life?
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Mother's Love

Gwendolyn Brooks' writing on motherhood is heart breaking in the poem "The Mother" and "The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till". In the mother she tells the story of children never born but unforgotten. Children loved but that have never taken a breath of their own. Her pain in the belief that her children had all existed and she'd chosen to end each and everyone of their lives. "You were born, you had body, you died" (Brooks 2877). She accepts that she believes a fetus is a child and yet she has done this more than once, she has ended the life of her children despite her love for them. "Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you All." (Brooks 2877). This last line powerful, her use of the word 'All' capitalized to emphasize this has happened more than once and it will happen again, despite her true feelings. How could she do this? How could the narrator commit these acts repeatedly? How could she decide in her mind her willingness to commit them again? 

In "The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till" Brooks describes those moments, after it's over "after the murder, after the burial" (Brooks 2882). The stillness around everyone. This was hard for me to read. The last time I'd read about Emmett Till was in my senior year of high school in 2010. Immediately the images and feelings from the day we'd watched a PBS document on the incident flooded to the front of my mind. Angry people in the streets begging for justice, mothers crying holding their children close and the look of fear on peoples faces that something so awful could happen to someone so innocent, someone so young. When his face finally showed in the video, I will never forget that image. Brooks talks about mother's losing their children in both of these poems but the circumstances are very different. Emmett's mother is sorry, she is heart broken and she loved her child similar to that of the mother in the above poem but Emmett's mother did not chose this, her son was taken from her, stolen, and she loved him for longer. So is the connection of the mother in the poem "The Mother" comparable to the connection Emmett Till's mother had to her son? Should the two be compared? Should we even feel sorry for the mother that chose for her child to die when we compare that to the mother who's son was taken from her in such a brutal way?
(Image From) http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2013/02/13/lil-wayne-writes-song-disrespecting-emmett-till-family-livid/

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Gwendolyn Brooks A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon

I chose this poem by Gwendolyn Brooks because I found it fascinating that she would write from the perspective of a white southern woman.  I initially thought she felt sympathy for Carolyn Bryant.  But as I did some research into the background of the Emmett Till case and the history of Mississippis' extreme racial views, I read the poem as a condemnation of the southern white womans' compliance in the evils of racism. The line in the poem that states, "It was good to be a "maid mild." (Brooks 11) refers how the white southern woman was viewed, as a maiden who needed to be saved from the "evil" black man, who wanted only to rape white women.  As the poem progresses, it is clear to see that the woman is disturbed by the events that occurred. She seems to be feeling guilty even, "...she could not remember now what that foe had done Against her, or if anything had been done." (Brooks, 51-52) and she feels as though "a red ooze" was spreading from her husband's hands onto her.  At the end of the poem she says "a hatred for him burst into glorious flower,"  she cannot stand to be near him or touched by him after what has happened.  I believe she aware of her role in the murder of the young boy and feels guilty but she will not do anything to correct it or change the status quo of her prejudiced world.  Is the woman in the poem equally guilty for the death of the boy because she did not stand up to evils of the society she belongs to? 
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