Friday, May 18, 2012

final project

Project Proposal:

Originally, my project entailed the evaluation of critical reviews of Leaves of Grass and how they matched up to current reviews and academic appreciation of Walt Whitman’s life work.  While reviewing some of the reviews, many were harsh and quick to deject the material as obscene, rubbish and not worth reading nor considering. However, after looking over and meditating over his work, as well as acknowledging the magnitude of influence LoG has had on American culture, we know better. There was no way illustrate this dichotomy, and really I wanted to provide some artistic expression of what I learned and assimilated into my college learning and appreciation of literature. (I’m sorry, this is sounding like an essay.)

I wanted to create a commentary of what I thought of Leaves of Grass by writing a creative piece that reflected upon Whitman’s work, and what I learned from it. I wanted to include some of the various motifs and themes, while modernizing some of his ideas into a language that we could all understand readily (because we all know Walt loved the sound of his work.) More so than anything, I wanted to twist the poem a little to cast a reflection of what America is dealing with now and how it relates to some of the issues Whitman was trying to comment upon. I decided to reference A Song for Occupations.


there is a smile that you see but cannot feel, that you pay for
and accept with my services. you look down and in your gifted vehicles
demand for my offers, and I offer with my smile, which is caked thick

there is willingness and there is reluctance and I give you both

the thoughts you have of what you know and what you’ve heard
are amazing to most, but not to me. they land upon me like pox of pollen
and though you spread your consciousness electronically for strangers
to acknowledge the nakedness within your metal shell, you become entranced
by the chirp of birds which flees from your Ambercrombie pockets.

and there is nothing more naked than
your privacy, which is taken and sold by those
that provide for you a means to communicate in complete isolation

I don’t want to be one with you, or anyone.

No one truly knows anyone, if they are struggling to find themselves
and from zygote to infant as you spring from the womb, and crawling
into a crooked stature, old and useless, you’ll make your claims to
having established something of a legacy. And though you’ll fight to
deconstruct cliches, you’ll become: dust in the wind, swirled into heaven
dragged across the cosmos, passed into the negative space and into the red sun.

there are equals and there are those that serve you as they rule over you,
bending you backwards until the back of your head is pressed against your heals
and they’ll stamp their coaster on your stomach and slam their drink hard in laughter

who knew running a country involved running a ranch of sheep, or stumbling through
ninety rounds of golf, while the elderly read VOID on pension checks and their unborn
children are buried with a debt they must pay, though they could never witness
your digital hancock stamped with your print on some god awful election.

you are still going to crack your jokes about the world costing twice as much, even though
tears spring up beneath your eyes, poured within your cheeks and roll down your throat, because you sold children further and further into financial slavery.

And beckoning for an answer which you might find if you bruise your knees on a cedar pew
and karate chop your nose with eyes clenched shut, or demand it from the other ninety nine beggars, who are asking the questions, you might hear them murmur a word if you tug on a robe and have faith like a man who believe solemnly that there is only an artificial God.

those caked in their liberal propaganda hold hands with gun-toting fascist and speak a word that can be said but never spelled nor heard or accepted: education.

But you thought educators were never worth paying nor admiring, they worked a job and though they drilled shreds of recycled knowledge, praying for change, you fastened to hope that they would live better through easier means, that American opportunity, would hunt them down and beg them to be found.

and even though you sold it long ago, for some comfort and a few spoken words which soothed your old man colic, you will demand it for your children though you know that, like the cake, it is a lie.

we live in a America where old fellows working at farms are illegal beings
if anything. You shower rumors of freedom and civility though you pelt them with pejoratives and douse DDT and ignorance upon their offspring. They have no rights, as you own them, through the produce you stir fry  and clothes you wear assembled in humid shops buried within third worlds

and though you will fight for them, occupying a land you stole from several others, you will stomp on their very necks, jabbing the share-the-wealth picket in their eye socket, and you might notice, though you won’t.

Class Evaluation:

This class was not only very immersive in discussion and lecture, but also technically impressive. I’m not one to flatter, but I was honestly impressed by the way you involved Google docs, blogger and twitter. The structure in which all of the assignments were well organized and provided an avenue for honest reflection of the course material while also maintaining focus of the subject at hand.  Another thing that I found highly useful while delving into Whitman were the resources you allocated via various links. The only issues I had with this course were merely personal, as time management is a problem that I am still working on. I’ve never been fond of twitter and some streamlining with the mother blog would have eased the complications of navigating another web media for an assignment. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed your class and only wished I could have given it my 100%, because it was honestly the most technically impressive class I’ve taken thus far. Thank you for making Whitman enjoyable Professor Hanley.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

guthrie, and the birth of holy protest music.

I hate protest/political music.

It is a genre which weaves the sentiment of few, and establishes that it is the view of all.

Stating this, not all music fall into this category, simply if they reference war or lack of wealth. I believe that the some of the greatest musicians of our time, (which sadly fall between the early 60s to late 80s) have learned to hone their art and establish a subtlety that implies a struggle, but grants the listener an invitation instead of a jarring metaphor meant to 'rock our core.' Now, i'm not one to judge musicians, or poets or anyone that include politics and current events into their art. And really, i'm not sure what my beef is with political music. I guess my issue is that most musicians that are doing it today perhaps in r and b and alternative music are just trying to hard to be clever, and attempt to teach the listener about what is 'really going on in the world' as if they don't know and care.

Now, that maybe an asshole think to say. but consider that most music that can be recognized by most americans for their familiarity and relations to politics are done well, and establish the musician as a seer of great importance. Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, etc. Even if you haven't listened to their music, you know who they are. Sadly we live in a world where there are kids who do not know the importance of a man named Sir Paul McCartney, or even Sir Elton John. Consider that. And think, do you think Lady Gaga will live on as an activist for anything? What about Adelle? What about anyone who works in the music industry. I think about Green Day and how they sold out to the i hate bush mantra. We get it, you hate Bush. Why? Because he brought us into a war where people died for no reason. Really? Every fucking president has been in some war in some distant country whether we know about it, or it is kept under wraps funded through illegal means such as the the contra war of the late 80's.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the dude abides

3) Just as Whitman catalogues all walks of life in “Song of Myself” and “Song for Occupations”, the Coen Brothers seem to create remarkably diverse characters in each of their movies. How might any given character of a Coen Bros. movie fit into the Whitmanian ideal? Would Whitman be able to easily relate to/connect with other Coen characters besides The Dude? Why are these characters so relatable to Whitman?
As i was reading this prompt, i got a surge of various characters that were rather mundane and ordinary, but resounded with complexity and striving character development that well, i'm still flabbergasted and a bit lost from this prompt still. A film that is technically not a Coen film, though it is what made by them, was No Country For Old Men, a novel penned by Cormac McCarthy.
So this tough as nails handy man stumbles on a bag of money and does what any normal man would do, take it and run. However, after his conscience irks him to return, with a jug of water for a dying man, he is chased relentlessly by the drug cartel, a brutal silent assassin.
Take the money and run.
Whitman, though quite the isolated and deranged character in reality, is man whom, in fiction, establishes himself as bard of America, a man who has made it his duty to recount the dreams of our country, the wishes of it's people and the destiny of its occupants. More so, he establishes a mantra where we are all connected, all one, all encompassing, in hopes of establishing a society where kindness and compassion abound, where the ordinary man, is no longer just ordinary but great. But not greater than others. 
Whitman, could quite easily slip into a Coen film as an archetype, which in the Coen universe could be anything of anyone. But most importantly, he would be yearning for something, at the expense of others, though quite shrewd in realizing it, with a hint of macabre humor, and death. Someone always dies, even if it's Brad Pitt in burn after reading. But what establishes the plot, is that there are many players in this rat race, and many things aren't spoken and when words are spoken, they are sardonic and brilliant. Look at True Grit, words are spoken (mostly unintelligible) but the story is motivated by the singular character who wants revenge but seeks unlikely help (a drunkard)
These ordinary people do great things, and part of the entertainment is that we can relate to this great people because we encounter them all the time or we have been in similar positions though not as preposterous. What makes Coen Films and Whitman so great is that we can easily slip in via osmosis and enjoy the story.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Levin, Curmudgeon?

Can't Stop.


My favorite work experience was a few years ago at my current job, innout. Some big kid came in and ordered a cheeseburger with thirty slices of cheese. And we melted a block of cheese onto his cheeseburger. We all watched as he scarfed this monstrosity in front of his gf. She must have barfed in her mouth several times, within that sitting.


The man's tone is brilliant and sharp though quite sardonic. He never wastes an opportunity to quip about what people are taking for granted while, introducing imagery that captures the entirety of his message. In What Work Is, he places the reader in a situation that is common, to those familiar with lack of work. (everyone) and forces to look at the possibility that we don't know what work is, or rather what it is to search and not find or wait, knowing that the opportunity is no longer there. Levine is not afraid to jar the reader and grasp their attention, or literally shake the shit of you as you try to come to grips with what he is trying to convey. However, as great of a writer he is, he seams to polar Whitman's kind demeanor in terms of outlying his ideals and beliefs. Levine knows that were all on the same page, but still feels the need to berate us. What an asshole.

In essence, Levine captures the stark reality, often defeatist that sometimes we know but most of the time we don't, yeah i'm sure that doesn't really make sense, bu in comparison to Whitman who frills and weaves beautiful language with ease and simplicity that we are often drawn into this imagery, well, Levine understands that reading work aloud and writing it are to different sciences, that require our attention, and the man has mastered both perhaps, but at the expense of compassion.

Now lets look at Lilacs and What Work Is, and both poets are trying to convey moments that familiar to us both, in ways that are different though effective. What Work Is presents a scenario and addresses the reader, as if presenting observations he has seen while viewing our lives, and though it may not be true, we understand what he is trying to say, that though we contemplate the lives of those that we love, we never step out and greet them or address them, until it is too late. Whitman relies on expansive motifs, that capture mourning, sadness and death, in examples that are enthralling and immediate to us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

book of the dead

Rukeyser's poem, The Book of Dead, contains some beautiful diction and references to the creation of modern america, and references the blood and sweat that was used to keep it together. I found it impersonal. though this might just be be. What i found most moving about Whitman's Lilacs... was that he introduced the personal emotions of turmoil and disappointment he felt at the death of lincoln and allowed us to relate.

Establishing motifs and elaborating on the mourning and gloom of death and those it affects, there was nothing force or implicit. Death is, and we must deal because we have no choice.

In Rukeysers poem, there's a hint of judgement and blame that I felt almost like fingerpointing because of the death of those that worked to establish our industrial society. She brings to light questions about society and construction and death and the values of life. People die because they're made to under certain circumstances and situations which can be easily averted if ppl weren't so greedy and selfish.

And I don't want to here that judgemental shit because me and whitman are mourning the death of our loved ones and we blame no one because shit happens.

Seriously, I feel like death is #death. Trending. Best friend passed away, a childhood friend passed away to heart failure, my gfs cat is dying and we just found her pet rat, trillion dead in her cage. Death happens. And we just have to deal.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Adam and Eve.

There was quite the disaster long ago. Several nations not only destroyed themselves in a nuclear holocaust, but released hazardous chemicals in the air to not only eradicate themselves but their enemies. This was a behavior most unusual of any living organism, as nothing on this earth had reached the climax of advanced technology and science of the homo sapien, and destroyed it self so quick.

Imagine ants dividing themselves, divisible from battalions to platoons to militia men to a (____) crew of random ants. Now imagine those ants killing each other and then themselves. Fucking weird right?

Now after exactly 24 years, a young man who scowered the ruins of his forefathers, stepped onto this healing earth and grabbed a handful of filaments which were all to similar to the locks of his hair though brittle and fibrous and green.

My Specimen Day

I've been obsessed with every detail of my life today because for once I have a perspective that is different and unique. I've been searching for answers in every potted plant and closet. To be fair I'm _________. But whatevs. I'm sure that this is the right way to figure out everything afterall.

Granted, I don't think whitman ever had the opportunity to take advantage of modern pharmaceuticals (I'm sure he would smoked a lot of herb) he wouldn't frown upon it given that it harms no one but himself. And that's pretty righteous. I think.