aaron

Only if we understand, will we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, will we save them.

“There There” by Tommy Orange (post 2)

This chapter discusses the character Dene Oxedene – a kid who lives with his mother Norma and uncle Lucas. Lucas loves to make films, or at least “think of them in his head”. His most recent one talks about a dystopian future in which humans are merged with an alien technology which we think we created ourselves. Eventually a half-breed so to speak decides to revolt against the technology and tries to restore humanity back to the stone-age natural state. But in the end, “the alien colonisers win of course” (31). This “movie” seems eerily parallel to what European settlers as well as early Americans did to Native Americans. The following night, Dene and Lucas discuss about making a film about documenting stories of Native Americans who moved to Oakland. They wanted to film it on a camera with a pistol grip – an interesting symbol seeing that the night after, Lucas dies in the Hospital due to liver-failure caused by drinking. It almost implies that Tommy Orange is playing with the word “shot” or “shooting” a film. In addition, Dene’s “tag” is “lens” – another connection to the camera and the film. When he pitches the project however, he is almost wait-listed by the only Native guy on the board, who “doesn’t even think he is Native”. He also meets this guy named Rob who mentions the quote “There is no There There”. Whilst Rob intends the quote to suggest that no one comes from Oakland, Dene interprets the quote differently. He says that if the quote was put into context, it would refer to Gertrude Stein’s book Everybody’s Autobiography – specifically that her neighbourhood was changing so much that “the there of her childhood, the there there, was gone, there was no there there anymore.” (38 – 39). Dene also talks about the quote’s significance to him personally – that the there there refers to the time when the Natives still had their ancestral lands, their rituals, their culture and language, and that that there there was no more – that the there there for Native Americans no longer existed – that there was no there there. And when the news of Lucas’s death reached Dene, he took the camera and bolted out the door, leaving Norma to cry at home. He later reflects on that decision, saying “how wrong it’d been that he left, like it was his loss alone.”(44) – once again questioning the morality of his character.

“There There” by Tommy Orange (post 1)

The first chapter in this book introduces Tony Loneman – a 22 year old with Fetal Alcohol syndrome who lives with his Grandmother Maxine. He starts the chapter by recalling a memory of his six-year-old-self beating up another kid for asking him “why does your face look like that?” (15). Tony then looks at himself in the TV rather than a mirror, and realises what his face looked like. Afterwards, he transitions to the present moment and talks about the significance and meaning of his distorted face – that it represents his “…mom and why she drank, it’s the way history lands on a face, and all the way [he] made it so far despite how it has f[***]ed with [him] since the day [he] found it on the TV, staring back at [him] like a f[***]ing villain.”(16) In addition, he also scores the lowest percentile in the intelligence test, and has a “they look at me like I already did some s[***], so I might as well do the s[***] they’re looking at me like that for”(17) mindset. One of his idols is his favourite rapper MF Doom – who wears a metal mask and calls himself a villain. He sees himself reflected into MF Doom, and in addition makes a personal connection with the lyric “Got more soul than a sock with a hole”. He says a sock with a hole has been worn through, has a character, and therefore has a soul, and he thinks of his face as worn through. This makes him feel less stupid.

Tommy Orange creates a very interesting conflict with the morality of Tony’s character. On page 20, Orange reveals that Tony sells drugs on the street, yet Orange also dedicates a significant portion discussing how he helps out Maxine. He also makes a friend Octavio, who drunkinly discusses his Grandmother with Tony and does bench presses with no weights – as if the alcohol cleared his burdens.

Afterwards, Tony looks into the TV in his Indian regalia and no longer sees the Drome. He sees “A dancer” – as if he had an epiphany and realised his identity.

I am interested in seeing how Tommy Orange continues to play with the morality of his characters

Literary Diagnostic Summary

What did you find hard about understanding and analyzing the speech?

– I didn’t find it very hard to analyse the speech – we learned mostly how to analyse earlier in the year.

What did you do well and what did you struggle with, in terms of writing the essay?

– I was able to have a clear flow of ideas and was able to put them down on paper. I wasn’t able to finish my essay due to my poor time management.

What do you wish you had done differently OR what would you do differently for the next timed, in-class essay?

– I wish I spent less time planning out my essay so that I would have been able to finish.

What topics or skills would you like more instruction on and practice with, for this type of task? (For example: how to identify and remember the names of techniques, how to annotate, how to outline, how to manage your time, how to proofread…)

– I feel my time management skills need refurnishing.

A Farewell to Arms – by Ernest Hemingway

A farewell to arms is American author Ernest Hemingway’s diary during his time as an ambulance driver in Italy in the First World War. Unlike other First World War diaries and stories filled with the reality of boredom in the trenches or a famous battle, this particular piece talks about life behind the trenches in the medical corps. As of the first six chapters, the main focus is on his relationship with fellow officers, fellow Italian allies, and Catherine – a woman in his stationed town. I am interested in seeing what happens next and whether he sees actual combat or does he never see combat like Anthony Swofford in Jarhead.

Revolutionary Journal

The French Revolution is arguably one of the most controversial event in World History. With underlying causes of feudal France such as the increasing wealth gap, the atrocious living conditions of the poor, the bankruptcy of the state, and the king’s ignorance to resolve any issues, the revolutionaries banded together under the Tennis Court Oath and marked the beginning of the revolution by raiding the Bastille prison. As the issue escalated, the king was eventually captured during a women’s march on Versailles in January 1793 and beheaded the following year. After the king’s death, a man named Maximilian Robespierre led the Committee of Public Safety in the reign of terror in which 40,000 Parisians were convicted and executed of treason before he was beheaded himself. After a long civil war, Napoleon Bonaparte finally took power in 1804 and ended the conflict for good. Though many would argue the contrary, I believe that the French Revolution was worth it because it changed the way the monarchy functioned. In the predating feudal ages, the monarchy was omnipotent with a governing and symbolic responsibility – but after the revolution, the king was restricted to a symbolic representative of the state. Others may argue that other revolutions like the glorious revolution of England in 1688 and the American revolution of 1774 predated the French revolution and also had more significant effects, but I would argue that the French Revolution change the way Europe perceived the monarchy. It served as a reminder to other monarchs for a century to come that they can be omnipotent but not without consequences. That is why I believe the French Revolution was worth it.

The French Revolution

Maximillian Robespierre, though a radical Jacobin in support of a republic in France, is a villain because he pointlessly executed people, went against the values of the Jacobin club, and was involved in political corruption. As the head of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror, he was directly responsible for the deaths of 40,000 French civilians deemed supporters of the King and his reign,  his political opponents and those who supported them, and his adversaries accuse him of dictatorship because of his absolute control over the Reign of Terror.

1924 [video diary blog entry]

Sasha from the very beginning was looking for a sense of belonging – something he could trust in. From his rough start in Yekaterinburg, he never had faith and was vulnerable. Others fed on his weakness like the bread they cherished so much. They toyed with his trust. The one thing he desperately wanted was the one thing he was exploited for. His search of belonging has led him to joining the Cossacks and fighting for the Tsar, then toiling on the Battlefields of the First World War, and finally joining the Red Guard. For Security or for beliefs, Sasha did not know why he joined the Red Guard – but finally he had felt a sense of belonging within the party. Fighting as an experienced soldier for a solid 19 years, he had gained the respect and trust the hard way. Life seemed to be stable at this point. He was happy. For now. His good friend Vadim – with all his suspicions – wanted to investigate and test Sasha’s loyalty to the revolution. Through the disappearance of Sasha’s family members and an eventual raid into Sasha’s home, Vadim had mustered up a diary that was filled with content deemed counter-revolutionary. Sasha now resides in Lubyanka (one of history’s worst known torture houses), where his execution is in minutes. Both Vadim and Sasha have lost  something irreplaceable in the Soviet Union – trust.

The Tsar was a horrible ruler. A timid boy, the Tsar was never fit in character to be a strong ruler. Even being a disappointment to his father, Nicolas II faced tremendous responsibility and mistrust thrusted upon him as he sat on the throne. Ignorant to the people’s wishes and ruling with a weak iron fist, his failure to install trust in the people and to improve the state of life has led to the loss of his powers. The state Duma was then exploited by the Tsar to his own benefit, but that wasn’t the worst of his crimes. The first world war was disastrous to the Russians with thousands dead and little ground gained. Meanwhile, the people were growing evermore restless and due to the Tsar’s incompetence piling up one incident after the other, he was eventually forced to abdicate.  His incapability to rule along with his terrorizing Okrana police force has tarnished his reputation and stained his name – making him one of the worst rulers of Russia. When the provisional government took over, life in Russia was stable. The people were mostly satisfied and life was beginning to improve. Yet there still those who believed the measures weren’t radical enough. They were the Bolsheviks and they were in no way better than the Tsar.  Lenin’s goal was to reform and improve the financial crisis Russia was buried in as well as pull Russian troops out of World War 1 and quickly eliminate the white guards. Yet his rule was much too similar to the Tsar’s. He was an almighty dictator with a terrorizing police force to back his policies. He used fear to control the people. He repeated the mistakes of the past, and made the past the present. And because of that, the October Revolution was not worth the toll it took on Russian society.

Can’t Hurt Me [resolution]

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior…”

– Heraclitus  (500 BC)

Before reading this book, many stumble over the thought of how an overweight, depressed, young man could end up as a Navy Seal, tactical air control party member, and an Army ranger as well as a record-holding athlete capable of ultra-marathons of unheard distances. And to become that warrior he is today, he had lived by one code – master your mind and defy the odds.

Firstly, by getting real with himself and desiring change, he had brought himself from an abusive childhood to training as a Navy SEAL. From the title of the first chapter, “I should have been a Statistic”, you can see how he started off low society both in terms of status and in terms of self esteem – let alone the abuse he endured before he and his mother escaped their house.  In school, he struggled a lot academically – having a GPA just above 1 and copying of every single task. After taking a shower one night, he looked himself in the mirror. “I didn’t like who I saw staring back. I was a low-budget thug with no purpose and no future. I felt so disgusted I wanted to punch that Motherf***** in the face and shatter the glass. Instead, I lectured him. It was time to get real.” And with that, he started to get real with himself – he set goals that were written on post it notes and held himself accountable to them every day. When studying for the ASVAB (essentially the SAT for the military), he would get the material book as early as possible and copy each page 2 times by hand so that he could remember and retain the information for the test. He slowly morphed himself one by one into the man we know today, just by simply getting real with himself.

Secondly, by armouring his mind and forming a resilient mindset, he had passed SEAL training at the top of his class. When he was in BUD/S (first stage of SEAL training), it seemed that the instructors had made it a goal to take down Goggins. They had even gone the lengths where during their boat race, David had to start a mile away from where the race started and swim to where his boat crew had paddled to. The worst part was the second stage of BUD/S, where the water training happened. From the beginning, David was never comfortable with the water, much less getting water kicked into his mouth by his instructors every time he attempted to breath. But through this suffering, he had gained strength. “I’d tasted Hell Week … and [I] know how easily it was to to think about quitting when confronted with levels of pain and exhaustion you didn’t think possible. Hell Week was a mind game. To find the strongest minds. That’s something quitters didn’t understand until it was too late.” And rather than back away, David confronted the pain and overcame it.

Through conquering our minds, we can learn and train ourselves to be mentally resilient and tough. David once was invited to a talk at MIT, where a professor spoke about how everyone has genetic limitations that we just can’t over come no matter how mentally tough we are. “Everyone int athlete room seemed to accept his version of reality because this senior, tenured professor was known for researching mental toughness. it was his life’s work. It was also a bunch of bullshit, and to me he was using science to let us all off the hook.” When asked if he agreed, David replied, “There’s something to be said for living it instead of studying it. What you said is true for most people, but not 100 percent. There will always be the 1 percent of us who are willing to put in the work to defy the odds.”

Because of the theme “master your mind and defy the odds”, I have decided to focus my print ads on those topics. The poster on the far right shows the many things David Goggins became – portraying an image of limitless possibilities in who you can be. I used paint splashes to crowd up the scene and make it seem like David Goggins is persevering through chaos – which did happen many times in his life. In the print ad in the middle, I focused solely on “mastering your mind” and used a brain icon. Red for me symbolised authority and control. For the last print ad, because I used the quote “don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done” I thought that a picture of him finishing his 100 mile ultramarathon would suit the print ad best.

Can’t Hurt Me

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

  • William Jennings Bryan

 

 

In his autobiography Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins was born to an abusive family in Buffalo, New York – where his father Trunnis was constantly torturing him, his brother and David’s mother. His father, though a very successful businessman owning the very popular Skateland, was horrible at making decisions, and slightest comment would trigger him. Trunnis Goggins would lash out and whip David with the buckle side of a belt. The violence extended to a point where Trunnis felt perfectly fine pointing a pistol between David’s eyes. Yet it wasn’t David or his family’s fate, because where you start isn’t necessarily where you finish.

 

This is proven when David, his mother, and his brother run away from Trunnis. The plan was created months before they would make their escape, and it involved his mother Jackie to get a credit card. One day, Trunnis had another tantrum and Jackie told him she had enough. With David and his brother Trunnis jr., his mother took the car and left for good. They could have chosen to stay with Trunnis and suffer for the rest of their lives. They could have chosen to be abused and have no way out of it. But they didn’t. Their choice to leave was theirs and it changed their lives from then on.

 

This was proven again when David attends school. They had taken refuge at Jackie’s parents’ dwelling in Brazil Indiana. Though David had to retake second grade and was failing, he was lucky to have the nun Sister Katherine as his teacher. The text states, “… grouchy Sister Katherine cared about us, cared about me. She wanted us to be our very best. I know this because she proved it by spending extra time with me, as much time as it took, until I retained my lessons.” Because Sister Katherine chose to help David succeed in school, David was able to catch up with everyone else by the end of the year. It was Sister Katherine’s choice to do that – she wasn’t fated to help others.

 

This theory also applies when David’s brother was struggling. “Within a few months he was back in Buffalo, shadowing my father and working that Skateland detail like he never left.” It was unfortunate that Trunnis jr. didn’t have a teacher like Sister Katherine, but it was his choice to return to his dad.

 

David Goggins throughout his life learned the hard way that struggle is necessary for success. He, applying this logic, turned a depressed, overweight young man into a former Navy Seal who is now one of the fittest men in the world. Where you start a race isn’t necessarily where you end – it is you that pushes yourself to the finish line.

Did the Boxers Deserve a Bad Rap?

During the 1850s, a group of anti-foreign Chinese citizens rallied up – forming the Boxer rebellion. After many massacres, assassinations, successful attempts to drive foreigners out of Peking and to defend the city walls with the help of the Imperial army, they were finally crushed by the foreign expeditionary force. Following historical tradition, the winners of wars always tell the tale, so the Boxers ended up with a bad rap because they were enemies of European colonisers – but, I would argue the contrary.

The main reason I believe the boxers didn’t deserve a bad reputation is because their actions were a retaliation to what the europeans were doing to them. The ethnocentric beliefs held by the Europeans were taken as legitimate reasons for the colonisation of many countries that the europeans deemed uncivilised because they were different – and china was no exception. One reason was because they didn’t worship Christianity. The Chinese, similar to every other colony of the Europe, worshipped a different religion – and because it conflicted with the beliefs of Christianity, it was unaccepted by the colonisers. The fact that the missionaries that arrived were backed with military forces proved that they weren’t here to simply convert some people – their purpose in China was to colonise. The Boxers were angry at the foreigners because [the europeans] were essentially invaders ruling society on a foreign turf, and though the massacre of 40 missionaries and the burning of the St. Michael’s church In Beijing is controversial, the boxers should have been allowed to protest against the ethnocentric belief that anyone who doesn’t worship Christianity is uncivilised.

Another example would be what the Germans did. Baron von Ketteler – the German minister to China – ordered his guards to detain and publicly execute a suspected boxer for his supposed participation in the burning of the catholic church. Obviously a diplomat has no right to execute citizens of a foreign country in that foreign country, especially since Ketteler’s reason had nothing to do with the national security of Germany- which resulted in the storming of the German legation and the assassination of the Baron. Westerners view the situation as the boxer’s fault for attacking Baron von Ketteler, but the reality was that the attack was a retaliation.

Because the actions of the boxers were with purpose and a retaliation towards the Europeans, I believe that even though some of the things the Boxers did were controversial, they did not deserve a bad reputation.

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