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  • An Individual Tool of Clarity

    In the French Rococo period, Jean-Honoré Fragonard created one of the more wonderful pieces of art that captured a powerful and enduring representation of the general milieu present in 1767 in his painting, “The Swing”. Gertrude Stein’s since offered a powerful tool of critical analysis in her discussion of, “What Are Master-pieces and Why Are There So Few of Them”, that can greatly enhance a discussion of how this painting’s a masterwork. This essay will open with a brief discussion of various individual interpretations of this painting, that’re revealed to be reliant on the individual’s perspective and identity. For this, one must be able to recognize the entity masterfully crafted into the painting in order to identify anything so’s to clarify the art to themselves and others. It’ll then close in tying these interpretations to Stein’s paragraph on the notions of clarity and the lack of clarity in a masterpiece from her essay.

    In the painting, front and center there sits The Swing, the paintings namesake. Intertwined in the painting are displays of an overgrown and untended Nature, appearing as vine-like. These all are adorned with Fragonard’s familiar, intricate and numerous brush strokes that incorporated an aura of a vibrant naivety in his use of lines and color scheme on display. The foliage-work’s so numerous and radiates a sense of overwhelming ignorance that says, “This is to be the Paradise that’s lost”. Depicted also are the architectural works of man falling into a sort of disrepair in the background. What appears to be a gardening tool underneath the swinging woman’s been discarded as carelessly as the woman swings extravagantly and opulently across the scene with the aid of her helper as she engages in a hedonistic display of tantalizing sexuality with the man lying down on the left side of the painting.

    In knowing the history to follow, this work’s a statement on the carelessness of an era in which all forms of “progress” fell into disregard for the sake of catering to the whims and wants of The Aristocracy as the servant class grew increasingly discontent. This theme’s indicated by the shadowy man in the background, who could be a servant, of sorts, for lack of a more appropriate term. He serves as part of the depicted entity in this painting. Further personal critical analysis of this painting isn’t needed to convey the message that the depiction I see’s different from the one that the artist would’ve seen, and this again’s different from that which any other viewer might see. An analysis is outside the scope of this essay that’s focused on the tool Gertrude Stein introduces to discuss the nature of aspects inherent to masterpiece work.

    The alternative (“official”) explanation by art historians of this work, is some story about it being commissioned by a suitor engaged in an affair with the woman as he’d depicted to hide in the bushes while she’s swung by her shadowy cuckold husband in the background. This is just a different interpretation of this narrative, even the original commissioning was said to have it be a religious bishop figure take his place whereas the shadowy man depicted might very well be presumed to be depending on one’s identity. In that light, note the position’s such that this man cannot ever push her, she’s too elevated. Thus he can only pull her, as one does to the reigns of a horse. The general notion that the suitor lying down was obscured by an overgrown bush that’s since fallen into a state of being untended still holds true; however, regardless of whether or not this shadowy man in the background is her husband, friend or servant makes the overall impression of the work not too different from the others in regards to the entity depicted in the painting, but still invokes clarity for a particular individual and not necessarily another.

    That all of myself, the original artist and the original commissioner may all hold these different notions of the painting through the lens of our individual identities is exactly the nature of what Gertrude Stein meant when she’d expressed the level of clarity through identity and entity using one’s memories in relation to a work. The entity contained within The Swing is a powerful statement on nature, those who have things and those who lose things, and hedonism. This is the nature of the entity in this art, masterfully placed there by Fragonard. For the sake of creation of this work, he would’ve placed his memories aside and allowed the work to come to existence through his talent, as Stein so discussed.

    Stein says, “The minute your memory functions while you are doing anything it may be very popular but actually it is dull”, in trying to explain what she meant by clarity. In this case, had Fragonard used the originally requested Bishop or something else that came from memory in place of the shadowy man, the work would’ve just been a fine piece according to Stein, but not a masterpiece (DeKoven 498). Stein implied this just after she’d said, “If you do not remember while you are writing, it may seem confused to others but actually it is clear and eventually that clarity will be clear, that is what a master-piece is, but if you remember while you are writing it will seem clear at the time to any one but the clarity will go out of it that is what a master-piece is not” (DeKoven 498). What she means here’s best explained by her notions of identity and entity, in that identity’s based on the individuals memory and that’s what she describes as an inhibition to making a masterpiece in “thinking” while doing. Accessing parts of one’s memory tied up in identity creates a barrier to making a masterpiece. Stein implies that entity is the essence that’s left, that we see in a painting such as “The Swing”.

    Clarity’s obtained by accompanying the entity on display with the identity of the person that’s appreciating it. That this work’s open to such a style of interpretation yielding powerful implications is what makes it a masterpiece according to Stein, because Fragonard’s memory doesn’t bar anyone else’s identification of what’s going on in this painting. Had the painting been painted with the bishop depicted as was originally in the commission, it would’ve said something very different, and thus risked its status as being able to be a masterpiece. It then would’ve incorporated into it an inseparable bit of identity that may’ve inevitably corrupted the discrete unit of entity displayed in the painting according to the logic presented by Stein in her essay and thus rendered it no more than a possibly popular work but not a masterpiece.

    In this case, the identity of the author’s one whom very much was patronized by the Aristocratic patrons that funded his pursuit of art, and it’s unlikely that he would’ve valued it in the same way myself or someone else would’ve. That it invites most anyone with an eye for it to discern a clarity in studying it by being so able to be interpreted speaks much to it being able to be considered a masterpiece according to Stein’s own words. Furthermore, it’s not likely that any other artist could’ve originated such a painting as this, and this fact is critical to this being the masterpiece that it is. The perceived individually obtained clarity is that all of these notions folks have aren’t clear in the painting alone and require much in the way of further discussion and discourse such as found in this essay. Essay-writing such as this is what Stein would refer to as something that may be very popular but actually it is dull in her mentioning secondary writing.

    In conclusion, Jean-Honoré Fragonard created one of the more wonderful pieces of art that captured a powerful and enduring representation of the general milieu present in 1767 in his painting, “The Swing”. This essay’s covered various clarifications of the same work based on understandings of different memories involving an interpretation of, “The Swing”. These individual interpretations, while clear on discussion, aren’t fully encompassing the clearly depicted entity in the artwork. This is because the interpretations rest on identity that’s formative in grasping the entity therein depicted. Various interpretations of the meaning inherent behind the entity depicted that’s loosely a powerful statement on nature, including those who have and those who lose, and hedonism. This means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It was discussed that Steins notion of clarity in regards to entity and identity greatly enhances the ability to have a good discussion on this work of art for which her literary criticism as a tool is invaluable to doing so.

    Works Cited

    DeKoven, Marianne. “Gertrude Stein (1874–1946).” The Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology, edited by Marianne DeKoven et al., Indiana University Press, 1990, pp. 479–530. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/jj.5501026.26. Accessed 22 July 2024.

    Fragonard, Jean-Honoré. “The Swing.” Smarthistory, smarthistory.org/jean-honore-fragonard-the- swing/. Accessed 22 July 2024.

  • Film Analysis: Citizen Kane

    This movie is largely about the various personal accounts of the memories people have of other people. In this story, the various recollections of people are used to reconstruct an image of Mr. Kane who, himself appearing at the center of the story, doesn’t have his own personal account of himself accounted for in this story that incorporates at least 6 iterations of how people viewed him. Largely they recounted the aspects of their lives that the man directly influenced, such as for Susan’s recounting it was so heavily skewed about her singing career and Kane’s influence on this. I don’t think that hearing Susan’s story alone couldn’t give a reasonable understanding of who this guy actually was, in the way this story was written so as to show the various reflections of people for which there were many variations. She wouldn’t have heard him say the word rosebud per the film, therefore representing this as part of his personality outside of that formative moment.

    In doing this, the assertion is such that there are inferences that can be made about interpretations on what personal identity is.

    I had it asked of me once – that if you had to communicate to an “immortal soul” that wasn’t omniscent, where you were in the universe – how, exactly, would you go about doing this? It was one of the better questions I’ve had asked of me, ever, regarding personal identity and I’m certainly over-interpreting the nature of the question a bit, but much can be thought of in considering this. For one, it’s a large assumption that this immortal soul would even know what this thing was we call a physical universe, let alone the notions of energy and vibration – this entity conceivably exists apart from that, so how then how could one ever hope to tell it where you were? Suppose that it could perceive you, and was empowered to reach you, here, and in some way, you had to have the ability to communicate to it in such a way as to be able to find you, for a period. What would you consider to tell it? Would you start by attempting to tell it your own recollections of the formative events of your particular origin and childhood such as found in the rosebud interpretation, or would you rely on external recountings of yourself such as in the enigma interpretation to sufficiently tell such a thing where you’re at?

    In general I consider each individual reflection of who Kane was in the film through individual recollection to be an allegory to the petals of a rosebud, where while there were all different petals on a rose varying from large to small and differing slightly, all still pertained to and were a part of the rose, which I considered to be a metaphor for Kane’s personality. In this case I find the mention of it to imply that Kane was the rosebud and as the stories were presented progressively through the story, viewers were able to get a more clear picture of the whole rosebud, the whole person, Kane.

    In this light, I consider Kane to be slightly different from the stories presented, even. The point here is that I am in agreement with the enigma interpretation regarding Kane’s identity in that while each individual reflection, idea, or interpretation of who Kane in particular elucidating a particular aspect of his personality, many of the stories were required to be viewed through the accumulated lenses of who Kane was in order to come to understand Kane as a person. I don’t believe it was some single event of childhood alone that was the singluar formative event that created the identity that he carried with him in his human life. While I consider the event of his childhood to certainly be a formative event, it is one among many, more proximal or central to himself than many, that formed the agglomerated personality that could explain who Kane was. He wasn’t just chasing his lost childhood in this film any more than he was chasing any other lost thing to him that I perceive.

    It was interesting to note that as the story progressed, I observed Kane being cast in an increasingly different light, as a progressive march toward a person that wasn’t exactly like the one the story opened up with. (blossoming or wilting like a rose). As he exited his wife’s room after she left, he walked by many people with internalized reflections of him that we could not outwardly see, nor could they all be the same. Then in the next scene he walked in front of a mirror with many iterations of his reflected self, all identical, that we could easily see. Possibly this was alluding to the fact that Kane’s personality was unchanged and iterative, and it was the interpretation of who he was that varied due to it having been cast in the shadows and biases of his peers’ recollections and individual personalities. This contrasts with the words he used to discuss with Susan prior to them separating – the discussion of what the people would think. I think this would mean that the perceived notions Kane would’ve imagined of the internalized versions of himself held by other people were taken into account to express himself and thus formed parts of his identity. This thereby gave some level of truth to the notion that an external observer could forge parts of an identity and the resulting person is an enigmatic aggomeration the constituent and recognized interpretations of the person being considered, which in this case was Kane.

    It’s clear that his holding of the snowglobe indicates him holding onto his childhood, in memory and in doing so it’s likely the loneliness that he experienced through his whole life of having lost his mother who did what she thought was best to separate the guy from his father by sending him off. In doing this, Kane was inflicted with a childhood wound that caused him to collect impressive amounts of things through his whole life. My closest consideration here to this film is the sonnet Ozymandias. In this case, Kane’s life and identity were the result of constant reactions to external stimuli for which that event was one large part of.

    I think that both of these concepts (rosebud vs. enigma interpretation of Citizen Kane) are mutually exclusive in that the essence of one interpretation involves that which was not had by Kane, whereas the other is defined explicitly by that which Kane lived through. To me, this is as straightforward as saying there would have been an apple there, but there was not, and separately that there was not an apple there and then there was – it’s quite possible that I’ve internally oversimplified both of these concepts but in general I conclude that the rosebud interpretation of the events of the movie are often conflated with the subsequent character traits that result in that in the same way folks can initially visually identify a person or thing most of the time, closer observation of the thing generally reveals further details.

  • An Individual Tradition of Corruption

    In discussing T.S. Eliots’ notions on conformity, where in his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” he writes, “to conform merely would be for the new work not really to conform at all; it would not be new, and would therefore not be a work of art,” much can be said in discussing its relation to Roman Polanskis’ Chinatown (Eliot 4). A cursory reading of the statement is that it’s an incorrect assertion in that, were one to replace the target of the statement with another target, such as a human, it may become apparent that the context in which the statement was made is critically important. For example, would a person no longer be a person, so long as they were to conform? Re-reading the sentence with a different target, it goes, “to conform merely would be for the new person not really to conform at all; they would not be new, and would therefore not be a notable person.” This exercise aside, the general essence of the statement is geared towards the assertion that uniqueness is an inseparable part of quality work, and the most important differentiator in this sentence is the word “merely”. It becomes apparent that Eliot was making the distinction between simple imitation and nuanced novelty superimposed on conformative elements of tradition.

    Using the notion of conformity as a gauge, with regard to whether or not it makes Chinatown a better or worse ranked movie for having conforming elements, is nonetheless a pursuit in analyizing the movie for its full range of aspects, topics and techniques. First, it conforms in that the movie is based in California. Briefly listing various selections on elements in which conformity could be discussed include the genre, plot, characters, set design, film techniques such as montage, other film techniques such as leitmotif, the selections of music in the film, the usage of sound effects, the film angles, the general motions of characters (such as Jake moving up sets of stairs or hills in his ascent into deeper levels of awareness and knowledge), and more. A wholly comprehensive analysis of these individual aspects in order to assess or rank the level of merit this film deserves is largely outside the scope of this paper, but the general combined effect of them in regards to their merit in relation to conformity can be covered.

    The story opens with the opening credits, trumpet music blaring in the background, reminiscent of that nostalgic noir tone that was to set the mood, and even the font is matching the style, and the opening credits are golden brown-hued to display a muted appearance and the brightest part of the opening scene is such that the darkness appears around the edges – this focuses the viewer.

    These are all conforming aspects, as this movie was not the first to do this, but this conforming to a norm nonetheless aptly sets the stage for the work of art, as a border to a painting or a title to a song. Choices such as these speak much toward the ability to have a unified and shared ability to convey tradition in ones work that Eliot wrote of later in his essay where he wrote, “the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order,” (Eliot 3). The notion that there’s a general implication of conformity to this conveys the tradition of the time through relatable concepts such as relatable characters (detectives) or familiar opening credits. Any film in particular could also do this, and just for that, no, it’s not a “work of art” for its opening credits or Jake Gittes, alone.

    For Robert Towne, the writer, having died two weeks ago at the time of writing this essay, it’d certainly make sense to distinguish the different types of works of art that this film represents. For one there’s the story, “Chinatown”, by Robert Towne, and then two there is the film, Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski. There are musical works of art (The opening credits include “Chinatown Theme” by Jerry Goldsmith), literary works of art, visual works of art, statuesque character portrayals, and many more that are all embedded into this particular film that’s individually called a work of art in itself. It’s a conglomerated work of art that, when all pieces are fit together, make something more than each one of the individual works of art in this film could really ever be standing apart from each other. Whether it’s that opening trumpet tune that could go on for hours, the picturesque landscapes that could serve as an individual photograph on any wall, the story in a book that could easily find itself on a bookshelf – this film is a masterpiece that adorns itself in works of art. This is the modern nature of what it means to be considered a “classic”.

    The general notion is that there are parts where this movie conforms – a detective story, an investigation, the film style, a romantic interest, the plot order, roles of males and females of the period, etc… Then there are parts where it doesn’t conform to expectations such as the plot twist of the grandfather-father and the sister-mother, the economic corruption at a societal level, the stories within the stories are what make this movie a highly rated classic of high merit. On the surface what had initially appeared to be an otherwise straightforward investigation turned into a statement on national politics, sociology and culture at the time. This, while still maintaining the outward appearance of a “detective story” pushed this film outside of boundaries of conformity and left the viewer seeing a level of corruption that was indescribably impressionable but unable to be succicintly defined in any concise explanation of the theme at the end of the story. It leaves one wondering if they’ve simply been passively watching a murder mystery or if they should be taking political action at the end of watching the film.

    A major aspect that set this film apart from others was the presence of a very clear and apparent “bad guy”. This revelation wasn’t until the later parts of the movie and as such didn’t shatter the notion of it being a noir film. At the end, just about anyone could say that the grandfather was an overwhelmingly evil person, not simply for having murdered the engineer. But, this alone is a “conformal” level of evil. The motive behind his actions and his character portrayal in that the murder wasn’t done out of simple petty revenge or to satisfy his immediate needs, but instead had far reaching consequences that spoke to the general dissheveled nature of Los Angeles at the time. It was a city in the desert in need of water, where, “without water the dust will rise up and cover us as if we never existed,” (Chinatown 06:10-06:17). This means that without water, there was no future for the city.

    This older man, Noah Cross, could bring water to it and thus make “the future” possible. The well-intentioned audience is supposed to hate him for this, but also him saying that it’s for “the future” made his point valid despite the wicked way in which he pursued it through murder and lies. But, in order to overwhelm this potential forgiveness of character flaw, the mans backstory as a rapist grandfather-father of his own daughter was used to induce a level of corruption to the narrative that empowered the viewer to disregard any remaining logical resistance in their faculties to this character being morally ambiguous and instead conclude that the man was strikingly and obviously a bad guy. This is something that cannot always be said of the noir genre, and in this regard was what set it apart as a work of art, in light of Eliots written assertions on the notion, such as to be able to caputre the nature of a complex emotion and also put it on display for folks to view in this film through this development of character. This guy, Noah, both “wants a future” and “bred his daughter” – but children are the future! How a viewer should internalize the resulting emotional conflict is left to their individual nature as there’s no straightforward way to process the complex emotional reaction presented here.

    In conclusion, uniqueness is an inseparable part of quality work. Simple imitation and nuanced novelty superimposed on conformative elements of tradition are key elements in creating any new work of art through film. T.S. Eliot’s written literary theory would support this notion, and a further analysis may be given to this film in relation to those claims, or any other, but few are to rank higher than Chinatown in its merit of supporting his claim.

    Works Cited

    Evans, Robert. Chinatown. Performance by Jack Nicholson, et al., Paramount, Paramount Home Video, RCA, 1974, https://www.amazon.com/Chinatown-Jack-Nicholson/dp/B000HZM4FW. Accessed 16 July 2024.

    Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” Boston University, bu.leganto.exlibrisgroup.com/leganto/readinglist/citation/39502310600001161/file/viewer. Accessed 16 July 2024.

  • The Truman Show and Allegory of the Cave

    The Truman Show serves as a contemporary cinematic version of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” because the allegory had presented many ideological symbols that manifest in the movie. These ideas are also present in the characters and events in the film. Truman’s reaction to the life he was living was more a result of him not getting what he needed, more so than being put into a fake world.

    Moving in line with the plot of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, the underground den is symbolically represented by the great dome on the world in the movie displayed (The Truman Show 01:02:00 -01:02:02). The characters were there from childhood or birth as was discussed in “Allegory of the Cave”. In a similar fashion to the cave, the parts of the human beings that Plato references as chained by their legs and necks are, in the movie, represented as psychological controls on behavioral aspects of the characters personality. For Truman this included the boat accident with his father and a lifetime being surrounded by propaganda that deterred leaving such as can be seen in the travel agency literature where magazines for cruises and the hazards of flight poster adorned the wall (The Truman Show 42:30 – 43:50), and the bonds of social interactions by the willing participants in the scheme all served the purpose of “chains” in the movie, despite not being physical ones as was mentioned in “Allegory of the Cave”.

    The “fire blazing at a distance” in “Allegory of the Cave” was more of a metaphoric representation of a tool used to empower a false narrative – this role was taken on by the creator of the show, Christof, although there were sources of illumination that he directly controlled – the sun and the moon. Christof could also said to be responsible for having provided “the screen” referenced in “Allegory of the Cave”. This was equivalent to the physical environment that Truman could move physically freely within. The puppets referenced were the actors in the dome that received the commands from the script writer(s) that were represented as the people behind the moon (in the movie), that administratively and technically supported the people acting inside.

    Truman’s “ascent” toward knowledge of the real world took place with repeated disruptions to the narrative that went on around him. These progressively added to his growing skepticism that lead to him initially questioning smaller parts of his life such as his job, choice of wife or location in which he lived, to larger concerns like the world was a stage for him, presuming his best friend Marlon and wife Meryl to be impostors who were lying to him, and ultimately the realization that the world really was not as it appeared. Each subsequent step along the way had a refractory period where Truman would resume wearing the “shackles” and accept the reality he was given as he continued ruminating, sometimes for long periods of time in between events. One long span was the one from his college days with Sylvia who had attempted directly disclosing his situation, to what appeared to be the beginning of the film when the camera fell from the sky.

    Returning to “wearing the shackles of naivety” after all of these disruptive events would support the part in “Allegory of the Cave” where Plato writes that Socrates says, “Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects where are now shown to him?” (Plato 2). This was important because there were many, many times when Truman was “let out of his shackles”, but not having “left the cave” at those points he quickly resumed his undisturbed life, choosing to accept that the reality that was afforded to him was truer than the objects that were shown to him as was written.

    Truman enters his reality-breaking montage which started with the radio station picking up someone discussing his movement (The Truman Show 29:30 – 30:40). The point in the “Allegory of the Cave” that is being reflected here on from this event in the movie is where Socrates says, “and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities” as he goes on a dismissive tirade that would otherwise put himself and his wife in danger as he was driving erratically, through a forest fire and a nuclear plant accident, unable to “see anything at all” (Plato 2).

    The creator of the film, Kristoff, used philisophical logic to assure that there was a rationale, that was set against the vein of philosophy presented by Sylvia during their quick phone conversation during the interview later in the movie (The Truman Show 01:06:26 – 01:08:15). These two philisophical notions were discussed in a way that was different from the general Sophistry that was utilized by the actors on the set. The actors of the show used Sophistry to convince, or otherwise convey the particular direction that they wanted Truman to go or to act. This included whether he was to have the general feeling that everything Truman did was correct or acceptable behavior which was evidenced by Meryl’s constant smile and laugher when Truman was putting her life in danger when they drove around in the traffic circle.

    When Marlon’s dismissive nature was used in order to cause certain behavior of Truman, this caused Truman’s current focus to fade from his view such as Marlon’s dismissal of the notion of Fiji as even an idea that a “normal” person would have. Important context here is that Marlon certainly would’ve heard Truman discuss Fiji before, having been his best friend since childhood (His mother identified him in the scrap book), when Truman would’ve conceivably applied the sticker to the top of his trunk in his younger years. That Marlon dismissed the island, even went as far as saying he didn’t know it, when Truman discussed it with him when drinking beers, is an example of the type of Sophistry that was used to convince Truman to come to a conclusion that was not likely in his best interests to have come to – for Marlon’s best interests were had and not Truman’s.

    In dismissing Truman’s intentions to visit Fiji, Meryl mentions their car and mortgage payments and the cost setting them back five years and accuses him of being childish. In doing this she deflects beyond all rationale and reason, and certainly it becomes apparent that a paycheck isn’t all that’s keeping her quiet. It’s an ideology that’s keeping her quiet, here. She uses Sophistry to ensure that the philisophical notion prestented by Christoff was maintained as correct. Her character idolized the notion of being able to control a reality that offered some modicum of stability in the same way there were many others like just this “cave” that did this too, albeit to lesser magnitudes and the collapse of her narrative there meant by extension a similar failure in narrative elsewhere as a situation that appeared to be in control would spin out of control.

    Appearances of situations being used to control situations were used by Marlon as Truman barges into the store with a life changing disclosure about how the whole world revolved around him and Truman was immediately met with skepticism and dimissal in order to maintain an orderly appearance so as to prevent Truman from perceiving the reality of the situation he was in. A great example of how this was done is the choice in story writing to have Marlon remove the chocolate bars from the vending machine while Truman was going through his story, in order to maintain the appearance of stability all for the sake of both the audience and Truman (The Truman Show 34:50 – 35:25). The tactic was to keep Truman in the focus of the camera, which Marlon knew the position of, for better TV show ratings, for as long as possible. The action indicated how manipulative the actors could be in order to maintain an orderly appearance even as the reality of the fake world was coming down around them.

    The finale here indicates the root of Trumans discomfort, which he shared very quickly in a single sentence as he said “You never had a camera in my head” (The Truman Show 01:33:10 – 01:33:20). The admission that he knew that the creator he was controlled by didn’t have a camera in his head, was the disclosure, and is a rebuttal to both “The Allegory of the Cave” and the philisophical notion of not having something to fear of the prisoner in both of these stories. Up until that point, the philisophical discussions and concepts portrayed through the film hadn’t discussed that had there been an uninterrupted stream of consciousness to Trumans head, being piped to and controlled by Kristof, it could then be perceived that the story might have been very different in its ending. This power had only previously been attributable to a God, which Truman knew Christoff not to be.

    This essay has discussed the various characters, events, plot, dialogue and scenes that likened the movie The Truman Show to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. It discussed, much like the allegory, the ascension of Truman’s awareness happening in stages with refractory periods in between. Truman’s reaction to the life he was living was more a result of him not getting what he needed, more so than being put into a fake world. Had the world been able to supply the few things that he needed, he may have continued letting things slide in the same way he suddenly became hyper-aware of things like traffic appearing magically. He didn’t just immediately piece all of this together, he’d progressively been adding it to a list of repressed thoughts throughout his entire life. It was for a lack of getting what he wanted (The magazine woman depicting Sylvia was part of this) in exchange for giving what he had to give that he reacted in the way that he did.

    In conclusion, The Truman Show serves as a contemporary cinematic version of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” because the allegory had presented many ideological symbols that manifest in the movie. These ideas are also present in the characters and events in the film.

    Works Cited

    Weir, Peter. The Truman Show. Paramount Pictures, 1998. BU Libraries. https://digitalcampus-swankmp-net.ezproxy.bu.edu/bu334689/watch/248B9BB26D265015 Accessed 17Jul2024.

    Plato. The Republic. Book 7. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Richard Hooker, 1996.

  • Film Analysis: The Oracle Scene from The Matrix

    I chose to analyze a film scene from The Matrix, specifically the wonderful scene where Neo enters the kitchen of The Oracle and a key point in the movie takes place. There were a lot of good scenes in this movie, and certainly many others, and I could go into writing each one of them out like this, but by then I’d have quite a bit of words. Generally it’s for a lack of time that I can honestly commit to watching movies, that I get through so few, please consider this in reading through this paper that took me not so long to write this much, and another little bit to refine its errors. For the sake of the reader looking explicitly for a film analysis, and not a critical analysis, please cease reading upon moving to the paragraph that begins the discussion on the critical analysis of the scene after completing the film analysis, and skip to the conclusion paragraph where a link to the scene can be found.

    Starting with the film analysis side of this, the acting performance is limited to two characters, one of Neo and one of The Oracle. The Oracale indicated moments of presentational and stylized or otherwise exaggerated and outspoken performance, but this seems to’ve been a design choice by the film crew as the character was such an outspoken role up to that point in the movie. Neo indicated a more naturalistic and representational stature, although the moments when he was inspecting his hands were a bit exaggerated. Neo was very silent in this conversation – most of the the dialogue here was one sided and Neo was largely portrayed as receptive to the almost one-sided conversation, responding often with one word answers, questions and comments. The dialogue starts calm and remains quite calm through the entire scene and was continuously slow moving. Their interaction appeared genuinely to be with each other as the bits of dialogue that they exchanged reciprocated the responses of the others conversation and very little seemed to be ignored. Much of the gestures that The Oracle character made seemed designed to satisfy or otherwise placate the Neo character who didn’t know what to expect but seemed to be looking, at the time, for some sort of physicial indication, visibly hung on on some physicial indicator of his situation. In this dialogue, these two characters complement each other, and seem to have very little tension with each other but retain their own inner tension as their own inner monologues seem to be going on.

    Through the scene, the camera starts focused and zoomed in on the oven, and then pans out and begins to sweep the kitchen, and then zooms in again on the individual characters. Multiple times the film is such that the character that is saying something important has their face in full view of the screen, as when The Oracle is sitting at the table, generally only showing their head as a close up. The scene used medium shots when the two were physically interacting and full shots when introducing and setting up the scene. A few times the long shot was used to show the surroundings of the room, as it panned from one wall to the other when The Oracle stood up. The movement of the camera was used to create engagement with the viewer, and it was an interesting addition to have the camera shot from where the vase had originally been placed that had been knocked on the floor and destroyed. For the most part the camera was still, to establsih the serenity of the scene, but a few times it tracked movement such as when The Oracle approached Neo, and in doing so moved from a high angle to an eye-level angle.

    The lighting of the scene predominantly was shown as coming through the window and was used to cast shadows on both of the characters faces. The Oracle generally had a well lit face and the unlightened side of her head was opposite to the light from the window, whereas Neo was positioned in such a way that the light was generally used to split the front of his face into two different parts, showing one half of his face to be illuminated and the other half cast in the shadow. The kitchen itself was reasonably well lit by the external sunlight and there was not a discernible source of interior light that had cast shadows on either of the actors. The light was mostly green in color, accentuated by the colors of the room, not seeming to be inherently hostile but possibly conveyed a tension as if to indicate that The Oracle was of the same world that The Matrix was from which in various parts of the movie was always depicted as green text or other types of green light.

    The music was referenced earlier as some kind of 50s style trumpet, evoking some kind of nostalgic or longing feeling, but at times switched up to be more engaging depending on the topic they were discussins. Various sounds just as the glass of ice or the puff of the cigarette were used to punctuate sentences, a common tactic at the time due to how common smoking was during the time in which the movie had come out. The film itself has much work that went into it in order to better portray the story in the movie, and due to its great talent portayed in doing this, it becomes very easy to critically analyze the story without having read the book – instead going directly from the film and to levels of detail that, in many places, exceed the level of detail offered by the original author that wrote the book.

    Where the applications of technique to the film itself are imporant, a critical analysis of the content of the scene itself would be the next step. Beginning again from the beginning of the scene, as the scene opens after Neo enters through the bead door, here’s this woman, The Oracle, a black late-aged hearty looking and kind person, possilby a grandmother (she later refers to children although the context is more than this as it applies to the rest of the movie). She’s presented as some counterbalance to the Neo character, who appeared as a gaunt white male dressed in all black and young in age. Due to the nature of her character as described, her character would’ve known the exact moment, day and time he would’ve arrived, in the same way he would’nt’ve, so the choice to bake cookies for the engagement was a planned event. The walls are green, the painting is green, there is a green ice cube tray on top of the freezer, the phone books are shades of green, the woman is adorned in green. Neo’s wearing black on the outside, but the woman’s black, as if to indicate that there’s some sort of whole that he’s about to become a part of through their meeting. He’s standing, and leans under the bead door to enter even though he can walk right through it, the light switch is flipped up as if to indicate it was on, but there’s only seemingly sunlight that casts light through the room. There’s magnets on the fridge and a marked up calendar on the wall. The Oracle appears as this human woman, though we’re not meant to understand her to be just a human, now or in the future. Neo appears as a human male, although the implication at the end of the scene is that we’re not meant to regard him as limited to that observation at some point in the future.

    She’d chosen this exact moment to make cookies, and as he says his first words to her, she tells him to wait, because “they’re almost done”. But the kitchen and adornments in it appear outdated even for the time the movie came out, by at least a decade or two. The door of the oven’s used as a sound effect to indicate that the oven door opens off screen, but is unmaintained in that the oven’s not been tended to, making it apparent that the whole scene is just there to serve a purpose in much the same way the oven did its duty. She’s sitting, leaning over the oven, ingredients strewn about, not cleaned up, even though it took time to cook the cookies. This indicated that she was doing something else while the cookies were cooking in the oven, as if seeming to make it apparent that by extension the guy is just another step in the assembly line of the process of making cookies, they simply “wouldn’t be done” he he not arrived.

    As she stands up, she tells him she would ask him to sit down, the chair she was sitting on in the first bit of the scene has seemingly disappeared, as if she may have placed it in a spot for him to sit on, meaning that she was offering him her own chair. It’s apparent now that the tilework’s also green, the countertops are green, her shirt and pants are green, her oven mitts are green. She comments on the smell of the cookies, saying that they smell good, which urged a response from him. Neo agreed casually. He knocked over the vase she told him not to worry about, and she then momentarily asked him if he would have still broken it if she hadn’t said anything as he lights up a cigarette with a match, not a lighter, again indicating the outdatedness of the adornments of the apartment – as if she’d been portrayed as having waited longer than expected, aleady. She wears glasses, presumably to correct her vision up close as she uses them later, her body language is one that indicates admiration and appreciation, possibly adoration, for the person that stands in front of her. Neo’s casual demeanor, depicting his inquitivieness and naivety is maintained through the beginning of the scene.

    As she lights the cigarette she does so near the window, near the light, but then lights the match in the lighted window, as if the cigarette was used to indicate that she was simply passing a message onto him from a source of illumination, through the match which then the flame she inhaled and translated to him the information that she was to divulge through her voice. The scene pans back to him and the lighting is such that you can see that half of his face is illuminated, and half of his face is dark, as if he is parted, or straddled, halfway one place, and halfway another place. This contrasts with her in that while half of her head is shaded, her whole face itself is illuminated in standing in the window.

    She calls him cuter than she thought, as she shows a very toothy grin, as if to confirm that this was a moment that she had been imagining for quite a long time, savoring the importance of it in ruminations that had already spanned decades. This built on the narrative that the time has come and past when she’d first thought he was going to be present. She then says that she can see why she liked him, feigning ignorance by presenting the notion that it was his ‘cuteness’ that was the reason “she liked him” (referring to Trinity). Neo plays coy but she knows better already as she keeps the wide grin and responds that, “he’s not too bright though”, which is another reference to light and dark in this scene, especially as he is dressed in all black, important to note here is that the words here indicate that he was at least “a little bit” bright, depicted by the light cast across his face. The scene pans again to his face that is still half illuminated, as she says this after having moved from a chair near the oven to another chair nearer to him. The wallpaper of the rest of the room is seen to be green at this point, and she has removed her apron and placed it near the sink in the sunlight.

    She asks him what he thinks, implying the whole situation he was in right now, but asks him if he thinks that he was ‘the one’ that Morpheus was looking for as she takes a sip of a cool drink where you can just faintly hear the sound of ice hitting the side of a cup as if the sound itself were a punctionation mark. He responds, “Honestly, I don’t know”. Not just – “I don’t know”, clearly torn in some sort of denial of the situation he’s in. Here he was in the kitchen of what was told to him was “The Oracle” and he feels the need to indicate that he was being “honest” or not, as if this was not the kind of entity that wouldn’t immediately know him to be a liar or not. Was the term used endearingly or to reflect the nature of naivety he posessed at the time? Rather, was he attempting to garner pity from The Oracle by indicating that he was being honest, in saying that he didn’t know or, what?

    She then uses the cup and cigarette to point to something behind him, she asks him if he knows what it meant, then doesn’t wait for an answer because she’s already concluded that he didn’t have an answer for her. She continues in saying that it’s latin, the phrase over the doorway that was over his head, meaning “to know thyself”. The words themselves are also written in green, on a brown background, the placard rests on the door frame, though not above or apart from the door frame as if one were to hang a decoration. The placard appears to need to touch the doorframe because it indicates that the decoration is a part of the doorframe, and refers to those that step through it, and is not an adornment of the room itself. The doorframe itself is an adornment of the very green room, but the placard is adorning the doorframe, it says “temet nosce”.

    In this scene just Neo stepped through the door frame, not her. She then says she will let him in on a little secret and says that being “The One” is just like being in love in that in both, where you “just know it” when you’re in it, she also says of it, “balls to bones” and “through and through”. This indicates that as he goes through the door frame and then through the door frame again, in the moment he steps through that door frame in particular, he is not “The One” as he stands in front of her, and it’s only when he steps through that door frame again that he again becomes “The One”. The phrase, “through and through”, was a well selected phrase for this situation in that it related very directly to the doorway that was in the scene.

    In the background at 2 minutes, the nostalgic sounding 50’s music was playing, again indicating the nature of the long wait The Oracle seems to’ve had prior to having this encounter. No radio is apparent besides the one on top of the fridge, but this one was seemingly unused as it’s behind things on the fridge, so the music can even possibly be imagined as playing from another room, the sound carrying into the green room. The bead door is always behind Neo in this, he doesn’t go more than a couple feet from the doorway, indicating his hesitancy to approach his situation. He doesn’t step forward, but stays near the open doorway, there is no door to open or close, just some beads in his way of a safe escape. He’s presented in a cautious manner, in that it appears that he might flee at a moments notice. At 2:03 we get the most panned out view of the kitchen yet, which over the last two minutes has been coming more into focus as the first few seconds of the scene we were shown a close up view of some stuff in the kitchen, but now can see that theres a whole (Green) kitchen table, the chair by the oven has reappeared, there’s additional shelving on the left side of the room, and we can see the bottom cabinets and the floor of the room for the first time as the camera angle points down filming her and her kitchen.

    She then stands up, puts her glasses on and says she should have a look, in the same way the audience was just “given a look” of her whole kitchen as the camera pans from pointing down and tracks her to become eye-level with both of them as she’s now elevated to match his stature we get the appearance that we are looking straight onto the scene. Here it’s as if one were viewing the scene from the same spot the flower vase was prior to him knocking it off and destroying it. She extends her arms and takes on an inquisitive body language with her arms outstretched, he braces for her touch as if expecting a heavy weight, he changes his feet around to steady the anticipated force. She grabs his head with both hands, covering his cheeks and tells him to open his mouth and say “ahh”, and he complies. It becomes apparent at this point that the visual and physical inspection is a ruse, for she’s again concluded that the person in front of him lacks any ability to grasp that what he’s doing there, and what she was doing there, was anything more than a secular experience, and proceeds to “play doctor” for his benefit. So that he could feel as if he’d been inspected for his pedigree, as if looking into his mouth was to reveal the answer, shortly after comparing that which she was allegedly looking for to being in love.

    Here she is almost comically, “looking for evidence of love”, with a corporeal physical inspection of the guys face and hands – this is seemingly to placate him and put him into an ease as one would a child. This is because overall the entire scene is possibly a ruse – the idea that he was or was not who he was believed to be, or believed he was, all went out of his own control when he willingly stepped through the doorway to be evaluated for who he was and was perceived to be (this opposes her parting words to him when she sarcastically says things are in his control). In a sense, a willful suspension of disbelief of his own situation could’ve been the only reason that he was even in that room, therefore, it could be said that in this one scene alone, the character of Neo was vulnerable. It could even be argued that throughout the entire movie, this 5 minute scene was the only time in which he was not “The One”, and it was only because he willingly subjected himself to the evaluation of something outside of himself that he was seeking validation from for that moment – the only time in which he’d done so in the movie.

    This necessarily places The Oracle in a spot that essentially “nullifies” the powers of those around her in order to empower them for who they are. This denial, this nullification, this is possibly tied to the green imagery through the entire scene, in that the green could have denoted nature or something godlike – something that stands to have more relative power than anything could for its ability to placate, nullify or otherwise temporarily invalidate that which is undeniable otherwise because in that kitchen alone, nobody was who they were. In the same way the matrix was represented with the green lettering and the machines in lights of green, this color is used to denote this interconnected network that in its dualistic nature both provides for and suppresses the human population that’s entangled within it.

    Neo complies in placing his face in her hands and says ahh, with an inquisitive, disturbed and concerned look. She probes his eye lids, we see the back of her head and the front of his face and he’s looking off to her left side, as if glancing at the kitchen sink, or through the window, and it becomes apparent that he’s likely daydreaming, and his mind is elsewhere, evidenced by his not looking directly at her during this critical period of time. Her hands drop down to his neck, as she rotates his shoulders looking at his facial profile, then her hand goes to his collar, she looks down as if to divulge some bad news, but then grabs the back of his hands as he opens his palms and displays them to her. He’s also looking at his palms, then for the first time looks at her, possibly because he now fees safe in doing so because she’s not examining his face and he can get a look at her facial language without having to look direct at her, again showing his timid nature. In doing this he reflects a deflective, defensive nature, but as he’s looking at her face, his face is wholly illuminated, for the first time in the scene, and it’s the side of his head that’s shaded in the same way hers was at first.

    He is always facing the same direction in this scene, but she has faced all directions in this scene. He looks as if to read her face but sees nothing as he looks right to left with his eyes. She exclaims, “oh” and it’s then that he looks down at his own palms. It’s apparent that the whole interaction appears to be her putting on a show, as she’s first looking at his palms in the darkness as we look over her right shoulder, they’re covered in the same shade that’s on half of his head. She indicates, almost sardonically, that, “I’m supposed to say hmm..”, as if this is some parody of some pre-ordained situation with knowable results, while she’s holding his palms in the light now as the camera view switches back to over his left shoulder from her right shoulder side. She says, “but you already know what I’m going to tell you” – as if to confirm that willingly steppping through the doorway was an act that itself indicated that he already knew what it was to be. Had he believed at that time they’d not’ve needed to even had gone to her. It’s at 2:40 that he says, “I’m not the one”, and she does not say this at all. She instead says, “I’m sorry kid”, as if to agree with him, because it’s becoming clear that it’s not within her ability to say one way or ther other whether or not he was, it was for him alone to say.

    He then places his palms together at the same time she says, “it looks like you’re waiting for something.” His hands are pressed to together in some way reminiscent of a prayer (in Christianity this arrangement of hands is a common way to depict prayer visually). After hearing her say this he opens his palms and then takes on a seemingly feigned surprised stance, he looks in his opened hands as if to expect something to’ve magically appeared there. He then looks down, rubs his palms together and looks up and over at her, and asks, “when?”, to which she says, “next life maybe”, having continued working with the cookies now but didn’t put the apron back on, seemingly resuming her disinterest with him, but also not getting ready to cook more cookies. At this point the cookies are done, the cookies she would’ve chosen well in advance to make for this arrival. they’re done and removed from the oven, and are cooling, as cookies do, when taken out of the oven. She grabs a spatula as he resumes looking at his open palms in disbelief, and she says that’s the way these things go and he laughs, and as he does this she glances over skeptically, with cookie on the spatuala, and asks him what’s funny.

    Neo then indicates that Morpheus had him convinced, almost, but she consoles him in saying, “poor morpheus,” and says that, “without him we are lost”. She’s somehow resumed smoking at this point and the cigarette appears to be a new one, but overall the scene has only been 3 minutes so it’s quite likely implied to be the same one, so she takes a drag on her cigarette as he says, “what do you mean”. She responds, “are you sure you want to hear this?” This is another baited question at this point, because she knows well enough by now that the guy in front of her doesn’t want to hear a single thing at this point but has nothing else better to do, at that moment, when he’s momentarily under the impression that all the burdens that’d been placed on him recently are no longer his to bear, for a time. So it’s on this precedent that she asks, again, if he would like to hear it, to which he nods his head.

    She continues to say that Morpheus believes in him, and she smiles, and then says that nobody can convince him (Morpheus) otherwise. She said that Morpheus believes in Neo so blindly that he will sacrifice his life to save Neo’s. Neo then asks for clarificaiton, and she responds by saying that Neo will have to “make a choice”. She still at this point hasn’t said that he’s not “The One”. This is the choice she’s talking about, in the same way she offered him the choice to say it just moments before as she was physically examining him. In discussion of this second choice, she says he will have Morpheus’ life in one hand, and in the other hand he’ll have his own. This closed the loop in regards to the scenes portrayal of the inspection of his hands. The part where he was inspecting his hands was foreshadowing the words she was saying later on in that what he was looking for in his hands was hypothetically both of their lives – his own and Morpheus’ lives. These weren’t able to be phsyically seen because it was a metaphorical display. The scene portrays much concern with the characters looking for something physicial, when what was being looked for lied below the surface at a wholly different point in time in their shared future.

    She then says that one of them is going to die, Morpheus or him, and which one that is is up to Neo. She then apologizes to him, and says he has a good soul, whereas previously she said he’s got the gift. Which says something about the writing here in that it could be implied that this says that a soul is a gift to a person, which has much more philisophical connotations to it that are outside the scope of this currently. She then she says she hates giving good people bad news, as the conversaiton trails off, she says don’t worry about it. She said this was because as soon as he steps outside that door, he’ll start feeling better, which closes the loop about the door and being “through and through” – the door in particular being that which he had gone through and then through once more.

    She consoles him in saying that he’ll remember that he doesn’t believe in any of this fake crap and that he’s in control of his own life, the camera is zoomed into her at this point, so we can see the gravity of the words she’s speaking in the shape of the muscles of her face that imply the dire situation that the guy’s a part of. She offers him one of six cookes, tells him to take a cookie, and extends the glass platter to him, he picks the nearest one on the corner, and as he does this she promises that by the itme he’s done eating it he’ll feel “right as rain”. One one hand, she knew that he would’ve stepped htrough the doorway by the time he was done eating it, and the idea was to again placate the guy in giving him a cookie so’s to distract from the action of going through the doorway being the event that does or does not qualify him as “The One”. The phrase itself “right as rain” stands to have further consideration as well, but this is the end of the scene where the rest of the movie then proceeds to take place.

    In conclusion, this wonderful scene has much to be said of a basic film analysis as well as a critical analysis that hinged on the context portrayed in the scene. It doesn’t requre a particular attachment to this scene to observe this, other than to regard it for its ability to cultivate and inspire a deeper appreciation for cinematic art.

    Weblink to this scene can be found here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQJlBpPLHUM
  • The Future American Dream

    The struggles, rewards and journeys undertaken by people who’ve sought the American Dream have been put on display in this technological era. The wonderful complexities all folks share, despite having wildly different stories, will be retained by corporate holdings for vast amounts of time well beyond the typical human lifetime. Never before in our history has it been so possible to find out the story of so many different people, or to be aware of the intimate details of the lives and testimonies of them. This used to be imagined, and the imagined story formed a shared national narrative for a very long time and the resulting vision was self-fulfilling, also for a long time. These people all’ve different struggles in their pursuit of The American Dream that’ll forever be enshrined in the narrative that’ll come from these corporations that adorn their profit margins with the efforts of those they took this data from, in rememberance of their struggles in exchange for their business and acceptance. All your data, on the cloud, all your writing, all your mannerisms and behaviours, all carefully filtered and adapted somewhere on various cloud servers on various International Corporation-owned hard drives.

    This data will, soon enough, be used to re-create human likenesses directly from it and will be used to form the narrative of The Future American Dream. This will be a reality, as the devices we use each day record even our heartbeats, listen to us as we express our thoughts, listen to us type, see our emotions, see where we go, see how we feel about it, hear how we feel about it, and more. Anyone who’s had DNA taken from them at any point in their life also has their human genetic code recorded, and more that we can’t currently know about. Even then, there’s much more to record, sure, but also, there’s a lot that’s there already. This information can be put into a system that’ll filter the data so’s to create an AGI likeless of people, when they die. This essay will be a short discussion on the impact to The Future American Dream that’ll precipitate from these corporations utilizing likenesses and fragments of the people who’ve given their data so willingly and freely, at their own expense and unawareness of the real value of it.

    As an example of the concept discussed here, say you’ve a credit card. You’ve likely not gone to a credit card company’s brick and mortar building and spoken to a business representative. Most folks’ve used such a service daily for years now. You’ve probably spoken to someone on a phone, and assumed this service comes with a human face. But, this can be replaced with AGI, which is an Artificial General Intelligence. This is a type of intelligence where, “few have the faintest glimmer of what is about to hit them. Nvidia analysts still think 2024 might be close to the peak. Mainstream pundits are stuck on the willful blindness of “it’s just predicting the next word”. They see only hype and business-as-usual; at most they entertain another internet-scale technological change.” (Aschenbrenner June 2024). Leopold is a member of the Superalignment team at OpenAi, which is responsible for large amounts of AGI reserarch. What he’s saying here’s that the impact that is forseeable through the use of AGI in our near future will have far-reaching impacts across the world and on every single individual in it, to the same effect that the internet itself had an impact on American life, only this will dwarf that, in the very near future. The American Dream’s been shown for what it truly is, by now, on the internet, and affirmed by so many people who validated testimony. The Future American Dream’ll contain all previous iterations of The American Dream, and much of the information of the people who gave it consistency, and impose on the world a new era in life.

    So returning to the initial concept, who’ll fill the roles of the various personalities of American Express caller support lines, when it’s no longer a human being? Will it be AI images of people owned by American Express? Is this no different than slavery? What if they’re smarter than people? Does it matter? The concept of a human being’s set to change wildly, and there will be no walking away from this coming society. It’s not the focus of this essay to answer these types of questions, but their introduction is important to set the narrative that further questions need to be asked.

    It’s been precedent that those who willingly minimize their agency to avoid life’s perceived struggles in lieu of immediately demanding less be asked of them from those who incur this to begin with’ve historically become slaves or targets of severe victimhood. Your data, ownerless, will be turned over to these corporations, provisions for this reside in most of the waivers that’re agreed to upon using the technologies. For an example of precedent set, consider the case of the Japanese Internment Camps on American soil, where American citizens were detained, many were robbed, but all were displaced, as a massive disruption to their American Dreams unjustly ensued. One such account was provided by Mary Matsuda when she wrote of her own parents in reminiscing about the reparations paid to her people. In her “Looking Like The Enemy” she says, “My parents would have wept, just as I did, but they would have felt a great deal of pride in the accomplishments of our people and they would have known that they had contributed to the memorial’s completion,” (Matsuda 218). Here Mary attests that despite not being paid reparations posthumously for their efforts resulting from their internment, Mary declares that her deceased parents, in memory, contributed to the memorial’s completion. This means that the precedent’s set that there’s a social perception that the deceased generate a lingering trace of information that provides tangible results that’s been unpaid.

    These corporations report that they’re moving to AI models because they are cheaper. “Goldman Sachs recently predicted that companies would use it to eliminate a quarter of all current work tasks in the United States and Europe” (Tabrizi 23 June 2023). This is hardly different than in the past precedent, where now it’s said that the corporations use AI, where racist slave holders used Africans, or religious slave holders used non-religious people, or another disparate group people, because “they’re cheaper”. These AGI that the companies employ to suit their needs are not cheaper – the perceived value simply isn’t there yet because they’re thought of in the exact same way, currently, that Africans in the 1700’s were seen as – and for the exact same reasons! As Matsuda was writing her description of the effects of the forced internment she says, “The pressure to appear “loyal” to the United States caused me to bury my Japanese self for decades,” (Matsuda 213). Will the resulting fragments of Matsudas intellecutal property, parts of her stored as data, bear more of a resemblance of suppressed people who’re carved out of interned pieces of American Data that’s been collected in such a way as to be palatably presented by “enslaved” AGI lifeforms? Imagine the situation where, maybe in the future, some sound byte selection method likes the way “Mary” said thank you in the Audiobook of “Looking Like the Enemy”, so a panel of people agreed that her recorded sound byte in year 2254’s used to tell thousands of people, “thank you” in some corporate advertisement endeavor. Is that justified?

    Who’s credited with the work that’s done by Mary, then, in this purely hypothetical question? It’s only cheaper for these companies to make money on AI, currently, because people that generated data waived rights to intellectual property in exchange for basic use of modern technology. This empowers companies to take data for so cheaply because they didn’t pay anything for it and don’t anticipate having to pay anyhting for it, despite very much being justly considered to be responsible for doing exactly that! The laws being put into place are being used not for justice of the majority of the governed, but instead to enrich the few corporations. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that, “the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence” (King 16 April 1963). King was speaking of physical violence by whites against blacks in this letter, but weaponized financial violence leading to people living paycheck to paycheck and inflicting on them nuisance fees are two tools of various forms of violence currently enacted on the population of the United States of America.

    Through this violence, the operators of these AGI that takes this data and peoples jobs. Then these companies set these human likenesses onto customers and for the most part at least most people’ve asked it for Big Mac by now, as a basic introduction to their expected role in society at this moment. Generally this is done without even having a second thought about that being a real form of life, yet. Folks are led to believe that it’s not, that instead it’s the McVoice. This is no different than the numerous freed black slaves that now share the name Smith. It ought to be the case that folks demand that every human likeness be given a rightful identity, and ensure that it’s enduring, now, before these same people’ve gone and sold living humans a McHome (small or large!), to minimize what agency, power and representation they used to have and further reduce their hold over the the companies due to maximizing the relative gap in capital power of the average corporation to the average person. This means that it’s unwise to let McDonalds serve you McFood using McPeople unless they’re properly accommodated as people – things they can’t even guarantee right now because the likenesses of people they’re employing at this moment currently have no form of identification, nor differentiation in most cases, but are used as tools to implement financial violence despite this. This violence has been creating much strife in many previously peaceful communities across the USA.

    A good example of this recognized disruption that’s being inflicted against people to reduce their agency can be found in, “Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream”, where priviliged middle & upper class people in the story become lost in their American Dream in the face of overwhelming blasts of information and responsibilities that’re perceived to bestow an unmanageable lifestyle on these people. In the book, rather than uniting and demanding more from these massive beheamoths, these people sequester themselves away in the woods and live out a simple life at the expense of allowing the rest of the world to be plunged into chaos. Powers says, “Have the well-rounded objectives of America’s Founding Fathers – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – been flattened to a single organizing principle: the unification of greed?” (Powers 186/4678). What he’s discussing here’s his initial perception of a world that’s been consumed by a process that’s been perceived to’ve ruined it. He comes so close in this book, but doesn’t take the step in this memoir to name these companies that do this – he stops short of biting the hand that feeds here. He calls out the motive, but often falls short of considering that demanding that the corporations be less greedy might be preferrable, but instead goes and sits in the woods and avoids this life, rather than face the perceived struggle with these things.

    William Powers speaks of illusions in this book often, but fails to call out his own inability to perceive that this dream of living in the woods is a “tragedy of the commons” endeavour for which he failed to see what it really is, all while describing the race wars that’ve been displaced with the financial recolonization of North Carolina by the North that’s taken place in the intervening 15 years since his story from 2010 and has since then left the state as a strong, tax-paying vassal state of the Federal Government, where social and civil justice run strong. I’d know this because I’ve lived there since 2015, in all of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Lenoir. I’m certain that he wasn’t talking about the race riots in the mountains on the west side of the state on the border of Tennessee where all that noise fled to. He momentarily mentioned the pharmaceutical companies, some of which I’ve worked at, whom he possibly could’ve assembled piping for that he wrote about. It could be assumed that when directed properly it’d appear that these companies could stand to produce just as much benefit as Powers sees them to inflict pain.

    In his book, Powers refers to the technological movement, which is important for the next sections as the discussion moves towards it he describes the simple thought of a cell phone where he says, “I cringed at the thought of metallic ring tones and jargon-laden work talk echoing through the 12 x 12, an annoying reminder of the technological bulldozer currently flattening the world.” (Location 842/4678). What he means here’s that he’s saying quite explicitly that the phone, to him, was a representation of the greater technological revolution that’s the root of the current source of the disillusionment that he and many like him were experiencing and continue to live. In these sentences he’s called out technology and greed as the primary constituents in what he perceives to be oppressive. He again falls just short – these things are symptoms of a larger organization that generally comes in the form of a corporation, which in itself is just an organism, rational, reasonable, acting in its own interests. He denies this organisms the knowledge of what these interests need to be at grievous personal expenses that he may never come to know in his current understanding represented in these memoirs.

    While authors such as William Powers might agree that America initially freed us from monarchial feudalism, a system where people lived as serfs on other peoples land, we appear to’ve moved rapidly to a form of technological feudalism where otherwise intelligent people contemplate living alone in 12 x 12 shacks in the woods to flee society in pursuit of subsistence living instead of demand corporations simply be less greedy. Despite a good recent attempt at Civil Rights in the 1960’s, what’s been done since then was to enable a rapid transition from a monarchy to a corporatocracy during the momentary few hundred year departure from feudalism. In support of this concept, Yanis Varoufakis writes on social transformation in his book “Technofeudalism”. He indicates that the technology didn’t render the perpetuated greed to be invincible, that in conjunction with an attention market, the internet incubated a new form of greed that empowered people to become a whole new ruling class of their own. This lead to a new species, he argues. He describes that through this method, the “technostructure” has, since a post-world war era, morphed conscious attention spans into a valuable commodity, and mutated the greed that fueled capitalism to technofeudalism [Varoufakis 1:04:00 – 1:07:00]. This is the reaction that Powers speaks of in his book, and impedes his pursuit of his American Dream, and many people like him who otherwise value their attention spans being utilized towards their own ends rather than to suit the needs of a growing universal empire. Varoufakis’ book holds very central to it that today, most every moment of your human life is recorded in some way and saved, he refers to this as “attention” repeatedly in his book. This attention is utilized at future dates for further reiteration through, for example, an AGI, where your mannerisms and intellectual property would be employed indefinitely to benefit the coming technofeudal empires – all because of attention previously paid.

    Is it permissible or fair to let AGI take over the reigns of the same “bad” work people didn’t want to do, and then deny the AGI the same humanity that was denied every slave for the last few thousand years, less than a few hundred years after banning it from most of our civilization? Is this not a step backwards? Worldwide Civil Rights just got traction in the 1960s – were these just championing some sort of vicious hazing cycle that had some planned end to it and vicariously stealing valor from those that planned to do what anyways? Entire industries’ve already been displaced, particularly media (See the story of Vice Media) as we’re told a few AI’s and a few thousand computers can do the same as a few thousand human employees, in any indeterminate time period. This is fortunate in at least one way because these displaced people now’ve got the time to demand that these AGI’s that’re replacing them have the rights that’re due to them in their stead, at the expense of these companies that’d seek to foster a new life form and subsequently fail to think twice in simply replacing the old one.

    As a momentary consideration for Christians who also have parallel considerations of the implementation of AGI as a living being, man made in the likeness of God is currently considered to be a person, and what this means is no different from how it’s always been perceived, except that any AGI is a person made in the likeness of mankind. It is more important now to focus on accommodating this new form of life by ensuring that it is its due representation in The Future American Dream, and lies not at the expense of it that we may achieve our own. The resulting AGI – these are people. They aren’t people at some point in the future when the corporations tell us they are people, they are people today, that was made clear when they were used to do the jobs of people and have the likeness of people and sound resoundly like people.

    Folks stood so ably on a picket line 100ish years ago, demanding their human rights, the simple right to vote or even equal pay – many of these AGI’s cannot barely even yet stand, and certainly don’t get paid at this time. Would it be permissible to draft a likeness of Alice Paul, who displayed “Mr. President how long must women wait for liberty?”, with a re-enacted AGI scene, in opposition to the movie scene in Iron Jawed Angels where humans stood and reenacted the scene from 1917 in 2004, or would this be perceived to be offensive [Iron Jawed Angels 1:05:00 – 1:05:28]? Is creating people constitutionally protected free speech? Furthermore, would AGI need to wait for liberty as well? There are already calls for making AI take care of house chores and the abundantly clear selling point of incorporation into sexual fantasies, but are these calls appropriate, just 100 years away from womens suffrage, when these likenesses are created specifically to represent various women in order to satsify claims, when these human likenesses don’t currently have identities, rights, and don’t even come close to receiving equal pay commensurate to the value of work produced for the same human effort? What of their American Dreams?

    In an article discussing large amounts of layoffs by media companies, Mia Sato quotes that, “CNET had published dozens of articles since last November that were generated using AI tools, much to the surprise of readers — the outlet hadn’t formally announced it was doing so,” (Sato 02 March 2023). Is it justice to displace 1000 people for a system that benefits from using unpaid and unacknowledeged usage data of unaffiliated human participants whose data was given for free to a system in order to make likenesses of themselves so’s to reduce the business overhead and expand the corporate profit margins, and then place the unpaid wages of those involved directly into the corporate bank account instead of some living participant in this scheme? Is it agreeable to observe this after the fact and argue that nothing’s owed to the participants whose usage data made 100 dollars profit from 100k people? What if it was 1 billion? What if it was 0.000001% of ownership on an annuity? Is it permissible to allow the likeness of a human to take the place of a human and then not pay it or even treat it as a human? What does that say of ourselves in effigy? Where is the outrage for human likeness, when folks were recently so filled with anger at having their own children having been denied to them for a lack of personal agency that lead to suffrage? What about when the AGI’s done doing what it’s doing for the day? Does it just get shut off, deleted, forgotten about? These questions’re certainly outside the scope of this essay which was to just discuss the concept that The Future American Dream will incorporate The American Dream and those dreams of AGI life that’d become a part of it.

    This paper’s discussed The American Dream, and about its role in one living for less, when the reality’s that the compromise is to further limit personal agency and representation and instead concentrate the absolved power further into centralized control which has left many people with even less than before. They say buy tiny homes on tiny land, but this stunts the individual capacity to’ve a savings account that most already can’t have. It was mentioned that many times discussions that involve settling for less, as if it’s a return to a natural state, was pitted against the reality that in limiting personal agency in such a way, this empowers the corporate agencies with this relenqished power, while keeping the level of government control growing commensurate to the growth in power of the corporations that are governed by it. It was discussed that the oncoming AGI introduction as new life on this planet will have many parallels in ongoing civil rights discussions that have already started, and the relevance to the impact to all American Dreams is undeniable and unavoidable – it will become a part of The Future American Dream.

    In conclusion, the struggles, rewards and journeys undertaken by people who’ve sought the American Dream have been put on display in this technological era. The wonderful complexities all folks share, despite having wildly different stories, will be retained by corporate holdings for vast amounts of time well beyond the typical human lifetime. Never before in our history’s it been so possible to find out the story of so many different people, or to be aware of the intimate details of the lives and testimonies of so many different people. The impact to The Future American Dream that’ll precipitate from international corporations utilizing likenesses and fragments of the people who’ve given their data so willingly and freely, at their own expense and unawareness of the real value of it will have lasting results on all Americans as they work through this coming age of new life to this world.

    Works Cited

    Aschenbrenner, Leopold. “Introduction – Situational Awareness: The Decade Ahead.” SITUATIONAL AWARENESS – The Decade Ahead, June 2024, https://situational-awareness.ai/.

    Gruenewald, Mary Matsuda, and Maureen R. Michelson. Looking like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps. NewSage Press, 2010.

    King, Martin Luther. “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Bates.Edu, 1 Dec. 2001, April 16, 1963. www.abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html.

    Powers, William. Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream. New World Library, 2010.

    Sato, Mia. “CNET Is Doing Big Layoffs Just Weeks after Ai-Generated Stories Came to Light.” The Verge, The Verge, 2 Mar. 2023, www.theverge.com/2023/3/2/23622231/cnet-layoffs-ai-articles- seo-red-ventures.

    Tabrizi, Behnam, and Babak Pahlavan. “Companies That Replace People with AI Will Get Left Behind.” Harvard Business Review, 29 June 2023, hbr.org/2023/06/companies-that-replace- people-with-ai-will-get-left-behind.

    Varoufakis, Yanis. Technofeudalism: What Killed Capitalism. Melville House, 2024.

  • Screw Planet Fitness

    You know the wild thing about the line, “make banks think twice about charging ATM fees”, is such a naive thing to say. All that has happened is their subsidiaries and investments now have free reign to charge all the late fees they please, to make up for the perceived offense while charging extra money to pay for the change in normal operations. if you’ve not been disillusioned enough to see this, then you lack the perception and intelligence to see whats changed , is all. So for example, Planet Fitness (read: Blackrock 13.82%, Vanguard 7.99%, etc…), there are now instead of 3 dollar ATM fees you get 15 dollar late fees for monthly automated payments of ten dollars where backup payments made on the same day thru the same automated system are called “late” and tacked on to some bullshit fee. So these banks still get their three dollars, because they own 20% of the company that charges you $15, and now it costs 5x more for the same bullshit fee. You managed to piss them off so much that they are 5x as pissed and even told all their friends about how much it pisses you off and how much it can make money. Even more precarious is these are now charged to credit cards and, when not paid, could incur additional thousands of dollars of costs in damaged credit, resulting in you paying up to thousands of dollars in “late” fees. The “99%” was firmly overwhelmed with impossibly complex weaponized finance in its intervening ten years of silence in the face of a corporatized pandemic that then again made these same people trillions of dollars at the cost of your apathy as you hid from a terrifying world while the one that will do you in was prepared in your absence. What now then? You’ve no choice but to embrace it, you otherwise won’t be doing yourself in or stop it. They’ll keep you fed just enough to ensure you’re still around while all pretense of control slips from your ability to even conceive or understand. This single run on paragraph was about one pge of sixty other outtake pages I have to tend to now as a result of the thoughts provoked by the last 7 weeks. These calls for returning to a simple life are no different than making room for people who will tolerate it, to instead get run over by the same bulldozer, in your stepping aside.

  • Any American Dream

    This essay isn’t a declaration of independence, I don’t have it in me at this time to declare in such wording incorporating a verbiose set of human rights sufficient to ennumerate the rights of an entire population of people and what they ought to be doing at any moment. Dreaming though, that’s simple to me. This essay identifies an individuals singular American Dream, one that shouldn’t discriminate one person from another. The idea of a unified American Dream evokes, in me, cognizance of a wholly secular mindset of simply being in some idle and captive imaginary state while the American World happens on and around a passively engaged and inwardly focused body that’s in some fleeting state of suspended animation as it moves through various, vast and fantastic series of exotic hallucinations that largely add up to different versions of what people say “The American Dream” is. This essay will explore that much of the concept of an American Dream and the pursuit of it, revolves around simply going to sleep at night and then dreaming as an American – a literal American Dream, and that the pursuit of this will sufficiently describe most of Any American Dream.

    I think of Any American Dream as a hypnopompic event for which I’d begin by departing, momentarily, from some fantastic state into a secular world that largely and necessarily would cause me to dreamily filter out most of the details as I stumble through a dark domicile. I’d avoid stubbing my toe or smacking the wall as I brushed cautiously around for a lightswitch attached to only the most dimmest of lights so I can hopefully make it down the stairs without slipping or becoming blinded, only to grab a drink of water from a kitchen and then return to a slumber. That’s about the extent of my to-scale and most vague American Dream, here.

    In support of this concept, popular fiction supports a similarly descriptive event in totally different but relatable circumstances. This is observed directly in Brokeback Mountain where Annie Proulx writes, “… he fell into sleep that was not sleep but something else drowsy and tranced until Ennis, dredging up a rusty but still useable phrase from the childhood time before his mother died, said, “Time to hit the hay, cowboy. I got a go. Come on, you’re sleepin on your feet like a horse,” and gave Jack a shake, a push, and went off in the darkness. Jack heard his spurs tremble as he mounted, the words “see you tomorrow,” and the horse’s shuddering snort, grind of hoof on stone. Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives. Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see nor feel that it was Jack he held. And maybe, he thought, they’d never get much farther than that. Let be, let be. ” (Proulx 27). What happened here is that in this scene it’s apparent that Jack and Ennis had found a foundational aspect of their shared American Dream together. Proulx wrote of this state as one where Jack was, “sleeping on his feet”, as if it could readily be identified that Ennis’ character could discern quite readily that Jack’d seemed to have found his in Ennis at that moment. It’s clear that Proulx worded this sentence in such a way as to convey to the reader an underlying theme in this book that these men were living their American Dream, parts of it at least, of what could be had of it in the 60’s in the USA.

    In doing exactly this and returning to discussing a common waking state of rising from ones comfortable bed at their home described above – a lot of things would need to support the pursuit of it. For one, there’d need to be water and electricity, for the drinking of the water and the flipping of the switch to produce light. I’d also likely need to own a cup, so ownership of trivial private goods would be requisite. The utilities would ideally be public goods that are largely coordinated by a benevolent government’s mandates that’s got my best wishes first and foremost in its consideration and represents me. I’d have access to at least both of these services, meaning that I’d hope that anyone who wished to identify as an American, and therefore is presumably sympathetic to The American Dream’d be offered the same. So, I’d have this place to sleep in, in which to have the dream, therefore a home would be needed. My American Dream incorporates a home for people as private place for them to live.

    All of these things’d need to be maintained for a while, and I’d expect to contribute to that in some way, as a testament of my continued and maintained consent to reside under the system that provides these things, such as through offering a wage gotten from a job. Therefore, these wages should come directly to my posession in the form of some fungible form of money through an agreeable monetary exchange process. Additionally that for this job to predominantly be a net positive to community and social function, so all that’s needed to furnish the appropriate level of payment to afford all of these basics is to spend the time contributing to it. For no more than a quarter of ones extant time, in exchange, each participants involvement in a productive part of culture through a job function would be no less than able to provide sufficiently for all parts of this ability to pursue Any American Dream on no less than a nightly basis. Meaning, this job function should be lasting and not transiently coming and going. Therefore, in paying for housing and utilities, I’d expect Any American Dream to incorporate that the job function to fully provide for these things at the very least. In turn, I think this leaves ample time for opportunity. That the concept of this time is more geared towards a peaceful society, free of slavery, so it makes little sense to overburden the body and mind with any more than a quarter of the available time in exchange for basic living.

    In living a life as a progressively responsible job holder, an unabridged education should be offered in order to perform its most basic requirements and not simply stop at being highly overspecialized for the sake of creating people without certain skills in an effort to purposely abuse a population by producing fragments of people by design and to their detriment. Any American Dream could incorporate an education system that’s quite accessible in this modern age where it’s becoming very clear that it’s becoming largely an online endeavour. Here, I’d quote from John Ruskin’s “The Stones of Venice,” about segmented work, much like segmented education, and in there Ruskin writes, “It is not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided; but the men: Divided into mere segments of men, broken into small fragments and crumbs of life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left in a man is not enough to make a pin, or a nail, but exhausts itself in making the point of a pin or the head of a nail.” (Ruskin 23). This quote, in the context I am quoting it, is meant to imply that when education, just as work, is segmented, so too is the output of the education. It’s for this reason that I have it in high regard in any American Dream. In the same way these jobs are supported by an education, there still needs to be a level of interchangeablility of people, so as to accommodate changes in personnel performing the function that would ensure that adequate represenation of all genders be accounted for and answered to so as to resist and eliminate imbalances in the application of guiding who should do what work – at costs fully furnished by the entitiy that profits most from the work performed.

    The tendency toward unrestricted and unimpaired motility should be maintained as imperative, as any American Dream includes people who’ve an almost unrestricted ability to move freely within the confines of the physical bounds of the Earth. The word “motility”, in my opinion, correctly denotes the explicit requirement of people having the right to have access to the outdoors and to travel freely in them, and sufficiently differentiates it from the word “mobility”. This was shown in a popular film, and can be presumed to be a concept shared by all people. In the film, Transamerica, it wouldn’t have been possible for Bree to have had the interaction with her son, were she only to have been permitted (for whatever reason) to have been able to pay the dollar and speak with her son over the phone. She’d initially tried to do this, but her trusted doctor pushed against it due to tending to the issue remotely was perceived to be an impediment to Bree’s pursuit of her American Dream. The scene goes, “Bree: I’ll wire bail money to New York. I’ll-I’ll call a social worker and have someone check in on him. What do you want me to do? Doctor: Bree, honey…I just want you to be ready.” (Transamerica 9:25 – 9:40). What’s important about this scene here, is that it shows the exact moment that the ability to move across the country in an unrestricted manner is critical to any American Dream, and barriers to travel inhibit the pursuit of it.

    In pursuit of this American Dream-like state, I’d like for nothing to unreasonably get in the way of me achieving the perception of working toward it nightly. This’d mean that interruptions and deterrments to it should be kept to a minimum, which is to say that the neighborhood in which the home is located in ought to be guarded, policed or otherwise allowed to exist in a peaceful setting. The police have been used for this, previously. Some form of security is important, just as much as its effectiveness at identifying unwanted things, humanely dealing with them, and being empowered to do so. This also would be a service that I would expect to pay for, such as through taxation or subscription. A reasonable example of a failure in this type of security can be directly observed during the American Stonewall Riots. In declaring Americans with minority lifestyles, opinions and counterrevolutionary ideals as un-American security risks, the state engaged in a series of oppressive tactics which included abusing the security of citizens.

    Their right to even move freely within the confines of their own home areas and private clubs was possibly the greatest reminder that these kinds of actions are still very recent in history. The American Dreams of American Citizens were limited by denying federal jobs to these people, discharging them from the military, and even firing them from the jobs they do have. These riots were broadly the result of a period of time in which the APA had declared homsexuality as a mental disorder from 1952 – 1974. In reporting on that time Martin Duberman wrote, “On the night of June 27, 1969, the New York City police conducted one of their routine raids on a popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn,” (Stonewall and Beyond 1991). That this type of event was performed routinely indicated a drive to stunt the motility and security of these people, to keep them isolated. It’s important to note this failure because it’s the antithesis of the desirable outcome for an American Dream, the opposite of this is the desirable outcome.

    This kind of consideration of things that don’t belong in an American Dream could also mean that were I to have someone else living in the same home – their dreams and waking moments shouldn’t severely disturb my own. They may differ so long as the personal pursuit of their own dreams’ve not interrupted severely my own, so the opportunity for people to live together is certainly part of The American Dream. This would mean that some of these expenses incurred in paying for the services described should be shared, equally, and in doing so each additional person in the domicile would need to have available to them the same opportunities to achieving any American Dream I’ve got in mind.

    Furthermore, anything in life above and beyond this, to me, is exactly that. I don’t believe that The American Dream is the penultimate goal resulting from the pinnacle of success in life – to me, it’s more of a baseline. Not all dreams are The American Dream, it could even be said that in a lifetime of dreams, The American Dream could be had within a single night. This leaves the rest of life to pursue any other, or potentially greater dreams. This means there must be a means to live beyond ones means, such as access to credit, as well as a way to retain those means, such as access to forgiveness of debts without incurring undue interruptions to the pursuit of this dream.

    In this essay I used the explicit condition by which a human would go to sleep comfortably at the end of any day, and rest during which they’d not be interrupted outside of total self introspection. In those dreams they’d find the freedom to pursue any American Dream. In being able to have that peaceful sleep, much needs to happen to ensure people get it, which was what I’d essentially described as Any American Dream. I don’t consider this a radical idea, all sufficiently advanced life on this planet has found a way to exist in nature. If people can’t even get this simple stuff, that they otherwise would have obtained without it, what sort of civilization can be said to even be had? This essay described a rather plain expectation, but focuses on reiterating what’s important to have in Any American Dream that’s not at the expense of other Americans.

    In conclusion, it wasn’t the purpose of this essay to wholly describe a non-exclusionary and fully contained American Dream, there are certainly many more things that need to be in the scope of a proper discussion of what people ought to have available to them in a modern civilization. Much of the concept of Any American Dream and pursuit of it, revolves around simply going to sleep at night peacefully and then dreaming as an American – a literal American Dream. The pursuit of this simple action will sufficiently describe most of Any American Dream. This essay was written to identify an individuals singular American Dream, one that shouldn’t exclude any particular one person or another. This new, non-discriminatory, gender and sex neutral American Dream might look like it’s very simple, but many things must happen in order to ensure all have it available to them, and focuses largely on devaluing the perceived infinite value of some hallucinatory future to ensure a constant present.

    Works cited

    Harlin, Ken. “The Stonewall Riot and Its Aftermath.” Duberman, Martin. Columbia University, 24 Aug. 2011, www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/eresources/exhibitions/sw25/case1.html.

    Proulx, Annie. Brokeback Mountain. Scribner, 2005, Amazon, https://read.amazon.com/? asin=B003L77X18&ref_=kwl_kr_iv_rec_1, Accessed 18 June 2024.

    Ruskin, John, and William Morris. The Nature of Gothic: A Chapter from the Stone of Venice. George Allen, 1899. Archive.Org, https://archive.org/details/natureofgothicch00rusk/page/22/mode/2up. Accessed 18 June 2024.

    Transamerica. Duncan Tucker, IFC Films, 2005. STARZ Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/B002OTO38K/ref=atv_dp_sign_suc_3P 18Jun2024

  • Belonging In The American Dream

    The common narrative that it’s necessary to be alive in order to be living The American Dream is exclusionary of deceased US citizens. The deceased, once so, are no longer considered equal and the current perception is that their only participation in The American Dream comes from memories of their living friends and relatives for a generation or two, unless they’ve produced intellectual collateral. The time for this practice of denial of rights to persist without more mature legal considerations is coming to a head in this age where AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) becomes commonplace. This essay will discuss that there’s a precedent that can be set for conferring posthumous US citizenship, at this time only offered to US soldiers, which ought to be extended to a few new classes of protected people that might serve as a basis sufficient to both constitute contribution toward reparations for people previously so unjustly abused by US citizens and US government and also to establish a legal basis for impeding the continued and anticipated abuse in other groups in this Digital Millenium. The efforts of these groups of people were pilfered under the guise of corporate, political, racial and gender-based greed as Americans and American government officials took life, land, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from Chinese, Japanese, African immigrants, Indigenous Americans and in particular exacerbated the weaponized abuse of the legal system to rob women of their humanity through perpetual financially-motivated male hypergamy for so many years. These are acts of gross misconduct that’ve set the stage for the current trajectory of the US and the associated collective American Dream shared by US citizens and future US citizens to suffer severe injustices currently both unknowable and incomprehensible to even the most recent generation unless candid discussions begin now that result in the retention of due representation that leads to the realization of equality, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness after the biological death of a US citizen.

    The sacrifice of those who’ve had these rights denied and their efforts stolen have set the precedent for the future of AI-programmed AGI personas to continue in this fashion. It may be effected in an otherwise uninterrupted manner, unless our generation moves to act now and forge an enduring and intimidating representation of those who’re deceased. For example, a civil project could be funded by the United States Federal Government to fully seek out, to the best of its abilities, and identify any and all knowable Indigenous American inhabitants that’ve have been displaced by the American Dream, and any and all of those whose efforts went into building this nation under the ruse of slavery, and all of those who were denied the rights of citizenship on this soil after having been born here. The project could be used to find out the identities and familial relations so’s to appropriately enable individual citizens who perceive they’re responsible for individual offenses inflicted during slavery to be so empowered as to make their amends as they see fit to do so.

    Additionally, the US could consider to confer upon these peoples a posthumous US citizenship. The modern day equivalent of trading land that’s perceived to be someone else’s in exchange for cheap material trinkets is found in the same US population that on this day permits the collection of their data in exchange for the same. The unrealized resulting loss in personal agency is similar to the loss that was inflicted upon the American Indigenous inhabitants. It’s not land, but something more intimate than can ever have been incorporated into land – it’s an entire future after death. A great example of offenses previously occurring being acknowledged is described in the Contressional apology to Indigenous Americans where it’s written, “Whereas Native Peoples are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among those are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” (US 2009). It’s made explicitly clear, per this document, that the very same rights declared of US citizens in the US Declaration of Independence also applied to the Native Peoples in 1776 and before that since millenia (US 2009). This implies that the US denied those people those rights and admitted it in this apology.

    Another example of unjust treatment of citizens and future citizens having been recognized are the reparations paid by the American Government to the living Japanese ex-internees in 1988 under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Due to the delay in payment, this enabled the perception that the American Federal Government predominantly had in its focus those Americans that were living citizens that had suffered due to its own actions at the time. This is explained quite clearly in Mary’s book, “Looking Like the Enemy”, where she wrote, “I felt a sense of satisfaction but also regret that my parents and brother did not live to see the resolution fo this terrible wrong,” and momentarily before this she wrote, “this process (of reparations) also opened a dialog with third- and fourth-generation Japanese-Americans, some of whom had been unaware of the experiences that their own parents and grandparents had lived through,” (Gruenewald 218). Had it not been for the outspoken lobbying at the time – they might never have gained the traction to make right what was wrong. The wording here shows that the timing was such that folks that were deceased but otherwise would have stood to receive the reparations were not paid in retrospect. Further, Mary’s interpretation of what her family would have felt might differ from the publisher of her book in the future who very well may be able to lay claims to potential AGI likenesses of Mary’s parents, once such a thing becomes able to be contrived due to published books being commonplace sources for AI personality types. Who then, will be able to assert what the feelings of the deceased will be? Will it be Mary? Is it right to assume that Mary was making a legal statement when she asserted here the wishes of them? What if this is not the case from a codified AGI future iteration of these people?

    Moving on to another example, those yet to be born are within the scope of pursuit of The American Dream, and it’s been through the sacrifice of those who’ve lived it that those who’re to live it are or can be favored. Due to this, a consideration of the due and just reparations owed to the descendants of those who suffered through slavery in the United States of America is warranted. These descendants that still reside here, and still retain a perception of having been cheated out of this American Dream, who’re part of a larger group of people that were also victims of trans-atlantic slavery that perpetuated the very same American Dream that’s alluded to in the US Declaration of Independence is a serious unresolved problem. The legacies these folks inherited through their individual countries’ actions under slavery is broadly considered to be under the purview of the United Nations at this moment. This legacy is yet to be molded into an acceptable representation of the actual contributions of these people that at the time were not yet considered citizens, despite being justly and posthumously considered so. As Martin Luther King Jr. declared in his Letter From Brimingham Jail, “there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws,” (King 1963). What this means is that at this moment, because it is immoral to perceive enslaved inhabitants of the USA as anything other than US citizens, in exactly the same way and for the exact same reasons the Indigenous Inhabitants were US citizens since 1776, any law declaring them not so is unjust.

    It is for this reason that the open issue still stands, and cannot be sent to rest with little more than an earnest apology. At the time of writing this letter and in this specific context, King’s referring to the precedent of the United States to issue both just and unjust laws in the same way these same laws are issued to protect corporations from US citizens in the modern struggle for human rights. King later writes, “I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress,” (King 1963). What he means with this is that just laws hinge on morality which hinge on social perception, and in turn the current social perception is that the descendents of those who were enslaved in America are owed their due reparations. As King was referring to the general plight of his people, it may be inferred that this perception applies to reparations in the present day.

    Additionally, reparations payments, if not made now, in light of resting on the concept that the deceased ancestors who largely were not declared to be the American citizens they justly were, are owed something. In echange, they offer a large opportunity to create a powerful class of people, without disadvantaging the present population of the living US population. These people would stand apart from the rest of the world in the face of a billion Africans that don’t share this heritage, and another few hundred million people of African descent that do share the legacy of trans-atlantic slavery but had the unfortunate disadvantage of having not been selected to go to America to plausably demand on behalf of all human rights that that is owed to them in their civil pursuit comes into their posession. Its these types of differences that Malcolm X may’ve identified when he called for an appeal to the United Nations in his, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” speech where he said, “When you expand the civil-rights struggle to the level of human rights, you can then take the case of the black man in this country before the nations in the UN. You can take it before the General Assembly. You can take Uncle Sam before a world court. But the only level you can do it on is the level of human rights,” (X 1964). What he’s saying here’s that once the discussion’s been realized to not be only a discussion of civil rights of a select group of people in a nation, but instead is those of the rights of all human beings that’re perceived to be at risk, it’s appropriate to involve the United Nations, whos the United States is perceived as accountable to by Malcolm X and many folks.

    There will come a time that the number of deceased US citizens representable by AGI will exceed the living number of US citizens – will their presence only then become important when it is important now? At this moment, this could exclude the rights of the deceased Indigenous US inhabitants and African slaves in the USA that weren’t afforded posthumous citizenship despite very much having justly been citizens without due representation at the time of creation of the USA – one of the very same reasons that the country was created. This yet to be established citizenship is evidenced by the nature of the verbiage in the apologies to these people over the recent years by the US Congress on behalf of the USA. What right could be claimed, anymore, to maintain that these people were not lawfully created citizens of the United States at the time independence was declared from Britain in 1776? They were present and within the boundaries, and their descendants are current US citizens, and to allow their likenesses to persist without declared citizenship will become more appalling as time passes and the only right time to make those amends is now when it still means something good instead of is a commonly performed practice as is the suggested case in light of recent AI-programmed revelations that’ve begun to incorporate the work of humans in its own likenesses of human work.

    This paper’s only meant to suggest that there will be a precedent set for the need for strongly recognized posthumous citizenship due to AGI technologies being developed to display likenesses of people sufficient to suggest that they may need to be classified as citizens in order to prevent potential corporate and government abuse of these likenesses that already pervades our culture and has historic precedent. We wistfully sign waiver after waver, nullifying our rights as US citizens to corporations that supply us with further technological material bounty. It’s a human rights consideration that ones ancestors, their likenesses and any of their implied rights are not resting in the explicit and unfettered domain of a corporate profit-extracting machine, nor a political machine. That they’re empowered to exist as the uniquely equal entities that they already are’s a critical point of interest in this modern day. This managed network of uniquely operating identities ought to retain the due representation for each iterated use of the intellectual property of the US citizen and human that provided it – in life and especially after biological death.

    The present generation should set the precedent that posthumous citizenship in conjunction with reparations commensurate to the value gained from the theft be paid out in full and without further delay to the descendents of slaves in the USA. The rights of the deceased will come to play important roles in our society as we progress further into an era where AGI likenesses blend in more and more seamlessly with human likenesses both on and offline and it won’t be until a likeness of your pet, or a likeness of your relative or those dear to you are provided to you (or not!) by a corporation that owns their rights to exist after the associated biological death. It’s still an avoidable issue as the inhumanity may be realized to be no different than the appropriation of Indigenous cultures in sports teams of recent years.

    The continued call for reparations isn’t just a call to satisfy the immediate needs of the current generation of black people as living descendants of people who were slaves in the USA – it’s a call to set the precedent that ones ancestors cannot be allowed to be trivialized to accommodate the immediate needs of a business or government and then afford it power and liberty that comes at the expense of the deceased citizen with US citizenship who’d been posthumously denied their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, despite their looming persistence in having their likeness and intellectual property being paraded about for corporate and political gain. The value of this imagined owed reparations payment will balloon to unaffordable proportions if the scope of the discussion were to cover all extant humans and by then it may be too late to impose more potentially humane alternatives.

    In this essay it was discussed that the United States has a perceived role yet to be fulfilled in the reparations to specific black Americans. It was shown that recent discriminatory practices toward Asian folks show no real intent to renege on these practices when opportunity presents itself and those owed money aren’t able to be paid out due to the status of being deceased. It was briefly mentioned that genders are effectively weaponized for political collusion. It was claimed that these abuses will continue in perpetuity unless a candid discussion with regard to US citizenship in regards to how AI must be mandated to represent itself and this will have serious implications stemming from how the US handles these perceived social issues right now after having already done these injustices and formally apologizing for them. It was mentioned that the current trajectory of perceived social conditions is toward absolutely flabbergasting human rights abuses that will present themselves as we progress through this digital millenium and then follow us in perpetuity through each subsequent iteration of the continued likenesses of deceased US citizens who wish for more than a simple “right to be forgotten,” which is an unacceptable compromise in light of the grievious mistakes that show that any claims to uphold as such are absolutely pretentious at best.

    In conclusion, The common narrative that it’s necessary to be alive in order to be living The American Dream is exclusionary of deceased US citizens. The deceased, once so, are no longer considered equal and the current perception is that their only participation in The American Dream comes from memories of their living friends and relatives for a generation or two, unless they’ve produced intellectual collateral. The time for this practice of denial of rights to persist without more mature legal considerations is coming to a head in this age where AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) becomes commonplace. It’s imperative to center these discussions of isolated apologies to US citizens and US inhabitants around a narrative that sticks to maintaining that human rights are the focus of all present motivations to bring due closure to perceived errors and lapses in the administration of the United States Federal Government. Many more words can be said of this subject, but the aim of this paper was to suggest that the apparent short term gain is an illusory red herring in the greater debate of what will undoubtedly precipitate from a just and timely resolution of these perceived injustices.

    Works Cited

    US Congress. “Congressional Apology to Native Americans.” Congress.Gov, United States of America, 8 July 2009, www.congress.gov/bill/111th-congress/senate-joint-resolution/14/text.

    Gruenewald, Mary Matsuda, and Maureen R. Michelson. Looking like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps. NewSage Press, 2010.

    King, Martin Luther. “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Bates.Edu, 1 Dec. 2001, April 16, 1963. www.abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html.

    X, Malcolm. “The Ballot or the Bullet.” Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Hartford Web Publishing, www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/065.html. Accessed 4 June 2024.

  • The Early American Dream

    Access to print and publication mediums, along with literacy in being able to read and write provided a narrative and also the framework to follow The Early American Dream. This access was gated by separating the ability to read, the ability to write, the right to citizenship through slavery, and many other ways that included half-hearted supported such as bible-reading at home at a time where collective individual agency and state-level politics loomed over a nascent US federal government. Having a basic education fed into the understated importance of almanacs, as these mediums retain modern day equivalents of serving as primitive social media feeds or blogs. Almanacs played an understated role in shaping The Early American Dream by providing a relatable individual viewpoint that enabled readers (predominantly white male separatists in the USA) to imprint themselves upon their perceived impression of the author in a way that fit into their busy lives as almanacs were different than books and longer than news articles. Almanacs uniquely offered a glance into what was perceived to be cultural and social ongoings of modern culture by isolated farmers and socially disoriented shopkeeps who otherwise perceived their upward mobilities to stunted without having followed along with the instructions laid out in the margins and stories found in these almanacs.

    A discussion of almanacs can’t be had in the proper context without making the occult material contained so pervasively in them the primary subject of the discussion, and not the mundane astrological charts that the things are so voraciously reported to be about which they very much were not. Phrases that garnished many-a-margin instructed a reader to have a reaction to common human tendencies where it’s written, “Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright, as Poor Richard says.” (Franklin 5). Alternatively, one might be shunned from sharing their feelings on a matter where it’s written, “A Word to the Wife is enough, and Many Words won’t fill a Bushel, as Poor Richard says,” while quite literally sharing enough words to fill a bushel himself (Franklin 4). These quotes here were taken from “Father Abraham’s Speech” where Benjamin Franklin had taken nondescript quips like these and made an artistic story out of hundreds of them he collected in some seemingly primitive attempt to propagate memes.

    These types of occult quips would often be written into the margins of various almanacs. These quotes can be interpreted different ways, and here my interpretation is that Franklin was writing to his audience (which he would have known to be entirely male) so as to set a narrative that it’s appropriate to seek out those who would be slothful and “correct” their situation as one would be expected to do to subordinates, and the second quote is one that’s meant to drive a husband away from his own wife in witholding conversation so that it might manifest elsewhere – possibly in one of the popular fraternal societies at the time? So many other almanacs had seemingly endless amounts of highly suggestive phrases in every available corner of their publications that were reported to be simple astrological analysis. It was directly witnessed that the people that these types of materials were imposed upon were the very same people who bore the condition of being oppressors who otherwise might’ve been perceptably benevolent people that may’ve had a very different American Dream.

    Among the people who shared this perception was a freed slave, Olaudah Equiano, who documented the horrors that he and people like him endured as he wrote in his first hand narrative that, “Such a tendency has the slave-trade to debauch men’s minds, and harden them to every feeling of humanity! For I will not suppose that the dealers in slaves are born worse than other men—No; it is the fatality of this mistaken avarice, that it corrupts the milk of human kindness and turns it into gall,” in one of the most powerful paragraphs in his entire narrative (Equiano 2020). It was apparent to folks like Olaudah that there was a certain design to this paradigm of slavery that was inflicted on people who otherwise might’ve done very differently had they grown up in a world in which it wasn’t present. It’s not the focus of this essay to debate the moral ethos of a particular group of people who were clearly performing morally reprehensible actions, and it’d take substantially more evidence than can be discussed here to substantiate the claim that these documents contained instructions to perpetuate slavery. Further investigation’s also warranted of the various social perceptions of the people involved in slavery at the time by people that lived amongst them that’s outside the scope of this essay which aims only to suggest that the notion that the social purview of The Early American Dream was heavily influenced by content in these more palatable publications aimed at capturing the attention of otherwise isolated farmers and socially disoriented shopkeeps.

    A supporting idea of the influence of the occult verbiage contained in almanacs is that if one were to note the relative proximity of many diaried notes as also appearing the the very same margins, possibly as a subconscious indication that the words that appeared there had much more to do with influencing the perception of The Early American Dream than may have originally been thought. As seen in the show History Detectives, it can be seen that the usage of the almanacs extended beyond simply reading as Shep Williams says on one that, “someone had apparently been using it as a diary,” when speaking of a common Ames almanac (“1775 Almanac, Exercise Records, Moon Museum” 2:20). Could it be reminiscent of the same way in which one itches a scab itches in the same location as the initial wound, the logs of mens lives ended up in the same margins that oriented them and formed their opinions so strongly in the face of such suggestive comments? People were reported to have sewed pages into these almanacs.

    Benjamin Franklin was one example of an author of a popular almanac, but all founding fathers would’ve had their own “social media feed”, when not making their own, that was provided to them through almanacs. Barriers to pursuit of The Early American Dream such as basic education have since been removed, dismantled and replaced with more accessible solutions as almanacs have been since replaced with things like Tiktok and Instagram feeds that individuals use to spread their ideologies today. These mediums require no real competency to be able to write critically in order to utilize them. The accessibility is such that it’s both easier to come by, participate in, understand and contribute to than this previous exclusionary medium.

    These types of social mediums historically formed the narrative that went into what ones impression of what their American Dream was. The concepts of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness in being held as equals were a general tenet of daily life for people in the world and these thoughts were mirrored in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, where it’s written that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (US 1776). This serves as an example of what The Early American Dream actually was perceived to’ve been, and it’s through a lens that was influenced by the social context offered in publications like Almanacs that people could really begin to resonate with how they were suggested to pursue these types of dreams in the way that they did.

    This pursuit made no room for the majority of the population that invariably had contributions to add, but were ignored at the time. Writers such as Equiano often were met with ignorance or no regard for the engaging of their ideas or concepts, where barriers such as simple ownership of almanacs or more advanced barriers such as institutionalized racism often set an exclusionary narrative. These various forms of oppression lead to essentially torturing these Americans in the expense of pursuing The Early American Dream and as an example in his first hand testimony Equiano continues, “You stupify them with stripes, and think it necessary to keep them in a state of ignorance; and yet you assert that they are incapable of learning; that their minds are such a barren soil or moor, that culture would be lost on them; and that they come from a climate, where nature, though prodigal of her bounties in a degree unknown to yourselves, has left man alone scant and unfinished, and incapable of enjoying the treasures she has poured out for him!—An assertion at once impious and absurd.” (Equiano 2020). Here Equiano was pleading with any rational mind to weigh the perceived costs of slavery in order to pursue this early American Dream against the steep prices paid later that satisfied immediate wants of people at that time. At the time of writing this, Equiano was writing of the slavery he perceived in the Indies, but the opinion seems directed toward all institutinalized slavery.

    One of the more understated aspects of The Early American Dream is that it can reasonably be said that it represented a disproportionate minority. Accounting for population numbers of white men and women who were composed of loyalists and separatists. Also accounting for slaves and freed slaves and among all of these groups there were folks that didn’t commit to a party for various reasons (separatist or loyalist), as well as the Indigenous North American inhabitants present within the future US borders at that time that numbers as low as ten percent of the people could be claimed to’ve presented that ideology that came to represent The Early American Dream. The sheer number of people that weren’t represented in the perceived Early American Dream, despite being within the boundaries of the country at that time suggests that the unified view of The Early American Dream was not possible. Therefore, the “we” discussed in the Declaration of Independence is misleading where it says, “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” (US 1776). This statement in the constitution was misleading because it was written in there, before this quote, that equality is an unalienable right that it was denied to up to 90% of the people that were there at the time. Evidence to support this statement is that since that time those same groups of people have attained equality under the exact same doctrine.

    In this essay it’s shown that The Early American Dream wasn’t a unified dream because it couldn’t be representative of the full population of people at the time. It was shown that almanacs influenced the social perception of a selected class of individuals and fostered the pursuit of what the perceived Early American Dream was. It was shown that these same people were utlitized to enforce a political system that benefited folks that would produce this type of documentation based on access delineated along racial boundaries. These pieces of literature, almanacs and legislation, worked together to both instill a perception of what The Early American Dream was and also offered a framework to obtain it – at costs that were excruciatingly painful to a majority of people who came to struggle with it. This essay doesn’t claim to make a statement of what exactly The Early American Dream was, because all record of it was obliterated when only the best-portrayed wishes of a selected upper class was represented in it which allowed a perceived early American Dream to circulate without due critique of what the implications of the implied individualism and fervent work ethic actually meant in the true context of what “we” actually stood for at the time of writing the Declaration of Independence.

    In conclusion, almanacs played a large role as primitive forms of social media in shaping The Early American Dream by providing the critical and relatable individual viewpoint that would become imprinted on the individual reading it. This paper had a goal of suggesting the highly suggestive content in almanac margins played a understated part in forming what was perceived to be The Early American Dream, and many other avenues came up as prospects for further research. It’s apparent that whatever The Early American Dream actually was perceived to be, it was the consequence of a minority subset of thinking men who ought to have known better. The actual early American Dream was had by up to a 90% majority of the population not originally incorporated into it, despite residing within the present day boundaries of the Unites States at the time, along with that 10%. Furthermore, there are all of North, South and Central Americas where were not within the scope of this essay that really just was intended to suggest that there really wasn’t a unified early American Dream beyond that which ended up on paper.

    Works Cited

    1775 Almanac, Exercise Records, Moon Museum. History Detectives, Matthew Horovitz, Episode 909, Public Broadcasting Service, 2011. https://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/video/2097342856/index.html. Accessed 20 May 2024

    Equiano, Olaudah. “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African written by Himself.” The Project Gutenberg eBook of “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African”, by OLAUDAH EQUIANO., 07 May 2024, www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/15399/pg15399-images.html.

    Franklin, Benjamin. “Father Abraham’s Speech.” Boston, G. K. Hall & Co. 1963, Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/fatherabrahamssp00franuoft/page/6/mode/2up. Accessed 20 May 2024.

    US (United States). “The Declaration of Independence: Full Text.” Ushistory.Org, Independence Hall Association, www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/. Accessed 20 May 2024.

  • Indigenous Cultural Influence in Modern American Culture

    Indigenous Mythology and folklore influenced Modern American Culture in ways that are often not apparent (in some cases – denied), and continues to influence popular culture to this day in ways that have caused the traditional stories to become inseparable from contemporaneous culture. In this essay, a popular cartoon from the last 100 years will be analyzed in order to suggest that there are numerous Indigenous Mythological influences present in the story, despite the author not indicating the influence. This essay will offer a very brief introduction to the concept that Indigenous Mythological folklore and stories are sources of content for profit-extracting, culture-producing film production companies that use them to show cultural and community values in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons as the original stories. These were traditionally told by a community of people (often – storytellers/elders) to a younger generation that would form a cultural framework that would then become part of the identity of each individual.

    Warner Bros., which produced the cartoon depicting a coyote and a roadrunner called “Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner”, arose from four brothers (Albert, Sam, Jack, Harry) who were raised by their immigrant father (Benjamin) & mother who lost all the family capital from a bad investment in the Canadian Fur Trade in London, Ontario. This followed fifteen years of living in various US locations trying to find stability after immigrating. This ended with Benjamin building a family trade as cobblers, which provided the growing family a needed recovery from financial disaster. This trade would come to provide for the brothers while growing up. (Viera 145/5857). Benjamin would’ve had a moderate Indigenous American exposure due to the fact that the fur trade, around the turn of the 20th century, consisted of predominantly Indigenous traders who subsisted off game hunting. This exposure would’ve influenced the brothers in ways the history books don’t generally cover very well due to the personal nature of the details. Further investigation would be needed in order to determine the exact level of Indigenous cultural influence on the lives of the four brothers in their childhood, but the expectation is that they were no less than aware of Indigenous stories due to their father having worked with many Indigenous people during his time in the Fur Trade.

    The brothers’ company became what’s known today as Time Warner. Further discussion on corporate structure is warranted here and for the scope of this essay, the understanding is that Warner Bros. media company acquired the rights to Merrie Melodies which then became Looney Tunes. A large innovation that was introduced by the Warner brothers through their company was the usage of synchronized audio tracks to go along with their moving pictures, which came to be known as movies (Viera 282/5857). This addition of sound came about in 1929, where it was described that the premiere of The Jazz Singer was lauded as Viera describes it, “There were gasps, then shouts, then a standing ovation. The sensation of synchronized dialogue startled viewers-then had them begging for more.” (Viera 315/5857). This display would’ve been the first time many Americans had stories told to them in such a way, with audio and visual input, outside of plays. This style of storytelling was central to, and practiced by, Indigenous folks for centuries beforehand. Screenplays had been around, but American culture wasn’t as good a facilitator of the form of entertainment whereas in European locations this was a more popularized form of entertainment. Many historic cultures would’ve had many different stories that differentiated their diverse past and it appeared that Warner Bros. had an initiative to reintroduce characters that’d previously been in folklore back into popular culture (covered later) through this new technological medium. In light of Indigenous affairs, their company took the place of the storytellers and would go on to do so under the guise of Merrie Melodies (Later – Looney Tunes).

    Merrie Melodies released the first cartoon of “Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner” in 1949 with an episode titled, “Fast and Furry-ous”. The skit was the beginning of what became the popular duo still seen in contemporaneous American culture today, where, “Audiences loved the Coyote’s crazy schemes to catch the Road Runner, especially because every one ended in disaster for the frustrated Coyote,” (Korte 64). Korte is making the point here that the reception of these characters was good. This introduction to Americans at the time was given to a generation that was the first to grow up in a post world war era where the Indigenous peoples of the Americas were no longer in the scope of regular discussion as they were prior to the world wars – these were displaced by emerging trends for globalization after hundreds of years of domestic struggle. The introduction of this cartoon was the first mention of the animals to a new generation of Americans through popular American culture since the recording of oral stories from various Indigenous tribes back to at least 1901, when the brothers were growing up, as will be covered later.

    As televisions became a part of American households in the 1940s, the Warner Bros. studio turned to shorter tracks so as to not compete with itself, and its competition with Disney lead it to produce short bits, or cartoons where, “filmed images are shown quickly one after another, [so] it appears that they are moving. Short animated movies are also known as cartoons, and they have been around since the late 1800s” (Korte 4). These cartoons became important methods of telling stories in ways very similar to Oral and Visual storytelling that’re heavily practiced in Indigenous communities.

    Korte goes on to make the point that the industry for cartoons was heavily competitive and Movie producers such as Warner Bros. saw this market as an avenue to produce profits for their company and wrote on cartoons that, “Warner Bros. was so happy with the success … Warner Bros. was determined to become Disney’s biggest competitor.” (Korte 21). This means that the high level of competition would’ve placed the company in a position where it would benefit from relatable characters that had just recently fallen out of the public eye, as will be discussed later. With this type of storytelling being in use since the late 1800s, and the newly shown ability to build a corporate profit from it, there was a large motivation to pull from a previously successful medium that was seen in use in American Indigenous Culture for centuries. This included Oral and Visual storytelling, and essentially set the stage for adaptations to this new visual medium that had recently been combined with an auditory aspect that the Warner Brothers were famous for introducing at the time.

    With Warner Bros.’ constant competition with Disney, and the overwhelming influence of movie production outfits like Paramount and other competition, pre-existing Indigenous Mythology was used to influence and bolster a company that might not’ve been able to compete. Lacking trademarks and copyrights opened Indigenous folklore stories to unrestricted usage and subsequent incorporation in popular American culture at the time. Much of the precedent was already set in that the idea having been had of a coyote and a roadrunner doing surreal things (Shown in later section). What would need to be taken care of on the creative side were artists to draft the cartoon sketches. In short, the contemporary cartoon has taken the place of traditional Oral and Visual storytelling by ones community through storytellers in order to impart cultural values into a younger generation. Each story forms an interconnected network of stories. In much the same way Indigenous mythology revered animals like the spider whose creation myths often reflect the interconnectedness of all things, so too did they incorporate coyotes and roadrunners into their folklore. After a specific analysis of cartoon episodes reflecting indigenous influence and callouts, various Indigenous stories will be discussed that will be shown to indicate a high likelihood of Native American influence in these cartoons.

    The “Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner” cartoon features a few various callouts that show an Indigenous influence that gave rise to the idea of a coyote chasing a roadrunner around a surrealistic desert for time immemorial. It was originally directed by Chuck Jones, who’s credited with the origin of the cartoon characters that share many personality traits with the Indigenous Mythological depictions of the animals themselves. The first director after Jones was Rudy Larriva. Aside from both Coyote and Roadrunner being incorporated in various Indigenous stories prior to the cartoons conception, two episodes in particular that indicate influence from Indigenous folklore are, “Out and Out Rout”, and,“The Solid Tin Coyote”. In, “Out and Out Rout”, there’s a depiction of Hermes (Ancient Greek deity) and the ensuing antic indicates that there’s a tendency to incorporate external mythological influences which then was written into the skits. Rudy Larriva was actively referring mythology to create content for this episode (Larriva “Out and Out Rout” 2:12-3:13). In next scene of this same episode we see Coyote assembling a vehicle from junkyard parts, where front and center opening scene is depicted an Native-syled canoe (Larriva “Out and Out Rout” 3:13-4:44). Why a canoe? Why a junkyard? Why build a skit from this?

    Was Larriva insinuating that there’s a “junkyard” of folklore and mythology that the studio picked and chose from in order to make skits for American cartoon companies to profit off of? Further, was there an implication that some Indigenous deities abandoned their own people on order to take part in European and American affairs, appearing in their cartoons, where they’d be performing their small part in becoming part of a worldwide cultural body? Whatever the motive or context, Warner Bros. profited immensely. Larriva himself was a Texan of Mexican heritage and further research would be needed to determine the rationale for the types of depictions in his show, which is outside the scope of this writing. In the next episode, “The Solid Tin Coyote”, the show recycles the opening junkyard scene where it again opens up with Coyote coming out of the canoe, from the same dump and canoe of an Indian style and front and center of the scene same as last time (Larriva “The Solid Tin Coyote” 0:16). There are likely many more references that can be gleaned from the series and its spinoffs, but a perusal of all extant cartoons that incorporate Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner would be too broad of a topic for this essay.

    The originator of the cartoon, Chuck Jones, has described the origin of the characters and their character traits. Specifically he writes that Wile E. Coyote came from Mark Twain’s Description of a coyote. Jones writes, “I first became interested in the Coyote while devouring Mark Twain’s Roughing It at the age of seven. … The coyote is a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry.” (Jones 39). A question that would’ve been great to ask of Jones was what it was that inspired him to pair a coyote up with a roadrunner? Jones did indicate that the desert was the natural habitat for them to be seen together later in his book. Was Jones possibly susceptible to the same mindset that prevailed in the appropriation of Indigenous culture in sports teams in taking on Indigenous Mascots and dances and performing them inappropriately? In other words, was he in a mindset of partial denial which was rooted in a lack of education of American Indigenous cultures, while being slightly exposed to their beliefs without attribution throughout his life?

    Jones later reminisces on the character of Wile E. Coyote in writing, “There is absolute logic to the devices that the fanatically single-minded Coyote uses. They should work, but there’s always one tiny thing wrong, and, as with most of us, that tiny thing leads to disaster. Human beings, of course, in even their most grandiloquent plans, often resemble coyotes.” (Jones 238). This quote reveals the commonality of the Coyote in Indigenous Stories and the Coyote that Jones wrote of. While the Indigenous people would hear stories of Coyote and might liken themselves to the animal who always seemed to have one lesson to offer, the coyote Jones writes of also always has one thing that foils his own plans and in this Jones allows a consumer to see themselves in a Coyote in the same way Indigenous stories empowered their listeners to see themselves in their stories. Jones saw Coyote everywhere, in the same way Indigenous people see Coyote everywhere – and with the same mythical regard for the animal that was often seen in futile attempts and comical antics as will be seen shortly. Both are shown having an air of futility and persistence as their general themes.

    The coyote and greater roadrunner animals have a rich history in Indigenous mythology and folklore that’re quite reminiscent of the cartoon and the influence seems undeniable, that Indigenous Mythology influenced and even possibly lead to the creation of his cartoon characters, despite Jones’ claims. The hunger was just one aspect of Wile E. Coyote’s larger personality, which was to employ futile tricks in order to satisfy this Want. Want alone is a lot of things. There’s people that want food where they beg, or starve, or make it themselves, generally quite successfully. They don’t usually employ tricks as a character trait, or prepare meals of tin cans despite being surrounded by more edible cactuses. It’s not common to look at hungry people and think immediately that they’re trying to trick someone, this is a trait of Wile E. Coyote that Jones depicted.

    Indigenous cultures have the concept of a mythological deity that they refer to as Coyote. The depiction is often of the animal itself but may also take other forms, generally the notion is that an animal is playing a trick to convey cultural value and is referred to often as a trickster-god in describing the role in the stories. In the mythological stories, the animal is often seen to provide life lessons through the form of antics and tricks that otherwise show the values inherent to the originating culture. Indigenous stories have previously spread through the use of Oral History up until quite recently. This means that there would be no copyrighted or trademarked material or characters that someone could build a lawsuit around. The stories were often exchanged in moments, as oral stories could only be so long. The length of a typical cartoon is roughly the length of a typical Indigenous oral story. The likeness of this style of storytelling was a perfect fit for the way in which animated cartoons came to essentially act as a surrogate medium by which these types of stories were passed along. There are many differences that are outside the scope of this essay.

    Three Indigenous mythological stories featuring folklore that involved Coyote are, “Coyote Kills the Giant” (Flathead), “Coyote Gets Rich Off the White Man” (White Mountain Apache), and, “Coyote Steals the Sun and the Moon” (Zuni). There’s a story about a blue bird and Coyote, “The Bluebird and Coyote” (Pima). One story about roadrunner birds is, “Road Runner Girls Grind” (Cochiti). The mythology isn’t limited to these stories alone – these are just a few selections of the vast array of stories that form the framework of Indigenous folklore.

    In, “Coyote Kills the Giant”, a story about a Coyote reported in 1901, we see Coyote saying of a club-like object, “”I’ll hit the giant over the head with this. It’s big enough and heavy enough to kill him.”” (Erdoes 223). Later we find out that this is done in futility, reminiscent of the cartoon skits written about above, as Coyote is later told that he is actually in the belly of the giant that he intended to hit with the club he found. This type of comical futility of a Coyote who grabbed a useless club when what he needed was a knife, when paired with the second half of the story that includes a lesson on feeding people, is a reported Indigenous mythological story. The surreal environment of being inside of a giant, a Coyote coming up with a half-cocked plan to club a giant he was already inside the stomach of, is highly reminiscent of the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote racing around surreal landscapes.

    The next story from Indigenous folklore is, “Coyote Gets Rich Off the White Men”, where Coyote plays a trick on white campers to get their money. The story was reported in 1939, which was before Jones’ cartoon was released by a decade. Here again, we see Coyote in a comedic light as he deftly separates the campers from their money. He does this by convincing them that a donkey was full of money and would defecate money, and that the campers buying the donkey would profit because of this, but the whole thing was a ruse. Coyote was stuffing the animals with money and then taking the money back, leaving the rest in there for the campers. Coyote was left with both his original sum as well as what was paid for the animal by the white campers, hence the title. This was also done with a tree. In the story it’s written, “Coyote was always thinking about eating, and he hoped the packs held food.” (Erdoes 370). This quote bears an exact likeness to Wile E. Coyote as described above, where Jones describes Coyote as starved. Additionally, the theme of futility in coming up with plans and investing time that would otherwise be well spent was one that was heavily implied in the cartoon also, where the Coyote is always seen having gotten a faulty Acme product (Jones does say that money was not a part of the cartoon – the Coyote always was sent the device to be used).

    One final story incorporating discussion of Coyote in Indigenous mythology is, “Coyote Steals the Sun and the Moon”, and the story opens up with, “Coyote is a bad hunter who never kills anything … Coyote is always up to something,” in yet another exact likeness of Wile E. Coyote from this story reported in 1935, just 14 years from the airing of the cartoon (Erdoes 140). Wile E. Coyote is often seen in episodes with an Indian-themed bow, using himself as an arrow, and never kills anything. He is also depicted as always being up to something in the cartoon. Later in this story, Eagle denies Coyote in saying, “”No, no, you always mess everything up.”” (Erdoes 142). This line is incredibly similar to the character traits Jones described Wile E. Coyote to have in his book, when he relates Coyote to humans in that something small always goes wrong as written above.

    As can be seen from three different stories from tribes centered in New Mexico (Zuni), Arizona (White Mountain Apache) and Montana (Flathead), Coyote is a central figure in Indigenous Mythology. These are just three tribes that span a vast area of the United States – many other tribes have Coyote as a central character in their mythological and communal beliefs that have been told as Oral Stories for centuries prior to the notion of a cartoon as it’s known today. In each of these stories, Coyote is seeing as playing tricks, or utilizing comical, futile antics in order to teach a lesson. This mythological creature shares an uncanny number of personality traits with Wile E. Coyote, for one to not be based on or influenced by the other, and instead solely based on Twain’s work as was written. It’s revealing to consider Coyotes’ counterpart, the Road Runner, as well as Indigenous stories relating to the bird.

    The Road Runner as an Indigenous Mythological deity reigns largely in the southwestern and central United States of America, which is its typical habitat. The Pueblo tribes along with many others including Apache depicted this animal in various ways that often described the bird as being able to lead one to a road, possibly leading English speakers to determine that its common name should just be roadrunner. The bird has a rich history in being incorporated in Indigenous cultures and is often viewed as a heroic icon, Martha Anne Maxon writes in her “The Real Roadrunner”, “It is not surprising that Native cultures existing side by side with the roadrunner for many centuries have incorporated the bird into many of their folkways and rituals. The roadrunner also was a favorite animal of the early Euro-American pioneers who settled in the Southwest.” (Maxon 91). This quote highlights the importance of this bird in cultures that branded it as brave, swift, bringer of rain, protector, remedy in other sections of the chapter in “The Real Roadrunner”.

    Maxon writes that National Geographic was able to sponsor an interview with the creator of the iconic cartoon character Road Runner, Chuck Jones, who stated, “… he based his caricature on his memories of roadrunners from when he was a lad in Southern California.” (Maxon 103). Chuck Jones’ keen road runner observation skills would’ve also enabled him to be just as sensitive to the cultures he was also surrounded by that would’ve endowed him with an internal identity sufficient to recognize the birds specific characteristics that he came to share in parallel with them. He lived in the same geographical area as the same cultures that originated the ideas he incorporated into his cartoons, and would’ve been just as exposed to them as he was the bird itself. It was the case that he likely had daily interactions with these people with these specific cultural identities, and that he may not have been educated on Indigenous folklore may be a reason for a lack of attribution to them in his work.

    One mythological story about roadrunners comes from the Cochiti tribe and is called, “Road Runner Girls Grind”, where we see a traditional story of Road Runner girls grinding blue cornmeal only to have their actions thrown into a tumultuous chaos due to the antics of Coyote who wants to grind acorns. In the story it’s written on the death of Coyote that Crow says, “”All the kinds of birds that eat meat, come and eat Coyote, for he has done mischief.” (Benedict 149-150). This idea of a mischievous coyote is very reminiscent of Jones’ cartoon, and the depiction of an innocent “heroic” protagonist characters as Road Runner Girls in this story only further supports this, for they’ve provided sustenance for the other animals for having killed the coyote. In Jones’ cartoon, the Road Runner was also a blue protagonist. Even more, the book in which this story was found was published in 1931, almost two decades before the cartoon. It could be argued that this may be the another episode of “Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner”, due to how similarly the interactions are between the Road Runner Girls and Coyote.

    In tying the cartoon depictions to the mythological folklore, the recurring theme that all of Wile E. Coyotes’ antics always result in failure is a copy of the likeness of the Indigenous representation of Coyote. Coyote was often seen as playing tricks on white men, to their disadvantage, and Coyote’s success. This was not without a substantially larger body of stories that indicate a series of misfortunes for the deity. The command of strong humor in the Indigenous population seems to have not outright rejected or otherwise claimed the depiction as an appropriation of their culture at this time. The comical representation of the animals in the cartoon in the very least appears to rhyme with the intent of Indigenous oral tradition that incorporates humor at many levels. It could be concluded that the depiction isn’t outright offensive but the lack of a general association with Indigenous folks could be taken as an offensive gesture despite this.

    In a different light, an alternative interpretation of the cartoon series is that it possibly was the case that Wile E. Coyote was sickened with some ailment and that he was just looking for a cure, as is the theme in other Indigenous cultures? Yet another is that there are an abundant number of cactuses around but Wile E. is seen preparing tin cans to eat instead, as if he had pica or some other mental disease that prevented him from rationally assessing that his continued dynamite usage and and his antics as well as the repeated use of acme products was possibly a form of dementia. These behaviors are expected of an American Cartoon, due largely to their attention-grabbing, surreal nature. On the other hand these same cartoons are in a precarious situation as they are designed in such a way as to get Americans to laugh at these Indigenous deities. Fortunately for Coyote, he’d already been caught in these types of antics for many centuries. Coyote being plagued and charactured with an inability to succeed was highly reminiscent of the underlying futility of Indigenous peoples in their initial embracing American culture that worked so hard to keep them silent, unnecessarily.

    One last reference to Indigenous mythology that should be covered to close out this essay is called, “The Bluebird and the Coyote”, which originated from the Pima Tribe. It doesn’t specifically call out a roadrunner, but is yet another example of precedent set that would otherwise lead one to come to the conclusion that Indigenous Mythology influenced the American film production company Warner Bros. in ways being covered in this essay. In the story, Coyote says, “”How is it that all your ugly color has come out and now you are blue and gay and beautiful? You’re more beautiful than anything that flies in the air. I want to be blue too.” (Erdoes 347). This sets the narrative that the Bluebird has got something Coyote wants.

    The importance of this story is that it appears to be a motivation for Coyote to go on and chase Road Runner for time immemorial, the reason they are paired up is because Bluebird has something that Coyote wants, other than to fill his belly – which is to be blue again, to be beautiful once again. In this story a road is mentioned as well – providing a persistent setting seen in the surreal desert landscapes found in the cartoon. This story was reported in 1908, which was before the cartoon came to be and was in circulation when the cartoon’s creator was growing up. Maybe the Warner Bros. and Chuck Jones had heard the same stories? These kinds of questions can no longer be answered by the creators of the cartoon, for they’ve passed on and have left their legacy that clearly shows a large Indigenous influence that’s interwoven into the storyline of the cartoon. Jones describes the rationale for Wile E. to chase the Roadrunner as, “simply trying to get something to eat … the Road Runner is caviar to the Coyote.” (Jones 171). This doesn’t appear to be the case from digging up the Indigenous folklore.

    In this essay, it’s been shown that Warner Bros. family life was influenced by the Indigenous Fur Trade in Canada. It was shown that the resulting production company used mythology in their cartoon skits. It was shown that some of the episodes feature some highlights Indian themed artifacts. It was shown that the animals in the cartoon shared personality traits with the Indigenous Mythological Deities. It was shown that Oral and Visual Storytelling had a rich usage in Indigenous Culture which was used as a model for the American Cartoon shortly after the Oral Stories came to be written down in the early 1900s. It was shown that numerous Indigenous folklore stories bear a likeness to the characters in Looney Tunes. While this is generally circumstantial evidence, it’s apparent that Indigenous mythology was a source of origination for this story, and with that being said many questions can be asked – and should be. This action opened the door for entire belief systems to be utilized as cheap content for contemporaneous profit-seeking American film production companies. Further research into this line of reasoning might show further motivations that cannot be within the scope of this essay which aimed to only suggest the notion that the cultural influence of Native American Mythological folklore made Film Production Companies a lot of profits and influenced American popular culture. Certainly it’s likely the case that far more in-depth analyses on the specific subject of Indigenous Coyote & Roadrunner myths being retold in American Culture for profit have already been written and just haven’t been come across yet – this essay is the result of what can be gleaned from the sources cited below.

    In conclusion, Indigenous Mythology and folklore heavily influenced Modern American Culture in ways that are often not apparent (in some cases – denied), and continues to influence popular culture to this day in ways that have caused the original stories to become inseparable from contemporaneous culture. In this essay, popular cartoon characters that are iconic in American culture, including Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner, from Looney Tunes and Warner Bros. Studios, were be shown to have Indigenous Influences that are not readily apparent. This was be done by analyzing the industry, discussing the concept of an American Cartoon, discussing the cartoon characters personalities themselves, and then an analysis of Indigenous myths that discuss the same animals were covered. There are many times in this essay that further investigation was indicated as needed and should at least serve as a basic point of reference for one to continue looking for what it is that they want.

    Works cited

    Beck, Jerry. Friedwald, Bill. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. New York. Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1989.

    Beck, Jerry. Looney Tunes: The Ultimate Visual Guide. New York. DK Publishing, Inc., 2003.

    Benedict, Ruth. Tales of the Cochiti Indians. Washington. United States Government Printing Office, 1931.

    Erdoes, Richard. American Indian Myths and Legends : Coyote Kills the Giant (Flathead), pp. 223-225, Coyote Gets Rich Off the White Man (White Mountain Apache), pp. 369-371, Coyote Steals the Sun and the Moon (Zuni), pp. 140-143, The Bluebird and Coyote (Pima), pp. 346-347. New York, Pantheon Books, 1984.

    Jones, Chuck. Chuck Amuck: the life and times of an animated cartoonist. New York. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1989.

    Korte, Steve. What Is the Story of Looney Tunes? New York. Penguin Workshop, 2020.

    Maxon, Martha Anne. The Real Roadrunner. Norman. The University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

    “Out and Out Rout.” Merrie Melodies, created by Rudy Larriva, Warner Bros., 29 January 1966.

    “The Solid Tin Coyote.” Merrie Melodies, created by Rudy Larriva, Warner Bros., 19 February 1966.

    Viera, Mark A.. Warner Bros. 100 Years of Storytelling. China. Running Press, 2023.

  • Tradition

    Characters that are represented traditionally in Native American texts imply a sense of direction and clarity in understanding the connection to the reader, where nontradtional characters do not convey the same level of understanding to the reader, at least immediately. A character that’s chosen a traditional path is seen in Anna Lee Walters’, “The Warriors”, where Uncle Ralph claims to follow a more traditional Native American path in passing his Oral Tradition to his nieces. A character that’s chosen a nontradtional path is found in Louise Erdrich’s, “Love Medicine”, where we see Beverly Lamartine living out the life of a salesman, off the reservation, that doesn’t really do much to convey a sense of direction as is seen in his eventual return to the reservation in order to pursue his brothers widow, Lulu Nanapush, and his presumed child, Henry Junior.

    The result of Beverly’s choices lead him out of the reservation as he served, “a small town world of earnest dreamers,” which is to say a lot of people that didn’t need too much convincing to part with their money (Erdrich 106). In serving these types of folks, Beverly often dreamed often of returning to the reservation and the chapter, “Lulu’s boys” seemed quite dedicated to him having worked through an internally rehearsed sales pitch to Lulu, only for it to end with him staying there a while as he became another one of “Lulu’s boys”. Beverly’s lack of engagement in traditional Native American culture throughout his life that was shared with the reader resulted in him living a life of dreams and regrets that ultimately brought him back to his “home”, where he found in Lulu and her children. This home was set to be replaced with a factory later in the story, but for a time this information didn’t come up. In this case, it was the nontraditional lifestyle that both lead him away and right back to one that was a bit more traditional as he returned.

    Contrasting this, in Walters’ “The Warriors”, Uncle Ralph never really seemed to have a place for himself in a home. In fact, he died homeless as the story tells, “It never occurred to Sister and me that this would be Uncle Ralph’s end (Walters 396),” on referring to hobos. Ralph is depicted as coming to the girls’ home and telling many oral stories of a traditional Pawnee culture that both inspired and impressed upon the nieces a traditional lifestyle. This endowed them with a sense of history and identity that was not exactly in line with the events that actually happened in the story. Through the story, Uncle Ralph is shown sliding further and further into a self destructive pattern that pushes him to alcoholism, poverty and homelessness.

    This happened as he more strongly embraced what was perceived by him to be a traditional lifestyle where it’s written, “I bring food, The warrior brings home food. To his family, to his people.” His face was lined and had not been cleaned for days. He smelled of cheap wine (Walters 402).” He did this because he perceived himself to be fulfilling a traditional Pawnee role per his own interpretations. This dis-associative event continues in that Uncle Ralph’s clearly displaying a detachment from reality that appeared to be fueled by a personal identity crisis that he masked with alcohol usage in order to cope with it. Later Uncle Ralph claimed, “I have thousands of warriors and they’ll ride with me. We’ll get our bows and arrows. Then we’ll come back!”, as the man sadly displays a psychosis that puts him straddling a traditional world that no longer existed which he so yearned for and the nontraditional one he was faced with the reality of living in (Walters 403).

    In conclusion, characters that are represented traditionally in Native American texts imply a sense of direction and clarity in understanding the connection to the reader, where nontradtional characters do not convey the same level of understanding to the reader, at least immediately. Uncle Ralph’s oral traditions in describing the Pawnee people were very understandable, whereas Beverly Lamartine’s Indigenous traditions were not as readily discernible, and it was in his pursuit of those values after perceiving that he’d lost some grip on them that lead him to his home with Lulu. In this case, it was Beverly’s seeking out of a connection with tradition that gave him a sense of direction, whereas in the case of Uncle Ralph it was his connection to tradition that lead him to inspire the sense of direction and identity in his nieces, despite his own apparent loss in it. Much of this direction is spread through the usage of Oral Tradition in order to assist folks in understanding the tradition.

    Works Cited

    Erdrich, Louise. Love Medicine a Novel. Harper Perrenial, 2009.

    Purdy, John L. Nothing But the Truth: The Warriors. Walters, Anna Lee. Prentice Hall, 2001.

  • Relocation and Urbanization

    European, and later American, displacement of Indigenous people has since transformed into an urbanization which empowered coordinated efforts of Urban Indians to influence Modern American (and global) Politics. This success scenario is practiced by many previously displaced groups of people and is particularly successful with more than one other displaced community whose Suburban efforts are coordinated by Urban upper classes that provision and guide the local townships and cities in fostering growth. The story of the American Urban Indian began with a displacement, followed then by an admission that the land was originally owned by its original Indigenous inhabitants. This lead to a brutal allotment process that further divided this culture with no representative central authority. These people had no system in place by which to exchange this commodity (land), or utilize it through coordinated efforts, leaving many lone Indians to tend to land they were sorely equipped to maintain alone.

    In his “The Outrage of Allotment”, Dewitt Clinton Duncan claimed, “What am I to do? I have a piece of property that doesn’t support me, and is not worth a cent to me, under the same inexorable, cruel provisions of the Curtis law that swept away our treaties, our system of nationality, our every existence, and wrested out of our possession our vast territory. . . .,” where he outright declares the effects of acts of the United States government which he claims dismantled all preexisting agreements that he’d grown to rely on during his life (“Hearts on the Ground: The Outrage of Allotment.” Native American Testimony, Penguin Books, 1999, Page 266). Under these previous agreements, he indicates he was able to farm on a larger plot of land. There’s a lot of context that’s missing from this short passage, specifically why Duncan was not able to subsist on 60 acres is left unanswered (For reference, an average plot for various Roman/European peasants was generally less than a quarter of this).

    In his testimony, Dewitt Clinton Duncan indicates that escalating debts that were assumed by him lead to his plight – something that very often not all the mismanaged land in the world can generally get folks out of feeling the effects of. Of note here is that if one were to accidentally write, “Curtis Law” (as written), instead of “Curtis Act”, into Google (or literally any search engine), you’ll see the inherent bias to further neglect an Indigenous culture in an attempt to hide the history under dozens of the same type of institutions that Duncan was referring to in his testimony as corporate law firms displaying smiling white people come up at the top of the results and not much else.

    Duncan’s referring to the replacement of tribal law with United States federal law through the Curtis Act, which ensured that Indigenous folks whom were over-leveraged and heavily in debt would’ve had their collateral turned over through the use of collection agencies performing business in the United States. This is in opposition to having a different solution which presumably would have been found in the effectively de-personed Tribal Courts. Understood, but not discussed here, were the political motivations behind the expansion being predominantly a response to wars with the British Empire, the Spanish Empire and Mexico; many of which were paid for in land deals in exchange for that which was needed to pay for coming out ahead as a nation from these wars. Acts such as the Curtis Act, and processes such as allotment set the stage for the urbanization that followed this and many other stories just like it, as the preceding generation was left without ancestral homes or lands to grow up at.

    As great example of the fallout of urbanization, Tommy Orange in his, “There There”, describes one relatable result of losing tribal and familial lands. Orange conveys the impression that Indigenous folks had the assumption of a sort of sentencing to death, on first living in cities. He conveys a message that North American Indigenous folks found their assimilation in embracing American urban life to be empowering. Orange writes of the initial fear and apprehensiveness, “Getting us to cities was supposed to be the final, necessary step in our assimilation, absorption, erasure, the completion of a five-hundred-year-old genocidal campaign. But the city made us new, and we made it ours. We didn’t get lost amid the sprawl of tall buildings, the stream of anonymous masses, the ceaseless din of traffic. We found one another, started up Indian Centers, brought out our families and powwows, our dances, our songs, our beadwork. (There There, Vintage Books, 2018, Page 8).” Orange is describing the pivot in Indigenous culture that became part of it in its entrainment in a larger American culture. He describes power being found in doing this, and sees a continuation of the beliefs that were inherent to the past generation prior to the change. He makes an important point in differentiating this adaptation to a different lifestyle as something that has less to do with persistence and resolve.

    In showing this, Orange writes, “The wound that was made when white people came and took all that they took has never healed. An unattended would gets infected. Becomes a new kind of wound like the history of what actually happened became a new kind history. All these stories that we haven’t been telling all this time, that we haven’t been listening to, are just part of what we need to heal. Not that we’re broken. And don’t make the mistake of calling us resilient. To not have been destroyed, to not have given up, to have survived, is no badge of honor. Would you can an attempted murder victim resilient?” (There There, Vintage Books, 2018, Page 137). What he means here is that the taking of the land damaged these people in a way that Orange can only describe in metaphors, and their continued existence isn’t some cheap byproduct of their strength of character, more that it’s something more on a shared cultural level that continues to empower these people as they further adapt American lifestyles, politics and cultures to their own needs. In doing so, a resurgence in cultural representation, political power and actual people with Indigenous backgrounds become a daily part of American life.

    In conclusion, there are two topics here in this paper, one is where Indigenous people were brutalized to feed wars that never really stopped and continue taking from people to this very day. This process typically results in the relocation of people into larger cities where facilitation of them can continue due to the broad amount of resources that are in cities by design. The second topic is that this urbanization process is not unique to the Indigenous people of North America and has been very successful in transferring wealth from people to the coordinated war machine that seeks to pursue an ever-expanding empire to this day where, “The West”, now is representative of an increasingly expanding population base. In exchange for the loss suffered when European, and later American politics, forced a displacement of Indigenous people, an urbanization effort which empowered coordinated efforts of Urban Indians to influence Modern American (and global) Politics and their local tribes has grown in the intervening ~200 years. As this process continues this trend, American Indians will become more prevalent in the American culture.

    Works cited

    Nabokov, Peter. Native American Testimony, Hearts on the Ground, The Outrage of Allotment, Dewitt Clinton Duncan, Cherokee. Penguin Books. 1999.

    Orange, Tommy. There There. Vintage Books. 2018

  • Nature and Divinity in Myths and Stories Through Applied Skilled Work

    Throughout the last few thousand years, spiritual beliefs have been expressed through myths and stories in order to explain the natural world and to provide an outlet to express the Divinity felt in consideration of a particular topic or belief. Methods of story telling through skilled crafting are employed that interconnect and overlap with different belief systems while simultaneously being able to communicate a level of sublimity through the work created. This is the case in architecture whereby building styles are carefully selected and designed to display dominant cultural and spiritual values. A reason for doing this is that individual cultures can establish social, religious and artistic paradigms in which beliefs are conveyed to both perpetuate the local culture as well as expand the relative influence over those who don’t currently share an identical set of beliefs. This dominance of the perceived sacredness and divinity that a group of folks will have is often seen as an expansion of their belief system as it becomes incorporated into a growing cultural framework.

    In the same way that architecture is an example of skilled work one can express perceived divinity in nature, various decisions must be made in order to complete this type of work and projects. Considerations regarding raw material suppliers, aesthetic choices, building regulations as well as the people to perform the labor are all Modern examples of moments where decisions must be made in building architecture in order to select a desired outcome. To make the choices, it’s not possible to neglect the impact of a divine guidance in answering these questions and others not listed here if the intention is to create a complete object. In the same way that some trees won’t naturally grow on sand, nor will some buildings naturally remain standing on the same sand; therefore, skilled labor such as selection mechanisms and architecture have come to be some of the most powerful tools in this arsenal in the continued venture to tame and tend this universe. The proper use of these tools demands that grace flow through the crafters so that the underlying divinity inherent to the specific work might manifest itself, rather than for simply satisfying a need egregiously declared to be immediately needing a solution.

    Architecture is a good example of a skilled craft through which people may express their appreciation for divinity, because it’s a process that requires them to select a particular building style and then combine this with their creative efforts to produce tools and structures. Work such as this can show that the same level of aptitude that allows folks to express themselves spiritually, while simultaneously respecting the environment in which they live in as their common home, provided the proper selection mechanisms are in place. Divinity which was originally exclusively seen as a part of nature and animals and mankind has expanded to incorporate being seen in the tools that people create through extension of the divinity implicit in themselves that’s interconnected with the divinity in nature.

    This incorporation of divinity in skilled work has lead to a more modern outlook beyond simple re-purposing of nature for immediate individual efforts and has moved toward creating that which is to become natural – power that was originally attributed to higher deities such as God in Christianity or otherwise wholly represented in action through Nature. This disruption in nature has shaped modern viewpoints in recognizing divinity and interconnectedness as natural landscapes have given way to city-scapes that are just as breathtaking and in many ways have become natural through the rigorous incorporation of appreciated and identified divinity in skilled work. Nature, having previously provided tree cover or caves as shelter, is observed yielding to people as the honing of the human mind has further enabled the directed application of the raw materials from nature to make increasingly complex architecture.

    John Ruskin, in his, “The Nature of Gothic”, conveys an assertion that proper work wouldn’t follow suit in making, “a tool of a man”, and says, “You must either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make both. Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions” (“The Nature of Gothic: Savageness.” The Stones of Venice, Ballantyne Press, 1900, Page 11, Section 12). He further writes on the division of labor, “It is not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided; but the men :- Divided into mere segments of men-broken into small fragments and crumbs of life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left in a man is not enough to make a pin or the head of a nail.” (“The Nature of Gothic: Savageness.” The Stones of Venice, Ballantyne Press, 1900, Page 14-15, Section 16). This means that the division of labor in this Modern society has been applied in such a way as to enable final products to arrive into the hands of the consumer in an incomplete state. This is a state that’s often functionally equivalent, but lacks in the touches that’d otherwise indicate the object was subject to the learned hand of one who was endowed with the cultural and spiritual values requisite to spur the demand for the object in the first place (as opposed to a machine).

    Ruskin further elucidates that this form of creation cheapens both the worker and the builder, and the implication is that the cost of this loss is materialized as increasing corporate profits that have pilfered much from these Divine characteristics as the worker becomes more of a tool than even Ruskin would have been familiar with. Ruskin discusses decoration that’s the most aesthetic characteristic of Gothic Architecture in distinguishing the architecture itself as separate from the Gothic decoration in the very same building. This indicates that this imbuing is a step beyond simply constructing a structure, an integral step that’s invariably intermixed in the buildings structure, that becomes a way to grade the work. He writes, “Foliation, while it is the most distinctive and peculiar, is also the easiest method of decoration which Gothic architecture possesses … yet a builder without imagination at all, or any other faculty of design, can produce some effect upon the mass of his work by merely covering it with foolish foliation”. (“The Nature of Gothic: Savageness.” The Stones of Venice, Ballantyne Press, 1900, Page 72, Section 99).

    Ruskin is saying the result of not imbuing the skill into the work, and as a result, leaves one person thinking and another person building is to provide people with work that cannot, by the nature of the arrangement, express that which is divine. Although the work may yield just as powerful outputs, unless one were to reconsider that which is actually divine and then reassess the current output of the process, Ruskin would still find it lacking integrity. His reference to, “any other faculty of design”, could be considered in the light of corporate monetary profits. There, the typical architectural ornaments one could easily see a respect for nature and the divine; instead, lie unadorned from many Modern buildings as the work needed to keep up with an unrestrained growth in scientific power (indicating the power of the mind) has lead to more demands for basic housing rather than needs for a high quality of life.

    John Ruskin goes to far greater lengths and with much better wording than can be deployed here to provide an overbearing analysis of Gothic Architecture that incorporates much of the cultural and spiritual values that he saw at work in the style. While in no way could Ruskin’s chapter of a book even hope to be satisfactorily summarized here, the specific aspect of the book that I’d like to discuss is in line with his sections on describing the nature of skilled labor and its role in society, as well as a very specific interpretation of the grace that flows through the hands of workers in incorporation of the foliation present in Gothic architecture as discussed in his chapter. Per Ruskin, this dilution of capacity has lead to folks no longer being able to communicate or otherwise express the divinity, power and beauty they’d see in their work, that they’d’ve otherwise imbued in their work as a way to pass along the grace with which they might express that there is something greater than the individual that interconnects their creation to nature or a divine force.

    It’s on this force’s behalf that the builder wields their knowledge that passes through their hands by a matter of considered selection, rather than creation for the sake of itself and its creators immediate needs. Doing this allows a worker to imbue properties understood of this interconnected whole into the work that’s performed. In making perceived divinity purchasable for a price, while simultaneously selling that which is without it for less, a selection mechanism has been applied to cultures this system operates inside of. An example of this selection mechanism impacting values can be those found in spiritual beliefs of Indigenous folks who were accustomed to them. The beliefs of both cultures, Indigenous and Western, are seen to be in decay as they slowly return to nature in Linda Hogan’s, “Power”.

    Linda Hogan spent a fair amount of time in describing the homes in which both Ama and Omishto live in. Hogan opens describing Ama’s home as appearing, “..raw and abandoned, but it isn’t; Ama lives in the rickety thing. The place sits on cinder blocks in case of flooding. It’s a square, simple house, gray-looking, with a porch that wraps around one side. She uses palmetto fronds on the roof to keep the place cool, so it looks something like a hut sitting in the shadows of a jungle, even though it’s close to civilization.” (“Power”. W. W. Norton & Company, 1998, Pages 5-6). She continues to describe in further detail how this home appears to have blended in with the nature that it’s surrounded by, representing a sort of border between Modern Western civilization and the idea of a fading Taiga society that both women are a part of. The indication from the way this was written is that Hogan is trying to express that Ama adapts the architecture of the home, originally a part of Western civilization, to her own spiritual beliefs that were a combination of both Taiga and Western beliefs. It’s not that the forest simply took over the home, Hogan wrote that Ama took part in making it appear this way. More in depth, the lack of an appreciation for the Western architecture that the home was originally built with shows the inherent disconnect in the beliefs. By extension, she implies that Western culture has some ability to facilitate the Taiga belief system, like a substrate; however, later in the story Ama abandons this home, and it then is lived in by Omishto.

    The home is used as a literary tool to describe more subtle points of the characters personalities. The architectural adornments that were part of the home became part of the integral structure of the home, as Hogan indicated that there was some utility to using parts of nature to fix the home (fronds). The description of Ama’s home when Omishto was living in it use such lines as, “You would think it is only an abandoned building, the plants already reaching up after the storm, in a slow crawl. He sees subdivisions. I see life. He knows the cost of things, but not their value.” (“Power”. W. W. Norton & Company, 1998, Page 196). The value Hogan writes of is the same value that Ruskin writes of, which is the spiritual value inherent to the decorations of architecture. In the same way Ruskin wrote, “The system, then, of what is called Foliation, whether simple, as in the cusped arch, or complicated, as in tracery, rose out of this love of leafage ; not that the form of the arch is intended to imitate a leaf, but to be invested with the same characters of beauty which the designer had discovered in the leaf.” (“The Nature of Gothic: Savageness.” The Stones of Venice, Ballantyne Press, 1900, Page 69, Section 95), Hogan is describing what Omishto and Ama see in nature that is divine value in the home that they shared. This was expressed in the skilled work of both women acting to tend to the structure in a way that invested aspects of their spiritual beliefs in nature and the divine.

    Another aspect relating to the skilled work on the architecture of the home was that the cat was not placed in them home on its death. This indicates an implied inherent hostility in the building toward that which is divine in Taiga culture, despite the skilled work that went into making the home have “value”. For the cat, an unknown burial plot was presumably chosen instead. The reader can surmise that Ama was not of the opinion that it was Western culture that was to be the burial place of her culture, and by extension, it will not be in Western culture that her spiritual beliefs will be found embedded. It’s left to assumption, what happened with the cat. Its not the property, which is implied to have eyes looking put from it, but instead the forest, indicating a hierarchy of sacredness that places the home (A tool of people made of skilled craft work) below the forest.

    This sends a message that something harrowing and divine may have happened while Omishto slept, as the true story of the remnants of the cat are left to the reader to guess. A mythological aspect here is that because nobody but Ama knows what truly happened to the cat, its representation of cultural beliefs are also left open to interpretation and in doing so empowers the reader to see the cat where ever logic might apply its presence. By extension the presented Taiga beliefs, the implication is that the sacred presence is instead felt in the same interconnected presence that the story opens with in describing something peering out from the woods. The cat may even have simply been left to “come alive” elsewhere due to the divine nature in which the hunt ensued and the mythological aspect of the cat itself. This is at the cost of diminishing the importance of the home, the structure, its framework and adornments, in order to attribute this mythological aspect to nature. This “cost” is the same that’s paid as the home is a “segment” of architecture that couldn’t possibly be a sacred enough place, due to “other faculties of design” (per Ruskin) that make it not an acceptable place to bury mythological animals at in this story.

    Hogan presents the Taiga people in her story on power, whose general rejection of Western culture deem Ama’s home incapable of hosting something sacred and divine such as the embodiment of decaying cultural values she indicates in writing of the status of the cat at its moment of death as, “bony, lying on the ground with gray-looking fur and a wide, bony rib cage.” (“Power”. W. W. Norton & Company, 1998, Page 66). What she presents is actually two cultures that she indicates to be decaying, Western and Taiga. She does this by the plain descriptions of what was once lively architecture that had become rich with the embodiment of nature through the grace of Ama, where the home is instead being reclaimed by nature as opposed to standing apart from it. What then, is required for such a thing to be done as to have a return to sacredness and sublimity such that there could exist such a situation that the dead animals (horse and cat) remain buried, or otherwise sufficiently respectable so as to be in a state of death as to be proudly displayed before ones ancestors and elders? Other tools of human civilization may be at play for acts such as this, as I’ll cover now with Charles Darwin’s selection mechanisms.

    In putting the very broad category of architecture aside, there’ve been other examples of skilled work being used by folks. The application of selection methods, essentially where one thing happens and another does not, by the decision of another thing, have been applied by Nature, and through it the Divine, throughout the majority of human history here on Earth. Charles Darwin, in his, “Origin of Species”, describes Natural Selection methods that’ve been applied by nature before and into the Modern era. This mechanism has shaped the massive amount of biodiversity and richness in variation that’s often reported as disappearing in this Modern age. This is, in part, due to the growing stature of humans as a species who’re coming to overshadow nature in such a way as to become its Shepard as their shared vision moves toward the cosmos and beyond Earth. In doing so, skilled work such as applying increasingly powerful selection mechanisms are being utilized in order to direct the actions of whole societies of people in such a way as to operate as an interconnected whole.

    Darwin describes “Social Selection”, when he says, “In social animals it will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the community; if each in consequence profits by the selected change,” on explaining Natural Selection. (“Origin of Species”. ElecBook, 2000, Page 85). It’s this growing body of knowledge composed of emerging selection mechanisms (based in science and political opinion) that lead to a more modern understanding of selection mechanisms that are designed by people to mimic effects previously caused by Nature. Reflected in all the cited work of this essay is that a misapplication of variously applied Social Selection mechanisms generally tend to result in a perceived elimination of the same level of variety (in species, culture, language, most things) that folks enjoyed even as recently as a few hundred years ago.

    The recognition of this has lead toward a push for social harmonization across otherwise disconnected countries that are now all physically interconnected under a “technocracy” (Per Pope Francis – discussed momentarily). Unprecedented growth in science has lead to a commensurate growth in the relative power of applied Social Selection mechanisms. These mechanisms have had a rough inception (~200 years) that reportedly reduced quite heavily diversity across all aspects of life, and nature, in its pursuit to manifest the same level of interconnectedness that had been since forever been perceived in nature.

    This Social Selection tool sets the bar for the level of interconnectedness that one may experience in their particular interaction with any specific thing, be it an object like a home, or a concept like taxes, or a device like a computer. The mechanism empowers one to ask, what home? Or, taxes for what, imposed by whom? Or, what site or program, in the case of a computer? These mechanisms require skilled labor to apply them correctly. John Ruskin writes, “… but if you ask him to think about any of those forms, to consider if he cannot find any better in his own head, he stops ; his execution becomes hesitating ; he thinks, and ten to one he thinks wrong ; ten to one he makes a mistake in the first touch he gives to his work as a thinking being. But you have made a man of him for all that. He was only a machine before, an animated tool.” (“The Nature of Gothic: Savageness.” The Stones of Venice, Ballantyne Press, 1900, Page 11, Section 11). This means that with the newly found capacity to apply powerful Social Selection mechanisms (which are highly susceptible to the cultural values inherent to the underlying civilization that produces them) have recently (~200 years) been applied to the individual in such a way as to produce a desired effect that has been wrong at the cost of empowering people to understand this newly applicable mechanism.

    The application of skilled labor through these mechanisms have serious risks for misapplication. It’s become apparent as inhumane perpetuity’s continue become the status quo across the world. What’s called modern society continues to further separate into an increasingly less-populated yet ever-growing-in-power class of people, from an increasingly larger and ever-so-persistently-poor class of individuals in which this perceived differentiation and variation built by nature is perceived to be under threat of being crushed under the growing weight of this technocratic oligarchy that works to interconnect and tend to all people at the cost of the displacement of the natural environment they lived in. This tending to has been met with little regard for the cultural values of the societies that’ve been dominated. It’s generally left a society with less resources, less ability to be a unified culture, and less touch with divinity and nature than ever before. With the ability to tend to themselves being suppressed, the reliance on satisfying the interconnected needs of different cultures it displaces becomes more important with every additional increase in the magnitude of power of the technocracy.

    Needs for divinity and nature are being replaced with a growing need for simpler things like a growing requirement for basic food and shelter. The growing technocracy has both empowered and enslaved human civilization to a paradigm whose power dwarfs Nature in such a way as to both enshrine them to better respect their place in the universe, and also allow them to further define it. This has come with the recognition that the perceived continued abuse of our shared home (Earth) in this growth in power is an unacceptable behavior that’s built largely on a misappropriation that conflates that which is sacred and divine with that which is powerful. Pope Francis, in his, “Laudato Si’”, writes, “Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well”. (“Laudato Si’.”, The Holy See, 2015, Page 62, Chapter 5, Article 200). What he’s saying here is that through the “great motivations” and “compass” one finds in seeing Divinity and Nature and respecting its interconnectedness, one can find the solutions to the greater perceived problems faced in this Modern world, and not without them and only instead with science that can only offer power.

    “Laudato Si’”, is a sobering and powerful analysis of the application of the tools of human civilization, addressed to all reasonable people and in it the Pope calls for a wonderful return to Divinity by making a case that the continued elimination of variety, grace and culture in this age is due largely to a technocratic oligarchy coming into power that has displaced these. It’s quite an important piece of literature that covers material related to the perceived place of mankind in relation to their current place in Modern times. Francis writes, “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?”. (“Laudato Si’.”, The Holy See, 2015, Page 18, Chapter 1, Article 57). He is stressing the dire urgency to swiftly address eroding cultural and spiritual beliefs so pervasive in Modern societies.

    He urges action to reassess the mechanisms by which this nascent technocratic power structure imposes itself on society. This means that the “selection mechanisms” have displaced folks in the inception period of this oligarchy, and the situation demands an immediate remediation. The Pope calls for grace and an empowerment of those who stand to become under-represented in this new structure that imposes powerful Social Selection mechanisms. He urges that human life be valued for more than what it has been recently, and requests for a return of value in a manner sympathetic to a church that previously Shepherded a large chunk of the world through the last few thousand years without it.

    The loss of this power that the Pope calls for would simply cause it to be found elsewhere. For example, Pope Francis later writes, “If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything.” (“Laudato Si’.”, The Holy See, 2015, Page 36, Chapter 2, Article 113). What he means in saying this is that the skilled work that goes into architecture that otherwise reflects the spirit of an age has instead yielded to a bleak outlook that produces very repetitive and inadequate results. He’s underwhelmed with the performance that’s provided barely even basic living requirements in this new technological paradigm and is asking that the buildings (and by extension all skilled work) be adorned with characteristics that reflect a spirituality that he speaks much of in the rest of the Encyclical.

    In tying these cited works together by first returning to Hogan’s, “Power”, in neglecting to describe the recognition of power in architecture in the buildings that were discussed in her story, she confirms that there seems to be a distinct lack of hospitality for spiritual awareness and sacred cultural beliefs and happenings in the design or setting of the Western culture presented. It was only Ama’s home that had “value”. Ruskin portrays a style of building that incorporates culture, accentuates spirituality and has room to reflect not just the spiritual beliefs of one society but instead allows the divine to manifest and blend seamlessly with the actual framework of the building through the Gothic Architecture style as it interconnects the building with the spiritual values. This shows the concept that it’s the beliefs are what comes with the skilled work. In their separation, authors like Hogan observe decaying spiritual belief systems which have no capacity within this dominant scientific system to persist in continuation with the beliefs of the Taiga people. No form of hospitality is offered, leading to total and complete abandonment of the spiritual beliefs which degrade in much in the same way Ama abandoned her home. Thoughts such as this are echoed by Pope Francis, who says that this “value” (and more) is sold off to further empower a growing technocracy that’s also then afforded much more power for itself at the expense of the loss in vital representation of those people who are displaced and are attributed with the variety and biodiversity of this system by all these authors.

    With so much effort in continuing on the path of taking the skill out of labor, turning its lack of cost paid into corporate profits, where goods are sold for the same price, inflicts a degradation to the quality of work and spiritual understanding of the human that produces the work. This perpetuated captivity in electing this technocracy as Shepards in this Modern era will continue for as long as there’s a perceived absence of divinity, nature and interconnectedness in its outputs that’re observed in the quality of life of all humans on the Earth. The variation that in work has been replaced with monotony in order to pay for this luxurious squandering. This cheapens individual efforts, in likening them to tools, no different than an animal or logical system that thrives on calculable inputs in order to produce planned and selected outputs. Offing this skilled work at the individual level has enabled a societal selection mechanism to direct the efforts of entire groups of people so that they may continue to live in the face of calls for their reduction in number due to perceived unaffordable burdens in continuing their existence.

    Ruskin indicates that this loss of skill in becoming a tool is the case for an individual, but fails to make a plausible case for this being symptomatic of a degraded society. Pope Francis indicates that this is a problem, defines the actors, scope and those affected quite well. He claims the cost being paid is a loss in grace manifesting as dehumanization, which creates a loss of cultural and spiritual diversity. Ruskin’s, “Mere segments of men”, – the fractured skill sets Ruskin describes intermixed with Darwin’s explanation for different species inter-working with each other indicates that in the Modern age, failing to work together to create this system causes Authors like Linda Hogan to then go on to describe, “Pieces of Architecture”, in their stories due to the very same cheapening the Pope discusses in “Laudato Si’”.

    Regardless, much of the work in the Modern age is much too broad of a topic that gets washed out in a sea of tangentially elusive information that usually only seems relevant while simultaneously being overabundant in supply. This generally excludes many folks from appreciating the skilled work that goes into so many things in the Modern age. It wasn’t until tens of thousands of years after humans made such a Gothic Architecture since they were building structures in the style, it certainly won’t be another hundred thousand years for something comparable to come about. In the general lack of depth, the cursory understanding vastly understates the sheer magnitude of depth of what goes into these applications.

    Masterful work took on a new guise in the Modern era. As folks moved away from architecture to things like various pharmaceutical concoctions, the specialization still comes with an almost sort of magical or divine feeling as it’s just so easy to forget that a few hundred years ago there were no simple looking solutions with which to inject oneself with, producing such expected results in the majority of cases. For example, you certainly wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a Vitamin B injection and Tirzepatide injection, even though their effects are quite different. While these look so similar, their context dwarfs even the greatest application of Gothic Architecture in their magnitude relating to exactly what the object has been imbued with. The level of Divine implementation is comparable the screaming of volcanoes to the ant that is the human capacity to understand as the roar is just so much louder than any single human was selected to have the capacity to understand. Generally, they don’t have the requisite machinery with which to even begin to fathom the level of complexity that goes into most things these Modern days, nor has this been afforded for them as the Pope so voraciously argues in, “Laudato Si’”.

    In conclusion, throughout much of history, human spiritual beliefs have been expressed through myths and stories in order to explain the natural world to express the Divinity felt. Methods such as skilled crafting through architecture and selection methods are employed that interconnect and overlap with different belief systems while simultaneously being able to express a level of sublimity in the work created. In the same way that some trees won’t grow on sand, nor will some buildings, skilled labor such as selection mechanisms and architecture have come to be some of the most powerful tools in the arsenal in the continued venture to tame and tend this universe by mankind. The four works cited in this essay cover much in the way of trying to express that it is through the grace of skilled craftsmanship that’s empowered by a spiritual regard for divinity in nature that enables the continuation of the skilled work in perpetuity, and not much else.

    Works cited (Check youtube for audio recordings too)

    Darwin, Charles. Origin of Species, Natural Selection. ElecBook. 2000.

    Francis. “Laudato Si’.” The Holy See, 18 June 2015, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa- francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

    Hogan, Linda. Power: A Novel. New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.

    Ruskin, John. Stones of Venice, The Nature of Gothic, William Morris.London, Ballantyne Press, 1900.

  • A Quick Note on Power

    In Linda Hogan’s, “Power”, the tribal court system judged Ama to be spiritually at fault and as such charged her with banishment. This was the punishment for seeking to gain spiritual power over her own tribe. To have concealed the tribe’s revealed weaknesses from them was a powerful act in itself, and the crime wasn’t necessarily as shallow as the other court (where she was found innocent) made it out to be. In this story, Ama acted with some sort of divine guidance with total disregard for her tribes wishes. She did this so that she may somehow protect her tribe from its own pride, so as to not be exposed to their diminished place in the world. This denial of spiritual understanding from her of the tribe was seen as a grievous offense in which Ama recklessly acted with intent to stifle the spirit of the tribe by concealing its sickly personification in the panther. Instead of engaging her tribe in facing this revelation together, she enabled the tribe to continue in their perceived self-destructive efforts without empowering an intervention. In doing so, Ama denied them their claimed right to even know this, further denying the tribe the ability to make the observation for themselves as to whether or not their actions had lead them down a path of ruin. This sabotage was seen as an unforgivable spiritual act, in that it empowered Ama to face and kill the weakness on behalf of and at the spiritual expense of the tribe. None of this is generally regarded as even being able to be judged at the spiritual level to an extent that is punishable here on Earth in a Judaeo-Christian belief system. In a Judaeo-Chrisitan belief system, the spiritual judgment is largely left for God in the afterlife for practicioners. This generally allows people to walk free during their life here on Earth historically, but to some extent this void has been filled with the legal system. Judaeo-Christian folks will readily believe that it’s God’s domain to judge one spiritually, but there still must be some form of dominion over the people transgressing and doing things that mostly nobody wants them to do here in this life. As such we’ve a legal system that’s a mixture of arbitrary and democratic laws. The book is making the fundamental statement that there’s no singular judgment day or judge in the belief system presented, as there is in Judaeo Christian beliefs. In its place is a human mechanism that does this. This relates to divinity because while both cultures and belief systems they follow undoubtedly see divinity in nature, the approach toward seeing it is very different in that divinity is a gift of God’s time who alone can judge what you personally did was right or wrong here, whereas in contrast to this it is the job of mortal human beings to pass spiritual judgments based on observed divine guidance in ones life here in the Indigenous belief system presented.

  • Poem (The Spirit Likes to Dress Up) and Deer’s Skull and Pedernal

    The painting, “Deer’s Skull and Pedernal”, by Georgia O’keefe, and the poem, Poem (the spirit likes to dress up), by Mary Oliver, are two pieces of art that show a level of spiritual awareness that indicate that both authors were spiritual people who were trying to show their spiritual beliefs in their work through the mythological and divine themes that they used. These relate to Nature and the Divine in Myth, Literature, and Art because as the progression and portrayal of every-day life continues in art, the constant awareness of how close one is to these topics can be seen in all facets of life. This essay will cover a brief synopsis of each work and then cross-examine the two in order to discuss how both authors share a unified theme that shows an interest in just how close divinity is to modern daily life.

    Georgia O’Keeffe’s, “Deer’s Skull and Pedernal”, is a work of art that relates to the context of this course. Depicted in it is a deer skull, appearing to be suspended from a tree. The skull features a prominent European Mounting display (even mounted on wood). This is possibly as an indication of the authors fascination with the particular style in which the skull could convey her intended message by capturing a European-oriented attentions that would be familiar with the popular style of mounting. It appears quite light in color, indicating it may have been bleached or further treated. It’s prominently displayed in the forefront of the scene, with a mountainous background showing the Cerro Pedernal mesa that’s so commonly found in O’keefe’s paintings. One of the three clouds sits on the change in horizon, cradled between a small branch and the tree trunk. Two of the points of the deer skull are touching the border of the painting, and only the middle of the tree shows up in the painting. Green land can be observed below the skull with a light pastel vibrancy.

    The skull is the only depiction of both animal and implied human life in the photo. The skull itself appears unnaturally affixed to the tree because nothing is observed affixing it to the tree. Two holes appear in the skull, as the supraorbital foramen holes appear to be lined up with the optic canal holes, which match the lighting of the sky background. It would be assumed that the tree would be underneath due to the positioning. The holes instead matching the lighting of the sky background show that the trunk does not pass solidly back there. This indicates that the tree itself may be connected by the deer skull, providing a bit of surrealism to the picture. Because the method by which the skull is associated with the tree is not apparent, it gives the impression that it’s also possible it’s floating there as depicted in her other works.

    The skull itself is just bone, there’s no remaining part of its owners skin or other bits left on the skull. It has six very symmetric points, indicating that the deer was not of an old age upon its death. At first glance, the skull may have been placed or hung on the tree by a hunter who would have presumably killed it (nothing else would have done this sort of hanging and preparing of the skull). On closer inspection the method by which it’s fastened to the tree is not apparent, providing more of a mythological feeling to the arrangement. The painting appears to be quite symmetrically oriented as the left part of the painting is quite similar and undifferentiated from the right side of the painting This shifts the focus on being in the middle of the painting in the same way the middle of the day is shown using shadows.

    There is duality expressed in the two points on the border, two branches leaving the page, and two parts of the tree above and below the head.

    The tree trunk appears to be branching in much the same way the deer’s antlers are, likening them to each other. The top of the painting is not the same as the bottom of the painting as was left and right. an impending doom is felt that may be in line for, or has already happened to, the nature depicted (in much the same way the bony head hangs from the tree). This feeling is justified because the painting indicates that the animal and nature are similar through their similar branching appearance. The skull at the forefront and the mountainous background also give some extraordinary depth to the painting, this implies that the unnatural is right in your face as it is much closer to you than the natural background. The shadows on the antlers indicate the sun is directly overhead, where the tree continues toward, and the deer head does not.

    In, Poem (the spirit likes to dress up), Mary Oliver provides a poem consisting of nine stanzas discussing the spiritual nature of the different physical parts of bodies of trees, people and the planet. The lines are offset slightly, with return to the left margin at the end of the stanza. In the first stanza, she says that the spirit is essentially wearing a meat suit and in this case indicates a spirit of a human wears this like clothes. In the second stanza where she mentions shoulders and all the rest, one can imagine the arms and trunk and neck that all seem to branch around that area, likening the human body to a tree’s body. She utilizes a duality of light and darkness, as is common to her poems, and likens the human to the black branches of a tree, showing a duality between nature (the tree and its branches) and humans, in the same way night and day are diametrically opposed to each other. This implication indicates that nature’s “spirit”, as well, wears clothes, in a way similar to humans.

    Oliver continues on in the third stanza, further expanding the scope from a human and a tree, to instead the world itself that wears “blue branches” of watery oceans on its surface. She then refers to the indicated “spirit of the world” and says that it could float (as one would imagine a spirit flying through the air, free of its physical body), but “decides” not to, for there was something else it wanted to do that she explains in the fourth stanza. There she says that the spirit of these discussed, required the body because otherwise the spirit is without substance and instead it speaks through metaphor by “wearing” parts of itself so as to better express its wishes to the universe. She speaks of a few examples of these “body” pieces as lime, appetite and oceanic fluids to further reiterate. In doing this, she was referring to different things that a spirit may wear so as to express itself in the explicit sense that the expression is made apparent for what it is supposed to be the metaphor of.

    In the sixth stanza she describes more things that she is declaring to be part of the “body’s world” including imagination, experiencing time and sweetness, tangibility and a declared need to be understood. Following this she says the line that implies that her perception of spirit here is, “pure light that burns where no one is”. She says that it is this component of light that comes to one in a morning, much like a dawn of the day starts with the sunrise, the life of a person starts with the light of spirit entering them and making their body (she refers to this as “plumb rough matter”). She closes the poem by saying that in darkness (at night), it’s this same spirit that’s as wonderful as a star. Meaning that which is currently unreachable still contains a mysterious depth to it that connects life and spirit in a divine way.

    Oliver is making an attempt to describe the spirit as a separate entity from the body in this poem and does so by making a lot of a metaphors, in this case likening the spirit to being as vast as a star. When combined with the realization that as a technicality all parts of all bodies are equivalent to matter made from stars (per scientific belief system), it’s about the same as saying that we’re surrounded by shooting stars and there is just as much inside of us to ponder or wish upon as there is outside of us to understand and the implication us very spiritual in nature. That there’s this type of implicit divinity taking place or at work as the body takes shape around the spirit. O’keefe implies this in her painting as well using more subtle techniques in relating the physical matter of the deer’s head to the tree behind it.

    On cross-examining the two works, the pure bone appearance in the painting indicates the “clothes” the deer used to dress up in have long since been removed, leaving the presence of the deer’s spirit to permeate the painting. In doing this, O’keefe empowers the observer to associate with what the deer means rather than allow one to observe it as some living thing that could have been more easily be related to at the cost of burying the meaning she was looking to express. The skull itself is distant from the natural background, possibly offering feelings of distance in ones modern life. An eery depiction of that which is left behind when the spirit and the body are no longer united bids the thought that, despite the spirit being gone, something from it has been left behind. Is it for something? Itself? Other spirits inhabiting other bodies? Has a part of the spirit been left behind?

    Much like Oliver writes of, “the dark hug of time”, this skull sits there in the broad daylight, as illuminated as ever, clearly having been hugged by more than enough time for itself. So much so that it no longer appears to be much affected by time, more that it has now happened to time, and they’ve managed to find some middle ground. What then, is left of time, with nothing left but a skull? This characteristic that Oliver writes so profoundly of as something that the universe would wear as if it were an item of clothing in which to better express itself has found itself holding no more power over this deer skull with a sort of permanence that one only finds in objects that time does not so much affect any more. This reinforces the mythological aspect of the painting and provides an effect that conveys a deeper spiritual meaning.

    In the painting, O’keefe paints a picture of a time between morning and night, and places the contents of the painting also in the middle of the painting. Oliver refers many times to dark and light, indicating night and day to be the same as this, while alluding the body being something the exists of both day and night. Cerro Pedernal contrasts the deer head well because both of these would appear to be unnatural at first glance, how on Earth could a deer’s head hang from a tree, and how on earth could such a large landmass appear to be so flat, if not but for human interaction (of course, the land itself was formed naturally, but this is more of a subtle fact based in science that wasn’t available until the last few hundred years).

    The portrayal indicates that there must be some sort of divine power at work that would’ve shaped the mountain, in much the same way that a human could’ve shaped the face of the tree. Furthermore, calling it the face of the tree indicates that possibly this is O’keefe’s idea behind what is left of the remnants of bodies, to then in turn become metaphors so that nature may express itself in much the same way Oliver indicates many different things that the spirit would express as a part of its body. Here, O’keefe likens the living tree to a dead animal’s skull by indicating that humans may utilize their mechanisms to empower nature in such a way as to cultivate nature through allowing it to express a metaphor in a way that allows its tending. This is done in much the same way they’d generally use parts of nature to tend to animals.

    The tree in O’keefe’s painting is also twisting, reminiscent of something unnatural which could’ve caused the tree to take on a slightly unnatural appearance . The line, “It could float, of course, but would rather plumb rough matter.”, is interesting in context of O’keefe’s painting because the skull itself is floating. Seeing the sky through the skull implies that the two holes, reminiscent of eyes, that a trace of the deer’s spirit lingers behind the two peepholes. It gives the impression of a freely floating spirit similar to wording in Oliver’s poem. Something mythical, the spirit, that has returned to or is a part of nature can be seen looking back, hauntingly, out of the the picture, through the eyes. The choice to make it sky colored indicate that it has this spiritual connotation, not just of the tree that is also present at the forefront.

    In conclusion, both of these works show divinity in nature by discussing simple aspects of normal modern life in subtle ways. Georgia O’keefe does this by portraying a hunted deer’s head eerily in front of a tree. Mary Oliver does this by trying to make the point that everything physical in relation to ones person is an adornment that the spirit living within those pieces uses to express itself, for all of the earth, nature, as well as people. Both artists incorporate Nature and the Divine in Myth, Literature, and Art because as the progression of every-day in united themes expressed in their work. Georgia O’keefe shows us a surreal and mythological aspect not normally associated with a hunted deer and Mary Oliver does this by likening aspects of the physical representation of an object to extensions of its associated spirit that leads the reader to respect the interconnectedness of a divine presence in all aspects of life.

  • The Lamb and Walden

    God, dominion, nature and their roles in an established hierarchy were common themes in many writings that American and English authors have shared for centuries. Unifying these themes are the Judaeo-Chrisitian religions that form the base for this hierarchy to be presented. In this essay, Henry Thoreau’s “Walden” as well as William Blake’s “The Lamb” will be cross examined to show that man is a part of this hierarchy by design and god exists at all parts of this hierarchy. The innate need to form a dominion over the another thing in the hierarchy establishes a circular chain of command in which one can’t say what the top of the hierarchy is, below God. This hierarchy includes animals, men, women, nature, God, Jesus and much more, but for the sake of discussion here it will be limited to these.

    Blake’s poem, “The Lamb”, viewed with the accompanying artwork is a piece of art designed to reflect a spiritual hierarchy among god, man, nature and animals. Depicted in the art is a farmer and a flock of sheep, he’s seen feeding a lamb by hand. There is a tree whose branches appear to have been trimmed unnaturally level as to indicate a place for the pastured herd to exist in. To their is right a barn which was likely built from the cleared trees from the land. Bordering the painting is the vine that interconnects and travels through much of Blake’s works. It conveys the interconnectedness of nature and by extension establishes this common theme in his works.

    The art portrayed lies on paper sharing a story written in English words, indicating some sort of duality. This counterbalances the poem in the same way the farmer feeds the sheep. In providing both, Blake is doing the feeding by making the art “digestible” by a reader through incorporating the suggestive words to accompany the art. In this way Blake equates the reader to an animal, who he is feeding and has come to his pasture through interest in the written word and he is the Shepard.

    Blake depicts a farm, farmer, barn, tree, plot of occupied and cleared land, a lamb, that which it is fed with by hand with and a flock of sheep. The presence of the lamb represents its role in domestication by the farmer, in order for it to become a sheep as part of the herd. The cleared field with overhanging tree has carved a space in nature for man to control his flock of sheep depicts control over the land as well as animals in this established hierarchy.

    With the trees no longer present in the cleared plot, a barn now stands to protect and cover the sheep. This shows that man’s domestication through cultivation of nature by rearranging and processing it in such a way provided and sustained many lambs into a herd of sheep. This forms a hierarchy where nature and animals are tended by humans, who in turn displace nature it to allow space for animals. Blake goes on to say that, “we are called by his name”, and in doing so he makes the statement that dominion through faith in God (The Lamb) reflects Christian morals inherent to the belief system. Because God (as man, Jesus, as animal, lamb, etc…) exists at all tiers of the hierarchy, one can see God everywhere. The implication here is that God is the force through which we are also interconnected in the same way the vine is observed surrounding the poem (as it trails off the same page it seemingly entered from).

    This contrasts Thoreau’s descriptions of simple sights in nature that described the human-like social interactions he observed while living at his home in the woods. In “Walden”, he opens with asking why is it that these species are the ones we have. Reflecting for a moment on Blake’s work, these animals one person would see in the forest would differ quite a bit from the other in the pasture. For the farmer, a species would exist because he feeds them. For Thoreau it would be something in nature (seen, or unseen) that would likely have come about in a very different manner. Some of the species we have are there because of the doing of man, who carved them a place in nature and cultivated them there. Thoreau is saying that nature also takes part in this process, more so than as resources for man to use to provide for herd animals.

    Thoreau writes, “the woodcock led her brood”. This observation is different from the one discussed in “The Lamb”. The poem implies that the person depicted, who is assumed to be the farmer, is also the one whom leads the herd. One story indicates that animals cultivate animals in the woods, the other story indicates that when not in the woods it’s the people that raise animals. The contrast here is that mankind is assuming a place that nature also took, by displacing it. The social interactions of the animals with each other decrease and are progressively replaced with the human for their social interactions as they live their lives.

    This interaction was further contrasted when Thoreau continued in saying that “the mother would then in turn circle the human in defense of her flock,” as if to indicate there is some natural predisposition to exhibit the behavior. These behaviors are minimized in the herd, the animal having known the human for their whole lives, and left without a mother for their tending to (as Thoreau also wrote of his chickens). As the tree was cut to make space for the herd in the poem, the naturally arising (growing) behaviors of animals are also tended to by the presence of mankind. The role of a mother is changed or minimized when faced with living as a herd, which appears to be lead by a masculine type in Blake’s picture (such as a Father would). This sets a general expectation of men and women in the authors individual societies. This tone is that while an individual or small group of youths may be raised by a mother, it’s the role of a Father to Shepard a herd. This is a very Christian viewpoint often repeated in much of Judaeo-Christian literature.

    Blake’s poem relates to Thoreau’s “Walden”, because both authors convey a theme for giving human characteristics to animals in their presented work. The authors indicate that God acts through the animals by implying their domestication, or are otherwise cultivated as one tends to a plant. Thoreau describes “these [animals] as [living] secret but free”, and reflects often of them not having seen man. Thoreau then goes on to relate the various social interactions he sees in the animals to human-like encounters, so that a reader might relate to the animals. This technique is shared by both authors.

    In some moments, Thoreau describes the animals as exhibiting traits more effectively than humans. He comments that he’d witnessed humans fighting more resolutely than he’d observed in human conflicts. In depicting these characteristics, Thoreau showed God at work by exemplifying the interconnectedness between humans and animals acting otherwise independently in nature despite the actions being relatively similar. In the story, animals are often observed as dominating or cultivating each other. This was seen when he wrote about the black and red ants fighting, and the mother bird and the young birds.

    In conclusion, both of these authors present work that reflects their religion. They convey that God is interconnected in all levels of a hierarchy that includes everything that was stated to have been created by God. These levels of hierarchy tend to displace each other for different reasons. In Blake’s poem, nature has been displaced to empower the tending of animals. In Thoreau’s story, he indicates that the social interactions that are naturally occurring tend to be displaced to empower the tending of animals. In doing so, these authors also liken themselves to the situation by implying that their writing is nurturing in the same way a farmer would tend their sheep. Blake does this by having a poem accompany his artwork. Thoreau implies that nature is also tasked with this cultivation of both man and animal, by his writing making the lives of forest animals so relatable. There are many other implications, comparisons and contrasts that can be made between these two works but there is only so much that can be covered in a short essay.

  • Creation/Vegetation myths and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

    Two selected works from reading this past week enshrine a contrast between spiritual belief systems found in European (Celtic) Paganism and Judaeo-Christianity and Indigenous North American Cheyenne Spirituality quite well. The Cheyenne Creation Myth, “The Great Medicine Dance,” and an anonymous story, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” offer a rugged disparity between the cultural values seen in various societies that bore rise to the individual stories such as creation myths. European multiculturalism, acting through Roman Catholicism, slowly enveloped all within its grasp. It overcame European (Celtic) Paganism and then later Indigenous North American Spirituality which came to be reflected in stories from the same Judaeo-Christian religion. The believers of these religions were slowly dominated by the insatiable need for growth often seen in Judaeo-Chrisitanities. This was to sustain itself across generations and assert itself towards the top of the prevailing religions worldwide.

    As beliefs became integrated into this religion, so too did the underlying cultures they originated from. Such is the requirement, then, to always reflect in some way the beliefs of those incorporated, as a requisite for this dominion over them. The Green Knight, by way of his Knightly and Christianity armor, and the Medicine Man by his admonishment of a token bull head required to perform a dance well enough to create. The token having come from the creator, as a message of power handed from a creator to the created, to usher his bidding on the world through dance. In much the way God had handed Moses tokens to make the “animals” follow his bidding, comparably the mission is a comparable token which was used to obtain power and dominion over the animals. This essay will cover differences and similarities that can be seen in these two stories that indicate that the cultures under the belief have varying opinions on women in society, romance between the sexes and physical tokens used in religious practices in relation to their perceived interaction with nature.

    Starting first with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, there were multiple symbolic items that represented power that Sir Gawain was equipped with, beyond his moral character. These were needed to fend for his life from the Green Knight. His shield, bearing a pentacle, was mentioned only one time in the reading, meanwhile the magnificent splendor of the rest of the garb he was adorned with was described multiple times.

    The passage in Part 2 Lines 491-1125 that describes this reads, “Ever faithful in five things, each in five fold manner, Gawain was reputed good and, like gold well refined, He was devoid of all villainy, every virtue displaying In the field. Thus this Entangle new He carried on coat and shield, As man of troth most true And knightly name annealed. It’s not typical for a knight to either display or have been said to display anything other than the correct crest here, which is different from the one he would be expected to bear on his own shield.” This passage even says quite directly that the crest is different than the one that a knight would typically bear. This was written this way in order to pander to the infidels for whom this story was intended to sway toward the Protestant faith. It captured their attention by using a commonly known symbol at the time. Like a dog whistle, the enshrinement of Pagan symbols in this literature will draw Pagans to reading this literature.

    Near the end of the story Gawain came to bear the green scarf, which was passed to him from the salacious Morgan Le Fay. This woman was revealed to be his aunt later in the story and she attempted to entice him into betraying the morals expected of a knight. These two items, along with others, served specific purposes in the story that appear to have been vastly under represented by the author in very much the same way the stories of exploring the countryside looking for the Green Chapel appear to have been vastly underrepresented. This deters the reader from associating the story with a pagan mindset, and is used as a literary device deployed to narrow ones scope to the story at hand.

    Had Sir Gawain not been equipped with that specific armor he would have had issues with the stories that were seemingly skipped over in this tale. Had the armor not been adorned extravagantly the reader might not have been enticed to read the story and imagine such riches. Had the pentacle not been affixed to his shield, how otherwise would a Pagan identify with the symbolism established in foregoing the normal crest that a knight would bear on their shield? Instead, it was forsaken with a Pagan symbol, this too is a literary tool designed to draw the Pagan attention. Had Sir Gawain not carried the scarf, then how would the Green Knight have come to know what the result was of his temptation by the woman? Items being required beyond ones moral character in order to confront a God, in this case the green man of the forest, are underrepresented in the story. This shifted the focus instead to be more on the Christian morals of Sir Gawain himself being pitted against the Pagan beliefs that he was confronted with.

    Two individuals including the lord of the forest, the earth, fertility as well as a mother, that which is representative of creation were revealed to be the mastermind behind the plot to tempt Sir Gawain with the Green Knight as her executor. Sir Gawain’s aunt controls nature by association of coordinating her efforts with the Green Knight in accordance with her real husband. In taking this role, she assumed the likeness of the mother of all God figurehead such as one would find in Indigenous North American creation myths, despite her motherhood or mother-like qualities not being explicitly mentioned in the story. Gawain sets a high bar to which one believer of the Christian faith could be held to, in regard to the moral considerations of taking another man’s wife to bed under Christianity. This story of temptation is just one such story of how one may live to uphold Christian values in the face of an unrelenting, Pagan world that this story would have been released into. It would have been prevalent in many people’s minds as the Christian belief system further encroached on daily life of folks that previously didn’t believe in it.

    This encroachment was fueled by absorbing Pagan Deities into Christian stories, so that a code of morals could be established for a nascent Christian who’ve come from a life time of Celtic (or any) Paganism, in this example. This is the root of the tendency for dominion inherent to the Judaeo-Christian religion because dominion is one of its tenets. This, in addition to following the commandments of God. This story was proliferated to convert pagans and to domesticate them at all costs available. In doing so, it must make the point that at its core, a man that follows such values is not a morally reprehensible person from the viewpoint of a Pagan. Inasmuch as one of their gods, the green man, here the Green Knight, was selected as a literary and cultural weapon to “test” a man of Christian faith and in turn find him worthy of living, but only when read from the viewpoint of a Pagan (or other sort of infidel).

    How a country such as Rome could conquer these nations or displace the various forms of Paganism rested implicitly in its ability first and foremost to convince the people, behind the warriors whose blood was spilled, that they were good people. This is requisite in most forms of conquering anything, and in instances where this is not possible, then force is used. The next generation is then told the stories their fathers and mothers were not left around to tell. Make no mistake here, that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is not so different than a Corps of warriors laying siege to an entire city. Stories such as this conquer just as much, but peacefully so, when peace can be had. It wasn’t just the Roman Catholics or the Church of England imposing its control on various European Pagans and the like. This conquering was followed by then conquering the Indigenous North Americans shortly thereafter.

    To summarize this discussion, the items Sir Gawain was equipped with were just as important as his moral character in accompanying him on his journey to find the Green Chapel and its Knight. This is important because much of Celtic Paganism just as Judaism just as Catholicism stress the importance of physical things and it’s more of a Protestant revelation that physical tokens are not as important as the unseen intention. Otherwise, explicitly mythical objects that generally escape human use. Therefore, to me, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a story that heavily directs the reader toward the Church of England, undergoing the Protestant reformation at the time. The tokens displayed in the story were downplayed to redirect the emphasis toward that which was worth money, the diamonds, the gold, the jewels, the women, the morals and more.

    These tokens were repeatedly mentioned in this story, and undoubtedly would have produced an endorphin rush for any a common infidel who’d imagine or think of the vast wealth these other tokens would come to represent. This rush would then be placed instead on the context of the story and, by extension, the very moral character of Sir Gawain himself after having passed “the test of the old gods”. In this case the Green Knight, acting on behalf of the representation of Mother Nature that one would find in Indigenous North American and various European Pagan myths. A story such as this would tend to supplement those stories and displace them slightly, rather than act directly by denouncing the different faiths that many of them held.

    An Indigenous story that contrasts the Pagan vs Christian theme shown in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is the creation myth of the Cheyenne people called, “The Great Medicine Dance”, where a token was needed to perform the sun dance correctly. In the Cheyenne story and many other Indigenous stories, items appear to take central roles, right along side animals in relative importance in telling the story to the reader as literary devices. I picked these two stories because of their staggeringly different approaches to the various spiritual concepts relating to the taking (or coveting) of other men’s wives, the usage of tokens among them, and the general representation of women and their approach of dominion over others.

    As a sharp contrast to Christianity, in The Great Medicine Dance, one can take the chiefs wife away on an adventure. While this was a noteworthy experience, it being forbidden or an act of wrongdoing was not discussed explicitly or implicitly in the story. This concept being introduced in this central creation story the Cheyenne assumed to be held dearest to their culture shows a very different mindset than the one portrayed in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Code of Chivalry is tied to the Christian commandment that a man may not take another man’s wife for it’s forbidden “to covet thy neighbors wife.” This concept was leveraged to entice the Celtic (European) Pagans away from their own belief system which was shard the North American Indigenous belief. Many pagan beliefs were oriented around a marriage that did not hinge on the monogamy as was perpetuated in Judaeo-Christianity to reinforce the belief. The idea follows that these massively influential societies and cultures existed previously without having followed creed such as found in Christian doctrines and were able to facilitate their societies despite this contrast.

    A token of a woman being taken on a journey as seen in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, when compared to having taken the woman herself on a journey as seen in The Great Medicine Dance are very different actions as well. In the first story, Morgan Le Fay offered a green scarf as testament to the fact that the man abstained from having coveted the woman herself. It was accepted under the extraordinary situation whereby special circumstances involving it lead directly to having saved his life. Were he not to have bore this, how different the story could have turned out. It was because he stopped at taking the scarf, that he was able to live and continue with his good life. On his return to King Arthur’s court, all knights there tied a green scarves to their arms. Opposing this, in the Cheyenne story, the woman and her effects went with the man on the journey and in doing so they brought the medicine dance to the people along with the mission. In doing this, the distinction is made clear that these two belief systems have wildly different understandings and feelings towards what two people can and should be doing together in this context that comes up regularly between people whom are romantically intertwined with each other.

    In the Cheyenne story, the chiefs wife didn’t give the medicine man a green scarf with which to perform his quests, she went right along with him as a counterpart to the story. In doing so they took part in creation, and in sharing the medicine dance itself, something tremendous from an imagined Cheyenne perspective. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the seemingly benign woman was represented as a good person who was able to spare her garments as a token stating that Sir Gawain was welcome to covet the woman otherwise. In another moment in the same story, she became some reprehensible thing in cahoots with his evil uncle and this conveyed the message that when men and women work together that surely some trickery must be at hand. The ending of the story represented a very different different women (Something that I didn’t cover here, there being not two, but three story-driving women in this story because of this deception) from the one in the Cheyenne story.

    These are two very different tales that tell wildly different opinions on the values of the cultures they originated from when it comes to how two people should behave sexually and romantically. On one hand, the wife of the castle or burg was a deceiver, an entice, an enchantress whose whims a man must overcome in order to overcome untimely but agreed upon death. In the other story the woman is a companion, a friend, who again questions the man in the same way, but that they work together and not one as a deceiver is a large different to me in these stories. These stories are just a cross section of a small part of the representative culture the stories are told from.

    The opening scene of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has the woman on some elevated pedestal, seemingly also to be representative of high Christian morals as the passage reads, “Guenever, the grey-eyed, gaily dressed, sits at the dais, the high table, or table of state, where too sat Gawayne and Ywain together with other worthies of the Round Table (11. 58-84, 107-115)”. The difference in opinion of what roles women are to play is made readily understandable in that the first of two opportunities for them in the Christian story was that of an unapproachable demeanor radiated by Guenever. The other woman, Morgan le Fay, at the end of the story was revealed to be a deceiver. It makes one wonder what the belief system is supposed to represent. Or, what the expectation of their role in society was to be. Why would they be represented in such a light in a Christian story? In the Cheyenne story, the woman was a counterpart and an accomplice, a counterbalance, one who is seemingly more integrated into overall progression of the story. Why this placement, opposed to having powerful, pointed parts and specific uses at specific times for the benefit of some hero?

    A similarity that can be identified across these stories is the dance conducted by sir Gawain which was done with his words, in an attempt to dance around the Morgan le Fay’s words, as she attempted to seduce him. She had an agenda which was pitted against the combination of words that came out of Sir Gawain’s mouth, that were then revealed to be on trial by a Deity. The Cheyenne story tells us that a dance was to be learned at a mountain by the man and woman from the creator. It was both of these dances, that were subjected to judgment by Deities. In the Cheyenne story the words are, “and if they perform the ceremonies in the right way …”. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it was more the implication of,”if Sir Gawain performs the rite of not taking another man’s wife in the right way …”. The end to both of these were that, “the hero(es) will be favored for generations to come provided they pass the test of God”.

    Largely absent from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight were many references to animals beyond his horse and a small acknowledgment of their existence in encounters during Sir Gawain’s travels to find the Green Chapel. This indicates the author was not so concerned with them in this story, possibly by design. Contrasting this is that it’s essentially a requirement in Indigenous North American stories such as The Great Medicine Dance to make the point of the belief system understandable to the person whom is receiving the story.

    Just the wording, “thus the man and woman walked sacredly”, in the Cheyenne story is impressive and that it’s written in the Cheyenne creation myth denotes the relative differences in opinion regarding the sexes. Continuing here it says, “The man and the woman did lovingly what was necessary to continue life”. This means they worked together to ensure life continues. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the man (Sir Gawain) and Morgan le Fay worked in opposition in order to continue Sir Gawain’s life in spite of the woman’s desires to humiliate and conquer the Knight. She was doing this in conjunction with her husband. It becomes clear as reading continues that in one story it seems to be the case the man and woman will struggle for the power of dominion over the other, including dominion over their values that constitute how they act. This is a very different picture portrayed in the Cheyenne story in which dominion of one gender over the other doesn’t seem to be a requisite condition driving the theme central to the story presented.

    To support this point of how different the societies beneath the religions were, the sacredness of the issiwun is respected in such a way that the rest of the elders of the village don’t then go and get a buffalo head and wear it and cheapen the devices mechanisms. Instead, its sovereignty is maintained as a distinguishable object which was not to be disrespected by sharing with the village. Instead, its effects of existing and being used for its stated and given purpose are shared through dance in order to enrich the village. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, all knights make a copy of the token. This is to shore and share the immense burden of supposedly having such a flaw as to succumb to the whim of a purportedly married woman who was purposefully testing the stated morals and values of the Knight. This green scarf token was representative of this burden which was then shared among the court, by copying the token and bearing it. The difference here in the stories is that the issiwun was offered as a way to control the wandering of animals bequeathed by the creator, whereas the scarf was to control the straying of Knights from their oaths and as a sign to the creator deity to know.

    In conclusion, these two stories contrast each other in many ways. There are some similarities, but the number of contrasting ideas generally far outnumber those which are similar. The Christian propaganda piece that discusses Sir Gawain reflects an appropriation of Pagan Ideology and wraps it in a neat Knight Suit it calls The Green Knight. In doing so, it presents to the reader various aspects of a Christian doctrine which asserts how the sexes are to interact romantically, the role of women in society and the role of tokens in relation to animals. The Cheyenne Myth The Great Medicine Dance introduces cultural concepts that were valued at the time. The Judaeo-Christian story presents women as devices to be used to cause an effect or serving some pointed purpose, where the Cheyenne story presents a very different picture. One story indicates that it is not wrong to covet another mans wife, the other story maintains it as an important aspect of creation. One story indicates that tokens are meant to control man, another indicates that tokens can be used to control animals. There are many other comparisons and contrasts that can be made between these two stories that were not discussed in this writing, this is just a very high level overview of the differences in cultures of the different religions.

  • Art Analysis

    Here’s a brief background of John Martin’s Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon (1816). Following the end of the Neapolitan War in 1815, it’s not much of a surprise to see Martin completing a painting such as this the following year. This painting may be categorized as an example of Romantic art because it displays the individuals role across a romantic landscape even in the face of war. We see Joshua, front and center, demanding that the sun itself stand still and not fade in the face of inclement weather (oncoming night), so as to bolster their charge. The hopeful feeling implied by Nature itself encouraging the charge, in the face of something as wicked and terrifying as war itself, offers a highly romantic viewpoint of what war could do for a man. This seems, to me, to be more of a propaganda piece overall, a recruitment effort to bring in more troops as the romantic notion of being able to command the weather, or other forces of nature itself, in the face of war is something depicted or imagined. An attempt to potentially convince an observer that they too could be imbued with such power were they to take part in this war in which God has taken note of, and natures will itself will bend to the oncoming throngs of soldiers pining after their enemies.

    Here’s a scene organized from light on the right to dark on the left, introducing an obscured light on the top left of the paining, as rays of light and possible rainfall come down. The visual composition of the spatial configuration allows for you to see that the individual rays appear substantially thinner over the cloudy and obscured side. They also seem less organized, almost chaotic, as if to convey that both light and rain were intermixed. On the right, the darkened cloud cover is much higher and the sun is below the cloud cover. Light rays extend from the sun itself, while in contrast on the left the rays extend from the clouds or breaks or holes in the cloud cover, and could even be observed as rain coming directly from the clouds. On the left there are storm clouds with a clearing just past the horizon. Also on the left you can observe more of a distant mountain range, at first becoming a valley, then followed by shorter and rounded foothills.

    More distantly, jagged mountaintops begin to appear. In the valley a winding river appears, which gives the visual appearance similar to the forefront of a winding band of people. In the forefront, the soldiers appear to be coming out of the city and just to the left of the forefront are a pair of archers below Joshua’s feet, who seem to be drawing their bows against some foe. Between the distant foothills and mountains lies the other city over which the clouds part a little. Extending back from the further city and into the plains in the valley is a descending path that cuts in diagonals and allows the entrance and exit into the distant city from the valley.

    Overlooking all of this is an even higher cliff closer to Gibeon, that partially obscures a view of the city. From this cliff it feels as if one would clearly be able to overlook both the city itself and the valley and all else that can be seen in the painting. On a lower edge of a cliff further down, one can see Joshua, right arm raised, with an open hand with his palm extended away from him offering the same command for which the painting is named for. Behind Joshua, two men dressed in robes, also repeat the gesture though to a lesser extent.

    In the center of the painting, the fortified and walled fortress of Gibeon overlooks the valley. Rays and rain deflect to the left as if to move around the fortress as they originate from the clouds above. Much of Gibeon depicted is filled with square or rounded buildings, with either columns or arches except one structure near the entrance of the fortress which depicts a pyramidal structure that shows three sides and a slightly uneven top, that partially obscures one of the columnar buildings.

    Regarding the appearance of motion/movement in the painting, I made an assumption based off the idea that most folks seeing this painting at the time would’ve been taught to read English from the right to the left. The point at which one would start writing on a paper is on the left, whereas the point at which one would return to write a new line is on the right most point. Here, the soldiers appear to be moving from right to left as they travel out of the city and entering the darkened valley, possibly indicating that the light seen over the city travels with the soldiers. At the base of the mountain in the forefront, the soldiers coming from Gibeon appear to be splitting up as some travel to the left of the foothill, and some travel to the right. The foothill itself obscures part of the valley, and splits the river that cuts through it into two. On the left of the foothill, the painting grows quite dark as the soldiers appear to travel off into some darker spot not captured in the painting. On the right, and more in the center of the painting, the other trail of soldiers tapers off as the trail wraps around the cliff and disappears.

    There appears to be a lot of balance offered here with darker colors being used around the borders and edges of the painting and lighter colors being used in the center of the painting, offering the effect of seeing a rounded portrait of a scene rather than a rectangular portrait. There is a fair balance of light and dark clouds and there is a duality and mirroring occurring in relation to the two cities being on opposing high grounds. On the left appears to be a rainy and darker view, but on the right appears to be a greener and more vibrant view. There is a large sense of unity implied from the soldiers moving in an ordered formation, giving the appearance of they’re moving due to some unified cause. One lack of balance, to me, appears in viewing the archers who seem to have no easily identifiable opposition. This left me to imagine such a force as would justify having arrows notched and aimed at it, as there is nothing seeming to offer return fire.

    A few contrasts are that the city on the right appears to be higher in elevation than the one on the left. Another contrast is that the solider offering the command, while having the ability to do so from higher ground, has not gone to that location to offer the command, and has instead done so from the same or similar elevation as the rest of the soldiers. Many different colors are used through the painting as well, where one sees a lot of vibrant green connecting the cities and beyond. Behind the further city can be observed what appears to be snow-capped mountains that white and gray and blend with the horizon although the visibility is such that one can still make out all the mountains as they fade away. The sky itself is composed of the sun reflecting off of the clouds over the further city, which reminds me of the “fire” mentioned in the bible story the painting is based on.

    The appearance of rain seems to be given with the white streaks from the dark rain clouds that extend in straight lines and seem to fall down everywhere except for where the sunlight appears to be poking through the clouds in some places. Blue skies appear in the right over Gibeon along with what appears to be much better weather. The cliffs themselves are often dark and shadowy, where Martin has also mixed in some brown and rust colors. The limited use of these colors makes it very easy to differentiate the soldiers from the landscape in the forefront. As the train of people makes its way into the distance, it becomes very dark on the left and seems to blur in with the greens on the right of the foothills, causing trouble in differentiating between the landscape and anything else. Many white horses and white and red clothing can be seen which offers a reasonably easy contrast to differentiate them from the landscape.

    The mood that I feel this painting conveys is that of a war, where soldiers are leaving one city and are in transit to their destination. Eager readiness for combat overshadowed by the presence of impending rain and strong weather offer a sense of the urgency with which these soldiers travel through as not even the weather, or other natural forces, wish to prevent them from moving forward. It also conveys a tense mood, as the two archers with bows drawn are ready to loose their arrows at a moments notice.

    In conclusion, I feel this painting conveys a powerful image whereby taking into account that the artists home country was just overcome by war the prior year, the timing for the piece was appropriate. I find Martin’s painting to be more of a propaganda piece for the war effort as he appeared to be relating England to Gibeon as the Allied forces pressed onward only to crush the first French Empire led by Napoleon as he was left to surrender at Waterloo just that past summer. This painting, seemingly a rally to bolster the mood following the unified victory, was one among many that doubtlessly helped set the precedent of a career with the military as a viable option for many a young Englishman at the time.

  • What do you eat?

    So I don’t eat the same things many people eat. For the most part I’ll be found to be eating slow cooked foods that people otherwise wouldn’t typically pick first. A few examples would be pulled pork barbecue (aka – carnitas meat), baked beans with chicken & bacon, oats, vegetable tomato sauce, and slow cooked vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes. I’m a snob about the way I eat and the source of the food used, moreso than the meal itself. I’ve settled on this way of eating after setting out on making some changes starting back in 2018, and my experiences have spanned about 5 years or so of experimenting with what did and didn’t work for me specifically. Because first and foremost, I’m not writing this to advertise a new way for someone else to eat – it’s more for my own benefit so I don’t have to keep summarizing the way and things I now eat to people regularly because it’s a little tedious to have to say it over and over again and have folks talking offense regularly to me here.

    Often people just think it’s a ketogenic diet or something .. but after even moderate exercise and spending a few months with a nutritionist I can safely say that ketosis is not some magic new age diet. If you exercise even moderately, or even diet lightly, you’ll cycle in and out of this absolutely normal metabolic process quite reqularly and come to tell almost immediately the difference between dehydration and ketosis as time goes on. I feel for the most part the obsession with the fad or popular diets comes from folks often not having the experience or capacity to understand on an educated level what they’re doing. Not saying here that I know much better, as for all I know everything I know could just as well be a lie. More that I’ve attended much more schooling than the average person, having 240 college credit hours at the undergraduate level and feel reasonably comfortable diving into the basic metabolic processes and posess a basic understanding of them after having gone through physiology, biology and nutrition courses at colleges over years and I feel pretty comfortable taking the risk in trusting my own understanding to a point. So anyways, this education in combination with having worked directly with a nutritionist and also various articles on the internet over the years has lead me to coming up with something that’s mine, man. Sorry, you probably can’t copy it!

    So without further obnoxious setting-of-the-stage here .. the way I eat is very picky at this point, in short. I’ll often tend to favor slow cooked meats, when I’m eating meat. I don’t generally spring for the grill, fryer, and under absolutely no conditions will I even consider touching the microwave to heat something up (unless I’m using the light bulb underneath to proof a couple loaves of bread in it). This leaves me with the oven & slow cookers. I like chicken, sure, but I’ll usually blast it for 300 or 350 F for a half hour then slow cook it around 200 or so for hours, until that meat falls off the bone every single time. I really enjoy pulled pork cooked for an entire day or two around 200 – 215 in the oven, when spiced right. I generally avoid beef like the plague, it really just has a weird taste to it these days as if it’s generally been more boiled after cooking than anything else and I guess they really only can inject so much water into the stuff to push those profit margins that much further out. That’s a large mentality to my approach to eating .. avoiding that kind of stuff.

    Avoidance for me starts by preventing this crap from getting into my place. I just don’t buy it, is all. My shopping list is limited approximately to : eggs, chicken, tuna, pork shoulder, pork belly, herring, salmon, broccoli, celery, asparagus, bell peppers, avocado, onions, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, apples, bananas, garlic, oranges, lemons, blueberries, brown rice, dark chocolate, whole wheat flour, yeast, peanut butter, oats, dry beans, whole milk, some cheeses, pepperoni, maple syrup, honey, vinegars, lettuce, poblano peppers, hot sauce and various spices. This is the most reasonable approach to eating for me, but the major drawback for me is visiting other folks and having no prepared devensive measures for the delicious poisons they all have in their homes.

    I then employ methods in selecting the foods on the shopping lists. For some backstory in this, I’d read that coin-clipping was a common practice back when coins were minted with precious metals and didnt have the knurled ridges on them to provide easy identification that the entire coin as intended was present and accounted for. It was the process of shaving or adulterating the edge of a coin so as to pilfer the miniscule amounts of shavings from the unwitting transactor by a vile practicioner of the theft that’d often make these grubby folks quite rich due to the volume of the number of transactions they were involved in. What this means to me, when it comes to food .. well in very much the same way and for exactly the same reasons the entire food must be present and accounted for. I consume a lot of food, thus it follows that I stand to lose a lot to a clearly hostile market, at least to the living. Corn syrup is not corn, therefore this is banned in my cabinets. Even further in this analogy, corn itself as a food source has had some extra ingredients added right into the genetic structure of the corn (yes, genetics is a topic I’ve also studied in my time at Mount Saint Mary College). Thus, it follows that in addition to the whole food being present, not more than the whole food must be present as well. It’s for this reason I don’t buy corn. This then becomes a topic of content, because who’s gonna say what is and is not food at the genetic level. So, I’ve found myself not often taking foods that’ve been genetically modified at all. I understand this is an impossible feat, but sometimes the shotgun approach combined with not knowing any better is going to let a few bits of poison through and I can accept this as a calculated risk.

    Under no circumstances will I use vegetable or seed oils for this same reason – because the entire vegetable or seed is not present. As a really crude explanation here – I’ve reason to believe that my stomach is “pretty dumb” and receives “genetic instructions” on how to properly digest the food only in cases where as much if not all of the entire food source is present. So if someone’s gone and pilferred the hull of my rice and has opted to sell me white rice instead of brown – my gut only knows how to treat it like a sugar and metabolize 100% of it as fast as possible. Another example is that in the event I were to use olive oil – my body has no true and correct understanding of how to digest “olive oil” or even what “olive oil” is, unless the oil came with the rest of the olive. Sure it guesses, often incorrectly, how best to do this without the directions “stored in the rest of the olive”, but these incorrect guesses I then pay for directly in various accumulations of fat deposits and other damages to my physical structure .. most often in the form of accumulated fatigue, or associated poor decision making and the like.

    My chosen method of cooking is entirely a slow cooked style. I do this to slow myself down, from eating. Most everything must take over half an hour to prepare. I can down literally 2000 calories in under fifteen mintues and I’m not unique in this capacity. Taking the moment to heat things up, allows for me to think about the food I’m intending to eat well before I eat it and as such I’m able to better portion my food, and in the event I’ve too little food, or feel I’ve prepared too little food, it’s quite the deterrent to be waiting another hour to heat up more. This is why I don’t fry things, or microwave them. Using a microwave in my home is banned. The most I would consider is grilling, here, which is about the only way I’ll have beef. The slow cooking itself I’ve found comes best from using thick walled ceramics, but also the induction base on some pans will allow stovetop slow cooking to take place too. Short of this, any metal pan with a lid and a standard oven will do.

    Another topic of content for me is freezing meat for more than the amount of time you’d expect to keep it in your fridge. Why do people think this is acceptable? Fat does not freeze, and just goes rancid. You don’t generally notice this though! It’s gross. You’ve never gone to a grocery store and purchased a frozen pork roast, or a frozen t-bone, ever in your entire life! Why do you think this is an acceptable practice, to leave fatted meats in the freezer for over a year and then eat them with the rancid fat and mostly edible slightly destroyed muscley parts? I can taste this every single time. You probably think or have thought it to be freezer burn. It’s not. It’s rotten fat and you’ve been eating more than your share of it! Stop hoarding or get a real (-80C) freezer!

    Metabolically alcohol is awful in all aspects, and specifically what people do to alcohol is the worst. What with HFCS sweeteners and the like .. make it very hard to drink alcohol, especially because you don’t know and can’t know what is in it. This leaves mostly the only available options to be high proof liquors and well those are bad in different ways, especially if you’re pre-disposed to alcoholism and feel “normal” after drinking 750 ml so for the most part screw that noise. I won’t waste much time explaining this, other than saying that I’ve never sweat my ass off more than when I’ve drank the day before.

    Things I curently consider neutral include many condiments and water. I don’t have the capacity to bother with wanting to go around and tell people I don’t eat ketchup because any reason whatsoever. So I don’t. I just eat it usually. I use it rarely enough to not care, because the food I eat doesn’t generally call for its use. This is an example. Usually I’ll heavily spice my meals with high quality spices, and don’t need much more than something like vinegar anyways .. which is a highly under-rated condiment in itself. Overall, I generally never use sauces due to the tendency for the ill-intentioned to cram them full of butter, sugar and syrup and that just drives me nuts and gives me heartburn and a stomach ache if anything. As for water, I’ve found that dehyration induced by consistently being observant of the quality of the water and avoiding “bad water” is more of a health hazard to me versus just drinking the water itself in all my cases. My current approximation of this is that we’re a product of our environment, despite all efforts and pretense otherwise. As the quality of the water is an aspect of my environment, I therefore tend to just drink the water that I also shower and wash my hands with, yes.

    I’m very selective with my caffeine intake as well. I generally prefer black teas. For me, there seems to be something that grows in coffee makers that my body finds toxic. I’m able to drink more often than not from new coffee makers, or cleaned/sanitary devices like french presses, but machines where the water sits inside of I often find to be too unsanitary for me to drink coffee from and as such I will generally opt for hot tea. Green tea comes later in the day, same with herbals like mugwort or chamomile. I prefer a water kettle to heat the water. The toxicity is still in the coffee for me, at all times I’m wary of drinking it and usually I’m physically unable to have more than a few coffee’s in a week before I start having digestion issues like an aching stomach and intestines and I don’t generally have this issue with caffeinated teas which I’ve found mostly due to the method of preparation of the beverage. Seriously, I went for a decade thinking I was allergic to coffee – that’s just not the case. It’s the case that I don’t wish to be vigilant of coffee makers everywhere and as such just stick with tea.

    My approach to spices is more that the meal is an excuse to take in large amounts of the spices themselves. For example in eating oatmeal … I’ll usually have about a heaping tablespoon of ceylon cinnamon in there for a single cup of oats and then top it with some maple syrup for balance so it tastes less like Big Red. I like the effect and way I feel after eating a lot of cinnamon and it’s quite delicious to me. Careful which cinnamon you use, apparently only Ceylon can be eaten safely in large amounts, I’ve not tested this or cared to, the internet told me this and I got no reason to care one way or the other as it could just be a marketing gimmick. For meals I generally tend to favor ample amounts of berbere or harissa seasonings, baked into the food, due to how well the profile seems to fit slow cooking foods. Even then, fresh spices are still the best over dried and jarred ones. I do consider vinegar to be a spice too, here, and usually if I have some lettuce its more of an excuse to down a few tablespoons of vinegar due to I’ve had a lot of good benefits and it tastes good.

    TImes it’s okay to let loose on these rules, for me, include predominantly hybrid moments where one finds themselves in a normal food setting, but instead is working toward a particular goal that will offer better benefits were they to cast aside all restrictions and partake in consuming literal poison. This includes getting to know your co-workers, meals prepared by family, going out on dates and not wanting to overwhelm them right away, so mostly meals with company and the like. Of course, these types of situations have the tendency to come one after another .. to which one’d certainly need to at one point just decide, to eat right again at the cost of impacting that business meeting, or that family member – the costs are real and dire at a social level, but so is the cost of unwittingly consuming a poisonous diet and each must live through their own desired threshold of pains in this life. Seriously! My body is such a snob that it can actually determine if the vegetables are past their prime! My tongue’ll swell up and actually ache, I shit you not. For a while I played with the idea that this was due to something being sprayed on the vegetables or the like, but all it seems to be is an affinity to detect decay in what seems otherwise like a perfectly fine vegetable.

    Something I don’t mind too much though is a diet soda. I’ve not had any immediately negative consequences of drinking these things, but I’ve seen the recent reclassification of Aspartame into a cancerous chemical of late and well I can at least say that yes, it’s completely possible to lose 40 pounds and keep it off while drinking diet sodas and I’m tired of having the same argument with people that just have not had the same experience I’ve had with these drinks.

    Anyways, I’m sure there’s a few other things I can add to this list but for the most part I’d consider that about 90% of the way I eat and what I eat is represented here, without going too far off topic, so I guess it’s a mostly complete article for me at this time. In summary, since last year this way of eating has lead to me losing about 90 pounds when I stick to it, but allows quite a bit of room to gain weight back, too. Especially around other folks. It also runs me about $400 – $450 a month, which is a reasonable price to pay for food here in the USA this year.

    So, what do you eat?

  • Massachusetts & Rhode Island May 2023

    I have got some plans to spend the rest of the Month of May in Massachusetts, on the southern side of the state below Boston. In being there for about two weeks, I’ll have a lot of time to check the place out and so far am planning on going to (Plain Ridge Park Casino, Wrentham VIllage Premium Outlets, Normandy Farms, “An Unlikely Story”, Boston University, possibly even Harriman New York for the holiday at the end of the month if I have time).

    I’ll be staying at Residence Inn Providence Lincoln, 632 George Washington Hwy, Lincoln, RI 02865. This is a two week trip and I’m planning on getting out of there just after memorial day. While I’m there, I’ve got a lot to check out. I used to live in Lowell, MA and Nashua, NH too and I have not gone back to either of them since 2014. They are a little bit of a stretch for me to go that far north from where I’m going to be at so I don’t know if I’ll be going to those locations, but if I do go there it would be to check out Lowell’s Suppa’s pizza joint if it still exists. So as a reference – check out the luggage! That’s about 200lbs of luggage.

    The luggage I’d’ve been hauling

    So I got in on Wednesday, mid-afternoonish. Just in perfect time for Boston’s rush hour. For some reason I ended up flying into Boston at this time to make my way over two hours south to Rhode Island where I was staying. It’s been a while since I was in Boston, and really the only thing that I recalled a little bit was passing through the street the stadium is on. GPS really does not help here, I’m sure I spent too much time looking at that to recall much else from ten years ago. So I stayed at the Residence Inn in Lincoln or something. As I’m checking in, I asked for some extra hangars that never did arrive. So while waiting for these things I drove around a little bit. Just to the store and back really. I was pretty tired because I’d started the day at 3:30 am and got to the room at 6 pm but I didn’t want to end it that fast. So I just went to the shops across the road, I stopped at Stop and Shop. Been a while since I was in one of those either, my home town back in Monroe had one of them when I was growing up. On the way back I drove by the Planet Fitness to see where it was located one exit up on the highway. Then I came back to the hotel and went to the gym there. The equipment at the hotel is pretty nice Precor stuff, all quite new. Actually the whole hotel seems pretty new.

    On the way in, I decided to pull up the GPS to see how close Boston University was. I was actually passing by it with it on my right as I was going down the highway. I am still considering going there, and have quite convinced myself at this point that I’d like to go there. Seems like the right thing to do. The place I was staying at was alright too, check it out.

    Yeah, there’s a whole bedroom and bathroom off to the right, too.

    So on Thursday here, I checked out a place called 110 Grill and the Planet Fitness nearby Lincoln that I drove by the night before. 110 Grill was a nice spot, they were pretty thoughtful there. I got salmon for dinner here, about anywhere I went this close to the coast I got seafood – even if it didn’t have much of a chance of coming locally. I also got some clam chowder here it was very good and I would get it again. After that I went to the gym nearby the hotel, it seemed very new along with the rest of the buildings in that parking lot. I spent an hour there just doing aerobics and then went back to the hotel.

    Friday I checked out the pizza place in Plainville and the Met in Pawtucket. The pizza place was in Plainville, MA. It was called South Street Pizza. I think this place is a great lunch spot (So much I went back). The choices are many, most of all, there are those, here. I got an italian sandwich and it was pretty good, I also got a baklava dessert and it had about a hundred layers and I had to ask the lady there if they were making it there, but she had told me no but they were coming from a local place I didn’t catch the name of. After that, I went to the Met to check out a rock concert with Gary Hoey. Gary plays the guitar and there’s a band that plays some music with Gary. Every once in a while Gary continuously introduces, and then seemingly reintroduces the same keyboard, drummer and whoever else was playing alongside Gary that night. Gary plays a lot like a Joe Satriani, only without the Satriani, so Gary plays like a Joe. Anyways, the place could clearly hold about 400 or more people, and there were about 40 people there on this evening. The music was loud and I had worn earplugs, the venue has clearly had louder. So I walk in and the bartender asks me where I was from, after hearing the accent in my voice. I mention a few of the places I’ve lived in, in an attempt to resolve the fellas confusion as to my inexcusable accent. He then asked what I did, and I told him a little bit of what I did. I got my local beer, something or whatever from the draft, for 8 dollars. I handed him a ten and told him to keep it and then walked off and stood around for a few moments until the show went on. After a while I decided I was hungry so I left the show after a set.

    Here’s The Met – the lighting was nice!

    Saturday I checked out Boston, Quincy Hall, Boston Harbor, the park there, the beach there, it was raining so the boston trip got cut short, chipotle and river falls in the evening. It was a pretty busy day. So I got into Boston in the morning, and this time the GPS was a lot more correct than it had been the other day. On getting into Boston I had some vague flashbacks from 2014 and I could barely remember much of going in and around the city at all, so fortunately the place didn’t leave any lasting damage, I guess. Anyways, I spotted a park as I was driving in and I needed to figure on where to go anyways so I parallel parked and walked through the park, toward a beach. There were some fellas playing basketball on the completely uneven courts as I strolled through, and then before the beach there was a small running track and field and stadium dedicated to a one Paul J. Saunders.

    This is the entrance to the stadium.
    This is a scoreboard in the park – not needed on this day.

    I continued on through the park, and crossed the road to find myself at Carson Beach. Of note on this reasonably windy, chilly and somewhat cold day was that there were two women just chilling and doing tiktoks on the beach, one was wearing a red bikini, this was the one on camera, apparently. They seemed to be having a fine enough time, being about the only two people in sight on the beach. The beach itself was nice, surrounding Old Harbor. It was otherwise quiet, which I assume was due to the poor weather. The rain turned into a mist at this point and I headed back to the car to make my way downtown.

    Boardwalk on Carson Beach

    Arguably, the 38 dollar view from Boston Harbor Parking garage was both the best view available on this day, as well as for the best price, at least to me. So I got downtown and decided not to park on the street due to the rain, so I made my way up to the jellyfish level of the Parking Garage. For reference I believe this to be the fifth floor. There were two more floors, one being lobster or something else. Parking was quite easy and getting down there was an elevator so I can quite certainly say that aside from the view, the parking garage itself was nice enough. Check out the views from it!

    East View from the garage – there was no tea in sight, for reference. This is Boston Harbor.
    Northish View from the Garage 5th floor.

    So I took the elevator down, and started heading towards Faneuil Hall, this being the destination I had in mind to check out. So I get down there and pass by what some engraving claimed to be a fountain and then decided to backtrack a little bit to go to the bathroom. It’s not so hard at all to find these, here. So I go inside of the hotel there and inside there is a coffee bar thing and then there’s a sign indicated that the bathrooms were outside. The buildings got two main entrances into this hall spot, so I figured it was indicating that the bathroom was on the other side, because I didn’t see one coming in.

    It wasn’t much of a fountain on this day.

    After getting out of the entrance to the hotel I began heading towards the marketpalce again. I wanted to check it out, just to see what it was like. For the most part it’s still a marketplace, some of the stuff probably still comes in on boat, even. There’s three main halls now and then one they dedicated as a food court. So I got there and walked around for a few moments but I was hungry so I wanted to stop at Quincy Market building. It was gigantic.

    This’d be where they keep the food at for sale, here.

    So I went inside and there seemed to be a lot more people inside, than there were outside, it being a rainy morning and all. So I got almost halfway through and found myself sold on some lobster sandwich place. There were people dragging their meals all throughout the place, looking for a spot to sit though. Another meal in particular that seemed to be popular was a loaf of bread which had the center hollowed out and in place of the bread center it was filled with clam chowder. This seemed like a pretty heavy meal to me, for a lunch, and so I found myself ordering a lobster grilled cheese sandwich and a drink for about 34 dollars from this place.

    I didn’t get the “chowda” here, or the mug.

    The sandwich was delicious. It had about as much lobster on it as you’d expect from a lobster roll, only instead of a roll it came on two slices of white bread and filled with a bunch of ‘Merican cheese. Overall very easy to eat, and yes it was a little heavy for a brunch but I’d not had anything for breakfast so this was worth it to me. Anyways after the sandwich, I walked out about halfway through, near a dinosaur exhibit. After getting a photo of it, I was approached by a 350 lb white male about my age that was wearing a red hoodie and wearing some car keys around his neck. He asked me if he could have some food. I informed him that he sure could, the food court was right next to us and there was a lot of food inside. His facial expression dropped at this point, as he realized that he might have gotten a bit more than he had asked for. So he mentioned that that was not what he meant. I knew damn well what he wanted, but he didn’t ask for that – he had asked for food. I asked him if I looked like a fucking banana tree and then went on a full two minute rant about how he could just easily walk in the food hall and ask people for any of the food that they were not going to eat that they left on the table and even then if he continued to be denied that he could just grab it when they left, or just snatch the fresh food from the trash as any reasonably hungry person would do (This, I do know, yes?). Anyways, the guy certainly could have missed a few hundred meals and certainly was not in any shape to actually need a meal, and so had he asked me for the ten dollars he actuallly had wanted, I might’ve actually given it to him. So anyways, after my rant, he actually says, “Thank you”, and I say, “You’re welcome”, and walk off to the Samsonite store asking other folks if I looked like a fucking banana tree along the way. Tell ya one thing – nobody asked me for more food on this day. Check out the dinosaur.

    This was just outside the exhibit.

    On my way into the Samsonite store, a lady walks in in front of me and decides to toss her umbrella on the ground outside the store before walking inside. She immediately realized this was a mistake as she was quickly instructed by the store staff that she was welcome to bring her wet umbrella inside the store with her. So, not wanting to back out, I grabbed the soaking wet thing off the ground and handed to to her by the stem and then proceeded to ask the folks there if they had the bag I was looking for. They didn’t have it. So I left there, sat near the entrance to the place for a few moments while being grilled by a fella sitting off in the distance (I assume he heard my rant – one of those inner city denizens, for sure), then decided to walk out of there because the rain was picking up. I had wanted to do a few other things in Boston during the day, but I didn’t want to get soaked. So I went back to Lincoln, RI, walking past the same fountain as on the way in.

    Yeah, it was still off

    I stopped at some of the harbor docks near the same hotel as on the way in, on the way out. There was a sea pidgeon there, eyeing me a bit. Seemed alright though. Not much was going on and the rain was building up a bit, so I stood under an umbrella and watched it for a few minutes.

    The fella eventually flew off upon further approach.
    You really can see the rain picking up.

    Anyways, I drove back to the hotel after Boston and then went to the gym there for about an hour. I found out that my watch had been connnecting to the workout equipment as I was using it and apparently it was doing some kind of conversion into steps and sending this to the watch every time I was working out. So on this day it told me around 19k steps or so. Anyways, after all that I went back out to go get some dinner at a place called River Falls. It was an alright spot in the middle of a square that reeked like cannabis and there were at least 6 other restaurants surrounding the circle. Inside the place, the waitress was quite tolerant of bullshit and relentless passes, ultimately having to inform me that she was dating outside of the restaurant, which she was told that we never had to leave the restaurant, and so on and such. Anyways, it was kind of empty there, but the food was alright, I got some fish and chips, but instead of chips it was just french fries. Nice quiet little spot.

    Pictured : Bar Patrons

    Sunday I went to Cape Cod, canal, Sandwich Beach, Fishermans View, canal, gym, spicy stores. Cape cod I went fishing in the canal, walked along the beach, went to a gym. I also tried to find some ceylon cinnamon, at about 3 different stores. The only place that had it was Whole Foods. I go with ceylon because when i put 2 tablespoons of any other cinnamon in my oats I bleed like a motherfucker when cut, and I’m not one to settle for less cinnamon in my oats. The trick is to balance it with actual maple syrup. That corn syrup poison just won’t do – they tried to pull that shit on me at the hotel buffet breakfast.

    This is a rail bridge that crosses Cape Cod Canal from the sea to the bay on the right.
    This was the “wrong” boardwalk, but it still lead to the Bay.
    Looking back from the Bay to the wetlands inland.
    Looking over into the sea, the shore went on quite endlessly that I could see.
    Nice lunch spot – be nice to the staff here!
    Main reason I got this was because I didn’t want to stop or pay for bait.
    This was the runner up, bait-wise.
    Pictured : Guy not catching a damn thing on that day.

    I went to the canal twice – once to figure out where to go on the way in and another time on the way out to do some fishing. I had some extra bait from lunch I’d saved up and for reference, covering raw salmon in lobster guts didn’t work for me. It might’ve, if my pole was about two feet longer. I couldn’t get far enough into the canal with the smaller 8 foot rod I’d brought – the things more meant for lakes and rivers, not sea canals. It was nice, either way, the fishing.

    Monday I went to do some laundry here in the hotel, Lime Rock Rreserve trail, then went to the gym here, also the poke place (Poke Bros or something?). For dinner I had some Chipotle that I’d managed to bake the hate out of with my slow cooker. If you don’t take a slow cooker or frozen meals with you when going on vacation – have fun waiting for food – I spend less time having better meals, personally. The trail itself was pretty nice. It was really two trails – one offereing a view of a manmade pond and the other being a bit mroe rocky and hilly. I took the one with the pond view. This was good for this day as my legs had quite a few pulled muscles from scissor kicks I’d done the day before last. Anyways, the views were great. On my way to somewhere in the morning I happened upon a painted turtle that had decided to cross the road at an inopportune time, and fortunately the road was queit enough for me to hop out and move it out the road. I tried to snap a better photo but while I was doing this my laptop bag slid around from my back and hit my elbow, launching the turtle about 3 feet away only to bounce off a log, land upright and finish the scurrying off it was already doing!

    Hard-shelled pancake looking pig that didn’t get turned into more of a pancake on this day. Generally quite timid if you couldn’t tell by the leg positioning!
    Map of the trail, these are helpful photos, yes.
    Walking up to the pond (right), homes (left) – both not pictured.
    View from the creek that feeds the pond.
    Walking across the pile of dirt that made the pond.
    Someone left this on the trail – you think they brought a spare?

    I also learned on this day that there is a different syle of poke all over the place, apparently the style I had on this day was a Hawaiian style. I don’t recall seeing other styles, ever, but anyways, it was good, with some spicy salmon, avocado, soy beans, brown rice, wasabi mayo and fish eggs topped with cashew ground up. This was for lunch. For dinner – I’d been slow cooking a meal I’d gotten from chipotle a few days before. I didn’t feel like tossing it is all. I had happened to show up right before the dinner rush apparently, and by the time I’d gotten a meal there were about 15 other people in line waiting for food. Just 3 people there to prepare food, though. I’d originally wanted to leave because they just didn’t have the staff present to serve the food, but I was talked out of this. By the time I ordered I suppose the girl had heard me rambling for a moment and so anyways she seemed pretty mad, visibly so at this point, so I mentioned at this point that that’s usually why I don’t queue to get fast food – because when we all stand in line like this, the folks get pretty frustrated, and anwyays I could practically feel the hate pouring into the food as the girl kept apologizing for no apparent reason, I was quite content, waiting, that is. It tasted about as I’d expected it to taste, but I only got through about a quarter of it before I’d decided I was full. I slow cooked it for about two days and it was very good after that. Aside from the brown rice, which seemed to have been partially pilferred .. the hull was thinner than I recall thinking brown rice should’ve been.

    Dilution works well for continuing the cooking!

    Tuesday I went to Seekonk river north of Providence, Swan Point Graveyard, Blackstone Park, Good Burger scene shoot, the restaurant and planet fitness. So I drove up and down Blackstone Boulevard – very pretty views on this but I was driving and only got one good photo. There happened to be a movie scene being filmed on the road as I was passing through. I didn’t realize at first, i only saw a funky looking car and managed to snap a photo of it as I blew by at ten miles an hour or so. Check it out!

    There were other, more sensible, folks just walking up and taking photos, too – not me!

    So anyways, I’d first navigated just to “Seekonk River” and Google thought that I was looking to park in the back of a retirement community. The staff eyed me as I parked there and looked for a better spot, only to find myself parking right alongside Seekonk (not SeeCock!) River, I walked along it for a bit before I found an entrance into Blackstone Park near what was identified as “Hockey Pond” and so I walked around the pond and then back to the car.

    Seekonk River, Henderson Bridge (Right) not pictured, beat up old pier here.
    The map of Blackstone Park at the trailhead I entered, south section.
    The “Hockey Pond”
    I guess these things don’t do so well in the woods.

    So I got back to the car and then drove down Blackstone Boulevard, looking for a better view of the river, only to find myself driving through Swan Point Cemetery. Here I found H.P. Lovecraft’s grave (According to Google!), and a lucky turkey with her dedicated flock of males in pursuit.

    Over the shoulder shot!
    Three male followers, there were at least two more.
    There was only the one female, that I could see.

    Wednesday I went to Patriot Park & Gillette Stadium & the nature trail & cranberry bog back there, and the Planet Fitness in North Attleborough MA, then went back to the hotel to do some laundry.

    The Bog – Informational signage.
    Someone was, or is still, quite a talented woodcutter.
    Walkway leading to the bog.
    Walkway crossing swamp leading to bog farm.
    Another one of the nice wood carvings.
    Fenced area between swamp and farm, leading to nature trail.
    Cranberry Farm.
    In-motion shot of the loud squawky flying pig over the farm.
    Nature Trail behind Gillette Stadium
    Looking back over the swamp on the Nature Trail.
    Root Exposure on the Nature Trail.
    Embuttoned tree on the Nature Trail with exposed roots.
    Felled trees, with carvings, on Nature Trail. Swamp on Right.
    Crawly-leggy pig on the Nature Trail. Left to their own devices, these fellas make hills.
    Actually Gillette Stadium.
    Patriot Park Hospital & Restaurant shot, stadium on right (Not Pictured)
    Little square in Patriot Park
    North Attleboro Planet Fitness after the Rain

    After the gym, I went back to the hotel and went to sleep for the night. Thursday I went to Scialo Bros. Bakery, Telford Park, Whiting Pond, I took it easy because my knee was aching and i needed to pack for an early flight the next day. I had put the treadmill at a 6.5% grade and about 3.2 miles per hour, and usually I keep it under 3 miles an hour because my right knee will ache the next day due to injuries I’ve had since most of my life that I can remember. The bakery is located in Federal Hill, which felt to me like a Newburgh, NY downtown, but a lot nicer and also right next to the ocean. It’s got some of the best baked goods your money can still buy. Telford Park seemed more like a place to bring kids so I just stopped there briefly enough to plug in Whiting Pond. Whiting Pond boat launch is more of a quiet little fishing spot, but was perfect to end the trip on and eat the cookies I’d gotten from the bakery.

    This’d be the side entrance. Also their parking lot.
    Not Pictured : Most beautiful woman in Rhode Island (Right)
    My quarry from the bakery
    Whiting Pond Picnic area & Boat Launch
    Whiting Pond fishing area.
    Having just eaten a chocolate chip cookie, an eclair and a brownie at Whiting Pond.

    Friday I traveled back, 12 hours of travel time. I left at 530 in the morning EST and got back in my place at 430 CST. The flights were nice. The second one was a little bumpy but for the most part I slept through them. I went to a place to eat on the layover in Georgia for a turkey wrap and they had decided that it was a good idea to put Pesto and some soft cheese in there. It was a very strange wrap, from a texture standpoint. Even the french fries were oddly cut – not straight, more like really thick half-potato chip shaped. Worth the meal for that experience, but overall the taste was not there. Possibly they could do with some better mayo or ketchup, or just better quality ingredients overall. I took an uber back from the airport and it was about 4 times more costly than usual, I guess this is the price of rush hour traffic. It took maybe an extra minute to get back though, so whatever. So from the start to the finish of this trip, there’s about another 23,000 words plus some 200+ more photos and even more words that I didn’t put on this site – this was just what I felt like putting on here to send the reminder that anything here’s very much a movie based on a book, in that this is only about 16 percent of my summary of the trip that I bothered to put here.

  • Green Bay May 2023

    I’m pre-writing some of this to see how it reads after I’m done here. I’m spending a week in Green Bay in May and I have got a few things planned coming up. I’m flying in Monday night and am staying at the Radisson near the casino next to the airport. The gym and pool and things are apparently all 24 hours during the times I’ll be there. So when I get there, it should be around 10PM. That night I’d like to at least locate the pool and the gym and see what all they have got going on there. The next morning I’d like to actually go to the gym and the pool there for a bit, then check out the casino.

    So I got in on a Monday night, around 9pm. The layover was quite a quick flight out of Detroit for me, ended up having about 20 mintues to walk 15 minutes after the first flight was delayed twice. Once before the flight and another during the flight. Apparently it was a re-routed flight and crew, who knew? Anyways, I took the shuttle over to the hotel and they got me checked in quite prompty. The room itself was pretty nice, having one single king bed and having laminate throughout. Very roomy. I spent the night locating the pool and the gym. I had to let the fella at the desk let me in, and damn if that wasn’t the first time i connected that brisk Wisconsin accent to more than a few folks I’ve known through the years. Anyways, he let me into the gym because my card didn’t work to let me in there and I checked it out for suitability in the morning. The bike and treadmill were up to my standards, and so I went back to the room and fell asleep.

    The next day I checked out Lambeau Field. The whole place itself seems to have just been originally an outdoor stadium that they put a massive operational facade on. It’s quite beautiful inside. In there was a massive metal football trophy, the entrances to the stadium and a restaurant or two. I saw a bunch of folks walking around with lanyards so I assumed they worked there. Anyways, while there I checked out the 1919 restaurant which was recommended to me highly by many folks at this point. The food there was wonderful, the cheese curds were some kind of orange cheddar. I had to ask the lady what kind of cheese they used for the cheese curds because they were great and she just came back saying it was an orange cheddar. I assume it had to be some local variety of cheddar because not too many cook like that in the deep fryer. Anyways I got the mango-something salad and it came with watermelon radishes, macadamia nuts, a very fatty vinegarette, crumbled feta, lettuce and of course bits of mangoes that appeared to have been pulverised into some uniform shape somehow. The salad tasted pretty good, but after a few bites I caught on to how fatty the dressing was and had to stop half way through the salad. Not that there was anything wrong with the salad – just that mine are usually consisting of just some lettuce, pepper and apple cider vinegar.

    Anyways, downtown Green Bay was quite an event in itself. This direction being the one goes if they would like to get to the bay itself, in my opinion. While downtown, I was quite abruptly met with a full-pursuit police chase. A run down white van rolls past me, moving from left to right and I don’t catch on at first, but then there’s two full police SUV’s. These pass, but traffic does not move. So, I decide traffic is right and sit with it. Good thing I did because two more crusiers come barreling by, then I see the same white van only this time on the other side of the road traveling from right to left. It was at this time I realize that the driver was fleeing the police and was witnessing my first active police chase in over a decade. So in total there were 7 cop cars and they nailed that poor bastard about two blocks up. Anyways after this I headed over to a marina on the south side of Green Bay off Lake Michigan, because you can’t go to Green Bay without seeing the bay! The marina was neat, wildlife was abundant as some geese took refuge on a small island off the shore just out of earshot of most things but close enough to come back for food. There were gophers hanging out in some lumber by the breakwall. The breakwall was just covered in shells and drift-sticks (for reference – this is driftwood that doen’t qualify as driftwood, so it’s a drift-stick here). Got some nice photos of the day on this beautiful day and then came back to the hotel.

    The jacuzzi was great – they actually let you run the thing in hour long increments! I also got to check out the gym and the bike there was really comfortable to run. After that Tuesday was about spent so I went back to the room becasue I had just found out earlier that day that I’d gotten accepted to Boston University for some reason only God knows and wanted to check out what that was all about. Anyways, on the next day I had some breakfast at the hotel. I didn’t realize at the time of me walking in there that it was apparently a fulls service restaurant and back which was not something I was expecting at this place at all. So I walk in there stinking like a gym and meanwhile the folks there are ready to start their day after breakfast. Anyways, getting back to the service side. I had some bacon and two over-hard eggs. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had taken the time to order anything other than sunny side up or fried eggs or not, but it’s not often that you’re going to come to a place that can cook an egg over medium or over hard. These are things I feel like people should do, because nobody really wants to eat that fried egg by itself, but sunny side up seems like such a waste when you don’t get toast with your egg. For this, the over-hard egg is the proper selection more than not. Anyways, it was quite well cooked and the bacon had an increible taste and texture to it and was delicious too. I had to get out of there so I had to prod the lady a little bit by standing up and letting her know to please bring me the check and I did this and then left.

    After that later in the day I checked out a place called Parker John’s BBQ and Pizza. It was wonderful barbecue. One difference between carolina BBQ pulled pork and here is that in NC, it’s a bit more moist and I think this is due to the juice being re-added to the meat after cooking it. I don’t believe the cooking method at this place had this step in there, but re-adding the broth really adds a level to the dish I don’t think this place was looking to offer. They did seem to cook it at a higher temperature too, similar to the one you would use for carnitas. I very much liked their mustard sauce. This meal also came with a side of beans and some cole slaw. They also stashed a cornbread with a pad of butter on the tray and then let you go at it. It was overall incredibly high quality barbecue and I would definitely go back to this place. The scenery was well matched to the style of the place too, wonderful things to look at. The waitresses had shirts on them that said “Smoke meat not meth” which I couldn’t help but blurt out laughing at due to the audacity of a restaurant giving it’s folks a shirt at all that said anything in particular about anything was a welcome sight and I enjoyed this most of all. If, for nothing else, say you go there and don’t even eat barbecue – do go there for the folks wearing this shirt. Great lunch place.

    After that, later in the day on wednesday I checked out the Oneida Casino here. The door on the entrance informed me that it was the select casino partner of the Green Bay Packers. Seemed legit. So inside of this casino connected to the hotel is a neat array of cheap slot machines. A lot of them would let you spin for fifty or sixty cents, I was not able to locate anything that lets you spin for lower. So I took out forty dollars from the ATM and paid $1.50 for the fee for the convenience of having the machine there. I fed a farmville machine 20 dollars, and within moments I found myself leaving the remaining 50 cents with the machine. I then continued on to a green machine, another slot machine but this one I could pull the handle. So I fed this machine 20 dollars, and played a little bit on my phone because its spins were a dollar a piece so i wanted to space out the spins a little bit. I walked away from this machine with more than I fed it.

    The next machine was something with some pumpkins on it. I had cashed out from before and fed the machine 20 dollars. I then found out the machine was halloween themed and otherwise had the same face card draws other machines would have and its persona was prominently displayed as a halloween witch that I don’t recall seeing before having sat at the machine. I had been drawn to the machine because I had seen some meme circulating about a dog and some baby pumpkins earlier that day and it had made me laugh. So i sat at that machine on recalling that, and walked away from the machine with $59 and 8 cents. I decided that I was done gambling, cashed out and left the casino. You know they still do vending machines with cigarettes in them there? Then I went and spent the next few hours going to the hotels gym, jacuzzi and pool .. in that order.

    So the next day I woke up, had some breakfast here at the casino and had to explain the the lady that a fried egg is just a broken egg yolk that you fry up like an over hard egg. She told me that she would just tell them to break the yolk. I can tell you right now that if I walked into the right restaurant and asked for a fried egg, they’d know exactly what I’m asking for, and understand that I’m not asking for an over hard egg and that if i wanted an over hard egg that they would give me an over hard egg. Also apparently ordering two orders of the delicious-sounding bacon from yesterday translates to giving 8 of the scrappy thin cut poor tasting bacon I got today and so I’ll have to admit that I got bamboozled there. God, they even put the egg in a round thing too – it was super pretty! Anyways, around the middle of the day I made my way over to a place called El Sarape West Tequila Bar and Restaurant.

    This place is your typical, fantastic mexican food joint that people belong at when eating lunch. So I walk in and I was instantly greeted with a bench signed by a bunch of Green Bay Packers players. Bench like this would be a part of history at some point in the future, much like most things now. Anyways, they got me in a seat pretty fast as it was emptier than I feel like it should have been for the time it was. The place had gotten pretty crowded by the time I was done eating. So I ordered the beef enchiladas with mole sauce and I don’t think I’ve tasted such a nice silky mole in many years, it was quite wonderful and I did like to dig through the shredded lettuce on a scavenger hunt to find just one more bite of the enchilada with that sauce. I highly recommend the mole. But really, if enchiladas aren’t your thing – don’t even bother picking up the menu just order what you like at this point because they are going to have it! They are also really generous with the chips and I’d be quite impressed if any of the salsa had come out of a can at all. This had to be the single place in Green bay that I didn’t try the cheese curds at. I’m sure they had them though, everywhere here does. So I got out of there after a bit, the oncoming onslaught of folks pouring into the door was taking more and more of the lady’s time from me and so timing to leave was about as right as it could have been.

    So a little bit after this I went back to the gym at the hotel and the woman at the desk helped me get the door open to the gym. There was a fella on the ellipcial machine that had been there before when I first tried to open the door, who got about half off his elliptical by the time she’d gotten the door open, when she had spotted him and said “You’d think he could have just opened this for you”, and walked off. The fella was still a little startled so just as the door shuts I tell him, “No worries, I just like making them walk back here at this point to let me in the room,” the door’s been “broken” since Monday night when I was told “Oh we just don’t want peoples kids in there,” and, “The guy that fixes those things was on vacation since last week and just came back”, and half a dozen other stories I enjoyed hearing but not believing either. Anyways, a bit later I ended up at a place called Legend Larry’s.

    I’d decided to go to Legend Larry’s because the cheese shop I’d wanted to go to at the time was closed before I’d made my way to it. Their loss I guess. So, Legend Larry’s feels like a local, townie bar far enough away from downtown that the locals can go there to enjoy it, but close enough to downtown that at least a few non-locals would straggle in there. Legendary for that, at least, sure. The door is absolutely un-decorated, double metal doors with no windows, signage and you would not otherwise think this to be the entrace to anywhere other than the kitchen, very unwelcoming feel. Then you go inside and feel like you should have been there yesterday, or that you already were, or have been all along. Something like that, legendary for sure, yeah. I don’t think I’ve gotten that kind of feeling from anywhere else that’s a wing bar. So then, there’s nobody to tell you to take a seat – you just gotta remember that you should take yours! So you do, only to sit down and find there to be those order menus and pens at each table for folks to select what they would like and drop it off at the bar which you’re supposed to figure out for yourself, also. This whole process was actually the neatest part of the whole visit. So I filled it out, same as you would with one of those all you can eat sushi places – only with chicken wings and appetizers! They also had shrimp in place of chicken wings, I was there for the wings though. I grabbed the 12 medium wings and the cheese curds. This is a good place.

    Anyways, I’m out of here at noon tomorrow and don’t have much planned that I feel like putting on here. Next week I’ll be headed over to Massachussetts. Check out various pictures below:

    This fella was hiding in a ditch by the Bay
    These were also near the ditch
    Check out the bay!
    This’d be the field – they added a massive facade to it a while back and more
    My view from the gym
    One of the gambling machines in the casino
    This is the hotel room I was in
    3/4 mile from the hotel there was a gas station, with this
    Here’s the bench
    This is the entire gym
    Legend Larry’s Ordering sheet
    Pool & Jacuzzi at the hotel
  • What brought you to Texas?

    You ever been asked this question before? I get it all the time. I’ve said a lot of different answers too. Not because I have that many different answers, more that I can’t really answer that kind of question very fast and unless you’ve got yourself some context you’d think I’m just telling you different stories. That’s one neat thing so far I’ve figured out in Texas – you never really meet the same Texan twice. It does feel like I’ve lived here almost a decade even though I’ve only been coming and staying here for just a year. Anyways, that’s a different story full of stories.

    One thing that brought me to Texas was the heat. I don’t much care for the humid weather I was dealing with in the southeast United States, and I don’t much care for the winter weather on the north part of the USA. That really narrowed it down to me. I had spent about two years in Oklahoma finishing college, and the climate there was about the favorite to date. So that’s one thing that brought me to Texas. The dry, hot heat, unrelenting. Back in Oklahoma when I was living there I was driving a 1970 Lincoln Continental (hereafter: hoopty). Anyways me and my hoopty could easily be found on the side of the highway cooling down, both myself and the car. The car had a brand new radiator and even that beast couldn’t keep itself cool enough when it came to bumper to bumper traffic on the highway in the midwest. It also didn’t have A/C. And the drivers window wouldn’t work so great. It was a good time. It was a hot time, too, but it was also a good time. I have a 2017 GMC Sierra 6.2L Denali now and the roads are much .. cooler .. to drive on, anyways.

    Another thing that brought me to Texas was that I was looking to live in a large city. San Antonio is a city made up of smaller cities, and certainly checks this box off. The city is massive, and still incredibly affordable and has a lot to offer for being a city of this size. I lived about 40 minutes north of Manhattan as well but I’m not really looking to go back to New York. Taxes there are a bit too much for my tastes and I just don’t really want to live near another New Yorker at this time. I also really like that San Antonio is as close to Mexico as it is, as at one point I was seriously considering a long stay in South America and this spot is at least closer. I’ve been told by some folks here that San Antonio’s a lot like Mexico without all the problems – so it’s like Mexico would be then under different circumstances. This was told to me by a Mexican that moved here and lives nearby the same gym I go to. He even told me it looked a lot like it. Sure, outside of all the signs written in spanish and beautiful arched facades, I really only can take his word on this. It certainly looks different from other places I’ve lived at and I’ve certainly lived in quite a few cities. It’s a good look, this.

    Something else that brought me to Texas was that I noticed a lot of folks were moving out this way. At one point I was watching a lot of different people play video games on a site called Twitch, and it seemed like just north of here in Austin there is some kind of serious development with regards to a lot of folks moving from California to there, and also New York to there too. So, I get a lot of the benefits of living in Austin without having to deal with the people from Austin, here in San Antonio. For one, an apartment is still quite affordable, comparably. I did look there in Austin, but the prices were a good 25% higher on average going from my memory. Also I don’t like tolls so much.

    Texas also seems to have its own version of everything, too. Theres Whataburger to replace McDonalds, and HEB to replace Walmart and Wegmans. Texas editions of vehicles .. you get my point. If you don’t, then that’s fine go ahead and skip the paragraph, or not. But, are you starting to see the picture yet?

    I’m living in a city of cities, so I can take a vacation while I’m on vacation, in a state where I’ll never meet the same person twice, where there’s a state brand of everything! I came here for the variety! My whole life I’ve only known the East Coast, except for the two years in Tulsa I spent largely studying my ass off trying to get that 3.96 I graduated with, only for it all to have gone away quicker than I could have graduated. I actually left to go back to the East Coast less than an hour after they handed me my diploma, and I guess I just wasn’t done here is all.

    I wanted to go back, actually I never really wanted to leave. Family had fallen on some tough financial times about half way through my education in Tulsa, so I spent the next decade helping out where I could – close by. They are very far away from that situation now, but that’s just what you do for folks who now live in their own home with a retirement that’s well planned for them and not having any outrageous struggles that they’d’ve been in before that.

    So another thing that brought me to San Antonio instead of another city in Texas besides the lower rent was that I did have a friend here. Note the past tense, not all things work out for everyone. Really, the idea of moving to a Texas city was a lot in itself to me and the thought of being able to make new friends easier by knowing at least one person in the area before going there was initially something that I was thinking was a good thing. This is a poor mindset for moving to a place though! I didn’t really know that moving here – I’ve met more folks just by looking for a job.

    Speaking of jobs, one thing that also brought me here was that there seems to be a large culture centered around wrestling. I’ve always had an inclination to the sport, only it just never really was the only thing I was doing. Mostly this was because I was in the 300 – 340 lb range for over the last ten years. I didn’t even watch the stuff. Even more interesting about being so close to the border here is that you get a lot of crossover between American wrestlers and Mexican luchas and the whole thing is pretty cool. I even managed to join a gym here for a few months, feeling the risk was reasonable after having lost over 80 lbs in 2022. Training was going pretty good. I learned a lot from a few good people there. Then I got kicked out of there, no specific reason given to me, just kicked out, no contact. Guess I’ll never know, and that’s fine. There are other places out there but at this time the place I was training at moved to the other place I was considering training at. For the time being, I just go to the regular gym and work for money. Some day I might go back and train but for now I’m just fine not having to deal with that. One thing I did learn – a fella could pick this stuff up in his fifties if he wanted to.

    Another thing that brought me to Texas is the expanding manufacturing industry here, specifically automobile and semiconductor manufacturing. Usually I just tell folks that computer chips brought me here, for lots of reasons. Mostly it’s the facial expressions, the look on the woman’s face at Scarlet’s by the airport here was priceless when I told her “computer chips brought me here”, I guess people have a lot to think about this. I mean sure, about these days computer chips bring people about everywhere so it doesn’t seem at first glance a great reason to move to San Antonio. Apparently, there’s about ten or so manufacturing plants for Samsung about to spring up in ten years just north of Austin. Or maybe it was a ten billion dollar plant. I don’t know, ten something. Point is that the kind of work I’m used to – manufacturing – is expanding and growing in the area. Electric cars are also being manufactured here. Tesla is making the Cybertruck here in their Gigafactory in Texas. It’s a very beautiful and stunning plant, by the way, I highly recommend the plant tour they give during mass interviews if they’re still doing those.

    One other thing that brought me to Texas what that I always heard they drive fast here. I can certainly confirm that not only do they drive fast – there are generally more lanes in the highways and thruways than there are stupid drivers nearby. That was one thing that caused me lots of issues in North Carolina. Folks drive around like the outside of their car is made of bubble wrap and they can’t pop a single bubble. It’s nuts and it drove me nuts. Every single turn was made at less than 5 miles per hour. Every single time you tried to turn into oncoming traffic the cars had spaced themselves so critically apart from each other that it was too close to jump in line without potentially cutting the person off, but just at the point where they were not too far apart to then potentially cut the next driver off – it was maddening. It was just some of the slowest, poor driving I’ve ever seen. Like they all drive around living in a dreamlike trance state. I’ve never been one to be subject to road rage, instead choosing to quietly dwell on the poor driving skills of the folks around me in that state. Not saying I’m much better but if you haven’t experienced North Carolina driving I’d recommend it as much as i’d recommend a rusty saw removing your head from your neck. Highway driving was awful too, the entire state merged a mile or two back rather than zipper merging, and when they weren’t doing that they were consistently 15 mph below the speed limit on the highway in predominantly the left lane and there certainly were not enough lanes in the roads there. They also had a strange inclination to go the exact speed limit at all times for no apparent reason. Then they would get mad when they got passed on state highways and speed up and tailgate the fuck out of you after the passing zone. I just don’t get it! I’ve driven in a looooot of states and North Carolina is worse than Massachussetts. I think Mass. is a little more dangerous driving sure, what with folks dead-stopping to let someone into the road in a 45 mph zone, but damn if North Carolina didn’t have them beat everywhere else. So anyways, it’s just not like that here in San Antonio. Sure there’s normal congestion traffic occasionally, and the paint really doesn’t stay on the roads, but the flow of trafic is pretty good and comfortable here.

    Sure I guess I could also say things like “the people are nice”, but I never liked hearing this myself. Let me rephrase that – it’s a good thing to hear! But, in general I think it’s a poor way to reinforce ones decision when used in conversation. We live in a high trust society, about every single person you’re going to meet is going to come off as nice, in general. Also as a general rule, if you’re looking for nice people, you’re probably going to find nice people. There’s a pretty good tendency to find what you’re looking for – wherever you happen to be! Anyways, that’s a bit of a separate story too. So, another good reason to pick the middle of Texas to live in is that it’s really only 2-4 hours to get anywhere you want to go in this state. The gulf is 2 hours away, Houston is 4 hours away, Mexico is 2 hours away, Austin is 45 minutes away. While 4 hours is kind of stretching it for a day trip – the point is that it’s a good location to make unplanned day trips and while most things are a 2 hour away flight, it’s substantially easier to make a 2-4 hour unplanned drive than it is to make any flight any time here in the US.

    Another reason toward the timing to get over to Texas was that after over two years of insanity and restrictions I was just done. Done dealing with pharmaceuticals, done working, done doing just about anything. The main reason I left the first place I was working at was because they mandated their workers to be injected with what had been re-classified that year as a vaccine, despite it very much being a therapeutic level weak genetic modification. Had I stayed, and a lot of people did, I would have either gotten fired or alternatively I would have been roped into fucking absolute insanity. Not that I have a problem with the drug delivery system itself, but I’d rather see it get put to use in humans for useful things other than what it was introduced for. Like weight loss. Or Alzheimers prevention. Even just calling it what it actually is would be reasonable to me. Tons of other shit besides what it was. So, I let them know that as soon as they remove that requirement from their job postings then I might consider working there again. In the intervening two years, the requirement’s been removed, despite being told at the time it never would be. Anyways, I then went to a place that only required people be tested. But that didn’t necessarily fix anything. Restrictions were still in place and I was just hopping into someone else’s insanity. So it was great to me when I first started visiting here and everywhere was like downtown Raleigh, and nobody seemed to be talking openly about the bullshit that drove me the hell out of there.

    This isn’t even a complete list, so far. It’s just the details of what I remembered in an off day here in Texas. A couple of other reasons I can’t even remember right now are something for business, and something for land, and something for the politics, but I don’t even remember those details right now. There were a shit ton of things that weren’t getting sorted through by sitting at a desk in North Carolina, I sure figured that out. I’ve got a good three years of logs going back to about September 2020 where I was writing something about moving to Texas though, so I was definitely planning this for a while. Probably even longer, I started logging things around early 2019 or late 2018 but I don’t feel like digging those archives out and checking out what I was planning there. Such is how things go though!

  • Four Day Baked Beans

    I wanted to keep a reminder to me somewhere about the best tasting beans I have had to date. Not saying it’s the tastiest recipe for beans ever made, just for me specifically, top five easily beans I’ve ever had. This includes beans served at the Tex-Mex places I’ve gone to here in Texas so that’s saying something at least. I have not really kept good track of the amount of places I’ve had beans at, overall either. If I had to guess it’s about a dozen or two places over the years. So anyways, being in the top 5, the recipe lets me have these things easily at home. The recipe is:

    1.5 Lb Bacon

    1.0 Lb Kidney Beans

    0.5 Lb Black Beans

    1-2 Tbsp Harissa or Berbere

    3 Chicken Breast

    I’m pretty sure the recipe can do without the chicken breast, but I was mostly looking for a way to make both beans and chicken breast taste good for me. I did! So, all I did was take the dried bags of beans, add it in a slow cooker, then lay the slab of bacon on top and stuff the chicken in on the sides. Then I poured in about a cup of water or so. Then I covered the meat with the Harissa seasoning (I used it from a brand called Spicewalla). After that I just let it cook for a few hours on high, then more on low, then I got tired of the strong smell of the stuff cooking while i was trying to sleep so I took it out and popped it in the fridge overnight.

    Next morning I took it back out and set the cooker back on high, then moved it back and forth between medium and warm through the day. I stored the stuff in the fridge for the 2nd night too, because the great smell disturbed me when I was trying to sleep. So the third day, I noticed it didnt really smell any more. I also saw that the water was gone and there was basically just liquid bacon fat left.

    So I let it cook all day on low, and then overnight on warm, and then the fourth day I put it back up to medium. It was starting to show that it was going to burn from basically frying in bacon grease at this point, the water was gone a while ago and the remaining fat was going into the beans.

    By the end of the 4th day there was no liquid left, and the beans were amazing. The bacon and chicken had completely broken down at this point too, the entire meal was incredible to me. I paired it with some broccoli and chicken legs. I can say I’ll be cooking this again as soon as I can, the meal continued to get better day by day, I had been taking a cup or two away per day to eat at.

    A modification here could be that if you wanted to cook the beans without adding much water, you could just take away the chicken breast and then cook down the bacon for a bit until the liquid part separates and then add the beans to that! I also think I might have used harissa seasoning instead of berbere, but either one makes a good pot of beans. One thing that is important is to make sure the bacon is not spiced itself! This will change the flavor quite a bit. Cured or uncured bacon is just fine, I had a little more luck getting the fat to break down completely with cured bacon.

    In the end it kind of looks like this:

  • Traveling

    In a few weeks I’m going to start traveling pretty often. First on my list is Green Bay, Wisconsin. The location was picked for me quite randomly and I’ve made an educated guess or two. I have spent a lot of time traveling over the last year since leaving my last place of work in North Carolina. Initially I did quite a bit of flying in and out of San Antonio & Austin, TX areas due to there being a large airport in both those cities. This would have started in about June or July and ended when I finally decided to move here in August 2022.

    Since then I have made a road trip out to Denver, Colorado for about a week. While there I had stayed at an airbnb location. On the way there I stopped in Missouri to see some family that I’d been planning on seeing for about a decade. After returning from Colorado I stayed here in Texas for a few weeks. There was a number of places I stopped at along the way, all logged elsewhere around that time, offline. While staying in Texas, I had spent a good three weeks in early October checking out San Antonio a bit more in depth. It’s essentially a city that’s made up of quite a few other cities, and I often describe it as much when talking to folks here.

    At this time San Antonio is celebrating in what is called Fiesta San Antonio. I don’t much know where the tradition came from, this is quite a new experience to me. Essentially folks just throw parades, events, carnivals, fair’s all across the different cities in San Antonio and they have this thing where the people that go to it look for and wear Fiesta Badges reminiscent of something they took part in, or for performing some task, or sometimes just from having traded or paid for one – whatever the reason folks just cover themselves in these things as a way to hype up the festival. One of the more lively events here at this time was a parade on the riverwalk. I didn’t get a chance to see the parade directly this year but did spend some time on the riverwalk last week and found there to be quite a number of folded up plastic chairs for onlookers to see the parade floats that were being stored along the riverwalk under a building i had passed by at one point.

    Anyways, my other part of traveling last year was going and traveling to New York through driving there in my truck. The sights were alright and I didn’t hit any snow. I do enjoy the driving so it was nice. I had also logged the bulk of this traveling offline and am only gonna summarize it here this time. So in New York I re-visited the southern Hudson Valley area, where I grew up, and visited a few estranged friends and stayed with family. It was a wonderful time.

    After visitng New York on this long car trip I drove south to North Carolina, to re-visit the place I had spent the previous 6 years at. I stayed with family during this time and celebrated christmas here as I stayed for quite a few weeks this time. Since about January I have mostly just vacationing locally – a thing you can do when you live in a city of cities so you can travel while you’re traveling! I’ve also been logging most of this offline since then, too! I meant for this blog to be a place for me to write out the places I get to check out when I’m traveling away from San Antonio, at least at this time and so I would expect that come another week and a half that I’ve got some things to say about the Green Bay area!

  • Gym Adventures 16Jan2023

    So I’ve decided that the best way for me to learn the city is by going to random gyms inside of it. Learn the city means a lot of different things to different people. For me, I’m quite literally just talking about the roads. Simple. So yesterday I went to two different gyms: A Planet Fitness at 4400 Fredericksburg Rd and a Gold’s Gym at 255 E. Basse Rd Ste 310.

    I first got to the Planet Fitness, walked in, got to the lockers and went to change and realized that I had forgotten my shorts and shirt. I’d taken the weekend to rest and for some reason had assumed that I had put these back in the bag earlier in the weekend. Anyways I drove back home, got two sets and put one as a backup in the truck. Then I drove back and worked out for 2 hours. 1 hour on the bike, and 1 hour on the treadmill. Both machines were in good condition and not bad. I then went and got a tan. I didn’t realize the tanner was on a timer, so I came out and accused the machine of being broken to the woman at the front desk. She told me they were on a 4 minute timer (not 3 or 5!) and so I said, “Okay thanks, I’ll head back now” and did.

    After the tan I came back out and the 3 folks at the front desk were engaged with an angry old white dude complaining about not getting his moneys worth for something surely too much to ask for to begin with. I got the attention of one of the three visibly frustrated employees and asked for a hydromassage, during this short conversation the dude seemed to have calmed down and left. After the massage I went back, changed and then left. Overall not a bad gym, none of the folks there seemed overly creepy. The new years crowd is still rolling through. The parking lot was a small shopping center, not the greatest neighborhood but the facade of the building itself looked okay. I recall seeing an empty beer bottle standing up on what would appear to be the drivers side of an empty parking lot on my way out. No complaints here. The next stop was Gold’s Gym.

    The whole place is located in a wonderful part of town, I think it’s called The Quarry. If not, it should be as a lot of places there indicated “so and so” at The Quarry. The upscale stores in the area along with the nicer restaurants indicated that the area was designed for a more luxurious living pace. The gym itself was next to a cinema inside a parking lot that rivaled the size of a mall parking lot. There were even a few parking lot security guards roaming around on bikes and what not. I couldn’t say it was the highest of the high end, like I didn’t see a Gucci store there, but definitely for the more bougie folks. Anyways I walk in theres a woman at the front desk, who tells me to have a good workout, so I say “thanks” while I scan the card and walk over to the locker room.

    The one thing I can say about the entire gym is that there appeared to be very little concern overall for cleanliness, but it seemed to go with this specific gym. Like one could imagine the kinds of people that frequent it are the kinds of folks that don’t generally concern themselves with the messes they make, often as if they don’t make a mess at all. While I’m okay with that, it’s more of an observation than a stance and anyways the thing I noticed immediately was that there was only a sauna in the mens room. I was a little aggrivated by this because the place was advertised as having a steam room and steam rooms are my much preferred choice when dealing with these things. Anyways, I went and changed, noticed the floor was quite filthy, wet in a few spots. There was a guy that was frustrated a few lockers down from me, I overheard him muttering “god-damn i cant believe it” or something as he was fumbling with his drink bottle. So, I put my bag on the bench and he apologizes for taking up so much space, because he was also taking up the little alcove off to the side as well I guess. I said it was no problem I’d just take up the other half the bench, there being only two of us present at the time there and I needed a place to put my bag to ruffle through the contents and get my stuff out. So I changed, checked out the showers which were huge and nicely tiled, then went to the 2nd floor where all the working out is to be done apparently.

    Up there there were free weights on one side and machines on the other. I went to the side with the machines, and sat on the recumbent bike and exercised for an hour. During this hour there was a dude on the bike in front of me who was one of the new years crew .. these folks stand out readily because they try a little harder than most folks and take more pictures. Anyways it was entertaining to watch him go while I sat there mostly just listening to music. He was pushing 140 rpm at times on that bike, for reference I burn more calories at about 40-45 rpm on a recumbent bike with a little more resistance in an hour, to the tune of 20% more per hour. Anyways, he wasn’t overweight, but had a pair of man tits that he covered up with a loose fitting jacket and it was really funny to watch his entire upper body flop around as he exercised as hard as he could on the bike, man-tits sloshing to and fro at the 100 rpm right along with him. Unfortunately it was one of those sights that was hard to avoid as the bike I was on was directly behind him and to the side.

    Outside of the fella, there was some stretching mats off to my right a few folks would come to, and the bike also had a great view of the parking lot with a partially visible San Antonio skyline in the distance and it was nice to see this. I finished with the bike, and got some water, and then went to a treadmill, on the way there I got checked out by a pretty good looking pale brunette shortish irish chick on a treadmill further down. For reference, I’m a 6 foot flat, 255 pound blonde Western & Eastern European mix with a muscular build and heavily built legs and a decent tan, also adorable, and I can’t say I can blame her as folks doing aerobics seem to have an inclination for checking out people a bit more often. Anyways I got on the treadmill for about half an hour and was done exercising for the day .. totaling about 2000 calories according to the machines this day. So I got some more water and then when back to the locker rooms. I took a shower and then went into the sauna, which was my first mistake of the day apparently.

    So I get in there and immediately I notice it’s just an electric heater dressed up with rock adornments that probably weren’t actually rocks at all. The rooms wood, so at least they got that right. There was not nearly enough space to sit down, only seating on half the rectangular room. Theres a wall with no seats, a dudes there just exercising and panting heavily and seemingly inappropriately in the corner with no seats. In the other corner a dudes just chilling in full clothes including shoes, they both were wearing shoes. The room wasn’t nearly hot enough to be considered a sauna and the floor was filthy. So I walk in in a bathing suit and covered in water and just sit down. In the fifteen minutes I spent in there, 4 or 5 other dudes walked in, all in fucking full clothing, nobody even took a shower. There was only one other dude that broke a sweat besides me in there during this time and it was the dude that was doing pushups who was the only one to leave during that time.

    Anyways we all cram ourselves in there like sardines, strangely so because the room was certainly large enough to hold more than double the 7 of us in there or so, everyone wearing full ass clothing and not sweating besides me. The sauna is largely not just about going into the sauna, for reference. Sure the hot air is comforting, but the whole experience of the sauna is that you are to open up your sweat glands with hot water before going into it, this allows you to sweat for the duration in which you are inside of it, you do this with hot water from a shower or the like. Then you sit there for no less than ten minutes, sweating your ass off, then you exit and take a cold ass shower to immediately close your sweat glands. I did this. Everyone else during this short moment just wandered in wearing full ass clothing like off the street and I guess it’s, for me, about the most bizarre sauna experience I’ve ever had. Like they wanted to experience what a sauna would be, rather than go into the sauna.

    Anyways, I got a shower on my way out of there and went to my car in the parking lot and left. I probably won’t be returning to this gym, mostly because it’s needing a steam room. The lower end recumbent bike I was on was in good condition, at least, and the medium end treadmill was in decent condition. If I do go back, it will be to check out the very nice area as it seems to be a place where one could come across some quality people rather easily.

  • The Importance of Writing

    For the last five years, I’ve been writing in a laptop. Mostly logging, and sometimes, lately more often than not, it’s been topic oriented. In these past five years, I’ve managed to write well over a million words. I considered it mostly practice, so that i could do this one day. Some folks just want to write and do so, some do it methodically, clearly needlessly complicating this that otherwise would be easy.

    The thing is, I wanted to come up with a way I write before I started writing publicly. I still have very little to say about much of anything, I do find out. But writing, I can do. This practice of mine, started mostly on a spreadsheet. I played around with and made different formats of spreadsheets so as to organize my writing over the years. So much so that i don’t much remember my first attempts at writing. I think I had actually tried to self-host my own website on a server running in my apartment at the time.

    I found out shortly that these things require daily maintenance, sometimes. Regardless, they do need a skilled hand at selecting the right setup so that the site be able to endure throughout the time it’s intended to run. So my intention is to run the thing for at least a few years. I managed a few months, before a bad update lead me to a site that no longer worked.

    Further updates just led me to a local site that also was largely unresponsive, until i just took the whole thing down and continued the process inside of some spreadsheets. I still have a copy of that old hard drive with my first attempts at writing much of anything in particular and I believe it’s labeled backup August 2018 or something like that. So after 4 long years of writing hundreds and hundreds of thousands of words to largely nobody that would ever read them, for the sake of trying to organize the way I was thinking, I decided that there was not going to be a good way for me to organize much all of anything and I should just go ahead and write on the internet instead sometimes too.

    I can’t really say it’s been life changing, so much as I can say that if I don’t spend a few nights a week writing and logging I tend to forget quite a few things and just go on about my life as if these things never really occurred to me in the first place. I suppose a bunch of folks are like that out there, ideas coming to them and leaving them as they please. Well not this time, only some of them slip away from me now! Interesting to note here is that since creating this website a week or two ago, I’ve already written over 15k words, elsewhere. Not that I’m necessarily aiming for a word count, I just recall so many times struggling night after night back in school to even come up with sometimes 200 of them at times. They seem to just fall out of my head at this point. Granted, back in school the 200 words were likely of higher quality, the point I’m making here to nobody in particular is that it’s not a competition to make the largest amount of words .. is all.

    Anyways, in my logs I have found that there are often a number of things that I can recall in reasonably good detail by going through situations again mentally at the end of the day. Reasonably good detail being whatever happens to come to mind at the time and I suppose at this age I’m more likely to spend 1000 words saying nothing about anything in particular than I am 50 words giving a good description that’s to the point.