Thursday, May 21, 2015

Reconnect of Family

In beginning to create my make a thing project, I decided to partner with Jordan Willis, Raquel Baron, and Kolina Hocevar. We decided to use the fact that we were all in dance to our advantage. We agreed to make a video of an interpretive dance based on the book “Beloved” written by Toni Morrison. I think that choosing ‘“Beloved” was the best choice because it was the most recent book in my mind that I had the most knowledge about and had the best understanding of, although it is a hard read and complex book. “Beloved” is only really complicated in my opinion because of the many layers between the characters, but also because of the hidden meanings interlaced in the novel. Although “Beloved” is a complexed book, we chose as a group to simplify it to make it easier on ourselves.
Before we started to film our piece, the group tried to find a story line for the novel that would be easier to understand. The idea of family was what we chose to focus on. We decided on family because the drama that occurs between Sethe and her children all starts from a love a family. Sethe brutally beat her children and murdered her third child because of the fear of losing her family and having them suffer in slavery as she had. Slavery as a whole tears families apart. We tried to showcase that in the video of our dance by having four solos that represent different characters in the novel that come together as a family or community in the very beginning. For example I represent Denver and Paul D.
There is a duet in the video of Jordan and Raquel against a brick wall. In my opinion and the way that view the video, Jordan is Sethe while Raquel represents Beloved. The duet is important because it was meant to show how identities are lost within others. Towards the end of the novel there is a section in which each the woman of the novel start to morph into each. In the book it is represented by a poem in which Sethe, Denver, and Beloved are all speaking at the time, yet it starts to become extremely hard to recognize who exactly is speaking. Jordan and Raquel are doing the same movement at the same exact time in order to showcase Beloved and Sethe becoming one. It also represents when Sethe becomes weak and feeble, while Beloved starts to show signs of being pregnant like Sethe was at the beginning of the book; therefore showing a cycle.
Jordan tipping toeing across the picnic bench in the green room, to me showcases Sethe’s journey of escaping of slavery. The bench had a break in it which could be inferred as Sethe’s breaking point in her decision to escape slavery when most of the Sweet Home men had either been killed or gone insane. Also when her milk was stolen from her, therefore preventing her from doing the job of beginning able to care for her children.
I think that a lot of moments within the video of our interpretive dance show key moments in “Beloved”. By having everyone dance together in the beginning then break into solos, duets, and a trio show the isolation that came with slavery. Yet since Beloved is a manifestation of slavery and the suffering that comes with it, when she disappears the community and family come back together like in the video.

This is our video

This is my secondary source that I found that supports some of the things that I said about the novel.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Slavery? What exactly is this? Is it being forced to live in an inhuman way, or being looked down upon by others just because the color of skin is darker and hair much more coarse? Or is it a mental issue, dealing with the problem of being trapped by our own thoughts of the present, future, but mainly the past? Maybe it is a combination of both. Society since the 1700s has created this mind set that there will always be someone or something above us whether we like it or not. With this mindset, happiness and spirit were stolen.
In Beloved we witness what slavery can do to the spirit of a person.  A person’s spirit goes from being as bright as the stars to slowly but surely withering away with time to absolutely nothing. No motivation is left to look forward to the future,but to be full of regrets and left living in a past that is now out of the control of those that lived it. Sethe experienced being raped and the milk for her newborn child being stolen from her while she was still a slave at Sweet Home, therefore causing her to have this urge to finally escape slavery, and prevent her children from having to endure such cruelness. Yet when school teacher arrives after she escapes to try and attempt to drag Sethe back to a life she refuses to relive, Sethe acts animalistic by trying to kill her own children as well as earlier when she drowns her first baby girl; leaving her in complete isolation. By Sethe killing her kids it depicts slavery as causing people to become something they’re not, which leaves that person in a dark places that is nearly impossible to escape from. The isolation that is felt by Sethe because of her actions effects not only herself, but her second girl, Denver.
Slavery doesn’t just affect those that actually lived in it but those that came after. Yes the effects were much harsher for those that had to endure it, and there have been improvements, but it still is present today. Denver never personally witness slavery because she wasn’t actually born yet. Yet she is just as isolated from the community as her mother, because that is all she has ever known. Sethe carries her past through her wounds that are on her back, but also mentally and emotionally; not realizing that by carrying her past around she is preventing Denver from becoming her own person. Denver has spent her entire life basically in hiding from the rest of society in hopes of finally meeting her father. When she finally ventures out it’s an act of desperation because Beloved has completely taken over. Denver never gets the chance to grow up as a normal girl, because she lives in fear. Not only fear of the outside world, but in fear of the monster Sethe could become again.
Slavery has now formed itself into discrimination. In the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement for African Americans was not just to be treated equal, but was to show the world how Blacks were not these violate people that they were being depicted as. Those that were slaves paved the way for those that witnessed the Civil Rights Movement. It help create a platform for the stories of African Americans to be told. The isolation felt by Sethe and Denver is similar to the isolation Blacks felt and still feel in America. The song Strange  Fruit by Billie Holiday is about the lynching and horrid acts done to Blacks. It sheds light on a situation that many refused to even acknowledge. The NAACP was created in order to help lift Blacks in society.
In the Movie Django Unchained, Slavery is viewed as this funny situation that any slave could escape from when it really wasn’t. Just because Jamie Foxx got lucky as Django and met a nice abolitionist doesn’t mean it was easy and quite frankly is unrealistic. I love the movie Django because it is funny, but it doesn’t actually tell the story of slavery. It only touches on the aspect of family being separated from each other and being willing to do anything to be a actual family again. Just like Beloved’s infatuation with Sethe, but also how Denver doesn’t want Beloved to leave because it is finally just more than her and her mom. Her family is coming back together when Beloved arrives and she doesn’t want to let that go in fear of losing it forever; just like Beloved’s arrival in Sethe’s eyes is her past forgiving her. The movie Roots actually showcases the trials and tribulations faced by slaves and how it barely improved for years. Roots focuses on teaching real situations that could be happen. It shows from beginning to end how slaves were brought over and forced to lose their identity. Similar to how Sethe begins to lose her identity to Beloved and the manifestation of Beloved starts to become more like Sethe, which can all be found in mostly in part two of Beloved when Denver, Beloved, and Sethe all have a chapter from their point of view coming together at the end with a poem where it’s hard to tell who is truly speaking anymore. Slavery dehumanized the slaves leaving them with nothing but an identity given to them against their will.
Once Beloved is gone and is completely forgotten, it was like the past of slavery had finally been lifted from everyone's’ shoulders. Everyone is in a better place. Yet it is twisted because no one should truly forget their past because the past is what allows people to become the person they are today, which is what is stressed now, by movies such as Roots or 12 Years a Slave. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bunny Ballerina

Aria was always dancing around everywhere she went. Her mother would say,” Aria you’re such a natural talent filled with joy” whenever she got the chance to watch Aria on stage. Aria’s mom was never fully around because of business trips or at least that’s what she told Aria. So to make up for it she allowed Aria to have two pet bunnies, Rosco and LPJ, even though she hated the little creatures with a passion. She also allowed Aria to attended dance classes at the local studio.
It was the Christmas season. Aria could smell the holiday season in the air as she walked briskly to the train station from school; with Rosco and LPJ in hand inside their travel case. She was running late to dance so she decided to take the short cut through the small patch of woods. Too bad she didn’t realize that the woods at this time of year were full of magical things. As she ran as fast as her little feet would take her, Aria slipped on a patch of ice and fell hitting her head of rock covered in the snow and throwing Rosco and LPJ landing them on against the largest pine tree in the forest; breaking their travel case open.
Rosco and LPJ were similar to Aria; small, always filled with energy, and had a strong passion for dance. They always wanted to be like Aria, free to move around with such grace and power. Rosco had always wanted to go see a the Nutcracker performed by American Ballet Theatre, but every time Aria had tried to bring them she was forced to leave her beloved bunnies at the receptionist’s desk because of a sign that read, “NO PETS ALLOWED INCLUDING CUTE BUNNIES!” While LPJ just wanted to know how it felt to be on stage performing in front of millions of people every night.  The enormous pine tree that had broken their travel case heard their inner wishes. It turned LPJ into Aria with causing Aria’s body to look the exact same, but instead of having long brown hair and small ears; she now had LPJ’s head on top of her body. While Rosco was transformed into a small doll that Aria could take to watch the American Ballet Theatre that night with the rest of the girls from the studio.
That night at the Lincoln Center building there was a raffle drawing for each young girl under the age of 13. Aria was 12. Not knowing that LPJ was now her face she drew from the bin, drawing the winning ticket. Her prize was that she would be able to meet Misty Copeland and go on stage as Clara, the lead in the Nutcracker, during the Christmas tree scene. All while Rosco got to sit backstage and watch the entire thing.

The next morning everything was back to normal. The travel case was fixed. Rosco was no longer a doll and LPJ was back to being a normal bunny. Everything had been all just a dream. 

Ballerina- Alix Kast

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Book is Original

Every poem, song, and even book has some sort of connection to something else. In order for an author of a novel to begin to write a story, they must learn to pull from their memory of things seen, read, heard, but most importantly learned through out life. By pulling from the author’s memory, it allows the writer the opportunity to obtain a much larger imagination or creativity bank. Thomas Foster, the author, begins this chapter by using the image of the connect the dots pictures that young children complete. He states that depending on the child, some are able to naturally already know what fun, silly image will be shown by the dots when connected, while other children might not be able to see the image as easily until the dots are connected. Foster then goes on to say that with time, patience, and practice sooner or later it will gradually be easier to tell what the picture is without connecting the dots. The example of young children doing connect the dots is a nice way to use imagery in order to connect to the authors point; that when reading various types of literature, being able to begin spotting different literary devices within the takes practice.
            Next the author discusses the novel “Going After Cacciato,” written by Tim O’Brien, which is a novel designed to be a war story. The main character, Paul Berlin, in the second section of the book creates his own ideal world after falling into a hole since the first section of the book is mostly the main characters experience in the actual war zone. By causing the main character to fall in a hole after trying to run or avoid the situation at hand, O’Brien has created an allusion to the story of Alice in Wonderland. Not only is the allusion to Alice in Wonderland relevant to O’ Brien’s war story, but similar events if not exactly the same can also be seen in movies when a character tries to escape a situation, but during their attempted escape the character either falls into a hole or in some form becomes either unconscious or extremely deep in thought. Yet all in the end later wakes up or comes out of their deep personal thoughts to only realize that the entire thing was nothing less than a fantasy. The movie the “Wizard of Oz” and even the black remake of the “Wizard of Oz”, “The Wiz”, showcase a young woman trying to escape either a twister or chasing after a dog causing them to have an accident that allows to drift into their fantasy land, in which the main goal is to return home. Once they returned though everything is believed to be only a dream with people they knew portrayed as something new and different. In “Going After Cacciato” the main character creates a character with their imagination of a woman to guide and lead him based of a woman he saw, but one could say that the woman character was actually Sacajawea from the Lewis and Clark expeditions.
            Foster uses another example by referring to the novel “Wise Children.” The book constantly refers to Shakespeare considering that the family in the book depends on Shakespeare performances in order to support the family. Shakespeare’s character of Ophelia can be seen as Tiffany, a character in the book, because she goes insane then drowns. Although a stretch it could also slightly connect to the book “Beloved” because the mother’s child was drowned, but later comes back as an older version of the drowned child to try and constantly keep the mother’s attention for herself.

            Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is also a story the many authors pull from. It is a prime example of a book that can be used in various ways to create a new story. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde leaves such a strong imprint on the mind that aspects of it can be seen in not only literature but also tv, more specifically cartoons. There was an episode of “Scooby- Doo, Where Are You!” in which the mystery incorporated gang had to solve the mystery of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Not only is Jekyll and Hyde in Scooby-Doo, but also in classic Bugs Bunny.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bread or Heads?

The idea that everything isn’t what it seems appears in the second chapter. The author begins by using an anecdote about Sigmund Freud. He uses the anecdote in order to bring up the image of a cigar. Going on to quote Freud by saying, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” By quoting Freud the author instantly acknowledges that things in life are exactly how they appear to be, such as the cigar. Yet still gets to his main point that even though certain things in life might seem exactly how they are; majority of the time it is the complete opposite. Most of the time there is a greater meaning behind every aspect of life. By using the anecdote it causes the audience to be intrigued, therefore causing the reader to further engage in the reading causing them to learn about food; more specifically communion.
Food is used to illustrate how meals in literature are used in various settings for multiple reasons by the author. The author states “ whenever people eat or drink together, it’s communion.” It is commonly believed that communion is only suppose to be a holy or spiritual action that is within Christianity, although there are other similar rituals performed in other religions. The author continues to explain how communion isn’t just used in the religious sense by stating that in life humans tend to only share a meal with those that are close to them such as friends and family. Yet sometimes one is following the rule of keeping ones friends close, but there enemies closer. Humans value sharing a meal, because allowing food to nourish the body is personal, therefore one usually only wants those considered to be trusted around.
In literature when an author writes a scene about a meal, it can be hard to write and even read because it is so boring or basic. Communion scenes usually serve the purpose of showing how a character triumphs or fails to over come a struggle that was established at the beginning of the story. It can also be used to symbolize a desire or lust such as in Henry Fielding’s “Tom Jones” which was written during a time period when anything sexual was considered unacceptable by society. While in “Cathedral,” written by Raymond Curve, the main character struggles with accepting those who are different from him, specifically the disabled and minorities, yet he learns there is something similar in everyone. Which is that as humans, we all eat food just like another. Therefore reinforcing the idea that communion has the power to break barriers and join people as a community.
In the southern part of the United States many families gather together for dinner, but a lot of the time it’s for Sunday dinner in order to see how everyone’s week was and start of a clean sheet. Sunday dinner can also reinforce the idea of family, love, and security. The author mentions Anne Tyler’s “ Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” as a similar example of a family coming together. In the story the mother continuously tries to bring her family together at the restaurant, only to have each attempt ruin by mishaps involving the rest of family. The family finally comes together after the mother’s death. The same scenario can be seen in the movie “Madea's Big Happy Family” The mother in the movie, just as the one in the novel, constantly tries to bring her family together, but never succeeds until she dies from cancer; never being able to witness her family in a peaceful dinner setting, which causes the family to come back together.

By giving so many variations on communion the author is able to support his beginning argument. The argument that while certain everyday actions or traditions may seem to be for only one reason, in literature there is usually numerous other than the commonly known one. The reader learns that communion in literature is almost never used in a holy form. While in life it’s used in order to show a connection between others or even gain trust that will be broken later. Sharing a meal is used to break bread not heads as best put by the author.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Quest for Self-knowledge

In the first chapter, the author expresses the idea that every protagonist in literature goes on some form of a quest. The author creates a hypothetical scenario that is used for the sole purpose of expressing his main idea, the quest. Within the short scenario, the author creates a simple, relatable  character in order to help portray that even the smallest trips can just be the beginning of a larger quest or journey. By creating a character that the reader can relate to, the author has also created a sense of familiarity. The audience is familiar to some sort of extent the average teenager, whom is primarily focused on dealing with teenage problems such as acne, relationships, and jealousy.  By this action the author has furthered the reader’s knowledge, therefore allowing the reader to have the ability to relate to the topic at hand; but also keeping the reader interested because of the familiarity of the protagonist. Although the topic at hand is nothing more then a mere structured formula similar to the hero's journey.

The idea that each trip, big or small, is nothing but a quest beginning to evolve can be related to the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is similar to the belief that each trip is a quest within its self, because in each there is a set structure to them both. The hero, or the protagonist, goes through set stages or checkpoints such as the call to adventure, crossing the threshold, and the rebirth during their journey in which causes them to the main character to act rationally or make certain decisions. While in the quest there are five things needed as stated by the author. The quest needs a quester or main character, somewhere to go with a reason to go there, trials and tribulations, and the true reason the quester went on the journey or the theme. In the case of the author’s hypothetical scenario the main character, who is already struggling with embarrassment, arrives at the grocery store on their bike running errands for their mother, when they see there enemy with the girl they want to be with having a good time. Embarrassed by their appearance and feeling insecure, the main character goes inside the store, but while in the store buying bread makes a life changing decision. The main character goes on to lie about their age in order to be able to enlist in the marines. By making the rational decision to lie about their age the character not only began their quest, but also encountered the call to action in the hero’s journey.
Based on the time period the author chose to set the scenario in, it was a time of chaos. The author chose to set the scenario in the late 60s, more specifically 1968. The year 1968 was one of the worst years in United States history for multiple reasons such as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Tet Offensive. In the scenario, the main character would have been sent to fight in the Vietnam War. While fighting in the war, the main character would have had a chance to discovery for they were, because the realization that life at home was not as bad as living in fear and in war. At some point the main character would experience the rebirth. From then on, the main character would be on a journey home.
Not only is the hero's journey and a quest clearly shown in the author's example, but also in various movies. Movies such as The Dark Knight, Thor, and even The Lion King all showcase a quest and a heroic journey. For example in the Lion King, Simba witnesses his father's murder but is tricked by his uncle, Scar, therefore causing him to believe his father's death was his fault. Simba then runs away, but years later learns that his home has been ruin by Scars reign. This leads to Simba's gain in self-knowledge, which results in his ability to save his people and homeland.