Thursday, March 11, 2010

11 March 2010

Yorel Aloi

I loved how Iola Leroy flipped broader ideas of slavery and touched the deeper problems in the minds of the people that spent a very long portion of history repeatedly oppressing one group—African Americans. Harper’s stance was interesting and readable to me because it was wise, bringing forward all the ideas of slavery, segregation, African American discrimination and scrambled for a better understanding before proposing solutions that continuously fell short of solving the interracial problem that has greatly defined America.

In class, my group’s closer look at chapter XXVI illuminated the lack of a “right” solution on either side of the post-slavery American society. It seemed that everything came down to “what to do” with African Americans rather than how to redress the injustice of slavery and segregation. I, personally, saw the seemingly un-compromise-able differences in racial culture and how the dominating white American society at the time literally could not understand the people they had oppressed and only made it worse by keeping their hands in the matter, and then further how easily the lines drawn between races could be broken when not easily visible.

This seems to connect to our other readings as a more serious and focused jab at the racial issues in America like Twain, only for the later segregation after slavery.

And then for nowadays, it shows the massive foolishness of trying to eliminate prejudice and mold equality by further pointing out stereotypes, whether that means to point out not pointing them out or not. The attempts at "dealing" with prejudice and racism is exactly the opposite of the underlying point of ignoring differences unless necessary to arguments or relationships (gratuitous notice of characteristics, I would call it) which is aimless and without merit. It just screams the "if you have to ask, you'll never know" idea that is unbelievably present in a society that has unbelievable faith in its knowledge and understanding of the world. It's frightening to think that, as a society, we're still subjected to the same ridicule that's in Iola Leroy because equality is not something to be fixed but to be backed off of. Advantages and fear are just as much a symbol of perceived difference based on superficial characteristics as attacks and degradation, though it takes less of a cowardly mind to admit so.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

4 March 2010

Puddingheaded Wilson

Like many classical authors whose popularized works are not always the most profound and illuminating, Mark Twain’s Puddn’head Wilson was an engaging humorous approach to issues of the time period and further, proving that his status as a humorist was merely his favored genre in his literary explorations—oh and yeah, back to the point, much sharper on my reader’s eyes than his “classics.” Basically, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was one child, Puddn’head Wilson was its older, stronger sibling.

For literary merit, I found that Twain embodied my favorite function of literature—meaning. It seems like every sentence falls just short of joke and into that wonderful territory of point without total shroud of humor, and on the whole, every piece of writing attaches itself to the story as well as the themes. Sure, there are the short jokes, but the whole book is the joke, the reality of the people is the joke.

As for those themes, I think we handled most of them in class with all those ridiculous characters that should be able to handle their lives better than they end up doing with their antics—Twain’s overarching aim, I believe. The dramatic irony is so heavy, I couldn’t help but identify at every turn with the seemingly predictable actions of these characters, that it’s so easy for the reader to see solutions and happenings that we might just look out from our own foolishnesses in our own foolish societal customs and ideals (goodness!).

I think I should have put my time in in high school and read the Twain we were supposed to read. Guess it took one of his more obscure works to get me to add him to my list of favorite authors.

It was sharp. We need sharpness.