While Skylar and Leen prefered the Thomas translation, Emily and I favored the Anderson translation. Skylar commented that Thomas’s translation had a clearer rhyme scheme and heavier wording. Leen prefered Thomas because his translation felt more literal to her. Emily liked Anderson’s translation more because she felt the sentences flowed better while Thomas’s sentence structure was odd. I prefer the Anderson translation because the phrasing felt more organic. The Thomas translation felt stiff and formal to me. I also like how Anderson eases into the rhyme scheme. The first couple of sections do not rhyme but he transitions into rhyme at the latter end of the “Prologue” then goes into a full rhyme scheme starting at “The Sentence.” This transition emphasizes the reality within the poem. At first it just feels like Akhmatova is telling her own story and experiences but then as the rhyme scheme transitions you feel she is telling the stories of a whole nation.
!: Writers can usually garner prosecution but rarely are poets targeted.
?: How could poets make a living in Stalinist Russia without publishing purely party approved texts?
Ensemble on the Rocks was a gathering of short skits that students in a theatre class developed throughout the semester. It was refreshing to see such alternative student creativity. All of the skits focused on abstract ideas and very few characters had actual names. A turtle gets turned on its back. A teenager feels the loss of their first love. Greed leads to downfall. A couch salesman earns a free company vacation. A railroad worker gets a spike driven through his head and dies twelve years later. So many stories were told in fifty minutes inside the Barber Theatre. Rich perspectives were portrayed in mere minutes.
Mark Sutch’s production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth was a spectacle to behold. Having read and seen the Scottish play many times, Sutch’s interpretation breathed new life into it for me. I was unsure where the production was going when it opened with the death of Macbeth’s son, an element that is not in Shakespeare’s original rendition, but as the play progressed this piece fell into place beautifully. Sutch’s depiction of the witches surprised me in the best way possible. Instead of simply being old, mysterious hags, the witches were resurrected dead who moved among the land of the living at will. The dead donned clear masks as an existing witch initiated them into the coven. They influenced the events of the story, taking different roles and disappearing. The masks classified them as other and distorted their facial features. Even the actors’ body language completely changed when they became witches. They viewed the world from a lens outside of the comprehension of the human characters.
Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in Mississippi during the Civil War. 6 months later, her and her family were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Wells attended Rust College, a historically black and Methodist institution, but had to drop out after her parents died of yellow fever. She worked as a teacher but launched her career in social activism after she was asked to leave a first class train car on account of her being black. She started her own press in Memphis and wrote social commentaries, unafraid of criticizing anyone. After three of her friends were lynched before their court trial, she focused on the issue, raising awareness and provoking action. She toured internationally speaking on the injustices of lynch mobs in the South. Angry Memphis locals burned and raided her press and she moved to Chicago to continue her work. She co founded the NAACP and became involved in the suffragette movement, focusing on the rights of black women. She was well known and respected for her work, but was asked to march at the back of the Suffragette Parade in DC so as to not offend white suffragettes. She refused and joined the march on her own terms.
“[Rape charges during a lynching] closed the heart, stifled the conscience, warped the judgment and hushed the voice of pulpit and press.”
“A Winfield rifle should have a place of honor in every black home. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.”
“I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap.”
Mary Church Terrell was born in 1863 to freed slaves. Her parents were prominent business owners who sent Terrell to college. Terrell earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in teaching. She took on the issue of lynching after one of her close friends was lynched in Memphis. It was the same incident that prompted Ida B Wells to take action on the issue. Terrell was a co founder of the NAACP and a prominent suffragette. She noticed that many white suffragettes did not advocate for the same rights for women of color. She encouraged African Americans to educate themselves in order to be accepted by white society. Near the end of her life, she won a court case that ruled that segregated restaurants in Washington DC are unconstitutional.
“And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ‘ere long.”
“It is impossible for any white person in the United States, no matter how sympathetic and broad, to realize what life would mean to him if his incentive to effort were suddenly snatched away. To the lack of incentive to effort, which is the awful shadow under which we live, may be traced the wreck and ruin of score of colored youth.”
“As a colored woman I may enter more than one white church in Washington without receiving that welcome which as a human being I have the right to expect in the sanctuary of God.”
Gourevitch and Sontag both detail how public opinion shapes war. Gourevitch states that because the UN’s idleness during the Rwandan genocide appalled the world, the UN allowed the French Opération Turquoise. The operation further exasperated the war between the RPF and the Hutu Power government of Rwanda and allowed Hutu death squads to hide under the guise of being refugees. Onlookers influenced a conflict that they never felt directly. Sontag also speaks of this phenomenon when relaying the history of war censorship. The American public heavily criticized American involvement in the Vietnam war based on gruesome photographs of the aftermath. Their empathy for the other demoralized the American effort. Just as in the Rwandan conflict, the sentiments of bystanders heavily influenced those directly involved within the war.
It was interesting to learn the histories of passports within specific countries. I had never thought about how much weight a passport can hold. One of the most striking aspects of the passport workshop was learning about stateless people. I remember a specific story about a girl from Algeria who went to school in the US and got stuck after her specially-granted travel documents expired. Because she has no citizenship, she can’t leave. She may never see her family again. Her story and this workshop brought my attention to issues that are usually never discussed.
People agree that war is terrible, but no one thinks it will stop entirely. War has certain connotations associated with it depending on those who view it. To the perpetrators, context matters. Who is in the picture? What side caused suffering? Who is innocent? All of these questions matter to those actively engaged in war, but to those who have the privilege to merely view war, it is “generic.” It does not matter what side inflicted what pain; only the carnage matters. But violence is not enough to condemn war. Many people believe that violence is justified in some situations.
Context matters to those engaged in war, but to the privileged onlookers war is generic, violent, and sometimes justified.
Something about bodily mutilation attracts people. The body is beautiful and to see it violated evokes a “prurient” response. Today this attraction to pain evokes guilt, but in a religious sense pain and sacrifice can lead to exaltation. The feeling of safety can breed indifference to others’ pain but so can overwhelming fear. The feeling of helplessness compounds this indifference.
While bodily mutilation attracts people, they can become indifferent to it because they are either too far removed from it or too close to it.
To be surprised that violence happens every time one encounters it is to be morally immature. We must accept that violence happens and forget specific grievances in order to reconcile. There is nothing wrong with looking at provoking images and merely thinking on them.
We must accept the violence within our world and not be ashamed to think on it.
Adolf Eichmann was a traveling salesman before joining the Nazi party. He worked his way up the ranks easily and in 1942 was put in charge of transporting Jews to extermination camps under the “final solution” plan.
The Origins of Totalitarianism is split into 3 essays: Antisemitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism. Eichmann argues that totalitarianism distinguishes itself from other oppressive forms of government in that fear is used to suppress populations and not just political opponents. Regimes want to control every part of the lives of their citizens.
Where do knowledge and truth intersect? Do we make truths based on perceived knowledge or do our truths shape what we choose to know about the world? These are the questions that I could not shake out of my mind after reading William James’s “Pragmatism.” James claims that we decide what knowledge is convenient and what knowledge is useless based on our own convictions. We make discoveries and observations and decide what the most convenient truth is. This claim ties into Thomas Kuhn’s theory of paradigms. Both authors agree that humans select the truths that are most convenient to them, but they differ in their beliefs on knowledge. James argues that our truths are unoriginal; they are only the accumulation of past knowledge. Kuhn argues that we create a paradigm or truth and build our knowledge around it, disproving the accumulated knowledge of the past. How do these different assertions look when applied to our world?
A concept that really stood out to me in Thursday’s lecture was the ambiguity of translation. Should translators focus on the literal equivalents of words or on the meaning behind them? The translator adds to the text in their own way, applying their own interpretations of the text. Jorge Luis Borges touches on this in Ficciones stating, “There are famous poems made up of one enormous word, a word which in truth forms a poetic object, the creation of the writer” (24). Just as the writer creates their own “object” through one enormous word, the translator chooses theirs to create an entity that is their own. The reader sees the intent of the original author through the lens of the translator’s intent, then applies their own experiences to it. In this way, language and translation are living, breathing elements that take many different forms.