Tag Archive: art


Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Humberto Garcia

English 190: Senior Thesis

May 2, 2018

I wasn’t always an English major. I was lost in the vortex of societal norms and allowed the cosmology of my origin be originated by my environment. In high school, I was influenced by Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his passions. For the duration of my career there, I envisioned a future wherein I helped my community through a medical profession, working towards bettering their environments. Therefore, I entered college with an eye on biology and chemistry.

However, I soon learned that it wasn’t my calling; I wanted to change the world, but that wasn’t my path nor my way of doing so. Though I knew what passion I had for literature and pedagogy, I was lost in a panic of self-doubt, frantically seeking approval from my peers for wanting a future thought miniscule and futile. Though—as all bad things do, with the right attitude—that stays in the past. When I told my mother that I chose to work towards a teaching opportunity, and not a medical one, she hugged me with a sense of relief that one does when sighing. This happened late into my college career, but entering my third year at University of California, Merced, I found myself immersing into the new life I set for myself.

I was fortunate enough to have taken a course with Trevor Jackson—Intro to Short Story—and it was an experience I will carry along with me as I move further in my career. It was a lower division course, but the level of engagement and reflection within the class made it feel as if we were mini scholars. One text from that course that still sticks with me today is written by none other than Herman Melville: “Bartleby, the Scrivener”; a story of resistance and protest till death. Applying the autobiographical context to this short makes it even more powerful; Melville himself was having hardships with his publishing and was forced to write when/what he would prefer not to. Though it is lengthy and the language is no longer fresh, I would still love to assign this text to my future students for the practice of resistance to oppression—of course, identifying first what is oppression and what is mundanity. Ergo, my college career has been ultimately in reflection to what I can learn to teach others.

I was at my most impressionable when attending Dr. Hakala’s survey course of literary theories; and though she has an army of critiques against her, I learned best from her. Students come into college thinking they’re learning things they already know—simply refining them into a more cohesive sense of understanding what they know—but in this course, not only did I learn new material, I learned how to apply them, keeping in mind that that most texts are multifaceted. Therefore, a well-structured argument is of multiple critical theories; I learned that my favorite theoretical frameworks are: Marxist criticism and queer studies. With my future ahead of me, I was excited to learn so many ways to approach literature, for myself and for others. I passion to become the unorthodox professor/mentor that students feel encouraged to share their minds with one another, learning to refrain from the cautionary introduction of “I might be wrong…”

Professor Manuel Martín-Rodriguez (Chicana/o literature) told the class one day, to paraphrase: “if you begin a statement with caution, you discredit yourself before you’ve even made a claim.” From then on, I’ve made it my goal to always assert my thought, cutting out the passivity of an introduction; and this helped me in and out of school. It was around this time that I began to immerse myself in my community. Learning the struggles each writer encountered in their literary journey opened my eyes to how important we are to one another; it is through our communal efforts that literary movements advance. Notwithstanding, the course filled the empty hole that was my relation to literature and pedagogy. Hitherto, I hadn’t seen anyone of my color in my studies; and so, it was refreshing to read from another López. Although I’d love to thank the professor for influencing and motivating me to embrace my community and begin writing, I know he would defer his teachings to the actual writers we’ve studied. To paraphrase something else he once said in class: “it’s not my voice you’re hearing, it’s theirs”; and that has made all the difference in my ideals of pedagogy.

In my current senior thesis course, instructed by Humberto Garcia, I have found the style of teaching I longed for; each student is treated as formidable scholars and are given the respect earned. Notwithstanding, the professor has never failed to challenge the students, allowing us to showcase the skills we’ve adapted throughout the years. It is through this experience that we students reflect how each preceding course has enabled our ability to interpret text in a collegiate level. Dr. Garcia’s style of teaching was always inviting, challenging, and most importantly, an engaging experience; scarcely were the students ever felt they were being given a task that was out of their expertise—and this was mainly due to the careful preparation the professor applied to his lessons.

Ultimately, I take with me these lessons: always challenge the system that wrings out your labor; we learn not for ourselves, but for others; have faith in your arguments and refrain from cautionary introductions. I take all these lessons together in reflection of my career in its entirety, and I am confident in my near future as I work towards creating a healthier environment through pedagogy.

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Sara Nuila-Chae

Prof. Garcia

ENG 190

2 May 2018

Reflective Essay for ENG 190

My cumulative experience as an English major was not terrible. I came into this major not knowing much about critical theory and the mechanics of prose, poetry, and the novel. I guess my experience coming into the major relied heavily on my feelings and the political agendas attached to those works of literature. I was totally oblivious to the mechanical aspect of literature and the structures and hierarchies present within them. I used to believe that good literature was mostly prose either found in YA Fiction or on some obscure Tumblr poetry blog. In my short-sightedness other types of classical texts that were “too academic” were dripping with Colonialism and pretentiousness. I guess you could say that I thought good literature was like a tornado, with no clear path and unable to be pinned down. However, over the course of these years I have learned about major schools of thought and interpretation, about the significance of historical, geographic, and cultural context, about the formulaic nature of rhyming poetry, and how the novel (but here I will argue, all of literature) becomes what Dr. Hatten argued “a form of technology” itself.

One of the most refreshing courses that released me from my toxic ideology was the class ENG 100, where students were tasked with learning the diverse types of literature theory in which the way literature is read is dependent on which schools you are utilizing. This became the beginning of my religious experience; I had not really known much about why I read some texts some way, and yet my peers and professors would read it another. I found out that I prioritized a New Critic approach, with maybe a little bit of Feminism; I saw things as an entity separate of the historical, geographical, and cultural context that accompanied it. I guess you could say that from that moment, I began to understand literature not as a Grecian urn, but rather within the architextuality, and historical, geographical, and culture context that it sometimes demanded. I believe the core classes we were required to take: ENG 101, 102, 103, 104 supplemented my growth tremendously, because it gave clues as to what the author might be trying to say in their allusions, their metaphors, etc.

Context however wasn’t the only thing that I learned. Perhaps you can lump this with context, but structure also proved to give me a backbone (literally). When I took ENG 57 (Intro to Poetry) it was if I was taking math in an English class. I would have never guess that poetry could be so formulaic, and that even the structure of the poem could hark back and reinforce the content of the poem. I think I had become a bit of a modernist on how I viewed structured poetry: it was too restrictive…How could I say what I wanted if I was forced to follow rules? And yet, somehow those rules nuanced poems (I had never given much thought to how the methodical choice of plosive words to mimic bombs going off in a poem about war)! Structure presented poetry to me in a way it had never: something that was as creative as it was restrictive. I believe structure manifests itself in novels and other forms of literature as well: as a bildungsroman, a mystery novel, a human rights novel, a post-modern satire, the list goes on and on.

This all sort of segways into my final point about how literature is a type of technology. There are so many discourses working in a single piece of literature, so many structures interconnected, providing these chorus of voices that go back to the conception of words themselves. It is ever aware of its history, its presence, and all the things that culminate together to become a piece that’s revolutionary. I don’t mean to extrapolate, but that’s probably what Dr. Hatten meant in probably fewer words… literature is a technology, a machine with connecting parts that produce something magnificent. But I don’t mean to say that literature is some lifeless computer that must follow these rules and these parameters or else it can’t be good literature. On the contrary, literature is almost always attempting to defy the machine, to create new components and revolutionize the methods used to write. It refuses to be pinned down, but that’s what makes it intelligent. It has personality… and a life of its own too.

I was going to sit here and talk about how much I’ve become indoctrinated. I think I could talk about how literature somehow made me more empathetic to marginalized people and now I’m going to write a novel about more marginalized people because I am enlightened into infinity. It’s so easy to say that literature made you more sensitive to the problems of this world, that much is obvious. Why else should we read if not to explore a reality that is not our own? Why read if not to have our myopic lens be briefly widened? Literature has always been to expand the horizons of our knowledge. My problem has never been that I couldn’t relate and pity those that were marginalized, but rather that I couldn’t appreciate the aesthetic nature of literature. I didn’t pay all this money to learn how to empathize…I paid all this money to learn the ways I could evoke empathy from my audience. So, and here’s the conclusion: if I was to summarize and abridge what I’ve learned this past three years into a comprehensive sentence I would say this. I learned that literature wasn’t just a garbage dump for my feelings and political ideologies, literature is in many ways like a machine, that relies on technicalities, mechanisms, moving parts, but also paradoxically an anti-machine, that weaves together the raw emotion and words of the human soul. They work parallel to each other, with and against, producing something truly beautiful that moves an audience.

 “Milton will utterly consume us & thee our beloved Father” 

In Milton: Book the Second, Blake finds himself in the garden. Ololon meets Blake and then eventually finds Milton, and we find out that she is Milton’s feminine self. Blake express that Ololon’s position as a virgin is one that puts her in an “annihilable” state. And only by giving up her virginity is she free. Therefore, negation is necessary. This negation to preserve the opposite of Ololon turns out to be Milton. The negation is described as:

a false Body: an Incrustation over my Immortal
Spirit; a Selfhood, which must be put off & annihilated alway

The false body means entrapment and annihilation, and destruction to the immortal. So, to deny negation is to remain unscathed by one’s sexual potential. The ultimate sexual potential at this time would in fact be male-to-male oral sex. In the later line, the need for nudity and for undressing lineaments that are like ‘arks & curtains’.

These are the Sexual Garments, the Abomination of Desolation
Hiding the Human lineaments as with an Ark & Curtains

The ‘sexual garments’ hide the ‘human lineaments’ as illustrated in the image below, although, the person getting orally satisfied does appear to be wearing a small underwear-like garment. The background appears to be a sun because of the red flames encircling the yellow circle. However, the inside of the sun, where the yellow circle appears also has what appears to resemble many vaginal labias. Perhaps this could be a tie into another sexual organ besides what we assume is the penis, but perhaps the presence of the vagina is also an indication of the birth of this sexual act(the male-to-male oral sex). The person giving the fellatio is on their knees (which isn’t out of the ordinary), but the position in which they have their body facing forward and their head turned around is odd. The way that they are also looking into the other person’s eyes is a bit odd given the awkward position that they are in.

The identity of both of the participants is also ambiguous because the face of on figure isn’t visible since he is looking up. This brings into question the identities of the participants. An idea that came to me is that it could be Milton and Milton. Perhaps the ultimate way to not self annihilate is masturbation, which is sinful in even more ways that just plain male-to-male oral sex. However, I also think masturbation would indicate the ego/self righteousness. Another thought was that it was Ololon the “six fold Miltonic female”, but that would take away the significance of male-on-male oral sex. Another darker thought that arose was that the figures are either Milton and all of his followers, or (bear with me here) Milton and Blake. Given that throughout the first book, Blake is imitating the things he blames Milton of (ie. using women as objects, feeding into his own ego). It also makes sense to me because Blake is the person that Ololon goes to in order to be redirected to Milton. Therefore, Blake is perhaps acting as a link or maybe in more sexual terms: a vagina for Ololon to connect to Milton. Either way, this is extremely progressive for the time, and I had to stop myself from photoshopping Milton and Blake’s heads to this image.

Blake Milton 2

-Beyanira Bautista

The Female Touch

     Enitharmon, who it has been notioned to represent Marie Antoinette, is the embodiment of both the Womens’ force, while at the same time indicating that such a force is not a conducive one.  It is a rarity to have a woman in power, in any context, during this era; however, through Blake’s work, we see an antipode of such a parameter taking place. Her paradoxical/unfamiliar stance was a call-to-action to generate a revolution during a time when Christian ruling via the monarchy was the the status quo.  

    As noted in Blake’s Poetry and Designs, this obscurely written call-to-action, titled Europe: A Prophecy (1794) was a “prophecy for a revolutionary era because it demonstrates how much there is to rebel against and how sorely this languorous, effeminate society is in need of a cataclysmic awakening” (96).  While the term effeminate can exhibit a negative connotation, it supports the storyline Blake uses to counterpart what is going on during this time; thus, Enitharmon symbolizes that effeminate governing.

    When Enitharmon slept: “She slept in a middle of a nightly song/ Eighteen hundred years: a female dream!” (lines 4,5. P. 101).  This metaphor of a slumber translates to the lull in revolutionary progress. Before we understand what this means, we must approach this as a feminist critique so as to not necessarily decode the poem, but to ask ourselves why Blake chose to use the female (woman) motif to deliver this history lesson.  

     The use of the woman motif is used in several ways; we see this at the opening of “Preludium”: “The nameless shadowy female rose from out the breast of Orc: Her snaky hair brandishing in the winds of Enitharmon/and thus her voice arose” (98). The figure goes on to express her dissatisfaction with the current conditions she is enduring. This could possibly be the woman figure that represents a more humble and nurturing one -the one that France is in need of versus the one that seems to be more fixed on handling political matters in an aggressive way. And since Orc represents the French Revolution, this could be his inner being calling out for help, explaining: “I wrap my turban of thick clouds around my lab’ring head/ And fold the sheety waters as a mantle round my limbs/ Yet the red sun and moon/ And all the overflowing stars rain down prolific pains” (99).  What this could possibly translate to is that the female shadowy figure also represents loyalty to her mother country, but there has not been any reciprocity in that action.

     Being that with Enitharmon is a correlation with Marie Antoinette and Antoinette had a bad reputation known as running the country into the ground financially, as well as playing a part in great political decisions, we can assume then that Enitharmon’s slumber indicates the halt in social development and justice: “During her sleep, time is collapsed so that to her the birth of Christ, making the beginning of the European calendar, is the same event as the birth of revolution eighteen hundred years later” (Blake’s Poetry and Designs, 96).

   Hence, the use of the feminine (woman) is being used to symbolize a stunt in growth.  It is only until Orc resists against his mother that the revolution occurs. Thus, the woman motif, in this case, eludes to the notion of power, but at the same time disorganized power.

-Marcy Martinez

 

What a Beautiful World

The following story line reveals the “Innocence” of a child’s understanding, or lack thereof.  While in some of the writings I wrote the mother as the speaker, it is to be inferred that the child is listening, but again with a naivety.  Blake wrote much about the innocence of children in “Songs of Innocence.”  In one of the pictures I chose, the mother and child are black.  I chose to place this here, aside both other depictions where the families are white, in order to show that the black child has some sense of his place in the world, but yet still may not totally know yet.  On the other hand, while the white mothers and children will experience a different perspective of life, I still feel that the white children, too, will be entering a world of chaos, which Blake reveals in the other book. -Marcy Martinez

littleblackboy

My child, how shall I explain.
It seems that you understand the vain.
It seems as though you know your place,
It seems as if you know your name.
How can I explain to thee,
That lines and divides shall conquer we.
But still I shall guide thee with utter strength.
Leading you to a special rank
To me, your shade of skin
Is beyond a beauty.
And God only sees, what should He.

s-inn.b.p5-25.100

My sight is pure, so far I see.
No corruption, only smiles of teeth.
No idea of what color means.
No clue of the difference
between poor and elite.
My mother’s eyes, happy to be.
She carries me, with liberty.
She embraces me, with a loving touch.
She shows me the world,
But not too much.
Im happy in this life of mine.
Sunshine, skies, and butterflies.
No sense of ill or woes,
Just living a life, knowing
Where I shall go.

s-inn.b.p12-10.100

Looking down upon these two,
Feeling blessed for what they do.
They shall bask in the light of the sun
And their skin.
They shall live in a world
Where they shall not sin.
These two will go onto know it all.
Through seasons, survive,
Winter, Spring, and Fall.
All a while, gaining a sense of knowledge.
Looking forward to the day,
They make it to college.

s-inn.b.p14-6.100.jpg

Our bodies were warm in the sun of morn,

As the other kids began to tease out my name.

“What a dork; he still needs mommy’s permission.”

 

Tugging on her arm, I cried, “please mama,”

Her gaze went over my head, “it is not up to me

“Child. Ask your father. And take your brother.”

s-inn.b.p12-10.100.jpg

“Alright. It’s your turn! I had to ask mom”

“Aw man. That’s no fair.”

I budged his arm as we approached him.

 

“Oh, uh hi dad. Can Willie and I go watch—”

“Hello children. Where are your clothes?”

We looked down at each other, “oh yeah, weird.”

 

“Anyways dad, Blake wanted to ask you something…”

He shook his attention back to Blake’s eyes, grabbing him, “yes?”

Blake pleaded, “can we please watch the old geezer play at the hill?”

 

Father looked over at me, at my nakedness.

“Oh, right,” I came to, “we’ll put on clothes before going.”

He laughed as he nodded and played with Blake’s chubby arms.

s-inn.b.p13-54.100.jpg

“Hey uh Blake… is it just me or does this guy kind of suck?”

He looked around at the crowd, “yeah. He’s kind of terrible. But

“why is everyone so into him?” He kept his watch on the crowd.

 

“I dunno. Maybe it’s an adult thing or something. I just can’t seem to—

“WAIT A MINUTE. BLAKE! CHECK OUT THIS DUDES BEARD!”

He glanced over furiously, “where? Woah! That’s thing is awesome.”

 

I chose these images because they fit my narrative well–not to say my story was already set in stone before looking for them, but I had a general sense of how I wanted it to go. I wouldn’t take it extremely serious because the prompt didn’t ask to mimic Blake’s writing or tones. I wanted to illustrate the feelings of innocence by offering the story through the perspective of a child and his little brother wanting to fit in with the other kids. Ironically enough, I used a poetic form because I saw others do it as such. I would have preferred writing a short story in prose, but I figured since everyone else was doing poetry, my Genius would get scolded; and that’s why my story doesn’t read much like a poem or song.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

“As none by travelling over known lands can find out the unknown, So

from already acquired knowledge Man could not acquire more. Therefore an universal Poetic Genius already exists.” -Blake

Blake’s perspective on Genius and of art seems to be a very natural one -one that does not require higher forms of schooling.  Perhaps is own personal experience in having a acquired a natural craft for art, as well as having been sent to a local art school has a lot to do with his perspective.  I believe that his upbringing with parents whom supported Blake’s endeavors with a humble hand, also had much to do with Blake’s modest ways.  His thoughts, noted in the passage above, are that no individual need to seek much more than what is already innately within them to be considered a genius.  Conversely, Reynolds speaks of different levels of artistic steps one must take to attain a true genius eye: “I recommend the diligent study of the works of our great predecessors: but I at the same time endeavored to guard them against an implicit submission to the authority of any one master however excellent.”  While, Reynolds does want art students to be careful of over-studying the predecessors, his point still remains that they must go through a rite of passage, so to speak, in order to reach true genius.

In Blake’s encryption, “Israel deliverd from Egypt is Art deliverd from Nature & Imitation” is reminiscent of his perspective on what it means to be a true artist, a genius.  In other words,  Egypt, assuming it was a beautifully constructed land, was ironically constructed by the hands of slaves, the Israelites.  Henceforth, they were the artists, and Blake uses that deplorable historical experience to point out that while the construction was a beautiful sight, it was done so through imitation -imitation, being what the slaves were forced to come up with by means of their aggressor.  This encryption does two things: it goes against Reynold’s Utopian perception of the genius, and it brings up a political and religious injustice. I feel as though he is also exposing the hypocrisy in that of art.  When a piece of art gets in the hands of the elite, they consume it and greed begins to take over.  The art becomes something it was not intended to be in the first place.

-Maricela Martinez (Marcy)

Sir Joshua Reynolds argues in Discourse III, “could we teach taste or genius by rules, they would be no longer taste and genius” (44). Which is to say that there is an unnatural, innate power of “taste” and “genius” that cannot be taught–or shouldn’t. That seems to debunk the whole idea of mentor and mentee relationships, or quite simply the basic premise which education stands on: teaching.

William Blake, however, has a similar thought on higher, outward thinking, but instead of stating that it cannot be learned, he argues that we all have the possibility to perceive more than we already know. In his poem There Is No Natural Religion, Blake writes “man’s perceptions are not bounded by organ of perceptions; he perceives more than sense (tho’ ever so acute) can discover.” Which includes those students that Reynolds would consider not genius.

In relation to the scripture found on the image, “Israel deliverd from Egypt is Art deliverd from Nature & Imitation,” Blake would argue that art is both a natural phenomenon as it is a practiced, sculpted one.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

People always idealize perfection as a necessity, but he wants people to know that “Nature herself is not to be too closely copied” (41). Nature offers the inspiration for the artist and the artist has to create with that inspiration, merely copying would prove that there is no substance to what they have done. The originality that comes from this inspiration becomes watered down and in the end people are left behind with an imitation that seeks to be as perfect as the original. The concept is highlighted in William Blake’s “The Lacoon,” as he states “Israel deliverd from Egypt is Art deliverd from Nature & Imitation” (352). In order to escape from the constraints of imitation one must be open to exploring other ideas of beauty than just one superior one. Reynolds argues that “The artist is supposed to have ascended the celestial regions, to furnish his mind with this perfect idea of beauty”(42). Artists find themselves being caught up in the idea of trying to capture the “perfect idea of beauty” that they do not realize that there is no true conceptualization of perfection. Perfection exists in the eye of the beholder and therefore should not be confined to thinking that there is only one way to represent it. As the way to be able to explore these many forms of perfection is through imagination. This is a skill that cannot be taught but rather gets gained over the course of experience and becomes refined with time. As Reynolds puts it “not easy to define in what this great style consists; nor to describe, by words, the proper means of acquiring it” (43-44). There will always be two ways to do things: through learned knowledge or through innate abilities. The second is hard to define as it comes naturally and with it becomes easier for those to step away from the limitations of imitation.

-Alexis Blanco

“I will free from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt” Exodus 6:6

William Blake’s analogy relies on the biblical context that Israel was delivered to freedom from the oppressive enslaving grip of Egypt. The second half of the encryption in Blake’s “The Lagoon” compares then art being delivered from something similar: “is art deliverd from Nature and Imitation”. Putting into context that the Israelites were rejecting Egypt and escaping it, then the second part of the expression implies that Blake rejects the notion of art being confined solely to nature and verisimilitude features that only seek to imitate the real world instead of morphing it into something else.

In a way, art that relies solely on these two features is what Egypt was to the Israelites: a slavery of mind, soul, and body. Reynold’s expresses “the mechanic and ornamental arts must sacrifice to fashion, she must be entirely excluded from the Art of Painting; the painter must never mistake this capricious changeling for the genuine offspring of nature; he must disregard all local and temporary ornaments, and look only on those general habits which are every where and always the same” (48). Reynold’s statement that an artist must accept only the actual truth that never changes is Alexandrian and similar to Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas which advises poets to rise to “transcendental truths, which will always be the same” (as stated in the footnote). Therefore, Blake’s attitude towards Sir Joshua Reynold’s definition of artistic genius are completely dismissive, and the complete opposite. He even goes as far as saying that Reynold’s and artists like him are “hired by Satan” (463) to destroy art. Perhaps his passion is so emboldened in this topic because of Blake’s deep understanding that his art was not viewed as “real art”, but merely as “craftsmanship”. Blake even expressed that greats like Michelangelo and Rafael knew the Venetian and that they acknowledged that following the rules would lead to the destruction of art itself.

William Blake expresses eloquently through the engraving his sentiments: The Eternal Body of Man is the Imagination

-Beyanira Bautista