Tag Archive: humanity


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.

Advertisements

Milton needs to “go down to self annihilation and eternal death” because he is the “Poetic Genius” who protects “Divine Humanity” (The Prophetic Books of William Blake). This idea of being the protector of the people correlates with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ died in order to save humanity from Judgement. In William Blake’s Milton, Milton goes on to say “When will the Resurrection come to deliver the sleeping body / From corruptability / Tarry no longer for my soul lies at the gates of Death. / I will arise and look forth the morning of the grave” (The Prophetic of William Blake). Milton knows that humanity is easily capable of being corrupted. Many outside factors lie when influencing people’s behavior; essentially, behavior that may not seem “correct” through the eyes of the Poetic Genius. In order to protect and prevent humanity from any further fraudulent conduct, he must sacrifice himself – just like Jesus Christ. Yet, while his sacrifice may prevent a corruptible society, his actions ultimately go against Catholicism beliefs and also demonstrate corruption itself. By taking his life, under Catholicism beliefs, Milton’s dammed for all eternity. He goes on to support this notion by referring to himself as Satan through his selfhood. So can the Poetic Genius – who now appears to be messing with the reader through the use of good and evil – save humanity when he himself is as easily corruptible as humanity?

We Are What They Tell Us to Eat

William Blake has given me a framework to reflect on our relationship with the living world I inhabit. I have arranged three of his plates above to highlight our connected histories and fate with nature. The three plates I chose demonstrate never-ending relationships of language, gender, religion, freedom and so forth. But I think they also offer a framework to think about our co-existence with the environment that invites me and welcomes me. The first plate, from left to right, depicts human birth paralleled to the birth of a flower. This blooming interconnection of  humanity and nature is echoed in the next plates. The plate in the middle is full of life, resembled both in the stance of the people at the top and the greenery’s energetic twists. The last plate, which looks darker in color but nonetheless beautiful and full of life and wisdom, is a portrayal of our connection to the world when it is at it’s end. Blake’s plates give us a quick but multi-faceted and complicated synopsis of the human life and it’s cyclical beauty paralleled to that of nature.

However, the narrative I have created is far from being unpolitical. My readings of Blake leave me with additional ideas to process. How has industrialization, capitalism, and white supremacy poisoned our relationship with the environment? What would gender expression look like when it’s co-created with nature instead of nation-state language and sexist and transphobic ideologies? How can we (re)think, (un)learn, and feel a connection with nature and with the food that we eat, in terms of challenging the “right food” or “good food” for a healthy colonial body that is the gears and shifts of a capitalist machine.

-Israel Alonso

I was intrigued to see Blake included a poem titled “Infant Sorrow” in Songs of Experience. Although I knew that Songs of Experience offered contrary poems to Songs of Innocence, “Infant Joy” was not a poem I expected to have a contrary poem. An infant is the epitome of innocence—he has absolutely no worldly experience, and he is not old enough to know of the sorrows and corruption of the world. For this reason, I expected “Infant Joy” to be a standalone poem—for Blake to utilize it as a way of showing “true innocence,” especially when compared to Songs of Experience.

By including “Infant Sorrow” in Songs of Experience, I think that Blake is making a very poignant statement. The infant itself has no worldly experience; therefore this poem can hardly be considered a song of “experience.” What does this say about human nature? Can it be assumed that infants are truly the only joyous humans because of their lack of knowledge and corruption, as Songs of Innocence would have you believe? “Infant Sorrow” paints a much darker picture of humanity, beginning as early as birth. The baby’s unhappiness seems to imply that sorrow is an inherent human trait, and that it is not experience that corrupts human nature, but the very natures that we are born with. This problematizes our reading of “Infant Joy”—is the baby actually happy, or is it a fleeting joy that will soon be lost to a life of sorrow? And is there anything that can preserve that joy, or is humanity destined for sorrow, regardless of experience?