Tag Archive: society


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

Though William Blake is not anti-religious as Thomas Paine is, they both share a similar distaste for the church and state and how they operate (rule) society.

In Thomas Paine’s “The Rights of Man Part 1”, he argues against the fallacy of his government: “what is government more than the management of the affairs of a nation? It is not, and from its nature cannot be, the property of any particular man or family…” (3). Evidently, Paine’s views on his government are that no one particular being ought to run the government, but perhaps the society should influence government’s tactics and affairs. A radical thinker, especially for his own time. Though not so estranged from Paine’s beliefs, Blake also sees the fallacies in his own government, as he reflects in his songs, “The Chimney Sweeper” from experience to be exact.

As mentioned before, Blake was not against religious faith, but merely disgusted by the foul practice of formed religions. He expresses his thoughts about churchgoers throughout the poem, especially in lines 3-4: “where are they father & mother? say?/They are both gone up to the church to pray.” (35). The fact that these god-loving parents can abandon their child and leave them to die in the business of sweeping chimneys, buried in soot, is appalling; and Blake offers who is at fault: the church and state. The closing lines 9-12 suggest rulers of society are allowing children to be killed in a disillusion, rather than offering help: “And because I am happy, & dance & sing,/ They think they have done me no injury:/ and are gone to praise God & his Priest & King/ Who make up a heaven of our misery.” (35). Blake places the church and state at fault for the sufferings of the children, as Paine definitely would, while still being a faithful god believer; he does not question the power or will of god, but those who serve him and use his name to rule.

–Daniel Lizaola Lopez

Rogue Thoughts

William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” are astonishing in so many levels. First of all, when I think of the word “proverb” I associate it with a religious connotation – The Book of Proverbs –  and how it’s meant to inform people on how to live their life “truthfully” and “correctly” by honoring God; e.g. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). However, in Blake’s last proverb, he goes on to say, “Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ’d.” In other words, Blake sheds light on his idea that people should already know “truth” without questioning it; that the truth can’t be told in a way that’s going to misinform individuals. However, with Marilyn Manson’s performance of the proverbs, it adds a very dark and rogue tone to the words. Almost like a parallel to society; that we live in a dark world in which truth surrounds us. We may question some of these dark truths but deep down inside, we may already know the answer them. With Manson’s performance, the proverbs sound like a form of common sense were supposed to know; one should already know and be aware that “the nakedness of woman is the work of God” and that “one thought fills immensity.” We’re expected to know these things based on the day to day lives we live.

Revolution or Continual Renewal?

While Blake is obviously no proponent of empire or hierarchical systems of government, affixing the word “revolution” to his political ideology could be an erroneous construction. The definition of revolution states the following: “A forcible overthrow of a government or social order for a new system.” Though he admires the ideals of the French and American revolutions, Blake does not envision a satisfactory replacement for these tyrannical systems–instead, he pushes for a continuous state of revolution. As someone mentioned in class, even anarchy would not satisfy Blake’s political desires because by being a lack of a system, it itself becomes a system. Tying these ideas back to the tenets of the Poetic Genius, Blake might imagine a society in revolution as the supreme expression of imagination and individualism, whether seen through the freedom to act without laws or being able to create and destroy anything at will. Because such a system is nearly unimaginable for eighteenth-century people (even still for today’s population), Blake would have become an outcast for expressing his ideas forthrightly, so by asserting suggestive hints at such a system through convoluted documents and images, he proposed his radical ideas for continuous revolutionary renewal in such a way that only the most interested and creative people could understand his idea for a new society (or lack thereof).