Tag Archive: truth


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

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.

“Lions, and Tyger’s and Bears.”

 

 

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion. (1)
The pride of the peacock is the glory of God. (2)
The lust of the goat is the bounty of God. (3)
The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God. (4)

In the very first line of this poem are metaphors that are quite cunning. As one can see, Blake did not hold back when it came to calling out the hypocrisy of which the state and church contained. Using irony, he shows the backward system of both Law and Religion -law is supposed to step in to prevent the further demise of deviant behavior so as to prevent the further imprisonment of the members of society; while religion is supposed to intervene and prevent the moral decline of its people. Instead, there is a greed filled profit to be made in both circumstances. In the following three lines he does a few things: he mentions emotion; he uses animal symbols; and he uses several key representation of God. Line 2’s Peacock symbol represents immortality -thus saying God’s glory is eternal. Line 3’s Goat represents bountifulness, indicating God will always provide. And, finally, Line 4’s Lion, represents that absolute leadership. One has to question why he would place these lines under the very first one, where he is revealing the greed that exists. The dichotomy in that was probably his goal. We see this throughout the rest of the poem.

 

 

The nakedness of woman is the work of God. (5)
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps. (6)
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man. (8)

In line 5, “the nakedness of the woman” indicates the actual human condition; but it is interesting, and should be noted that Blake chose to use the woman gender to represent such work. Perhaps he wanted to indicate that women are, in fact, the actual creators/carriers of other humans, and in addition, should not be demonized with regard to their connection to Eve. Again, just like line 1, line 5 stands out from lines 6, 7, and 8 where Blake speaks through emotional and physical attributes, and uses irony: “Excess of sorrow laughs/excess of joy weeps.” The three lines that follow imply the truth: that God does see all that occurs in the world; His power is too intense for others to want to recognize; therefore, they hide behind their lies.

 

The fox condemns the trap, not himself. (9)
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth. (10)
Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep. (11)
The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship. (12)

Because Foxes are known for being clever, line 9 could represent the marginalized group of people whom are being set up to fail amongst society. Lines 10 shows a before and after affect: first there is joy, later there is sorry that follows, as with most things in life. Lines 11, and 12 creates the idea that we should live our lives the way that we want, in order to create harmony.

 

The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod.
What is now proved was once only imagin’d.
The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit: watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.
The cistern contains; the fountain overflows.
One thought, fills immensity.
Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.
Every thing possible to be believ’d is an image of truth.
The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

 

The line that sums up the point of Blake’s message is that when he says: “Always be ready to speak your mind.” Blake’s use of nature and animals is a device where he wanted to use the most organic constructs to convey his message about truth.  -Marcy Martinez

 

 

 

When first reading the Proverbs of Hell, I read them as Hell’s version of the “Ten Commandments” simply from the title of the piece itself. However, after closely reading the piece, I came to the realization that it served more as a “list of truths and revelations”. Blake does not take a side in regards to these proverbs being completely true, rather he takes what he learned from “walking the fires of hell” and lays his knowledge out on the table for us to make what we wish out of it. In other words, Blake leaves the decision of the validity of these proverbs to be decided by us.

One of the proverbs that really stood out to me was specifically on lines 45-46 where he says “The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow” (Blake, 72). This proverb stood out to me because Blake again incorporates the symbol of the eagle, but this time compares it to a crow rather than an owl as we have observed in The Songs of Innocence. An eagle is typically seen as the most majestic of all bird species, in addition the symbol of the eagle is associated with “freedom” or self-discovery.  In contrast, a crow is a black and ugly creature, which is typically associated with death. A majestic eagle would surely waste it’s time learning from a bird that is below his class.

I related this idea of “freedom” and “death” through the symbol of the birds, back to the this question of what is good versus what is evil. We as a society have lived our lives based on a set of rules and guidelines in order to live a “good” life. If we stray from that path, we must repent for the “sins” we have committed. BUT, I came to realize that it has evolved into something more than just what’s good and whats bad, it has been morphed into a selfish dictatorship from a higher power (in Blake’s time, the corrupted Church). We ultimately have the power to decide whether we will stray from these rules and guidelines, stray from the crow, and self discover the truth for ourselves and become the divine Eagle.

In conclusion, Neither black nor white, good nor evil, William Blake’s TRUE poetic genius allows us to erase these boundaries that separate one from the other, and see aspects of the world around us in a new light.

-Kimberly Martinez-Melchor

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.

I think the most fascinating line in Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” is the very last one. He writes, “Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not to be believ’d” (73). If we read the rest of “Proverbs of Hell” with this line in mind, we can begin unpacking Blake’s complicated rhetoric. First of all, Blake has named this piece “Proverbs of Hell.” A proverb is generally understood to convey truth or advice, and the most famous example of collection of proverbs is the book of Proverbs in the Bible. However, Blake’s last proverb contradicts the fundamental meaning of a proverb—a proverb is a fundamental truth, yet Blake is arguing that truth can never be told in a way that conveys understanding. This is a theme we see woven throughout Blake’s works—truth cannot merely be heard and believed, it must be imagined. The complicated imagery and rhetoric of “Proverbs of Hell” is not meant to be taken at face value. Instead, this piece as a whole acts as a foil for both the book of Proverbs and the religious teachings of Blake’s contemporaries, such as Emanuel Swedenborg. Much like he does in “The voice of the Devil,” Blake uses an unbelievable narrator (someone from hell) to cast doubt on this work, and to force readers to make comparisons between these proverbs and the proverbs of religion. When compared, are they really all that different? In this way, Blake is inspiring his readers to find their own truth—for after all, “truth can never be told so as to be understood.”