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Author: Alexander Seeley

Handmaid’s Tale: Judge with context

The last section of Handmaid’s Tale made me think that, as a society, as all as it may seem, we are never that far from some radical idea being put into place. In the back of most people’s minds are thoughts about what to do if everything goes to shit. Gilead, seems to be an example of a place which existed because of its strict rules in order to preserve life in some form.  It is easy to judge Gilead’s oppression without taking in consideration its context in history. Despite its controversial manner of operation, this seems to be a white christian tribes way of establishing population longevity during a time when their own numbers were dwindling. 

(Back to Book) I wanted to highlight the glimpse of hope we get at the end of the book.  Although Offred was to be punished, their is a possibility that Nick helped her escape her surroundings to a free place. Throughout the novel we are exposed to more people existing secretly in opposition to the republic of Gilead. By the end, it becomes believable that there is an underground railroad out of such a community. This leads me to think that Atwood, despite her continuous dystopian scenery, injected an idea of human beauty and hope in any rotten implemented society. 

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Offred’s club discovery: Everyone breaks the rules

 The commander sneaks Offred off of the property for a night “out,” a luxury from the past. We are taken into the ‘club’ where we see a variety of men, dressed in suits and women in different revealing “tropical” outfits. We are introduced to the Jezebel’s who seem to be a form of prostitutes who can be “rented out for the night.”Although a club of this sort is strictly forbidden, we see yet another way that the highest class, the Commanders are able to abuse their powers to indulge in things of the past. 

After being in the club for a short time, Offred notices Moira. After they exchange their classic cue, they meet in the bathroom and catch up. Offred learns about Moira’s escape and introduction into the Jezebel lifestyle. She explains it as more liberating, and she even tries to convince Offred to join. Although she was caught trying to escape in a chicken truck, she met a better fate than she thought. Although Moira is essentially a prostitue, this lifestyle seems to be more attractive than any of the others presented to women in the society of Gilead. Even though they are continuously sexually exploited, Moira gains the freedom to learn more of the ins and outs of their society. Moira goes on to tell Offred about her mother who she saw in a video which was presented to her at the end of her punishment. We learn where the old women are sent, to the colonies where they help clean atomic waste. Although this saddens Offred she is excited to hear any news as she has been separated from any of her former life for so long. This section fortifies the idea that no regime can prevent humans from breaking the rule. Further, we are forced to question why everyone in this society is upholding the values if no-one really follows the rules. 

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Big Wild Concert (Culture event #2)

Last weekend I went to a Big Wild concert at the National. For those who don’t know about Big Wild, his name is Jackson Stell. Stell is an electronic producer, composer, vocalist, and engineer.  In the last couple of years I have gained an increasing interest in related music genres such as electronic, trance, house, deep-house, funk, and dance. The community I have found in this world of music seems to be the epitome of ‘forget everything that is going on and just dance.’ Big Wild was able to create a great environment for a non-judgmental dance floor full of drugged twenty-something year olds in colorfully unique outfits. 

In this specific concert, Big Wild used a lot of visuals, singing, guitar, electronic maneuvering, and crowd interaction. I thought his visuals were beautiful and perfect mood setters for the songs he was playing/singing. On top of the psychedelic/rave aspect of the music, he beautifully sang choruses in his falsetto creating an almost floating feeling. Although I was an average fan of Big Wild before this concert, I have gained a higher profound respect for his musical ability as well as his ability to connect and incite a crowd. 

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Culture piece #1 Joker: Review+Influence

I saw Joker a couple weeks ago and although I am not very in tune with movie reviews, I know there are many feelings towards the film. A lot of people talk about the lack of action and use of ‘slow scenes’ as a reason for their bad ratings. Personally I believe the film was beautiful, bold, and informative. The cinematography was very different from the Dark Knight which for some reason I did not expect. Although there was much less action, the film held a similar graveness and power which was exemplified in the Dark Knight. Sidenote-I am comparing to the Dark Knight because I held a lot of pre-conceived ideas of what the film was going to be like compared to what it actually was. So when people asked me (tens if not hundreds of times), “Was it better/worse than the Dark Knight?” I answered, “I thought it was just as badass, but in different ways, such as Jaoquin Phoenix’s mental illness portrayal and the way we experienced his development” When I say ‘the way they filmed it,’ I am highlighting the use of emotion play and character development rather than the physicality and movement. 

In Joker, we watch as Jaoquin Phoenix acts as mentally impaired individual who only achieves happiness through evil acts. Before this movie, this concept was hard to understand. Why I think the movie did such a great job at portraying mental illness is because we were able to struggle with Phoenix through the painful scenes of transformation. The lack of control the Joker had while spiraling out and becoming an ultimate villain was not only awful/scary but beautiful because of his struggle. I almost felt sympathetic. Lastly, although I do not know much about superhero history,  this movie was a great incite into the batman story as well. 

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No one is happy

The most interesting part of this section for me were the continuous references to the alliances between groups. In class we talked about the inability to rid of human nature. In this section we are reminded of this by the continuing underground communication between the handmaids. I think about the similar bond the handmaid’s have to students or prisoners. As they all exist in this oppressive environment together, they find ways to communicate and share information which is forbidden. We see the disconnect between power structures when Aunt Lydia questions Janine about Moira’s escape. Although there must be some Handmaids who have information on Moira, Aunt Lydia will probably never find that information because of the strong bond between the Handmaid’s, built in this oppressive state. Ultimately they all hate the system and take any liberty to defy it without being caught. 

The second part I want to highlight is the interaction between Offred and the Commander. This scene highlights another instance of the inability to prevent humans from being entirely disciplined. Both the Commander and Offred know what they are doing could end in punishment, however the natural lust seems to drive Offred’s curiosity and the commander’s insistence. With the knowledge that everyone is lonely in this environment, the Commander invites her in his private room with hope that he can find some meaningful relationship. Such a simple act as playing a game of Scrabble can ignite emotions of the past which are now deemed useless and even sinful.  

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Persepolis Final- Satrapi escapes

Firstly, I found Satrapi’s objections in art class to bring up a the ultimate problem of all the oppressive laws towards women: they did not make sense. During this sectioN there are many instances of utter frustrations, Satrapi cannot seem to assimilate to her own traditionalistic society and in most instances it only bring her trouble. Although her resistance is honorable and makes those in her family proud, it never seems to be appropriate in society. When Satrapi is caught after class drawing the man, she is chastised, to which she responded something along the lines of, “What do you want me to draw him facing the wall?” The instructor exclaims, “Yes!” The distinction in laws between males and females seems to have no other sound argument other than women are the property of men, which I guess it pretty the underlying truth in this society. 

Satrapi talks about the ability of her and her friend to balance this traditionalist society which doing their own art at home and/or partying every night. In a time of war and oppression she claimed, this two-faced life, cmade her and her friends ‘shitzophrenic,’ Satrapi seemed lost again, gets married and then has another episode of enlightenment. In terms of being married she becomes the exact woman she never wanted to become. By marrying and ‘acting normal’ she was conforming to the traditionalist regime. Ultimately Satrapi makes the choices we have all been waiting for and relieves herself of this lifestyle by moving to France. 

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Satrapi’s move

Satrapi’s move to Austria severely changed her not only her environment but perception of the world. Leaving Iran and living away from home for the first time introduced her into a whole new “free world” in which she began to question everything. Her exposure to the sexual revolution par western influence conflicted her original teachings in Iran. In certain instances Satrapi felt as if she was “playing a game by somebody else’s rules.” (39-for me) Her guilt ate at her conscious during this section as she adopted a more assimilated lifestyle. Why should she be smoking with her friends when her parents were being bombed, daily?

As Satrapi floats from different social circles she faces a constant “outsider” feeling. As Michael Paul referred to in his blog post, Marji can’t seem to find a group which accepts her for who she is and what she believes. Satrapi’s exposure to  western influenced anarchism was much different than her’s in Iran, yet rooted in a similar beliefs. 

Although the beginning of her move was not easy at first, Satrapi grew through her experience. Her mom’s visit towards the end of the section allowed for a stillness in Satrapi which she did not have before. Satrapi could understand why her mom would sacrifice so much for her safety and growth. 

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Education’s role: Link to leadership studies

While reading this last section I couldn’t help but think of the conversation we had last class concerning education’s role in fixing past injustices. Specifically, when thinking about my own studies in the Leadership school, we study subjects such as Ethics and and Theories Models as our core curriculum. Additionally we are required to take two electives of our choice which allows for a bit of diversity in studies among majors. A question which I have been thinking throughout this semester is: How do we balance our core curriculum and elective studies in order to incorporate other perspectives of history?

The final section of Beloved highlights the cycle of racism. When we (as a society) are faced with the repercussions of such horrors of slavery we carry the responsibility to bring justice to those affected. On page 289 (for me) the idea of African American’s association with dirtiness highlights a learned stereotype which requires a level of understanding as a result of education. As members of a society we are challenged to find the ‘right stuff’ in order to solve issues we hold pertinent to us. Further, I think a fair chunk of the learning process is to diversify your interests until you find some study which genuinely motivates you. With this background in knowledge we may discover the causes we find most motivating to attribute our life. 

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The “Jungle” Effect: Institutionalized Racism

Last class we discussed the issue of labeling African-Americans as animalistic, and further the systemic issues in our society which allow the existence of these stereotypes. In Nicolette’s blog she discussed the cultural effects of slavery on all of society. Whites were instilling animistic conditions for African-Americans creating a perpetual cycle which continues to exist today. Further, as we saw in the scene with the Schoolteacher where Sethe heard the students dividing her characteristics into either the animalistic category or the humane, certain aspects of slavery remain implicitly as a consequence of perpetuating racist education. Nicolette wrote, “Whites who acted as reluctant participants are often just doing what they think their role is in life.” The implicit racism which remains because of slavery couldn’t/can’t be solved by legislative action but needed a re-education of layers of misguided, racist propaganda. 

Although there were many white folks who were helping the movement, there were many (including those you helped) who couldn’t accept their willful ignorance and properly deal with the issue. Continuing to oppress blacks allows for us to disregard such past issues, but in this case we aren’t able to actually investigate the lasting effects of slavery it has only not only blacks but whites as well. Referring to the perpetual oppressing cycle,Morrison wrote, “It was the jungle white folk planted them in.” This “jungle” (system) which white folk instilled has continued to exist. The self-understanding by whites of their awful history and their implicit sentiments seems to be too rich and deep of an issue for many to uncover. Morrison further writes, it is the “screaming baboon living under their white skin.” Oppression is easy to do for society, what becomes a more convoluted and exposing issue is when we try display the truths of our past and the every-lasting effects we continue to face.

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Paul D’s interference: Harsh but needed

 Denver and Paul D’s relationship is rough at the start but I hope his presence will allow Denver to learn a lot. Further I hope she will learn to appreciate him. Within a couple days of Paul D’s arrival, Denver was hearing her mother tell stories of which she may have never heard unless Paul came around. His presence, although jolting and aggressive was needed as he could play the role o mediator between Denver and Sethe. Paul further acted as some pathway of communication between the two. Interestingly, when the three are enjoying the carnival, Sethe notices this glowing potential which Paul D brings out of them. “They were not holding hand but their shadows were.” (59) Although at first it seems Paul D could add another level of tension to the household, I believe he enters the stage at a perfect time where exactly someone of his assertiveness and questioning was needed to solve deep seeded issues within and between Denver and Seth. 

On the last page of Chapter 4 Denver expressed her potential liking to Paul D after he persuaded her with all types of candies and treats at the Carnival. She described the comfortability Paul D commanded as he “pleased her enough to consider the possibility that Paul D wasn’t all that bad. In fact there was something about him – when the three of them stood together watching Midget Dance – that made the stares of other Negroes king, gentle, something Denver did not remember seeing in their faces.” (61) The last part of this quote stuck out to me the most as it inferred that Denver always had seen negroes as harsh, even ugly. For some reason, Paul’s  entertainment allowed her a different perspective. Perhaps, Denver only heard ugly stories which her mother shared and never was introduced to the idea Paul D brought that African-Americans could be beautiful both physically and mentally as well. 

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