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Dark Ecology: Race, Gender & the Environment

English 252 @ Hunter College

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mguachun

An Unfinished Portrait of My Father

If you were lucky enough to grow up in a household with two parents then odds are you know your mom and dad pretty well. As a child of divorce I’m not gonna complain about how my father’s infidelity destroyed my home. I’m not gonna rant about how lazily he packed his things on a dolly along with the only tv we had, or leaving my mom crying at the foot of the bed. He probably won’t even remember my attempt to slam the door on him at the age of three. No, I’m not gonna talk about that, because my father won’t. He never wants to talk about that day. He never wants to talk about what I want to talk about. He never could fully acknowledge me for who I am. But then again, he never accepted himself.

We’d like to think that over the years we’ve accumulated a portrait of our parents. But my father was always this daunting unformed slab of clay. Manipulated by disappointment, the idea of my father would constantly morph into something harder to decipher. We can try to assign similar traits to make ourselves form some artificial portrait of who they are. We both have the same pin straight, dark hair. Both of our mouths pucker whenever we drink soda as if we’re both wine tasters at Martha’s Vineyard, capturing the nuanced pallet of a warm diet coke. Our birthmarks are the same down to the placement on our bodies. But these similarities mean nothing when I look at the man that I am related to. The man who’s supposed to resemble some sort of beacon of guidance, encouragement, care, sanctuary, or at the very least affection.
As I’ve grown I let the stories of our relationship exist in the past. They’re there and are at my disposal when my therapist asks about him. Apart from those tales of abandonment, selfishness, and verbal abuse, I still can’t find a person from the twenty years I’ve been alive. It’s for this reason I can confidently say I don’t know much about my father. 
 If it wasn’t for his toxic nature, I’d like to sit with him at a diner and ask. Ask what it was like leaving your home at seventeen, and crossing bodies of water with luggage on your head and empty cartons attached to your arms. What it was like facing the possibility of being found and sent back for good. Where were you living before you met mom? Did you leave because your parents didn’t accept you? Were you a person before I came along?
In a perfect world these questions and more would be answered. My mind would be at peace and I could go on with my life knowing who this person truly is. This of course, is a fantasy. It’s not as if I haven’t been laboring over the slab of clay, kneeding it for answers. Though it fails to maintain shape in my presence. This apparently wasn’t the case according to my mom. He was lively, curious, and full of wonder she testifies. But then something happened, something snapped. It’s like part of him had died, I added. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever see that side of him that my mom recalls before the divorce. The side that made her fall in love with him and start a life together. Or maybe I’m just wasting my time on a person that once was and never will be.
I can’t help but think that learning about my father will allow me to understand why he is the way he is. He never liked talking about his past because he felt ashamed. He thought that coming here as an illegal immigrant makes him less of a person. Maybe he thought that his origin story would diminish his own feats? Maybe the pressure of his goals, culture shock, and his new family caused him to snapped? Whatever the issue is, it could shed a light on why he has trouble acknowledging my own feats. Maybe I can get some closure for some of the things he’s done. If I can learn about him and listen to his stories, then maybe he’ll see that we have more in common than we think. I keep this idea dear to me that one day our paths will cross again. A less angry daughter and a more openminded father sitting together trying to understand each other for the first time. Maybe one day that slab of clay may turn into something beautiful.

dad

The earliest photo of my father I have. Taken when he immigrated to the U.S.

Fry Song (Original Studio Version) – YouTube For withstanding this horribly constructed work here’s a vid of Adventure Time explaining this essay better that I ever could.

Added a few more relevant links that I felt were appropriate ^

Weezer, Prospero’s Daughter, Gender, and R. Crumb

Scan 15

Weezer is known as the math rock band from the 1990s with amazing albums like Pinkerton and the Blue Album. Their recent record “The White Album” included a particularly interesting track called “Thank God For Girls”. Being that the band has a history of being the “underrated nice guy playing Dragons and Dungeons trying to do his best to stay relevant to the hot girl ” vibe, I was interested to see if Weezer had matured in a sense according to the title.
To my surprise, the track held a lot of depth with some religious allegories sprinkled in with scientific nerd jargon to add nostalgia. There are two music videos the band created. I chose to blog about this particular one I attached because it definitely worked with the lyrics by contradicting them instead of being so blunt and explanatory like the first. The music video I attached is of the band running a church. The lead singer, Rivers Cuomo acts as a Televangelist, praising the word of Weezer. Curing people of their aches and pains while relieving them of their money, he is perceived as a savior. We then see the band go into a door of the church that leads to a whore house where the members gamble with harlots, swashbucklers, and tarts. The music video juxtaposes these two scenes until it crescendos into River’s losing the faith of his congregation as well as losing his hand at a game from an attempt at cheating. In this video, women are displayed as either in the congregation as naive and easily fooled, or in the gambling room as suspecting vixens. The duality of how women are marketed are being portrayed here. There’s also the duality of organized religion and how it’s pro’s are equalled in it’s cons when it comes to corruption of power and money accumulated and enforced in the name of “God”.
The lyrics themselves hold a completely different meaning which contradict the video. The first verse, Rivers talks about how the gender roles of women are limited to being the wife and cook for their husbands and nothing more. Their freedoms are limited while their husbands “encounter dragons and ruffians” (poking fun at Dragons and Dungeons) exerting their masculinity. When really at the end of the day when they return home, with scars and bruises, they need to be consoled by their meek housewife. It is her power that they are able to feel like a man when they’re incapable to make themselves feel that way. She then proceeds to console him by sticking a phallic object in his mouth (the cannoli). So we see a shift in gender roles, where the woman takes dominance over her husband to console him and instill confidence in himself. This can be seen through the relationship that Carlos and Virginia have. Virginia was able to acknowledge Carlos for who he was and not be overshadowed by his freckles. She gave him confidence to continue to endure the wrath and abuse of her father, Peter.
I found the last verse held a lot of meaning to Carlos’ interest in the role of Adam in the Tale of Adam and Eve. I found through the annotations, Carlos’ exile off the island was the only way that he’d be able to salvage his relationship with Virginia and clear his name. Peter plays the role of God (a vengeful one) while Carlos plays Adam and Virginia plays Eve. There’s definitely a Freudian relationship that Peter feels towards his own daughter and therefore see’s Carlos as a threat. It goes to question if he uses Carlos’ innocence as a scapegoat. As much pain as this brought Carlos after being exiled-emotional for not knowing if he’ll ever see Virginia again, along with leaving the home that is rightfully his-and physically from the experiments/ disgusting harsh conditions Peter subjected him to. But what seemed to be a curse of being exiled, was really a gift in disguise for allowing the case to unravel and the truth to be revealed.
The role in women play within the lyrics are that of a strong, influential juggernaut of desire and power. Known to make men weep and wail, according to Rivers. Rivers sought out to expose the true emotional dependency people have toward women in a weird Freudian mother role whether they’re a partner, friend, etc. Their emotional tolerance with their tenacity makes them the force to be reckon’d with- “She’s so big, she’s so strong”. Usually attributes that would be labelled for a man but no! It reminds me of illustrations by R. Crumb and his fetishization of amazon women. His drawings of him being dwarfed and made inferior became a fetish for him that was manifested in his art. In a way he almost looks like the singer Rivers Cuomo with the brown hair, glasses, and petite stature. Weezer does a great job analyzing the contradicting roles women play and show their importance as strong, attractive, unstoppable people.

Michael Cera’s The Tempest

Melissa, Elijah, and Leslie 3/29/17

Act 3 Scene 2

We imagined the setting to be set in a subway at midnight. Caliban, Trinculo, Stephano are stuck on a platform waiting for the shuttle train. They all have 40z in brown bags in their hands, commuting home from a house party.  Its past midnight so the train is not coming til the morning. Though they are unaware of this because they’re drunk. The platform is an island of itself, in the middle of an inky and dank underground tunnel. It stands alone, staying afloat with the surface being poorly lit in a sea of darkness. Caliban is trying his best to make a good impression on Trinculo and Stephano. Their laughs and cheeky comebacks reverberate off the tiling of the stained station, up towards the turnstile, and out in the streets.

Caliban, Trinculo, and Stephano are coming from a house party. It is here we see a shenanigan unfold between the three characters and stranger while they’re stranded, waiting for their train to rescue them from their drunken purgatory.

AESTHETICS:

-Stephano: Youth in Revolt Michael Cera: Stephano sports a clean light blue shirt slightly untucked, but not wrinkled to indicate his calculated yet inebriated nature. But don’t let his minimalistic style and color safe bleach washed shirt fool you. His pencil thin mustache and pinky ring are the telltale signs of a true badass.

– Caliban: Superbad Michael Cera: This particular Michael Cera is unsure of himself. His easily coerced personality allows him to be persuaded into peer pressure. His best friend is his mom yet he yearns to make new acquaintances. Caliban’s New Balances are weathered in color and the laces are stained with tints of a yellow bile from his last drink with the guys.

-Trinculo: Crystal Fairy Michael Cera: More sarcastic but just as mischievous as Youth in Revolt Michael Cera, Crystal Fairy isn’t afraid to throw his weight around in the company of Caliban. He hides behind his mother’s Foster Grants, shielding his bloodshot eyes from the harsh lights of the station.The pilling cosby sweater he wears unironically gives him an air of both sleeziness and hipster elitism.  

– Ariel: Ghost with Two Hats: In this scene, Ariel is supposed to be invisible. He is perceived by readers as androgynous. So if fashion has taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing more gender bending than two hats.
francois

Thou Liest!!

Beatrice’s Song

I chose a song that would reflect the relationship between Beatrice and the men that controlled her life. As well as an in depth analysis of Beatrice’s gift in relation to the toxicity of their relationship.Wild Annotated

My decision of choosing the Screaming Females holds many reasons. One being the band is composed of two guys and one girl who happens to be the lead singer and lead guitarist. Marissa Paternoster (lead singer/vocals) is known for her own stylistic singing. At only 5’1 she’s able to command the attention of a room with her booming unique vocal stylings. As well through her energetic and expressive performances at live shows with her constant manipulation of pedal boards. To me she just oozes talent and inspiration because she’s an artist in every definition of the word. She’s a visual artist who holds gallery exhibits, creates zines, and teaches workshops. She’s definitely a force.
Their songs carry some sort of a punch. A vicious, unapologetic, garage rock sound that charges out of the speakers. She sings at times in a guttural and raw fashion yet in person she’s the shyest and most sweetest person. Yet she’s able to channel this animalistic side of her from stage diving, messing around with the pedal boards, to just screaming her energy out for the audience to absorb. The duality of stage and off stage persona mimic’s Beatrice with her personality of wanting to experience life while being tethered to a natural force. She becomes to enthralled with her performance that it becomes her. In this specific song, the instrumental and the vocals often are played at the same volume or at least close to each other. This sort of gives the allusion that they’re battling each other, just as Beatrice is at odds with the domineering men in her life. Hopefully this song and annotation will offer some insight or at least be amusing. Screaming Females Edit
 

The Difference Between Existing and Living

*trigger warning-talk about self harm and depression

The tender age of sixteen is a time that should be collaged with coming of age moments. The first serious boyfriend, college applications, affirmation of friendships, and the saving grace of one more year ‘til graduation. Amidst all the adjustments and life changing decisions, the decisions I was dealt with was if I wanted to be radioactive or not.
It isn’t the norm for teenagers to be faced with the idea that a part of their body was disintegrating. But when you find yourself sweating in below freezing temperatures without a coat, vomiting every other day, muscle failures in gym class, and eating as if you consisted of a whole football team without gaining a stone -you knew something was up. From my body purging for weeks at a time, I found my muscles would clench to a fatigue. The lactic acid from my absorbent sleep in combination with my constant heaving felt as if I was a marionette, whose strings were being erratically pulled and swayed to the dynamics of unimaginable pain. Walking was a task of itself, with every step being a drudging attempt of transport being weighted down to it’s lowest degree. So when results of a blood test came back positive for Hyperthyroidism-Graves Disease, things seemed to start making sense. Though the thought in my cynical driven, gloomy Morrissey mindset was of my thyroid shriveling up and dying, causing my body follow. Which in my mind seemed reasonable since my system was seized by an organ burning itself out. Though what doctors failed to mention was that when the body undergoes a shock in hormones, the psyche tends to dip in activity resulting in depression and in my case self harm.
I resented my system and the body I was confined to. Every heave, falter, and white knuckle that would grasp around a bag as I purged the last bit of my dignity and lunch into. Why? Why this? My body was against me. Or it appeared so. Each breath I took ached while trying to catch what little energy I had to make it to class. Every exterior mark made was my own little crusade against what was happening to me internally. For every prod of a needle, every endoscopy, MRI, X ray, and colonoscopy-self harm offered some false sense of control. It seemed natural selection was doing it’s job as nature intended and I was just living out that idea. I didn’t see a reason to want to get better because this was my normal. I was barely living and moreso struggling to exist. I had better attendance at a doctor’s office than in class and the ill composed murals in the children’s hospital seemed to match my deflated sense of hope. So when given the opportunity to actually get better, I wasn’t so enthusiastic. But being a minor, my options were limited to invasive surgery or using radiation therapy.
Of course I chose radiation therapy, who doesn’t want to be their own nightlight? The process was to take a radiated pill and to be brought home where I’d spend twenty days in confinement. Every step I took outside my room was calculated. I was restricted to my room with the exception of the bathroom. I wasn’t allowed to prepare my own food, be in contact with people,or touch whatever someone used to avoid radiation poisoning. As days progressed the staleness of the hospital waiting area was replicated within my room. My world shrunk to a space fitting within four walls and a view facing a busy street. Watching life pass by, envying the starlings that would take flight from the tree in front of my window to parts unknown. Witnessing that made me yearn for my freedom again. I slowly went from patient zero to prisoner at Guantanamo. A gentle wind was nonexistent, and a ray of sunshine became impenetrable in my room. It appeared my room was encapsulating the presence of a walking-talking fester until the last day of my regiment. The first human contact I had received was that of my mom whose appearance was eclipsed by a bouquet of flowers. She placed them on my windowsill where a starling was perched out on the fire escape. Their colors stunned me as I sat up from my bed and crawled toward them. For the first time in what felt like years life was thriving in my presence. They were flourishing autonomously despite my Beatrice Rappaccini like “gift”. In this I saw beauty. Within the petals I saw the flower’s determination to thrive. Some of the stems embellished with thorns that verve with the kicking and screaming intent to live. My cell became a haven once the flowers were placed. It was then that I began to see the true vision of not only nature but of human nature. They were a physical reminder of resilience. The gift of the sustaining life within the bouquet offered me a sense of reassurement. I had been at my lowest low, and I was ready to take flight and begin my journey of recovery. I didn’t want to live. I wanted to thrive.

In My Veins.png

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