Saturday, December 1, 2012

Event Analysis

Michael Armstrong
Event Analysis

Sovereignty No Longer Exists

            Friday afternoon I attended a lecture by George Lopez, a Professor at the Kroc Institute of Peace Studies at University of Notre Dame, where I was enlightened by many interesting interpretations of the chaotic situation in the Middle East. My thoughts heading into the discussion were that the Professor Lopez would be simply discussing way that humanity needs to learn to appreciate and respect one another better. Much to my delight, the lecture was much more substantial and informative. Leaving the lecture I felt that I had a better grasp on some of the key issues in places like Syria and Libya, and how the quest for peace will be a drawn out struggle. Most importantly I learned that despite the universal rules of sovereignty there is no justified reason for a nation to sit idly by while innocent lives are lost.
            Sovereignty was the topic of much clarification and debate during Lopez’s lecture. Sovereignty is a prevalent issue in the Middle East at the moment. There is much debate about if and when it is justified for an outside entity to interrupt the operation of a country.  It is accepted that the leaders of the country can do as the please. What I learned from Professor Lopez was that there is also a line that, when crossed, warrants international response.
The leaders of a nation have the right to dictate, and essentially run their own country. This rule is what is defined by a nation’s sovereignty, but in certain instances the boundaries of a nation’s sovereignty must be crossed in order to protect lives of those who are innocent. Rwanda is an infamous example of such intervention. In 1994 mass genocide occurred in Rwanda over a 28-day period. The atrocities that occurred were eventually what elicited international response spearheaded by the UN. Currently, the UN follows a guideline of “Responsibility to Protect.”  This simple idea that the international community has the responsibility to protect innocent lives from an excessively more dominant force is at the heart of how the UN makes its decision to intervene across a countries sovereignty line. This idea is one that can, at times, be very controversial. Countries can be very reluctant to accept help from an outside entity. I personally do not understand the rationale of such mentality. There is no greater strength than having the confidence to accept help when needed. Countries may feel that help, from other nations, is a sign of weakness, but there is no shame in accepting help. It reminds me of the message from the Catholic religion of “love thy neighbor.” To me the idea of helping those in need is noble, but also expected. The only issue with such a mentality is that it does nothing from preventing mass genocide or ethnic cleansing.
After lunch on a Friday, my ability to learn falls drastically. That being said, Professor Lopez taught me the importance of understanding your responsibility to protect others. I now understand the importance of protecting those who are innocent and the harmless. Like the citizens in Syria, caught in the middle of a civil war, other nations must step in to protect them. I now see that since we are a nation with the means to protect others we must do so.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's about Finding That Connection

Tiaira Walker
It’s about Finding That Connection
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and my experience working with my father are things that were written in the past, literally and figuratively, that correlate to present-day situations. Over time, everything can change. In a more modernized society, you would think that women are no longer courted like they use to, people are less na├»ve, and that money didn’t determine who you married. Shockingly, time has not altered this completely. The most interesting thing I have learned in my English course is the connection older texts we have read have with recent films. “She’s the Man” is an up to date representation of Twelfth Night and “Hancock” is basically a representation of Shane. The creators of these films have incorporated and modernized every aspect of the texts. I have witnessed the static nature of these certain aspects and my personal experiences.  My childhood consisted of going to work every day afterschool with my dad who does construction. When I was younger, I never thought that it would help me in the future. I currently do service with Habitat for Humanity and we are building a house. Needless to say, what I learned working with my dad has helped me a lot! Finding this past connection has made service worthwhile for me. There is an understanding gained when we can make present day connections with things from the past.
Twelfth night is a tale with prominent themes of love, deception, and class. A love web is created when Viola fails to profess her love to Count Orsino, as well as with the Counts failure to directly court Olivia. Viola disguises herself to get closer to him and he sends messengers to relay his love to Olivia. Love is misinterpreted by Olivia who takes a liking for Cesario, who is Viola disguised and sent as messenger by Count Orsino. To win ones way, the characters in the text go to extremes of deception, the disguise, the letter, and the manipulation of the less wise. Viola takes on a role that she cannot escape and it causes a heap of trouble. Malvolio is turned mad by a letter that he thought was written by Olivia to express her love, when in fact it was written by Maria for a good laugh. Malvolio, of a different class, dares to believe that there can be something between him and Master Olivia. Orsino upholds class distinction when he tries to court Olivia. These distinctions are crossed in the text when Olivia believes she has fallen in love with a servant and when the Count decides to marry Viola. The historical tone is evident with talk of counts, masters, and servants. It is possible that despite the time it was set in, love deception, and class can play a role in present-day situations.
Films in popular culture have the ability to draw on the past and make a hit. I found it really interesting how “She’s the Man” was based on the Twelfth Night; I had no idea and I’ve watched the movie numerous times. The teenage like qualities of the characters in the film are exactly like the personalities presented in the text. I was even urged to watch the movie again as soon as I found out because I was so excited to see these similarities now that I know its correlation. The names used, the location of the setting, the presence of the love triangle, the deception, and social distinctions contribute to how they have modernized the same aspects of such an old tale. At first I was weary reading the Twelfth Night because I didn’t understand some of the language used, but after realizing the movie was the same I read it with enthusiasm. The same excitement was instilled after noticing the similarities Shane had with “Hancock.” The way the mysterious man was accepted into the family, his superhero-like qualities to the son, and how the more he cared for the family the more he hurt them draw a striking resemblance to what occurred in the film.  
When I was younger I despised going to work with my dad, almost like how I despised reading Shakespeare because of the confusing language. We cleaned out houses, tore down walls, used power tools, and put up framework. I never thought that I’d use any of these skills again because I had no interest entering the construction business. Little did I know, I embarked on a chance to work with Habitat for Humanity. Doing what? Building houses of course. I love that Habitat for Humanity are renovating abandoned houses in Baltimore. The abundance of vacant houses and homeless people in the city make me sick. Ever since I moved here I’ve had such a problem with this. I literally hate it; people are living on the streets when there are houses, right there! Being able o help on this project has brought me great enjoyment and peace at mind knowing that I can do my part and help end homelessness. This has also made me appreciate all the hard work my dad mad me engage in as a child.
Finding a connection, be it in literature or in real life, helps a lot with understanding the purpose of something. The present can make you really appreciate the past. I now truly understand Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night thanks to the modernized “She’s the Man.” I now truly understand why my dad made me go to work with him despite my protest. I can enthusiastically help a greater a cause because of all the knowledge I have in the field and this brings me much content.

Memorable experiences

Throughout the semester so far I have found the course very interesting and thought provoking. Therefore picking one event or a discussion that stood out more than the others is quite hard. Regardless of all the moments of inspiration and the many things i have learned, the most surprising thing that has happened was the even that I went to that Louis Eagle-Warrior spoke at, then attending his Powwow.

The event was one of the most memorable I have ever had. This is because of eagle-warrior's hostility towards his small audience. The event made me think about things a little different, but the powwow that I later attended had a greater effect on me. At the powwow none of the native Americans felt hostility towards me because they were able to practice their beliefs freely. 

Another aspect of the course that I really enjoyed was the student lead classes. The student lead classes offered a change in the weekly classes in which I would be lectured at. Not only did the student lead classes allow me to get to know my classmates but also offered new insight to readings. It allowed me learn things in an exciting way, and sometimes in a more simplistic manner than a teacher may be able to offer.

The event lead by Eagle-warrior, combined with his tribes powwow, offered new insights into the native American lifestyle. Similarly the exciting class-led discussions gave me an opportunity to get to know my peers, while also showing how poetry and literature can be viewed from many different angles. 

Twelfth Night

Reflecting on my experience of mediation, I was amazed that I had meditated almost every week of the semester, and I was also pleased by the resulting benefits. Depending on my mood, the idea of sitting quietly for one hour could be excruciating. However, considering my changing work schedule, meditation allowed me the flexibility to attend each week. I am glad that I did. Meditation has been a platform for achieving peace of mind and self-assurance. In William Shakespeare's comedy, “Twelfth Night, or, What You Will,” many characters act in ways antithetical of the goals of Shambala meditation: showing gentleness to oneself and to others. Reading of selfishness, deceit, and mischief in“Twelfth Night” allowed me to analyze my own improvements through the practice of meditation.
What makes “Twelfth Night” comical is the outrageous characters, who commonly act on selfishness. For instance, Orsino believes himself to be utterly in love with Olivia. Meanwhile Olivia is in mourning, and turns down his advances. It soon becomes apparent that Orsino is not actually in love with her, but more so captivated by the fact that she is unattainable. Here, Orsino is acting selfishly, and fails to consider the well-being of Olivia. If Olivia had accepted his advances, and later was rejected by Orsino, she would then be both in mourning, and heartbroken. Likewise, the drunken antics of Sir. Toby and Sir. Andrew result in people tricked into behaving like fools, getting into fights, and going to the madhouse, for the sake of their enjoyment. Their behavior is the epitome of selfishness, as they entertain themselves at the expense of other people. This comedic story offers the reader insight into the effects of selfishness, and has allowed me to realize my own personal growth, experienced through meditation.
While meditating almost every week often seemed unappealing, overall, the lasting effects were worth the time spent. The goal of meditation is to remove selfishness and insecurities, in order to become more present in the world, in order to be more of service to others. With the daily stressers of school and being away from home, meditation allowed the means to maintain peace of mind-most of the time. The tranquil setting of the Shambala Center, coupled with the kind insights of the meditation leaders, allowed me to leave my sessions feeling relaxed and serene. More simply, mediation allowed me to more easily not “sweat the small stuff.” This allowed me to be more present to others, and helped thwart my instincts of selfishness. For example, when I feel stressed, I often feel disconnected from others and more trapped in my anxieties of deadlines. Through mediation I felt that I was more connected with others this semester than in my previous years at school.
The effects of mediation has allowed me peace of mind, and for that reason, it was my favorite experience from this semester. Through self discipline and commitment, I meditated almost every week for this entire semester; and the benefits for myself and my relationships with others are proof that mediation is worth the commitment. As the semester closes, I plan to continue going and improving my practice, which will ultimately allow me to become a better person.

People unlike You

People unlike You

Before Thanksgiving break, I attended the showing of a video about poverty in the United States called “The Line.” Although I have heard about poverty and know what it is, I rarely think of how it differs depending on an individual’s situation, but rather how it is defined as a whole. Unfortunately, I admit that I thought similarly to some of the stereotypes mentioned before seeing how poverty affects people in different ways. From viewing this video, I now further understand that poverty cannot and should not define how someone is viewed, but rather that poverty should be seen as a situation in which we can offer our support and service to. Similar to “The Twelfth Night,” there are many characters that have situations that cannot be explained or understood solely by looking on the surface, but are only understood when others take the time to see who they are as an individual. Therefore, when situations become clear to us, we start to realize that our judgments of surface appearance and stereotypes are not how we should view someone.

            Stereotypes and predetermined judgments can cloud the image of who a person really is. This is true in both Shakespeare’s “The Twelfth Night” and in the video “The Line.” Shakespeare portrays the Clown, in comparison to the others in the play, as a character who is looked down upon and considered a “fool.” Between the conversation of Olivia and the Clown, Olivia states, “Go to, you’re a dry fool; I’ll have no more of you” (10). Since there is a difference in power and status between Olivia and the Clown, there may already be a stereotype developed on who is intelligent and who is not. However, when the readers look past the stereotype that goes along with the image of a clown and look deeper into his individual character, they see him in another, more intelligent light. Stereotypes limit us from understanding the truth in people since it locks us in a state of mind of not accepting anything different. Similarly, this is how some uninformed people in the United States see families below the poverty line. Someone directly affected by the pains of poverty stated that “prevalent and damaging stereotypes about poor people are that they are lazy, stupid, have no skills, prefer poverty, and can’t take care of their families.” In reality, however, this video revealed that people who experience poverty were once in comfortable situations, but experienced a tremendous hardship they have yet to overcome. If families in poverty are viewed in this light to the rest of society, not as many people will be willing to step-up and help since they believe they brought these hardships on themselves and should solve them on their own. This only furthers their struggles because relationships that offer help, assistance, and care are often what help people overcome their poverty stricken life.

When in difficult situations, it is not always enough to depend solely on one’s self. There are many situations in which we need the love, support, and guidance of other people to get us from one place to another. John, a single dad with three teenagers, is one of the many who is currently experiencing poverty in a suburban town in the United States. Although people in these situations often feel “shame for having to beg for every little thing” they get, they often need to allow others to help them. For John, this means going to the food pantry in order to feed his family. Though he feels embarrassment, he accepts the help of others. When Olivia states, “O world, how apt the poor are to be proud!” she reveals an issue that restricts many people in poverty to seek help (38). Some people, unlike John, refuse to face this embarrassment of receiving help and continue to live in the detrimental cycle of poverty. For those that are able to overcome their pride and accept what their situation faces them with, however, are able to receive help in order to get back on their feet. Through these relationships, people below “the line” find comfort and are given the strength and support to fight their way out of poverty.

These people are able to see past the poverty and stereotype that defines John and provide him with help. As a result, they see John not as an unemployed, lazy person, but as a courageous father who tries his best to make ends meet while he continues his search for a job.  Even a lady working at the food pantry said “we can’t do it alone, we need the resources of the government to help” and that providing food to those in poverty is “a partnership.” These partnerships and relationships of support and assistance allow people to overcome challenges in their lives, which lead them to a brighter future. In “The Twelfth Night,” relationships between the characters function in a similar way. Although driven by love, Antonio considers the support he offered to Sebastian by assisting him to Illyria as a “kindness that I have done for you” (52). When Antonio decides to assist Sebastian in the first place, however, Sebastian states “I can no other answer make but thanks” (42). This shows that, in these situations, the one being helped sometimes can offer nothing in return for the services they are provided. Only true support and assistance, however, can be defined by whether or not those who give are looking to receive anything in return or are doing it for the purpose of good.

            Surrounded by the comfortable lifestyle that goes along with attending Loyola, I rarely hear of this poverty or even understand exactly what it means. Adventuring into the city a few weeks ago for the transportation assignment, however, allowed me to see how this way of life occurs only twenty minutes outside of Loyola. Being asked for donations of food and money, I felt an obligation to help in some way. Stereotypes, unfortunately, have made it difficult to differentiate those who genuinely need help from those have other motives. Similar to situations presented in “The Twelfth Night” and “The Line,” you can never truly understand someone by how they are collectively viewed by society. From this video I realized that poverty does not define people, but is only a challenge that requires help from themselves and others to overcome. 

            What I found most interesting about this semester were the event analyses. Although I found myself struggling to make connections at first, I started to get the hang of it and found that I have continued to make these connections to my surroundings. What I also think was interesting and made me grow and mature as a person was seeing myself in relation to the city. Considering how my surroundings affect me, I have opened my mind to situations I would not even think of otherwise. I thought I liked living in my little bubble of knowing everything I need to know and being dependent on other people. I learned, however, that I do not need to be nervous about being a part of something I have not yet experienced. What also surprised me about the event analyses was how they revealed what is available in the world around me. Not only did they allow me to connect myself to new things, but they also exposed me to things I would not have previously taken interest in or cared about. I also realized this through the Transportation/ Neighborhood/ Cultural Institution Analysis since it exposed me to many things the city so close to me had to offer. By immersing myself in the city, I learned so much about how to interact with my surroundings. Therefore, the overall most surprising thing I learned about myself this semester, as a result of this class, is how I have the ability and freedom to explore everything Loyola and the city of Baltimore put before me.

I can't very well drink to your chastity; that vow's gone.

          “Twelfth Night; or, What You Will” by William Shakespeare, “The Wedding” by Bertolt Brecht, and “The Real Inspector Hound” by Tom Stoppard all tell stories that push the bounds of reality. The plays ask for a willing suspension of disbelief so that audiences can enjoy such wonderfully absurd stories. As people find themselves more and more pressed for time, being burdened by work, relationship troubles, financial struggles, and so many more things, it is both necessary and healthy that they take the time to find joy and experience the wonder that is a play.
          “The Wedding” had the most over the top wedding reception highlighting all the nuances of drama within a family, between friends as the wedding party experiences everything one would hope not to encounter at a wedding celebration. The furniture, made by the husband, continued to break throughout the entire evening. The wedding party went through so many bottles of wine that I lost track. The father of the bride told countless stories the best of which were about how many family members died in the bed he was offering to give the newlyweds. From shattering a glass vase with the leg someone broke off from the table to the bride not dancing the traditional first dance with her husband, the story asked you to step back, take in the whole story, and generally, just be glad that that was not your family. 
          “The Real Inspector Hound” tested your mental acuity by asking you to follow a complicated plot in which actors pretending to be theater critics actually step into roles in the play they are observing, and we watched as the play and their real lives merge until the line between the two is completely blurred. The play initially presented with intrigue as two people clothed from head to toe in black fabric brought a dead body onto the stage that they had just cleaned up from the previous play. Then, two theater seats were put on stage, and an actor sat down and proceeded to read the program, acting as audience member for maybe ten minutes. To recount the rest of the story would take pages upon pages of detail and would culminate in a conclusion that not even some of the actors truly understand (I asked). However, one didn’t need to completely understand the story in order to appreciate the acting ability displayed on the stage. In being overly dramatic in their actions, the actors captured the truly absurd overreactions of the actors who were acting in the play within a play. At its most basic level, theater critics, who were actors, finding their lives becoming synonymous with those of the play they are critiquing is outrageous in itself. It makes you wonder what it would be like if the same thing suddenly started happening to you and really makes you glad you don’t have to fear such an occurrence. If I never get shot in the plot of a play that I was supposed to be critiquing, I will be a very happy girl. And alive. 
          “Twelfth Night; or, What You Will” is no different in its complicated storyline filled with all kinds of implausible moments. Were the fact that the play centers around a female dressing up as a male and eventually falling in love with the male that she is serving is not enough, Shakespeare includes many more twists to really highlight the comedy in it all. Maria, Sir Toby, and the lot are rather cruel to an uptight Malvolio, pushing him to the brink of insanity and causing everyone else to refer to him as a madman until he eventually vows revenge on everyone. Twins, Viola and Sebastian. have an almost ‘Parent Trap’ like reunion, but instead of finding out that they only had one parent and never knew about the other one and the fact that they both liked peanut butter and Oreos, they find that their fathers both have a mole and died when his daughter was 13. It is the exaggeration of the whole story that makes it so outrageous and comedic and ultimately, so enjoyable. While I suppose the Duke to be a mildly good looking fellow, were I Olivia, I would have gotten eternally frustrated at the fact that a guy couldn’t tell me himself how he felt but rather had a servant who was actually a girl in disguise come and speak to me in beautiful prose and poetry. It is no wonder that Olivia fell in love with Cesario who is actually Viola. Shakespeare is so successful in story telling that he is able to invite the audience to delight in such outlandish occurrences without questioning their likelihood of happening in real life. It is not the plausibility of the story that the audience holds on to but rather its good nature. 
          Through a combination of actors and authors, the three stories are able to push the envelope drawing audiences into worlds the members would never experience elsewhere. We are lucky that we have such talented and creative people who work to bring joy and magic into what seems to be a perpetually stressed world. When we take the time to experience stories like these, we are invited to leave reality for a while and simply marvel in how crazy the world could really be (and also be thankful that our lives aren’t quite as complicated as theirs). 

          What had to be the most surprising or interesting thing I learned was that if you really look, you can find an appreciation for both the magic and wonder life in most any story you hear.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

event analysis

Katie White
Dr. Juniper Ellis
EN 101.21
29 Nov. 2012

Play On

Last weekend I went to the plays “The Wedding” and “The Real Inspector Hound” at McManus Theatre. I really enjoyed discovering the talent of my fellow Loyola students. It was truly amazing to see how talented the actors and actresses were. Their voices were captivating as they sung and their acting skills were very convincing. The stage did not include very many props at all. However, the acting was so marvelous that an image of the intended setting was still depicted for the viewers. As I read William Shakespeare’s “The Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” I noticed that there are many resemblances and similarities between his play and “The Wedding”.
One theme in both “The Wedding” and “The Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” is romance. The plot of “The Wedding” is centered upon a newly married couple. It takes the viewers through their life following the wedding. Much of the play takes place at the scene of the wedding reception and thereafter. William Shakespeare’s “The Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” is purely focused on love. Its entire plot displays the interconnected relationships of love and lust between various characters.
Another parallel between the two plays was the contrast in status between the characters that fell in “love”. Both plays defied the issue of social class separating partners. In “The Wedding” the husband was of a higher class than his wife. However, they still married. “The Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” creates a love connection between the nobleman Orsino and his lower class servant Viola. Their imbalance does not seem to have an effect on their relationship though. There is also a contrast between social classes as the servant Malvolio develops a longing for his master Olivia.
The last correspondence between the two plays is the distinction between love and lust. Many of the characters in “The Twelfth Night, Or What You Will” claim their feelings to be love. Although they do so, in reality their feelings are only unsteady desires and false affection. In “The Wedding” the husband did not seem to truly love his wife. He was highly concerned with physical passion rather than a real, deeper, and more intimate relationship. It seems as if he may have possessed more of a lust-oriented attraction for his wife rather than one of true love. Duke’s attachment for Olivia does not represent a true portrayal of love. Olivia’s love for Cesario is not real either, because it is based off such a small foundation. She barely knows Cesario but claims to already be in love based off the way he talks and present himself.
I am really happy that I went to these plays. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to experience the talents of fellow students. There was not much of an audience at the play. This is unfortunate, because I believe that others should witness the skill of the theater group at Loyola.