Loyalty Can Be A Tricky Thing

Loyalty is something almost everyone wants in any sort of relationship (significant other, family, friends, etc.), but how do you know if that person really is? Loyalty is something that should be expected of someone you trust, and rightfully so. Throughout Shakespeare’s King Lear, many loyalties are tested, some are in disguise and others are pretend. Kent stays loyal to Lear in disguise even after Lear leaves him. Edmund fakes his loyalty to his brother, Edgar, and his father, Gloucester.

In the beginning of Act 1, Kent is honest with King Lear about how incorrectly he was handleing hte situation with Cordelia. While he is stepping out of line, Kent has the best intentions. He has always been honest with King Lear and has always been there for him, even after he was banished. After, he comes back to guide and protect Lear in disguise.“Now, banished Kent, / If thou canst serve where thou dost stand / condemned, / So may it come thy master, whom thou lov’st, / Shall find thee full of labors” (I.iv.4-8). While returning back to Lear is very risky, Kent continues to serve Lear and protect others. He does not give up on Lear and continues to prove his loyalty to him, even if Lear does not know it.

Edmund, who is the illegitimate child of Gloucester, has a difficult time with loyalty. He becomes frustrated that he is not able to gain any power or land since he was born out of wedlock, so he hatches a plan to get that power. He tricks Gloucester into thinking that his legitimate son, Edgar, has turned against him. He forges a letter from Edgar to himself, saying that he is tired of being under his father’s control and plans on killing him. Gloucester gets a hold of this letter and becomes furious with Edgar and is out for him. Edmund informs Edgar and tells him that he needs to leave the castle. When he hears Gloucester coming towards them, he stages a fight against Edgar. Edgar runs away and Gloucester comes to check on Edmund, who cut himself. He tells him that Edgar punished him for refusing to participate in the alleged killing of Gloucester. Gloucester falls fro the trap and banishes Edgar. With Edmund’s twisted loyalties, he successfully gets rid of Edmund and becomes the heir to his father’s assets and power.

What Do You Follow: Head or Heart?

In his album, The Story of Us, Quinn XCII (92) collaborates with Chelsea Cutler to produce “Flare Guns,” a current favorite of mine. The song is about the one person who you know you shouldn’t call but can’t help but call. I think that the song addresses the struggle between the feelings in your head vs. your heart. When in your head you know you shouldn’t do it, but your heart tells you to go for it. In the end, Quinn XCII follows his heart. The first ten seconds of the song are of instrumental violins, which sets the tone for the rest of the song. In his first verse he sings: 

This love stays calm in the night, yeah, helps me heal and reopen
Why are we drifting away from everything we wanted to save?

These lyrics were very powerful because they talk about the end of his relationship but can also be used in other contexts. In his relationship, they ended because they needed to focus on themselves and be on their own, but they came back together and focused less on what they wanted to maintain. The same could be said about life. Many times people take breaks to focus on themselves or what went wrong before, but life happens and neglects what they wanted to do. This goes back to the idea head vs. heart, knowing what you need to do to better yourself, but follows another path. He follows those lyrics in his pre-chorus with: 

I told you I'd be down forever
Loving you is danger, but it don't feel wrong
It's old news, I should look for better

I love the line “Loving you is danger, but it don’t feel wrong” because of how perfectly it fits into the meaning of the song. There are times in life when we know something is wrong and that we shouldn’t do it but we become so consumed by it and fall into it. He is so invested in his relationship and how he feels, even though he knows he deserves better, and goes for it anyways. His head is telling him it is dangerous but his heart is telling him it is right. He reaches the chorus of the song. 

Flare guns go off in my head, saying not to call you this late
Still I dial those numbers every time
Why do I replay those messages that you left at the tone last May?
Slowly wishing you were never mine

A flare gun is used to create illumination to improve vision or as a distress signal. The use of flare guns was a perfect kind of symbolism to explain the warning signs that go off in your head. Bring to light all the problems that are going to happen and give clarity to the situation. But the heart is a powerful thing and more often than not, especially in his case, the heart wins. He puts himself though so much pain and second guesses by following his heart. His head is thinking logically and his heart is thinking passionately. Quinn XCII and Chelsea Cutler sing together:

See, I don't know better than to give up on loving
Why am I still holding on? I'm still holding on

These lines perfectly fit into Quinn XCII’s situation of head vs. heart. He has given up on love and has accepted that, but there is that part of him that still has hope, that is still holding on. That’s what head vs. heart is really. Knowing what is best and accepting that but still have a little sliver of hope and questioning that hope. Hope is a powerful thing and can make people do things they may not agree with. I picture the concept of head vs. heart like in cartoons when the devil is on one shoulder and the angel on the other and they usually end up following the devil.

Are We All “Others”?

When I think of someone being an “other,” I think of someone who checks the other box on a survey. Someone who doesn’t belong to any of the other choice the question asks. At one point or another, hasn’t everyone checked the other box on a question. So wouldn’t we all technically be “others,” not belonging to a certain group. In Exit West, every time Saeed and Nadia would go through a new door and start a new life in a new place, they felt like outsiders and they didn’t belong. They felt like “others.” But they were not the only ones feeling the same they did. They all felt alone and that they didn’t belong with each other, when everyone was the same. While they may not all look the same or come from the same place, they all share the same feelings of being in a new place. Feeling like an “other” or being identified as one creates an unnecessary separation between people because they didn’t check the same boxes as each other. Since they are different, they should be categorized as such. There are various positive reasons to have different groups of people, the word “other” creates a harmful separation between “others” and “natives.” At the end of the novel, an old women who has lived in her home her whole life explains who she feels that she has migrated because of all the new people moving in and out of her neighborhood, “We are all migrants through time,” (209). Everyone changes and goes though experiences that define who they are. Those defining experiences should not end up making them an “other.” The whole idea of being an “other” is still a little tricky to me, so I have a question. If we have all checked the “other” box, why do we create separation from people who have done the same?

Life is Different

Listening to Mr. Heidkamp’s talk about the meaning of life, I came to two conclusions: life is random and life is different for everyone.

Life is random. Nobody knows what’s going to happen to them in 10 years or 10 days or 10 minutes. Life throws challenges and obstacles in our way in order for us to grow. To teach us how to deal with pain and suffering and how to move on from that. It also teaches us how to appreciate the happiness and good moments in our life. No ones life is all happiness or all pain. You have to go through one in order to go through the other. Because of all of this, there is no such thing as a perfect life. Since you can’t choose what is going to happen next, you can’t create the idea of a perfect life.

Everyone’s life is different, we are all different people, so they have to be. Everyone has their own opinions, values, and beliefs. Everyone has their own personality and style. The saying that no two people are alike is very true. Two people could be the exact same in looks and beliefs, but still have that one thing that makes them different from each other. Same thing apply for the meaning of life. Each person has there own idea of what life means to them. Not one person can discover the “real” meaning of life. There is a reason beliefs and opinions are a thing, to make people their own person. Just like no two people are alike, no two lives are alike.

Basically, life is crazy and unique.

The Meaning Behind the Sailboat

In the short story, “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, Miss Moore takes a group of children into the city to go window shopping. While none of the kids understand what the point of it was, Miss Moore had her intentions. They stumble upon a toy store and see a sailboat in the window, “Hand-crafted sailboat of fiberglass at one thousand one hundred twenty-five dollars,” (112). These kids come from poor families and the idea of a toy costing that much in unimaginable to them. Sylvia, the narrator, says, “I read it again for myself just in case the group recitation put me in a trance. Same thing. For some reason this pisses me off.” (112). Miss Moore’s secret lesson is that some people have a worry free life, where others don’t. How the money spent on a thousand dollar toy sail boat could help a struggling family of six or seven. Sugar, one of the kids, starts to understand it. “that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack as the dough, don’t it?” (115). Unfortunately, some people have to worry about how they will afford dinner and rent, where others don’t even have to think twice if there will be food when they get home. Life is unfair sometimes is what I believe Miss Moore was teaching.

New kind of prison

Escape from Spiderhead had many new and interesting concepts, but the one that stood out to me was this idea of the new kind of jail that Jeff was in. Jeff, as well as Heather and Rachel, were all criminals and instead of being in a regular prison, they were placed in here. All three of them were convicted of murder as well as other crimes. In this new kind of prison, scientists use these criminals as test subjects to test new drugs and study human emotions. What I found most interesting about this was how they ended up there. On page 68, Jeff says, “The trial almost killed her. She’d spent her savings to get me out of real jail and in here.” His trial was very hard on his mom, she went through many changes and challenges. What was more intriguing was that she paid for her son to go to this new prison instead of “real jail.” Was this better than real jail? Was being a test subject better than spending time in jail? As to why this new place was better than real jail was left unsaid, but I think that was the point. Let us imagine what it was like and why it was better.