Count Me Out as Poetry

While life is full of joyful experiences, there are also many moments of isolation. In his expository two-part concept album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar reflects on his self, insecurities, and psyche. He specifically references how he handles depression and pressure when it feels like the world is against him in his song Count Me Out. In reflecting on his own experience he centralizes his idea and turns criticism into motivation. His self-reflection provides listeners relief with the opportunity to relate their experiences to his own feelings of depression and isolation.

He is successful in utilizing multidimensional language to depict his struggling.

“I ain’t there too much, I’m a complex soul
They layered me up, then broke me down
And moralities dust, I lack in trust”

Kendrick Lamar

The word “layered” contributes multiple meanings to this phrase and song as a whole:

  1. Figurative imagery of feeling suffocated
  2. Reference to the media’s depiction of Kendrick Lamar
  3. Provides contrast to when he was “broke[n] down”

Additionally, He attributes his self-reliance to his ability to overcome his feelings of depression and isolation.

“I fought like a pit bull terrier, blood I shed could fill up aquariums
Tell my angels, “Carry ’em
Even my strong points couldn’t survive
If I didn’t learn to love myself, forgive myself a hundred times, dawg”

Kendrick Lamar

In using both a simile and a metaphor in the same line he is able to effectively demonstrate his ability to overcome his pain.

In comparing himself to a “pitbull” and the description of the figurative blood he shed being enough to fill up an aquarium it is evident that he had to endure pain in order to overcome his pain. It is also a unique way to express this as he represents his emotional turmoil by equating himself to a dominant animal and alluding to the physical amount of work he did.

He ends his song with the final lyric “Anybody fightin’ through the stress?” This rhetorical question ties together his song by relating it to the listeners. He is able to universalize his experiences to those of his audience.

The Handmaid’s Tale and The Stranger Comparison

In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, central ideas are shared with Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger. In her novel, Atwood depicts a totalitarian society in what was the United States, where women are property of the state and their sole purpose is to procreate.

While their plot, characters, and messages are different, both The Handmaid’s tale and The Stranger illustrate individuals who are given the illusion of autonomy when in reality they have none. Atwood illustrates this through the main character, Offred, stripped of her own name, who, throughout the novel, was given opportunities of normalcy in her secret meetings with the Commander, visits to the brothel, and relations with Nick. While these midnight rendezvous feel like a breath of fresh air to Offred, it is simply a step up from her normal oppression. In the authority allowing her to “rebel” in small, controlled manners subconsciously discourages Offred from going entirely against the system.

This false autonomy is similarly present in the Stranger in the characters’ mirage of distractions that bring meaning to their lives, such as family, religion, and love. Characters are under the impression that they have total control over their lives and their sources of meaning, but it becomes completely absolved in Mersault’s narration. While they have the freedom to choose, for the most part, what they spend their time doing, they have no choice or say in the inevitable end of their lives.

Women Can’t Cheat

After reading “Secret Woman” and listening to the group presentation it is evident that there is a strong MALE/female binary present in the short story. Furthermore, through the group discussion, I realized that men cheating is normalized whereas women cheating is seen as dirty and is looked down upon far more than a man cheating on a woman. According to a study by the University of New Hampshire women are only 7% less likely to cheat on their partner than men are. So why are women chastised so much more than their male counterparts? Additionally, the same study found that men and women cheat differently. “Secret Women” represented this difference well. The difference being that men are more likely to cheat and feel romantic attraction with someone other than their spouse and women are more likely to be with multiple partners without romantic involvement. “Secret Woman” not only does a good job of illustrating the MALE/female binary but it also represents the double standard women face with infidelity.

Benjamin’s Reflection on Political Polarization

Benjamin’s theory is built on the basis of defining oneself through the opposition of another. Knowing what you are not allows you to understand what you are. This idealogy can explain the extreme polarization of politics in America. While “Democrat” and “Republican” are labels used under the two-party system, they have evolved into divisive terms. Unlike Benjamin’s typical binary, the oppressor and the “Other” are subjective to the individual. By taking Benjamin’s theory into account it is easier to understand how individuals adopt alienating attitudes toward the opposing party. The fact you are a democrat or are a republican as opposed to having democratic views emphasizes how support for a political party is directly tied to an individual’s identity. In defining yourself as a Democrat it becomes obligatory to align with all viewpoints associated with that party. If you are a democrat then by default you are not a Republican, meaning you agree with all and only democratic positions. To overcome this label-riddled political system, constituents should vote for candidates that align with their beliefs first instead of a “brand”.