Orientalism And Discrimination Are Certainly Not Dead

Orientalism was defined by Edward Said as “a political vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between the familiar (Europe, West, ‘us’) and the strange (the Orient, the East, ‘them’).” This theory of differences in culture and lifestyle turned into differences in personality and lead to many grave stereotypes.

And the saddest part is that these are still around today. This has become extremely evident with the Coronavirus Pandemic, an outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China.

I am a firm believer that if people are surrounded by people, especially those in leadership, saying something, they will begin to think it is normal or okay. And this is a huge issue when President Donald Trump refuses to call the virus by it’s name, and instead calls it the “Chinese Virus.” Not only is this incorrect, but it is also giving everyone else the go ahead to blame China for this outbreak.

Throughout the country, and even the world, this has promoted many stereotypes of Orientalism and racism towards people of Asian heritage. This is a major issue because this type of hurtful behavior and discrimination cannot continue. It has been around for way too long and it is time for everyone to take a step back and stop blaming other people for issues that are very hard or impossible to control.

This new form of Orientalism brought on by the pandemic is putting our whole world a few steps back and not moving the people and humanity in a good direction. It is up to us to promote a different outlook on people from different places; one that is more inclusive and understanding.

Is The God of Small Things ruined in the first chapter?

Despite the title of this blog post, I actually enjoy the set up of this book very much. When I read the first chapter, I remember feeling like there was a lot going on, but not in a hectic way, more like a lot of events were being thrown out with not a lot of details. Going in to class the next day, we were informed that everything talked about in the first chapter was actually the events of the rest of the book. I have never read a book even remotely like that, and at first, I didn’t know what to think.

But the more I read and the more I thought about it, that is a great way to get readers interested in the book. Especially recently, I have struggled with the motivation to read my English books, but the sneak peak that was revealed to us at the beginning, made it a lot easier to get hooked and want to know what happens next.

The one event that sticks out to me more than the others is the one with Estha and the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. This name is mentioned in the first chapter, and as one might be, I was confused and intrigued. I did not know what this story would lead to and the dramatic events that would unfold, but the brief mention of these characters and their encounter prompted me to read a lot further.

I don’t think that this style and structure of writing is something that would work in every book. Obviously in a fiction or dystopia series, this structure would be very hard to manipulate without ruining the whole thing. But in this sense, Arundhati Roy did a fantastic job at telling a good story in a way that made it even more interesting and dramatic to read.

False Alarm

One song that stands out to me as poetry is “False Alarm” by Matoma and Becky Hill, in the album One In A Million. This song tells the story of two people in love, and the artists use assonance, imagery, and repetition to explain that when faced with an intense and seemingly scary relationship, sometimes the best outcome will come from jumping right in, because relationships like this are often misinterpreted.

Throughout the song, the lyrics “I’m dancing in flames, I ain’t scared of the blaze” is repeated many times. The words “flames” and “blaze” are examples of assonance, and they are both used to emphasize the words and draw attention to them. The emphasis of these words suggests a hardship and scariness that comes with the relationship that the speaker is getting himself into. There is sometimes a stigma around relationships that everyone getting themselves into a serious one will get hurt and that it is harmful, and this part of the song is clearly going along with that. The idea of this serious relationship seems like a scary, detrimental fire.

This is also linked to all of the imagery that Matoma uses throughout the song. Most of it stems from the constant references to flames and fire, and it paints the picture of how this relationship makes him feel. One line says “now I’m burning in your arms,” leading listeners to imagine two people wrapped in a fiery embrace, further hinting at the intensity that is caused by this relationship. He also includes a line about the “sirens in my head from the first time that we met.” This alone also depicts a strong image of this thing acting as a warning, or alert, something new, in the back of his mind when he first met this girl.

At first, this all seems to be slightly negative, but then, the repetition of certain phrases suggest otherwise. While a lot of lines are repeated throughout the song – the repetition of the line “But it’s not a false alarm” is one that stands out greatly. This repetition is a large hint that this relationship is not a “false” alarm, and that in reality, despite the scary parts established by the fire references, it is not going to be a disaster – it is real. While the assonance and references to flames depict a terror and hesitance, this line talks that down and suggests that this isn’t always a negative thing, because this relationship is the real deal and is something very special. It even goes a step further to suggest that all of this fire that seems to be suggesting pain, is actually not pain, but the intensity and passion of the relationship.

Instead of ending on a negative note, burning to flames in the arms of someone who brought you there, it emphasizes the passion brought on by relationships, and how this can oftentimes be misinterpreted to be something to run from.

Do we all have ghosts?

In Tony Morrison’s “Beloved”, the character Beloved is a ghost who represents the stories and traumas of her mother, Sethe, who has suffered a horrible past. However, at first this isn’t clear to the reader. We know that Beloved is this random person and if you are paying attention then you very quickly realize that she is Sethe’s daughter and that she is a ghost. But as the story develops further and further, it is apparent that Beloved is more than that, she brings up the past to Sethe and is a constant reminder of her painful times.

This is a very interesting way for Morrison to talk about slavery and trauma, and how it continues to affect people throughout their lives. With Beloved, this reminder was inescapable, and it was getting worse and worse. It was basically the main component driving the theme that the past can never truly be forgotten or escaped.

So do we all have these ghosts? Maybe they aren’t just for trauma, but for all of the past. No matter what happens in people’s lives, the past is what got them there, and it will stick with them for the rest of it. So in a way, everyone has little “ghosts” that are reminders of what we all went through, and that force us to face what has happened to us.

Why am I not hating a required English class book?

With all due respect, when we opened the box of fresh books a few weeks ago and it hit me that we were about to start a new unit, I was not very thrilled. Reading used to be one of my favorite hobbies and I would become addicted to books. However, as high school began, that passion drained and the books that I read for school exponentially added to my lack of desire to read.

But as I began to read “Exit West,” I found myself interested in what happened, and wanting to read the next chapter. So why is this book different than all of the other books? The syntax is unique and the culture is different than any book that we have read, but normally those aren’t factors that excite me. Perhaps it excites me that it doesn’t take place in 18th century Europe and written with extremely complicated diction. However, I have simply found that the plot is intriguing. While the story of a refugee is extremely relevant in our world at this time, it isn’t something I see or experience first hand, so reading about a situation like this is something I have not had much exposure to. I am constantly waiting to see what comes next. The mix of realistic plot lines and the transporting doors keeps the readers on their toes as the real world takes a “magical” twist. This aspect, along with the political issues that are quite obviously alluded to, make this book an interesting read.

I am not saying that I have given up on my dislike of required English class reading material, I am simply saying that compared to all else, I have enjoyed this book the most. From Jane Eyre to short stories to Shakespeare, Exit West has been quite above average.

Do you believe in existentialism or do you just hate your life?

I understand that this question might come across as a little bit harsh, however, after the class discussion on existentialism, I felt very unsettled and confused. Why would someone want that type of outlook on life? Everything about it struck me as depressing and unhappy.

I think that the belief of existentialism stems from a place of unhappiness, because if you are able to truly feel love or joy, then you feel like you have a good reason to keep living. And that is enough to call it the purpose of life.

I am not going to lie, some of the points that were shared during the class discussion made sense to me, and I think it is a unique perspective on life. But I personally think that existentialism is not a belief to live by and that if you ignore what it is saying, you will live a much happier and fuller life. While it is true that society puts expectations on us that we need to have a family and friends and love to be happy, and many of these things are glorified, that does not mean that they aren’t real things that make life worth living.

The purpose of life is whatever you make it out to be. Society puts pressure on us to make certain things our “happiness”, but that doesn’t mean that there is no general purpose to life; it just varies with each person. I think that there is so much emphasis on finding a purpose to life that no one actually realizes that there truly is no purpose to life. We are just here, and all we can do is make it the best life that we can. So however each individual chooses to do so, is their own personal purpose to life. Whatever puts a smile on their face and fills their hearts with joy is what they can say is their reason for getting out of bed each day and enjoying the life they were given.

The Disappointment Brought Upon By “The Elephant Vanishes”

“The Elephant Vanishes” is a short story written by Haraki Murakami. Personally, I really enjoyed reading this story, however it left me feeling extremely unsettled. One of the key factors to this story that drew me in is the fact that I wanted to know what happened to this mysterious elephant. As soon as the narrator started talking about the news article where the elephant went missing with no trace as to how it disappeared, I was entranced. While I continued to read, I was on the edge of my seat anticipating the big reveal of what truly happened, with a sudden twist in the story that none of us were expecting. But, that never came. In many of the previous stories we had read, there was a science fiction twist to them, always creating a sense of unknown and an unlimited amount of possible explanations. So, with this in the back of my mind, I was waiting for some unexpected explanation to occur.

While I understand that leaving the readers with such a cliffhanger was very intentional, and even may add to the story in so many ways, I was very bothered with it. As someone who does not like the unknown, and is constantly trying to figure out more information, this was a very unsettling ending for me. Not only were we left not really having any information about the author besides his interest in the elephant, but we also have absolutely no understanding of what truly happened to the elephant. What started off as a curiosity about this strange, mysterious creature, quickly turned into anger about how we will not ever realize how the elephant escaped. Was the elephant even real? Physically how did any of this make any sense? And I suppose we will never know.