“Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson

In this absolutely surreal time, it is important to remember that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – Kelly Clarkson. This song is not only poetic in its lyrics, it is also inspiring during this global pandemic when things seem like they’ve hit rock bottom.

Thanks to you
I’m finally thinking about me
You know in the end
the day you left was just my beginning

One thing that really stands out about this line is the antithesis. Using “end” and “beginning” is an important contrast and it shows that although it may have been the end of a relationship for Kelly, it was the only the beginning of the rest of her life where she can really focus on herself. This really applies to us seniors because even though our senior year ended all too soon, it is really only the beginning of our lives. We have so much to look forward to.

What doesn’t kill you makes a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn’t mean I’m over cause you’re gone

This line metaphorically explains why going through something tough makes a person stronger. Your footsteps don’t actually get lighter, you just feel better after you have been through something that was really hard. I think this is an amazing way to portray successfully getting through a struggle and it is a nice reminder to all of us that quarantine is not going to kill us. In fact, it will make us appreciate seeing friends, going to school, and being able to go out to dinner so much more.

I think that this song is a great addition to our Positivity Playlist. It helps us remember that we need to stay optimistic about our current situation because we can only go up from here.

Orientalism in Pop Culture

While watching the Orientalism video, Edward Said mentioned the presence of Orientalism in Hollywood. This got me thinking and I decided to do a little research on it. I was shocked to see that some really popular movies had scenes that portrayed middle eastern people as dangerous and violent.

One of the most surprising examples for me was from Back to the Future. I remembered the scene in which Libyan terrorists were shooting at Doc Brown. I think the most disturbing thing about this is that the times I have watched this movie, I never gave this scene a second thought. It never occurred to me how racist it was to choose Libyans as the terrorists coming out of nowhere to shoot at Doc and Marty.

The Libyans | Futurepedia | Fandom

This shows me that Orientalism is rooted in a lot of us because of the society we live in today. It makes me sad that I have unknowingly learned that middle eastern terrorists are normal. It’s making me wonder what other forms of Orientalism are occurring in pop culture today that I have been oblivious to. I’m hoping that learning about this topic will help me see racism towards middle eastern people that I have never noticed before.

Does Societal Obligation Trump Love?

“The God of Small Things” is a book filled with complex relationships between lovers, friends, and family. In a society that is heavily influenced by politics, it gets messy when navigating these relationships. As Roy demonstrates, obeying these laws might mean betraying the ones you love, and disobeying them could lead to death.

Throughout the book, there are many instances in which we see this conflict. One of the most significant examples is the affair between Velutha and Ammu. Despite Velutha being an untouchable and Ammu being of a higher caste, they engage in an affair. They ignore the system that prohibits romantic relationships between castes. This ultimately leads to Velutha’s death when his own father exposes the affair to Baby Kochamma. Their love was not enough to surpass the rules of society. Velutha was born an untouchable and he died as an untouchable too. His label was his downfall.

It is also important to note that Velutha’s own father was willing to expose his own son in order to follow the “Love Laws” of society. Vellya Paapen betrays Velutha by choosing his obligation to follow rules over familial love.

This is just one of many examples of the impact that politics has on the relationships between characters. Overall, based on the events in the book, societal obligation does indeed trump love. But I feel that this is not always the case. India is a special case because the caste system is extremely strict. However, in other places throughout the world, we see mixed class relationships all the time. After reading this book and seeing just how strict the caste system in India is, I feel lucky to live in a place where I can love whoever I choose.

Changes by Tupac

In Tupac’s “Changes” on his album, Greatest Hits, he sings about various problems that occur in America. He references the war on drugs, racism, and poverty. Throughout the song, Tupac explains how all these issues are happening in our country but nothing is changing. He wants to see changes but recognizes that “That’s just the way it is”. Tupac confronts the harsh reality of our country’s unfortunate unfairness towards certain groups of people. It is especially powerful because Tupac is speaking from his own experience. He is able to give his readers an extremely personal view from his first hand account. He can convey his message by incorporating poetic lines into his lyrics.

“Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races”

This line is specifically targeting racism. In the song, Tupac expains how our hate is directed towards the wrong things. People tend to focus so much on the color of our skin that they don’t look deeper into the content of our character. This line utilizes assonance which makes for an especially striking line. It emphasizes how people need to stop judging others solely based on their race.

“And as long as I stay black, I gotta stay strapped

And I never get to lay back”

Tupac says, “As long as I stay black”, as if it is a choice. By wording it in this way, he is able to convey the message that as long as he is black, he will constantly be forced to keep his guard up. But it is not a choice. When you are born black, there is no escape from the constant racism and discrimination you will face. And that is a systematic problem that needs to be changed.

Overall, Tupac’s lyrics made for an incredibly convincing argument for change. By incorporating striking lines into his song, he could express the urgency of the issues that plague our country. Although this song is not the happiest, it addresses serious problems like racism, gun violence and more. Ironically, Tupac was killed at the age of 25 in a drive by shooting. It is important to talk about changes that need to be made to prevent these tragic events.

We All Have Our Tobacco Tins

In Chapter 10 of Beloved, the narrator explains, “It was some time before [Paul D] could put Alfred, Georgia, Sixo, schoolteacher, Halle, his brothers, Sethe, Mister, the taste of iron, the sight of butter, the smell of hickory, notebook paper, one by one, into the tobacco tin lodged in his chest. By the time he got to 124 nothing in this world could pry it open” (Morrison).

Paul D grew up as a slave at Sweet Home. Although he is no longer a slave, he is burdened with the terrible memories of his past. Instead of dealing with these memories and emotions, he instead chooses to repress them and lock them deep inside of him.

In 2019, although we have not suffered through slavery, many of us have gone through traumatic experiences in our lives. Different people have different ways of coping with these experiences, but a common method is to avoid dealing with them all together. It can be easier to pretend that they don’t exist than to face the issue head on and the pain that inevitably comes with. Each of us would be lying if we said we had never once repressed a painful memory and locked it into our own personal tobacco tins. But as it is demonstrated in Beloved, there really is no escaping our pasts.

How Exit West Confronts the Inevitable Changes that Come With Time

At the beginning of Exit West, it seemed to be, for the most part, the typical story about a boy and a girl, falling in love, and facing challenges together as their love evolved. Saeed and Nadia met during a time of crisis in their country. Together, they faced war, death, and countless other challenges that seemed to bring them closer. They relied on each other to get through this time of great turmoil. I really expected their love to grow as they faced more and more challenges. But as the book continued, I realized I was wrong.

As they transported to different places around the world, they seemed to gradually grow apart. The crazy new places changed each of them in different ways and by the end of the book, they found it best to go their separate ways. This made me sad because it is not typical in a book for two lovers to grow apart in this way. In fact, I found this story even more sad than tragedies in which one or both of the lovers die. It wasn’t some external source that suddenly prevented them from being together. It was simply the passage of time that prompted their falling out of love. It was nothing that either of them did wrong. Life happens. Change is inevitable.

In Exit West, magical doors take our lovers to new destinations. Although there are no magical doors in real life, there are a countless amount of things that have a similar impact. For example, moving to a new house, or getting a new job. Changes like these are to be expected. But what people are scared to accept is that they have a drastic impact on who we are as people. We have to learn to accept that with time comes change. We will constantly be losing old friends and gaining new ones. There is nothing we can do other than adapt.

Why the Idea of Existentialism is so Absurd

After hearing Mr. Heidkamp’s lecture about existentialism, I didn’t know how to feel. Everything I had ever known to be true in my life was suddenly being questioned. It was hard for me to believe that the things I considered meaningful were simply just lies that humans created to avoid confronting the harsh realities of life.

Having English 1st period, this conversation about existentialism stuck with me for the rest of the day. I was constantly trying to wrap my head around the idea. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided that in no way do I agree with the concepts of existentialism. And here is why: Existentialists believe that the loving relationships people form are not what give meaning to life. In fact, they believe that these relationships prevent people from living at their fullest potential. I find this hard to believe because from the moment we are born, we develop these types of relationships with our mothers and fathers, and with the people we meet as we grow up. No one teaches us to love or to care for others. It is a natural human phenomenon.

Rather, I think that the concept of Existentialism was created as a coping mechanism for people who are unsatisfied with their lives. It is an excuse to not feel and not care about things that are not going as well as one would have hoped. This seems to be the case for Meursault in The Stranger. Instead of mourning the death of his mother, he acted indifferent about it. Similarly, during his trial, he didn’t seem to care whether or not he was charged as guilty. Throughout the book, we see many instances in which Meursault avoids confronting the emotions he should be feeling. Then, when he is sentenced to death, Meursault explodes and all his emotions come out all at once in the form of anger and hatred.

To me, the ending of The Stranger seems to reveal the inevitable result of existentialism. Although Meursault stuck with his existentialist mindset through the book, his behavior in the last few moments proves that no good will ultimately come out of existentialism.

How “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” Relates to the Modern Obsession with Appearance.

In “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, although the people take great interest in the man who fell from the sky, they are quick to dismiss him as a real angel solely based on his appearance.

When Pelayo and Elisenda first discover the angel, the first thing they do is point out the flaws in his appearance: “There were only a few faded hairs left on his bald skull and very few teeth in his mouth, and his pitiful condition of of a drenched great-grandfather had taken away any sense of grandeur he might have had” (Marquez 354). Their first impression of the angel is only about how he looks at first glance. Even with his enormous wings that should most definitely indicate that he is a magical being, they assume he is a castaway from a ship. This is all because the old man did not fit the typical description that is associated with an angel.

Just as Pelayo and Elisenda make assumptions based on the appearance of the old man, the media today similarly overemphasizes appearance. Every model in magazines or on social media has physical features that people are expected to strive for. If people do not fit the stereotype for the “ideal” appearance, the media makes it seem as though they are imperfect. This unrealistic expectation for physical appearance makes people, especially teenagers who are heavily influenced by social media, unhappy with how they look. In a time when appearance has been prioritized over other characteristics of a person, it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters.