Responses

Included below are the responses I have completed to other students in my class. Each response also includes a link to their page.

One- Nikhil

I think that you bring up a wonderful point about how the appropriation of hip hop seemed almost inevitable in the history that Duane Lee Holland presented to us. He made it very clear that it was deeply imbedded in African American culture, both because of its birthplace in Africa and because of its roots in places like the Bronx. There also appears to be a gap in the timeline of when hip-hop actually developed and when the African culture would have still been a vital part of black culture. So, it is fair for one to question how an art form that he emphasized being a black American development, be related to the struggles of people in Africa.

However, I think that there is a difference between appropriation and exploitation, at least in the terms that Holland spoke of them. I enjoyed how he emphasized not the fact that it was wrong to use aspects of other cultures, but that if you do, you should be educated about their backgrounds and about what the culture that originally used them meant. I think you recognize this point to though in the way you are upset about a Hindu based tradition being warped into a flouncy, American symbol.

Overall, I believe that you bring a wonderful new approach to Holland’s demonstration, relating to his frustration, while also criticizing the discrepancies.

Two- Veronica

Dear Veronica,

You offered a wonderful summary of Marx’s ideas about the divisions of labor and all of the negative effects that can come with the lack of specialization or craftsmanship, specifically in an environment that encourages attitudes of easy replaceability. I think that it would be interesting to further delve into if these ideas could be further applied to jobs outside of the wage labor division. It would be fascinating to discover if some people in simply monotonous jobs experience similar levels of unhappiness, or to look into what jobs today could be comparable to those in Marx’s time (perhaps involving electronics, or outsourcing products). It is amazing how many of Marx’s ideas still hold true in our society and how a capitalist society like ours encourages a sort of conformity between people. The lack of separation between final product and the repetitive portion of creation that people are in involved in during division of labor, while very effective, does cause a lack of inspiration, as you wonderfully pointed out.

Your blog post was very interesting to read and offers a great starting point for further conversation on Marx’s ideas, capitalism, and how productivity and happiness are often imbalanced.

Three- Abby

Dear Abby,

I think that analyzing Mrs. Dalloway‘s representation of the 1920s versus what America has made the 1920s appear to be is a great point of discussion. The 1920s are definitely romanticized in America nowadays, with it being seen as the height of economic glory and the beginning of a golden age (that we know does not last long anyway with the impending next world war and financial collapse). However, if you look at how the media displays Britain during this time, it is also very similar to that of America, perhaps with a bit less of the economic growth. Just as Mrs. Dalloway is always throwing parties, the same effect as occurring in America as a way to dull (or perhaps even hide) the trauma that was being experienced here. I am not an expert in this particular topic so I do not feel completely comfortable with comparing how much trauma each country actually felt for England’s involvement was more direct and heavier than ours, but there were many similar trauma causes and episodes of mental illness as those expressed in Woolf’s novel.

As for your comparison to The Great Gatsby, I agree with what other commenters have said where they find more similarities than differences to that and Woolf’s novel. Both display what the effects of conformist pressure does to romantic relationships and the development of personal emotions, and the expression of those feelings (and consequences of their repression). Daisy Buchannan and Mrs. Dalloway are very similar, as are Peter and Jay Gatsby for the former attempt to build their life assuming happiness is tied with comfort, and the latter were the ones tossed aside in the pursuit of those women following what society shouted at them to do. I think the comparison of these four characters further would be a very interesting topic to pursue.

Overall, your comparison of the 1920s in two different countries and then to two different novels in one of those countries offers a great starting point for further analysis into both the effects of trauma and the effects of society.

Four- Nikhil

Dear Nikhil,

Initially, I would like to applaud you for your astute observation of turning a picture made most likely for the purpose of momentary laughter into an image that can be deeply linked to historical context and studied further. I completely agree with your comparison of how alcohol can act as an unnatural impetus that reduces barriers. However, I would make a counterargument to say that the Id often contains desires that are so innate or repressed that we cannot consciously think about them. For example, sex, or at least the desire to perform a sexual act, is often contained in the Id as a more generalized urge that exists subconsciously, as even you stated in your post. Alcohol tends to express already acknowledged emotions, but allows those emotions to be shown outside of the person’s mind. There are no Freudian slips, because the super ego is diminished. It is a wonderful observation that you have made, and with a fascinating connection, but I think you should research further into how alcohol disintegrates the idea of the super ego as opposed to allowing access to the Id in order to create a more accurate image for your readers.

Best,

Jade

Five- Jackson

Dear Jackson,

I think this is a wonderful point that you discuss in your blog, and very timely to with it revolving around Spring Break. So many international tourist spots feed on the beauty of the natural land, but ignore the communities that also live there as they are shadowed under large commercial hotels and other industries. Specifically for college students, this time is seen as a way to drink a lot and be somewhere warm. There doesn’t seem to be much thought past that initial concept in choosing locations to go to. Once on whatever island, many students ignore the rich culture that surrounds them, and turn a blind eye to any impoverished ones.

I would like to pose two ideas to you in addition to those that you mentioned within your blog. What is your opinion when students return to campus with something like braided hair from stopping at a local shop while on vacation? Traditionally used as a form to contain thicker hair, it is often appropriated into our culture as a further way of flaunting one’s time spent off campus. Would engaging in local customs, in your opinion, be seen as something that would be a good learning experience or would this show even further the commercialization of the culture? I also have another question for you on cultures that actually thrive from the commercialization. For areas that use new hotels and industries as a source of new jobs that would otherwise be limited to older traditions of the area, how would this factor into the aspect of both the culture itself and whether or not these hotels could be considered useful?

Six-Naomi

Dear Naomi,

Originally upon scanning what blog post to respond to next, I picked a random post of yours that sounded interesting. However, while initially planning to have an academic response, your post has hit me very emotionally. I think that your title give the first hint that your post is going to be more than just an analysis of a piece of literature. You have a fantastic review of the character of Septimus Smith and the problems that he encounters within the novel, and how that also connects to Woolf’s own hardships with mental illness. I completely agree with your observation that although we have come further than in Woolf’s time, there is still a negative connotation associated with mental illness. There is also a stigma around people who take their life, with people judging everything that they had, saying they still seemed happy, and not understanding what happened. The problem there is that while it is okay for people to try to find a route to be able to connect to understand what happen, you can never truly understand an illness unless you experience it. Mental illness is so prevalent in today’s society, and there are still many disputed forms of treatment and how to go about it. One of my friends suffers from severe depression, yet her parents refuse medication for her and offer instead forms of therapy that have not helped at all. This is a very tough subject, and one that is very timely both for today’s society and for trying to find ways to treat it before death feels like the only option, for cases like depression. Various forms of mental illness effect a large proportion of the country and I think it is great that you are furthering that awareness and supporting a cause that is clearly very close to you.

 

Seven- response to a viewer’s comment

Viewer- Nikhil: You bring up an interesting comparison between Nicki Minaj and the Hottentot Venus. The way that you seem to suggest that Nicki Minaj is being exploited in a way that’s comparable to Saartjie Baartman even though she undeniably has more freedom/rights reminds me of Marx’s idea of “wage slavery”. According to him, the wage slave is someone who has freedom, but because of their lower social status they are forced to go to work for most of their lives just to survive and are thus being exploited as if they are enslaved. This seems like a similar situation, however instead of the lower class being exploited for their labor, black women are being exploited for their bodies. However, I also can’t help but wonder if other women in pop culture, such as Iggy Azalea, are being exploited in the same way even though they are not black. I’d say Iggy Azalea’s body has been used to aid her career in an almost identical fashion to Nicki Minaj, so why do people have a different outlook on the two women, if at all? If both women didn’t use their bodies to aid their careers, would Iggy Azalea be more popular than Nicki Minaj?

My response: Dear Nikhil, I appreciate that you have taken time to really understand my argument and find a very convincing counter argument to continue this discussion. I completely agree that other influential figures can be exploited for their bodies, not just specifically black people or women. Iggy Azalea, some say, during her own exploitation of her body she is pursuing a form of cultural appropriation. Being raised in Australia and then moving to Miami at the age of 16, she assimilated into the Latina culture, as is evident in both the way she dresses, sings, and her own views of her body comparative to other women. It is impossible to say who wold be more popular had each been simply a voice from the radio, but I also often wonder if they would have been able to even sign contracts and promote themselves and their music had it not been for their bodies also. If you look at the music industry as a whole, the majority of them would be considered by most to be highly attractive. Whether this be the external pressure that comes with the performance aspect of their art or simply the convoluted issues deeply embedded in the music industry, this form of pressure to continually be most pleasing or mold your body into the image that will sell best, could be equated to a form of slavery in itself.

 

Eight- Nikhil

Dear Nikhil,

Your blog post here is by far my favorite blog post that I have seen so far in the class. I am beyond thrilled that it could be for my last response. First, I enjoy that you admit the fact that you did not really have any good reason for making your blog look the way it did when you originally formatted it. The large amount of social pressure that is put on us even drains down to the innate feeling that our blog, which is for a class, should appear professional. But what is the purpose of this? Why do we feel this? While you make a wonderful connection to Waiting for Godot, I think that you could also connect this to Nietzsche’s questioning of the origin of many of our morals. It also extends into almost every other piece of literature that we have read this term that in some way critique’s the basic aspects of society that we deem as normal due to how insanely entrenched they are.

I think that your final comment on wondering why we even actually need to make an impact, or could we just live a happy life and not worry about it, is an important philosophical one to ponder. What do you want?

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