The Things I’ve Lost

The Things I’ve Lost

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My baby grey eyes: that I was born with, quickly replaced by a hazel brown that was more of a balance between my dad’s blue and mom’s dark brown. The pancake house tokens: in our little Dutch town Uden, where eating off the kid’s menu rewarded you plastic grey coins, five per pancake, that you could trade in for a prize like a large rainbow slinky or a light-up boomerang that had an invisible guarantee of breaking after three throws. My habit of putting carrot sticks in my water to try and give it a slight flavor: a habit I learned from Zoe Goldman, my second-grade best friend, but that I stopped doing after she moved back to the states, just like the habit of eating Nutella-Butter Sandwiches. Unimportant arguments sparked by fusses with my brothers who always seemed to team up against me and shoot me down with twice as much power no matter how firmly I stood. Silly catwalks with Carmen, a close friend of mine who had beautiful curly blond hair I wished of having, a daughter of two Spanish fashion designers who took care of me as if I were their fourth child.

A flip-flop: in a small sandpit near a playground called Mama África that we used to visit ever of so often when I was building castles but then realized one of my shoes was gone. The flip-flop I had lost after having searched for half an hour straight with my friend in one of the smallest sand pits I had ever played in that had just magically swallowed my shoe and hid it so well I decided to leave with only one. My dad’s favorite frisbee (the blue one): after having thrown it as hard as I possibly could only to find itself in one of the most inconveniently tall trees in the area, impossible to climb. The silly bet I made with my Nepali friend Rivan Kayastha to see who could be the first one to climb that water tank tower, before I lost and gave him two gummy bears and a sour patch from my party bag. Quincy Jackson’s lucky marble in the gutters on a rainy day after Mr. Man’s music class where I knew he had regretted giving us those loud recorders to take home.

All my 20 baby teeth, starting with my front ones and going down the row; from when I pulled them out myself to swallowing one by accident. And then the longest nights that followed of waiting for el Ratoncito Perez to sneak into my room and trade my baby tooth for five euros – ten if I was lucky. Red heart-shaped sunglasses bedazzled with plastic gems that I only ever wore once for a picture before losing it in a family friend’s house. Every single game of chess against my brother, or dad, or uncle or even my mom’s cousin, Angel. A pinky toenail when I was running around my Rwandan yard and I banged it insanely hard on a corner of our porch while playing tag in the dark with my friends, all barefoot, by the way. The times when all we would do was catch grasshoppers: during recess and give them dumb names like Bouncy or Jumpy.

The belief that Sinterklaas was real and would come to our house to gift us sacks of presents every eve on December 5th, conveniently when family members or guests were visiting with suspiciously large suitcases. My voice at 10: when I stayed up the entire night for the first time in my life, singing along to songs loudly and gulping down candy as if it were caffeine, hoping the sugar rush would help us battle the sleep. My love for Shrek, the movies: as I would watch them over and over again at the age of 5 for an entire year as if I hadn’t seen it twenty times before. An anklet: all the way from the heart of Guatemala from when my mom bought them for her own friends that she never ended up giving them to when she was about my age.

The chance to apologize to my brother when I made him cry not so long ago just because I was in a bad mood myself and knew nothing better than to blame him for it. My love for the Phineas and Ferb soundtracks that I would dance to violently as a little girl, on our African balcony that was coated in those two red, fuzzy mats we had bought at Ikea the summer before. The sleepovers at Octavie Drevon’s French house that had walls that smelled like tobacco and where we played Fireboy and Watergirl for hours off end on her old Windows computer she probably still has. My mind when I thought my youngest brother disappeared in a fair in England that seemed to have more people than attractions after having let go of his hand by accident, but luckily finding him after only five minutes.

The thought that my mom lived an ordinary life: 1987, when she graduated from the only Experimental School run by nuns in Guatemala at the time, 1991, when she marched down the spanish streets, when she fought for her own rights as a woman, 1996, when her dad died of a heart attack while she was on holiday in Bolivia, 1998, when she made her way onto the front cover of a newspaper titled FIRST 9 BASQUE STUDENTS SENT OFF INTO THE WORLD ABROAD, 1999, when she found my dad in the middle of Haiti.

The thought that my dad lived an ordinary life: 1982 at the age of 17, when he decided to hitch hike alone around France, not knowing a single word in French, in order to learn their language, 1984 the year he underwent heavy back surgery after breaking a disk from his spinal cord only at the age of 19 as a result of his passion for volleyball, 1987, when he bought a ticket from China to Germany with his last 200 dollars to board the Trans Siberian Express in hopes of getting home safely, 1990, when he crossed the desert with one of his old girlfriends in a Peugeot 504, only to have it break down in the middle of nowhere where he by coincidence found another dutch couple and met Pepe, his closest friend to this day.

The thought I lived an ordinary life: way before I ventured out into poor communities that made up the Rwandan suburbs and I met little boys and girls like me that had to walk a dangerous amount of hours a day just to collect water in gericans. Boys and girls that didn’t go to school because they had to care for their baby siblings or help their parents. The thought of us being so different, until I realized that after all, we both had goats and chickens to look after at home.

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Happening Truth / Story Truth

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A short story based on “The Man I Killed” from the Things they carried.


 

Midnight Fantasies

 

Like a majestic queen, she glided into her room with her head cocked upwards as if there were something on the ceiling apart from the ordinary leakage stains she wishes she could get rid of. Despite the risky heels supporting her figure, she manages to balance her entire body with a grace many ice skaters aspire to have. She takes two long steps and two short ones followed by another long one and then two short again. Her pace is like a dance as if she twirled around the room to a song no one could hear. Her hair was pulled up in a suffocating bun, restraining even the slightest strands of hair to peak up from the neat hairstyle, giving her an image of tidiness and formality. Smooth spotless skin, several shades darker than my own, made her lively eyes and vibrant smile stand out even more.

She had been one of many daughters, maybe, with another older brother and a younger one somewhere in between. Yet she never talked about them. Being one of the many children in a family meant competition. Nothing was truly yours until you bought it yourself. That’s why she secretly saved up money to buy what she’s wished for so long. It was the same smile she had worn as a girl the day she finally broke her piggy bank to realize she had saved enough money to buy herself her favorite band’s CD, at $14.99 only. Money she had earned through household chores, selling homemade brownies and washing her neighbor’s navy blue car once or twice. That unmistakable smile that sprung to life when she finally turned in the wrinkled bills and a few stray coins along with them in order to purchase the CD from the sketchy man in the corner store her mom warned her about. Maybe it was that same smile that she still wore to this day.

Silver hoops hung from her pierced earlobes that seemed weightless and elegant dangling on both sides of her face, giving her an impressive sense of symmetry. She wore risky, forest-green high heels that seemed as if they’d smell like pine trees and that matched her green top exposing both bare shoulders. Her head was still cocked upwards as if there were something apart from those leakage stains on the ceiling that looked like coffee stains she was so familiar with. Around her neck, a thin chain necklace shone brightly when the light caught it exactly at an angle, flaring its golden color against her smooth brown skin.

She had gotten the necklace from her best friend in New York twenty years ago as a lucky charm for their futures apart. She used to call her every Sunday morning while having breakfast just to catch up on things and talk about whatever seemed to be on their minds. But one day, her friend vanished off the face of the earth. Texts never reached her phone, calls were always missed and all her accounts ceased working. For fifteen years now she has been looking for her, through family members and friends, yet no one seems to know where she could possibly be. But every time she touches her golden chain necklace she feels as though her friend is looking for her too, somewhere. It was as if serendipity was playing a game on them as if they were trying to find their way back to each other but following two parallel paths that would never cross. The necklace was all she had left and all that kept her going.

She danced around the hexagonal tables positioned in her room, lined with plastic-metal blue chairs around them, with each a white lantern suspended from the ceiling that emitted a soft yellow glow. Around the furniture she glided, like a majestic queen or swan until she found her way to her lofty, black wheelie chair. You knew she was coming by the unmistakable sound of her heels clicking on the tile floor. She flicked up her MacBook air to kick off her day at work by reading the morning announcements aloud. She rubbed her hands together patiently as if soothing herself or warming them up for something. The same hands that had a secret talent of composing fascinating works of art with the medium of the English Language.

She carried around a crimson-red notebook. It was with her at all times. When one was filled, she’d replace it with another one: the same crimson-red color as the one before. It was midnight fantasies that she wrote in these, fantasies that only ever came to her after the clock struck 12. In them, she’d write about dreams and fictive stories about herself in alternate universes where “what ifs” were all she needed to mold the storylines for her imagination. Some were about her years as a little girl, the memories she had kept, others about her daughters and sons and about how much she’d wish for them to never leave her side. She lived in these fantasies, a world to all to herself. A world she’d never share with another. These midnight fantasies were what kept her up all night and were the ones to blame for the tired eyes she’d waken with a bit of makeup the next morning.

“Have a marvelous Monday, boys and girls,” she spoke with a clear crisp voice as light as feathers. Her hair was pulled up in a bun, restraining the smallest hairs from peeking up, giving her an image of tidiness and formality she met as a teacher. Her smooth spotless skin that covered her face, made her lively eyes, fogged up by all her dreams, and vibrant smile stand out even more. Her manicured fingers scurried over the keyboard before looking to dismiss us with a wink and a matching smile that bared her white teeth, blinding almost, in such a mellow room with lanterns that emitted a soft yellow glow.

She was a spitting image of her mother who had the same bold teeth and structured face, the defined cheekbones and arched eyebrows. The only physical characteristic she had inherited from her father was his hair, luscious black, easily tangled. Oh, and his humor, of course. His laughter. His jokes. She carried his clever way of mixing words and forming puns just to make others chuckle. She carried her mother’s manners: the nodding, the precise grammar, the agreeing politely – all of it. But she also carried her mother’s habit of misplacing things and losing them just to find them in the last place she’d think possible long after she needed them.

She remained seated in her lofty black wheelie chair, taking all the pressure off her risky high heels, that she somehow managed to balance her entire body on, and onto the spring in her spinning seat. Her suffocating bun pulled her hair back tightly as if there were a string at the end of it that tugged her upwards, like a puppet or something. Maybe that’s the reason why her head was always slightly cocked upwards. She rubbed her hands together again, taking a break from the keyboard, as if she needed to think twice or as if hesitating about something she wrote.

Despite her presence at school and the hundreds of students buzzing around her workspace at all times, she sometimes longs to be left alone. Longs of having time to herself, time to write more midnight fantasies. Her body might be at the desk checking emails and grading papers independently, but I knew her mind was secretly in another world, somewhere far away from where she currently sat.

 

 


 

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Tisha Meadows

Rites of Passage Reflection

1. When do you feel like a grown-up?” “What affirms this?”

As the eldest daughter in the family, I have always been the one to “look out” for my younger brothers. When I was little, I remember my parents always traveling. If it weren’t my mom for a week, my dad would be gone for three, but they always took turns. Therefore, ever since I was little I’ve had the responsibility to play the part of a part-time parent, feeling the need to fulfill their small gaps.

When I became 10 I remember that on my birthday I got my very first pocket knife. At this age, I’ve never owned anything that was truly mine. I had no phone or iPod, like all my friends, but I didn’t mind. Having something just for myself was fascinating at the time. I remember being very careful with where I would put it and I would always carry it with me. Having personal belongings helped introduce myself to the consequences of being independent. If I lost it, it was gone, and that was that, but luckily I took such good care of it, that it never left my sight.

As the years gradually went by I would feel the need to be the one in charge of things for I felt the need to become my sibling’s role models. It never really felt like an option, nor did it feel obligated; if anything, it just kinda happened. It all started when I was told that I could be the one “in charge” of my brothers when we were home alone. I started making decisions and taking care of my brothers ever since.

Nowadays it all seems normal. I’m the older one and therefore do the most chores, make dinner, help them with their homework and take care of them. At times this can be overwhelming of course, but I’ve learned that they need me. I have no clue what it would be like having an older brother or sister, but I do know that the least I can do is have their backs.

 

2. Do we still need rites of passage? Do we need the physical and mental ordeals? Do we need the formality? 

Growing up can be challenging, yet once you reach certain points you can’t help but feel accomplished. I believe that it is therefore very important to keep certain rites of passages in practice, allowing us young adults, who are transitioning through a tough part of life, to look back and feel proud of ourselves. Whether these are huge or even minor, I believe that this helps an individual’s mental growth for they can always go back to see what they’ve accomplished so far and drive themselves forward.

Whether there should be physical as well as mental ordeals really depend on the culture and the practices, but coming from me, I don’t think it should be mandatory to put ourselves to the test on a risky level. The formality shouldn’t always be a factor of such significance, either. This will always vary from one family to another and therefore shouldn’t be necessary. If they want to make it all serious and formal, perfect, and if not, sounds great too. Like I mentioned before, different families have distinct ways of celebrating and tackling these rites of passages and that’s the way it should be.

 

3. Do the old rites of passages still apply, or do we need entirely new ones that make sense in today’s world? If so, what would they look like?

I believe that old rites of passages should be kept. These rites of passages are original and were and still are the ones that were practiced centuries ago. Taking part in such an antique rite makes it special. In today’s world, everything has advanced at its own pace, including ourselves. Even though others might think it’s about time to “renew” these rites of passages, I still agree that we should hold on to our past. These have more of a meaning and can allow our pure culture and memories arouse.

 

4. Have you gone through a rite of passage?

Unlike many people who have gone through very formal and largely celebrated rites of passages, I never took part in anything that grand. Throughout my lifetime, I have always had small things here and there that counted as mini rites of passages. I remember first being allowed to go walking to my friend’s house all alone, fixing my own bike, hanging out with friends without a time limit and many other small things that came through the years.

In the future, though, I will be allowed to travel to my birth country (Dominican Republic), which I haven’t visited for the past 13 years, once I’m 15. This is our own version of the world-known Quinceañera. Instead of having a huge party and dressing up and dancing alongside my dad, I will travel alone with my grandmother.

Brave New World – Satire

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Questions:

What is satire?

  • Satire is when someone uses humor, exaggeration, or irony to depict and give an opinion about a serious issue or matter. Satire generally criticizes people’s stupidity or the foolishness of an institution / larger group.

 

What is the tone of satire? (Horatian, Juvenalian)

  • Horatian is gentle and aims to correct the issue through sympathetic laughter. Horatian satire criticizes issues by drawing generally funny images. Juvenalian, on the other hand, is more biting and harsh; it aims to correct the evil in society by attacking it through ridicule. Juvenalian evokes severe feelings. The tone of satire I used for my drawing was Horatian. I was aiming for people to sympathetically giggle to the image so that they can understand the flaw that I’m trying to emphasize with a more gentle approach. My drawing isn’t biting nor does it attack the issue with anger. By making mine look like a newspaper clipping and magnifying the words to stretch the truth, I’ve been able to make it purposefully absurd.

 

What institution, practice or group is being satirized?

  • The practice that is being satirized in my image is hypnopaedia, also known as sleep-teaching. This practice is introduced in the novel as a method of conditioning children, under the age of sixteen, to memorize phrases unconsciously. These phrases are repeated to them 100 times, three nights a week for an entire year. Thanks to the repetitions they are fed, these sentences are cemented into their minds and those chained words are what they revolve their lives around. My satire is also making fun of all the “subjects” it teaches. What I did is state the obvious, or in this case, the truth that the government is hiding from the apathetic populace. The government is hypnotizing them with these phrases to get them to not as questions, follow instructions, and kill dreams.

 

What method is being used to construct the satire?

  •  The technique that I used to construct my satire is exaggeration. I made my satire look as if it were a newspaper ad clipping and then I used words to exaggerate the true depiction of hypnopaedia in the book. I stated the hidden truth to why the government put this practice forth, making it humorous. “COME BUY THE NEW HYPNOPAEDIC RADIO!! NOW FOR ONLY YOUR THOUGHTS AND INDIVIDUALITY!” This little quotation is revealing the government’s reasons for obligating their people to listen to these discs but through a very exaggerated way. I emphasized the word ONLY as if your individuality and thoughts were as worthless as a grain of sand. I exaggerated and stretched the words so that the faults are clearly seen.

“But I don’t want comfort. I want poetry. I want danger. I want freedom. I want goodness. I want sin.” – Brave New World

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“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto the World State goes by. Using these words as a mold, they’ve shaped a world where people are treated as lab rats, derived and produced in test tubes, to do nothing else but work their entire lives for their own greedy benefit. In the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the narrator follows the protagonist, Bernard Marx: an inquisitive and rebellious man, who is rumored to have more alcohol in his blood-surrogate than the average, as an explanation for his “queer” behavior. He seems to be the only one who’s unique in the entire population. Living in a society where people are stripped from their individuality and persona, Bernard is the first to conceive the faults of what they call home. As he tries to raise awareness to the apathetic populace, including a clueless yet average girl called Lenina, he struggles to push the truth forth. Through the process, they encounter John, a young man from the Savage Reservation who clandestinely cracks a hole in the impenetrable, “civilized” society.

Just like in many other dystopian societies, the government aims to erase emotions and possibly hazardous feelings that individuals could have. The only thing the government wants in this book is that people conform to their norms and don’t ask any questions. “Everyone is happy nowadays,” Lenina recites in the novel from her hypnopaedic conditioning. That’s the lie that they’re all fed. All castes believe that they’ve always had what they wanted and that they’re lucky to be in the class they are in. Apart from these hypnotizing phrases that are stapled into their brains, the government has also popularized soma. This drug allows individuals to escape from reality and mask themselves from any truth they want to forget. This drug doesn’t have any side effects such as headaches and therefore are so popular. Soma also allows people to hide from their problems instead of facing them, which is just what the government wants. By using soma, people can feel happy all the time, no sadness nor anger or even pain, just happiness. After all, that’s what they want right?

To “protect” the populace from any thought-provoking information they could possibly find in books, the government in Brave New World prohibited any reading, except for certain essential texts that won’t contradict or question anything about the way things are run in the community. Knowledge is a limited thing that is categorized as “dangerous” by the World Leaders. Only specific, and most likely, censored books are passed down to the Alpha’s and Beta’s for general reference, but the World Leaders were cautious enough to not introduce any bizarre books with foreign ideas or opinions. For the castes below the Alphas or Betas, the government had come to a conclusion that the only way to keep them away from any books is to scar them for life. What they do is take a batch of toddlers and put them in a room where they’re introduced to two new things: books and plants. Out of curiosity, these little babies crawl towards the objects and once they start playing with them, they electrocute them until they starting bawling. All this just to teach them a lesson that if they come in contact with either books or nature, they’ll get hurt real bad.

The books that can be found in the civilized community are modern and don’t contain any information about the past. Everything, as they know of, is stated in the year After Ford, or A.F. Since the government had wanted to start from complete scratch, they’ve also introduced this new religion where everyone worships Ford. Henry Ford became famous for perfecting the assembly line as well as mass production and in the society they molded, humans are mass produced in assembly lines as if they were supplies on a product shelf.

In the civilized society, the World State had decided to put forth a strict social class system that rigidly defines and diverges groups of people. Humans are classified into a structure called the caste system, where those at the top are smarter, better looking and just a little more unique as individuals. The lower the caste, the uglier and dumber they get. Since birth, these castes are taught to despise each other, as a result of the repetitions they’re fed every night. Each caste is obligated to wear a distinct color and fulfill caste-specific tasks. At the top you’ll find the Alphas, followed by the Betas, then Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. All castes are mass produced by the government except for the Alphas and Betas, the privileged ones. The government has eliminated a very dangerous thing: greed. By making each caste believe they’ve always had what they wanted and that they’re content with what they’re doing, there has never been any greed. Deltas are happy that they don’t work as hard as the Alphas and Betas are thankful they don’t have to drag things around all day like the Epsilons.

Stability is one of the words that forms part of the World State’s motto: “Community, Identity, Stability.” That’s what the government wants in their society, but to achieve that, they’ve had to sacrifice several things. The World State had decided that the only way to achieve social stability is by assembling a hierarchal pyramid. What they mean by that is a caste system. They’ve decided to strictly define these castes so that there isn’t any social instability. Another thing they’ve put into practice is using the Bokanovsky process, a fictional process where they can create 96 identical twins from only one embryo. These “batches” of 96 are also a huge part of their road to stability. The second thing they sacrificed is the identity of individuals. The “identity” in the motto refers more to the castes that they’re classified into and the mindsets they’re manipulated to have. They’ve made individuals but multiplied them to make whole populations. These genetically identical individuals are less likely to spark riots and conflict, which is just what the World State needs. Their definition of stability is minimizing conflict and diminish any change. Another major aspect they’ve sacrificed is freedom. Mustapha Mond, one of the several World Leaders, believes that freedom has to be sacrificed in order to attain happiness. He believes that if you take someone’s freedom away, they will be thankful for what they have and not ask for something they know they can’t have.

In the civilized society, the government has accomplished to make people social in every way possible. Privacy almost seems to be a fictional thing in their community. Individuals don’t have secrets and always are part of the crowd. Since all castes have been conditioned to despise nature in every which way, they’ve always had the tendency to stay together within the city like a pack of scared wolves. Solidarity is seen as “queer” by others and even unhealthy in a sense, as it’s emphasized as something unnatural. The importance of being part of the community is stressed through discouraging individuality. “When the individual feels, the community reels,” is an example of another sleep-taught phrase, which indicates that if an individual were to start catching feelings, they would bring the community into danger and make it collapse just by presenting their thoughts to the crowd. The government was also able to achieve a relationship-free community. No true communication is allowed to develop between individuals and any bonds are broken so that individuals can’t feel attached to others. Bernard tries to open up to Lenina, but by nature, Lenina shuts it back down by pushing his words away. Most importantly, though, family, the strongest bond of them all, is targeted and torn apart. Without genetic bonds or relationships, individuals are vulnerable and become easy targets for the government.

It seems to be that the slogans that are cemented into their minds are the only thing individuals in this hand-crafted world live by. Their entire childhood, children are compelled to learn through a method called hypnopaedia. Instead of going to school during the day, children are taught in their sleep. Hypnopedia is a method in which sentences or phrases are repeated over and over again in one’s sleep until the individual can unconsciously recall it. Through this, the government has unlocked their way into the mind of individuals and have achieved to brainwash them. All of these phrases are chosen purposefully by the government to trick the population into conforming to their rules. An example of a phrase that’s pumped into their heads is “A gramme is always better than a damn.” This implies that it’s always better to take a gramme of soma to get rid of anger, sadness, bitterness or any other feeling than to face it. Apart from that one, countless others talk about how they should always retreat to soma in emotion-provoking situations; “A gramme in time saves nine,” “One cubic centimetre saves ten gloomy sentiments.” Not all revolve around soma; “Everybody’s happy nowadays” misleads and tricks them into believing that everything in their society is perfect, a place where everyone’s happy and nothing could be better. But what these people aren’t aware of is that it’s all an illusion, a cut-out.

In the beginning of the novel, Bernard Marx is the character that presents the flaws of the society on a small scale. Through his eyes, one can finally pry out the negatives of their contemporary lives and are introduced to the first contrasting point of view. Bernard seems to be the only one in his society to notice something’s just not right. Maybe it’s the extra alcohol in his blood-surrogate that sparked curiosity in him. Who knows? Bernard feels like he doesn’t belong, and therefore finds connections with the outside world, nature in this case. While everyone finds their way to surround themselves in masses of people, Bernard escapes to the ocean at night to reflect on what’s on his mind. After getting to know Bernard pretty well, a new character comes into the spotlight. Bernard travels with Lenina to the Savage Reservation in hopes trying something new and completely wild, and to his surprise meets this young man called John the Savage. John has always been an outcast, even in his own society, and when Bernard decides to bring him back to London with him, the way things are run in the civilized society are nothing like what his mother had told him in her stories and shocks him. John goes completely insane and starts a riot by violently throwing soma out the hospital window in hopes of pushing the truth forth to the enslaved population. Wistfully, the witnesses only end up taking more soma to forget it ever happened and John, alongside Bernard and Helmholtz, are sent to Mustapha Mond who decides to send them far away to avoid any other dangerous acts. While Bernard and Helmholtz are sent all the way to Iceland, John is given the option to live on the outskirts and takes that option. Apart from the fact that he’s so far away from the city, he somehow still manages to grab the attention of hundreds.

Brave New World presents an uncommon image of the future where one mighty government gains power and ends up taking complete control of the entire society. Aldous Huxley portrays a future in which a group of leaders have decided to dominate the minds of millions, not with violence or fear, but with soma, a hallucinatory drug that doesn’t have any side effects. The leaders had to sacrifice various things in order to create an illusion of a perfect society for the population. They’ve managed to brainwash individuals by chaining phrases into their minds and making them believe that “Everyone is happy nowadays.”

There are several aspects that Aldous Huxley was criticizing from our contemporary society that he affirmed would impact us negatively if we continue to handle that issue the way it is right now. One of the major ones is that our technology and science is advancing so fast, that soon there won’t be any human relationships. Society will have no space left for true human interaction. In his novel, you can clearly see that the relationships between characters are superficial and that nobody can truly consider anyone as a friend. Aldous Huxley is also critiquing sex. In the novel, sex isn’t taking as anything serious, if anything it’s just for fun. He’s noticing that sex is slowly becoming something that is being valued less and less every day. Apart from that he also touches upon how the government has unlimited power. In the story, one mighty government rises above all and takes complete control of everything. Nowadays, most governments revolve their actions around the fact that it will benefit them in the end. If it isn’t for their benefit, they’ll eliminate it. If this continues to grow, the government will eventually start taking drastic and inhumane measures just for their greedy benefit.

Aldous Huxley’s world-known book, Brave New World, is a dystopian novel that presents the readers with a frightening perception of what the future could look like. From being mass-produced in bottles as identical twins to taking a drug to lock our vulnerable selves away from any emotions, Aldous Huxley has created a world where family doesn’t exist and individuality is a joke. Through this engaging story, I believe that Huxley has does an admirable job at presenting a feasible future through his clever wording. Brave New World is a must on your book list.

Banned Books Propaganda

 

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Propaganda Technique

Propaganda is a persuasion technique that many advertisers use to convince an audience to think or act a certain way. These techniques are very powerful because they manipulate your mind psychologically to change your thoughts and think it was your own choice. The techniques vary from fear to name calling to having a celebrity recommend a product. For my poster, I decided to use the Bandwagon technique. Bandwagon is a technique in which they compare an individual to think or act the way other people are, usually by including majorities or numbers.

 

By comparing individuals to a large group of people who read banned books, my intention is for them to think about themselves and why they are not part of that group. They will assume that since so many people do it, it is the right thing to do. Another reason why I chose to use Bandwagon is because I want to use a technique that isn’t biased with one point of view, but a technique that suggests true facts that you can’t argue with. Other techniques like Card Stacking and Bad Logic often hide reality. I am looking to avoid false information by using facts that can’t be proven wrong and that are logical as well.

 

Bandwagon Propaganda Questions

Who is the target audience? What evidence suggests this?

  • My target audience is people who don’t yet read banned books. I am aiming mostly at teenagers and adults by using few words with colors that will catch their attention. Younger kids might not understand the vocabulary and they are more likely to be attracted by pictures than anything else. This will also will be hung up in the hallways for the middle and high school floor. On top of that, the age group that I am aiming this at is a group that is encouraged and starts reading books on their own, apart from mandatory books that are part of the curriculum.


What language is used to suggest that reading banned books is good?

  • The language of the poster suggests that individuals should read banned books for two main reasons. The first reason is because “everyone else is reading” which tells the individual that since so many people are doing it, it’s probably a good idea. The other reason is that there is a different section where it says that “banning books is banning thoughts, voices, and knowledge”. This tells the audience that banning books is not correct, and therefore they are told to go against it by “breaking” the rules and read them.


Examine font styles, colors, language and page layout. What do they suggest about the product, and how do they strengthen the power of the Bandwagon technique?

  • The fonts and style of the poster were chosen carefully to represent the message that I wanted to get across. For the most significant words, I made the font thick and stand out. I increased the size to make is seem visually more emphasized than the other less important words. I also used capital letters and eye-catching but impactful fonts. A key component that I used as well was colors. My color scheme consisted mainly of warm colors. The background was beige to make it feel comforting and cozy, and the book icons were warm tones of purple, blue, green, and orange. These colors represent happiness. The fonts are gray instead of black, besides two words which are deep red.
  • The phrase that asks “what about you” is in two different colors and fonts. “YOU” is in capital, dark-grey bold letters. The size is also bigger and the word looks set apart. This makes the word more interesting and the people think about why the word is set slightly apart from the rest of the text. They will then think about the meaning of the word “you” and that will give them the idea that it’s all their own choice. Another very important word that shows what Bandwagon is, is the word “Everyone”. This word is the same as the word you. It allows bypassers to link the two words together visually and mentally they compare the meanings of both words. They then think about how they are compared to everyone else.


What other observations do you have about the way Bandwagon propaganda is used?

  • Bandwagon is all about the bigger picture. Its main point is to compare individuals to a larger group of people. The very first word starts by directly introducing their comparison. This makes it very evident and persuasive, for the reader.

 

 

Banned Book Explanation:

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower; yet another “banned” novel

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a Stephen Chbosky novel that perceives the confusing, demanding, and spectacular reality of being a teenager through letters. This coming of age novel follows a 15-year-old boy, named Charlie, through his struggles and epiphanies. Like many other bildungsroman novels, the protagonist comes across many coming-of-age characteristics, such as loss of innocence, testing boundaries and conflicts. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book that has often been challenged by many parents, in fact, it has shown up “on the American Library Association’s annual list of  Top Ten Challenged / Banned Books seven times since 2007,” as Maren Williams from the Comic Book Lead Defense Fund (CBLDF) affirms when discussing the book.

The most recent incident of Perks being challenged was in April 2015. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book that was requested to be removed off of the list of required books that had to be read by high school freshmen in Wallingford, Connecticut by a parent. The parent, Jean-Pierre, complained about how graphic the book was and the way in which it depicted homosexuality, sex, masturbation, and the use of alcohol and drugs. “I don’t believe in censorship, but I believe in appropriateness,” Bolat reasoned in an American Booksellers Association article written by Chris Finan. This challenge was a month-long conflict between the parent and the school board. The book ended up being removed until the decision was made which will affect the high schoolers next year.

Based off of my own readings, many controversial issues were evident throughout the text. There were many graphic parts of the story that could’ve been disturbing to the readers. Also, the use of drugs and smoking is mentioned as a common thing in the storyline which might be something a parent will want their children to avoid reading about. Several bad role models and illegal things were introduced as well and it can be intricate for students to identify the wrongs and rights in these types of books, I believe. Many of these issues that were discussed might have been entitled age inappropriate by parents because they want to “protect” their children from the dangerous reality, it seems. The Perks of Being a Wallflower included many common coming-of-age themes that are not always talked about with teenagers and young adults and that can be inappropriate according to quite a big group of parents.

 

 

 

SOURCES:

  • Williams, Maren. “Perks of Being a Wallflower Banned in Florida Middle School.” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. CBLDF, 24 May 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.
  • Finan, Chris. “Perks of Being a Wallflower Banned After Parent Complains.” American Booksellers Association. N.p., 02 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.

The Importance of Public Libraries

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“The best candy shop a child can be left alone in, is the library,” Maya Angelou once said referring to the sweet knowledge that all kids long to receive. Libraries are of major importance to cities and developing countries in the modern world. The lack of free access to books reflects on the individuals that are part of the population of a region. Libraries hold a lot more than just books; they hold knowledge, history, answers, advice, freedom, culture and joy to people who seek it. Libraries can be considered one of the most essential facilities within a community, especially when it comes to the country’s progression over time.

 

Having a Public Library in a community has a lot of benefits. Public Libraries offer free access to those who can’t afford a proper education, yet who seek to learn the most they can. They also provide a comfortable place to freely seek information from many points of view, which can be hard to access on the internet. As well as that, people go to libraries to socialize or as Robert Putnam described, “People may go to the library looking mainly for information, but they find each other there.” Libraries also have evidence of the past which can enlighten people to change the way things are and make the right decisions based off of the mistakes other made years before. These are only a few benefits that a library has. Even though libraries are found in many highly developed countries, many places lack them.

 

Panamá, for instance, is a country that is highly developed and with a lot of money where the literacy rate is high but has little to no libraries. As proved by the Global Library Statistics, there are only 10 libraries in the whole of Panamá according to their toll in 2006. This is a remarkably low number for such a high-developed country.

 

I believe that the reason for why there are few libraries in Panamá is because there are no professional librarians or adequate locations for a standard library. Since many of the librarians that attend the libraries have not been trained professionally, it is hard for them to maintain and fulfill the position of a true librarian. They know little to nothing about many of the books and can not make recommendations to their customers. This also makes them clueless on how important it is to read. In addition to not having a proper librarian, it is necessary to have a suitable location. If there isn’t a comfortable or large enough space to store books, the amount will be limited and people won’t be welcomed in.

 

Not having accessible libraries in Panamá greatly affects the future generations of the citizens. Due to the fact that reading isn’t a common thing in a daily life, many children will interpret that it’s not important to do so. I believe that books are vitally important to the development of a human being, especially during the first few years of life. Children can resolve many problems and learn a lot just by reading books they like, and if they are not encouraged to do so, they bypass the opportunity to support and treat themselves through tough years.