Zombie stressed shoppers
Attack by store and online
Frenzied by Christmas
Zombie stressed shoppers
Attack by store and online
Frenzied by Christmas
Stars as are are not
Now is not the stuff of stars
Only past fires burn
Marxism and a Renaissance poem. The scene described in this one poem included a feudal manor, with its outbuildings of barns and houses, livestock, crops in the field, peasants, and the lord of the manor and his family.
I read that poem in the 1980s during a Renaissance literature class. Sociological interpretations of literature were hot topics. Critics highlighted cultural, economic and political issues found either implicitly or explicitly. A twentieth-century view applied to a different time.
The professor asked us to read the poem with a Marxist point of view. The peasants performed the actual work on the farm and reaped little benefit. The lord sat back and drew in rent from the farmers along with ample supply of foodstuff for his sustenance and pleasure. Even the lord’s wife and daughters worked on a decorative embroidery project outside the manor house. The manor lord was the only one without the need to perform labor and just oversaw the wealth the real workers brought to him.
A Marxist lens can be used to critique any piece of literature in this way. A feminist lens? Of course also possible. The women peasants on the feudal manor received less recognition for their work on the farm and the home. The women were not only under the control of the lord of the manor, but also under the control of their fathers and husbands. Even the lord’s wife and daughters owned nothing of their own since they themselves were possessions of the manor lord.
So how about a capitalistic lens? The farm yields are thriving, the animals look well fed, the peasants look healthy, busy, happy enough, the buildings are sturdy and maintained. The lord of the manor must be a superior administrator to handle the business of running this small economy. Would any college student consider this point of view today?
Fast forward to my son, born in 1980s with straight, blond hair. As he grew older his hair grew darker and curlier. He also grew up to be tall and slender. Whenever he went to the local mall and entered the Abercrombie and Finch store, the staff tried to recruit him to work at the store. He never once asked for a job. Later on Abercrombie and Finch received brutal criticism for an advertising campaign that favored good-looking, young white people and excluded the diverse American population. So at the mall, a lens of white privilege.
A few years later when he was in college, his hair grew even darker and curlier. On a bet he and his friend vowed to stop cutting their hair and the first one to get a haircut would lose the bet. His friend’s hair grew past his shoulders. My son’s super curly hair grew up and out into an afro by the time he cut it and won the bet.
In the meantime, the police stopped him repeatedly while driving. Most times he ended up with a ticket for a small driving infraction. For years I have heard that the racist police consider “driving while black” a crime. Just recently I began to wonder if my son’s frequent run-ins with the cops may have been partly due to his driving around the suburbs looking like a young, black man from a rear view. Same kid, another lens.
Can diverse ideas exist side by side? In quantum theory choices are random. Something becomes “real” when people look at it. The location of a particle is fixed only when someone observes it. As soon as someone finds a new observation point, the particle may appear elsewhere. This holds true for the infinitely small particles. But science also finds large patterns reflect smaller ones.
Maybe we see what we want to see in literature and life. Truth and quantum theory seem to contradict each other. Point of view is literally ever-changing. A single-lens view limits a landscape with no limits. Can we take a huge leap and apply quantum theory to literary criticism?
With each remarkable scientific discovery we realize how little we actually know. The suns, planets, life; all the stuff we know about makes up only 4% of the universe. We know nothing about the other 96%.
I walked into a Philosophy club meeting at the same university I had studied that Renaissance poem. The club allowed alumni as well as current students to attend meetings or so the website blurb advertised. I have never felt more unwelcome in my life. My generation didn’t trust people over the age of 30. That mistrust of the old must be doubly true today. Before I left my one and only club meeting, one young woman quietly and with some frustration said that truth must exist somewhere.
Truth is a scattershot experience. If your eyewear only sees a sociological point of view, what is the rest of the story? The where and the when of truth. In the incomprehensibly ancient sky, we really don’t know stars at all. The universe is spinning too wildly out of control to anchor it to a new center. Although science is paramount in truth-finding missions today, it does not prevent us from longing for other epistemological methods to search out truth.
It’s been over 50 years since Mr. McGuire pulled Ben aside in the movie “The Graduate” to give him advice for his future career. He told Ben, “I want to say one word to you. Just one word – plastics.” That was his message to the next generation. And he was right, the future was plastic, so much so that we are drowning in it today.
Since plastic is a relatively new product, no one knows just how long it takes for plastic to decompose and exactly what toxins it may or may not release as it does so. Decomposition estimates range from 50 years to hundreds of years. One known danger exists to marine life that have been found dead after eating plastics.
Even if plastic posed no danger to the environment, our landfills overflow with it. Apparently we make much more of it than we can possibly reuse by recycling.
In quite a few American cities, sucking on a plastic straw is frowned upon or downright illegal. Obviously banning straws alone won’t solve any adverse effects plastic may have on the planet. Omitting straws from your drink or using an alternative may cause little inconvenience. But just how much plastic can we live without?
K-cups — I use these along with a reusable K-cup basket. I’ve heard rants about the volume of waste these cause. Fair enough, a conveinence I could live without.
Bottled water — Not just for the athletically inclined gym goer. Videos of every crisis situation show truckloads of bottled water being delivered to parts of the world suffering disasters such as hurricanes, wars, or disease.
Food packaging — So much food is sold in plastic. We may bring reusable tote bags to take home our purchases but will we also bring reusable storage containers to the store to scoop out food out of bins and take home? Too many people, too little time. Besides our litigious society would find multitudes of lawsuits if anyone brings in dirty containers and illnesses spread.
Computers — Computers form the lifeline for every business on earth. And letting go of a smart phone is nearly impossible for most people. Can we do without these plastic-encased treasures? I thought not.
Medical Equipment — Tubing, injections, gloves, prescription bottles and more are used once and thrown out. Will we risk disease by trying to sterilize and reuse these items?
Disposable Diapers — I don’t know if working parents can wash cloth diapers anymore. The daycare staff only want the disposable ones. And besides the hot water, soap, and bleach used to wash cloth diapers also comes with an environmental impact.
Tampons — Many come with plastic inserters. Lose the plastic. Maybe a menstrual cup (also plastic). Or maybe go back to rags and rewash them (hot water, soap, bleach problem again). We could go way back and segregate menstruating women into tents again.
Plastic is our life. Eliminating plastic straws may not put much of a dent in our plastic addiction. But eliminating a much larger percentage of plastic can alter the modern world into an unrecognizable one. Change happens, new inventions appear and once the box is opened what comes out can’t be closed in anymore.
The modern world is ambiguous. Technology is both savior and killer. But you wouldn’t know this from the social media rants that insist the world is black and white, right and wrong. The one-dimensional characters of the old morality plays no longer define our world. The personification of pure good and pure evil forces fighting to claim a human soul, a throwback to medieval times, no longer holds water. Straw or no straw.
Does anyone remember the song by the Monkees, “Only Shades of Gray? (Every time I hear a Monkees song now I am surprised at how much I like their music, laugh if you must. I can’t resist inserting one song here.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SubpzqswJRE
Preventing the world from being overrun by plastic won’t come easy. It won’t happen willingly and without pain. More than likely, change will come when the oil needed for the production of plastic is depleted.
The future may hold legends of the good old days of plastic and fuel-powered machines being retold to a younger generation. At that point, with the removal of a good chunk of life-changing and life-saving technologies, the world population will surely have dwindled to far fewer, hardier humans. Science could follow the same path as the dead gods.
welcome to the virtual library
Journalist, author, musician
A journal of diagonal parking in a parallel universe.
birding and bird photography
A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.
Words, words, words
Santi Tafarella's blog on books, culture, and politics
The Art and Craft of Blogging
Just another WordPress.com weblog
Cutting edge science you can dice with
Understanding and communicating the limitations of climate science. Mostly.
Strange thoughts, random mutterings
Alis volat propriis
Excerpts from a mom/wife/teacher/crazywomanby8am
A Library of Literary Interestingness
High and Low. Here and There. Now and Then.
where past meets future
Random thoughts on politics, science, society, and religion
The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change
Author. Blogger. Bigmouth.
Ideas that make a difference
Dealing with anxiety...and my dysfunctional family
In the midst of summer, I found there was, within me, an invincible winter
You even read my tagline!
(Somewhat) Daily News from the World of Literary Nonfiction
"Everything we hear is opinion, not fact. Everything we see is perspective, not truth." --Marcus Aurelius
Conversations About Science with Theoretical Physicist Matt Strassler
A detour on the information superhighway.