Perusing Poetics: Say Nothing, See Nothing

I promise that this week’s post will be an actual intellectual piece of reading material. I promise. Read on and see.

This week we read two really awesome things, and I had so many things to say about both of them. First we read excerpts from Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop by Adam Bradley, and then we read an essay by Jerome Rothenberg from The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy. My initial reaction was, “Oh yeah totally doing something from Bradley because the only thing that Rothenberg’s got going is A REALLY ANNOYING USE OF THE AMPERSAND AGAIN AND AGAIN” but actually … I was wrong.

If you’re into Bradley’s book, I do highly recommend it. But my rant about persona and Truth and all that jazz got sidelined when Rothenberg gave me this little quote:

“The hypothesis would be: I see through language. And its corollary: without language, I am blind” (13).

Now, the quote that I instantly connected to before this one was “‘a new language must be found’ … not only for the sake of speaking but of seeing, knowing” and I was like “YEAH THAT SOUNDS AWESOME” (12). Then the one in block quotes came around a few sentences later and then I was like, “Hang on. What?”

At first, I took a step back and said, “Uh, no.” Because what sense does seeing with language make outside of reading? (I should probably have explained that a lot of Rothenberg’s focus is on “‘wordless’ oral poetries” [14].) My immediate reaction is that when I see a red flower, it doesn’t matter if the person next to me can communicate our shared vision or not because we’re both looking at the same red flower. (Also, I am aware I am working under the assumption we are both in possession of our sight. That is not a slight against those with blindness but rather I simply relating my own thought process given my privileged of having my sight mostly intact.)

Now let me back up a little bit. You may or may not know that I was abroad last year. Though I lived in London, I traveled in Europe a lot. The favorite question for people to ask when I came back is which place I went was my favorite. I always hedged this question by replying that I loved everywhere I went, but I was just more comfortable in places where I could adequately communicate, like Ireland and Scotland. When I traveled to Paris, Barcelona and Italy, I always had at least one travel buddy who spoke the language we needed. It is this experience that I drew on to refine this “hypothesis and corollary” in my own mind.

See, when traveling to new country where you don’t speak the language, the inability to communicate does feel like a type of blindness and a sense of invisibility all at the same time. Especially on public transportation, you feel removed from reality in a sense. There is all this chatter happening around you, but you can’t understand a word of it. You can’t overhear a funny story someone is telling or engage with a shopkeeper about buying a silly souvenir. Sure, you can get by with pointing and playing charades, but it is the most physical feeling of living in an alternate reality that I have ever had.

This is especially potent when someone you’re traveling with DOES speak the language. They end up ordering for the group at dinner or getting directions or navigating the public transportation. This isn’t a bad thing; I’m forever thankful for my friends for this. I might have died from anxiety otherwise. But when someone else can jump into a dialogue before you can, the muzzling effect is deafening. Perhaps this is just me, being someone who is not accustomed to taking a backseat for extended periods of time–and really wanting to be in complete control of every situation–but that is the deepest truth I can admit about traveling in those countries.

Again, I don’t regret those travels. They were some of the most amazing experiences of my life. But this was also certainly a part of my experience. It just wasn’t something I connected with the act of seeing until Rothenberg said it. I think of the five senses as five separates. But the truth is, as with much of the human experience, nothing is separate. Everything we do or don’t do feeds into something else with simple cause and effect.

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Perusing Poetics: Sadly, You Didn’t Get Murdered Like You Wanted

This blog is going to be a combination of that title, the Futurist Movement and my trip to Italy last semester. (Specifically, Venice. Read more about that here.) How, you might ask? Hang on to your hat!

First, our poetical beginnings. This week in class we were reading about the Futurists and their CRAZY AS HELL movement of art. If you want to know how crazy, go ahead and look up the Manifesto as written by F.T. Marinetti. That’s what I’ll be quoting from.

These guys had a lot of crazy, cool, and crazy-cool ideas kicking around. Among the stranger ones was their desire to destroy “museums, libraries, [and] academies of every kind” (22). This is not to mention “moralism, feminism, [and] every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice”, but that’s another blog post for another time (22).

I want to focus on the word “museums” here, but first a little bit of context. One, this manifesto was written in 1909. These young men were glorifying war and violence, among other things, but they probably had no idea about what was coming around the corner for all of Europe. Second point of interest–and where I got my blog post title from–was that they were so into new ideas that they hoped that “other, younger and stronger men” would come around when they were forty or so and “hurtle to kill” them so as to become their “successors” (23).

So there’s your picture. Young, frenzied men in 1909 with a lot of wild ideas that actually go on to have a lot of impact on the world. They want to knock down every old edifice that remains in the world and make it new. They look forward to being destroyed by their successors.

It’s funny what they got and what they didn’t. A lot of their thinkers would be killed in the war that was to come, but not in the way that they wanted. A lot of old things would be destroyed and made new after the war, for better or for worse. Successors would arise and carry on some of their ideas, but not in the way they would have preferred if they all lived.

How can I say that? Well, when I visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, their special exhibition was on Futurist art. Some of the most famous pieces of their movement were there.

Futurism Art1

In a museum.

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Photo credit: Samantha Guter

On display.

Futurism Art3

Photo credit: Samantha Guter

Sure, The Peggy Guggenheim is a modern art museum. There are no dusty Greek or Roman pieces there, but rather Dali, Pollock and Ernst. Yet, as far as the Futurists were concerned, anything past was old. Even their work, now, is “old” because it isn’t now. Hanging that art there, exhibiting it like that … all those artists were probably turning over in their graves.

It’s just fascinating how the world picks and chooses what it wants to remember about movements and ideas and people. There are plenty of Futurist ideals that many artists still carry, like themes of destroying the old or violence in art, but this one they forgot. The Futurists were murdered, all right, but the radical movement they hoped would continue on after them did not–or it would not be the pieces of Marinetti’s contemporaries on the walls, but rather those young, vicious murderers for which they prayed. Now the only violence they can enact is the one which Marienetti lambasted museums for containing: where “absurd abattoirs of painters and sculptors ferociously [slaughter] each other with colour-blows and line-blows, the length of the fought-over walls!” (22).

An Open Letter to 2014 (and that London wrap up you never got)

It’s been a crazy time since I last wrote, what with finals and coming home and such. Then there was family to see an holidays to celebrate and then, without taking a beat, this amazing year has less than 24 hours left to it. (And yes, this is going to be one of those sappy, life affirming posts. You’ve been warned.)

About time to do a wrap up post. However, I don’t think I could do one about London without talking about the events leading up to it anyways, so this works out rather well.

2013 was not a good year for me. It was a year that a lot of things ended. A lot of big things. The biggest one–the one that started me on this very slippery slope–was my choice and not one I would take back, but it still led to learning a lot of things I’d rather have never known about myself or some of the people around me. Oh well.

So enter 2014. Me swearing up and down that I was getting better. That I was healing. It just seemed like every time I got a bit of clarity, something would happen or been said and I’d swing back in the other direction. By the summer I was running in circles so hard and fast I had my best friends planning an intervention. I could see the rut I was in, but I didn’t know how to get out of it and I was just about ready to leave myself there.

It was exactly the right time to put myself on a plane and stick myself in the middle of legit foreign territory.

Honestly, the beginning of my study abroad wasn’t the greatest time of my life either. I made some pretty major choices that a smarter person wouldn’t have made, ones that wrecked me out again before I could even really get started. I got there in the middle of August, and by the middle of September I was convinced I’d already fucked up so majorly that there was no going back, that the rut had followed me, and that all the things I hated about myself were maybe things I should just accept and stop beating myself up about them.

It’s a good thing I’m so desperately stubborn.

I didn’t want to be stuck. Studying abroad is the greatest time to make that decision, because you literally aren’t allowed to be. I didn’t have the time to wallow in my own self-loathing, because there was always so much to do. More than that, I had ample opportunity to overcome major fears that I’d never really been able to confront before. I’m not going to spell out every little life lesson I learned, but the major one for me was the fear that I would never, ever been able to stand on my own–in anything. Studying abroad showed me how strong I could be without even trying.

So between London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, Barcelona and my multi-city Italy adventure, there was the good, the bad and everything in between. There were a few people who made my life difficult, but there were also people who were practically just acquaintances when this all started who are now the kind of friends I’d walk through fire for and trust would do the same for me. Most importantly, there is this realization here, at the end of it all, that I don’t regret a single thing–especially the bad decisions that left me in a puddle of tears at the time. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to find the solid footing that I needed.

I actually ended up getting a tattoo a week after I got back from Paris because, even then, this journey meant so much to me that I needed to give myself a reminder. The word I got on my right wrist, Surprises, really doesn’t mean anything to anyone except for me, but that’s exactly the point. To me, it symbolizes the past two years and is a physical reminder for the next time things get bad (because they will, that’s life), things do get better. I threw in the towel on myself so many times but thanks to the support of the friends around me I kept going just enough to get to this moment where I can say, “I am stronger now.”

If 2013 was the year I broke, 2014 was the year I started building again. I know I’m hardly done yet, but at least this time I feel like I have a foundation that no one will be able to shatter as easily again–especially me. So thanks, 2014.

Such Oddness, Much Wow (Otherwise known as Barcelona)

1799006_10205648208069107_4964790468546682847_oThis is it. One last trip before we head home in eleven days. I can’t believe it. However, Sam and Madison and I were hardly going to be daunted by a lack of time and an influx of homework when the chance to travel to Barcelona, Spain, came up!

In a nice change, we left for Spain on Thursday night instead of Friday morning. This meant that moving into our hostel bunks while everyone else was asleep was a bit difficult, but it meant that we had the whole weekend to really sink our teeth into the city.

In the morning, we met up with a friend from the home campus who’s spent the semester 10685549_10205664971528183_2637685069801115340_nin Barcelona and ordered him to show us the sights. It was threatening to rain, but we gamely hopped around the city (dear Metro, how I love thee). One of our first stops was a market, so that Madison could replace the purse that had broken the night before. It was the strangest market we’d ever been to. You need antiques? Toilet seats? Underwear? They got it. (And Madison did find a purse.)

10599486_10205664978888367_2987625295561204200_nA few more bops on the Metro put us at the base of the National Catalan Museum of Art, which is really high up on a hill with a great set of fountains in front of it. We huffed and puffed our way up to the top and were richly rewarded with a view of the city. As we sat down to enjoy it, I just about started crying. Everything is coming to an end, and yet I’ve been so, so lucky this semester and in that moment I just felt ALL OF THAT. The guy singing on his guitar was also cool (especially when he sang “Legalize All Weed.” How … odd).

We did a bit more running around, past a few cathedrals, into a few more markets, until 10805737_10205664979928393_1019452571448705141_nwe finally got hungry enough to go get dinner. Though it was getting dark, we decided to buy some cheap bubbly and head down to the beach. I’ve never written a bucket list, but if I had “drinking on the shore of the Mediterranean” would totally have been on it, and now I can scratch that off. It was a fabulous night.

10425065_10205664984648511_2334261426668401106_nThe next day was the one filled with the most scheduled fun. We had bought tickets to Park Guell the night before, and were not disappointed despite the rain. It cleared up just enough for us to be able to enjoy roaming around all the Gaudi art and gorgeous flowers. I’d never seen anything quite like it.

After that we shot over to the Sagrada Familia, which we 10403154_10205665004849016_7385962425694758431_ndid not go inside because tickets were hella expensive and it was undergoing major renovations anyways. We stopped in the rain just long enough to snap a few pictures, and then used our prime tourist location to scope out some gifts and postcards. We needed to take up time before heading back to the National Museum. Why?

BECAUSE IT’S FREE SATURDAY NIGHTS AFTER THREE.

10423890_10205665011409180_1842329071756041011_nWe are the masters of “free is in the budget,” and this trip was no exception. We climbed all those freaking stairs again to get in to see a bunch of art for free. Which was great, because we all agreed we wouldn’t have wanted to pay for it. We all had this really disgusting moment where we went “You know, I’ve seen better.” Yes, only after this semester can I say that while looking at prime pieces of medieval and romantic art. No big deal.

After that, it was time for tapas. SO MUCH TAPAS. I wish this would catch on a little bit more in the US, because guys this is the best way to eat. Why have one thing when you can have seven for cheaper? After that, it was another early night for us.

The next day was basically more running around until we could get into another museum 10438593_10205665027329578_157594326294214546_nfor free (more on that later). We did some more shopping, stopped by the Joan Miro park to see some questionable art, found a fantastic candy shop called Happy Pills and discovered a few more cathedrals. What was worth all this wait?

GETTING INTO THE MUSEO PICASSO FOR FREE.

10392449_10205665022449456_640497025377947006_nThat’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Museo Picasso is free after three on Sundays and we took full advantage of it. This is one museum we would have been willing to pay for, but THANK YOU BARCELONA FOR BEING AWESOME. So many of his most famous works are in that collection, and it was absolutely amazing. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take pictures so here’s a Picasso (the singular Picasso) from the National Museum.

It was pouring when we left the museum and nowhere close to dinner on the Spanish10405631_10205665071810690_5939610382439288666_n timetable, so we found a bar close by and tried out some real Spanish margaritas and mojitos. I had a couple of fantastic strawberry margaritas. As far as I can tell, their recipe is 98% tequila and 2% anything else.

What was for dinner you ask? MORE TAPAS OF COURSE.

Then, early the next morning, that was it. Back to London and all the homework we didn’t do but should have done.

I can’t believe that the next time I get on a plane, it will be to the States. I can’t believe how soon that is. I just … can’t. This semester I’ve been to five countries outside of England, and visited Stratford-Upon-Avon and Cardiff besides just LIVING in LONDON. Maybe in a few posts I’ll be able to process that all, but for now? I have 11 days left and I have to make them count.

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Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart

And all of Paris plays a part!

Yes, I know that I said I would be talking about art in my next post, but as it turns out I didn’t get around to that post and it’s better to do that in a few weeks anyways and GUYS I SPENT A WEEKEND IN PARIS AND THAT IS EXCITING.

The trip was through the school, which was fantastic, because1781864_10205559836419871_877643297077200481_n I do love my trips being subsidized. We traveled via Eurostar train to the Paris Gard du Nord station at way too early in the morning and popped out to beautiful Paris … where it was raining.

Performance art at the Louvre.

Performance art at the Louvre.

Undaunted, we commenced upon a big long walk that started at our hostel near the train station and wandered past the Notre Dame until it ended up at the Louvre. The Eiffel Tower was almost hidden in the fog, but that’s okay because we’ll see it much better later. I wasn’t really paying attention much on this walk, because it was raining and I’m like a drowning cat when that happens, but I was still pleasantly surprised by it all. I walked into Paris with absolutely no expectations.

We went back to the hostel and chilled for a while after that, because we had big plans for10609464_10205559854700328_1063314421491552861_n the night. On Fridays, the Louvre is open for free to people under 26 after about six at night until it closes and we were most certainly going to hit that up. Seeing the Mona Lisa was important of course, but honestly not that impressive. However…

The blur is me and that is the shade I was getting.

The blur is me and that is the shade I was getting.

Over the blog posts, I’ve mentioned that I am a fanatic about ancient Egyptian history. The Louvre has HUGE AND MULTIPLE SECTIONS of these kinds of artifacts. I ran through these flailing about like a moron, dragging my group past reliefs and statues and fawning over every single one. THEY HAD SOME OF THE MOST FAMOUS REMAINING ARTIFACTS OF AKHENATEN AND RAMESES II FOR GOD SAKE. Ahem. Anyways. I just about cried and I’m not ashamed in the slightest.

Despite being really tired, that night there was a full moon party in the bar beneath our hostel and a bunch of us attended that. Not going to say much about that (hi Mom!) but it was probably the most fun night out I’ve ever had.

10423833_10205559909181690_1545233039349298776_n…the aftermath not so much. I ended up sleeping in really late that morning, so I got a really late start. However, turns out you really can’t go wrong just wandering around Paris. We went back to the Notre Dame to take pictures while it wasn’t raining and then walked along the Seine for a while. It was a gorgeous if chilly day, but all that mattered to me was that I could get out my technology and record it all.

That night, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower and queued to go up to the tippy top. It1560494_10205559935022336_1878353214304840639_n was dark by the time we got up there, but totally worth it. I fall in love real hard for night time at high altitudes with the lights all down below, and so just one corner of the view from the Eiffel Tower was really worth it. If a bit cold.

10470606_10203353653384888_6349130638338917526_nWhen we came back down we wandered around a bit more to see the Tower do it’s hourly light show and see the Arc du Triumph. God, Paris is gorgeous at night. Then, back to the hostel for food and bed! No regrets ever where sleeping is concerned.

We didn’t really have a lot of time the next day, but Sam, Madison and I did explore a nearby market. We met the George Clooney of Salt (don’t ask), bought some super pretty earrings and then made our way back to the train station for the ride back to London.

Given that so many people had told me I would hate Paris, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t do as much as I could have, but I don’t regret that either. I feel like I did all the Paris-as-city things I really wanted to, and I don’t feel the need to go back. I can say I’ve done it and move on, and I’m happy with that. All in all, the weekend was absolutely fantastic. Anastasia didn’t lead me wrong.

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Halloweekend and Other Things

One of the things that I heard before coming to London was “Halloween is not a thing.” This is a lie. There were people dressed up on Halloween, and the days before and after it, of all ages. Huge groups of kids, teens, and adults. Just EVERYWHERE.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

In the week leading up to Halloween, me and a few of 1899991_10205404887186237_5032713882415195870_nmy flatmates had a great experience seeing a live taping of an episode of the X Factor. Thankfully for us, we got into a performance night, not a voting night, so we got to see live performances of Fleur doing Lady Marmalade and the like, since the theme of that episode was Night at the Movies. We also just got to stare at Simon Cowell and also see the shenanigans that everyone gets up to in the commercial breaks (there are many). We were told that we were the loudest crowd to date in the studio – go us!

My flat had been discussing Halloween for months leading up to it, when we decided that we were going to be the Guardians of the Galaxy. I got the part of Gamora, since … uh … there was enough leather in my closet to make a costume without having to supply much. This was a very low budget, Guardian-inspired move, and I think it came out beautifully.

Our actual Halloween weekend included two 10352735_10205439899301518_2435541998945746223_nseparate parties that were really awesome. The first was a party in the Vaults under Waterloo Station, which our art professor actually got us into. Features included a mist room with “zombies” coming at you, a movie room for relaxing and watching movies like Beetlejuice, a bar/lounge and a dance floor with music by a full brass band. It was crazy!

10301598_10204472764252598_9049521662569891830_nThe second was a party with just friends at a flat, which was awesome as well. I’ve been very lucky with the people that I either came over here with or met/gotten to know better while I’ve been here.

The most recent random thing that’s happened IMG_1640since I last posted about London was our attendance of another football game, this one Charlton Athletic vs. Sheffield Wednesday. It ended in a tie, but it was a really good game all around. We also had these seats RIGHT at the grass line in the middle of the field, so half the time it was like the players were RIGHT next to us. We went in rooting for Charlton (the home team) of course, and totally got lost in the chanting and the noise and the raucous fun of the game. I’m going to miss being able to just pop by a sports game at home.

Coming next time: Me being all sorts of artsy fartsy in London!

Falling for Italy Part 3: Venturing in Venice

Alright. Here we are. The final part.

IMG_1525You know, honestly, I don’t have a lot to say we did. That’s not to say that we didn’t do anything, just that Venice doesn’t have as much STUFF to do as, say, Rome. That’s okay, though, because it was so beautiful it was enough of an adventure just walking around.

Of course, we did do the requisite tourist things, IMG_1537like San Marco’s. This is basically a big square by the water with the biggest “tourist attractions,” which are a church, a tower and an astrological clock. You basically stand in the middle and turn on your heel and BAM you’ve seen it all. Well, I mean, you can go in–and the church is beautiful oh my god–but it’s not enough for days and days, like Rome.

IMG_1548Another thing you can’t escape without is, of course, a gondola ride, which we also did. No, our gondolier did not sing, but that’s fine. It was meditative to ride through the canals. I got to sit in the front of the boat and just watch us move forward. It was weird to wave up at the people on the bridges, taking touristy pictures of us like we’d be taken earlier in the day.

There are, of course, the important Venice bridges, but IMG_1554honestly I didn’t take much note of them. Like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, they’ve just been taken over by sellers and tourists and aren’t much fun. I’m not even sure I have any real pictures of them. I’ll just hand you another picture of gorgeous Venice.

IMG_1593One of the things we did go and see was the Peggy Guggenheim Museum right on the Grand Canal. It houses one of the best modern art collections I’ve ever seen. Picasso, Ernst, Pollock and more are just right there, hanging out, in a space that continues to remind you it also used to be Peggy Guggenheim’s house. (She’s actually buried outside in the sculpture garden.) Along with the wine tour, it might have been one of my favorite things that we did!

Honestly, I don’t know what else I could day about the

The scarf is mine from Florence. Not the canal.

The scarf is mine from Florence. Not the canal.

individual places. Those are the highlights of the things we did, the material things. I got a lot of presents for people and even grabbed a couple of things for myself.

10730847_10152785446978631_3772624663905662044_nI titled these blog posts “Falling for Italy” because, quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how I was going to take this trip. I wasn’t opposed to Italy, of course, but I wasn’t as drawn to it as some of the other people I traveled with. I can say with confidence that Italy won me over, heart and soul. I do wish I had been able to actually communicate, but besides the language barrier it was a gorgeous, lovely place to take a vacation in and I enjoyed every single second of it. I’ve seen things that I never imagined I would, stood next to things I’ve only seen in textbooks and learned a bit about myself along the way. What more could you ask for, really?

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