Many of the great works of fiction sit at the intersection of philosophy and literature. They ask questions that need to be asked, about the nature of life and the human condition, and run through moral rehearsals to try and find answers. One of the these perfect storms of ideas is Albert Camus’ The Stranger. In only 123 pages, Camus whittles away any of the pablum and platitudes found in long-winded works, and is left with the most refined form of fiction. When reading The Stranger, one feels, that the author is in complete control, and that his message is perfectly communicated without any traces of didactic condescension.
The plot of the book is quite simple. The protagonist, Meursault, is wholly indifferent to the events of his daily life. This is exemplified with the famous first lines of the book, “Aujourd’hui, Maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.” This means, “Today mother died. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know.” As our hero copes with, or rather rationalizes, this loss, we learn more about his lifestyle and his character. He lives in French Algiers at some point in the 1940s, works as a clerk, spends a lot of time at the beach, and cares deeply about none of it. The only emotion we see him indulge is lust, masquerading as his girlfriend Marie. He lives entirely in the moment, and never seems to see much value in his life or any of its elements. One searingly hot afternoon, this detachment leads Meursault to make a decision that few individuals could make. His actions eventually force him into an environment where all he can do is reflect on his life, the people he is surrounded with, and his ultimate fate, the same one that none of us can escape.
Meursault is the purest form of apathy, and his perspective provides a truly objective lens with which to view the ideas that Camus wrestled with throughout his entire career. The primary concept explored in the book is the Absurd, Camus’ most enduring addition to the field of existentialist philosophy. In this context, the Absurd is the disconnect between the unrealistic expectations that man harbors for the universe, expectations of meaning and objective truth, and the “benign indifference of the universe.” In spite of Camus’ rejection of the label, the idea falls perfectly into place in the spectrum of philosophies churned out by the French philosophical community in the middle of the last century.
Throughout his life, Camus kept such company as Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, Pascal Pia and Jean Grenier. Together, they honed the ideas of existentialism, originally put forth by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, into a body of work that revolutionized the way that man interacts with the universe. Their view was that any consideration of philosophy had to start with the consideration of man, and that all philosophy was subjective, as it must be created by man. Their focus on these ideas was likely a result of the horrors of the second World War, which sat heavily on so many minds at that time. After years of wanton global violence and chaos, the imperfection of mankind was unavoidable, and the ramifications of that idea are profoundly present in much of Camus’ work.
Stylistically, the book adheres to the same minimalism Camus utilized when creating the plot. The sentences are of a nearly uniform length. The style is languid and unenthused for the majority of the book, mirroring Meursault’s utter apathy. Only when his emotions rise, at the climax of the book, does the style change to accommodate his mentality. While this simplicity can lull the reader into a sort of monotony, it is an intentional monotony. With this uniformity of style, Camus induces in the reader a much-diluted form of the same indifference that plagues his protagonist, so thoroughly that one accepts, even agrees with the distant, possibly sociopathic perspective espoused.
The Stranger sits firmly outside most readers’ comfort zones, yet 70 years after its publication, the book continues to draw an appreciative audience. Why? Because in addition to answering several fundamental questions of existence, The Stranger is a great book. It is consistently engaging, as well as humorous and even poignant, in its own twisted way. It is enough of a philosophical revelation and easy enough to comprehend to have amateurs and academics reassessing their thoughts on life. It is entirely unique, unparalleled before and since its publication. Despite all its gloomy morbidity, it even ends on a sort of pervertedly optimistic note. For all these reasons, I would suggest The Stranger to anyone who has ever asked themselves why they are here. I would also suggest it to anyone who has not yet asked themselves that, because questioning the human condition is an integral part of the human existence.
Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward
First published in 1942
Erase una vez, antes de la historia, un pintor gigante y solitario. Vivía solo entre las estrellas, y no tenía amigos. Su trabajo era de pintar estrellas y planetas, y por eso él
tenía pinturas en todos los colores de la luz. En lugar de nombres como azul, rojo o amarillo, estas pinturas tenían nombres como hierro, silicio, oxígeno y calcio. Sus pinceles eran enormes. El pincel más grande era más largo que la distancia de la Tierra al Sol. Incluso el más pequeño era masivo, más de cincuenta pies de largo. Con estas herramientas, el pintor gigante creaba belleza, pero esto no era suficiente para distraerle de su soledad.
Un cierto momento, el pintor gigante estaba pintando un planeta muy lindo, con mares azules y montañas moradas, desiertos amarillos y campos verdes. Había pintura en todas partes. El pintor tenía pintura marrón en sus manos, porque él estaba pintando la tierra, y la tierra de ese planeta era marrón. Mientras él estaba trabajando, el pintor estaba pensando en su propia vida. Él nunca había tenido un amante, y nunca había tenido amigos. Él nunca había tenido una familia, o un animal doméstico. Sólo tenía sus pinturas. Él empezó a llorar, y cuando se limpió las lágrimas de los ojos, la pintura marrón se mezcló con sus lágrimas, y se cayó a la tierra.
De repente, el pintor tuvo una idea fantástica. Primero, él usó su uña para moldear las lágrimas en su propia forma. Las primeras revertieron a charcos. Entonces, se le ocurió mezclarlas con tierra y arcilla. Siguió haciendolo con cada lágrima marrón que se cayó a la tierra. Finalmente, él agarró su pincel más pequeño, y él empezó a pintar una cara en cada lágrima. Inmediatamente, las figuras cobraron vida. El pintor les llamó humanos, y empezó a jugar con ellos. Por el primer vez en su vida, el pintor no estaba solitario. Sus creaciónes le amaban, y él les amaba. Él les pintó pueblos y casas, y animales para sus deleite. Les pintó vacas y pájaros, caballos y perros. Él sólo quería que no se fueran.
Cuando él jugaba con sus nuevos amigos, el pintor no estaba pintando las estrellas, y los planetas. No fue haciendo su trabajo. Pasó un largo tiempo, y sus jefes se enojaron. Eventualmente, cuando él estaba pintando una calle ancha, uno de sus jefes vino, y le dió una bofetada! El pintor dejó caer su pincel, el pincel más pequeño, al lado de la calle ancha.
Despues de eso, el pintor gigante regresó a su trabajo, pero se olvidó su pincel más pequeño. Una ciudad, que hoy se llama Filadelfia, creció alrededor del pincel. Hoy en día, los humanos mantienen ese pincel en el mismo lugar, al lado de la avenida ancha, que llaman Broad Street, para recordar su amigo, el pintor gigante.
Yo soy Augusto Pinochet, el presidente de Chile. Tomé poder en el año 1979, en un golpe de estado contra el gobierno socialista, y el presidente, Salvador Allende. Mis creencias son muy racional, creo que el capitalismo es el único via verdadera. Quienquiera que esta en contra del capitalismo necesita ser silenciado. Más importante, quienquiera que esta en contra de me, mi gobierno, mis aliados o mis creencias, necesita ser silenciado. Personalmente, soy religioso, severo y conservador. El arte no es mi fuerte, pero este “obra de arte,” es tan insultante, necesito comentar.
La primera cosa que yo veo en este foto es un crucifijo. Una estatua del Señor, Jesús Cristo, cuelga desde un cruz en el lado derecho de la fotografía. La cosa entera está sumergido en un líquido, que parece como la orina. No sabemos si es orina verdaderamente, pero creo que es intencional que el líquido parece como la orina. Todo la foto es en colores severos, rojos y naranjas. Burbujas flotan en el derecho de la foto, cerca el cuerpo del Cristo. También, una luz amarilla ilumina el cruz, los burbujas y el cuerpo.
En el año 1973, yo estuve involucrado en un golpe de estado en mi patria, Chile. El gobierno nuevo era una pandilla de ateos izquierdistas, comunistas disfrazados de socialistas. El líder, o el presidente elegido, Salvador Allende, era el peor. Sus creencias eran robando la gente de Chile de sus derechos libertad y su religión. Por eso, la militaria, dirigido por yo, derrocó Allende y su gobierno, y tomó poder total. Unos personas dicen que habia una guerra civil, pero yo no estoy de acuerdo con ellos. Desde mi punto de vista, solo tuvimos un cambio, y un cambio bueno. En 1973, regresamos a razón, y regresamos a Dios. Este es por que esta fotografía, Piss Christ, me enfurece. El Cristo es el salvador de la humanidad, y él es nuestro guía en esta vida. Jesús Cristo murió por nuestro pecados. ¿Ahora, como nosotros recompensamos su amabilidad? Andres Serrano, el hombre que tomó esta foto, recompensa nuestro Señor con la orina. Para mi, este es el pecado verdadero.
Este desagradecimiento es representativo de la sociedad corrupta del día moderno. El sujeción izquierdista en nuestra comunidad nos ha distraído de nuestra religión, y ahora somos una sociedad de pecadores. Por eso, necesitamos un gobierno fuerte en Santiago. Por eso, necesitamos poner énfasis en religión. Por eso, necesitamos el capitalismo.
José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao, conocida como Manu Chao, es un artista de Francia y España. El nació en París, y vive sus años primeros en Francia. Su madre, Felisa Ortega, es vasca, y su padre, Ramón Chao, es de España. Los primeros años de su infancia se gastaron en comunas en los suburbios de Paris. El ha estado haciendo música desde 1987, cuando formó una banda se llama Mano Negra. La música de esta banda combinó elementos de reggae, punk, jazz y flamenco, y era muy popular en Europa. La banda no era tan exitoso en los Estados Unidos, o en el Reino Unido. Después de saliendo Mano Negra, Manu Chao empezó una carrera solo.
La canción que yo analicé, Clandestino, es una canción muy famosa, y muy conmovedora. Es sobre un hombre que vive en un país sin documentos. Cada día él necesita estar huido de la justicia y él se esconde del gobierno, porque él no tiene papeles. La música es muy emocional, pero es como un himno. Es una melodía con la que quieres cantar. La canción tiene un ritmo de reggae. Su voz en esta canción es como un canto en una protesta. También la canción incorpora elementos como la llamada y respuesta, elementos que evocan los sonidos de una manifestación. Esta canción es una protesta. Con esta canción, Manu Chao está protestando nuestra forma de pensar, porque nuestra cultura es dañina para inmigrantes ilegales, las familias de inmigrantes ilegales y los amigos de inmigrantes ilegales.
Desde mi punto de vista, si una persona pacífica está suficientemente desesperada para vivir en los Estados Unidos que él o ella quiere violar la ley y entrar sin documentos, necesitamos permitirle vivir aquí. Este país es un lugar de oportunidad para quien quiera vivir aquí. Todo el mundo en los Estados Unidos tiene un conexión con inmigración, y yo tengo uno también. Mi padre, Juan, es un inmigrante. Él nació en Quito, Ecuador, y él necesitaba salir su hogar para seguir su educación en los Estados Unidos. Él no tenía suficiente oportunidades en Quito. Por suerte, mi padre podía entrar con documentos, y tener una vida buena en este país. Otra gente, sin embargo, como el hombre en la canción, no tienen este suerte. Hay personas buscando oportunidades para tener una vida buena, y nosotros los oprimimos. Para un país obsesionado con la libertad y la justicia, esto es un poco injusto.
Para mi, arte es una forma de expresión. Ideas que una persona no puede expresar con palabras pueden ser expresadas en arte. Temas como la vida y la muerte, y preguntas como que significa vivir son demasiado profundos para conversación, y pueden ser explorados en arte. Además, arte puede ser una forma de celebración. Con arte público, como los murales y el grafiti, una persona puede conmemorar una figura importante, diseminar un mensaje o empezar una revolución. La pregunta si el arte es hermoso o no no es importante, sólo importa si expresa su mensaje.
Yo vivo en un vecindario llamado Graduate Hospital. El área fue poblada primero por comunidades Holandeses y Británicos. El segundo grupo de residentes fue los Irlandeses, y después de los Irlandeses, el barrio se convirtió en un vecindario Afroamericana. Desde el fin de la guerra civil, Graduate Hospital fue el centro de la comunidad afroamericana de Filadelfia. Porque estas culturas estan vinculadas a sus religiones, hay muchas iglesias; unas creadas por los Irlandeses, y unas creadas por congregaciones Afroamericanas. Marian Anderson, una cantante celebrada del siglo veinte, se crió en este barrio. Cuando ella era una niña, cantaba en la iglesia más cercana a mi hogar, Union Baptist. Ella era una activista de los derechos civiles, y fue la primera persona raza negra que cantó en la Ópera Metropolitana de Nueva York. Su visión de igualdad para cada raza es visible en Graduate Hospital hoy, pero hace diez años, esta área era muy pobre y segregada.
Mi vecindario necesita retener su carácter, y mi mural sería una representación de este carácter. Marian Anderson, una persona muy importante en el barrio, sería representado. Los ventajas y los inconvenientes de aburguesamiento sería representados también. Porque yo quiero incluir edificios importantes del área, el fondo del mural incluirá edificios como una iglesia, y el YMCA de Christian Street. Además, el mural será en una pared del centro de recreación llamada Marian Anderson. Más de cualquier edificio, el centro de recreación es el centro de Graduate Hospital, y por eso es ideal para un mural. Jóvenes y adultos pasan el rato en el centro de recreación, y cada persona se beneficiaría de arte adicional. Porque el proceso de gentrificación ha integrado mi barrio, este mural debería enseñar la aceptación de diferentes culturas. Este mensaje es el proposito de me mural.
Para mostrar la integración y la aceptación, mi mural tiene cuatros niños en el centro. Cada joven es de una raza diferente. Hay un niño blanco, y un niño negro. Hay una niña asiática y un niño hispano. Los niños se tienen de las manos, y estan caminando por una calle en Graduate Hospital juntos. En frente, Marian Anderson les muestra el camino. Todo el mural es marrón. No hay colores en el mural, y esto simboliza el hecho que somos lo mismo cuando retiramos la raza. Esto es arte. Tiene un mensaje y un objetivo. Mi mural comunica su mensaje por su ubicación, sus imagenes y la historia que cuenta.
The sweat from her palms had seeped through the cheap, blue nylon. She’d been clenching the bunched cloth for a good ten minutes, her hands tensed and prepared. Every muscle along her forearms was flexed, and they all stood at odds to each other, as if each one was attempting to flee a sinking vessel. Perspiration gathered in tiny domes along the planes of her vanilla skin, and trickled in tiny rivulets down the muscular ridges. I remember one drop, which had pooled in the crevasse of her inner elbow, magnifying a dense cluster of her characteristic freckles. I was transfixed with that dot, that miniscule refugee from a body convinced that in the next several seconds, it might die. There was no simple explanation for that bead of moisture. It was more than the product of the searing, sweltering heat. It was not simply some biological response to the adrenaline, pounding through her mind and surging through her veins. There was something vile about it.
As if lubricated by that same perspiration, Anne’s eyes slid to her watch. The glowing digits flicked away, counting down towards zero. That was Anne. Everything in order, everything in its place. Flying in was a nightmare with this amateur drill sergeant. This had always been her idea, spreading the word. The idea had never needed a proposition, and the entire club had been talking circles around it before she finally brought it up. A flight to Kabul International Airport. An anxious night spent in a cramped hotel room. A rented Jeep outside a mosque, just after noon. A burqa. No tops. It really was any college feminist’s ideal spring break. Of course, it had all seemed so distant from the somewhat-dank futon couches of the air-conditioned lounge space under Werther’s Hall. It had never been real. This was crushingly, indisputably, impossibly real.
Just as the gravity of our situation permeated my mind, the LEDs in Anne’s watch fluttered into dormancy in a flash of milliseconds. I closed my eyes. As if from awfully far away, the Adhan snaked its way out of a speaker system that had clearly stood through a few presidencies. Deprived of vision and bolstered by a semester of creative writing courses, my mind went to work. In the dark, I could see those ancient words, dancing forth from ancient places, inviting everyone around into God’s arms. They smelled like camel sweat and felt like sand.
“It’s so whiny.” Dani sighed from the front seat.
Anne glanced at her, away from the growing crowd of congregants. “Whining is the sound that chauvinistic, discriminating pigs make.”
Pigs don’t even whine.
Continuing with her mismatched agricultural allegory, she gave me my queue “I think enough sheep have gathered. Time to blow some minds.” I nodded, and despite any misgivings, I tugged the canopy draped over the ribs of the Jeep free. With desert sunlight blanketing our naked chests, we stood. I raise a sign, Dalia raised a megaphone to her lips and Anne raised the burqa. Worshippers turned, agape. Eyes widened and a cry of shock competed with the farsi message crackling through the megaphone. “The burqa is discrimination! The burqa is bigotry! Women are humans too! Respect for all humans! End the oppression of the burqa!”
She tore the burqa then. With a giant, terrible, scratching sound, Anne tore it down the middle. First a hushed pause, then outrage. Like hyenas they sprang on us. With dull, reverberating thuds rocks collided with the Jeep and with our skin. Some shattered, some fell. We fell to our knees and car jumped forwards.
The car swerves and I see a tiny dome of scarlet pooling in Anne’s vanilla elbow. She swipes it away with the strip of blue cloth she still clenches, “Those dirty fucking pigs cut me!”
We’d been back for four days and the campus was abuzz with word of our trip. Anne’s smugness was validated by a congratulatory article in the local paper, and the adoration of everyone in the Human Rights department. I’d dismissed my doubts as little more than momentary apprehension, and was content to live the liberal arts school dream. On today’s agenda, situated between Studies in Lesbian writing and Social Action and the Academic Essay, sat an interview with a local riot grrrl zine called FemNow. I’d never pick one of those publications up, but I’d certainly tell you I had if you asked. We sat, waiting for our interviewer in a small room off of the library. Minutes passed. Anne checked her watch. Dalia and Dani joked about a recent lecture. I picked at a scab on my elbow. Suddenly there were five of us in the room.
Her back was straight and her eyes were harsh. Shrouded in endless black fabric, the rest was a mystery.
Anne was quick to her feet, “Is this a joke? We protest the burqa and you come to interview us in one?”
“No,” the stranger retorted, “you are the joke, if you can spend thousands of dollars on airfare to protest something you can’t even recognize.” She gestured to herself, “This is a niqab, and you are a closed-minded bigot.”
I began to consider that perhaps the interview was a ruse. If it was, Anne was yet to catch on. Her eyes narrowed. I could see that she would regret whatever she was about to say. Anne had spent so long perfecting the art of feminism. It was, to be perfectly honest, all that any of us really knew about her. “How dare you wear that and claim to be a feminist? You are a slave to the oppression of men!”
“How do you claim to be a feminist? How can you stand there and assume that I am some subservient wench? Every day I choose to wear this, because this is how I choose to associate. No one is forcing me, and no one is controlling me. I am not brainwashed or ignorant, simply because I chose this garment over another. You are narrow-minded and ignorant, not me. You are brainwashed into accepting biased views and prejudice, not me.”
There was a hushed pause. Her gaze shifted from one of us to the other. With an air of premeditated determination, she drew a copy of our article out of her sleeve. Beads of perspiration glistened on her wrist. Her eyes met Anne’s, and with a shattering, decisive motion she tore it down the middle. Before the shreds of literature fell to the ground, she was gone.
Anne turned to gather her bags, “What a fucking pig.”
Una oda a Venustiano Carranza,
Fuiste el primer presidente verdadero.
Un hombre valiente, justo y dedicado.
No fuiste como los otros, eran bandoleros.
Tu me haces querer luchar para la justicia.Una fuerza para democracia después de muerta.
[Man sits on a milk crate against a wall. He is near enough to an subway entrance to catch the commuters coming and going. He holds a mostly empty cup.]
Excuse me sir. Pardon me, ma’am, can you spare some change? No?
Could you spare a few coins, miss? I- I could really use a meal
Alright well have a wonderful day, miss.
[The man reaches out and grabs three coins, which the woman dropped while passing.]
Oh, uh excuse me miss! Excuse me. Excuse me!
[The man stands, and gestures to the coins.]
HEY, LADY. I’M TRYING TO GIVE YOU BACK YOUR MONEY!
[He grabs her arm roughly, attempting to get her attention. He lets go quickly, looking surprised by his actions.]
Don’t be frightened, don’t be frightened Miss. I just- how often does someone chase you down the street trying to give you money, right? (He laughs, and notices that she doesn’t) I, (pause) I believe you dropped these coins. Here, take them. They’re yours. Maybe you can spend them on a side of fries or a Sprite, or, oh I’m sorry, is fast food too low for you? I mean for God’s sake, lady, if you can afford to drop money behind you without a second thought, treat yourself to a steak! A steak...
Do you know? I see you every day. Do you even see me? Every day you clamber up those subway steps, you run a hand through your beautiful hair, you check your smartphone, you turn and you tell me that you don’t have any change for me. Look at these quarters. You people leak money, but there’s never enough for me. There will never be enough for me.
How, though? Tell me how. Tell me how you can trot your way to get lunch, passing me and never looking back. Are you so saturated with pocket change that in your eyes it’s valueless? I had money once. I remember. When I had money, I kept a jar of pennies on my desk and never touched them. Why bother? I couldn’t see how anyone would value something so crushingly inconsequential. Can you not see, lady? Can you not see the hunger in my eyes? I’m hungry for food, I’m hungry for those pennies. (pause) Can you not see? Or is it what you see? Is it my appearance? Do I frighten you? When my chapped palms reach up from the ground, does it startle you? Or am I just another lazy, panhandling addict, looking for my next fix? You wouldn’t want to enable me, would you? God forbid. Well I may not smell it, but I’m clean, lady. Do you know? I taught. History. I was a professor. I never touched a narcotic in my life. I don’t even drink.
So I’m not an addict. There’s no excuse there. I’m probably a criminal, though, right? You’d probably just be funding my next underhanded misdemeanor. I’m not evil, lady, I’m just poor! You have no excuse not to help me. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE NOT TO HELP ME.
But look at me. Look at me. Screaming my head off like a lunatic. Look at me. I’m shaking.
I’m sorry- I…
I’ve scared you.
[The man looks up, looking for her eyes. She is gone.]
Look at me. I just want you to see me. I lived my life right. I went to school. I did my job. This is what I get.
[The man looks down at the coins in disgust, and tosses them as far away as he can.]
no escucharía mis dudas.
Yo vería las vistas,
y olería los olores.
Yo oiría los sonidos,
y contaría los colores.
Yo probaría cada sabor,
y sentiría mis sentimientos.
Yo caminaría cada calle,
y descubriría cada descubrimiento.
Si podría vivir nuevamente,
yo viviría mi vida.
Globalization of Communication
It is easy to take language for granted. From when we are born, we breathe language in like air. Words surround us and penetrate us, and as we grow, we internalize them. Language becomes a tool so natural to us, that we fail to even notice it. It becomes indistinguishable from our thoughts, simply a part of us. This may be why our species fails to question the languages we work with. While language does create a means of communication between an individual and others, the way in which language has evolved has built artificial walls, which divide the global community along racial, ethnic, social and cultural lines. These unnatural divisions help to enforce xenophobia and bigotry. Perhaps more importantly, though, they make communication between individuals of different backgrounds more difficult than it could be. In effect, this inability to share ideas and collaborate has slowed the evolution of human thought.
Civilization is constantly evolving. Our understanding of ourselves, each other, and the universe in which we exist have been refined and updated with every generation, allowing us the power to shape and mold our lives more effectively. This is where language comes in. The capacity for creating such intricate systems of communication is uniquely human, as is the success and development it has brought this species. Language has enabled every major advance of human thought that led to this success. During times of revolutionary academic pursuit and discovery, entire regions come together to discuss and collaborate. From the Renaissance, ushering humanity out of the Middle Ages to the Islamic Age of Enlightenment and its concomitant scientific and philosophical revelations, language has been essential. Each of these revelations, however, was driven by a single cultural group.
Every unique dialect, every unique accent and every unique language grew out of the needs of its speakers, and therefore reflects only that group. A black slave toiling away in a 19th-century cotton field needs different tools to express different ideas than a French bourgeois in a lavish sitting room. Consequently, the slave and their descendants will speak differently than the bourgeois and theirs. This means that the slave and the bourgeois are even less likely to collaborate for the betterment of humanity as a whole. If every cultural group experiences the world and thus speaks about the world in a different way, intercultural communication becomes problematic. With fewer possible contributing voices, progress moves slower.
So language helps us, but the way it has evolved is hindering us. What do we do? If the obstacle to global collaboration is the wall of language, then we must eliminate that wall. By learning more than one language, multilingualism, an individual gives themselves the key to cross the language barrier. As G. Richard Tucker points out in A Global Perspective on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, there are now more multilingual speakers in the world than monolingual speakers. This multilingualism may close the gap between speakers of different languages, but it is not without its shortcomings. The most widely spoken language in the world is English. English, however, was originally spoken in medieval England. Since that time, English has been the language of the English people and their descendants. It is their language. If English were to become the language of intercultural communication throughout the entire world, it might be perceived as having a higher value than other languages. In turn, this might place its original speakers, the people of Britain, Australia and the United States of America, above those who more recently adopted the language. While adopting one of the world’s many organic languages on a global scale is one option, it would be inefficient to use an existing language based on these cultural ties.
What we need is an easy-to-learn language of intellectual thought, which is understood worldwide. It needs to feel organic, but must not have ties to any one group. It needs to be simple enough for anyone to use it, yet able to express thoughts that are entirely unimaginable now. Some have created such lingua francas in the past. In 1887, Dr. L. L. Zamenhof created Esperanto, the most widely-spoken constructed language in the world. It is an easy-to-learn, fully-developed language, and is not specific to any individual group of people. Unfortunately, the two-million-speaker Esperanto movement has seen limited success. If we want globalization of communication, we need a global effort.
A more perfect global society, whatever that may entail, is within the realm of possibility. Improving life for every resident of this planet through advances in science and philosophy is within the realm of possibility. Such advances can not be achieved by a fractured society such as ours, and the first step towards a unified global community is unity in language. We must redraw the maps, and erase the artificial lines of language. With the ability to share every idea, every worldview and every perspective on every issue, humanity could not help but thrive.
"A Global Perspective on Bilingualism and Bilingual Education" Center for Applied Linguistics. Tucker, R. G.. 3 Nov 2013. Web.<http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/digestglobal.html>.
Hay muchas facetas de mi personalidad. En el superficie, creo que mi personalidad es maduro, culto y seguro. Por otro lado, soy un poco egotista, comúnmente perezoso, y a veces grosero. Físicamente, me veo muy ario. Mi pelo es casi rubio, y mis ojos son azules. Soy alto, casi seis pies, y un poquito gordito. Necesito anteojos gruesos, porque aunque mis ojos son bonitos, ellos no funcionen. Ademas, aunque solo tengo quince años, parezco más viejo. Creo que es la culpa de mis gafas. Mis amigos dicen que con mis anteojos, me parezco un estudiante de filosofía, o un activista de derechos civiles. Hay otras caracteristicas que me caracterizan.Las relaciones de una persona caracterizan esa persona mucho. En escuela, soy una persona seguro casi todo el tiempo, y por esto tengo éxito a menudo. A veces, sin embargo, estoy orgulloso y un poquito perezoso sobre mi tarea. Mis profesores me caen bien, con la excepción de un maestro, porque él me molesta un poco. Mis amigos y yo nos llevamos bien, y me dan risa todo el tiempo. Estoy contento en mis clases, y en mi escuela. Yo tengo un grupo de amigos con amigos viejos y amigos nuevos. En el grupo, hay personas hurañas, y personas más seguras. Hay personas tacañas y personas generosas. Todos somos interesantes. Nos llevamos bien. Dillon es muy generosa, pero yo soy un poco tacaño. Ava es huraña, pero Aaron es muy extrovertido. El grupo funciona porque todos somos únicos.
Mi familia es muy única también. Mi padre nació en Quito, Ecuador, y mi madre nació en Nueva York, Nueva York. Mis padres me educan, y por esto tengo opiniones políticas como suyos. Somos muy liberales. Cada persona en mi familia tiene opiniones fuertes, y por esto argumentamos a menudo. Yo argumento con mi hermana. Mi hermana argumenta con mi padre. Mi padre argumenta con mi madre. Mi madre argumenta conmigo. Aunque nosotros argumentamos, tengo cariño para cada persona en mi familia.Creo que tengo cariño y simpatía para todo el mundo. Creo que soy un hombre culto y maduro, pero es posible que esto es un poquito discutible. Es más realista que soy principalmente medio, con unos rasgos únicos. Soy creativo, y imaginativo, y dibujo todo el tiempo. Lo que necesito en mi vida es aventura y creatividad. Necesito dibujar. Necesito escribir. Necesito viajar. Soy un poco demasiado cínico, pero mis amigos me toleran. Mi cinismo es una reacción a el mundo yo veo. Hay mucho dolor y infelicidad en el mundo, y yo hago frente a la infelicidad con sarcasmo. A pesar de mi sarcasmo, soy una persona esperanzado. Desde mi perspectiva, humanidad es demasiado milagroso y eso planeta es demasiado milagroso para derrochar nuestra tiempo en el mundo argumentando. Por esto, soy pacifista, y ecologista. Soy judío, pero no soy ortodoxo. En los domingos, voy al sinagoga. Sin embargo, estoy indeciso sobre la religión. Yo no no se si creo en dios; soy agnóstico. Lo que me gusta es la comunidad de judaísmo. Me gusta la filosofía también.
Mi máscara es la cara de un hombre viejo. Yo elegí esto porque debajo del superficie, soy como un hombre viejo. Soy cínico y filosófico. Me gusta beber té y leer. Soy perezoso. Llevo anteojos y suéteres. Me gusta sofás. Soy un hombre joven, pero también soy un hombre viejo.
Leo Alexander Kass Levy. Nació en Filadelfia en el 13 de Marzo, 1998. Hijo de Juan Levy y Arden Kass. Padre es arquitecto Ecuatoriano, y madre es dramaturga. Conocido entre sus amigos como Leo. De hecho, conocido entre todos como Leo...
While I understood a few uses of chlorine, I was not clear on the widespread application of the element. It took some inquiry to push beyond the stereotypical clorox bottle, and discover uses of chlorine from public sanitation and the production of plastics to chemical warfare. Many of these were truly shocking.
Inquiry provides the drive for research. With my questions as to chlorine's real world applications in mind, I hit the web. My perusing led me from the CDC website to that of CNN, and allowed me to achieve a fuller understanding of chlorine's history. Fact: Chlorine bombs were used by insurgent forces against United States forces and Iraqis alike during the Iraq War. Fact: The german scientist who began using chlorine solutions to deodorize the hands of surgeons, had the wonderful name of Ignaz Semmelweis.
Most of the collaboration of this project was during the printing period, in spite of a few of my classmate's pestering. I was impressed by our efficient and coordinated cleaning routine afterwards.
I tried to incorporate the lettering and numbering of my design into the visual image, as opposed to having it overlayed, out of context. This method was hindered slightly by my issues representing differences in value and texture in the linoleum.
While I don't see this piece as my best work, or even close to my best work, it provided an opportunity for some interesting reflection. The project allowed me an opportunity to consider the ways in which we can convey information visually, and how juxtaposition of different forms of communication (visual and written) can display more complete messages than these forms on their own.
The novella Of Mice and Men is one of America’s most enduring pieces of literature. In spite of its mere 107 pages, the story has attracted readers for more than seven decades. Perhaps this is because the allure of this book is in its characters, rather than in its plot. In the book, John Steinbeck explores the relationship between a lumbering, yet loving dimwit, Lennie Small and a brooding dreamer, George Milton. The two are peripatetic, journeying seemingly aimlessly from ranch to ranch across the western United States. While Lennie and George appear to be just two of the thousands of other nomadic farmhands drudging through through every month just to blow their ‘stake’ on cheap booze and hookers and return to the ranch life, the protagonists of Of Mice and Men distinguish themselves by a few novel traits. The first is their relationship, the second their aspirations and the third the burden they bear.
When first introduced, Lennie and George are indistinguishable. The book states “Both were dressed in denim trousers and in denim coats with brass buttons. Both wore black, shapeless hats and both carried tight blanket rolls slung over their shoulders.” As the chapter progresses, however, and they begin to converse, the author makes clear that these two are not the same in this relationship.
Through Steinbeck’s illustration of Lennie’s behavior, we see a blissful, yet wildly unintelligent giant of a man, unable to fend for himself. He clings to George as a child to a parent, imitating George’s mannerisms and opinions. Lennie is burdened with the intelligence and personality of a small child, and a mountain of a body. His love of soft things leads him to incessantly accidentally hurt and kill the animals he is so enamored with. He wants nothing more than George’s companionship, and perhaps a few rabbits to pet. Throughout the book, this remains constant. Lennie is static.
George appears to be an average man of the 1930s. He is often abrasive, a naturally solitary creature. His burden is that of Lennie’s companionship. It is left unclear how Lennie came into George’s stewardship, but it occurred long before the events of the book. George lives his life constantly running, constantly talking Lennie out of the trouble Lennie lands them in. While George may often complain about his station in life, fending for both himself and for Lennie, he is shown as truly caring for Lennie. The two share a relationship that the other gruff and independent farmhands around them have never known.
In these brief 107 pages, Lennie and George’s relationship brings them each immense anguish and sporadic moments of joy. It is the central plot device, and the harrowing ending would be void of emotion without it. This is what sets this book so far above the rest, and makes it accessible to people from every corner of life. This book is not about a series of events. This book is about people, and it is about the relationships that two people might forge with one another when neither one fits quite right into the mold that society has formed for them, or into society in general. Lennie is an inherent outcast, left behind because of his unintelligence, and often misunderstood. When other characters see Lennie’s hulking frame, and those hands that could crush a man’s bones, they see a fighter. They see a bitter, cruel oppressor. Lennie, however, is far from that. Lennie is an easily frightened lover, an stalwart companion and good soul. George is nothing particularly impressive physically, and others in the book treat him as such. George is much more than average though. Others accuse him of “playing” Lennie, of extorting money from him and of taking advantage of him, but the truth is that George has fought, ran and argued Lennie out of countless mishaps, simply because it is the moral thing to do. Because as Lennie puts it, “Not us, George, because I... see, I got you to look after me, but you got me to look after you.”
Of Mice and Men ends in heart wrenching tragedy. In quick succession, a series of events leave a single broken soul where once stood a friendship. These last scenes are among the most emotional that I have ever read. As the story comes to a close, you are left with a disjointed band of unhappy undesirables and misfits on an unknown ranch somewhere near Soledad, CA. These are not important people. John Steinbeck, however, through their passion and grief, joy and hope, shows us that these too are valuable people. They tell a valuable story. Even if society refuses to acknowledge them, they are just as real as the wealthy farm owners and aristocrats among us. This situation can be found in countless moments in history. This story could take place anywhere that people live on the fringes of civilization, from the untouchables in India to the slaves of America to the Jews of the Holocaust.
This theme of not fitting society’s image of you, or into society at large made this book easily relatable for me, as well as for so many other readers. They are what allow me to recommend the book to anyone who feels ready. These themes are also what I chose to portray in the creative piece. I drew Lennie and George as they appear physically, however I used their posture to emulate their true selves. Lennie, with broad shoulders and defined muscles, crouches down, petrified in fear by some unseen attacker. He clutches a pup just a little too close to his chest. He is huge, but in reality, so small. George stands, legs wide and arms outstretched, attempting to shield Lennie. He is not especially strong or cunning, yet he stands to protect his friend from any dangers that may arise.
So I made a decision. I have had the fortune of being raised in a family where the environment was always a primary concern. My father, a LEED certified sustainable architect, has always been absolute in his devotion to the environment, a trait he passed on to my sister and me. Because of this privilege, I decided to stop griping to the internet, go out into the world and impart some of my knowledge to someone who otherwise wouldn’t be so informed. At first, I reached out to one of the plethora of under-funded public elementary schools in my hometown of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, because of scheduling issues, I had to move my operations to an established and well-funded private elementary school. The impact though, was hopefully the same.
I ended up teaching a series of mini-courses on environmental citizenship to a group of children from second through fifth grades. These grades seemed optimal because a second grader is mature enough to see and understand problems in the world, and a fifth grader is old enough to make a difference. In the classes we watched clips from documentaries, such as Anne Leonard’s polemical ode to sustainability The Story of Stuff, played games, did hands-on activities and creative pieces. The classes were intended to show students some of the things they can change in their own lives to minimize their negative impact on the planet. They learned how easy it can be to make a difference.
These kids showed me a passion for their planet that I could not have expected. Their insights into our unsustainable lifestyles reminded me of why I even care about the environment. They reminded me that I am not fighting for myself. My generation will be long dead before the true consequences of our actions roll around, but not theirs. These kids will see the waters rise. They will see floods and droughts, gross overpopulation, starvation and disease, entire species vanishing. These children will see blizzards on the 4th of July, and heatwaves at christmas. All I want is to warn them. To prepare them. To allow them to change.
Leo Alexander Levy
a short film on the project
a. What is one thing that your learned specifically that you did not know before.
In spite of nine years of school art classes and many extracurricular courses, I had never been taught the intricacies of one-point perspective drawing. THe entire concept is new to my work.
b. How did leaning this thing make your drawings better.
While one-point perspective may not be evident in my nude sketches or figure studies, such techniques may come in handy portraying realistic landscapes and spaces. As we have been studying in my figure classes, negative space and positive space are intrinsically linked, and portraying each of them is equally important for a finished art piece. Perspective drawing will help me create lifelike and almost tangible backgrounds and negative spaces.
c. If you did this assignment again, what would you do differently?
Given another chance I would certainly allot more time to the basic mapping of my drawing. While I understood the concept, I don’t believe that, or much artistic skill, are represented in the sketch.
d. What is your advice to someone who has never drawn a one point perspective drawing before?
Make sure to get other people’s opinions on wether or not your drawing makes sense. In all drawing it is common to get so wrapped up in the piece that you are unable to see it from an outside perspective. This can happen even more with formulaic drawing such as perspective.
e. What resource helped you the most and why?
I’d say that my t-square made this project possible. It’s nice to know that he’ll always be there for me, providing right angles and plane surfaces...
This video is intended to portray the evolution and progression of the character Lady Macbeth, from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The video illustrates the hubris with which she is originally presented in the play, and the way in which her character crumbles with each murder she or her husband commit. Throughout the play, the woman gains a sense of humanity which she lacks at the outset. The cost of losing her strong facade, however, is the guilt she is saddled with. In the video, her character simulated through her posture. With each name that flashes on the screen, another life is taken, and Lady Macbeth is crushed, until, completely deflated, she is gone.
To achieve the silhouette effect, I used a set of broad construction lights, an unused bed sheet, and a startling amount of duct tape. My mother, Arden Kass, was drafted as Lady Macbeth. Between each shot, I would model for her the poses she would go through to pantomime the character. Some difficulty arose in the editing stage, and as a result the final video is not nearly as elegant as the original footage. I have been instructed to tell any viewers that my mothers is not, in fact, as wide as iMovie ’09 shows her to be.
At the outset, supplies were hard to find. After prepping to begin filming, the camera broke, and the rest of the process was completed using an iPhone. Unfortunately, iPhones are a bit of a pain. Next, the tape, the sheets and the wall refused to cooperate. In between each shot, much time was spent re-hanging the sheet, re-applying the tape, and even re-filming shots in which the sheet fell. The lights nearly burnt a hole in the floor, and the sheet was discovered to be spotted with large, mysterious black spots. Finally, the video was shot in a doorway, so I was forced to use the vertical video function of my phone. Apple products are not nearly as compatible as you might think, and the final movie is irreparably distorted.
This project is certainly as dramatic, intense and communicative as I hoped it would be, if a little poorly edited. A good first attempt at silhouette filmmaking
Given more time, I would find a way to tile the video, so that I could use it without distortion. I would also put a little more time into the editing, as the transitions are a little funky.
I was very impressed by the creativity of the other projects. People saw Macbeth in a very different light from me.
I learned, unfortunately, that I am capable of handing in a project where I’m not 100% proud of the aesthetics of the final copy. I hope this doesn’t have too much of an impact on future projects.
The interview went as follows:
Q: What is your position within The Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia?
A: Manager of Education for Sustainable Development Programme
Q: What inspired you to enter the field of environmental education?
A: My own education and the level of pollution of my country and in my city.
Q: What is the status of environmental education in Central Asia? How widespread is it, and how is it incorporated into standard education?
A: You will find more information at the CAREC web-site: www.carecnet.org
Q: At what age is environmental education introduced into standard education in Kazakhstan?
A: We have a mandatory course “Ecology & Sustainable Development” in Kazakhstan for bachelors of all specialties [majors] of all Kazakh universities.
Q: How does CAREC approach environmental education, and what individual issues are considered most important to teach to students?
A: You will find more information at the CAREC web-site: www.carecnet.org
Q: Do you believe the world as a whole can benefit from widespread environmental education?
A: I do believe. I do not have any other choice, otherwise I should leave my job!
Unfortunately, Ms. Shakirova was leaving for vacation at the time of writing this, but kindly took a moment to give her opinion. Despite the brief nature of the interview, Tatiana’s passion for environmental education, and the personal nature of her cause resonates after reading her responses. Pollution and climate change should be a personal matter to all of us. Every one of us can see the pollution that litters our grounds, darkens our skies and infects our waters. We can feel the erratic and dangerous weather changes. And so what do we do? According to Tatiana and the CAREC website, we spread the word. Apart from the mandatory Ecology & Sustainable Development course Tatiana mentioned, CAREC has organized educational lectures and courses for government officials from all over the central asian region, as well as many other programs for students. These are patterns we in the U.S. should be following. Unfortunately we’re are far from widespread mandatory environmental education. Courses stateside remain optional, obscure and poorly funded, but more on that next time.
For earlier posts, images and a prettier layout, click here.
One of the book’s primary idiosyncrasies is that the titular character and protagonist, the invisible man, also serves as the story’s antagonist, and is shrouded in mystery for the majority of the book. Despite the narrative focusing almost entirely on him, little is known or revealed about the mysterious, bandage-clad stranger who arrives in Iping, West Sussex in the dead of night. The story follows this secretive man and hostile interactions with all others during his tenure in the town. Eventually he is shown to be a brilliant research scientist, who sought to create a race of perfect humans by making the first invisible man. In a fit of impatience, the man took the medicine he had created himself, rendering his body entirely invisible, and retreats to the quiet of the English countryside to reverse his condition.
While these events are not particularly the most relatable, considering my current visibility, I find the concept of the pursuit of invisibility to be a very human one. After all, who hasn’t wanted to disappear before? This, coupled with the charming depictions of quiet life in the English countryside made this a surprisingly easy book to relate to. It is this pairing of the mundane with the extraordinary that makes this book so unique and so much fun to read.From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While there were moments when Wells went into minute detail for extended periods of time, he would pick up the pace immediately afterwards. The book was exciting and thought-provoking, without the heaviness of many similar science fiction books. It toyed with the ideas of existentialism and questioned humanity, but it was anything but dark or brooding.
I can recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a thrill. It is fast paced and slow paced, funny and terrifying. It is a perfect illustration of a psychopath, and you will not regret it.
Speedy scientific advances in the 1800s allowed humans to delegate unpleasant tasks to fossil fuels, and we began to innocently extract these resources from the earth in many different forms. There is a twist to this happy fairytale though. Human greed, lethargy and corruption drove us deeper and deeper into a spiral of addiction. We pillaged and plundered the very earth that provided for us. We grew fat, as individuals and as a race, creating unhealthy lifestyles and living conditions for ourselves. We have crippled the Earth, making it less and less supportive of life as we know it by spewing toxic chemicals into the air, destroying habitats and unbalancing ecosystems. The most impressive part? We have utterly redefined what it means to be a living creature by demanding that the Earth provide every little amenity for us at the lowest personal cost - all in the last 200 years.
To me, it makes perfect sense that the group we need to focus on educating first and foremost is children. This generation of kids will be among those facing the most drastic human-caused changes in our world that we have seen yet. It seems natural that these people should know the intricacies of sustainable living by heart. It should be their first instinct. Despite this, environmental education is still lacking severely in public school systems in high schools, let alone in middle schools and elementary schools. The EPA has given out more than 3,500 grants for environmental education programs since 1992, a nod in the right direction, but one organization giving out grant money can not turn the tide of a massive country like the United States. What we need is a revising of our priorities. Environmental education programs should not be optional individual programs, they should be mandated and integrated into schools of all economic or racial statuses. As of 2007, only 12 states require integration of environmental education and environmental literacy programs in K-12 schools. This cannot be accepted. Its time to spread successful environmental education to every corner of the United States, before its too late.
An ongoing bibliography