It’s the beginning of spring semester, although I always feel a little weird referring to it as “spring semester” when it is still so very obviously winter. This semester I get to ditch nasty physics classes for some nicer ones, and although I am taking on a bit more difficult semester (18, maybe 19 credits) I think it will be more fun by virtue of the classes themselves.
Over the break, I had a very short-lived Tumblr account, before a friend introduced me to soup.io. Mine, under augustine, has become where I’m filtering most of the stuff I look at on the internets, mostly design-, illustration- or architecture-related. The nicest thing about soup.io is that it includes built-in automatic feeds for most common and some less common Web applications (last.fm, vimeo, youtube, del.icio.us, vi.sualize.us, and flickr are the ones that I find the most useful.) Its interface is lovely, and it’s easy enough to post things directly to your soup. It’s nice to have everything I find in one place, with a search box for easy finding.
I also did a wordle for this blog. The dominant themes aren’t all that surprising.
I plan on writing a little more this semester, partly because I will be writing things like response papers for art history anyway and I thought perhaps I could subject the internet to my thoughts on the history of film as art, as punishment for all its sins and wrongdoings. In the meantime, I’ll be posting things to my soup.
My second project for ARCH 100 was to create a birdhouse for a wren, in the style of a famous architect (we were given a list, and I picked Luis Barragan, a Pritzger-prize winning architect from Mexico, who happens to be a major influence on my favorite architect of all time, Tadao Ando.) In conjunction with my professor, the dean of the school of architecture decided this year to pick the top five of these designs to be actualized, commissioning them for $100. My design was among the five chosen.
My design currently consists of a plan, two elevations and a SketchUp file, so I have some work to do when it comes to figuring out the way I’m going to fit it together. However, keep tuned for more updates, as well as (hopefully) photographs of the birdhouse in progress. That is, if I can afford a memory card anytime soon.
As a transfer student to UWM, my sophomore year has been feeling like a second freshman year. None of the reasons I decided to come here panned out; with the end of a long friendship and my rejection from sophomore studio classes. So I am stuck here, questioning why I am here in the first place. In the end, being in Milwaukee turned out for the best, with my uncle’s diagnosis this summer and death this fall. But what kind of reason is that to be glad I am back here? It’s good that I was back here for my mother, but to have the only good reason I am here be my uncle’s death is somewhat more than depressing.
The upsides to things are when I can let myself get lost in images – the figure drawing we’ve been doing in my drawing class (I’m in 102 this semester), and the work we look at in ARCH 100. It’s things like this that assure me that I’m going the right direction, and that if I can just continue with these subjects I’ll get to where I want to be.
My problem is not that I don’t know where I want to go. My problem is that I wish there was some alternate way to get there. After two years of attending large state schools, I think I can say that I wasn’t made for a large university like this. If there’s something I’ve learned in my 2 months here, it’s that I’m not the type who likes to get drunk every weekend and go to parties, which seems to be a prime objective to most college kids I know. Not that I find anything wrong with that; it’s just not for me.
So I guess all I can do is trust that if I keep going in the direction that I know is the right direction for me, the path will eventually become what I want it to be – a place where I can find solace and comfort in my surroundings rather than feeling out-of-place and in transit.
In other, more immediate but by no means less depressing news: I seem to have lost my memory card for my camera! This is obviously a tragedy of the very first class, and so as soon as I get my hands on my paycheck (which should be in a week exactly) I am going to buy a new one, as well as some new batteries, and go out on a photo exposition before it gets too cold. Hopefully.
Should go to bed soon, as I have to get up early to vote tomorrow morning. Gobama!
This summer, my uncle (on my mom’s side) was diagnosed with primary amyloidosis. As far as I can understand (and I may be wrong), amyloidosis is a disease in which the body produces proteins that cannot be broken down; and over time these proteins deposit in various places around the body, eventually causing organ failure. The Mayo Clinic pamphlet I read said:
While amyloidosis has many types, the most common is a disease of the bone marrow called primary systemic amyloidosis. Bone marrow makes antibodies that protect against infection and disease. After performing their function, these antibodies are broken down and recycled by the body. In amyloidosis, cells in the bone marrow produce antibodies that cannot be broken down or recycled. These antibodies build up in the bloodstream. Ultimately, they leave the bloodstream and can deposit in tissues as amyloid.
My uncle died this morning. He was vulnerable to organ failure and to a whole host of diseases due to his weakened immune system, but ultimately he bled to death, internally.
For the last couple of weeks, I had been writing things about him in my moleskine, just jotting down lines that I was going to string together into a poem at some point. I can’t write it anymore, so I’m just going to put it out there as it is. I don’t think I can finish it, at least not now. I don’t like it, but it’s all I can do for him.
He was the most awesome uncle ever, and was just generally a great guy. His funeral is on Monday. Please pray for my mother, who has already lost a brother to cancer, and of course, for my uncle Andy.
He is in the ICU, they tell me
He’s got tired yellow eyes
Dragging his bruised voice behind him
The ragged voice of a broken prizefighter
Talking clinically about his own rebelling body
The disease inflates his yellow, jaundiced skin
Infects organs with disorganization and anarchy
Do I know this man?
Once we were the fighters, he and I
He made me the featherweight champion of the world
He let me box him into the bloody burgundy carpet
As my mother laughed from her ringside seat
On the couch that my grandmother thought was called
Now it’s not a tiny girl
But tiny proteins
And his own body. This disease,
Born in the USA, inside his bones
And exported to vital organs
These proteins, now unrecyclable
His body litters itself
He can’t dance away from the words they throw at him now
I am connected to this man by blood
By bone marrow
But I don’t know him when he’s in pain
I don’t know this man without his laughter
And I can’t afford to understand the consequences
As dust settles through his veins, undissolvable
It’s won the title from me
It’s the new featherweight champion of the world
Or at the very least, of my uncle’s fragile body.
Last night, I was privileged to be able to attend a poetry reading by one of my favorite writers alive today, the Nicaraguan poet Father Ernesto Cardenal. He read some of his Cántico Cósmico, musings on the creation of the world and the state of the world today, and finished with the poem Viaje muy jodido (“A Very Screwed Up Trip”, according to the translation I have), written upon the death of his friend and fellow guerilla Laureano. My favorite part: hearing Cardenal himself utter the words:
Poeta hijueputa decí a esos jodidos mis compañeros de Solentiname que me mataron los contrarrevolucionarios hijos de la gran puta pero que me male verga.
(“Poet, son of a bitch, tell all my fucked up compañeros from Solentiname that the sons of the great whore counterrevolutionaries killed me but I don’t give a fuck.”)
Afterwards, during the Q&A, I jotted down some paraphrases of the translation:
When asked whom he is inspired by, Cardenal said that he was most inspired by more modern North American poets, from Walt Whitman until the present day.
Another member of the audience (the father of one of my best friends, who I didn’t expect to run into that night at all!) asked whether Catholic revolutionary theology (aka Liberation Theology) was still alive in South and Central America.
Yes, but it is wounded. When Pope John Paul II came to Nicaragua, a journalist asked him about Liberation Theory and he said that Liberation Theory is no longer dangerous because communism is dead. But a bishop in Brazil has said that as long as there are poor people there will be Liberation Theory.
When asked whether literature should primarily fulfill a social role in order to be considered “good” literature?
It’s not necessary to have a literature that is social literature. I prefer literature that treats on politics and social issues. But if it is good literature it is revolutionary literature. As Mao said – Art that is trying to be revolutionary, but is not good art, is not revolutionary.
When speaking about the state of the revolution in Venezuela and other Latin American countries, Cardenal insisted that “the revolutions that have happened in Latin America have been authentic revolutions. Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, and all other progressive and revolutionary governments have been authentic. The case in Nicaragua is different because the government isn’t revolutionary, it’s a lie.”
Nicaragua, now ruled by President Daniel Ortega, has only a shell of a revolutionary government, according to Cardenal. Instead, it’s become a “corrupt government and a dictatorship of a family,” of Ortega, his wife and his children. Along with many other revolutionaries, Cardenal says, he left the party because of corruption within it. The revolution in Nicaragua is finished, but Cardenal remains hopeful because there are still people fighting against the corruption in the government, “the false revolution.”
Cardenal concluded on a note that sums up his hopes for the Americas in the future:
I have heard Hugo Chavez say that the people of Venezuela are brothers to the people of the United States, and the people of the United States are the brothers of the peoples of Latin America … Once Bush predicted that the United States and Latin America would be one people. But this has to happen without any kind of domination, political or economic, but instead with love.
Seeing Ernesto Cardenal speak was truly a great experience. I’d encourage anyone interested in poetry, politics, human rights, or modern Christian theology to pick up some of his poetry. He is truly a revolutionary, in more ways than one.
I realized today that my Facebook status is at once incredibly pretentious and obscure. I rarely enter in what I’m actually doing. Instead, I insert a lyric from a song that I find appropriate for how I am feeling at the time. I tend to change it quite a lot, and for some reason expect people to understand that it’s a quote and not actually what’s happening to me in real life (I wasn’t drunk yesterday, and the only flipflops I own are reserved for use in the shower, see ex. 2 below.)
With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see exactly how inaccessible I have made my Facebook status throughout the last couple of months. Keep in mind that my taste in music is eclectic to the point of being slutty, and that if you get even five of these, you’re golden in my book.
So without further ado: a quiz! Identify the song from which I stole the last 33 of my lyric statuses.
1) Emily sure plays a mean pinball. (7:03pm today)
2) Emily is drunk and wearing flipflops on Fifth Avenue. (2:06am yesterday)
3) Emily might go out and watch the moon explode. (11:59pm, May 9)
4) Emily wished she could save him in some sort of time machine. (3:59pm, May 8 )
5) Emily is the second son of Mary mild, and she’s twice removed from Oscar Wilde. (11:04am, May 8 )
6) Emily spits, she smokes, she widens her stride. (12:15pm, May 6)
7) Emily is like a child when she’s been wronged; her heart is aching but she’s still strong. (10:32pm, May 5)
8 ) Emily may talk in her sleep tonight, because she doesn’t know what she is; she’s a little like you, but more like the son of Sam. (12:29am, May 2)
9) Emily will feed you tomatoes and radio wires, and retire to sheets safe and clean. But don’t hate her when she gets up to leave. (2:25am, May 1)
10) Emily got a big big big heart beat, yeah, she thinks you are the sweetest thing, she wears a coat of feelings and they are loud. (10:21pm, April 29)
11) Emily is letting the cool goddess rust away. (9:08pm, April 28 )
12) Emily is nothing of a builder, but here she dreamt she was an architect. (10:37pm, April 27)
13) Emily and the Major don’t see eye to eye on a number of things. (10:02pm, April 26)
14) Emily got to be good-looking cuz she’s so hard to see. (3:27pm, April 24)
15) Emily is thinking maybe all she needs is a shot in the arm. (12:46am, April 24)
16) Emily will find a way, regardless, to make some sense out of this mess. (4:51pm, April 22)
17) Emily is never gonna fall for modern love. (9:22am, April 21)
18 ) Emily is behind the counter with the day memorized, and those cold, vacant eyes. (9:51am, April 15)
19) Emily is a child of fire, she is a lion, she has desires and she was born inside the sun this morning. (7:18am, April 9)
20) Emily got a pair of wings for her birthday, baby. (10:44pm, April 4)
21) Emily will not pretend, she will not put on a smile, she will not say she’s all right for you. (5:15pm, April 1)
22) Emily must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. (10:31pm, March 26)
23) Emily doesn’t know what it is, but there’s definitely something going on upstairs. (6:17pm, March 24)
24) Emily is walking a tightrope into the moon. (1:50pm, March 15)
25) Emily is going to Chicago, via home. (8:26pm, March 12)
26) Emily is afraid of what everyone is made of. (7:14pm, March 7)
27) Emily is trying to downplay being uptight. (5:27pm, March 7)
28 ) Emily is not the pawn to your king, is not your world on a string, is not anything you’ll beat, she’s not anything. (5:02pm, March 3)
29) Emily could spit it in the eyes of fools as they ask her to focus on sailors fighting in the dance hall. Oh man, look at those cavemen go! It’s the freakiest show… (12:32am, March 1)
30) Emily can’t pay attention to the sound of anyone, a little more stupid, a little more scared, every moment more unprepared. (10:06pm, February 25)
31) Emily knows there is a brighter side to life, because she’s seen it, but not very often. (8:00pm, February 23)
32) Emily can always just stay no to the anti-aircraft crew, the boys from the Hitler Youth. (10:06am, February 23)
33) Emily don’t feel like dancin’. (11:59pm, Feb. 20)