Jay-Z’s work was eye-opening, and was a nice change of pace when compared to the usual unwarranted criticism of rap music. Now, there is no doubt that there is terrible rap music, whether it’s degrading to women, or enforcing drug use, but to write off all rap music is simply irrational. It is true that a lot of the mainstream songs of today’s rap genre fit the bill as being degrading and very offensive, but when one looks at Jay-Z this is simply not the case. He is using rap as a tool to express his life and the neighborhood that he grew up in. His raps are not meaningless works, thrown together overnight, but pieces that take a great deal of thought and deliberation. He is loud, he does brag, because that is the culture he grew up in, where cyphers allowed one to build reputations, and where hip hop competitions were used to push the music forward. Jay-Z is a perfect example of a passionate kid, following his dreams, who is able to reach his goals.
Although this piece was eye opening because I rarely listen to Jay-Z, it was not profound simply because I listen to rap and hip hop music myself. The hip hop I listen to is not useless degradation of women, or to promote drug use, but is poetry put to a beat. Where people rhyme in relation to the people they see on the subway, the tale of a kid who lost his dad when he was young, and sometimes political works, speaking against materialism and its consummation of American society. The point is that these works should not be written off immediately, simply because they are rhymes over a beat. Hip Hop can be an art form, and to regard it as anything less is to not only limit oneself to a musical genre, but to limit oneself to the lessons and cultural knowledge of those with different lifestyles than one’s own.
Below I have posted the information I will present on Tuesday along with the sources I used to find the information. I hope this helps with our study of Midnight’s Children and India as a whole.
• There are 438 languages spoken in India
• On the sheer number of languages spoken, India stands fourth behind Papua New Guinea (830), Indonesia (719) and Nigeria (514).
• why are there this many languages?
• Languages belonging to the two major language families – Indo Aryan and Dravidian are spoken by more than 90% of the people of India
• What’s important to note is that many of the different states of India have different languages
• This is a helpful map to help prove this point: http://www.mapsofindia.com/culture/indian-languages.html
• The Indian constitution recognizes 22 major languages and there are 28 states and 7 union territories in India
• Essentially, it would be similar if each state of the U.S had its own language, and then sub-languages emerged from each one of these languages.
Reference to Book:
• These languages are seen briefly in Midnight’s Children in the chapter “Love in Bombay”
• Page 216 can be used to provide general info of historical context
• Page 218 is a specific example of the tension between languages
• We see historical context through Midnight’s Children in the formation of these states and territories
• A look into India’s language is an important view into India’s culture as a whole
Through a comparison of “Big Mama’s funeral,” and The death of Ivan Ilych, it is possible to find distinctions between the way the two narrator’s define the art of death.
When one looks at “Big Mamma’s Funeral” one sees a very impersonal view of death. Big Mamma spends the last three hours of her life “[enumerating] her earthly possessions” (192). Her time is not spent with her family, or in recounting the actions of her life, but making sure that her material possessions reach the right hands. As readers we cannot see the feelings she has, and the third person narration makes her death seem even more detached. She “[emits] a loud belch and [expires]” (192). This highlights the informal nature of her death, her comfort with such a fate, and her ability to simply die without much emotion or drama. Furthermore, the masses that surround Big Mama’s funeral processions are mainly merchants, looking to “try their luck at selling things at Big Mamma’s Funeral” (196).
When one looks into Ivan Ilych’s death, one sees an incredibly different scenario. This difference can be seen in the final chapter of The Death of Ivan Ilych. Where Big Mama’s only act before death was to speak of the ownership of her property, Ivan Ilych realizes that “his life might not have been what it should have [been], but there [is] still time to make up for it” (102). This is dramatically different than the “belch” that Big Mama has before her death. Ivan is tormented, and dramatic, while Big Mama is relaxed and ready. Furthermore, Tolstoy delves into the thought processes of Ilych, providing a more in depth analysis of Ilych’s personal thoughts and regrets. Furthermore, Ilych realizes that he is “torturing” his family. Their attempts at helping him only lead to Ilych’s jealousy and anger.
What we see in The Death of Ivan Ilych is that death is a process that relies on the factors of life. One’s connection with his or her family, and the decisions one makes before his or her death lead to either a smooth or tormented deathbed.
T.S Eliot explores this relationship of the individual and the city in both “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufock” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night”. In both these poems, Eliot describes the city as a powerful force, limiting an individual’s wellbeing.
In “The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock” Eliot describes the struggle a man has with the forces of society around him. In the opening lines Eliot describes “restless nights” and “streets that follow like a tedious argument/ of insidious intent.” From the opening lines it is easy to see the negative descriptions Eliot is giving of the city around the protagonist. In four of the six pages, Eliot references death, in the form of “murder”, “drowning”, or just simply in terms of “death” itself. Surely, this reference of death adds a gloomy tone to the poem. Eliot describes how this man has seen his “greatness flicker” as the “eternal footman… snicker(s).” Surely this shows the protagonist’s waning confidence in his ability to be great. Whether this “doorman” is death, or society itself, it certainly portrays the limitations the protagonist feels in his environment. The mermaids seem to be the dreams and aspirations of the protagonist, shot down by the “human voices” that wake and drown him. This poem is loaded with mysterious forces, pushing the protagonist down and limiting his possibilities.
The poem “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” furthers the feelings of dejection and misery that a protagonist feels as a result of his environment. The “whispering [of] lunar incantations” surely references craziness in the protagonist’s environment. The term “lunatic” came to be as a result of the belief that the moon caused insanity. This furthers the insanity this protagonist is feeling. The “fatalistic drum” described in this poem is very similar to a death knoll that is tolled at a man or woman’s funeral. The earth’s skeleton is described as being “hard and curled and ready to snap.” This could easily be a metaphor for this man’s world collapsing. Finally, the poem concludes with the “twist of a knife.” The gloomy descriptions of this man or woman’s environment along with the references to death and worry, show the negative impact the city has upon this protagonist.
In conclusion, T.S Eliot is effective in portraying the limiting factors civilization has on the citizens who live there.
pins of every color
fly off the map
they leave home
to become red and white