Posts Tagged ‘ english literature

“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

This was originally written before the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic was full blown in the US. It feels extremely petty now and I’ve lost all steam on finishing it. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this book and do recommend it to all to read, even if the troubling times depicted seem prescient to the current situation. What is happening now was inevitable, but unlike Station Eleven’s “Georgia Flu,” is survivable.

I first heard about Station Eleven when the author, Emily St. John Mandel, when it was announced that she would be speaking at Cleveland State University. I wasn’t able to attend, but the professor that told me about it said the book was about “a post-apocalyptic theater troupe around the Great Lakes.” I bought the book immediately, because that’s just my jam. I didn’t get a chance to read it until after graduation. I am so glad to have done so— This book isn’t about just the theater troupe. It’s about the dread of the unknown, the collapse of structure, and the rebuilding of life with the rubble that remains. I don’t think I could have appreciated the way St. John Mandel expresses anxiety that freedom brings without recently being freed from something myself. This will be the first time I’m writing about a book that I wasn’t required to read for a class. This is the first time I am writing about something I read for my own enjoyment. This the first time I get to write about my thoughts on the primary source without having to cite several scholarly sources to support my point. I don’t need a thesis. I don’t need a conclusion. All pretension and pseudo-intellectualism is gone! Meeting standards set forth by people who have no direct impact on my personal edification just to prove that I’ve memorized the prescribed literature is gone! No more bullshitting to fill a page-length on a topic I don’t care about! It’s as if all of society has collapsed and I’m now free to do whatever I want! Oh, did I just … I just made a thesis, didn’t I? I don’t care if it’s weak! I don’t care if I don’t prove it! Fuck you, I get to slack now!

Read more

Video Games for Social Justice

Oftentimes, the reader that could benefit from reading a work of literature that is intended to develop empathy for a particular plight is not likely to pick up a book that clearly advertises itself as being about that hardship. Many authors have tackled this obstacle in the past by writing speculative fiction rather than a straight narrative. The time-travel aspect of Octavia Butler’s Kindred might draw in the temporal enthusiast, but her message is still overtly about the struggles of African-Americans. Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing is a fantastic ghost story that is still straight-forward about the poverty and incarceration related suffering of African-Americans over several generations. However modern authors approach this minor subterfuge of “tricking” a reader into ingesting their message of social justice, there will still be a group of people that have no desire to pick up a book. This is where new forms of media, not just modern writing, come into play. Television and film in recent years, especially those based upon novels that have a message of social justice, reach more of an audience than just fans of the book. Video games, especially those developed by independent studios, are in a unique position to deliver the audience a perspective they would not normally have sought on their own through the allure of gameplay. One such game I will focus on is This War of Mine, published in 2014 by 11 Bit Studios. The game uses a popular game style from the time—Survival—to deliver a specific message about the lives of non-combatants in a military conflict. The tagline of the game (“In War… Not Everyone Is a Soldier”) provides the player some foreshadowing that the game is atypical.

Read more

A Room of One’s Own

The below text was written for a class on British Literature, focusing on Virgina Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been living the reality that Woolf describes regarding women and fiction – obligations from being a woman, a mom, an aunt, etc, have to be juggled with my schoolwork, my job, my social life, any an personal or free time. It’s overwhelming. And then, I have to decide, what do I prioritize? If women lack the education to write poetry, as Woolf says, should I then prioritize education? But what do I take from? Do I stop performing the  “duties” of my gender? (This is actually what I did—I consider myself non-binary in the first place, the “performance” of femininity never sat well with me, neither did masculinity. Supportive spouses are great.) Does my education suffer because of other things required of me? (If you look at my post history, you’d probably see that I don’t often get time to post, or even to think of what to post beforehand. Full time jobs are pretty much necessary for middle class parents of any gender.) Do I stop working, or take time off, in order to make time for other things? But then how would I get my “£500 a year” to afford life?  The mental labor necessary for finding time, the freedom to be able to write, and to write something that requires as intensive scrutiny as poetry, is still not afforded to women (or even men) at the present time. Prose and poetry are still something afforded to people who have an abundance of personal time, or to people who are willing to sacrifice necessities to make time.

Read more