Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Mother, what was war?"

"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"
~Eve Merriam ("Quotations"

I have recently been really moved with compassion toward the human race. Compassion? Maybe sympathy is a better word. Recently, I have opened up an ocean of emotional attachment to the poor in heart of the world. I began reading Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Hurry up and start reading it yourself. I will not dive into details or particulars about the book. Needless to say, Immaculee Ilibagiza, a Tutsi native of Rwanda, tells a heart-wrenching autobiography of her life. She describes how life went from good to a nightmare in practically a day's time. The sad thing is all of her suffering was the complete brutality caused by racism, the disgusting root of all of this world's problems. I'm not finished with the book, so I'll post my review of it after I am finished.

What disturbs you? You want to know what disturbs me? The fact that no matter how advanced we may become in society, we cannot stop history from repeating itself. Today, I researched a little bit on the Sudanese Civil War to discover the things that ignorance covers up for you. My research was in response to this photograph of a Sudanese boy by Sebastiao Salgado (Salgado).
I love this kid. I love his smile. This photograph was taken at the Natinga School for the Displaced in Sudan (Salgado). About 2000 boys, between the ages of 8 and 18, live at this center hoping for a future free from strife, but fully realizing that although they may hope, history tells a more cynical tale (Kirkus). Civil War is nothing new to our world or theirs. That is a sad fact to me. I wish that I could sit here, researching the 50-year Sudan conflict, and discover that Sudan is unique, that other countries do not have wars, genocide, and mass murders like Sudan has had ("Timeline"). Unfortunately, only a little earlier in my post, I commented on a similar Civil dispute that occurred in Rwanda that resulted in mass death due to genocide and war, not any different than Sudan. When will the human race truly? In the Sudanese Civil War, more than 1.5 million people were killed. 4 million more are left homeless refugees looking for safety wherever it can be found (Kirkus). Wouldn't it be nice if I could say that the war has stopped and that kids like the one in the picture are able to get that good education, food, and water they deserve? Yeah, it would, but unfortunately, the war has not stopped and will not for some time. Its ugly face dives into other countries and cultures like a fatal virus to take over and affect everything. In Darfur, the killings continue. The stage has been set among politicians and dignitaries. Just like in Rwanda and Sudan, the innocent and common citizens are the victims.

For now, war is still very real in our world, no matter how hard we try to ignore it. Maybe someday, we will not have to pretend like it is not happening. Maybe war will become a horrible thing that stays in the past and no longer returns to haunt us. Then, we will be able to tell our children how foolish the world used to be. I hope and pray for that day to come.

Works Cited

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lady Liberty?

Photo by Sebastiao Salgado

This photograph struck me this week. The attitude of the photograph impresses me. As I stated last week, Salgado's art gives face to the suffering and the weak. This photograph shows three faces. Each unique in the shape that separates the human figure. The contrast between Lady Liberty, the world-recognized symbol of freedom and equality, and the two young men expresses great juxtaposition. Symbolism vs. Realism Symbols express one thing, but reality shows you something completely opposite. The two young men are humans, with all the characteristics that humans, in nature, possess. They physically can do what they want, when they want. Lady Liberty, a statue, according to the physical laws of the universe, does not express the same characteristics of freedom and life. With two separate facts, we look at the photograph, and what do we see? I see freedom opening her doors to all, for all are equal, created in the image of God, and have the inalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Salgado, here, photographs the event, just like we see in the newspapers and magazines He does not photograph personality or character of the people. He can't do it. A good photographer can give you a taste of what someone is experiencing; we grow emotionally attached not by their character but by their circumstances. For example, in Haiti right now. We do not know the people, but we can only imagine through photographs that we have seen the devestating effects the earthquake has had on those people. Salgado can only give the viewer what he can show through the camera, and what he can show through the camera is not personality or character, but faces. He can show us their faces as they respond to the events occurring in the place they call home (Clark 24). The moment at which the shutter closes and captures the light of these shapes is the moment that time is allowed to freeze. The skillful Salgado freezes time in the perfect moments that allows us a glimpse into the intimacy of their lives, but it is only according to our own interpretation. It's not to say that he does not manipulate the way we think. It's just the skill of a great photographer.

Works Cited

Clark, T.J., Sebastiao Salgado, et. al. "Migrations: The Work of Sebastiao Salgado." UC Berkley: Townsend Center for the Humanities. Web. 20 Jan. 2010.

Salgado, Sebastiao. Photograph. Migrations: Humanity in Transition. Aperture. New York, 2000. 71.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Allow me to introduce my friend, Sebastiao.

Sebastiao Salgado. Have you ever heard of him? This is one of his photographs. The English Class I am taking is about refugees. You could say that Salgado wrote the book on refugees. Yet, we don't have to read anything to feel the emotion he is trying to share with the world. Salgado, a documentary photographer, puts a picture to the things that we don't want to see. He shows the loathsome reality that exists in this world that we wish were only a movie. He shows it, and he brings it home.
Salgado's art, as shown in this photo taken in the San Ysidro, CA border-control office, gives a voice to the oppressed of the world. It is this that I, myself, will spend this semester studying in English 150. As a main source of inspiration, I will be using Salgado's book, Migrations: Humanity in Transition.
Salgado said, "I hope that the person who visits my exhibitions, and the person who comes out, are not quite the same." Thus, by exposing his art, I imagine I have the same motive. I hope that whomever reads this blog will change in some way. I hope they will have a desire to be the change that this world needs.

Works Cited

"UNICEF Special Representative Sebastiao Salgado." Changing the World with Children. UNICEF, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2010. <>

Thursday, January 7, 2010

She said it's about Metonymy

I have to admit I'm a little embarrassed to say that when Ms. D first mentioned the word "metonymy", I had no idea what she was talking about. Things started making sense as I reached way back in the memory bank to recall the first time I must have heard the word "metonymy". In high school. Mr. Komac's sophomore honor's English class. I do not remember specific examples, but do not really expect to. That was a long time ago. However, I do recall his soft little voice. I never appreciated what a genius he was until after I was well gone from his class. Sorry, I get side-tracked really easily. Anyway, as we discover new things about ourselves and the world around us, we were told by Ms. D that metonymy would have a big role in this class. "The purpose of our class-to name, identify the fellow brothers/sisters be identified." Thus, we have the meaning of metonymy? At least, that's what I wrote in my notes.
Once again, I have to apologize for drifting from the subject of why I am writing this blog.

Today's entry is my introduction and a few thoughts that I had. Our assignment was to post this picture and open up a blog. This photo was taken somewhere near the border of Utah and Nevada right as the sun was setting. I really like it, because I love nature. I do not think there is any metonymy here. Well, I guess you could interpret it how you want to, but I did not take it with that intention. However, therein lies a good point. That is the lovely thing about art in any form. To me, this photo meant nothing other than some pretty scenery, but who's to say that 200 years from now, there won't be scholars interpreting my photo the way we interpret the Mona Lisa. Is it at all possible that Da Vinci had no implied meaning for drawing one of the most disputed pieces of art in all of history? I like art. I like to interpret it just like everyone else, but I always wonder, "What if there is really nothing special about the Mona Lisa? What if Da Vinci just liked to paint manly-looking woman?"
Sorry. Drifted from the subject again. I should probably stop here. This is my introduction. I hope it's what she is looking for.