Category Archives: Keywords

KW5 (220)

Moki’s shadow comes from Mabanckou’s post-colonial novel Blue White Red and refers to Massala-Massala, a young man from Congo-Brazzaville who hopes to emigrate to Paris in order to become a sapuer. A shadow motif is present throughout the text and it can be read as a doubling gesture which complicates the issue of identity as it is experienced by young African migrants who live in a globalized world where the aftereffects of colonialism linger. Notably, a shadow is an insubstantial and thus inferior twin of the object which casts it. In this scenario, Moki is the object, someone who has ‘weight’ and occupies space, qualities M-M lacks. The fact that M-M also possesses additional false identities– Marcel, Georges– further undercuts his basic social being. Who is M-M really? What does it mean to be an African from the post-colony?

An obvious link between texts here would be the figure of Kurtz from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Kurtz of Brussels, adored by his naive fiancee, the Intended, represents just one part of his schismatic identity. The Kurtz in Congo is a feverish and brutal colonizer, a dark twin symbolizing the inherent barbarism of Europes ‘civilizing mission.’ In this vein we could also consider Selver and Davidson from The Word for World is Forest as differing aspects of colonization. One seeks to destroy and consume while the other fights defensively to preserve Athshea.

KW4 (376)

  1. Spontaneous prose is the method of composition Kerouac elucidates in his short manifesto “The Essentials of Spontaneous Prose.” It indicates a heavy emphasis on spontaneity and improvisation– 2 key characteristics of Bop– and tends to value language for its subjective and musical properties. The Subterraneans is a good example of such prose: passages in that novella often run on for pages and feature sudden pivots and digressions. The purpose of this method is to peel away the confining conventions of rational, predictable writing in favor of rhythm and sound in order to express the truth of our situated, partial perceptions of reality.

8. Heavenly Lane is where Mardou, Leo’s lover in The Subterraneans, lives. The name is significant b/c it implies that Mardou is another “angel”– a beatific and modern figure whose style and sensibilities elevate her above the conformist mass who remain caught in the web of official culture, with its deadening logic and shallow, consumerist dreams. Mardou is Beat– stripped to the basics, often animated by madness, “the child of Bop”– and in these senses she represents something transcendent. Those qualities also stem from her status as African-American. Linked to a marginalized community, she retains something rooted and authentic– or so Leo believes.

3. Mise-en-scène is a film term taken from Villarejo’s short chapter on film form. It encompasses any visual element within the frame such as setting (props, decor), lighting, costume, makeup, and figure behavior. The m-e-s of Robert Frank’s ‘jazz film’ Pull My Daisy offers us a Beat world. A low-rent apartment scattered with Milo’s “tortured socks” and the homely, dilapidated accoutrements of the kitchen form the backdrop of Kerouac’s drama about a visit by the Bishop. Ginsberg (The Subterranean’s Adam Moored), Corso (Yuri Gligoric), and. others– their frantic playfulness and naughty behavior– further elaborate the fundamental beatitude (Beatness) of this world.

7. “America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.” This line comes from Ginsberg’s poem “America.” It is the speaker’s final statement ( a promise or a threat?)– a very bold one as it amounts to a confession of the poet’s sexuality in an era of crushing heteronormativity. The poem itself constitutes a thorough critique of Cold War culture. Using a sprawling, free-form line and non-standard language “America” points out the absurdity and violence of the official culture of the US, its inability to understand utopian hopes, and its harsh efforts to bend people to its “insane demands.” Personal, subjective beliefs and attitudes thus become part of an anti-conformist arsenal. Asserting his gay identity, the speaker undertakes a cultural-political act. All of this can with profit be compared with the “naked,” often embarrassing confessional stance of Kerouac’s novel. Both texts– and the Beat movement in general– argue that the truth can be revealed only by manifesting the properties and vagaries of Individual Mind.

2. Pull My Daisy is a short film by photographer Robert Frank (The Americans) narrated by Jack Kerouac and ‘starring’ Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, and David Amram (who also created the film’s score [extra-diegetic sound]). The title, taken from an early poem by Ginsberg, is an example of the Beats’ ‘free’ use of language as championed by Kerouac in his manifesto The Essentials of Spontaneous Prose. It also closely resembles the irony and nonsense that can be found in Ginsberg’s poem “America”. One of the more salient aspects of PMD is the contentious relationship between Milo and his wife Evelyn. As Milo’s friends clamor downstairs, excited to embark on a boys-only evening of pleasures, Evelyn and Milo argue about the Bishop’s disastrous visit. His desires are inconsistent with hers– a major feature of Leo and Mardou’s fated love affair.

5. to blow. The term can be found in Pull My Daisy, The Subterraneans, Sterrit’s short chapter, and Essentials of Spontaneous Prose. Briefly, blowing is closely associated with Jazz performance, particularly an improvised solo. When the quasi-Beat figure in DOA yells “Blow up a storm, Fisherman” he is encouraging the musician to take his musical statement as far as it will possibly go– in other words to express himself (his thought, his sentiment) as completely as he can. This is what Kerouac meant when he told would-be writrs to “blow! now! your way is your way!” To blow is to give voice to individual consciousness and perception. This conceit is portrayed in a more homely and diminutive way when Kerouac, narrating PMD, tells little Pablo to “blow boy blow”. The Beat attitude or stance, then, values self-expression, oddly enough, as an avenue to community and self-transcendence.

Definition (303)

For “History” in the HUM303 questionnaire.

  1. Any events that happened in the past.

2. History is trying to understand the ideas, behaviors and beliefs from people and events from the past.

3. History is a relational flow that can only be studied by witnessing movement. All human history can be found in the cyclical rising and falling, waking and sleeping, birth and death and resurrection, of the most minute individual. As Joyce once remarked, “in the particular is contained the universal”. History in and of itself is a fall of flow into static ink on paper, but is reanimated by the ever-changing material conditions it is comprehended within. These cycles of rising and falling do seem to be determined by negation: capitalism was once the negation of feudalism, communism, for now, lives only in the slightest gesture of that which negates alienation.

4. History is subjective, cyclical, revealing, and necessary for the progression of humanity

5. History is a giant game of telephone. It is a translated account of events that have happened in the past.

6. History is relics and stories of the past that create where we are today. History is a timeline of events that shows us the evolutionary concepts of art and culture and humanity.

7. it is narrative of the victor who shape the world in there image. it also the bit and pieces of multiple event put together to form a coherent story

8. History is the representation of everything that happened before the present. It’s the location of our cultural myths, half-truths, larger-than-life characters, and voids of information that generate our understanding of the present moment.

9. History, to me, is the events of the past that help us make better choices for the future. We cannot grow or change, unless we learn for our mistakes, wins, trials, and tribulations. History may not always be facts but it is the personal narrative of whoever may be telling the story.

10. History somethings that happen in the past for people to remembering forever. If you read a history book you will find something that is true and fact because they never lie in the past. Back in my high school year I always wonder if History is always true. I feel like people have a lot of history in the past they don’t really tell us everything. This is why I joining the class to know more.

11. History is like a review of past events that happened and marked a change in which nowadays we experience it.

12. I would define history as an unstructured timeline of events where no one point in time has only one event happening at the moment. The timeline itself is constantly being reorganized and rewritten based on new discoveries and new interpretations of old discoveries.

13. History can be many things. History can be written records, language and traditions passed down and events.

14. History is human’s narration of the past. It involves both change and continuity. The past is not history because history is the popular notion of the past.

15. History is our past and it enables us to analyze the mistakes of our ancestors. Through History we can avoid making the same mistakes our ancestors did.

Lowlife (225)

lowlife, n. and adj.
Pronunciation: Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˈləʊlʌɪf/, U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˈloʊˌlaɪf/
Frequency (in current use): Show frequency band information
Inflections: Plural lowlifes, (rare) lowlives.
Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: low adj., life n.
Etymology: < low adj. + life n.
In sense A. 2b (especially in early use) frequently occurring in representations of the speech of Jewish characters, although no direct model appears to exist in Yiddish.
A. n.

  1. Usually in form low life. The social world of the lower classes; poor or humble society. In later use typically with the implication of coarseness, squalor, or disreputable behaviour. Cf. low-living adj. and n. (b) at low adv. Compounds 1b.
    1712 Spectator 1 52 These Laws were enacted by..Artizans and Mechanicks..; and..there is something in them which gives us a pretty Picture of low Life.
    1784 Gentleman’s Mag. Aug. 580/1 Such greatness of mind is rare to be found in low life in any country.
    1821 Edinb. Mag. May 436/2 The scenes in Goldsmith’s Alehouse, &c. are like the finest Dutch pictures of low life.
    1847 T. H. Fielding Knowl. & Restoration Old Paintings 183 His [sc. Adrian Brouwer’s] subjects were always taken from low life, as conversations of peasants, their feasts.., drunken quarrels, [etc.].
    1939 Life 4 Dec. 48/2 (caption) Society swells visit Nick’s saloon for a taste of low life.
    2003 C. Wiegand F. Fellini iii. 64 A poet of Roman low life, Pasolini..[pays] particular attention to the dialect spoken by the prostitutes.
    a. With plural agreement. Frequently with the. Lowlife people (see sense B. 1) as a class.
    1820 W. Hazlitt in London Mag. Sept. 254/1 The conversation of low life is nothing but rudeness. They contradict you without giving a reason.
    1856 Eclectic Mag. Oct. 223/2 To one portion of the ‘low life’ of London, that portion which coins its soul for drachmas,..we can only allude.
    1964 Amer. Folk Music Occas. No. 1. 7 It would be an error to conclude that such songs are found only among the low-life.
    1986 Cincinnati Mag. Mar. 6/2 Politicians.., magazine editors and other lowlife.
    2005 J. Singleton Skinny B, Skaz & Me xii. 182 Drugged up most of them. Bloody low life. They don’t want rehab. They want..a right arse kicking.
    b. A despicable or contemptible person, esp. one involved in criminal activity. Also as a term of abuse. Cf. low-lifer n.
    1909 Sat. Evening Post 11 Dec. 31/3 ‘Yes,’ Goldblatt replied… ‘That lowlife has got a wife. But who or what she is nobody don’t know.’
    1910 Western Monthly Oct. 39/2 ‘Oi, oi, oi,’ he moaned, tugging at his beard. ‘Oh, them low lifes, them loafers, them robbers!’
    1920 ‘H. Hall’ Egan i. 18 You great big bluff! You great big bum! Lowlife!
    1959 H. Pinter Birthday Party (1960) iii. 50 Keep an eye open for low-lives, for schnorrers and for layabouts.
    2011 D. Magowan Gerrity’s Law 5 His parents were lowlifes and he was raised as a lowlife.
    B. adj.
  2. Of a person: of low social status, lower-class; coarse, vulgar, disreputable; (later also) despicable, contemptible.
    1725 ‘C. Comb-Brush’ Every Man mind his Own Business 30 Thus did this low Life Lady apply her favourite Phrase so oddly, that the Ladies at our end of the Town have nick-nam’d her the Lady in Life.
    1742 H. Fielding Joseph Andrews II. iv. vi. 207 There was always something in those low-life Creatures which must eternally distinguish them from their Betters.
    1794 ‘P. Pindar’ Pathetic Odes 28 Behold Saint Crispin’s picture, strange to tell, The low-life cobbler’s tutelary Saint.
    1827 Vade-mecum India to Europe by way of Egypt 48 The English vessels to be met with are all of the worst sort.., and commanded by very low-life men.
    1885 ‘F. Anstey’ Tinted Venus 95 The peculiar stave by which a modern low-life Blondel endeavours to attract notice.
    1910 G. B. Shaw Brieux 16 Servants, solicitors, and other low life personages.
    1964 Eng. Stud. 45 368 Could minor low-life characters speak at once so feelingly and with our own voice, to their mistress, at a tragic climax?
    2003 N. Rawles Crawfish Dreams (2004) ii. 28 I let some lowlife white criminals drive me from my home in Louisiana.
  3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of people of low social status, or people regarded as vulgar or disreputable; (of a place) frequented or inhabited by such people.
    1728 J. Dalton Genuine Narr. Street Robberies 25 They..carried a Bottle of that Low-Life Liquor Gin, to keep their Hearts up, under the Low-Life Performance.
    1762 E. Farneworth in tr. N. Machiavelli Wks. I. Pref. p. vi The language in general, is..full of vulgarisms, quaint sayings, and what the Italians call il modo basso, or low-life expression.
    1861 M. B. Chesnut Diary 8 Dec. in C. V. Woodward Mary Chesnut’s Civil War (1981) xi. 260 Mr. Shuford, he goes fer low-life things—hurting people’s feelings.
    1880 Amer. Bookseller 1 Sept. 168/2 ‘Rogues and Vagabonds’ is the new low-life story which Mr. George R. Sims has begun.
    1939 Time 18 Dec. 21/1 There can be nothing very awful about even such ostentatiously ‘low-life’ dives as the Nut Club in Greek Street.
    1972 Listener 10 Aug. 184/3 Low-life action and local vernacular.
    2011 C. Rearick Paris Dreams, Paris Memories i. 31 Guidebooks and memoirs..described some of the lowlife dens as fascinating attractions to be visited.


Commercial consciousness has permeated every aspect of life so thoroughly that we no longer take note of it, like the background hum of forgotten machinery.

The scientistic jargon of commerce simultaneously elevates its speakers at its listeners expense and converts every idea into an object. It quantifies feeling in order to excrete lies. 

Connecting Dots (303/415)

“The rich are only defeated when running for their lives.”

Can anyone really imagine any American politician saying this out loud? Even as a metaphor– one of the ways James intended this statement– it’s impossible to envision the most “radical” political figures in national politics– an Ilhan Omar or a Rashida Tlaib– using such language. 

One of the secrets of American politics is that both Democrats and Republicans share a common philosophy: they are Liberal in the broadest sense of that term, which is to say they are devoted to the notion of a Free Market as the foundation of political rights, the social order, and economic prosperity. Unified by this commitment, in the absence of any substantial disagreement on the basic principle, Dems and Reps have had to find other ways to distinguish themselves from one another. The easiest, most inflammatory and engaging means of doing so is to fight Culture Wars that focus on issues of identity and morality rather than on the structural violence of the inequality that is an unavoidable outcome of the capitalist system. Though they may quibble about specific policies, on the issue of political economy, as Barack Obama affirms, the two parties are fundamentally in agreement.

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