After reading “On Aesthetics: The Art of Social Change”, I am somewhat wanting to put my foot in my mouth. As I stated in class a few weeks ago, my vision of poetry had always been something that rhymed, no matter what words were used. However as I mature and delve into deeper reading (such as this piece) I am realizing that there is so much more to this art then rhyming words. In fact the two haikus at the beginning of this reading and how they were presented with different meanings really amazed me. By flipping words around, the poem’s moral lesson changed completely.
Poetry in my opinion is a combination of two simple things: How you say what you want to say and the words you use to say it. I loved the quote “People talk in images” because it is very true. Whenever someone is explaining something they are picturing it in their mind and trying to express what they see. The video I came across when I thought about this is Sarah Kay performing “B” at a TED conference. While few of her words rhyme, her wordplay and imagery is absolutely brilliant, and really stirs emotions. I hope some of you take the time to watch it.
Pollack does a wonderful job discussing the many aspects and importance of recapturing history through oral traditions and performances. I found it interesting that she noted how performance is “not so much an interesting or entertaining option as much as it is an obligation”. This is true because oral traditions are vital to maintaining a culture’s identity. Performances, no matter how big or small, can retell and even add aspects the actors feel necessary to deliver to their audiences.
Pollack also writes that performances serve as repetition or “repeating past action in the time of acting.” While this would be true in the form of retelling oral histories, I actually believe that performances can also be unique. In the case of our performances, while yes we were combining past history with a present moment today, we all had different ideas of how to showcase that. And all of our performances had never been done before. No one sat at an imaginary desk like Roland twirling a pencil or played puppeteer like Jonathan in that exact space. These performances were not repetitive of anything, rather just ideas being translated into a small space with an infinite amount of small motions that made each one original.
The Theater of the Oppressed reading really tied in connecting ideas of relations with the audience in performance. In a public speaking class, you learn how to relate to your audience through interactions, question & answer, or personal experience. A quote that stood out to me was how the main objective of the “poetics of the oppressed” was to turn the spectators into the subjects, the actors and “transformers of the dramatic action”.
This immediately made me think of our Phil Porter experiment and our experience with him. While he initiated the performance, he invited us all to join (which we did) and at that time we all became the act. We were no longer just bystanders with nothing to do, rather our roles had switched and we were fully involved with the process. This short video I found of him explaining progressive values and the “stone in the pond” metaphor I believe sums this all up. If we can be a stone and influence other people around us and include them rather then exclude them, we will become more active in our own performances.
This weeks reading on Organizing for Social Change (53-63) was interesting for me and connected to my life. First of all, it was broken down into the four categories of dialectic tensions that the authors felt central to the process of social change. These consisted of 1.) Control and Emancipation 2.) Oppression and Empowerment 3.) Dissemination and Dialogue 4.) Fragmentation and Unity. I think the last of these topics is the most important. The reading explains “On one hand fragmentation may be necessary to preserve diservisty. On the other hand, these differences create tensions and separate people rather then unify them.” These opposing statements are at the heart of any group that wants to make changes in the world. Every person in the group wants to have their voice heard, and people may differ in opinions. However at the end of the day, the group must ultimately make a decision that some members may not be pleased about, albeit it is most beneficial to the group.
The personal part of the reading relates to the topic of Community Suppers that occur in the U.S.A. As a student-athlete at UNC, I have had interactions with the Inter-Faith Council and the Homeless Shelter on the corner of Rosemary and MLK road. Our lacrosse team has a competition each fall during Thanksgiving in which each class makes a Thanksgiving dinner in which a small portion is judged by our Coach’s four daughters (yes he has four daughters and they are all under 10). The winner gets points for their team and we deliver the dinners to the shelter. It is a great feeling to give back to people less fortunate and like the reading says, it is important for these people as well because they realize they are just as apart of this community as anyone else and that there is always hope. Here is the link to their website where it is easy to volunteer!
The reading of “The Guerilla Theater of GreenPeace” really hit home to me and impressed me with the things these people are doing to conserve our protection against environmental dangers. A quote that reminded me of the reading was when someone in class proclaimed that our society looks at “how you perform it, and not what you say”. However in this instance, the people of GreenPeace, specifically Steve Loper want more attention to what they are trying to do, not how they do it. He explains “We try to get the light off the climb, or whatever we’ve done, and get it on the issue.” I witnessed this on the show Whale Wars (clip is at the bottom) and was in awe of the harm these regular citizens put themselves in just because they believe in something. It’s amazing to me that people care enough to take a stand against in just actions that are occurring in places not only in America, but all over the world. It goes to show you that it only takes one or two people to start a revolution and change the way people think. It was a shock to read and consider the deeds and actions that I have not contributed to society. I want to go from a hand that is trembling, to hands that are reaching out!
The reading for week 4 was a little lengthy and at sometimes a bit over my head. I don’t think I’ll ever read a piece with the word opressed used so many times! But on a serious note, the paragraph of freedom was what really got me thinking. The reading claims that the opressed are “fearful” of freedom, but I disagree. I think these people may be anxious about living on their own, but they are not scared. An analogy would be like riding a bike. When you were little, you wanted to get on that thing so bad. But when you were on it, you weren’t quite sure what to do and how to operate it, but after a while you were killing it on that bike! In the Grameen Bank reading and in class we discussed dialectics, and the two topics in that [Grameen] reading that were juxtaposed were Stability vs. Change. In relationships and in life, people want something that they are comfortable with and that they know they can accomplish well. However, as evidenced by acts of history throughout mankind, people “want what they can’t have.” While oppressed people may not have all the tools initally to fully enjoy their freedom, I don’t beleive they are scared of it, just rather uncomfortable with it. The reading states that “[Freedom] is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.” After all, who would be afraid of that?