Something About Pants

Who has the audacity to overlook the prompt, to shoot from the hip and run into an essay, head on, with no outline? Surely no Education major with a concentration in English would have the boldness to commit these crimes against the writing process. That is why I am suspicious of myself, not my current self, but my former self, before this course. I thought to myself “how could you be doing this poorly in a college English class after receiving straight A’s in high school English”? That’s when reflection came in, and it hit me hard. It “hit hard” not because I thought I was a bad writer, but rather I was unrefined. Unrefined, because of carelessness and thinking I knew it all. The suspicious pants at the beginning of the course meant little to me, and I had no other reason to use them except because it was the easiest epigraph to understand. Now I know fully what they mean to me and what they symbolize: the pants were suspicious of my writing. I know it may sound ridiculous, but these suspicious pants found in a silly old meme show me how I never cared to use my untapped potential as a writer. 

I am suspicious of how I got this far shooting in a direction before aiming. How was I ever supposed to make a basket without looking at the process of getting the ball to the basket? That is why, when I entered this course, the ball was swatted directly back into my face. Outlines, outlines and more outlines. I realized that I was missing this key piece that would make up my blogs. I loved the act of freely writing with no real direction and felt like I could never put the same energy into my writing while using an outline. I discovered the usefulness of outlines while doing our group blog. At times I felt that our group lost focus and would stray away from our thesis. Looking back at our group’s blog post entitled “The Power of Names in Establishing Characters,” our thesis statement was “Everett makes a statement about the power of names; names themselves can reveal an incredible amount about an individual’s characteristics and personal values.” To this day I believe our thesis statement summed up our argument well; however, we deviated from that thesis often. Our group frequently found ourselves going off on tangents that often did not lead back to our main idea; that is until slowing down and creating an organized plan came in. We collaboratively created an outline that showed the contents of each paragraph as well as the objective of each paragraph. This outline did nothing to hinder our writing, and in no way stifled creativity as I thought it may. Our group went on to write paragraphs that not only connected to the thesis, but also provided valuable information and developed an interesting talking point. 

The first blog I wrote in the class revealed the most. This first assignment was a blunder to put it lightly, mainly because I completely overlooked the prompt. I remember my actions during this moment well. I skimmed over the prompt, skipped over entire sentences, and assumed I knew it all. I oversimplified the assignment and did not check for understanding, because reading the prompt took more effort than I wanted to give in that moment. In “Reflective Writing,” it is stated that teachers or “tutors set tasks that are tailored to the needs and practices of the particular discipline you are studying” (8). This quote related well to my situation, as the assignment was “tailored” to my needs and was designed for me to learn. However, I opted out of learning that particular lesson because I chose not to read the directions carefully. I now know that reading and comprehending the prompt is crucial to writing the assignment, and is necessary before creation of the outline. 

My writing has greatly improved since the submission of my first blog post that was entitled “Suspicious Godly Pants.” Considering the prompt for the blog was to “select one of the course epigraphs (see above), and based on what you have read, done, and experienced during the first class periods, what does your selected epigraph get you to thinkING about?” the title of my blog seems awfully silly. I dumped all kinds of wild thoughts into that first blog post, expecting a good grade to accompany it. This post had silly humor such as, “These pants, had Zeus actually worn them” and “let’s pretend that the Greek gods wore modern day khaki pants and that these in particular are owned by the most powerful god of them all,” but that is about all it contained. The topic may have been interesting to some, however the significance of the work was nowhere to be found. I left out the answer to the crucial question of “who cares?”. Not only did this essay not follow the prompt, it also never told the reader why they should care at all about Zeus’s hypothetical pants. I could go on and on about the missing aspects of this blog and all the things that need to be added; however, that information was necessary to better my writing after reflecting on it. 

The pants were suspicious of me, and rightfully so, because before the class I rarely reflected on my past writings. Once I wrote an assignment and submitted it, the assignment might as well have been put in a paper shredder, as I felt no need to reread it. “Reflection” was not in my vocabulary. If I received a good grade, I’d write something similar for the next assignment; and if I got a bad grade, I’d complain about it for awhile and move on without trying to understand what I did poorly. This class may not have made me perfect at reflecting, but I know that I have taken a step in the right direction. I feel as though I now take the professor’s commentary with more than a grain of salt and genuinely care to improve my writing. I care more to improve my writing, not for grades, but rather to enhance my skills and feel like more of an intellectual. Grades in college will be important to me until the day I graduate, but I can say that I take great pride in my writing now. 

Finally, I wrote a blog entitled “A Reflection on the Subjectivity of Writing.” I wrote this blog to discuss how beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a piece of writing can be great to one person and horrible to another. Subjectivity, to me, is based on a person’s biases that they develop throughout their lives. Subjectivity in “The Bedford” is considered the “perceptions and thoughts arising and based in an individual’s mind” (430). I still find my original idea in the blog to be true, but I have revised my idea since the beginning of the semester. What I have revised about my idea is that a work of literature can be good, but likely isn’t great if it has not gone through revision. Revision, and proper usage of the English language, is necessary to make a great blog. I once thought that if I had good substance and interesting ideas that my writing would be great; however, I now understand that great writing requires outlines, pacing, preparation, and most importantly, reflections. 

The pants were suspicious of my work, but no longer. I have progressed as a writer, and I continue to improve with every blog that I write. Reflecting on the works that I have created have allowed me to not make the same mistakes again, and in turn my writing has benefited greatly. The only thing left to do is to keep writing, keep reflecting, and keep improving. 

Is Everett Messing With Us?

Percival Everett is an extremely intelligent author and English professor who has a knack for getting readers to think deeply about his literature. Everett is a genius when it comes to English concepts, expertly manipulating the English language to do what he wants. His writing is sophisticated and calculated in order to get readers to think through different lenses. Everett also uses allusions and references to complicate his stories as well, making his literature that much more difficult to fully understand. Throughout Everett’s works he makes readers ask questions like “what the heck is going on, is that really the end of the book, what is with this title, or is this author insane?”. All of these questions are fair questions to be asked when reading his novel entitled “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”. “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” is very thought provoking for the reader and there are many surprises along the way. These surprises shape the question: Is Everett messing with us?

Percival Everett may just be messing with us when it comes to “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”. There are so many oddities and surprises throughout this novel that completely catch the reader off guard. A few major oddities include Not Sidney’s potential super powers, his mother’s absurdly lengthy pregnancy, his seemingly endless money, his superpowers, Wanda Fonda and the ending of the novel most of all. We find out early in the story that Not Sidney was in his mother’s womb for an extremely long time, “Two years” (3) to be exact. Considering the average time in the womb is only nine months, this length of pregnancy is exceptional. Why Everett would make this an aspect of the story is to be determined by the reader, but I think he is just trying to make Not Sidney seem sort of mysterious and different. Later in the story we come to find out that his mother became very rich by investing her money. Not Sidney said that “When I was two, in 1970, she invested every dime she had in a little-known company called The Turner Communications Group that would later become Turner Broadcasting System” (6). This is by no means impossible, but it is another odd part of Sidney’s life, having an absurd amount of money off of one investment. When he asked Ted’s accountant, Podgy, about how much money Not Sidney owned, Podgy replied with “Let me just say ‘vast.’ The actual figure may frighten you” (27). He also oddly enough has almost no motivation to spend that money either. Most kids would love to spend vast amounts of money on absurd things, but not Not Sidney. He ends up driving a fairly humble car considering the amount of money he possesses and he really only spends a lot of money to get into college. Not Sidney also meets Wonda Fonda, Jane’s interestingly named niece. Wonda Fonda instantly shows a fondness for Not Sidney and she is attached to him the whole time that they’re together. While on Ted’s boat, Wonda Fonda shows Not Sidney this odd cherry tattoo and explains to him that “it has to do with sex” (25). This part of the book is an extremely odd moment, because why would a young girl have a tattoo like this especially for the reason that she explains? The last oddity that I will mention is his super powers, although this book is overflowing with weird occurrences. Not Sidney discovered that he has the ability to “fesermerize” people, which is essentially mind controlling them. He uses this power many times throughout the novel as an attempt to get what he wants from people and more often than not it works. He was going to use it in an attempt to get out of jail and he uses it to get Wonda to take off Jane’s top while on the boat. Not Sidney talked to a judge and “considered attempting a bit of Fesemerization, but I was terribly afraid of the effects of ineffective staring” (49). This quote shows that he really may have this power over peoples minds and the power followed him into adulthood. Instinct may tell the reader that fesmerzation was a figment of Not Sidney’s child imagination, but he believed in his abilities even as he grew older. Not Sidney’s fesmerization abilities are an interesting aspect of the story and Everett really tries to make the power seem real to the reader. There are countless instances that will leave the reader in disbelief of what is actually happening in the story and Everett toys with the reader’s mind in that way.

The final oddity in “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” is the bizarre ending. Everett leaves readers wondering about everything that just happened, as every reader is left waiting for Ashton Kutcher to yell “You just got Punk’d”. The ending is truly incomprehensible unless you are Everett, because he makes Not Sidney announce that he is in fact actually Sidney Poitier the actor. This surprise ending comes out of left field, because there wasn’t much evidence of him being the actual Sidney Poitier prior to the award show final scene. Not Sidney’s story reflects countless of Sidney Poitier’s movies, but to go from living out each movie to then announcing at the end of the movie that he is the actor is mind boggling. The only way that I could equate this final scene is like watching all of the “Star Wars” movies and at the very end of the last movie in the series, Luke Skywalker, the protagonist played by Mark Hamill, tells everyone that he has been actor Mark Hamill all along. The ending that consists of Not Sidney accepting an award as actor Sidney Poitier is a fantastic moment where Everett tricks us all. 

Percival Everett masterfully makes readers question what is actually happening in his novel “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” and it makes the journey through the book all the more exciting.

Percival Everett’s Use of Allusions

There are many commonalities among Percival Everett’s many works. Few authors utilize allusions as frequently as Percival Everett. Everett expertly alludes to countless other works in his novel “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” and in his collection of poems titled “re: f(gesture)”. It is impossible to look at Everett’s works through any lens other than an intertextual one. Researching each one of Everett’s many allusions between the novel and the collection of poems would take hours easily. Disregarding Everett’s allusions would not only be an injustice to his works, but it would also make understanding them extremely difficult. Intertextuality and allusions are invaluable to Everett’s writing, because the constant references to other works deepens the complexity of his writing and allows the reader to dive deep into the interconnectedness of his literature. 

According to “The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms”, the term allusion is “an indirect reference, often to a person, event, statement, theme, or work. Allusions enrich meaning through the connotations they carry” (10). The second sentence is a great description of allusions because allusions do “enrich” literature through the “connotations” that they add to the work. That is what Everett’s literature is all about, enriching his work through complex connections with other works. When the connections come in between texts it is called “intertextuality”. Intertextuality according to “The Bedford” is the “condition of interconnectedness among texts, or the concept that any text is an amalgam of others, either because it exhibits signs of influence or because its language inevitably contains common points of reference” (215). The “interconnectedness” from Everett’s works to other works stems from his ability to make references that are sometimes blatant and sometimes very well hidden in plain sight. An example of a “blatant” reference is in “re: f(gesture)” when he says “In the Bible, Daniel knew much” (18). This is a clear nod to the Bible and Everett doesn’t seek to hide this allusion. However, in “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”, Patrice says “I guess that warden guy has got hisself one of dem sense of humor” (55). This quote is a not as clear nod to the movie “The Defiant Ones”, which famously starred Sidney Poitier. Without having seen “The Defiant Ones”, a reader could easily overlook this reference as original material that Everett conjured up himself. Understanding where these references derive from enhances the literature for the reader, and brings whole new meanings to Everett’s literature. 

Allusions are so vital to Everett’s work that “I am Not Sidney Poitier” is based almost entirely on them. Everett is alluding to award winning actor, Sidney Poitier and his many critically acclaimed films. As stated earlier in this blog, Everett utilized Sidney Poitier’s “The Defiant Ones”, but it certainly does not end there. Elements of “Lilies of the Field” take up the majority of the end of the novel, and it is just as important as “The Defiant Ones”. Everett’s utilization of greedy nuns that convince Not Sidney to do hard labor for them is straight out of “Lilies of the Field”. In “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”, Sister Irenaeus did everything she could to get a church built, telling Not Sidney “We must build the church” (201). This is a clear reference to Mother Maria in “Lilies of the Field” and her desire to “build a chapel”. The allusions doesn’t stop at “Lilies of the Field” however. The novel is riddled with little Sidney Poitier movie easter eggs, like Not Sidney’s dinner with his girlfriend’s parents. This awkward dinner is a reflection of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, which is another famous movie starring Sidney Poitier. In the novel, Not Sidney’s girlfriend, Maggie, has extremely racist parents even though she herself is African American. Not Sidney, is criticized, however, because he is a significantly darker skin tone than Maggie’s family. Maggie’s whole family is guilty of some level of racism, but her father is horrible and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. In one instance, Maggie’s father had the audacity to say “You are a bit on the dark side. Not that I care, but a fact is a fact” (149) to Not Sidney’s face. The whole premise of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” is black man meeting his white wife’s racist family; so the connection is evident and considering it is another Sidney Poitier work, it is almost certainly a nod to the film. Everett’s references to Sidney Poitier’s many films in “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” shows that there are a vast amount of hidden allusions in his work that make his literature extremely complex. 

Everett loves to add allusions into his works in order to connect to other works. His collection of poems entitled “re: f(gesture” and his novel “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” utilize allusions throughout and wouldn’t be the works that they are without the many references. An intertextual web is built by Everett through the connections that he makes.

The Strength of The Sciences vs. The Weakness of Language

The sciences are strong, concrete and often undeniable. There is an undeniability to math because “1+1=2” can in no way be refuted. The arguments that prove gravity and other physics based theories are extremely robust due to years worth of research and analysis. The theories have been battled tested, and will continue to be examined for years to come in order to confirm their validity. However, language is everything, but stable and reliable. Language fails humans every single day as they struggle to find the words to describe what they experience through their many senses. Words don’t always have direct translations in other languages, they’re often pronounced differently, and have different meanings in different situations. Percival Everett is a constant manipulator of the English language. He understood as well as anyone that language, especially English, fails in a multitude of ways. Everett exploits the failures of language extremely well in “I am Not Sidney Poitier”. Everett also holds logic and mathematics in high regard through his archive of poems entitled “re: f(gesture)”. Everett would argue that theories backing mathematics and logic hold much more truth than the rules of the English language. 

Everett loves toying with the English language in very thought provoking ways. The unequivocal instance in which Everett does this is in his novel “I am Not Sidney Poitier”. The reader need not very look far to find the failure in the language either. In fact the failure is kind of shoved into the reader’s face the whole time. The failure that I am alluding to is the protagonist’s name. The protagonist’s name is “Not Sidney Poiteir”. Throughout the novel the name is a bit of an enigma to everyone that Not Sidney meets because they all don’t know what to make of it. Some people bully him out of confusion; Not Sidney admitted that “they were understandably and justifiably frustrated and angry with me. Fortunately it wasn’t all bad for Not Sidney, some girls were curious enough to give him a kiss in order to learn his secret. However, there is no secret, he just has an adverb in his name. There is no crime against the English language by using an adverb in a name, but it sure does stump a whole lot of people. This is a prime example of Percival Everett demonstrating how the English language can fail.

Percival Everett values things that are absolute like math and science, even though he may not understand those subjects as well as English. Everett is an author and an English professor, but he understands that English, as well as all other earthly languages, have their faults. In Everett’s series of poems named “Logic” within “re: f(gesture), he discusses equations, and significance of numbers. Everett has poem ironically entitled “6” which is all about the number seven. The poem is summed up well with the line “Seven is, will be. All men will die but not seven” (70). The significance of this line is that the concept of seven will never die; seven will never equal another number, it will always be what it is. Language is very different from this concept because words can often mean multiple things. Through homonyms people can see that one word can hold multiple meanings. An example is the word “band”. A band can be either a group of people who play instruments together or a ring. The word band may have multiple meanings, but the word seven never will. The number will always be what it is and the concept will never change, unlike many English words. 

In the poem “2” found in “Logic”, Percival Everett tells about the concept of “X”. Everett says “compose this reality- molecules, atoms, simple X” (66). X in this poem and in many equations is used as a variable to represent something that is unknown. “X” like seven, is definite and unchanging, and in the words of Everett is “simple”. Math and science is simple because it is what it is and the laws, unless they’re discovered as incorrect, will never change. This is another piece of absolute knowledge that Everett finds to be irrefutable, unlike the countless issues found within the English language. 

Percival Everett uses his poems in “Logic” and his novel “I am Not Sidney Poitier” to highlight the strengths of math and science, as well as the weakness of language. Everett shows one failure of the English language by placing the adverb “Not” within his protagonist’s name. In order to show the strength of math and science, Everett wrote poems about “seven” and “X”. Both seven and X are definite concepts that are unchanging. Math and science is strong because of their reliable and dependable theories. On the flip side, the English language is ever changing and difficult to comprehend.

EmBODYment of Beauty

Beauty through a scientific lens is a very unique way to admire something. Percival Everett portrays the beauty of the female body in his archive of poems titled “re: f(gesture)”. The poems in this collection all provide ample amounts of scientific wordage that portrays different components of the female anatomy. Through some majestic means he used these words in a flowery way to describe things that aren’t conventionally thought of as independently beautiful. The way that Everett expertly flexes the words, and language to his will is how he suggests beauty within the female body. 

In Everett’s “re: f(gesture)”, he masterfully uses his scientific knowledge to illustrate human body parts. He methodically places scientific terminology in the same sentences with adjectives that wouldn’t typically describe a human body part. A sentence that provides this odd sense of gracefulness is “before the aorta, the diaphragm, expanding with the motion of life, it surrounds the Coeliac axis” (61). This sentence is such an interesting sequence of adjectives mixed with scientific terminology that amounts to a captivating scene. It is nontraditional to describe an area of the human abdomen as charming, but Everett’s use of the language makes something without beauty sound exquisite. Majesty can also be found in Everett’s poem “The Fissure of Rolando” (58). The Fissure of Rolando is a part of the brain that in no way sounds delightful. Everett however, described The Fissure of Rolando as “carried across from the root of one auricle, passing up, curving back between fontanelle” (58). This part of the poem gives of this elegant architectural tone that makes the brain sound fascinating. When reading these two lines, one can imagine the complex twisting and turning of the brain’s components. Everett utilizes the language so readers think more deeply about the human body, ultimately realizing the perfection, and complexity of anatomy. Human anatomy to humans is such an interesting thing, because humans are often grossed out by what lies internally, but people are also inherently fascinated by how each part functions as a part of the whole. 

Before diving further into the beauty of Everett’s poems, it is important to note that beauty is objective, and as the old saying goes, is “in the eyes of the beholder”. However, when reading “re: f(gesture)”, anyone can objectively note that the arrangement of words have this interesting elegance to them. The elegance is created through powerful images that are depicted through Everett’s usage of the five senses. Everett uses not only sight but, smell and touch. Within the poem entitled “Palmar Fascia” (48), Everett uses touch when stating “Squeeze unconsciously when I am a baby” (48). This part of the poem utilizes the word “squeeze” to make the reader think about how babies uncontrollably tighten their hands, portraying a cute picture which wouldn’t typically be associated with the Palmar Fascia. Everett uses touch again in his poem “Obturator Internus” (49). He uses the verb “thrusting” in the poem to assist the reader in imaging the function of the hip muscle. When reading “Nasal Fossae” (51), Everett appropriately addresses how it impacts the human’s ability to use their sense smell. Everett says in the poem that “I smell your sex, pressing through the outer nose” (51). This is an example of Everett using another one of the senses to describe these body parts. The senses are so important in literature because they’re human’s outlets for not only experiencing the world, but also describing what they experience to others.

The poem “Nasal Fossae” (51) and thereafter is also when Everett’s poems take an unexpected turn towards the beauty of the female human body. Everett’s poems “Corpora Cavernosa” (54), “Tunica Vaginalis”, and “Labia Majora” all include information and descriptions of female body parts. The other poems in the collection are about body parts found in both males and females. It is interesting that Everett didn’t decide to write a poem about any male exclusive body parts. Why Everett did this is unknown, but in his poems about the female body, he continues to use the language to gracefully describe each part. In “Corpora Cavernosa” (54), Everett mentions things like curvature, internal threads and connectedness which paints the body part in a beautiful light. In “Tunica Vaginalis” (59), Everett sounds very clinical when describing the body part, but he also places a lot of value in the part. He is determined to represent the part’s importance, whilst also explaining that the part is very fragile and a “thread lying loose” (59). In Everett’s “Labia Majora” (60), he almost personifies the body part with the statement “each with two faces” (60). Describing a body part as having “two faces” is very interesting, because it makes a rather simple part of the body seem much more complex. In the poem, Everett also mentions the many working components in the body part like “sweet fat, vessels, nerves” (60). Everett expertly represents the beauty and complexity of the body by informing the reader of the fascinating network found in each body part. 

In “re: f(gesture)” by Percival Everett, Everett skillfully uses the English language to express beauty within body parts. The poems are thought provoking, because they use a mixture of beautiful words and scientific words to describe the female human body. The poems read very fluidly and sound graceful because of Everett’s word choice and usage of the five senses. 

How Genres Effect Entertainment

Imagine it’s late at night and you’re laying in your bed actively trying to find a Netflix TV show or movie. There are thousands of movies and shows at your fingertips, but you cannot decide what you want to watch. You may ask yourself: why can I never find a show or movie to watch? Then all of a sudden a light bulb goes off right above your head, and you decide to search by Genres. Wow, what an amazing thing to be able to find entertainment with similar topics all in the same place. Wrong. Although you may find a flick quick and easily, you finish your search without expanding your cinematic horizons. In a society that consists of short attention spans and endless options, Genres can be considered a great thing. On the other hand, Genres limit people to embracing the same kinds of entertainment without every branching out. The questions to be argued are: are Genres a good thing? Or are they simply masquerading as something good?

Like most things Genres have their pros and their cons. However, before determining if Genres are good or bad, we should first examine what the word means. According to The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, Genres are “the classification of literary works on the basis of their content, form or technique” (175).  Labeling things and classifying them into groups is done in many aspects of life. Fruits are foods generated by plants or trees and have seeds. Basketball and soccer are classified as contact sports because they contain a degree of physical contact. Classification and genrefication materializes in all different facets of life including areas like food, sports, literature, cinema and other art forms.

There are many positive aspects to genres that allows for much easier access to all forms of entertainment. Finding movies, and shows that we like has never been easier, because our entertainment service of choice divides them into extremely specified genres. Entertainment providers like Netflix have split up there shows into genres as specific as “Cult Horror Movies”, “Standup Comedy” and “Political TV Documentaries” among many more. What a fantastic thing? It is amazing that humans can now quickly access cinematic entertainment of our liking in minutes or even seconds. 

We often find a great movie or book that we latch onto and maybe even finish the series. The sadness that strikes when we conclude the series is like no other. The only replacement is another series, and the best way to find that new series is by looking through genres. Maybe you just read “The Hunger Games” series and are now looking for another gritty action series to replace it. Lucky for you, your local library is probably set up to find the perfect stand-in for your favorite books. Parting ways with a specific movie, TV or book series can be tough, and genres allow for people to find a very similar series to continue their adventures.

There are negative aspects of genres however that originates in their destruction of uniqueness. To unpack what I mean by “destruction of uniqueness”, I will liken a child’s drawing to a work of entertainment. The child likely felt that their drawing was very special and unique; so they decided to give the drawing to their teacher. The teacher said they liked the drawing and then threw it in a pile with the other kids’ drawings. The kid probably wouldn’t feel as though his drawing was that special anymore after being put into a stack of other kids’ drawings. The same applies to entertainment. To genrefy entertainment is to amass unique works of art, and lump them together under a label. The act of denaming a work of entertainment, and stripping it of its’ identity is essentially what genrefication is.

There is so much personality driven into entertainment and it isn’t done justice, because of genres. People may not explore certain movies or books because the sound of the genre turns them away. An example is a genre may be called “Fantasy Movies”. Maybe someone really disliked the fantasy movies they saw in the past so they decide to not look at that particular genre. Extraordinarily unique movies may not even receive the liberty of getting a momentary glance because the movie’s genre turned the viewer away. The viewer may be interested that a new movie from the “Harry Potter” series came out, but then read that it is a “Fantasy Movie” and be discouraged. Another example is when someone finds another piece of entertainment under the “Anime” genre. What I mean by this is that genres can carry negative connotations that people may be afraid to take part in. Anime is a great example of this, because some people may not understand or appreciate the art. Genres can scare viewers away from entertainment that they may have visited before realizing that it was placed under that category.

Genres are a really interesting aspect of entertainment, because it makes things seemingly easier, but simultaneously harder. Genres can make libraries and movie websites easier to access, but viewers and readers can also miss out on titles they would’ve wandered into by mistake. Genres can lead people into trying new things, because they’re tired of the same old genres. However, genres ultimately place unique works of art under a broader label which doesn’t portray the work’s special aspects. Genres can be a great thing for searching for entertainment or a really limiting way to search for entertainment depending on the how the consumer utilizes them. 

Racism In The Word “Boy”

The word “boy” is not fundamentally racist in any form, but was very clearly used as a racial slur towards African American men. The word “boy” was in no way created in the English language to belittle grown black men; the word was created to refer to younger individuals who are identified as male. The question that needs to be explored is why then has the word taken on a racist connotation? “Boy” has been used as a racial slur towards African American men for years and was present in Stanley Kramer’s 1958 film “The Defiant Ones” . Many slurs have come and gone throughout history but this slur remains relevant as it was also used in Percival Everett’s 2009 novel “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”. Both Not Sidney Poitier and Noah Cullen are called “boy” in a derogatory way at some point during their stories. This different meaning of the word “boy” is interesting as it expresses a power struggle between racist white people and oppressed black men.

People all over the world use different vulgar words to oppress other people. Words of oppression are far from new. Words that carry hate have been around for tens of thousands of years. Words in languages are adapted all the time in order to carry new meanings. When a word has multiple meanings it is known as a homonym and provides a different connotation. Connotation in “The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms” by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, is “The association(s) evoked by a word beyond its denotation, or literal meaning” (66). So we know the denotation, or literal meaning, of boy is a young version of a male. However, the connotation of the word suggests that the person is not only young, but also potentially stupid and arrogant. The word is spoken to the African American characters like they are troublemaking childish boys who need to be punished. The power struggle is evident as the white men make themselves out to be older, more intelligent men; while the black men are meant to look like fools. A very similar power struggle can be seen through the words “slave and slave master”. This problem is not a problem of the past because power struggles are even found in peoples’ titles today. For example the NBA (National Basketball Association) recently decided to ban the word “owner” as it could understandably be seen as racially insensitive towards the African American players in the league. Titles and words carry immense amounts of power in society and the term “boy” had been used regularly to oppress African American men. 

In “I Am Not Sidney Poitier” Not Sidney is called “boy” when he and Patrice are on the lam. The two men are running from the police after their bus crashed and they decide to try to escape on foot. The problem that was established while on the bus was the prison officers had shackled a white man to a black man. Patrice was a redneck white man who had been arrested for real crimes, unlike Not Sidney. Not Sidney told Patrice he was arrested for being black while Patrice told Not SIdney that “I stole me a fuckin’ car” (55). Although Patrice is the idiot criminal that acted on his childish impulses, he has the audacity to call Not Sidney “boy” on multiple occasions. Patrice, thinking that he is an empowered shot caller, tells Not Sidney “I sayd we’se going south, boy” (54). Patrice uses the word as an attempt to control Not Sidney and belittle him as a human being. Patrice may not fully understand the gravity of the word that he is using, but it certainly impacts Not Sidney. 

In “The Defiant Ones” a similar scene is created with Noah Cullen and John a.k.a. Joker. Being that Everett drew inspiration from “The Defiant Ones” the story plays out the exact same way where a white and black convict escape because their bus crashed. After the crash Joker asked Noah “You know what I mean, boy?”. Noah responded to Joker with “Joker, don’t call me ‘boy’”. Joker’s name calling created a bit of a dispute that angered Sidney Poitier’s character Noah. Constant fighting and disagreements ensue between the two characters throughout the movie because of the two characters’ power struggle. Eventually the two convicts befriend one another, but it was no easy task due to Joker’s insults. Amazingly, the two men were able to come together despite their differences and preconceived notions of each other.

Differentiation between the empowered and the oppressed has been shown through titles for tens of thousands of years. These titles brand individuals as different from one another. Once the difference has been advertised through the label, whether it be race, gender, sexuality or social class, it will be used as scorn.

Can We Believe Not Sidney?

Often readers pick up a book and automatically believe everything that the narrator is telling them. However, narrators are not always to be trusted. A prime example of an unreliable narrator is in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In Frankenstein, the narrator is believed to be a sailor who saved Dr.Frankenstein. The sailor listens to the doctor and writes down his story. However, it is later revealed that Dr.Frankenstein had taken the sailor’s journal and manipulated it to fit the narrative that he sought to tell. By revealing that the journal is tainted, the reader could no longer trust the book’s narration by the sailor. I have this same suspicion in Percival Everett’s I Am Not Sidney Potier. At the beginning of the story, our protagonist and narrator is a young Not Sidney Potier. Not Sidney sees the world through a very interesting lens. Not Sidney often describes his story in ways that seem rather far fetched and occasionally unbelievable. So the question that I ask is: Can we believe Not Sidney?

A major issue with Not Sidney’s narration is that a lot of it comes from memory. Memory in literature is known for being misconstrued by the person remembering and maybe even exaggerated in some aspects. Maybe a person ran from the police for a mile but their memory told them it was several miles because of the heat in the moment. Not Sidney recalled that girls would kiss him in order to understand his name. They would in turn beat him for not holding up his end of the bargain. Not Sidney had said that “There was some upside, as some of the looser girls would offer to kiss me if I told them my name” (29). On the surface this seems like something plausible until the reader remembers that he is a thirteen year old boy who may exaggerate situations like these. It seems more likely that this happened to him once, maybe even twice. This statement by Not Sidney is certainly enough to at least question his credibility.

Another instance of utilizing memory is when Not Sidney explains the story of his birth. The story of his birth obviously needed to be told to him by someone and that someone was his mother. This is where the credibility of he and his mother gets extremely shaky. Not Sidney’s mother was asked how long she had been pregnant for and she responded with “Stand back, girls! Two years he’s been forming and now he’s coming!” (4). The whole idea of Not Sidney being in the womb for two years would be a scientific phenomenon if true. The longest recorded pregnancy in history was approximately 375 days; which would 355 days less than his Not Sidney’s mother’s pregnancy. Either Not Sidney’s birth was amazing or the length of the pregnancy was lied about by someone. 

Not Sidney’s age plays a big part in his lack of validity as a narrator. Being a young narrator is not Not Sidney’s fault but kids can stretch the truth even if they are unaware. Not Sidney began his narration in the book as a preteen who believes he has a superpower that is known to him as “fesmerizing”. One of his first uses of his fesmerization power was when he asked Wanda Fonda to snatch Jane’s bikini top while they were riding on Ted’s boat. To Not Sidney’s satisfaction, the fesmerization seemingly worked. Not Sidney said “two success in a row, scared me greatly” (27) which shows his deep belief in his own super powered ability. The fesmerization instances in the book seem pretty unbelievable, similarly to the nonsense about him being in the womb for two years. Not Sidney may not be dishonest as a narrator. However, he may just be arrogant as to what is actually happening.

In “The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms” by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, the word narrator is defined as “a speaker through whom an author presents a narrative” (282). This quote shows that Percival Everett may have intended for No Sidney to be unbelievable. I think from the beginning of the book Everett attempted to make Not Sidney seem unrealistic and for his mere existence to be preposterous. Murfin and Ray also state in the glossary that “the type of narrator used is intertwined with point of view, the vantage point from which the narrative is told” (282). This quote supports that Not Sidney may be a reliable narrator from his point of view, but through the lens of the reader he seems awfully ridiculous.

Ultimately Not Sidney cannot be believed as a narrator because of the earlier stated factors. Not Sidney narration often reflects memories of himself and other people who may have not gotten the story right. Not Sidney’s age and maturity also play a major role in his illegitimacy as a narrator. Not Sidney may not have been trying to deceive the reader through his telling of the story, but it is fair to question him before believing everything that he says. 

A Reflection On The Subjectivity of Writing

Proper English literature is dependent on many different variables that can either please or displease the reader. Different readers, since all humans are inherently unique in preferences and tastes, want different things out of what they are reading. This statement is especially important to students taking writing-oriented classes because they must try to please their most important critic in the class: the teacher. Teachers, just like other regular people, come from all walks of life, and there are reasons for their literary preferences. Through grade school, middle school, high school, and into college, students jump from teacher to teacher, from expectation to expectation, becoming resourceful and flexible as a result.

Writing skills for most students begin in grade school. Elementary school students start with the alphabet which eventually translates to spelling, pronunciation and meaning of words. Words within literature are very important, and developing a strong vocabulary is the key to exceptional writing. Students throughout elementary school expand their vocabulary, eventually leading them to the creation of coherent sentences. Students typically begin with short, choppy sentences that often get straight to the point and complete the given task. For example, if the student is asked, “How would you describe the clouds?” the student may respond with a simple response such as “The clouds are white” Grammar and punctuation is also introduced in elementary school. However, the marks used are very basic like periods, question marks, and maybe commas. Once third, fourth, and fifth grade come around, the students typically have written a few essays that involve much direction via the teacher and very little autonomy. The elementary schooler’s writing experience in grade school is about learning very basic skills to begin creating longer essays in middle school. The students are given limited creative freedom when writing, so there is very little criticism and subjectivity shown by the teacher.

Middle school is when the heat turns up for students and subjectivity comes into play from the teachers. Depending on the proficiency of the student’s writing and reading, a student may be placed in a different level English class. Regardless of the difficulty level of the course, the student will begin long form essays that can be multiple pages in length. Middle school is a dramatic time in a student’s life because they are bestowed so much freedom all at once. No longer is the student told to be the leader or the caboose of a line. Now, they are in charge of their own attendance to their next class. This new freedom to roam the halls at their leisure is accompanied by liberty within their writing. Imagine looking at a singular line on a graph. The graph is showing a positive relationship and on the X axis there is “freedom in writing” while on the Y axis there is “subjectivity”. There is a positive relationship between freedom and subjectivity. As liberties are granted in writing, there is often an equal growth in subjectivity. Although liberties are being given, often an objective is still supplied by the teacher. Students may get to conduct their own chosen experiment in science and write about their findings. Students may be told to choose a time period in America and write about that time period. Though students are granted some freedoms, they still must abide by the rules of structure within writing. In The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, structure is “equated with form” and structuralism is the idea “that all elements of human culture, including literature, may be understood as parts of a system of signs.” Structure may have been touched upon in elementary school, but the importance of an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion are emphasized in middle school. An essay may seem well structured with all of the bells and whistles by one teacher, while simultaneously being seen as messy and lackadaisical by another.

The bond or clash, depending on your experience, between high school English and college English is the part that scrambles many students’ brains. In high school and college, structure is an absolute necessity or the piece of writing is bound to receive much criticism by any teacher. High school is when teachers’ ideals begin to clash in some cases. For instance, I had an eleventh grade English teacher who had very high standards for writing. However, my twelfth grade teacher was much more lenient about structural issues, grammar, and I didn’t require a lengthy vocabulary. Freshmen year of college was an extreme shock as the expectations from that English teacher were even lower. Since then I have experienced many different kinds of English teachers, all with different views. From what I have gathered, my experience is not that dissimilar from that of the average high school and college writer.

Writing for a teacher is like cracking a code. The writer may never crack that code before moving on to the next code that needs to be cracked. Students may resent their teachers for having insurmountable or miniscule expectations, but even the most profound writers have their critics. Subjectivity is not a bad thing. It is not only within every teacher, it is within every human. It is the job of the student to try to meet those subjective needs. The positive aspect of subjectivity is that if a student cannot succeed with one teacher, all hope is not lost. They may be able to succeed with another. Subjectivity drives peoples’ opinions and criticism of a writing piece which can be used to strengthen the writer’s work.

Suspicious Godly Pants

You may be currently asking yourself questions such as: who owns godly pants? What do godly pants even look like? Why exactly are these godly pants suspicious? Are godly pants even capable of being suspicious? Or maybe even why is this weirdo so concerned with suspicious godly pants?

I am focusing specifically on the suspicious godly pants of the Greek King of Gods himself: Zeus. For the sake of this blog post, we are imagining that Zeus wore the suspicious khaki pants below, courtesy of “You Had One Job” who can be found on Twitter.

Suspicious Pants Tweet.jpg

Using the above mentioned suspicious pants, I will attempt to show the reader of this blog post that Zeus is the most irresponsible god ever to exist in Greek mythology. As earlier stated, let’s pretend that the Greek gods wore modern day khaki pants and that this pair in particular is owned by the most powerful god of them all. According to “12 Well-Known Gods of Greek Myth” by Stacy Juba, Zeus is not only the most famous god but also known as the “the arbiter of justice”. This is interesting because it seems as though Zeus can never keep his pants on around women other than his wife, Hera and has the judgement of an infant. These pants, had Zeus actually worn them, probably would’ve been taken off moments before Zeus decided to have an affair with a likely mortal woman.

Zeus has now become notorious in Greek mythology for his many mortal affairs. His affairs also were rather creepy, he was often shape shifting in order to either attract the mortal or capture them. Depending on which story one reads, the sexual acts that Zeus has with that individual may or may not include consent, making him truly evil and lacking judgement. For example, Zeus saw a mortal woman on the ground; he then turned into an eagle and proceeded to swoop down to grab the woman. Whilst grabbing the woman, Zeus found out she was actually a boy but then stole him anyways. Zeus apologized to the boy’s father, gifting him horses and then telling him “his son would now be immortal and serve as a cupbearer for the gods, as well as a lover for him” ( I don’t care how many horses the father received, I think he would rather not have his son be used as a sex slave for a god.

Within “Frenzy” by Percival Everett, Zeus was guilty of another sexual affair with a mortal. This occasion lead to significant turmoil and many deaths, all because Zeus couldn’t keep his pants on. In this story Zeus approached Semele, again not in his regular form. Rather, a form not only fit for her mortal eyes, but also a form that her own brain had created. Essentially Semele dreamt of her dream man and Zeus just popped up looking exactly like him, so how could Semele say no? Anyways, Zeus did what Zeus does and had sex with Semele. This inevitably lead to Semele getting pregnant because Zeus didn’t really have the judgment to not impregnate random women. Hera, after learning about Zeus’s affair, had set a plan in motion for Zeus to accidentally kill Semele. Disguised as an old woman Hera told Semele that “Your lover has seen you completely, as your actual and true self, in your complete splendor. Do you deserve less?” (Everett 14). Hera told Semele this knowing that Zeus’s true form would be too much to handle, inevitably killing her and that is precisely what happened. Even though Semele died, all so Zeus could have a random hookup, their son Dionysos was born. The tragic story of Dionysos lead to peoples’ lives being ruined and many deaths. Everett’s “Frenzy” is just another one of Zeus’s many stories where he creates chaos with his sexual drive and lack of judgement.

Another example of Zeus being a crazy sex fiend can be found in the movie “Clash of the Titans”, where he sex with another woman who isn’t his wife. In one story with multiple iterations Zeus disguises himself as a swan and once the woman get close to the swan he proceeds with having sex or raping the woman depending on the version of the story. There are many other instances but these stories all send the same basic message that he is disloyal to Hera and a rather disgusting being.

The many Greek myths, comedies, and tragedies about Zeus’s affairs are all showing a consistent narrative that Zeus is a phony for acting all high and mighty. In actuality Zeus has immense physical power, but he has a primal way about him where he takes what he wants and knows no repercussions. The way his suspicious pants look back at him is as if he had just thrown them lazily over a chair before committing some idiotic sexual act with someone other than his wife. The pants in a way are suspicious and disappointed that a god with such might and such diplomatic power within Olympus, would be such a careless savage.