“This is me I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be now” ~ “This is me”, Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas

The interesting thing about irony for me is that real irony is far more sincere than earnestness. To accept the absurdity of a situation is to accept the humanness of it. Utter sincerity suggests a kind of belief that one knows all there is to know about a given circumstance. That is not to say that one should ever make light of serious and grave and important issues, but that open and genuine intellectual curiosity should never be a casualty in any situation. Irony is not always funny. Humor is not always ironic. –”

“Coming Home from Irony: An Interview with Percival Everett, Author of So Much Blue”

On August 26, 2019, I walked into my first English class at SUNY Geneseo; I was testing the water in the hope of becoming an English major on the creative writing track. Now that it is December 3, 2019, I’ve learned more about myself as an individual and decided I no longer wanted to be on the English creative writing track, but on the English literature track. Arriving as a freshman, I wanted to be a Political Science major because I was pushed toward becoming a lawyer, but after this class I realized that changing my major was the best decision I made in preparation for the future. While looking for an English 203 class I came across “ENGL-203-03: R&T:Percival Everett Intertextual” I had no idea who Percival Everett was or what the definition of intertextuality was, I did know that it fit into the time slots I had open and it was added. 

After reading multiple works by Percival Everett and watching movies that correlate to his books in this class I believe the epigraph from his interview with Yogita Goyal, serves as a notable through line for the changes I’ve made throughout my Fall 2019 semester and the books we covered. I would like to think that with my deep analysis with Everett this semester I’ve gotten better at finding the deeper meaning of texts along with interpreting what the author is trying to say. Everett says, “to accept the absurdity of a situation is to accept the humanness of it”, this resonates with my everyday life while addressing his own characters life in I Am Not Sidney Poitier. 

         In the novel titled “I Am Not Sidney Poitier”, the main character Not Sidney goes through various situations within his life, which are absolutely absurd but reflect the great joys of being human. In a scene taken from the movie “The Defiant Ones” Not Sidney decides to drive to Los Angeles to find his mother’s grave and to see where he grew up. Inevitably, Not Sidney was pulled over for being a man of color (48), like many men and women of color today he was racially profiled and charged for crimes that were not legitimate. He was arrested and in the process of being transported to the prison his bus gets into a car accident. Not Sidney and Patrice run away together because they were the only ones conscious and they were handcuffed together. Along the way, they meet a young boy who takes them back to his house, where Patrice falls in love with his sister and they decide to run away together. Arriving early everyone takes a nap except Not Sidney and when the train comes he jumps on alone leaving everyone behind. As preposterous as this situation may seem humanistic attributes are displayed; Not Sidney does not wake anyone up because there would be less weight to carry and was an every man for themselves situation. 

         In reflecting on my life, I know now that I am a lot like Not Sidney, but instead of running toward my roots I was running away from my roots. I could not imagine being home with family for much longer; I wanted to be free, run away from the constant tug of war in my house, and develop the person I have become today. As Everett stated in his interview no matter how absurd our reasons may seem it shows the human in us and the decisions we will make in and every man for themselves situation exerts this best. Walking into English 203 that summer’s day I was confused looking at a meme of suspicious pants, but I left my concerns and worries at the door, jumping onto the train into Percival Everett’s mind and blog post assignments that made me want to trash offices. 

Blog posts were my enemy at the beginning of the semester, an informal piece written based on something I found interesting in the class, and was published publicly. I have to admit that after receiving the grade from my second blog post I was a little unhappy; the truth was I really didn’t know what I was doing. But nothing stays the same forever, after meeting with my TA’s, Professor McCoy, and reading the helpful feedback provided on each post I began to receive better grades and I was grateful I didn’t give up. Everett said “[a] genuine intellectual curiosity should never be a casualty in any situation” and I believe this is explicitly displayed in re: f(gesture), in which Everett wrote three sections of poems based on topics that seem to not relate. The first section covered famous historical events with an alphabetical format, here it can be seen as Everett tackling common knowledge over a broad range of fields and adding a twist to a commonly used form. Exploring common knowledge in the first two sections of his book, “Zulus” and “Body”, he explores and develops his own curious interests while reminding his readers to think creatively. In his book his own intellectual curiosity was not a victim to some of the underlying heavy topics he seemed to have been addressing: common knowledge among fields, writers following their own curiosities, and breaking the stigma of liberal arts being seen as boring and useless “Oo you’re an English Major, I’m sorry”. Throughout the length of the semester I found it difficult to break my years of training in writing formal essays and adding my own creative spin on topics I choose. By my tenth blog post, I felt like I learned how to incorporate my own sense of creativity among my writing while following my own curiosities.  

English 203 is technically a prerequisite for the English major serving as a foundation class for all students, but I don’t see English 203-03: R&T:Percival Everett Intertextual as just another foundation class. Attending this class I believe I learned so much more than any other English 203 class would have to offer while making great friends in the process. On August 26th, I walked in as a normal sophomore ready to become a lawyer, the irony of the situation was that this was the path my parents were pushing me toward my whole life; coming in as a freshman, I wanted to be a surgeon and here I am three semesters deep and pursuing a career in law again. Now it is December 11th the closing of this class, in which I learned how to unpack my statements and now can no longer go back to hearing statements without asking for more details, where I learned to think creatively and logically, and I refuse to hand in a piece of work if it was not to the best of my ability. I learned that it was okay to start over if it’ll allow the reader to understand my point clearly and to be attached to my work but not fear the necessary changes that needed to be made for a better paper. So, in a way the class is a foundation but it spreads further than my major and further than Percival Everett; granted I don’t think I can read another novel without thinking of Everett and deepening my reading of the books with probing questions and wondering what the author is trying to say. Percival Everett’s novels opened a new world thinking to me in which I believe I can never go back on.

I guess I was wrong Professor McCoy was not Everett, Everett was a snowstorm!!!!

On Sunday, December 1st Geneseo and the surrounding upstate areas were forecasted to have a terrible snowstorm. Due to this SUNY Geneseo opened their residence halls on Saturday and canceled classes on Monday; this of course was disastrous for me. I spent my entire Sunday trapped in JFK airport because of the heavy hail in Rochester New York, and as you can imagine it was not good weather to fly a plane in. Instead of canceling the flight JetBlue continued to delay my flight until it was 5 o’clock and being the amazing academic student I was I choose to not write my tenth blog post while waiting for my plane, instead deciding to call my mom to complain about my flight and watch Disney Plus. But while waiting for my flight I began to make quite a few comparisons between Percival Everett and the snowstorm that caused me to spend my Sunday trapped in gate sixteen, terminal seven. Snowstorms are rather unpredictable and send us on rollercoaster rides; wondering if the electricity would be cut off due to strong winds, stocking up on food just in case you were trapped at home, pulling generators out of dark corners, and finding all the blankets in the house to prevent freezing. See Everett does this in a literary sense, of course. Everett is a snowstorm, he turns the lives of his characters upside down and then does the same to his readers; for the beginning of the class I was confused but at the end Everett’s text molded me like a ball of putty and his snowstorm left a beautiful and almost perfect picture behind. This is not until he has left his reader playing scrabble with their mind at 4:10pm when the lecture has ended.

         Let’s call Percival Everett the snowstorm and his texts covered in this class the generators, the power has been cut and now you are left with re: f(gesture) and I Am Not Sidney Poitier to keep the power going. We are stuck in Welles 216 devouring I Am Not Sidney Poitier, where Not Sidney is the first victim of snowstorm Everett. Not Sidney began his educational journey with tutors teaching him in his wing of Ted Turner’s house, then continues on to high school where he is raped by his history teacher, and lastly decided to buy his way into college. Now, as Professor McCoy would say “can you unpack this for me” and I sure will don’t you worry. Not Sidney attends high school where he is exceeding in his classes and is considered to be mature for age, catching the eye of Miss. Hancock. She asked him to help her take some heavy equipment from the back of her trunk and carry it into her house when they reach her house Not Sidney finds nothing in the trunk and is invited into her house where Miss. Hancock will rape him. This happens for a second time and Not  Sidney does the right thing by going to the principle and supervisor, they do not believe him, and he fails his class in the end. Storm Everett has flipped Not Sidney’s life upside down; for doing the right thing his perfect grades turn to something less pretty. 

         Next, Not Sidney decides to go to college, being a high school dropout he anonymously donates a large sum of money to the school in return for admission. His wish is granted, I don’t know why he would want this as we sophomores and freshmen are having one too many breakdowns as finals week approaches. Deciding to join Everett’s Nonsense course, where the syllabus is not set in stone and students are lead to believe they are going to be receiving an easy A. Are you ready here comes storm Everett again, he proceeds to hand out a midterm exam that he promised students they would not have and, in this exam, Not Sidney answers with “I don’t know”, “Awful”, and “Damn it” (page 113). Again the storm has left his academic GPA floating across a pond in a boat with holes. Not Sidney visited Percival Everett’s office on many occasions to ask for clarification on class discussions and lectures but left more confused than when he entered.

         Now, stormtroopers it’s almost 1 in the morning you are all covered in a mountain of blankets and we’re going to unpack how storm Everett took me as his next victim. During my close reading of re: f(gesture) I was left believing Everett wanted to break academic rules, English stigma, and was influencing his readers to be creative. Of course, for me to come to this interpretation I was left staring at his book of poems and novel for a little over two hours and then another couple hour’s to find supporting details along with developing my idea. Everett forced me as a reader to think outside of the box and be creative, developing this idea with the section of this book titled “Zulus”. In this section, Everett wrote an “ABC” dedication while using common knowledge from other fields to bring creativity into his piece. Also, in the next section titled “Human Body” he used the scientific names of bones along with common knowledge within the medical field to develop his idea of creativity; through the use of other fields. So, how did storm Everett send me on that rollercoaster we discussed earlier? Many times, throughout this year I left English 203 mind screwed, I wondered things like: why was Everett writing a section of poems with nothing in common but “ABC” order? Why does Not Sidney want to go to college? What is the poem section labeled “Logic” really about? Or my favorite is Professor McCoy Percival Everett? Later all my questions were answered with further unpacking and hours of thinking in the shower. Everett in my analysis may be trying to teach his readers that common knowledge within varied fields can lead to creative and interesting pieces, not to fear breaking a few rules, such as adding movie scenes into your book with a little twist, and to break the stigmas associated with the English major. 

         Now English 203 it’s 7:00 in the morning snowstorm Everett has ended, the power has come back on. We can now close our generators and uncover from our mountain of blankets. The storm has come to an end and so has our English 203 class, where we learned to unpack our comments and evidence with the careful coaching of Professor McCoy and storm Everett has left us a beautiful literary picture of breaking literary rules, let creativity be the guide for future work me, and break stigmas. Percival Everett is a snowstorm because the outcome taken home after reading his work is unpredictable, readers are left with so many questions that they unpack his text until they find a reasonable answer, and the take-home message is different for every reader. Like a snowstorm may leave five feet of snow in a location but provide light flurries in another.

CNN News: It looks like SUNY Geneseo’s English 203 class located in Welles 216 seemed to have been hit the hardest by snowstorm Everett, let’s see if we can get any comments. Ma’am, how was the storm?

Sarah: The storm was scary and confusing at first but after further assessment I learned a lot from storm Everett. 

“Oo you’re an English Major, I’m sorry”

            The last Percival Everett book English class 203 read was re: f (gesture), in which he sectioned off his book into three sections that at first glance do not correlate. However, after close examination of the book, I figured out that they indirectly relate to a topic I feel pesters the Liberal Arts community. One common misconception about being a Humanities major is that it is always the same; for example, “how many ways can a writer interpret Shakespeare’s sonnets?” or “how can one person be creative if the idea is already pursued in a different way, it’s just repetitive and seems like copying” and I believe these are the questions Everett is trying to answer in his book of poems. He may be trying to break this tainted view of humanities being boring, lacking creativity, repetitive, and not change.

            In the article written by Colleen Flaherty titled “Major Exodus” on the Inside Higher Ed forum, she discusses the constant decline in humanities majors not only in the University of Maryland but all over the country. William Cohen a professor and chair of the English department at Maryland stated that the decline can be partially due to the culture surrounding the Humanities; to some students and families, a Humanities major is not good for employment as other majors would be for other fields.  It is a common misconception that the opportunities a student can receive in a STEM field seem to be higher since the development of new technology and cures for diseases. However, what good is a doctor if they cannot speak to their patients; this is one of the reasons medical schools began to broaden their acceptance to students perusing majors other than Biology. Everett fights this notion of the irrelevance of Humanities majors in his book of poems.

            Since the book is divided into three sections, “Zulus”, “Logic”, and “Body”, that seems to not correlate at first glance it may be hard to see this idea of creativity in common knowledge, breakthrough. In the section titled “Zulus” Everett writes a poem for each letter of the alphabet in which he uses common knowledge associated with history: generals, battles, wars for independence, significant bible figures, and famous scholars. For example, in the “A” dedication poem he writes about Achitophel, Absalom, Solomon, Plato, Aristotle, and Anaximander, this was Everett’s first poem of his book where he tackles the notion of common knowledge, but also starts to break the “boring” stigma associated with English. Everett was not the first and probably will not be the last person to write an alphabetical poem, but he takes a different approach to his version; by incorporating common knowledge outside his field the poem becomes less about common English approaches it becomes more about spreading a writing style over another field where the author does not have an academic degree in. By doing this in his first section he brings this idea of creativity and shows that English can be fun if the writer takes different approaches to it, allowing for change.

            In the section titles “Logic” the last poem of the book is set up to demonstrate another creative outlook English major can create. On page seventy, the poem titled “6” discusses the death of seven men and even though these seven men die the number seven remains constant. In the poem, he says “Seven men lost, but not seven. Seven is, will be. All men will die but not seven”, through these lines we can see the number seven adds a spin to his poem. Seven like the alphabet does not seem to hold a lot of weight other than the fact that it is a number that tells you how many groups of objects are in a section. However, Everett makes the number seven significant by creating a sense of consistency in his poem. As shown in the line above the seven men die but the number seven will remain, it is consistent and adds a creative spin to the “boring Shakespearean poems” that we all dreaded reading in high school.

            Lastly, in the section titled “Body” Everett uses the common knowledge associated with the medical field, using medical terms for body parts versus the everyday names. In the poem titled “The Sternum” Everett writes about the breastbone in the human body calling it the “centerpiece of the table of my chest… Manubrium, gladiolus, ensiform, come together, absorb the world through compact tissue” (44). In this line Everett’s creativity shines through with the comparison of the chest bone to the centerpiece of the table as well as comparing the compact tissue to the commonly used phrase by Maya Angelo, “I want all my senses engaged. Let me absorb the world’s variety and uniqueness”. In writing a set of poems about the human body Everett adds a fun twist to his already interesting book; adding this section about the human body allows readers to know that English is not boring and because it is not forever changing like the science fields it can still be interesting if writers think outside of the box. When Percival Everett’s re: f (gesture) is read with a close eye there are many real-world issues that he addresses; one is that English is a waste of time, since finding work outside of college is hard, there is not much creativity since everything in the past is set into stone, and the notion of the major is boring. Everett takes many approaches to this misconception of English being “boring” and “uncreative”, with his ABC poems which address multiple people and events in history, then his poems about the human body parts, and lastly talking about logic; fighting this idea through his own craft within his field of humanities.

“Sorry this isn’t plagiarism, it’s common knowledge within my field!”

            Throughout many academic fields there are terms and information that is considered common knowledge that the writer does not have to cite, but what is considered common knowledge when fields overlap? Common knowledge is defined as information that appears across many sources without a clear origin; some examples of this would be the definition of common knowledge along with famous historical dates. Information that is not considered common knowledge among all fields of work is the inclusion of data and statistics in your work, this needs to be cited. Everett explores this idea of common knowledge in his book of poems, re: f(gesture); playing with this idea of common knowledge as he plays with the concept of structure in a similar way. I don’t believe he is trying to teach his readers that credit should not be given but to explore new fields in their writing as well as following their interest even if their life is dedicated to another field.

            There is a process in which a writer must follow to identify if the piece of information they are using is considered common knowledge. First, the writer must identify their audience, are they writing to a field expert or a general audience. If they are writing to a field expert there is a level of shared information so citations may not be needed. The second identifier is if the reader finds a statement interesting can they dispute it; if the statement is a foundational fact within the field then it is most likely going to be considered common knowledge within the field. The last identifier is to make sure that the specific piece of information can be found or verified over a large base of networks. These steps ensure that the writer is attributing credit to things discovered by others and not wasting their time citing common knowledge.

            Within every discipline, there is a group of information that is considered common knowledge that to an outsider may be surprising. The Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning talks about the mirror test and calling James Joyce a modernist, these things do not need to be cited but, when you begin to cite information about the results of the mirror test and what it means for the model of consciousness then you must cite your source. Common knowledge is true for all the disciplines, but it is important to recognize your audience and if you do not know if what you are saying is common knowledge then fact check with your professor. Identifying common knowledge becomes harder when you are writing across fields which are seen in the book of poems by Everett. 

            Everett plays with this idea of common knowledge in re: f(gesture) and in the section titles “Zulus” and “Body”. Percival Everett is a renowned author of many works in literature, he is a distinguished English professor at the University of Southern California, and he has his Masters in fiction from Brown University. Everett’s field of work is English, so diving into the human body and historical figures in his poem book without citation to other authors, scholars, or journals implies that he used common knowledge from within specific fields. If we consider the section of the book titled “Zulus” it can be determined that this section is a set of poems dedicated to the alphabet, but each poem references people or events from history or the bible. At the end of the book, there isn’t a bibliography or reference page meaning that in another field these names, descriptions, and references are considered common knowledge, even if the reader does not know each specific reference. For example, on page 16 the poem dedicated to the letter “B” references The Battle of Blood River, the Boston Massacre, the Lord Byron who was a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence, and Bonaparte. In this poem, Everett makes many references to protests against imperialism and to wars that would lead the independence to a country or a countries attempt to gain independence from another group of people. All of this information is considered common knowledge because a description of war, battle, or general can be searched on the internet and multiple sources will come up to explain the event, which is what I did while reading this section. In playing with common knowledge Everett continues to strengthen this belief of exploring new fields in his writing as well as potentially following his own interest even if his lives work in the English field.

            Another example of Everett playing with common knowledge in this book is in the section titled “Body”. In this section, he attributes a poem to specific body parts that both men and woman share and then he begins to narrow his terms to bodily features only woman carries. Throughout this section, he uses the medical terms for these body parts rather than the common terms used on an everyday basis. Some examples of these medical terms are the “The Hyoid Bone”, “Sternum”, and “The Astragalus”; the hyoid bone is called the tongue bone, the sternum is the breastbone, and the astragalus is the ankle bone. These medical terms are considered common knowledge within the field of medicine and if looked up on the internet the definitions of these words are displayed among many sources. Again, in this set of poems, Everett steps out of his field and into another, exploring common knowledge among different fields.

            Although common knowledge poses its uneasiness when working among different disciplines is does invoke a sense of creativity in the writing of others. Everett probes this idea of common knowledge to show the beautiful pieces of work that can derive from it as well as exploring other fields based on and author’s curiosity. Common knowledge may not always be common knowledge to some, but it is important for the author to know their audience and to seek help if they are unsure if the fact they are writing is considered common knowledge.


            While reading Percival Everett’s work it can be determined that he dislikes the preset structural guidelines implemented on writers and in specific writing forms. This idea is demonstrated throughout re: f(gestures), I Am Not Sidney Poitier, and in the blog posts we write for this class, based on Everett’s work. In the novel, Not Sidney goes to college where Everett is his professor and in the book of poems, Everett writes a dedication to each letter of the alphabet but sometimes associates them with words that do not start with that letter. With my close reading of the novel and book of poems, I believe Everett is anti-structure. 

            In the novel I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Not Sidney buys himself into college where he overrides into Everett nonsense class. Our first encounter with Everett’s anti-structure view is on page 89 of the text, where Everett and Not Sidney go to lunch after their first formal meeting; Not asks about the structure of the class and what they will be learning and Everett responds to his question by saying “Who knows?… We’ll learn something, maybe. We’ll read some stuff, maybe a lot of stuff. What, I don’t know yet. You guys will do some presentations, I suppose. Bore each other and, sadly, me to sleep. Probably be some papers to write…” (89). This part of the novel shows his opposition because as a college professor you need to have a structured plan for the course as well as follow academic guidelines set into place by the institution. There is also significance in the name of the class he is teaching, Philosophy of Nonsense. Nonsense means that the spoken or written word has no meaning and holds no weight, this is similar to Everett’s anti-structure belief because without structure things may seem to be nonsense, due to its spontaneous changes or scattered thoughts, seen throughout the novel. 

            Throughout Not’s journey in the class he visits Everett’s office several times to ask questions or to find some sense in his nonsense class. In this specific scene, Not walks into his office to ask him if his class is “some kind of object lesson” (112); Everett explains that he has never thought about the class in that way then carries on to talk about how much smarter everyone else is, including Not. When he finishes comparing his IQ to others, he goes on to ask Not how many pushups he can do, then kicking him out so that he can eat lunch. Everett never answers Not’s question simply congratulating him for thinking outside the box, pushing this idea of breaking preset guidelines of a professor having to tell you the answer. Also, throughout the development of this novel Everett showcases his anti-structure view by changing to scenes that are drastically different. For example, in chapter two Not decides to leave his Atlanta home and venture to Los Angeles to see where he came from and visit his Mom’s grave, this, however, did not go as planned. Not ends up getting locked up and breaking free after his transport bus gets into a car accident falling off the side of the road. This led to the adventure of two runaway convicts; inevitably Not becomes free a man when he jumps into the train cart heading to Atlanta, leaving Patrice and his lover sleeping on the side of the train tracks. Following this in the next chapter Everett writes about Not buying his way into university and then giving his readers an inside look of what it was like for Not in college. The scene format of this book is rather unstructured but does, in the end, connect back together, exposing Everett’s anti-structure point of view while giving evidence that a story can be unstructured and make sense in the end. 

            Another work of Everett’s that shows the structureless writing style is in re:f(gestures).  In this book, all the poems that he wrote are alphabetized, however in some poems the letter does not correlate with the word he chooses to connect it with. For example, in the K dedication poem he writes “K is for immortality” (25), although this seems rather unusual the parallel that is drawn between the letter and the word serves as a link to the larger idea of the poem. Also, the poems written in this book gave the impression of Everett stringing together a bunch of threads, creating the section titles “Zulus”; this unstructured string of information breaks the idea that a set of poems need to follow a strict topic in a certain order. 

            Following this idea of anti-structure, the blog post assignments in this class forces you to think outside the box and protests structure. While writing my blog post I find myself falling back into the formal structure of argumentative essays and research papers, and when realizing this I have to stop and ask myself a few questions: does this piece of information add to my point? So what? Are you unpacking? Are you identifying? Since this is a blog post the writer does not have to write formally, but I find this difficult because of the many years of writing formal papers. The blog post forces you to look further rather than vomiting out information already learned in class or through reading the text. Forcing students to think outside the box and follow their own guidelines rather than the university guidelines pushes this idea of anti-structure Everett seems to dislike so much. 

            Everett clearly points out his belief in disliking structuralism throughout his work and is carried out through this class based on his work. In defying structure and the preset rules set into place by institutions and time, Everett is trying to tell his readers to think outside the box and make good use of the elements in writing but to ensure the point they are making is received. In breaking these rules, he creates a rather complex set of novels that are still properly developed and understood by many readers. Being anti-structure Percival Everett makes the idea of breaking the rules come to life.

Oppose Structuralism

            At the beginning of the semester Professor McCoy exposed the class to the quote “it is incredible that a sentence is ever understood” by Percival Everett. This quote became the steppingstone for my curiosity about different types of alphabets and the “ABC” order we so religiously follow in English speaking countries. I began to wonder if it was necessary, considering the vast differences in other alphabets and languages. Everett seems to play with this idea of opposing alphabetical order in his book of poems, re: f(gesture), in the first section titled “Zulus” he writes a poem for each letter, but in specific poems the letter correlates with a word not beginning with that letter. Everett along with other languages pushes this idea of the purposelessness in alphabetical order; both promoting this idea of getting the message across without having to write in the chronological order everyone expects and defying the structures set into place by people and time.

            The English alphabet has a specific order in which we follow strictly in our education system, in dictionaries, attendance rastas, and in seating arrangements. The English alphabet started with the Proto-Sinitic people who developed a specific writing style in Egypt between 1800 and 1900 BC. Using this as a foundation, the first widely used alphabet was created by the Phoenician’s, seven hundred years later. Followed by the Greeks, Latin, and Romans who would use the Phoenician’s alphabet to create their own versions. The Latins combined their version of the alphabet with the Etruscan language and adding the characters “F” and “S”, but by the third century the Roman alphabet, derived from the Latin alphabet, would be so developed that it looked similar to the one we use in modern-day English.  Looking at other alphabets that have derived from the Phoenician alphabet that today looks vastly different from when they started off. For example, the Ethiopian languages, Amharic, Tigrinya, and Ge’ez, use a writing system that is in a different order and we still understand them today. Also, the Greek alphabet does not use alphabetical order even though it is taken from the same source. It seems to be such an arbitrary order to have to follow for the rest of your life without knowing why.

            When looking up other languages alphabets in google it is shown to the searcher in English ABC order. For instance, the Greek alphabet is not in the same order as the English and it does not have letters such as “h”, so my name, for example, Sarah would be spelled without the “h” in Greek. Some other differences between the languages are that there are seven vowels in Greek and only five in. In Greek, you can read a passage without knowing the language because the letters sound the same but this is not true for English because in different words letters make different sounds. Even though some letters that we have are none existent in Greek we find a way to communicate with them and learn from them. Comparing both alphabets and languages it can be determined that order does not matter, but the idea of a sentence being understood in any language especially if it is translated reiterates my belief that Percival Everett is pushing forward, the ordering is arbitrary as long as the point the speaker is making is clear even if it’s not in chronological order.  

            Another example of ABC order is in Percival Everett’s “re: f(gesture)”, a book of poetry. The first set of poems uses the letters of the alphabet and bases the structure of the poem around it; however, in some of the poems the letters are not correlated with the words at all. For example, on page 15 the Everett writes “So, A is for Solomon”, in this line he addresses the wit of Solomon and then returns back to the letter “A” by talking about Aristotle and Plato. In doing so Everett’s shows his readers that it is alright to stray from the strict guidelines as long as they are connected; all the men are connected by their intelligence. Along with this in his “G” dedication poem he writes “G is for sodomy” (p21), at the beginning of the poem he talks about Zeus who is seen as a sex figure and the word sodomy means sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation. Again, Everett comes back to the bigger idea of his poem; as I’ve interpreted it as focusing on the Greek god Zeus.  

            After reading these poems Everett makes it clear that he believes in not following these preset guidelines but making sure his points relate back to his central topic. Looking at the Greek language as a prime example of this, the difference in the way they speak and write their alphabet. These differences serve as a link to Everett’s quote, “it is incredible that a sentence is ever understood”; these differences add to a sense of objectivity to predisposed rules as shown through Everett’s book and the other alphabets.

Nuns of the Field

            The movie “Lilies of the Field” stars a group of German nuns, Mother Maria, Sister Agnes, Gertrude, Albertine, and Elizabeth, who moved to a farm in Arizona. At the beginning of the movie Homer Smith, the main character, realizes his car radiator needs water, pulling over in front of the nuns’ house. After receiving the water for his radiator Mother Maria asked him to fix her roof and he agrees to do so for a sum of money, even though they never pay him for his labor they ask him to build their chapel, which he does. Naming the movie “Lilies of the Field” makes a subtle reference to the Nuns; toward the way, they treat Homer Smith and go about their everyday life. The references help to illustrate the complexity of the nuns and their purpose in the movie.

             Lilies are flowers with many meanings ranging from societal to religious. From a societal perspective the lily symbolizes new beginnings and modesty. Naming the movie Lilies of the Field creates a parallel between the nuns journey from Germany to America. Moving because they believed they would be better off in America even if they were living off the land; the nuns made use of what they had, never chasing luxuries and always putting their life in the hands of God through prayers. It can be interpreted that the building of the chapel was another new beginning for the nuns and their community members; a place they can praise God and hold their Sunday services in a sheltered environment. This leads to the nuns’ modesty because they lived a very simple life before Homer Smith came along. The nuns would eat bread and the vegetables they grew in small portions so everyone had dinner, they would walk down the interstate to go to church because they did not have a car, and tried to find ways to build their chapel, even though they didn’t have money. Also, Lilies of a Valley symbolizes sweetness and being pure of heart which can be seen as a characteristic in the Sisters and the Mother. Mother Maria may come off as cold-hearted and mean when she is dealing with the sisters and Homer because she shows tough love rather than giving hugs and kisses. She never thanked Homer for all the work he would do for her until he built the chapel toward the end, but she would thank God for him and say God has sent him to them. Also, when he would take them to church, she introduced him to her fellow church members with pride and joy and sneaking glances at him or blatantly staring at him while he built the chapel. With the sisters, Mother Maria was tough and authoritative but would sing church songs with them and learn English together.

            The lily also carries weight in the Christian religion contributing to the link between the nuns and the title of the movie. (Link) According to Garden Nerdy each part of the flower represents a different characteristic in the religion; the flower as a whole represents modesty, the white petals represent innocence and purity, and the stem symbolizes the Virgin Mary’s religious nature. From my interpretation Mother Maria and her sisters all contribute to each section of the flower, the petals being Mother Maria and the stem representing the nuns. Mother Maria is a great representation of innocence and purity because everything she fought for was in the greater good of the community. It can be interpreted that she wants to build a church because of non-gnostic views, but at the end of the movie, Mother Maria is so excited to show her fellow church members the chapel they can now do their masses in. Also, at the end of the movie, she breathlessly speaks to the priest about what still needs to be done and about booking the choir boys from the next town to sing at their next mass. This long breathless sentence listing everything that needs to be done was Mother Maria’s way of saying she wants everything to be perfect so everyone can enjoy the chapel in a closed and safe environment. Never giving up the dream of having a chapel even if the odds look slim shows that her actions were innocent and in favor of the whole community. Her purity can be symbolized by her choice to pursue more than the chapel when Mr. Ashton delivered a load of bricks to help build the chapel. She went on to express her ideas to build a hospital and school for the people since they seem to live in a rural area. The sisters can be represented as the stem of the flower because they are followers of Mother Maria keeping her afloat, helping and staying by her side no matter the occasion. Gardening the large land as a group effort, all the nuns participate in to ensuring there is dinner on the table at night, they would also help her write and send letters to famous men on Wall Street asking for money to build finish their chapel or writing invitation letters to the community and priests from Germany when their chapel was finished. The sisters never lose hope in Mother Maria or their faith can be seen as upholding the religious nature of the Virgin Mary.

            On the other hand, the lily can represent humility which can be seen during the duration of the movie. In the movie, Mother Maria never thanked Homer Smith for the things he did or pay him for his labor, so he packs up his things and drives off. This led to the feeling of humility because the nuns returned to walking down the interstate to attend their Sunday service while receiving weird looks for their fellow church members because Homer Smith was no longer driving them to church. In addition, she had to explain to them that he left and the chapel they were so graciously boasting about was now hold and will not be finished. Evidently, Homer does come back and finishes the chapel, returning to his duties of dropping the nuns to their service until the church was finished.

            By naming the movie Lilies of the Field the screenwriter links the nuns and their actions throughout the movie to a specific object. Making this link helps establish their character showing growth throughout the movie. The title shows that they are a unit working together for the greater good of the community and their living situations; also that they are pure, innocent, and modest.

Realism vs. Fantasy

In the book I am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett there are many scenes depicted that derive from various Sidney Poitier movies. The specific scene in the movie “The Defiant Ones”, clearly illustrates this idea of realism versus fantasy. In the scene, the main character is handcuffed to a white man for the warrens amusement, and while being transported to the prison, they get into a car accident. This led to the bus being flipped off the side of the road, leaving the officers and many other prisoners unconscious; the opportunity to run away to freedom presented itself to the main characters and the took it. This scene is presented in the movie with a relatively dramatized light and in a realistic light in the book.

            The main characters in “The Defiant Ones” is named Noah Cullen, a black man, and John Jackson, a white man. Noah is charged with intent to kill and assault; looking at the era this movie was produced in, the likely hood of Noah trying to kill someone is very slim. This movie was filmed during a period of every intense racism and an exponentially high climate of false accusations against black people. The movie was produced in the 1950s when the Civil Rights Movement was just starting off, during this time the white citizens used violence in an attempt to stop the African Americans from asserting these rights. After, both men ran away from the bus crash they meet a young boy who interprets their arguing and fighting by pointing a rifle at them and asking if they were prisoners. John asks the boy to show them the way to his house where he lives with his sister, here they eat their first meal in days and break their cuffs freeing them from each other. Both men explain to the Sister that they are runaways and are trying to find a way to get away from the cops, finding this out she begs John to take her and her little brother with them. This is because she hates living on the farm and is looking for a way to escape from a life she did not want. She finally tells Noah where the train station is located and what time the train will arrive so that he can jump on, however, she leads him astray to a path of quicksand and death. When John finally gets her car started, she explains to him that she gave Noah false directions, so they can run away together without any problems arising; such as Noah telling the police where they went if he was caught. Following this John gets upset and runs after Noah in an attempt to stop him from falling into the quicksand. This bond both men developed during the course of the movie is unrealistic and fantasized. The chances of this bond-forming in real life during this time of racism is unlikely because John would have been thrilled by what the Sister had done. Also, the chances of him chasing after Noah is very slim because it would have been looked at as a problem solved and an easy escape for him to live as a free man.

            Moving forward in the movie Noah and John track the way up the mountain to the train tracks. They arrived just in time since the train was arriving, running as fast as they could together to get to the tracks before the train got near them.  They ran together and Noah jumped onto the train cart first but John was hurt, so he couldn’t keep up with Noah’s pace or the speed of the train, falling behind Noah stretches his hand out and attempts to pull him up into the cart. However, this didn’t work and they both ended up falling to the side of the train tracks. This scene is fantasized because most people would have let go and apologized but continued on their way. The bond and relationship between Noah and John is dramatized for the movie effect because the political climate of the time was vastly against the black community. Also, both men would have gone their separate ways after the cuff was broken.

            This scene in the book, however, played out very differently with a realistic outlook of the way this type of situation would go during a critical period of racism. The main characters in the book is Not Sidney who is handcuffed to Patrice, the white prisoner.  In the book Not Sidney is arrested for petty crimes such as, back talking an officer, not pulling over as soon as the officer turned on his lights, and speeding; the only reason Not Sidney should have received a ticket was because of his speeding. Since, this book is also set in a highly discriminative society so he could have been arrested just because he was black, which is more realistic.

            Next, they crash and runaway meeting the same people as they do in the movie. Although the scene stayed the same for the most part Patrice claims that he has fallen in love with Sis and intends to run away with her and Bobo, the little brother. They all come together in a big group and run to the train together. Arriving before the train Sis takes out a bottle of liquor and begins to drink with Patrice, inevitably they fall asleep along with Bobo. When the train does arrive Not Sidney is the only one awake and without waking the others he runs and jumps into one of the carts, leaving behind Bobo, Sis, and Patrice.  Not Sidney running off on his own is more realistic because it was an “every man for themselves” society. Also, no bond was developed, they were just trying to get to their destination and on with their lives, which is common.

            The movie and the book both share a different outlook on the same scene presented in the same time period. In “I am Not Sidney Poitier” the scene is depicted as honest with the times and realistic within a racial society. However, the movie “The Defiant Ones” illustrated the scene in a fantasized and dramatic televised way. Since it is a movie having the characters bond and fail together can be seen as a way to get views and sales in the movie.

Is there sense to ted Turner’s nonsensical comments?

      In the novel “I am Not Sidney Poitier” by Percival Everett Ted Turner takes in Not Sidney after his mother dies. He stated that he was in love with her and makes comments on how smart she was, but she also was worth a lot of money. After she died her money was transferred to Not Sidney making him a rich black young man. It is unclear if Turner takes Not in because he was worth a lot of money or because he genuinely cared for the young motherless boy. Not lives in the other half of Turner’s house completely isolated, he paid rent and paid for his own staff.

       However, even though Turner does not act or try to pretend to be Not’s father he does provide some type of advice when Not is in need. For example, Mrs. Hancock raped Not for the second time and when he brought the issue up to the principle they laughed in his face.  After this, he went home and began to pace along the pool line as Turner walks out for an afternoon swim. When Turner speaks, he is disorganized, chaotic, and out of order. But within his disorganized thoughts, there is good advice and life lessons portrayed in his abstract way of thinking.  

      For example, on page 40 Ted says “I wonder if you know the lightening’s coming. A fellow told me that when he got struck he felt like he had glass in his shoes” this is an example of Ted’s unorganized thoughts, but an insight to his abstract advice to Not Sidney. When Ted walked into the back yard Not began to tell him about his incident with the principle how he just laughed in his face. Ted’s response to him was that he could not tell him what to do and it was his decision on how to proceed with the situation. After saying this he proceeded to talk about the “fellow” he meets that was struck by lightning. I believe that him bringing up the story about the lightning was an analogy to Not Sidney’s issue.
      At first, Not tells Ted about his teacher that gave him a blow job and he did not know how he felt about it, just that he knew it was wrong. Ted’s comment about “I wonder if you know the lightening’s coming” can relate to Not Sidney getting the blow job and not knowing the trouble that will come after the incident and if he knew that the lightening, the trouble, was coming after him. Due to Not Sidney telling the Principal and Superintendent, Miss. Hancock failed him in the class, this action is what I interpreted to be the lightning.

      The second half of the quote, “A fellow told me that when he got struck he felt like he had a glass in his shoes”, shows a clear relation to Not’s problem. The “…glass in his shoes” can be interpreted as the frustration and anger Not Sidney felt when none of the faculty and bosses of his school believed him. The faculty not believing him would be uncomfortable poking and pain you would feel if you had glass in your shoe. Also, the repetition of the word “struck” can be interpreted as the moment Not received his failing grade from Miss. Hancock.

      Another example of Ted’s nonsense comment being useful to and relating to one of Not’s issues is on page 45 where he says “I’ve often wondered how the soldiers in the civil war could do it. Imagine charging across a pasture with men getting blown to smithereens to the left and right of you and you keep going…”. In this passage Not is telling Ted that he is going to drive to L.A to visit his mother’s grave. At the time there was a lot of racism and Not Sidney was somewhat sheltered from this reality by Ted and his own money. He did not know the troubles that were awaiting him as he crossed into Georgia.

      While reading the first part of the quote I compared Not Sidney to the solider and the civil war as him crossing the county lines and into the battlefield of racism and unfair treatment of black. The pasture, Georgia, “… with men getting blown to smithereens to the left and right of you and you keep going…” is Not Sidney along with other black men being accused of nonsense crimes and then being taken to jail for no reason other than being black. The reference to the Civil War reminds us that even though the war against slavery was won by the North, there was still an existing punishment for being a Black citizen.

      Even though we may view Ted Turner’s unorganized thoughts as useless and nonsensical it can be interpreted as his way of warning Not Sidney or his own way of teaching him lessons.

Is the Feeling of Emptiness from Dionysus or Percival Everett?

 “Thank you,” I said. “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere. I have learned that my name is not my name. It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself. My mother is buried not far from this auditorium, and there are no words on her headstone. As I glance out now, as I feel the weight of this trophy in my hands, as I stand like a specimen before these strangely unstrange faces, I know finally what should be written on that stone. It should say what mine will say:


 — Percival Everett 

The epigraph allows me to perceive Percival Everett as being lost and empty; he doesn’t know who is even though he has gone home to try to find out. This main idea immediately got me thinking of Dionysus, who in a sense is depicted, as empty and lost, in the novel “Frenzy”.  During my reading of Percival Everett’s “Frenzy”, I saw Dionysus as a God who knew what he had to do but felt like it was not him. For example, on page 19 of “Frenzy” Vlepo was sharing the women’s point of view of having sex with the God; Vlepo said that “She wanted more. Some part of you” to this Dionysus responds with “You make it sound so empty. It’s that what I, too, am feeling, Vlepo?”. In this conversation, we see that Dionysus is trying to understand his feelings. By comparing the empty feeling, the woman had felt after they had sex to the empty feeling he feels on a daily basis. Everett talks about returning to his home place in an attempt to get to know himself and Dionysus in a similar way returns to Thebes where his mother was executed by Zeus’s lightning bolt to get in touch with himself. Returning to his homeland was Dionysus’s way to reunite with his mother and better understand the emptiness and lost feeling he was experiencing. My analysis and comparison of the emotions displayed by Dionysus in “Frenzy” and by Everett in his epigraph made me wonder if some of Everett’s feelings, emptiness, was displayed onto Dionysus. This being a question that intrigues me I will continue to read the novel “Frenzy” with a sharp eye in hopes to figure this out.