31st January 2014
Nostalgia is frequently looked upon as a concept immersed in emotion, often describing a longing for days gone by. Nostalgia is a very personal experience as one reflects on his or her own life, yet nostalgia is also a shared cultural experience as many societies throughout history have looked back upon a ‘golden age’ of their past. Just as the newly fledged adult may yearn for the days of their childhood, the poets and artists of the eighteenth century romanticized the heritage of their medieval predecessors. The same can be said about the Romans centuries before them, who idealized the Ancient Greeks. In this way, nostalgia has been a prevalent aspect of humanity and has helped to define ‘modernity’ as it distinguishes what is something from the present from what is something of the past. This month our contributors have explored the theme of nostalgia from an introspective approach expressed in a variety of mediums. Perhaps these contemplations of memories will encourage you, the viewer, to reflect as well–and as always, we hope you enjoy!
Dessa Hayes’ poem looks at nostalgia through the eyes of the individual, touching upon themes of childhood and the fear of growing into an adult in her title, ‘The Peter Pan Complex’:
The Peter Pan Complex
When present woes torment my soul,
Power chord anthems are my relief,
Where teenage angst and social grief
Are shared with Chucks and tubes of kohl.
With double digits on the brink,
We were blithe and carefree, diehard fans
Of Dickies and sweatbands, spiked hair and new Vans,
When we threw up our rock hands for Green Day and Blink.
A decade passed, yet I remain
A black-clad mourner of this scene,
Poisoned by the bitter bane
Of growing up and coming clean.
For Peter Pan laboured in vain,
Punk rock’s coma is routine.
Jacqueline Grassi explores the concept of memory in a series of artworks. Using the transient element of flowers as a symbol for memory, Jacqueline portrays how the longer a person holds onto one’s memories, the further one grows from the root of truth. Blooming, while also fading, into embellished images of the past:
Tamar Bresge combines both poetry and visuals in her short film that depicts an individual’s recollection of the past. Tamar’s video beautifully illustrates the way in which people draw upon their memories and are influenced by nostalgia:
THE TRIUMPH AND FALL OF THE INDIVIDUAL
7th December 2013
The concept of the individual is open in nature. As a result, in order to gain a better understanding of the intricacies that separate one person from another, one must examine the factors that define a person’s identity. One such aspect, which we have examined in class over the past month, is the triumphs and failures that comprise the individual. Triumphs and failures can encompass a menagerie of meanings, applicable in both a personal and public setting. In the course we have analysed literature that questions the private struggle of the individual between sanity and madness, as well as the broader moral standards that individuals adhere to in varying degrees. Perhaps a lesson that can be taken away from this learning experience is that the path of the individual is based on a continuous series of successes and failures in all areas of life, each serving as an experience that contributes to the uniqueness we associate with the concept of the individual. The following poems and artwork serve to illustrate the variety of ways in which one can triumph or fail. We hope you will enjoy the following creative interpretations of this theme.
Avery Lafortune explored the notion of the individual in her artwork entitled “Ghost”, where she has created a wraith-like genie emerging from his lamp, the entire piece rendered in salt and pepper. In relation to the moral exploration of the individual, perhaps this piece could be perceived as an exploration of how human desire, in the form of the genie’s three wishes, can turn to self-destructive greed.
Dessa Hayes examined the plight of the notion of individualism itself in a poem she crafted on the subject:
An Individual’s Elegy
We all know that individuality is a treasure
And that there is no shame in carving out our own paths
As long as those paths lead us all in the same direction
No one knows for sure where we’re going
But the way they talk makes it seem that we are headed for paradise
They tell us that we can reach this nirvana, by ending our suffering
And our desire for things we do not deserve
As long as we accept our carbon copy lives as doctrines
As long as we hold the mould that has shaped who we are
We are saved
For if we move too much against our frame, we spill over
Like a cake with too much milk and not enough flour
To create something that can be relished
If we resist, we are no longer perfect
There is no beauty in imperfection
There is no joy in solitude
There is only order
And without order, there is only chaos
I want a new order
Where we burn the blueprints of our houses, our gadgets, the things that we do,
The things that we say, the things that we wear
And we become our own architects
I want a new order where we cast off the shackles
That bind us together like we’re criminals
Trusted enough to carry our balls and chains
But not trusted enough to even see a key to our freedom
I don’t want to be a prisoner
I want to be the bird that carries the wind on its back
As it soars higher and higher away from its cage
And away from the pain of the cramped wings and ruffled feathers of a pet shop display
But I am not a bird and you are not a bird
We are sheep
Bound to the shepherd who doesn’t know our names
But knows when he says “Come” that we will come
And knows when he says “Stay” that we will stay
And knows that without him we are nothing but wolf bait
The shepherd is quick to crucify the wolves
And preach about their gnashing teeth and rending claws
But he says nothing of his own ferocity
Of his callous heart or his fiendish tongue
Or his loyalty to the flock
That barely exceeds the width of a speck of dust
We follow a crook that pokes and prods us for his own pleasure
As he leads us along our path to paradise
Someday, he says, we will reach it together
But as long as I am in the herd, I know, without a doubt
That I will never reach my nirvana
– Dessa Hayes
Jacqueline Grassi approached the concept of the fall of the individual in relation to the fall of society through a pair of photographs. The first photo, bathed in a golden light indicates the glowing premise of the rise of the individual in correlation to the rise of society. The second photo, in sharp contrast, portrays a figure in tattered clothing among the ruins of the city. The juxtaposition of order within the first photo and the lack of order in the second photo aims to create an illustrative depiction of the fallen individual.
Meg Cormack took a literary approach to this subject in her examination of the methodology of a novel we read in class, HHhH, crafting a poem based on her interpretation. A detailed description of her concept for her work is provided below:
“In many ways, Laurent Binet’s novel, if it can be classified as such, stands out less for its content than for its style and structure. HHhH accounts the rise and fall of Reinhard Heydrich. While intriguing, the persona created by the interjections of the speaker, presumably a portrayal of Binet, becomes more dynamic than that of his subject. Here, figurative language creates fluid imagery. Equally, however, the segmentation of short chapters focusing on blunt ideas creates succinctness. Combining these with Binet’s constant tangents, veering from one idea and eventually circling back, shows how the crux of Heydrich in the context of the Holocaust, can be inferred by analysing word choice and placement. To present my inferences, I have written a reflective sestina. This poem is composed of six stanzas of sextains, followed by a tercet, with a recurrent pattern of words ending each line: lexical repetition. This is a form demonstrating substantial order: such as Binet’s blunt transitions and succinct passages. However, the lack of rhyme, rhythm or consistent punctuation creates obscurity: such as Binet’s personal interjections. Equally, the sestina is known for passionate imagery while distancing the speaker from described emotions. This reflects how Binet’s text chooses to show focus on the inflictor, Heydrich and his actions, before the feelings of the inflicted. To this end, just as Binet’s choices of words and word placement reveal his meaning, so do mine.“
In His Crypt, There Was Everything
Not the hero but the target is hate
Dark and twisted, from an iron heart
Running a river of ribbons and cut-up glass hands
Grasping and clasping moments of hope
Towards a new day of glory risen out of the hurt
Of finally knowing that Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich
A vision of calm and pitiful peace was Heydrich
As the most beautiful city was disfigured by outbursts of hate
For a conference of pleasantries was to decide the hurt
That was to befall a nation, awaiting the nature of its heart
On the night when they dreamt of hearing hope
Calling out from the cutter of halves and the having of hands
With open arms and fisted hands
A final solution is teased from iron of Heydrich
Concocted grief to fulfil the hole of last year’s hope
One proposed ghetto, a fear of disease from religious hate
Stronger than iron through a never ending residual heart
Left over from school days where a paper cut was hurt
The project was sterility for industrialized hurt
And yet the high-ranking language and callused hands
A master of masses in the murder of the heart
Where bombs in hundreds, imploding from Heydrich
Before any order of passed-over hate
In the case of courses or bloomings of hope
Minutes were taken and de-cored was hope
A back felt the shadow pass robustly past the hurt
And never, not once in the abbreviated thoughts of hate
Did the seas of sorrow tide in the reel of aching hands
To tie a knot together against the tethered Heydrich
Looping inwards and out towards ambushing the heart
A governmental exile became the ruling heart
A discontent of possession to strengthen troops of hope
While all the while caressing the mechanic dream of Heydrich
None could smell the victory that would cure the dawn of hurt
And yet, there was a lingering of blood upon the hands
Of those employed in fear paid in diamonds cut from hate
Not the heart but the soul is hurt
When robbed of hope and harmed by hands
While inherently human, Heydrich, marks history’s h with hate
Nicholas Pincombe expresses his own individualism in a short essay entitled “Why I Like Earl Sweatshirt’s Music” which steps back from the assumptions we have to make in order to determine what the triumphs and falls of an individual really are, as well as why we believe a triumph to be a triumph and a fall to be a fall.
Although I take school and work very seriously, I take these things seriously in the context of somebody who thinks that human life is essentially absurd. This is because we take some things seriously without really knowing why, but we do anyway. If we really get down to it, nothing really matters–but how are we supposed to live if nothing matters? This inner conflict of ideas is the crux of Thomas Nagel’s argument for absurdity in “The Absurd”. My response to absurdity is that we need to choose carefully what we will take seriously in life. I think that the things that are really important involve living in the moment, respecting the ecosystems of Earth, and finding love in everything that we do. I really like Earl’s music because he communicates his idea that life is absurd without really intending to. He just raps about whatever he wants and even though he’s ‘mad smart’, he ‘acts ignorant’.
Earl is a nineteen year old member of the hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All from the Southern United States. Their full name is OFWGKTADGAFLLBBLSBFBN and I invite anybody who is curious to Google the meaning of this acronym. If you are not familiar with Odd Future, then you might be familiar with Tyler, the Creator. Get it? Tyler…’the creator’?! He created Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All! The other noteworthy rappers in the group are Mike G, Domo Genesis, Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, and Frank Ocean. There is a song on Youtube called ‘Oldie’ that is ten minutes long and it features each of these gentlemen rapping into the camera.
Earl was first introduced in 2010 with the release of his self-titled album, ‘Earl’. After Tyler introduces him, Earl introduces himself by saying, “I’m a hot and bothered astronaut crashing while jacking off to buffering vids of Asher Roth eating apple sauce.” He goes on to rap about a wide variety of subjects, but funny business and tomfoolery are the predominant themes of the album. His mother sent him to Samosa for boarding school because he was getting into trouble in 2011. This ignited the ‘Free Earl’ campaign. He has since returned and released a new album, ‘Doris’. This album has been recognized by the Rolling Stones magazine as the 42nd best album of 2013.
I find that I connect with Earl’s tone of voice. The significance of this is that memorizing his raps is an enjoyable past time for me. On Sunday, November 24th, I had breakfast with my good friend Justin Valentine. On the way home, we rapped his verses together a cappella in my car. Also, in September, Justin, myself, and our good friend Jess (James) Hodgson saw Tyler live at the London Music Hall. It was unfortunate that Earl wasn’t there, but I am a fan of Tyler as well. Earl’s rhymes really are incredible. In a ‘duet’ with Tyler, he has the gall to say that he is ‘the reincarnation of ’98 Eminem’. In fact, Earl recently met Eminem because the two of them and Tyler performed at three concerts in Europe.
I don’t think that Earl’s music is for everybody, but there is definitely a part of myself that connects with his music. My goal in writing this essay was to share that part of myself with SASAH and the online community. The songs that I am most likely to be overhead rapping along to are ‘Blade’, ‘Hive’, and ‘Orange Juice’.
23rd October 2013
The concept of “Origins” can be interpreted in many different ways depending on the context surrounding this theme. In the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities we have had the opportunity to explore the many different facets of “Origins”, perhaps showcased no better than in our first research project of the semester, The Homes Project. The Homes Project delved into this idea of “Origins” in two major aspects, it involved primary research in the Western archives, and the focus of the project itself was to uncover the narratives of several historic homes in the local London community. The project’s format was left open, and, of course, creative mayhem ensued. The Creative Connections page aims to bring you some of these fascinating projects that displayed their information with a creative twist – we hope you will enjoy!
Students Mari Fujiwara and Olivia Neale embraced the historic flavour of this project, conveying the information they found out about 417 Dufferin through the calligraphy of the handwritten presentation of their research:
Meg Cormack and Hailey Lessard took a more modern approach to presenting their research on 592 Maitland, creating their very own special edition newspaper:
Lastly, Dessa Hayes, Haley Everitt and Jacqueline Grassi collaborated to make a short video to present their findings on 510 Princess:
Each of these projects aims to uncover a story, to find the “Origins” of these homes, and the families within them. Perhaps even the creative nature of these projects themselves could serve as a way to understand this theme, in the name of the “Originality” of the creative thought process.