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Riding the Trail of Tears – Hausman

During the reading of the Riding the Trail of Tears, I found the concept of having a loop very interesting. The loop itself can be seen as a continuous cycle that is re-lived and recycled within the system. The misfits said, “Every time the loop starts over, so do we…With each new loop, we all begin again.” The loop can be interpreted as something that is life-giving (giving life to those who existed within the Trail of Tears), but at the same time, it can also be seen as a never-ending cycle/loop violence and history which is altered or influenced by capitalism (Ride is made for the sake of ‘entertainment’). When the misfits describe how the ‘suits’ come to kill them again and again, it shows the violence that exists within the system, while also making us as the audience express sympathy or feel pity for these indigenous data/programs that reside within the grey area of the system. The loop is constantly brought back to the audience which makes it an important symbol (from the front cover to Tallulah’s dreams to the VR system itself) After reading this novel, I feel that the existence of VR technology can definitely simplify our methods of education in areas such as history, but at the same time, if it is focused on entertaining the audience, it takes the core aspect of learning away and replaces the facts and purpose with entertainment of the audience (ultimately undermining the purpose of having VR for education).

Dabydeen – Slave Song

Slave Song by Dabydeen was a very interesting read, as it provided a point of view that isn’t romanticized or sugarcoated, which gives it more depth in its depiction of the British colonization of the Guyana. I specifically looked into the poem Slave Song and how it uses sadistic sexual violence to depict the abusive/violent colonizers and the powerless servants who can only conquer their masters through their imagination. The servant tries to liberate himself through the use of phallic imagery such as when he says, “But yu caan stap me cack floodin in de goldmine / Caan stap me cack splashin in de sunshine”. The liberating tone is evoked through phallic representation of the male penetrating the female through the words ‘floodin’ and ‘splashin’. The gold and the sun can be a phallic symbol of the female gentile which is depicted as rich and warm and the male sex symbol of the cack is represented as violent through its forceful actions. Also, the poem draws interesting comparisons between the servant and animals, as it states, “Look how e’ya leap from bush to bush like a lack crappau / Seeking out a watahole / Blind by de sunflare, tongue like a dussbowl”. There is a sense of being desperate which is representational of the lack of control that the black servant has and is at the mercy of his masters. At the same time, the waterhole can be symbolic of his imagination which is what reliefs him from the stress and is in a metaphorical sense life-giving. This poem uses the servant’s mental conquest for the master’s wife to add depth towards how the servant seeks hope in the dire situation through the manipulation of his imagination. In order to survive and have hope, imagination functions as a lifeline that keeps him alive and has the will to live on.

The Sandman – Hoffmann

Through the reading of The Sandman by Hoffmann, I found the link between the symbol of eyes and Nathanael’s mentality being affected by the character created from his mind, Coppelius. I believe the eyes can be seen as a symbol for one’s clarity of vision and mind, as Nathanael often loses sight/vision as he gets closer towards the imagined figure of Coppelius the Sandman.

The eyes of the characters in the story reflect a lot about their personality, as demonstrated through the characters Coppelius and Clara. Coppelius’s eyes are described as “two greenish cat’s eyes” which illustrates the beast-like and wild aspect of Coppelius’s personality since he is the figure who haunts and torments Nathanael’s eyes. On the other hand, Clara’s eyes are described as the “Ruysdael lake, in which were reflected the pure azure of the cloudless sky, the tract of forest and flowers, and the whole variegated and merry life of the opulent landscape”. The clarity in Clara’s eyes can be seen as the logic and reason which is lacking in the eyes of the protagonist Nathanael, thus making it significant when Nathanael choose to blindly follow the eyes of Olimpia. When Nathanael saw himself in the eyes of Olimpia and rejected Clara, it can be interpreted as how Nathanael submits to the madness of Coppelius and rejects all from the logic and reason that he had. Also, the difference between the eyes of Clara and Olimpia can be a metaphor of how Nathanael transitions between reality and the world created from his twisted hatred of Coppelius. When Nathanael mentions “the circle of fire” he tends to lose sight of reality and plunge into the darkness of Coppelius. Clara’s eyes being symbolic of reason and logic plays a key role in bringing sense into the visions and eyes of Nathanael, thus keeping him from being consumed by the shadow of Coppelius the Sandman.

The unknown that he had feared was just a part of him that he tried so hard to reject, but in the end, Nathanael ultimately became the Sandman that he had feared so much as a child. Coppelius can be seen as an alternate personality that Nathanael had and slowly consumed him as he failed to see reason and accept his own false reality.