June 5, 2014 · 7:43 am
This is an excellent installment that deals with some deep social issues, particularly segregation and the hardships faced by people living on the edge of society.
Liminal people are individuals who are transitory or exist on the fringe. Most often, they are homeless or migrant workers, people who have not been able to occupy a space within the construct we call “normal society.” Often, seeing luminal people makes us uncomfortable. There could be several reasons for this: fear that we are just a few paychecks away from losing what we have; a sense of guilt or shame at seeing others that we cannot aid; and yes, self-righteous disdain and disregard for people we judge as lazy and hence inferior to ourselves.
Issue #3 opens with a scene in a tent city, where homeless people on the fringe of society have tried to build a community for themselves. Like all luminal groups, mainstream society does not want to see them or think about them, and the government officials are quick to find reasons to displace these individuals, pushing them farther away from society.
Female agent: The man you aided…Magneto…is a wanted terrorist.
Homeless man: I…I only gave him soup.
Male agent: Tell us where he went and this will go much better for you.
Homeless man: If I could help you, I would.
Female agent: I hope you understand we feel the same way. We may have additional questions for you. In the meantime, one of the officers will be along shortly to help you…in moving off-site.
Homeless man: But…this…is our home.
I lived in South Florida for many years. That area boasts an abundance of gated communities intended to provide a sense of safety and security to those who choose to live enclosed by gates and walls. It is, in essence, a self-inflicted segregation, separating themselves from others who they fear, who may be different, and who do not fit into the same social mold. I lived in one of these places and I can assure you, there is no sense of community there. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I actually felt more isolated in this manufactured “community” than I do in my current, organic and integrated neighborhood.
In this issue of Magneto, the humans who fear the mutants seek to create their own “gated community” which will provide them with their false sense of protection against those who are different and hence threatening.
“This is meant to be a peaceful refuge for humans…for those who fear what mutants might do…what they might become. Once the facility is complete…we’ll be protected. We’ll be protected because we’ll be segregated.”
This comic forces us to take a hard look at ourselves, at our beliefs and our actions. The media has a tendency to fuel the fires of fear and many respond in a manner that is not in the best interest of society. We extract ourselves, isolating from those that we do not understand and hence make us feel afraid. Fear is often the root of social injustice. I think it is a pretty safe assumption that a society based on fear is doomed to fail. I hope that we can replace some of our fear with trust and acceptance.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read my post.
Filed under Literature
Tagged as comics, community, Florida, fringe, geek, government, graphic novel, homelessness, injustice, liminal, Magneto, Marvel, media, nerd, pop culture, reading, review, segregation, social change, society, superhero, x-men
December 15, 2013 · 9:53 am
This poem is fairly long, so for those who need, here is a link to read it online:
Overall, this poem gave me the impression that it was inspired by the classic children’s bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.
But in addition to echoing the theme from the children’s prayer, Blake adds his own symbolism, building on the foundation and creating something that is uniquely his own.
In the first two stanzas, there are references to flowers and blossoms, which are symbolic of young girls’ virginity in most of Blake’s poems. Blake describes the angels pouring blessings and joy “On each bud and blossom, / And each sleeping bosom.” I get the impression that the angels are not only blessing the young virgins, but also protecting them from the abuse and assault that may occur at night.
In the third stanza, we see the angels comforting the birds in their nests and the beasts in their caves. It appears that sorrow and unrest haunt the animals, which leads me to interpret them as symbolic of the poor and homeless children of London, seeking shelter wherever they can.
The fourth stanza turns dark, as the wolves and tygers of the night begin to prey upon the unsuspecting innocents as they sleep. The angels try to protect them, but are often unable to do so. Instead, they “receive each mild spirit” and guide them to Heaven.
In the final two stanzas, Christ accepts the souls of the children. Here, Christ is symbolized by the lion whose eyes “flow with tears of gold” as a display of deep, holy sorrow at the loss of the innocent children. The poem concludes with the image of the lion lying down with the sheep, protecting the flock, which is comprised of the souls of the children who were taken from the world too, too early.
This is a perfect example of Blake’s poetic genius. He beautifully weaves his words together in a way that evokes conflicting emotions: joy and sadness; comfort and unease; love and anger; hope and despair. Right now, my feelings are so confused by this poem that it’s hard for me to nail down exactly how I feel. But that’s the goal of poetry, to stir emotion.
Filed under Literature
Tagged as angels, books, children, Christ, emotion, English, flowers, heaven, homelessness, lion, night, Now I lay me down to sleep, poems, poetry, poets, poverty, prayer, reading, romanticism, songs of innocence, symbolism, tyger, virginity, William Blake
November 30, 2013 · 11:03 am
Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces clean
The children walking two & two in red & blue & green
Grey-headed beadles walkd before with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flow
O what a multitude they seemd these flowers of London town
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own
The hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs
Thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among
Beneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poor
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door
I confess that when I read this, I was lost as to the meaning of the poem, mainly because I had absolutely no idea what Holy Thursday was. So I did a quick search and discovered that Holy Thursday, in Catholic tradition, is the Thursday before Easter when Jesus held the last supper. At that point, the poem began to make sense to me.
The scene that Blake describes seems innocent enough, but as is the case with most poems in The Songs of Innocence, there is a sense that below the surface, something is wrong. In this case, it is the hypocrisy of the church. The children are paraded into St. Paul’s cathedral in a display of charity and kindness, but it is really just a show and does not appear to be genuine. The children are poor and probably homeless, which can be determined by the fact that Blake points out in the first line that their faces are clean, implying that this is not how they normally appear. I got the impression that to show how charitable the church is, they cleaned and fed a group of homeless children just to show them off.
At the end of the poem, Blake entreats the church elders to practice what they preach, to have pity on the poor, hungry children who crowded London’s streets and to not drive them from their door, but instead offer them comfort and food. Just as Christ fed the poor and starving, so should the church.
Once I was in a car with a co-worker going out for dinner, which was being paid for by the company we worked for. On the corner was a homeless person with a sign begging money for food. The person I was with callously yelled out, “Get a job!” I lost all respect for that person. I understand that you cannot give to every starving person, but you can at least have sympathy for those who are less fortunate. And that is the message in this poem: cherish pity. You may not be able to help everyone who needs help, but at least have compassion for another human who is suffering.
Filed under Literature
Tagged as book reviews, books, Catholic, charity, children, Christ, church, compassion, English, homelessness, hunger, hypocrisy, Jesus, literature, London, poems, poetry, poets, poverty, reading, romanticism, songs of innocence, sympathy, William Blake
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