Liverpool-the anthem of our class

As everyone may or may not know, Dr.Campbell is leaving Mary Washington after this school year.

This really came as a blow to many. Most, if not all students involved with the english department know that Doctor C is perhaps one of the more inspiring instructors around. His ability to bring others to reflect critically on material and bridge reality and the experience to the works of artists is unparalleled. One individual in particular confided in me that he or she was in tears upon recieving the news. For this is individual, Dr.Campbell was almost a father figure, and someone admired deeply.

As for myself, the news shatters a lot of my conceptions about my education here. Dr.Campbell was my academic advisor and instructor for my freshman seminar. I planned on taking his intro to literary studies course next semester, and looked foward to many helpful, yet rigorous lessons in writing, reading, and life. I saw Dr.Campbell as someone to help guide me through the confusion of college, and someone to aspire to.

A lot of people, have expressed their grief about his departure, some have been furious, some even attempted at finding rationalization of it, trying to understand what Mary Washington did wrong. But maybe it wasn’t Mary Washington that did anyone wrong. after all, did we graduate from our high schools because they betrayed us?

I feel as though I understand, in some degree, Dr.Campbell’s decision to leave. It’s a feeling that everyone gets from time to time, and it doesn’t need reasoning, although it can accompany it. It’s just that gut feeling that means it’s time to move on. We all probably felt at sometime throughout our education. the feeling that something has been seen and done, and that more things await.

As for the rest of us, I take it almost as a point of reflection. Dr.Campbell has taught us all many lessons about initiative and accomplishment. It reminds me of many stories of coming of age where something similar happens: Gandalf falls, Dumbledore dies, Splinter is kidnapped, Dad goes off to war. All of these stories had the powerful and wise sage disappear, only to leave the adolescent characters to fend for themselves. Maybe its just a cliche archetype or maybe its more. Maybe this an opportunity for us to take the lessons Dr.Campbell’s lessons and apply them. the assignment of the week point of our lives is over. It’s time to start shaping our dreams into realities.

I for one know the direction i wish to head. as the last few entries acknowledged, times of change are here. I feel like now more than ever I have a sense of what i am doing and why i am doing it. I don’t have an exact plan, but i have a moivation and drive, and thats more important than anything.

I’m gonna make the album Dr.C…just you wait…..=)

Fighters

This semester has been one of comfort. I for one came back after the winter break and felt right back at home. But there are a few things that have changed, and these changes have been pretty drastic. Soon construction on campus will be complete and new facilities on campus will be available. Our new president has veen selected, and soon enough she will take office and introduce a slew of changes. many faculty members are leaving, moving on to bigger and better things. And, as always, the seniors are departing, entering the real world.

It is hard to find criticism of the school and it’s practices. nearly everything, from dining, to housing and occassionally even academics falls under scrutiny. but what I think people fail to realise is that this our opportunity. With the campus in the state of metamorphisis that is, we are a major factor in the sculpting of the image of the school. to continue to whie and complain without offering any alternative or any action, one just reinforced the negativity and doesn’t bring about anything worthwhile.

this I think, speaks to one of the themes of the class. Dr.C has continuously motivated us to go out and take initative and to take the reigns of our own projects. This situation is exactly that. there is no blueprint for what campus should be. In short, it can be whatever we make it.This our chacne to recreate our campus into a place that reflects and respects our beings in a way that we can truly take pride in our surroundings. this is our opportunity to “make the damn album” and quite honestly I feel its something that needs to be attempted.

watching the dream fade

So i have finished this rigorous semester, and among many hard learned lessons I can say this much for sure: I am not going to major in physics, nor will I even venture to try.

This sounds like something basic that I should have learned some time ago, but no. I once dreamed of being a physicist. I longed to make long and accurate calculations about life and to be able to understand the various occurences of existence. with the realization of how dry calculus is, and how dificult it is to understand physics to that level, I must let the dream of being an erudite scientist, with know-how about nearly everything.

It makes me wonder about others, and their dreams(or fantasys rather). I feel like the point where the dream meets reality is always an underwhelming one. For instance, I feel like Ringo Starr has these same sort of feelings in his song liverpool. The dream of the 60’s was one that was meant to last forever. But they didn’t. maybe in some ways that is cession to miller, but also I think it’s true. Even now, as I plan to become a professor of either philosophy or english, I am forced to consider that the life I know dream of and plan is never going to be. Even, within this semester, I am forced to realize the plans of having certain professors in my senior year are impossible.

These dreams, that are doomed to never manifest, are what we are told to hold on to. are we holding on to lies? Are we forever reaching for the unreachable? Is this what we are fated, dissappointment?

But what else do we have?

So come and skate with me…

Hey everyone,
As the class comes to an end, I feel like I owe, to some degree, an explanation. Personally, and I say this only because I feel like there was something I meant to get across that didn’t quite make it’s way across the bridge.

What I want to get across to everyone is why Lupe Fiasco means so much to me.

If you are actually reading this after that last line, I thank you for not riding this off as “I’m going to swoon over Lupe Fiasco for a blog post”. Lupe Fiasco holds a lot of personal meaning to me, especially with the song “Kick Push”. I felt like, although I knew what it was that I wanted to say, I didn’t adequately convey it during my presentation.

Throughout my Life, growing in an area as diverse as Northern Virginia, I was always around many different groups of people. The friends I made as a child were of all different backgrounds. Because of this, I was influenced by many things, Not just my own culture, and as a result, I didn’t become the typical african american male. I was always fine with this, until one day someone slapped a nasty label on me “white”. It became obvious to me now that there were certain things that just weren’t acceptable in the black community, and “betraying your roots” was one of them.

From that point on, Life became a struggle of balancing identities. there was a part of me that liked all the popular music on BET, I mean, that stuff sounds cool and makes you want to move. But, I liked art; expression was something that I liked. The rappers in the media might make a lot of money, but at the end of the day, what did it all mean? and it didn’t end with music, clothes, sports, language…the antagonism never really ended.

But the worse part of it all, was that it never seemed enough. I could do talk one way and dress the same way, but at my core, I was still a nerd! Video games were always cool. Science fiction movies, couldn’t get enough. Even, dare I say it, school! Learning about things, thinking deeply about the world, that was (the borrow a Lupeism) my cool. but it wasn’t neccessarily a black one.

what made things even more complicated was maintaining the dichotomy. Carrying a binder full of school supplies and a copy of the Hobbit while wearing was baggy jeans and timberlands was just not something you saw a lot. and vice versa, although more tolerant, playing Diablo II and listening to Nas made some eyes bug out. But by far, the worse was in class. surrounded by the prep school preteens, in the classrooms for the enriched, with girls who flipped hair and lifted noses before looking me in the eye, and ignorant guys who always asked me if I was “thuggin’ it” or “keepin’ it real”, but nobody who I could really call a friend, middle school was rough. I spent a decent amount of time just questioning everything. I was in advanced classes, scoring high on tests, but ranked with the most uninteresting people around. I spent a lot of time just trying to find somewhere to be, somewhere that would just be fine with what I was, and all that I was.

It wasn’t for a while that I found others who were in my position, and sometimes it wasn’t the same situation, but parallel ones. It took a long time, and there were a lot of hard falls( identity issues make dating a nightmare for anybody who doesn’t know). but one day, I just realized it all. It didn’t really have one culminating moment, it just came about overtime. It didn’t really make sense, but nothing did. It didn’t make sense that people gave themselves up to be cool. it didn’t make sense that no matter what happened in somebody’s eyes I wasn’t cool. but what did matter, at the end of it all, was that I thought I was cool. because at the end of the day, that was the only one i had to live with.

and so I became me, the poet, video game player, philosophizing, fantasy lovin’ me. I became vocal when I wanted to, hung out with whoever I wanted. I listened to what I wanted to, wore what I liked, played the games I thought were interesting. I still met opposition, from those militant few who just couldnt handle something that didn’t understand,and i still do, but I pressed on “Just a rebel in the world with no place to go.”

by no means do I think my scenario is special. This is something that a lot of people face. This is the interpretation I draw from Kick Push. just like skateboarders, people who don’t fit into society’s categories are met with hostiliy. Simply put they are just looking for a place to be. This why I love Kick Push so much. It, to me, is the anthem of the individual, the one who is willing to go against the grain, and be themselves.

Sorry to ramble, just had to let my feelings known.

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco was born as Wasalu Muhammad Jaco on February 17, 1982 in Chicago, Illinois. He was raised by a family with diverse background as the fifth child of nine, with an engineer, a prolific African Drummer, and a karate sensei as a father and a gourmet cook as mother. In the eighth grade He began to try his hand at rapping, despite his discontent with the vulgarity of mainstream Hip-Hop. At age 19, Lupe began to perform with a group known as “Da Pak”, and began his underground career. Throughout his career, Lupe has been with many record Labels Including Epic, Arista, and Atlantic; his current and final label however is 1st & 15th. Lupe has released two Albums, Food & Liquor and The Cool, and has released countless mixtapes in the underground rapping circuit.
When a rapper first hit single is about skateboarding, one can only expect big, revolutionary things to come. Lupe Fiasco’s “Kick, Push”, a song about a young skate boarder rejected by society and, as the song states, “just a rebel looking for a place to be”. Lupe wowed his audiences once again with “Daydreamin’” featuring Jill Scott, another song with an unusual prospect (this time around a giant robot with hedonistic parties happening on his body). These songs are a few of the reasons why Lupe Fiasco is considered to be the Hip-Hop generation’s next Vanguard. His lyrical abilities, intricate use of interpretative metaphor, socially conscious themes, and Mass appeal have attracted music lovers from all walks of life, creeds, and genres. Lupe himself is heavily influenced by anime/otaku culture, skateboarding, Islam, video games and comic books. His self-definition, ability to free himself from the stereotypes of rappers, “nerds”, and African Americans is what makes him the voice of not only a generation but of a culture.
The buzz generated at Miami Vice when Lupe Fiasco was first rumored to be making an appearance was grand. People of all different backgrounds came together to listen to a truly original artist. The first song Lupe played was his first single from “The Cool”, “Superstar”. The song did a great job of getting everybody in the audience energized a ready for an exciting show. From there he went into a very touching performance of “Hip-Hop saved my Life” with Sarah Greene. The crowd swayed back and forth as Lupe delivered a tale of a struggling man, using Hip-Hop’s mass appeal to put food on his child’s plate and deliver his family out of poverty. Lupe ended the night with the classic track, “Kick, Push”. The Audience went into a loud cry of ecstacy as the violin opening began. A song that on face value was about a skateboarder looking for a place was, on that night, an anthem for everyone in the audience. It was not merely the story of a adolescent on a skateboard, it was the tale of anyone who ever felt they just needed a place to be themselves.

2pac rest in peace

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on June 16 1971 in East Harlem. As a teenager he attended the Baltimore School of the Arts, where he gained an appreciation for the arts of all genres. He became popular amongst his classmates for his sense of humor, rapping skills, and ability to relate to different groups of people. Tupac began his musical career with Digital Underground and would later break from the group to create his first Album, 2pacalypse Now, with Death Row Records. His affiliations with Death Row would lead him to the infamous clash with Bad Boy records that ultimately lead to his demise. On September 7 1996, Tupac Shakur was shot in a drive by manner, and passed away on the September 13th.
Tupac is often criticized for his violent and graphic lyrics, along with his suggestive themes of drugs, sex, and gang activity. These criticisms often depict him in a way that never reveals his musical and artistic talent. Tupac’s music is true music. The violence that his lyrics entail aren’t fabrications made for money, but art meant to express the desperation and hopeless feeling of those living in the inner city. Tupac’s wrote his music for the people who live in poverty; the revolution he sparks is one to liberate those who cannot liberate themselves. The side of Tupac that often goes untold is the one shown by songs like “Keep Ya head up”, “Better Dayz”, and “Life Goes on”, that preach messages of perseverance, peace, and Love for fellow human beings. . Those who claim that his blatant vulgarity is unnecessary are only indicative of the Thing Tupac wished to end: the ignorance as to the reality of those living in poverty in the United States.
As Tupac came out on to the stage of Miami Vice, the crowd roared and began to dance and sway to the rhythm of “I Get Around”, one of the first hits from when Tupac’s ties with Digital Underground where strong. The song is probably one of the candidates for the anthem of the nineties. Filled with lyrical tricks that still sound clever even after years of radio play. As the night progressed Tupac slowed the night down with “Bury Me a G”, a track with a sampled melody from the Isley brothers “Livin’ for the Love of You”. The crowd grew silent, and began sway back and forth with the beat. It was as though everyone in the Audience was thinking the same thing. It was a warm August, a month later and Tupac would be in the ER fighting for his life. The Tensions between Bad Boy and Death Row had been worse than ever before. Everyone knew it; I’d Be willing to bet they also knew that the face of their revolution was living his last days. I bet they were all listening. Taking notes from the lyrics, as to give him his respectful burial when he died. It was as though Tupac rapped his will and testament that night. It haunted the room with its resounding words “Even when I die, they won’t worry me, Mama don’t cry, Bury Me a G.”

Such Great Heights

This weekend I discovered that one of my favorite songs from an “indie” band has multiple covers from many different bands. The song is (as the title alludes) “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service. The first cover I heard was from a band that is still gaining popularity called “The Wrong Trousers”. I heard of this band from a friend who actually knew the band before they even became recognized by the musical community at all. Another group, known as “Iron and Wine” produced a cover of the song for the movie garden state. It was interesting to see how the bands went about the same initial concept. The song is about the ideals of love and how love can seem so divine and fated when in fact one is indeed just upon a great height, waiting to fall to the ground and realize reality. The version made by “The Wrong Trousers” had a genuine raw feel to it that captured the emotion more purely and was a much lessed processed product. The “Iron and Wine” rendition took a less happy tone towards the topic and had a very slow tempo of the sadness that will ensue from the illusion. This aspect of art-the interpretation of a single concept in multiple ways- is something I that the idea of covers in rock and roll takes to new levels.
This particular concept of Musical translation (into other arts and other musics) is something that I have often thought of, especially in high school, when I began to experiment with performance poetry. Slam poetry, one of the more popular forms of poetry today, has often drawn in hip hop artists and vice versa. The connection between the two art forms in undeniable, and is also one that I believe is often lost. For example, before Kanye West released “All Falls Down”, he debuted it on Def Poetry. Lupe Fiasco began both Food and Liquor and The Cool with his sister, Iesha Jaco delivering slam poetry. the more one delves into the deep lyrical focus of non-mainstream hip hop, the blurrier the line grows between Slam and rap. The difficulty I ran into here was the definition of myself as an artist, did I want to be a rapper or did I want to be a poet?
One of the things that post-modern philosophy as helped to teach me is that these sorts of questions are what deny creative and artistic affirmation it’s full potential. Now looking back on the days of my youth and the quetsions I face artistically, I realized that the attempts to define and articulate my artistic existence were essentially trying to force myself into tight little spaces and to limit myself. Artistically, this is suicide. the goal of the artist is, in my opinion, transcedence. Maybe not spiritual transcedenceor enlightenment, but definately the ascending of ideas and emotions. It is an artist job to take the intangible and reincarnate it. In each incarnation, not only a new life is created, but new planes of existence and sentiment are realized. The goal of the artist should always be to surpass the limits of the ordinary experience, and that will always be a never ending frontier. As what was yesterday’s revolution becomes today’s institution, I feel that it’s important that artist’s realize that every experience they have is in one way or another a reincarnation of themselves. As a wise friend of mine once said “measuring things often destroys their inherent perfection or beauty.overanalyzing, measuring, quantifying, and defining destroys part of the very thing we’re trying to comprehend.” I feel that this theory while paralyzing to the sciences is something that all artist should never forget. My hope is that, as I begin to enter the poetry community of Mary Washington, I am able to spread this message, inspiring others to seek such affirmation and cultivation of the self.

G.O.D. by Common,

this post is in reflection of the lesson that Dr.Campbell gave yesterday about music and dreams. At one glance, I figured the things that he was telling us were things that we all may have known, but that deserved a little extra emphasis. It wasn’t until about 5 minutes ago, During my Friday wine down time, that I listened to the song G.O.D. from Common’s album “One Day it will All make sense”. The song is a beautiful work of art that speaks to religon as what should unite people, and makes a very interesting message about how the things that should bring us together, in the end become the things that will tear us apart. The lyrics are powerful, but I also believe that the way the instruments themselves are employed contributes to the beauty of the song.
The point of this post contains no religous affiliation ( I may be the most Agnostic person in existence) but rather I feel that this song contains a bit of the things that Dr.Campbell discussed. For instance, the Dream portrayed and preached by this song is something I wish existed not only upon the religous aspect, but on the political spectrum. I live in a dorm with many individuals. One of the first people I met when I was here is a libertarian atheist, I consider him to be one of my best friends. Although we differ in our opinions of metaphysical existences, I will still value his companionship long after we are living down the hall from one another and probably as long as time allows me. Another set of friends I have are Liberal, and yet another Conservative. I feel as though the ability for multiple groups here to not only co-exist but to be friends amongst one another, implies greater scenarios for peace. Not only the constantly preached World peace, but of a greater peace in society. In all honesty, who is willing to say that they feel that there is an antagonism free atmosphere at Mary Washington, or anywhere? The ideal at hand here is one that could revolutionize not only the larger scale of being, but the smaller, everday things.
The issue naturally is as impossible as all of is the seminar becoming famous music stars. But the dream, that’s where it all lies. at the concept of the infinite that can only grow out of our experiences, essentially our beings. I do believe it is our nature to dream, our goals that we set for ourselves become proof of that. which brings me to the second song. Ordinary People, we look to our dreams for guidance I think, which is generally frowned upon by society. SImply put, Just as John Legend claims it is impossible to leave those dreams without reality keeping us in check; our self narritives never really involve reasonable or actual ontologies. Maybe we dream because we are just selfish and greedy, maybe the bounty of existence isnt enough for us. Or maybe we dream because we are hopeful, and we wish for the greatness of our visions to come true as existence reaching its bountiful potential? Or maybe we do because we have nothing better to do. I think the point is that Dr.Campbell’s message about dreams yesterday is one worht serious consideration, and one that no matter how often it’s told, will always use another reminder for us, so that we can all one day “make the damn album”, because Life will never be the fancy jukebox, record player, cd, mp3, or Ipod music player that we hope it to be without them.

A puff of Pink Floyd, a shot of Sean Kingston, a line of Lupe Fiasco.

After a long night of working on lab write ups for physics, monday morning seemed to lag endlessly after only an hour. the worst of it was the exhaustion after less than hour of class. as I sat in seacobeck, I began to assess my resources and see what I could find to help keep me awake. Somehow, the same mountain dew that fueled the insomnia the previous night wasn’t going to myself. As I realised that I possessed no particular substances of mind altering natures, I looked to the only things I had on my persons, a wallet, a key, some gum, a cell phone, and an Ipod.
Money, as pleasurable as it may be at times, is not really exciting enough to keep me awake. Some may find dead men when with outrageous facial hair and wigs invigorating; I, however, am not of said persuasion. The key was pretty useless. In fact, I think I wasted more energy thinking about the key than the key key gave in return. The gum helped: chewing gave me some minor physical labor to get the blood flowing. But still I was not yet awake enough to make it through the day. The cell phone was tempting; the thought of annoying someone at this hour was a happy one. Unfortuantely, an altruistic urge surged through me, ruling out this option. All that was left was the Ipod…
As I placed the earbuds in my ears, and selected a song with the wheel (the piece of choice was “The hand that feeds” by Nine Inch Nails) I had a first hand experience of the direct effects of music. I had noticed it before, but perhaps because I was in such a dejected and downtrodden mood the effect was more noticeable. It was as though my energy had been supplemented by that of the electric guitar. Music is truly a unique art form in that in “speaks without words”. All other art has to be heavily interpreted. The mind must analyze and draw reasonable conlusions in order to read poetry or fully respect a piece of visual artwork. but music is instantaneous and in an almost drug-like sense (from research and heresay-not experience). It almost makes sense when one considers the amount of musicians who fall prey to the pitfalls of addiction. True artists have such a passion for what they do that whenever they are not doing it there is an emptiness that overcomes them. Take a look at your favorite artist when they are live the next time you have a chance. Look at the expressions upon the face of utter ecstasy. Where else can one experience this feeling? It is apparent as to the impulse that leads these musicians to make the choices they do(whether they are justified is a different question).
Just thought I’d share my thoughts and an anecdote.

Last Tuesday’s Class

For those who were in class on Tuesday, I would just like to thank everyone for a very deep and philosophical discussion about music and essentially life. I just wanted to spend some time here just fleshing the question I asked and the argument I presented. As for the attention garnered for being “Eloquent” and “Philosophical”, it’s just something I do, and occasionally it gets sickening and it distances people at times. I have been called “academically arrogant”, I don’t mean to assert some intellectual muscle over everyone, I just enjoy critical approaches to life, art and basically anything that can get deeper than the surface. I invite others to do the same.
Essentially, The 60’s were a time of renaissance. This is a point that goes ignored largely by intellectuals all over the world. The western culture shifted from a monotonous rhythm of living for work, family, and country. The 60’s changed that, the liason between music and spirituality exploded into a philosophy and arguably a religon. The fact that music about life, essentially grounded in the experience of an individual living during those times, had a connection that not only transcended “sounding good” and could be a defining part of existence( consider Doctor C’s lecture about Orpheus and the music of the spheres, these apply to this point and help explain my references). This ideology (and yes it is an Ideology) is an extension of transcendentalism in the sense of discovering a divine essence that is achievable by the individual through an art. I would argue that this is the driving mentality behind events like woodstock, spiritual trancedence through music.
To say that this transition was an illusion is to ignore the existence of the belief of transcedence through art today. I would argue that nearly many academic disciplines believe in the possibility of transcedence. Take any art. A driving force behind any art, for both the aritst and the observer, is the cathartic experience. The feeling of connection between the art and the individual is something that has not only been present throughout probably all of history, but is something that I think is still in existence. What the 60’s revolution did was add a sort of spiritual aspect to it all. It took this aspect of life and made it the focus; the cathartic experience was seen as the path to transcedence. I personally am willing to argue that this particular paradigm shift has not died entirely. For example this weekend, I watched a movie called “Rocket Science” that deals with the activity of Policy Debate and an shy, stuttering adolescence’s journey as he trys to become a part of the activity and do other things that are a part of the adolescent focus. One of the major themes of the movie is an extremely existential one, a message that life does not and will not conform to one’s understanding or intepretation of it. Through out the movie the plot seems to take on a certain manifestation as a story of love or a story of triumph; but in the end neither outcome the audience comes to expect comes to be at the end of the movie. The movie illustrates that life is and that is all, all adjectives and attributes are things that we assign to life and therefore have limited relevance to life. the movie’s impact upon me is astounding. It has had an effect upon the way I view life as a whole. This morning in my day to day routine, I realized that all these events merely are and that I give them their releveance to my own life. I believe this is a modern day impact of the 60s: the ability for art to have metaphysical influence and meaning. This is how one can call the revolution a success. It changed the world through modifying convential thinking.
For Miller to argue that the revolution or “turning point” was entirely a failure is not entirely true. Think to another revolution in history for example:the French revolution. This revolution was defined as a rejection of the hierachal society and essentially the notion of one individual ruling over all. This revolution went through various stages, one of the more notable ones being a reign of terror were anyone of aristocratic affiliation or in support of the ruling parties was killed. This revolution ended with a France accpeting a single leader, Napoleon Bonaparte. Even with these truths in mind, I dont know a single person who would say that the revolution had zero impact upon the world. What is the criteria for the success or failure of a revolution? Who determines this criteria? Once these questions arise, It is more than obvious that Miller’s view of the 60’s is a subjective tunnel that refuses to step outside of the personal boundaries and experiences and embrace a more universal view where it is possible to comprehend that what could seem like a failed revolution could truly be an point of influence that molds history even in the present and proabably into the future.

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