Reflection on a small place

Agnessa Elman

20 October 2017

Even though I did not read Jamaica Kincaid’s book, the discussions and research I have participated in independently, have allowed me to get a slight grasp on not only the context of “A Small Place”, but its relevance to the United States. The United States, is a big melting pot, implying that the culture of the US is a large division of many different ethnicities and people that all have impacted and influenced the uniqueness of the United States. In Antigua, the small island that Kincaid is from, and that she writes about in her book, suffers a lot from its deficiency of pure culture, due to western civilizations adding their own manifestations from colonization. I noticed how her piece is relevant to the important topic of “disruption week,” because both her piece and this perspective allow people to reflect on the Earth and its place in human lives and activity. Disruption week has brought up a lot of discussions, as individuals engage in thoughtful conversations about it, because of how impactful and historical it is to recognize inequality after 400 years. I think it is important to be informed about “disruption week,” because it allows individuals to reflect on the past to provide a better and greater future. I understand both the book and this concept to support the idea of historical consciousness. Historical consciousness is a person’s collective sense of their history and shared awareness, impacting decisions made by people.
Disruption week also serves a purpose to allow people to deliberate about social change. Kincaid’s book showed its readers that the local people of this island were mistreated. The unequal opportunities relate to today’s society because workers (such as immigrants, women, and people of color) do not all get the same paycheck. People that visited Antigua were not motivated to visit the island for its true roots and indigenous people but motivated for self-pleasure. Most of the workers in the book she mentions, relied on tourists to make enough money to support themselves and their families. This type of treatment has caused a big clash in not only their culture deficiency but proves that unequal opportunities for people continue to exist today.
In today’s society, climate change is also a big topic that is discussed throughout disruption and is discussed in disruption week. The place Antigua, known for its superficial features and beauty, have distracted people from realizing not only the culture crisis but the unequal advantage that the indigenous people face. The United States is a big contributor to climate change, because of the amount of carbon emission from livestock and energy that gets emitted into the air daily. Social change not only needs to be committed towards equal opportunities to people but to the Earth as well (we see this in today’s society and in the book.)
Recognizing how after 400 years, social change and impact is still in the work of progress is a big wake up call. Acknowledging how the USA has placed itself in the world of many people and their view on historical consciousness. It is important to use the past to help format best outcomes for the future. Jamaica Kincaid’s book and Disruption week, both reach out to communities realizing the need for social change. Climate change, culture crisis and today’s work opportunities in both the island and the US, show people that as we continue to bring awareness towards social change, the more likely it will be to improve it. We need the memories of the past, like the 400 year anniversary, to remind us our current place in time and how it may affect the future.

Compare and Contrast

Agnessa Elman

The two works, “Farther Away” and an expert from “Skating into the Antartica,” both give the reader a sense of independence and longing. The way that the writer presents their passages and their own use of diction throughout the stories, deals a lot with the idea of isolation. After reading both pieces I questioned a couple ideas including being trapped mentally and physically and the way that both authors presented their tones to the audience.
We find out from background research that the author of “Skating into the Antartica,” Jenny Diski, faces mental illness. She wrote this non-fiction book through a troubled time and throughout Franzen’s essay, we figure out that his dear friend’s suicide, and ashes, and his homesickness really grow on him. Both writers set on adventures with a lot of baggage, yet see the world in marvelous ways. “The setting was spectacular—sweeping hills, volcanic peak, whitecaps ocean” (Franzen’s description of the island towards the end of the essay.)
Both readers face isolation mentally (with their troubles) and find ways to reckon with it, through writing. Georgia and Masafurea could figuratively be represented as their minds, and the struggles they face with their self-discoveries. Diski does slightly talk about being alone in her essay, and Franzen does as well. Both use their trauma or pain to guide them throughout their journeys, and both can relate to the idea of being trapped emotionally in their minds, and physically on the island and town.
Both writers used a generous amount of figurative language and literary devices, which help the reader imagine their destinations and sights. I personally did like Diski’s literary devices, because it helped give a more intimate dialogue between the reader and herself through the passage. I found her to tend to romanticize her descriptions of landscapes and observations, “the sea as flat as a pancake and blue as the sky,” which at times I found to be extremely phony. Franzen is a lot more honest in his writing and expresses himself more simply. “I hadn’t felt so homesick since, possibly, the last time I’d camped by myself.” I feel as though he did a more productive job at relating his essay to himself, while Diski used her observations to create opinions. I found the way they connected to the readers to be very different as well. Diski used the second person in the writing. She questioned the audience a couple times, with a sarcastic tone and became a little persuasive in her writing when talking about whales. Franzen observed many details on his journey but related the passage to himself so much, at times it felt like a diary entry.
Personally, I was not a big fan of either piece, but I think it gave me an interesting perspective to compare and contrast these two works. I think it was important to see how reality and everyday life (Jenny Diski’s mental illness) might add to ones writing, as well as how personal an author can make trauma in relation to a journey. Comparing their works in reference to being trapped psychically and mentally was an innovative way to look at the texts. Even though both authors gave me a similar idea, flowing the passage with honesty or literary devices, made all the difference.

Reflection 1 on Traveling

Agnessa Elman
12 September 2017
Writing the essay one
Reflection on Travel Writing

To me, I find it extremely fascinating how easy it is to access ways to travel. After hearing on the news about hurricane Irma coming to the Florida coast, I called my family back home and talked to them about their plan to deal with the storm. My mom decided to just buy a ticket to New York and hop on a plane. The easy solution for these types of problems has definitely evolved since 1130BC. Hurricane Irma caused an urgency for evacuation. Even at such a late notice, over 5 million people were informed about evacuating and took action quickly to leave the state. Flight prices dropping and cars that were backed up on the highway with traffic might have lead to someone having an adventure or journey through that stressful process. Opportunities to travel have not always been so simple, and the growth of technology with today’s society has allowed many people to experience their own adventures in a way, even if they are extremely planned out and safer than a spontaneous long trip that was traditional for.
Reading the evolution of travel throughout this story gave me perspective on many ideas that I could relate traveling to. I think technology has shifted the definition of a traveler and has opened the idea that anyone can become a traveler. Travelers started out specifically just for people on a search. Soon subcategories of travelers, “explorers, soldiers, sailors, surveyors, missionaries, merchants, scientists, colonial administrators, diplomats, journalists, artists and many others besides” (page 52) expanded the idea of a traveler. Even as technology improved, the social norms of women also became more flexible, which allowed them to test out traveling and be inspired to feel like a traveler.
I think the importance of technology improving also became empowering in a way because people were able to learn more culturally, emotionally and intellectually and infuse it into their own lives. With new ways to travel, the amount of time needed to get to a place was significantly less than original ways. Time became a useful tool when planning journey’s and it started to focus less on the idea of accomplishments and more on self-discovery and new places.
Small businesses, like hotels, airb&b’s, and landmarks have made traveling a lot more productive. Using technology to substitute writing, has made travel writing continue to motivate many. I think that social media, blogging, videos, and pictures have all allowed the travel writing to live and not be dead.
I think it is important to recognize how technology has played an import role on traveling and travel writing. I feel like I can relate to the impact of technology on travel and society because of hurricane Irma, but also how I write about my experiences of travel on social media. This text made me reflect on travels accessibility and allowed me to question what else there could be in store.

Writing the Essay I (traveling)

Agnessa Elman
August 29, 2017
Writing the Essay I
Tara Fitzgerlad

After re-reading Grace Pasley’s essay, I noticed a few themes that I did not consider before. As the story follows along, we readers sense a strong relationship between a mother and daughter, the sense of time and history, and being true to one’s inherent beliefs and fickle society. Out of all the following themes, the one I sensed the strongest connection to was the relationship between the mother and daughter.
Strong relationships are built on reliance and respect and the mother and daughter had a relationship that was tied tightly by trust and confidence. If the mother had never spoken up for herself, the daughter would not have had remembered the time, fifteen years ago, and have a story to tell in later. The sentence, “This reorganization of passengers happened in silence,” —in the first part of the essay— is a powerful quote because it shows how custom and daily the segregation was, without anyone speaking up. The mother only responding in one word have her a character of bravery, something that the daughter will always be able to recognize and remember. “No,” the mother’s response, was a simple yet powerful response that was able to stick with the daughter even after years passed.
The mother and child that the author noticed in Part II, reflected and remind her of her own mother and the bond they shared. As the rude passenger got the lady of the buses attention, to tell her not to touch the baby, she recalled her own mother stance and how protective she was on the travels. Comfort always came before physical features. Offering the baby to sit on her lap, was equivalent to her mother saying “No,” because they both claimed for what they believed was right, regardless of the regular social norms. She wanted the lady to feel at ease by offering her lap, and that action she used gave her a sense of motherly authority. The mother stood up for herself, and because the author did too, we see how role modeling and idea of protection blend.
To me, it seems like her small travels on the bus symbolize the bond between her mom, and any similar encounter will allow her to recall her strong relationship between her mom and daughter. The essay was beautiful, not only in because of the diction that flowed but because we as readers got to see how refusing something not typical became something empowering and motivating.

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