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WEEK 16: SUNDIATA

It was interesting to see how the story of Sundiata played out because even though we know he ended up being the greatest kind, the storytelling of the griot made it feel like it was suspenseful. So many interesting questions were raised in my mind while I was reading Sundiata, and I don’t even know where to begin. Well, for starters, when the griot says, “Do not seek what is not to be known.”, encapsulated me. It did so because I remember in IB Math, my friend and I would talk about religion, life, and all the above and my friend, Dileny, said that God doesn’t want us to seek for some knowledge now because we wouldn’t ever understand it. She said that when we died he would tell us and she backed it up with evidence from the Bible and I don’t exactly remember where. It’s interesting to see the connection between this and the Griot’s remarks. Can the truth actually hurt us that much that we should not seek it? I think that we should be able to obtain all the knowledge possible. There’s certainly going to be a lot of risks involving that and there will be moments where ethics come into play but how will we ever know what we don’t know if we don’t push ourselves to those limits. Knowledge is right, a right that we all have, a right that Eve risked it all for. We should go to great lengths to know all the truths, but that’s just me.

WEEK 15: SUNDIATA

Sundiata is an interesting text to read due to the fact I was never really exposed to any African literature. I have only read one other African work of literature, Things Fall Apart. I knew some concepts were going to prevail such as deities, religion, and magic in Sundiata due to my exposure to Things Fall Apart. However, Sundiata raises an interesting concept of destiny or past causing the future. The Griot states that due to the fact that one has blood within them that has done great things, they are meant to be great. There are often times where the Griot makes things appear as free will when he tells Sundiata’s father that he must marry the ugliest woman so that his child would be the greatest ruler that has ever existed. This really got me thinking about fate vs free will and I applied it to my own life. All your actions lead you to the future you essentially constructed, but what if you are to take those actions in order to lead to your destiny? For this is presented to me in a manner of religion and Church. I have a calling to be a Pastor, I personally don’t want to be one due to the task entailing me leaving all of what I have constructed behind to preach the word of God throughout the world. So even though I believe God, His calling for me is something that I have not been fond of. I’ve been resisting but as time progresses, I find myself more and more inclined to the thought of being one. It really makes me think if that is what God wants for me then it’s for the best, right? However, I choose not to go forth with it because I want stability, I want my degrees because what if I need a backup? But how long can I just keep on running and running? AT some point I’m going to have to make a decision. What if I embrace my calling and become someone so powerful, used by God to save souls? What if this is my destiny, to be grand in that manner like Sundiata in his respective story.

WEEK 14: INFERNO, CANTO 25 TO 32

It’s interesting to note how deeper Dante descends in hell, his pity for the damned souls diminishes. In the lower circles, the punishment for the souls becomes harsher. For example, in Canto 26 Dante sees flames all around him. When he further inspects him and he finds that each flame has a soul that is imprisoned within the fire and here we encounter Ulysses. When first reading the Canto, I thought Ulysses was some random person that I’ve never heard of but as time progressed, I figure out that it was Odysseus! It made sense why he was located in one of the fraudulent circles of hell. The Italians didn’t particularly like the Greeks due to the Greeks winning the Trojan War. However, there’s more of a purpose why Odysseus is in that circle. Odysseus used his intellect to deceive the Trojans when he gave them the gift of the Trojan horse. Furthermore, we can see his pity be completely gone by the 9th circle. He placed traitors in ice in Circle 9 because traitors are the farthest away from God’s light. The most interesting thing to note is that when a Friar asks him to clean his eyes from his ice so he has a little bit of time to cry before the ice comes back, Dante says nope and shows no courtesy. Personally, I would have cleaned his eyes because like he’s spending the rest of eternity there in Hell. Also, who are you to judge and just have no pity towards them in that one second? But that’s just my opinion. Like yes, they were wrongful in doing what they did, but you’re no better in any circumstance and we can’t help the fact that we’re sinners by nature. But we are humans and we have souls, show some compassion.

WEEK 13: INFERNO, CANTO 1 TO 8

Dante’s Inferno was one of the most difficult books I read in high school, apart from  “The Master and Margarita”. However, it’s one of the most enjoyable in my opinion due to the fact it explores the afterlife. Growing up in a Christian household, I was always exposed to the concept of hell and the afterlife. So being exposed to it in a secular manner was interesting, through literature I was able to see how others interpreted the concept of hell. Even now, as I get older and try to figure out the mess of the life I made for myself, I’m forced to confront my afterlife. Let me further explain, growing up I had always been exposed to God, Jesus, the good, and the evil. However, I took the decision to start this communion with God. But, along the way, I began realizing things that made me question my belief in God and I began to look at the church in a negative light. I was and still am involved in Church activities because I don’t have the heart to just drop everything and say screw you to everyone. It just makes me think, I am being fraudulent. Is it my fault due to the negative experiences I had with church and religion? Is it my fault due to the trauma stuck in my head that plays over and over in my head? Certainly, there are specific cases no? But like that’s questionable seeing how a lot of people were in Dante’s hell because they were born before Christianity. That’s not fair and surely seems imperfect but isn’t God perfect? All I know is that I guess I might be going to Hell in Dante’s interpretation because I’m technically being a fraud. Now for real life, who knows where I’m headed…

WEEK 12: MACBETH ACT II & III

Macbeth Acts II and III are quite significant because here we are, witnesses, to Duncan’s murder. It brings about the question of the role of women in this work of literature. We can see Lady’s MacBeth ambition and “greed”, you can say, showing through. However, just because she had the plan to devise a plan that would lead Macbeth to be put on the throne, I don’t think she’s responsible for the execution. Macbeth is partly to blame and he should be held accountable for his actions. He wanted to be king just as much as she wanted him to be king. However, he had a say in the whole situation and decided to follow through with the plan. Also, how are we going to have these double standards for women but not for men? The men are the head of households during this specific time period, so the blame should go on Macbeth for not shutting the whole situation down. In contrast, I believe that Macbeth had no say in the situation with the witches because they’re unnatural/supernatural beings and he really can’t do much to control that. The witches are pretty much playing around with their lives and future, leaving Macbeth to be left in the hands of the witches while trying to figure his own path. Lastly, although Lady Macbeth’s plan is deplorable, I praise her for it. She was doing the most to elevate her and her husband’s status so that they would have a nice life being king and queen. You go, girl!

WEEK 11: MACBETH ACT 1

Macbeth was my favorite book that I read in 10th grade for Humanities and I’m so excited to delve into a deeper conversation and understanding of the book in WHUM101. I vaguely remember the plot but it’s always good to reread a book that you thoroughly enjoyed reading in the past. Reading ACT I brought me back to how much I favored the witches. They were such controversial characters due to the fact they, being women, held powers over men in a particle society. This was a pivotal moment in my education because this book exposed me to women that challenged the submissive woman narrative in an academic environment. Obviously, I’ve read books that contained women that challenged the narrative and the stereotypes they need to follow such like The Hunger Games trilogy. People can interpret the witches as weak and comical, however, you can clearly see that they are the most powerful beings in Macbeth, in my opinion. They have the ability to play around with human life while also playing around with the fate of people, which honestly is quite terrifying.

WEEK 10: OEDIPUS

Oedipus was an amazing book/play to read and really intrigued me due to the Greek tragedy. I found it insane how Oedipus tried running away from the prophecy he faced in respect to his parent’s prophecy. Also, after learning in class “Sophism” we were open more to the fact to understand the concept of humans going against the will of the gods and rationally make their own decisions. Sure, fate vs. free will plays into big effect to us now in the modern age, but viewing the novel form a sophist point of view enhances the novel even more to the reader because you actively see how characters like Oedipus and Jacosta make rational decisions to run away from the prophecies told to them. Also, I feel bad for Oedipus because yes he is our hero that faces this tragedy, but like being a person who has bad luck, I can relate in the aspect of having a major unfortunate circumstance occur to me. I guess that’s why we, humans, are inclined to listen to tragedies because we can relate to them but also ponder on the fact tragedies can happen to us at any given second.

WEEK 9: THE ODYSSEY ; CHAPTERS 17 TO 24

The ending of The Odyssey was exactly just as expected however, it was still quite entertaining to read. We are subjected to the themes of nostos and kleos even more. Odysseus actually arrives back to Ithaca and meets his son, Telemachus! It was nice to see this encounter between them, being that Telemachus grew up with no father because of Odysseus leaving for the war and having trouble to come back. Kleos is especially prevalent when Penelope conducts the bow and quiver test to pick a suitor she will marry. No one is capable of putting the string to the bow, not even Telemachus, although he is close. Then Odysseus comes and complete’s Penelope’s task, revealing himself to her and the suitors before he kills them all. I believe that in that society, Odysseus did the rightful action of killing Penelope’s suitors because they were a threat to Odysseus, his family, and kleos. My favorite part of the ending was when Penelope still had doubt that Odysseus was Odysseus because who knows? It may just be a god in disguise and trying to woo over Penelope. So Penelope puts him to the test by telling a servant to move the bed and he essentially tells her that it’s unmovable because he made the bed. This act shows how much Penelope cares for Odysseus and how faithful she is to him. I thought it was a really sweet moment to include in the book.

WEEK 8: THE ODYSSEY ; CHAPTERS 1 TO 8

I’ve always really wanted to read The Odyssey, we were supposed to freshman year in high school. However, my English teacher at the time ended up getting fire. So I’m grateful that the opportunity arose to read it for World Humanities. Reading not even half  page, I was hooked on. I really appreciate the plot and began comparing it to the Bible. We see the dos here in a more humanistic light because we are able to see their interactions for one another. We also see how they directly intervene in human’s lives. In the Bible, God only had direct contact with Adam and Eve. What I mean by direct contact is how God would walk in the Garden of Eden with them. After the Disobedience of Man we can see he only speaks to them with his voice, dreams, angels, and Jesus. However, in The Odyssey we can see how Athena, a prime example, disguises herself into Mentes and Mentor. We can see here how much the gods care because they go to great lengths to interfere in human lives. This is especially visible when Athena disguises herself as Telemakhos to get him a ship and crew. Furthermore this shows, that gods help create a situation to help fix problems of man. This reminds me of church, where sometimes there would be prayers made to have God intervene for us in a situation. Through faith some people have gotten their responses, however has it ever been in such a manner presented in The Odyssey? I just like to think about the possibility of having a supreme being among us, working for the betterment of our lives.

WEEK 7: KJB MATTHEW ; CHAPTERS 9 TO 17

During these chapters, we can see Jesus’ journey being a hero of the Bible. He’s literally saving the world because he cures a leper, a paralytic, and a hemorrhaging woman. On top of that, he exorcizes demons and resurrects a dead girl. This adds a supernatural aspect to the Bible making it quite interesting from a literature point of view. Someone who reads literature would applaud it and hower not believe that it happens in reality. In my religious experience, I have not seen someone be brought back to life but I have seen people have demons cast out of them. Having grown up in the church, seeing exorcisms are not scary and almost normal to talk about. However, I wonder about what people, who have no religious context, would think about the exorcisms if they were to see it spontaneously happen before them. Quite frankly, I also want to see what my peers and classmates have to say about the supernatural element within this work of literature. Especially, since we do not have the same experiences they would question what I know and I have seen.

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