Time: An Implication

By Knowledge is Power. Originally published at Knowledge is Power.

During my senior year of high school I took a course called “World Religions”. Over the four months in which the course ran, we studied five religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Out of all the things that I learned during the semester, the thing that resonated with me the most was the Hindu concept of time. In Hinduism, with each cycle of life we move closer to enlightenment. The number of cycles that you must pass through is dependent on karma. Once you have overcome karma, your body doesn’t need to pass onto another form and you are free to reach the kingdom of God. In this kingdom, time doesn’t exist. Time is a cyclical function of life and death; without the life and death cycle; there is no need for time.

In his book Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut establishes the possibility of being “unstuck in time”. His protagonist, Billy Pilgrim is known for becoming “unstuck” and time traveling at random to different points in his life. Billy has no control over this and seems to accept his fate. The concept of time falls under a theme that is applied to many aspects of life in the novel: letting things be. Vonnegut shows us that death is inevitable, being abducted by aliens certainly is inevitable, and time is not something that can be controlled. Billy understands that the events of his life are unchangeable and decides to buckle up and enjoy the ride.

This concept of time relates to the Hindu conception in that they both are cyclical to some extent. In Vonnegut’s book, there is no linear pattern to Billy’s life, just events that he visits like places on a map. In Hinduism, the events of one life are insignificant; it’s about the cycle. You could move forward or backward on the cycle of time depending on karma. The key difference between these two ideas is that for Vonnegut, although time changes, the facts will always remain the same. You will always die in the same way, you’ll always marry the same person, and there’s no reason to waste energy trying to change things that are set in stone. In Hinduism, you can manipulate aspects of your cycle depending on behavior. With good behavior, you can make your journey to enlightenment shorter or you may be reborn into a better life. With bad behavior, you can move backwards in the cycle.

In both of these understandings, time is fluid. It does not follow the linear model that we are so accustomed to. Vonnegut and Hindu scholars aren’t the only ones who reject this strict idea of time. It’s very much a Western idea that each day will pass by with 24 hours, each week with 7 days, and nothing in the universe will change it. The truth of the matter is, time is imaginary. Someone had to sit down and make up how long a second was or how many hours to put in a day. The restrictions that we feel based on time are all societal constructions. “There’s just not enough time in the day” is a common saying in Western culture, but in reality there’s as much time as you want. In Hinduism, God is the only one that is truly timeless. Once you’ve come to understand the nature of the universe, you will also be freed from the restrictions of time. In Slaughterhouse Five, the Talmadorians, the aliens that abduct Billy, are also free from the barriers of time. They experience everything simultaneously and in many dimensions. What both of these concepts seem to be telling us is that time is merely a human fantasy. Once we see past ourselves and are aware of the bigger picture, time will cease to exist.

 

 

“An Nontraditional Essay” Revised

By Knowledge is Power. Originally published at Knowledge is Power.

 

“THE CROWD HEAVES

the bass of the music
you can feel it vibrate through your fingertips
warm feeling of rum
sticky on your throat;
ice cracks in the glass
you put lime to your lips and bite” – Sacrilege opening credits

Cara Ellison’s Twine game Sacrilege opens with the player being immersed into the seductive, somewhat wild scene of a rave. The whole tone is very collegiate, and with each option that you select you find yourself pulled deeper into the world of a promiscuous young woman. The objective of the game is to find a suitable sexual partner for the woman for the night. The player is met with many obstacles such as one of her male counterparts facing morale dilemmas, and the player themselves being forced to make decisions based on their own societal ideals.

This idea of using a non-traditional medium of writing is gaining popularity in literary culture. Good literature used to be defined strictly in terms of words written on paper. Now, some of the best literature I’ve read has made use of multi-medial components. The idea of a video game as a medium for writing is fairly new to me, and at first glance I wasn’t so sure about it. The first time I played Ellison’s game, I felt that as a player I had little control over how the game would play out and that either way the young woman would end up with one of the men for the night. This made me weary of the video game medium leaving little room for different interpretations by the reader, or in this case the player. But after playing it a few times, I realized that in fact the player has all the control and is able to set the tone for the character. I even felt a connection to the character in the same way that I would normally feel a connection to characters in books that I’m reading. Even though I might not behave in the same exact way or even have the same intentions as the woman in the game, the conversations with the male characters felt familiar.

This particular medium allows Ellison to display her thesis in a way that truly is showing versus telling. In a typical essay setting, she would’ve had to present her opinion and give examples as to why she chose her topic. In the setting of a video game, if the player wants to play the game they are forced to try and interpret her message as a means of understanding how to play. Even the title of the game sheds light onto her thesis. The word “sacrilege” carries a lot of implications. Without that title, the meaning of the game changes completely. This title projects judgment, as if the woman shouldn’t be looking for a sexual partner so haphazardly. Ellison is making a statement against the stigmatization of promiscuity in our society. If she had chosen a more traditional medium to make this point, I don’t think it would’ve come across as strongly. The introduction of multi-medial mediums into literary culture has opened up a whole new style of literature to contemporary writers. Ellison exemplifies some of the benefits of trying out different modes of writing in her video game. As our world gets increasingly entranced in technology, I expect to see more and more writers experimenting with these new mediums that are now readily available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Is Greek Life Great or Grim” Podcast Script

By Knowledge is Power. Originally published at Knowledge is Power.

*Note: The podcast audio is unavailable at this time due to technical difficulties.

**Note: The bold type is what I’ve written as the actual script, what we can read verbatim. The other outline parts are just to keep us organized. The italicized parts are where we can stop and discuss between ourselves and bring in other people via interviews if we wanted. The discussion and interviews don’t have to be scripted. Feel free to make any changes.

    1. Intro
      1. Introduction of podcast series
        1. B: From Emory University in Atlanta Georgia, this is Ben Jacobs Hannah Billings, and Lauren Estell, and this is Diving Deeper, a series where we delve into controversial topics to find out the juicy details.
      2. Today we will be talking about….
        1. L: Welcome to Diving Deeper: Is Greek life Great or Grim
        2. Today we discuss, does Greek life benefit college students or is it simply feeding the malicious attitudes of some and causing potentially dangerous tension between groups of people?
        3. We will explore what Greek life has evolved to become and the many issues that have come with it.
    2. History of Greek Life
      1. B: Has Greek life always been stereotyped as a group of “elitist individuals that bear party hard attitudes and participate in ruthless hazing and binge drinking?” Where did this view of fraternities and sororities come from and why did it develop?
      2. What did it stand for?

 

  • L: The first Greek letter organization was Phi Beta Kappa, which was founded on December 5, 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
  • Similar to today’s fraternities, Phi Beta Kappa had a motto, a ritual, a badge, principals of high idealism, and a strong bond of friendship and camaraderie.
  • Inspired by the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity students at Union College in New York, formed the Kappa Alpha Society.
  • In the late 1820’s Sigma Phi and Delta Phi were founded.
  • These Greek organizations served as the basis for the expansion of the American college fraternity and sorority.
  • Many of these organizations served purposes before they even reached the college campus.  

 

      1. Why? Purpose?

 

  • B: Originally, Greek organizations were societies of students associated together in an environment of companionship and deep bonds dedicated to the intellectual, physical, moral, religious, and social development of its members.
  • Sororities and fraternities were founded on the principles of leadership, scholarship, philanthropy/service, and sister/brotherhood.

 

      1. My question for you is do you feel like the the focus of Greek life has shifted too much to the social aspect? Or for the most part do sororities and fraternities still uphold these principles?

 

  • L: The principles that Greek life was founded on seem focused and beneficial to many. If brothers and sisters of these organizations joined with these in mind, it brings into question the reason for the numerous controversial headlines about hateful actions of students in these societies.  

 

      1. Stats/Brief Background info

 

  • B: Many states have attempted to take action against some of this disappointing behavior.  44 out of 50 states have implemented anti-hazing laws, however there are still many reports of hazing, abuse, or racial intolerance at many colleges and universities.

 

What’s not up for debate, however, is that the result has been a growing disconnect between college administrations, members of greek life, the media, and the public as a whole.

    1. Big Issues

 

  • L: There are three major issues within Greek life that recently have been under scrutiny: hazing, sexual assault, and racism.

 

      1. Hazing
    • Hazing can be defined as, “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate”.
      • Discuss changing of “hazing” definition and broad range of what is considered ”hazing”

 

 

  • Although hazing occurs in a wide range of social groups from athletic teams to other clubs and organizations, it is most prevalent in Greek life.
  • 73% of students in a sorority or fraternity have reported at least one hazing behavior. In all actuality, this statistic probably underestimates the actual number of students subjected to hazing because not everyone reports the events.
  • Although many colleges have taken steps to illuminate this practice throughout their campuses, it still happens. But why?
  • The practice is thought as a way to “initiate” new pledges and test them to see if they have what it takes to become a brother or sister of the house.
  • How is it justified?
    • B: As we have discussed, the demands that are considered “hazing” vary greatly. However severe, hazing does exist in Greek life, but how is it justified?
      • The idea of brotherhood and sisterhood is very influential in the actions of the members. Hazing may be a “test” that the new pledges must pass by proving how far they will go to honor the obligations of the bonds between members.
      • Older members attempt to legitimize hazing as a way of putting the new members in their place and showing authority over them.
      • Hazing attempts to build solidarity between members of the sorority or fraternity, however sometimes it’s inarguably taken too far.
      • Discuss what is “too far”? Is hazing ever justified?
      1. Sexual Assault
    • B: Now let’s turn to the issue of sexual assault.  The bond between members in Greek life creates an environment of camaraderie, however sometimes the “mob mentality” creates dangerous circumstances.

 

  • It’s hard to determine if the prevalence of sexual assault in fraternity life has increased or if it’s a topic that’s just getting more emphasis in our society, at least more than it used to.  Sexual assault has always been stigmatized, especially in Greek life, but recently, in the past decade, there has been a push to highlight sexual assaults on college campuses.  This further complicates the question of if fraternities themselves are changing or if society is changing around them.

 

    • Discuss thoughts/opinions on:

 

  • Do you think that there is an increase in sexual assaults in Greek life? Do Greek organizations serve as a catalyst for sexual aggression?
  • If so, what do you think contributes to the increase?
  • Group mentality, masculine attitudes of brothers, male dominance attitudes, alcohol

 

  • I think most of us agree in that we don’t ever condone sexual assault. It is an awful crime and shouldn’t happen but it does, and there’s something to be said for the increased quantity of attacks by those in Greek life.  
      1. Racism
    • L: Hazing and sexual assault are terrible behaviors that have been integrated into Greek life. Along with those attitudes, come the overall attitude of supremacy and superiority over other groups.
    • We will specifically look at how the mindset of racism within fraternities and sororities has increased.  

 

  • Racism is a unique problem because unlike the issues of hazing and sexual assault, we can confidently say that the overall attitude of prejudice has declined from where it was at when many of these Greek organizations were founded.
  • Still, racism continues as a sort of tradition in some of the more conservative chapters of many Greek organizations.
  • One very recent example of the contempt held by some Greek organizations is the chanting from Oklahoma University’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter.
  • Caught on video, brothers from this chapter can be seen chanting a malicious message about African Americans using very degrading slurs and referencing horrendous events, such as lynching.

Response to awful acts?

        1. B: What is the response to these awful issues fraternities and sororities are affiliated with?
          • Hazing

 

  • The administrations of many colleges and universities have taken steps to attempt to decrease and totally get rid of hazing, sexual assault, and racism.
  • If caught for hazing, sororities and fraternities are investigated, put on social probation, and if found guilty are reprimanded appropriately, facing the possibility of being kicked off campus.
  • Sexual assault reports are similarly handled, but the individual perpetrator or perpetrators are dealt with. The entire fraternity or sorority may not suffer severe consequences, however they will have the stigma of sexual assault if a member is caught.
  • Racism is handled a little differently. It is hard because administration cannot cut off the source directly since racism is more of an attitude that is held and acted upon. Administration can penalize the actions that resulted from the discrimination, however it is hard to extinguish the underlying problem of the core attitudes of the students.
  • Other thoughts on responses?? Add more if need??

 

      1. L: After analyzing the history and origins of Greek life and the problems that are prevalent in today’s colleges and universities there are many questions that are left still unanswered.

 

  • Why are these problems still occurring?  
  • Do you think it’s the stereotypes that fuel the fraternities and sororities actions? Is it a vicious cycle, a self-fulfilling prophecy?
  • Does Greek life enrich campuses or hinder them?
  • Conclusion
  • Wrap up
  • Review/Summarize
  • B:  Greek life has its roots deep in the American college experience. Beginning for the purpose of leadership, service, cooperation, and personal development of the members, sororities and fraternities seem to have taken a turn in their underlying values and attitudes of what really matters. There are many issues that come with Greek life, which leaves us thinking what will it be like in 10, 20, or 50 years? Will there be a change or is this the future of Greek life?
  • Tune in next time for…. On (podcast series name).
  • L: Thanks for joining us today and this is Diving Deeper. Tune in next time for Overrated Organics, to hear about the trending organic diet. This has been Hannah, Lauren, and Ben. Until next time.

 

 

An Nontraditional Essay

By Knowledge is Power. Originally published at Knowledge is Power.

 

“THE CROWD HEAVES

the bass of the music
you can feel it vibrate through your fingertips
warm feeling of rum
sticky on your throat;
ice cracks in the glass
you put lime to your lips and bite”

Cara Ellison’s Twine game “Sacrilege” opens with the player being immersed into the seductive backdrop of a rave. The whole tone is very college-esque, and with each option that you select you find yourself pulled deeper into the world of a promiscuous young woman. The “objective” of the game is to find a suitable sexual partner for the woman for the night. The player is met with many obstacles such as one her male counterparts facing morale dilemmas, and the player themselves being forced to make morale decisions. At first glance, I felt that as a player I had little control over how the game would play out, and that either way the young woman would end up with one of the men for the night. But after playing it a few times, I realized that in fact the player has all the control and is able to set the tone for the character. Playing as a woman myself, I felt an obvious connection to the character, and even though I might not behave the same way of have the same intentions as her, the conversations with the other male characters felt familiar. This made me question how the experience of the game would change from a male perspective. Would it be completely alien? Or would they relate to the male characters even though they were playing as a woman.

The title “Sacrilege” carries a lot of implications. Without that title, the meaning of the game changes completely. It goes from a fun night out to a sense of wrongness, as if the woman shouldn’t be looking for a sexual partner so haphazardly. The idea of a woman seeking out this one night stand type of scenario is definitely stigmatized in our society, so Ellison could be making a statement against that stigmatization. This particular medium allows her to display her thesis in a way that can be described very much as showing versus telling. In a typical essay setting, she would’ve had to present her opinion and give examples as to why she chose her topic. In the setting of a video game, if the player wants to play the game they are forced to try and interpret her message as a means of understanding how to play. One of the drawbacks of this medium is that it almost warrants over-interpretation. The outline of the story changes with each decision the player makes, which leads to a different interpretation at each step. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the creator’s exact arguments, leaving the game feeling more vague than an essay would. By choosing this sort of “Choose Your Own Adventure” medium, Ellison was able to loosely display her theme and leave the rest to be filled in by the player.

Fighting for Space

By Knowledge is Power. Originally published at Knowledge is Power.

“What’s the worst possible thing you can call a woman? Don’t hold back, now.
You’re probably thinking of words like slut, whore, bitch, cunt (I told you not to hold back!), skank.
Okay, now, what are the worst things you can call a guy? Fag, girl, bitch, pussy. I’ve even heard the term “mangina.”
Notice anything? The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult. Now tell me that’s not royally fucked up.” – Jessica Valenti

Being a woman has never been easy. We have the responsibility of continuing the human race; you would think that would warrant respect. Instead we’ve been slighted, abused, looked down upon, called crazy, nervous, and emotional. For centuries we were thought of as simply not as advanced as men, even today most men would be lying if they said they didn’t feel masculine superiority. In her essay A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf argues that women are the way they are because they never had that space to thrive intellectually. Without a “room of their own” in history, women had no choice but to take the inferior role and watch from the background. The most heinous part of this is that there is little evidence of women making intellectual bounds in history because of the restrictions they faced when trying to record that history. Even if women did play a large role in academia in the 19th century, there is little evidence to support the claim. Woolf pursues the idea that men and women are the same, they innately share the same flaws and strengths. The only difference between the two genders is circumstance. If the roles were reversed and women were given the opportunities that men had, they would’ve accomplished much of the same, in my opinion even more.

Have you ever had an idea or question in class but you didn’t ask it out of fear of sounding dumb or holding back the rest of the class? In her essay, Woolf describes a similar scenario where a woman has an idea but an encounter with the male ego forces her to stifle it. This suggests that Woolf believes that women have a unique and powerful perspective but have been unable to explore it. Her entire argument at the beginning of the essay is that women have been deprived of a strictly feminine place in literature. Even when considering feminist literature in modern times, most of the most significant female authors have written about the struggle of being a woman in a man’s world. Feminism in itself is defined by men.

The question isn’t so much about women being different from men in literature, or even in the world. It’s more so about the conditions of life for the two sexes. Woolf doesn’t even get to the point of arguing the differences between female and male authors because for the most part during her life time there were no female authors, at least none that were widely respected in the field. How can you qualify the difference between sexes when one of them isn’t considered equal to the other? In the past few decades, things have changed for the better. Still, I question if the attitudes of men are actually changing or if they’re simply tolerating the idea of feminism so that they can sweep it under the bed and continue living in a patriarchal society. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of my identity as a woman. Men define that identity in many ways, just as the male superiority complex exists because women are there for men to stand on. For so long it hasn’t been about different but about lesser. The terms of the conversation need to change before we can even start to have it.

Sources

“Quotes About Womanhood.” (110 Quotes). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

It’s just so BLACK

By Knowledge is Power. Originally published at Knowledge is Power.

This piece is a remix of two pieces on the women and beauty, an article in Vogue magazine called “We’re officially in the era of the Big Booty” and an excerpt from a book by Susan Powers called “The Ugly Girl Papers”. The remix is meant to critique the pieces and is made up of excerpts from the two as well as some of my own additions.

It would appear that the big booty has finally become ubiquitous amongst white people. For years it was exactly the opposite; a large butt was not something white women aspired to, it was too animalistic, too foreign, too black. Recently, Nicki Minaj remixed the original butt song by Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Baby Got Back,” into “Anaconda,” effectively reclaiming big butts as an originally black idea of beauty. Recall from the original version “Oh my god Becky look at her butt it’s just so big…. it’s just so black”. The measure of a black women’s sex appeal for years has been inextricably linked to the prominence of her behind.

Jennifer Lopez has been idolized for sparking the booty movement. When she first arrived on the scene in the late nineties, a lot of the buzz surrounding her focused on the back of her voluptuous body. The original trailblazing butt girl. What about Saartjie Baartman, the “Hottentot Venus”? Still, it would be centuries before white people were “ready for this jelly” to become the ultimate standard of beauty. Kim Kardashian is slowly redefining the Hollywood body? All she’s doing is making it popular to look black. Funny how “cornrows are making a comeback” in white fashion too. Then came the total bootification of pop music. Let’s be clearer: white pop music. If you want to see the original ass music throw it back to rap in the 90’s, which black people can undoubtedly claim as their own. And now it seems pop musicians everywhere are baring their asses onstage or online.

But who can be mad? After all there is scarcely anything in the history of women more touching than the homage paid to beauty by those who have it not. The loveliness of a rival eats into a girl’s heart like corrosion; every grace of outline is traced in lines of fire on the mind of the plainer one. So who can blame those girls who hit the gym to bust out 100 squats every day? The body at best is the perfect expression of the soul, and black women have a lot of soul. Who wouldn’t want to copy that?

Sources

1) Garcia, Patricia. “We’re Officially in the Era of the Big Booty.” Vogue. N.p., 9th Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

URL: www.vogue.com/1342927/booty-in-pop-culture-jennifer-lopez-iggy-azalea/

2) Power, Susan C. Dunning. “Chapter I, Chapter XXIV.” The Ugly-girl Papers Or, Hints for the Toilet. New York: Harper, 1876. 9-256. Online print.