Best Student Essays
The Future of the orchestra On death & transhumanism Exploration of scaliaâ€™s textualism Sex in 18th century french art Breaking bad & the narcocorrido can you hear me? a memoir Power of cartoons in politics Volume 25
Best Student Essays Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - Number 1
Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Thayer * Design Editor Anthony Derryberry * Science Editor Veena Patel * Copy/Research Editors: William Abernathy Anna Adams Krysten Julian Blythe Stovall Bryan Wilcox * Business Manager Jim Fisher * Special Thanks To: Leslie Donovan Daven Quelle Carolyn Souther The Daily Lobo Staff
Front Cover Art: â€œTourist of Exhaustionâ€? by Rebakah Holdridge
Correspondence may be addressed to: Best Student Essays UNM Student Publications Marron Hall 107, University of New Mexico Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-0001 (505) 277-5656 email@example.com www.beststudentessays.org Copyright 2013 by the University of New Mexico Student Publications Board. Best Student Essays is published biannually by the University of New Mexico Student Publications Board. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the UNM Student Publications Board or the Best Student Essays staff. This issue of Best Student Essays was printed by: Starline Printing 7111 Pan American Highway NE Albuquerque, NM 87109
A Word from the Editor Elizabeth Thayer
Welcome to Spring 2013 issue of Best Student Essays! Within the pages of this magazine you will find a diverse spread of essays ranging from discussions of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to female sexuality in eighteenth century French prints. Each individual essay is thought provoking, creative, and truly represents some of the best work UNM undergraduate and graduate students have to offer. As always, included in this issue are striking works of art and photojournalism. This magazine would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of my staff. They worked for weeks to find the best works across campus and edit them for the magazine. I would also like to thank Jim Fisher, Leslie Donovan, Daven Quelle, Carolyn Souther, the Student Publication board members, ASUNM, and GPSA for their continued support of the magazine. In addition, I would like to thank my husband, Alex, for his never-ending love and support. Lastly, I would like to thank the students who submitted their works and the professors and faculty members who nominated their students. Without the students, staff, and faculty that make up UNM this magazine would not be in its twenty-fifth year. Hereâ€™s to many more years of publishing some of the best work of our university.
Back Cover Art: “Moan” by Mia Cassea
CONTENTS Is There a Future for the Professional Symphony Orchestra?
On Death and Transhumanism
Penumbras and Emanations
The Education of Love and Resistance
Negro y Azul
Negro y Azul (Spanish Version)
Can You Hear Me?
The Power of Caricature in the Political Arena
Statements from the Cover Artists A Final Word
Is There a Future for the Professional Symphony Orchestra? Wojciech Milewski Is there a future for the professional symphony orchestra? As an orchestral conducting graduate student, this is a question that is quite uncomfortable and hard to face, yet a seemingly unavoidable one in our modern society. Even though it was the main question of a particular assignment, I avoided it for the longest time, hoping that I would simply get swept up in my studies and forget all about it. However, it soon became very apparent to me that this was exactly the question that I needed to answer. After all, if there is no orchestra–there is no conductor, and so answering the question above would be necessary for me to simply justify continuing my current studies. I began to think about whether or not the world actually needs symphony orchestras. After all, orchestras are a part of the arts, and therefore easily classified as an institution not vital to the success and growth of the nation or its people, similar to those of theater, art, sports, and others. The public attends these events either for spectacle, mental or visual stimulation, or simply as a social function, which makes them eerily reminiscent and comparable to such examples in history as the ancient Roman gladiators–the only difference is that our tastes have simply evolved and become more civilized. How can we even begin to argue that our society needs the orchestra? When thinking about it logically, the answer is simple: we do not. However, if this is true, then we also do not need sports, literature, or anything that is not medicine, architecture, or agriculture. Therefore, the question above is not necessarily one of need, but rather whether or not our society wants the symphony orchestra. Given that recent labor and wage disputes have been the most widely read and advertised articles in the media concerning the symphony orchestra, it is not surprising that popular opinion of classical music may be turning negative. This past month saw the musicians of the world famous San Francisco Symphony go on strike, which triggered an immediate 1 public response . As these sentiments spread, it is also not surprising that bleak projections and outlooks for the symphony orchestra exist in popular opinion. So is the 1Rev. Dr. Melinda V. Mclain, “From the Top”; Anthony J. Alfidi, “Fire all the Striking San Francisco Musicians”
situation really as dark and hopeless as opinion suggests? At first glance, it may seem exactly so, but many supporters of the arts believe that the product offered by the symphony orchestra will become the very reason that they become indispensable to their individual communities. What needs to happen in order to ensure a future for the symphony orchestra? The answer may lie in analyzing and understanding the problems that face the orchestra today in evidence from articles, essays, blogs, and editorials. Michael Walsh succinctly describes the three major concerns facing orchestras today: financial, artistic, and 2 social . The financial concerns of orchestras have been well documented in many sources, in particular, Robert Flanagan’s 2008 report on the “Economic Environment of American Symphony Orchestras,” where Flanagan details the loss of ticket sales, endowments, donations and philanthropic sup3 port, and a declining audience pool . Flanagan also focuses on the changing landscape of orchestral economics, as orchestras can no longer rely on ticket sales alone to match their operating costs and salaries. This idea has indeed changed drastically, as the average major orchestra was able to raise a median amount of 60% of their operating costs in the 1930s from ticket sales, while that number has fallen to a median of 30% today. Most importantly, Flanagan notes that because orchestras rely on private contributions and support, their financial success depends on the condition of the national economy. This leads to an unstable and easily unsustainable model of financial management. The artistic concerns are a source of debate in orchestral circles. Walsh chronicles how today’s orchestral repertory has become too standardized, to the point that orchestras lack the edge and freshness of the orchestral landscape in the mid-twentieth century. However, today’s contemporary works are often met with disfavor and distaste from the concert-going public, who see it as a “bitter pill to be swallowed 4 to have the classics.” The problem here lies in the fact that 2Michael Walsh, “Is the Symphony Orchestra Dying?” TIME Magazine 3Robert Flanagan, “The Economic Environment of American Symphony Orchestras” 4Walsh
many funding and supporting organizations base their support on programming contemporary music, which clearly ties into the financial problems addressed above. Additionally, artistic problems may extend to the loss of individual identity and vigor of orchestral musicians, who may lose their motivation and drive by playing the same repertory throughout the years in an orchestral setting where they are simply part of the musical mass. As a result, the orchestra already risks becom5 ing a ‘living museum’ or a ‘cultural monolith.’ Finally, the social issues that surround the orchestra also present challenges and concerns. As a direct European export, the symphony orchestra found much popularity and success in the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries in America, as it was seen as a staple and symbol of a strong society. However, in more recent times, the culture of the symphony orchestra has seen a huge change in public perception. The stigma of the symphony orchestra’s European roots in aristocracy and royal courts has made the American public see it as a symbol of elitism, social hierarchy, and exclusivity– especially given the ‘rituals’ that surround a typical symphony concert. This is further seen in the audiences as well, as the orchestra has mainly been frequented by a particular demographic: educated, white, older, and economic middle/upper class. This is a concern as the Hispanic and African-American populations of the USA are rapidly expanding along with a much larger economic middle/lower class. As a result, much of the population has begun to feel alienated and unwelcome in the symphony hall, which has also translated to a decrease in 6 ticket sales . These challenges that symphony orchestras face are not surprising, nor are they new. Many of the same financial projections listed above have already been seen as early as the 1940s and 1960s, when financial analysts declared that the majority of American orchestras would become victims 7 of bankruptcy and many would perish as a result. Furthermore, the orchestral repertory has been a point of discussion since the middle of the twentieth century, when the programming and composition of contemporary works began to lose favor with audiences around the world given its sometimes atonal or abstract nature. However, the discussion of orchestral finances seems to be the main point of discussion and disagreement as we enter the twenty-first century in regards to the future and safety of the American orchestra. This is not a
universal sentiment as authors such as Bruce Ridge and others who share his sentiments believe that the orchestra is strong, and the idea that the majority of orchestras are in financial disarray is simply a fear-mongering tactic spread by the media.8 Rather, it is the area of finance and management that needs the biggest makeover. After all, the musicians are responsible for the music that is associated with the orchestra, and the management for its operation and preservation. It seems to be becoming clearer that the difference in attitude and approach between musicians and orchestral management may indeed be the biggest source of worry. According to Bruce Ridge and David Beem, it is the orchestral management that should be held accountable for the present-day situation–Ridge in fact states that there is no crisis in the arts, but rather that there is a crisis in arts management.9 Both authors believe that the approach towards managing an orchestra by present-day management is simply wrong, and will eventually lead all orchestras to collapse. Beem cites the examples of the failure of the League of American Orchestras (LAO), namely one of its management products, Anne Parsons. Parsons was one of the first fellows/interns in the LAO’s orchestral management program in the latter half of the twentieth-century–a program that has been criticized for its misguided views towards efficiently running the orchestra.10 Beem’s criticism is not unjustified, as Parsons is currently the director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, an orchestra that has seen a 25% pay cut, orchestra membership slashed from ninety-six to eighty-one full-time members, and the loss of nearly all principal string players, all in the past two years.11 According to Beem, Parsons’ approach is misguided, treating musicians as “replaceable parts” and the orchestra as a for-profit institution. Similar examples appear in Minnesota and St. Louis. However, Beem’s most compelling argument lies in the example of the Atlanta orchestra. Here, the orchestra musicians sustained a $5.2 million loss in concessions and the loss of seven full-time positions, while CEO Stanley Romanstein agreed to a 6% aggregate pay cut for himself, and has kept all positions in the board and administration intact, even though the orchestra now hires seventy-four
“As a result, the orchestra already risks becoming a ‘living museum’or a ‘cultural monolith’.”
8 Drew McManus, “The Ridge Address: A Warning-Response
Opportunity.”; Ridge 9 Ridge, David Beem, “Zombieland: American Orchestras Face Scary 5Colin Lawson, The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra, 253 Future” 6Walsh 10Beem 7 Bruce Ridge, „The Autumn of our Discontent” 11Ibid Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1 4
administrators to do the job that fifteen used to do.12 Indeed, these examples only partially show the reality that orchestral management has been misappropriating funds and resources for the past several years. As a result, several orchestras have found themselves declaring bankruptcy, reorganizing, and starting over. Thus, it is clear that the solution to this problem needs to be a distinctly different approach to managing, organizing, and operating. Management must accept the new economic, social, and financial realities of our society, as the model of the twentieth-century orchestra will simply not sustain the institution in the twenty-first. This includes fundamentally reducing operating costs, becoming integral parts of the local community, and initiating innovative strategies to attract philanthropy and support of the symphony orchestra. Andrew Manshel points out these solutions in a Wall Street Journal article from 2010. Manshel agrees that the cultural and social successes of the orchestra will continue, but that the financial model has become unstable and unsustainable. The way forward is not to initiate cuts or create even further disparity between management and the musicians, but rather to work together in order to gain transparency and comfortable ways of attaining the organization’s financial goals.13 This model has already worked in Atlanta to a certain extent, but it represents a way forward that needs to be adopted by all organizations–financial stability can only come if both the musicians and the management of any symphony orchestra work together to accomplish a common goal. This requires concessions and understanding on the part of both sides. To blame orchestral management entirely would not be fair, as musicians need to accept their own share of responsibility. The largest operating cost for any orchestra is musician salaries, which has a profound (and obvious) impact on the financial stability of any organization.14 Although highly specialized and almost irreplaceable, musicians need to understand just how incredibly well off many already are. Musician salaries have increased more rapidly than average wages of other union or non-union workers in the United States in the last half of the twentieth-century. 15Additionally, the compensation packages that musicians negotiate for in the larger orchestras are incredible. For example, even though the Cleveland Orchestra is one of orchestras facing financial difficulties,
the musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra negotiated a wage freeze from 2009 to 2011, then a semiannual wage increase of 3% and 2% in 2012.16 This is on top of the $140,000 median salary already paid to the musicians, which includes ten weeks of paid vacation, and two weeks of paid sick leave. These costs only increase when factoring in the salaries of major conductors. Franz Welser-Most, music director in Cleveland, earned approximately $1.3 million dollars last year, and New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert made approximately $3.2 million.17 When faced with such stark financial situations, these numbers appear staggering. Of course, this is not the norm, as most orchestras in the USA boast median salaries of approximately $39,000.18 What needs to be taken away from these figures is that musicians and conductors must equally be aware of the financial situation in their own organizations as we move into the twentieth-century. Of course, no one can argue against the point that orchestral musicians are the best at what they do, which is why they earn and receive the compensation they do, but it cannot become a sense of entitlement as we move forward. This approach is outdated, and will not work as orchestras move into the future, especially since they are far from being the main, or only, source of entertainment in the world. Musicians must at least consider and remember why they got into music in the first place. I voluntarily chose music as a profession fully aware that it may lead to financial uncertainty, instability, and even failure later in my life. More importantly, I chose music because I found it to be the best job in the world–regardless of finances or external factors. By negotiating to sustain their own individual needs, orchestral musicians become no better than the public figures already criticized and loathed by the general public for a selfish monetary approach–athletes, politicians, movie stars, and CEOs. Of course, this is not saying that all of the above, including the orchestral musician, are selfish and egotistic, but the approach for musicians must not be seen in a negative way from the general public, as every institution requires the support of the public in order to thrive and be successful. This is common knowledge, and can be seen every day in the actions of sports franchises, political organizations, and other international corporations that rely on public image and relations for their success. Reading through sources pertaining to the future of the orchestra, the focal point inevitably becomes one of
“...several orchestras have found themselves declaring bankruptcy, reorganizing, and starting over.”
12Ibid 13 Andrew Manshel, “Too Big to Succeed?” 14Flanagan, 75 15Ibid., 72
16 Manshel 17Ibid 18Flanagan, 73
Best Student Essays
finances. This is quite logical, as every organization requires a stable fiscal foundation to ensure its stability. However, in a field such as the arts, this is even more relevant, as public support and interest may quickly sway to other forms of entertainment. Given the success and popularity of other forms of entertainment–sports, popular music, TV, and Internet– orchestras must change their fiscal solutions and platforms to remain competitive in the field and become appealing to every segment of the population, just as other forms of entertainment do. This can be done through innovative ideas for ticket sales, marketing/advertising, programming, and the approach that these orchestras take towards their own local communities. The social aspect of the orchestra is often overlooked in importance, but should not be overlooked in the discussion of ensuring its future. Orchestras such as the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra (CSO), the St. Paul’s Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) are great examples of innovative solutions to these issues. The CSO has made their concerts free to high school students and young audiences, thereby promoting and advertising to a key demographic. Additionally, they have promoted lower ticket prices in a campaign that is designed to ‘fill the seats,’ rather than ‘fill the pockets.’ Similarly, the SPCO has implemented a new system, where patrons can pay $5/month to see any SPCO concert in the season.19 This sort of ‘SPCO Membership’ promotes flexibility, low-cost solutions, and a similar approach that is centered on making sure the concert hall is full. The LA Phil was the first to actively engage the local community in expanding and diversifying musical education in inner-city schools through the “El Sistema” program. The world-renowned musical education platform started in Venezuela and Columbia was a logical decision given that recently appointed Music Director Gustavo Dudamel is an El Sistema product himself. This program has now spread to numerous cities, orchestras, and even universities, and the landscape of musical education is therefore slowly transforming in the United States.The importance of becoming an integral part of the community, as the LA Phil managed to do with El Sistema, is an example of how essential it will be for orchestras to become cultural resources in their local communities. This approach also represents a new attitude and approach that goes away from the eighteenth and nineteenth-century model that the symphony orchestra
only presents concerts in the concert hall.20 By engaging and becoming an essential part of the community, the future of each orchestra is integrated into the success of their individual community, and since no city or state official wants to be held responsible for an orchestra’s collapse, this approach ensures a stable and collaborative future. In doing so, the orchestra may also seek to develop new partnerships with universities and businesses, in order to promote collaboration and shared fiscal responsibility. This may also prove to be a valid argument for new performance spaces to be built, as the creation of performing arts centers is an economic benefit that is felt by entire local communities. Restaurants, taxis, parking lots, cafes, and other businesses all benefit from the symphony orchestra, and also combine for $135 billion in total yearly economic activity directly related to orchestra concerts.21 Therefore, if an orchestra can become an integral part of the community by expanding their financial, outreach, and educational efforts, they will be able to ensure their future and stability for the future. Of course, it is also essential for orchestras to continue producing the highest quality and level of musicianship possible, as this is the purpose of their very existence. The artistic area of concern is one that is already taking shape. Arguably the area of concern that musicians have most control over, this is also an area where musicians can ensure their own success. A high level of musicianship requires great schooling, and this is something where the United States is already at the forefront. As mentioned in Peter Dobrin’s article, the level of technicality and musicianship produced by music schools in the USA today is unprecedented.22 Therefore, this area is of little concern, as this will only continue to improve–one only needs to attend any solo recital of a college-level music student to see this point for themselves. What remains to be figured out is the necessary balance between traditional and contemporary programming. Many audiences attend orchestral concerts precisely because they feel comfortable with hearing music they know, under circumstances that are both familiar and comfortable.23 As a result these audiences may feel alienated by too many innovations in style or content, and there is little point in attracting new audiences with programming if current audiences will be lost. However, it is important for any symphony orchestra to remain current and vibrant. It is
“...the future of each orchestra is integrated into the success of their individual community...”
19 Rob Hubbard, “ St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Members Get 100 Concerts for $5 per Month” 6
20 Lawson, 258 21Ridge; Nilsson 22Peter Dobrin, “The ever-tightening pay crunch for U.S. orchestras” 23Lawson, 254
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
essential that orchestral management and musicians figure out a solution to this issue. Experimentation with new ways of programming and introducing new forms of entertainment into the concert hall (jazz, non-orchestral instruments, electronica, different venues, etc.) are already being tried in many orchestral markets around the country. This shows that orchestras are aware of the issue, and are working diligently in an attempt to produce a solution. This social challenge will surely be undertaken by the present generation of young musicians in America today–how to increase mass appeal of orchestral music in society today. An interesting point for this is made in a recent article by Tiffany Jenkins for the Edinburgh newspaper The Scotsman. In comparing “high art” (which includes the orchestra) to “low art” (which refers to pop culture today), Jenkins writes: “Ours is an era of fun, time off and amusement; museums have fallen for the mistaken idea that people can understand by being entertained.”24 In the article, Jenkins goes on to compare and understand why orchestras, museums, operas, and other forms of so-called “high art,” have seemingly been relegated to the outer edge of our cultural life today, and replaced with forms of entertainment known colloquially as ‘pop culture.’ She cites an interesting example of how opera musicians seemed almost apologetic when speaking of a performance they had just given: “It’s not street dance or comedy, but it is good!”25 Most importantly, Jenkins addresses a key issue that also touches on a point addressed previously in this writing–the apparent elitism and social standing of “high art,” which may be a key reason as to why it has fallen out of favor with the population today: “The belief that some art is not only better than others, but has an elevated character, is almost blasphemous when ‘popular’ is what’s important.”26 This is quite true, as one simply cannot compare the popular art forms to those of ‘high art.’ Popular entertainment today appeals to our instant emotions and current tastes–it is relevant to our lives, and allows us to relax, turn off from the world, and be entertained. However, it does not stretch us, require us to reflect on our lives, or actively engage our minds and attentions. To state it more simply: one approaches and processes a live version of a Shakespearean play differently than an episode of Family Guy. Therefore, although there is a divide in society as to the classification or hierarchy of particular art forms, this should not be, as both should be equally relevant
and appreciated in our daily lives. However, this requires a level of individual responsibility and effort from everyone in society in order to experience and share all aspects of cultural life, including the orchestra. There is of course no definitive answer as to whether or not there is a future for the symphony orchestra. However, what is clear is that it will continue to be a significant issue in the near future. There are necessary steps that both musicians and management need to take in order to be proactive and attempt to ensure its future. But first, steps need to be taken by every individual in order to first experience and understand what the symphony orchestra offers each one of us on a personal level. We may even enjoy listening to ‘classical music,’ but as any musician can tell you, there is just nothing like experiencing this music live at the symphony–to feel the full effect of resonating strings, the tremendous power of a crescendo or diminuendo, or simply the emotional message put forth by the music. Of course, there are still many questions and issues that remain, especially one that has recently been realized (and also never been an issue)–why is it that the increasingly educated members of society also represent the dwindling audience demographic? These two ideas used to go hand-in-hand, but as the landscape of society is changing in every direction, so too it seems, is the direction and future of the American orchestra concert-going public. I believe in order to survive, orchestras will need to become integral and invaluable parts of their respective communities while also becoming models of cooperation, collaboration, and cultural awareness. This also requires a great deal of public imagery and relations to support not only the identity of the orchestra itself, but of the music they perform. In doing so, this will attract public support, which almost certainly leads to a safe and prosperous future. There is much hope for the orchestra, and it seems that a bright future is possible if we all help to realize it. What better way to understand and think of hope than to fully experience the ninth variation of Edward Elgar’s “Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’”, Op. 36 –Nimrod. But don’t take my word for it–see for yourself.
“This social challenge will surely be undertaken by the present generation of young musicians in America today”
24 Tiffany Jenkins, “Making a Case for High Art” 25Ibid 26Ibid
Bibliography Alfidi, Anthony J. “Fire All Striking Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony.” Alfidi Capital Blog. Accessed March 20, 2013 at http://alfidicapitalblog.blogspot. com/2013/03/fire-all-striking-san-francisco.html. Beem, David. “Zombieland: American Orchestras Face Scary Future.” The Huffington Post. Accessed November 27th, 2012 at http://www. huffingtonpost.com/david-beem/orchestra-unions_b_1988325.htm
Best Student Essays
l?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false Dobrin, Peter. “The ever-tightening pay crunch for U.S. orchestras.” Philly.com. Accessed November 27th, 2012 at http://articles.philly.com/2012- 10-03/news/34219073_1_cleveland-orchestra-chamber-music-con certs-musicians Flanagan, Robert. “The Economic Environment of American Symphony Orches tras.” Stanford University School of Business. Accessed November 30th, 2012 at http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/ news/packages/pdf/Flanagan.pdf Hubbard, Rob. “St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Members Get 100 Concerts for $5 per Month,” Pioneer Press (Twin Cities). Accessed November 18th, 2012, http://www.twincities.com/entertainment/ci_20315172/st- paul-chamber-orchestra-members-get-100-concerts Jenkins, Tiffany. “Making a Case for High Art.” The Scotsman. December 28, 2012.Accessed February 13, 2013 at http://www. scotsman.com/the-scotsman/scotland/tiffany-jenkins-making-a-case- for-high-art-1-2709559. Lawson, Colin, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Orchestra. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003 Manshel, Andrew. “Are Symphonies Too Big To Succeed?” The Wall Street Journal. Accessed November 30th, 2012 at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB 10001424052748704320104575015042909194642.html Mclain, Melinda. “From the Top.” Free Fall, No Cape. Accessed March 20th, 2013, at http://melindamclain.com/?p=277. McManus, Drew. “The Ridge Address: A Warning-Response Opportunity.” Adapt istration. Accessed November 29th, 2012 Nilsson, Eric. “To get orchestras out of their financial mess, all sides must accept the new realties.” Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Ac cessed November 29th, 2012 at http://minnesota.publicradio.org/ display/web/2012/10/18/nilsson/ Ridge, Bruce. “The Autumn of our Discontent: Orchestral Musicians and the Crisis in Arts Management.” ICSOM News. Accessed on November 28th, 2012, at http://icsom.org/news/2012_oct_ridge.php Royce, Graydon. “Labor strife is playing out at orchestras all across the country.” Minnesota Star Tribune. Accessed November 27th, 2012 at http:// www.startribune.com/entertainment/172978221.html?refer=y Walsh, Michael. “Is the Symphony Orchestra Dying?” TIME Magazine. Ac cessed November 30th, 2012 at http://www.time.com/time/maga zine/article/0,9171,162020,00.html#ixzz0sMj5OO Woodcock, Tony. “American Orchestras:Yes, It’s a Crisis.” NEC Blog. AccessedNovember29th,2012,athttp://necmusic.wordpress. com/2011/05/04/american-orchestras-yes-it’s-a-crisis/
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
On Death and Transhumanism A Critical Analysis of the Transhumanist Philosophy Keila Gutierrez The issue of death has been at the epicenter of philosophical speculation for as long as man has had the ability to reason. We struggle, individually and collectively, with the question of death’s nature and meaning, but generally agree that it has one, and that its existence plays a role in the development of our perception of life. What would become of our ideals, however, if death could be eliminated? In his work The Transhumanist, Nick Bostrom explores the transhumanist philosophy, which claims that eradication of death would lead to a better quality of life. Transhumanism relies on the premise that the development of technology capable of ceasing aging and greatly postponing, or even completely abolishing, death will be feasible in the near future. Transhumanists propose that when this technology becomes available, we will have the capacity of evolving into a “post-human” society where individuals can chose not to age, and where death, or at least the timing and means of it, will be voluntary (Bostrom). While the conceivability of the post-humanist scenario is highly controversial and debatable, in this paper I will not attempt to argue against the logistics of transhumanism. Here, I will focus instead on the ethical issues with this ideology, reasoning under the hypothetical assumption that post-humanism and immortality through technological manipulation of the organism are achievable. In order to understand the problems with transhumanism, we must first comprehend the different components of the philosophy and the arguments in its defense. Here, I will present the defining points of the transhumanist philosophy and summarize Bostrom’s exploration of these points from a pro-transhumanist perspective. I will then analyze and criticize the arguments made by transhumanism and expose the many flaws in its logic. Transhumanism, as explained by Bostrom, can begin to be defined by the principles of humanism. The core value of humanism is human life. Humanists claim that humans have unique qualities that differentiate us from other organisms, and that human life is valuable and should be promoted through freedom, tolerance, education, philosophy, etc (Bostrom). Transhumanists share this belief, but claim that it logically follows to say that human life should be extended and, if possible, unlimited. Humanists essentially believe in the promotion of intellect
and emotion. Transhumanists share this view, but also specifically advocate for the promotion of the physical body through technological enhancement. In his work, Bostrom offers several arguments in defense of this idea. The first is that what defines the valuable characteristics of humans is not in our physique, and therefore there is no harm in altering the nature of our bodies. The second argument claims that progress comes from autonomy, so individuals should have the greatest amount of control over their lives possible. According to transhumanism, the possibility of becoming post-human maximizes an individual’s control over his or her life. Lastly, transhumanists claim that having unlimited time to be alive means having unlimited opportunity to create and exercise the good aspirations and ideals that make humans exceptional (Bostrom). Humanism implies that time a human spends feeling pleasure is good, and transhumanists deduce that unlimited time to feel pleasure is therefore better. One of the fundamental premises in the argument in favor of transhumanism is the idea that humans are valuable and unique due to our ideals and aspirations–not our physical body (Bostrom). Humans have developed a capacity for philosophy, intellect, and culture far deeper and more intricate than that of any other being in our knowledge–we possess an exceptional potential for speculation and emotion. All of these factors, which support the notion that human life is precious and unique, are nonphysical. It is true that what defines the distinctiveness of humanity stems from our intellect, not our organism. However, the transhumanist argument proceeds to state that because of this, there is no potential harm in altering our physical shape (Bostrom). This is problematic, as it fails to take into consideration that our values, our ideals, and the way that we perceive and interpret our existence in the world are to a great extent founded upon the qualities of our physical form. Death is an elemental component of what we collectively regard as life. While across different cultures and time periods we have come to develop a tremendously wide array of interpretations on the meaning and purpose of human life, the influence of death is a common factor to all of them. We learn to navigate the world with the knowledge that our time here is limited. It is also the case that, typically, an individual grows
Best Student Essays
up with the notion that his or her time spent on Earth is meaningful. Since we strive to make the best of our time, the prospect of a limit shapes what we choose to devote it to. We tend to perceive our lives as having several defined stages throughout which we should reach certain degrees of achievement, and these levels of development rely on the prospect of an ultimate arrival at a conclusive point. While the lives of different individuals take on unique qualities and are driven by different ambitions, there is an understanding of life as a time for growth and accomplishment which is common to all of us. We begin by developing the basic skills to function as members of society, go on to define our focus and purpose in some way, explore and elaborate on this purpose, and seek to realize some sort of goal. The intellectual may seek to gain enough knowledge and wisdom to shed light on new insights. The musician may mean to understand the structure of sound enough to create something moving and pleasing for others to hear. Or someone may simply desire to improve the lives of others with small and frequent acts of kindness, or to access the means to start a home and a family, and focus their influence on a few close individuals. The approaches are countless, but ultimately, we all seek to reach maturity with the ability to create and leave behind something of significance. A person who does not feel that he or she has yet done anything with positive impact will likely feel unprepared and unwilling to die, while it makes sense for one that has lived a productive life and finished the projects they began to accept death more peacefully. Because of death, we have a sense of dutifulness towards accomplishment. While we may not consciously consider death to be the immediate motivator for our daily actions, it is a key component to the way we structure our lives since it provides encouragement to take action and conclusiveness to our deeds. We also understand that our deeds alone are not what give meaning to humanity as a whole. The collective consciousness and intricate society humans have developed is unarguably one of the key characteristics of our uniqueness. Our society is based on a complicated net of mutually dependent relationships and roles. On an individual level, humans tend to feel extremely bound and connected to one another. We feel empathy for those who share the quality of being human, and are able to feel the emotions of another almost just as much as our own, in some cases just as acutely. Bad experiences have the capacity to provoke negative emotions in an individual even when experienced by another, and all of us can likely testify to the fact that observing even a stranger
feel joy can bring a smile to our faces. Death is a unifying factor for humankind. We understand that our time will end, so we realize that we cannot directly play a role in the world eternally. We know that our lives, having a limit, are merely one component of a greater system of equally limited lives. Death is a condition which we all share–no individual is immune to it. Because of this, humanity cannot be permanently influenced directly by any one human. Even the actions of those who we regard as having revolutionary impact on the world would be meaningless if they had gone unobserved and unreciprocated by others. We know that humanity is all individuals that exist and the dynamics between them, and that the nature of humanity has been defined by the actions of all those who have ever existed, is currently being altered by the actions of those presently here, and will continue to be shaped by those to come in the future. Because we understand that our own existence will cease, we aim to leave something behind capable of sustaining itself without our presence. Such an achievement will necessarily be immaterial. Thus, the limitation to our physical form inspires us to truly devote ourselves to the potential of our mind and spirit, and to ambitions which affect the world with power beyond the tangible. With the elimination of death, each individual’s existence would stretch indefinitely and inconclusively, with no incentive to achieve something that could affect others and be remembered and valued beyond our direct presence. A second prominent point made by transhumanism is based on the humanist perception that autonomy drives progress, and thus individuals should have the greatest amount of control over their lives possible. Transhumanists add to this idea the assertion that a person with the ability to become post-human has the greatest amount of control over his or her life (Bostrom). The first issue with this concept lies in the presupposition that progress is inalienably positive. This claim functions under the assumption that developments in technology and increases in the sophistication of civilization will always lead to an increase in the happiness and well-being of individuals. We could easily point out instances where this is not the case. We cannot deny, for instance, the deep and irreversible effects of post-industrialization human activity on our planet’s resources and ecosystems, and, in turn, on our own health and the stability of our self-sustenance. Nor can we be sure that, even if we did manage to develop technology capable of altering nature drastically enough to be able to sustain ourselves without contact to our current resources and ecosystems, we would
“Death is a condition which we all share–no individual is immune to it.”
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
be able to maintain our mental and emotional health in good uniqueness are an aspect of pleasure which transhumanists shape.127 completely overlook. True joy and satisfaction come from the However, I will not dive into this problem too deep- things which we consider to be special, and therefore, are unly. For the purposes of this paper, we will take a charitable common.We enjoy those things which we feel we have earned approach to the claim that progress comes from autonomy due their exceptionality. Humans tend to be adaptable to conand assume that the progress would be solely positive: prog- ditions–we quickly become bored with repetition and have ress leading to the betterment of human health and happi- the need to find change and diversity in order to maintain ness. Even under this assumption, there are issues with the intellectual and emotional engagement. When an individual argument. It is the case that autonomy allows for self-reliant feels that life is becoming dull, we suggest change. When we thinking, and that an individual who feels accepted and trust- move into an environment drastically different from our origed by society enough to be allowed to act upon his or her own inal one, it often feels as though we will never adjust, but with will (and thus knows that he or she has the potential to act time we get used to the conditions, and they no longer feel against and impact something he or she is displeased with) is new. If we could live eternally, constantly doing the things more likely to have a willingness to devote effort to affecting which we initially enjoy, those things would gradually lose the world positively. People should have control over their their rarity and exceptionality. We would adapt to their frelives and feel safe to act creatively and independently in order quency and unlimitedness and they would become ordinary, to fulfill their objectives. In humanist reasoning, autonomy in common things and lose the qualities that make them enjoylife means freedom, safety, and access to resources able and valuable to us in the first place. and education. However, in the post-human The transhumanist may argue that the emphaExceeding in ist scenario, following the transhumanist sis on death in determining the meaning of logic, the authority given to people goes the amount of time we life is merely a condition of its inescapabilbeyond control of their lives. Death is a ity. However, were death to be eliminatspend on Earth would component of what we accept as life, so ed, we would lose several of the qualities the choice to remove death would alrestrict our graciousness that make us and our society function ter a person’s existence into something the way we do. The senses of dutifulness, towards pleasure and diminish beyond what we could consider to be a community, and empathy that make us lifetime. For the reasons discussed earlier, an exceptional species would vanish, and our ability to feel it. taking away the element of death from life we would lose the ability to appreciate the would have an effect on the way we structure rare pleasures which make the rougher parts and approach our purpose and our society. Thus, of our lives justified. In his Letter to Menoeceus, individuals given the choice to live indefinitely would be givEpicurus claims that the wise man “savors not the longest en the power to affect much more than themselves. Unless the time but the most pleasant”(Epicurus, 14). Exceeding in the entirety of the human race was in favor of post-humanism, the amount of time we spend on Earth would restrict our gradecision of one person to become immortal would therefore ciousness towards pleasure and diminish our ability to feel it. infringe on the well-being of others, and thus would not be a It is also important to note that our knowledge of our physical successful path to the improvement of the common good. limits encourages us to expand our intellect and our character, Finally, transhumanists defend their ideology with and leave behind achievements independent from our physical the statement that having an unlimited lifetime means hav- presence. The system of individual lives coming in and out of ing unlimited opportunity to live well and exercise the val- existence, with all persons understanding the limit to their ues, ideals, and aspirations that make humans important and own time, requires us to pool our achievements, insights, and valuable (Bostrom).This statement relies on the common–but experiences together in order to create all that defines us colerroneous–perception that an increase in abundance will al- lectively and cooperatively. We have established that giving ways directly effect an increase in quality. There is no feature individuals the power to elude mortality would disrupt the of abundance, however, to which we could logically accredit flow of the mechanisms that define our goodness, our sense the conduciveness to quality. In the case of human experienc- of mutuality, and our appreciation for beauty and joy. Consees, one could argue that the opposite is true. The increase of quently, we cannot agree with the transhumanist proposition potential experiences to an indefinite number would lead to that an increase in the well-being of humanity would result a decrease in their pleasurableness and richness. Rarity and from the capacity of people to become immortal.
1Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods provides exploration and analysis of a
gratuitous collection of research regarding the innate relationship between contact with nature and mental and emotional health.
Bibliography Bostrom, Nick. “The Transhumanist.” World Transhumanist Association. 2003. Epicurus. Letter to Menoceous. Trans. Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson. 1994. Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods. New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2008.
Best Student Essays
Penumbras and Emanations The Ins and Outs of Antonin Scalia’s Textualism Juan Pablo Gardea Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is arguably the most controversial residing Justice. His often sarcastic or cynical dissenting opinions have certainly influenced this view. But it is undoubtedly his ideas about how the Constitution ought to be interpreted, and particularly the counterintuitive opinions he sometimes holds, which have earned him notoriety as an exceptionally confounding Justice. The theory of interpretation that Scalia proposes is known as textualism, which is commonly (mis)characterized as an overly constrictive theory proclaiming it “begins and ends with what the text says” (Posner), with the paraphrased reformulation: only the text and nothing more, as its maxim. Some critics1 argue that not only is textualism too rigid, but Scalia’s application of it is necessarily inconsistent. The scope of the present essay is not to present a definitive reply to all of Scalia’s critics and let him off the hook. Rather the modest aim of this essay is to reevaluate Scalia’s textualism independently of his public perception, which in many ways obscures this interpretive tool with the unfavorable shadow it casts on it. The goal, then, is to emancipate textualism from the penumbras cast by Scalia’s public persona, to see if it stands on its own two feet: a goal of great relevance in light of Scalia’s notoriously controversial public engagements, including polemic rulings and opinions. The first step is to map out the coordinates where Scalia himself situates his textualism in relation to other interpretative theories in order to characterize an initial sketch of just exactly what it allows and what it forbids. Scalia sets textualism as a whole in opposition to another interpretive doctrine known as the Living Constitution, which holds that “a body of law (unlike normal statutes) grows and changes from age to age, in order to meet the needs of a changing society. And it is the judges who determine those needs and ‘find’ the changing law” (Scalia, 181). At its core, textualism asserts that “[t]he text is the law, and it is the text that must
be observed” (Scalia, 180). This simple, preliminary definition ought not to be construed as brute literalism. Indeed, Scalia goes on to further specify the particular position of his textualism by stating that “the good textualist is not a literalist, neither is he a nihilist” (Scalia, 180). It is easy to understand how textualism is not nihilism. Scalia’s disparaging views on the living Constitution theory make it clear that judges who are allowed to read whatever moral values they feel into the Constitution, even if it is with the noble end of having an organically evolving document, inevitably lose all grounding of the law in anything except their own views: in short, they become nihilists. But, the more important distinction to be made is between textualists and literalists. “Literalists,” in this instance, is short hand for strict constructionists, whom some critics argue subscribe to textualism, a crucial error in Scalia’s view. A strict constructionist is indistinguishable from a brute literalist and could be characterized as a non-contextual textualist, or what amounts to the same thing, an unreasonable textualist. Scalia emphasizes that “[i]n textual interpretation, context is everything” (Scalia, 181). What does Scalia mean when he says that context is everything? Doesn’t textualism negate the use of contextual interpretation and urge us to “stick to the text?” Yes, but not in a literal sense. Scalia cites Chief Justice Marshall in McCulloch v. Maryland, where he states that a Constitution necessarily must be general, and not explicitly detail every power and right that it concedes, since that would be impractical. Instead, Scalia claims that the Constitution’s nature “requires that only its great outlines should be marked, its important objects designated, and the minor ingredients which compose those objects be deduced from the nature of the objects themselves” (Scalia, 181). In light of this, how broad is textualism? Two things should be noted about Justice Marhsall’s words. First, his remarks do not justify an interpretive theory of the Constitution that is based on framer’s intent, which allows readings that further its scope if that scope is “consistent in spirit.” No, textualism does not
“It is easy to understand how textualism is not nihilism.”
1Notable in this category is U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Judge
Richard A. Posner, who holds this view in his August 2010 New Republic article, “The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia.”
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
try to reconstruct authorial intent based on the existing text; in his dissenting opinion that the majority is too quick to textualism constructs laws based on the text. Secondly, what dismiss context: “to speak of ‘using a firearm’ is to speak of Justice Marshall claims above is that every right that a citizen using it for its distinctive purpose, i.e., as a weapon” (Smith has is obviously not explicitly detailed in the Constitution; v. U.S.). To an uncharitable critic, Scalia’s dissent seems in disuch a Constitution would be impossibly long. Therefore, one rect contradiction with (a misunderstanding of) textualism: should refrain from overly literalist readings (brute literalism the text clearly says use, and Smith undoubtedly used the and strict constructionism) which rely on simplistic readings object. Scalia’s semantic distinction subtly treads a line sepaof the text, since they fail to grasp the whole (implicit) text. rating authorial intent theory from literalism. Clearly, Scalia One should also, however, reject the temptation of further does not appeal to what the lawmakers must have meant. adding rights based on their consistency with the existing And yet, he defends that use in this case carries various spetext; Justice Marshall’s point is more subtle. The positive text cific connotations which are being ignored by the majority. inscribed in the Constitution is all there is, but it is much The textualist point to be made is that the connotations are more inclusive than it sometimes seems. The purely contextually inscribed in the particular configuration semantic, positive aspect of the text is contextuof the word ‘use’ in the text; they emanate from ally inscribed with meanings that expand it; The issue that the text and thus are within it. By engaging they are not explicitly stated in the Conin this tightrope walking exercise, Scalia these cases highlight is clearly demonstrates how inclusive text stitution, but necessarily part of the text. This insight brings a new understanding that a textualist approach to is. Without recourse to anything outside to Justice Douglas’s famous appeal to the text (e.g. authorial intent), he draws Constitutional the “penumbras and emanations” of the attention to its rich and clearcut connoBill of Rights in Griswold v. Connecticut, interpretation is possible tations which contestably show its true a case widely regarded as setting the meaning. foundations for a reading of the Bill of An equally exemplary application of and feasible. Rights which (implicitly) includes privacy as textualism occurs in the more recent Brown a fundamental right. Justice Douglas argues that v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association, where “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have pena law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to umbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that children was being challenged on First Amendment grounds. help give them life and substance” (Griswold v. Connecticut). The issue, in this case, is whether video games constitute Although Douglas’s language about ‘emanations’ and ‘life and speech as protected by the Constitution. For chronological substance’ is evocative of a living Constitution interpretation, reasons video games are not explicitly mentioned in the First we should reject such a facile and superficial understanding. Amendment. A brute literalist would then be committed to The key issue for Douglas is that the text of the Constitution the idea of letting the legislation decide if video games are obviously includes things which are not-so-obviously accesto be protected. But what is the textualist position in this sible at first glance, but which are nonetheless part of the case? Channeling Justice Marshall’s point about the Constitutext. First and foremost, Douglas’s remarks break the living tion’s explicit generalities from which the particulars can be Constitution-literalism-authorial intent triad by opening a derived, Scalia notes that just as “protected books, plays, and fourth option conveniently situated between these theories. movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas Isn’t then Douglas’s interpretation remarkably similar to (…) That suffices to confer First Amendment protection” Justice Marhsall’s and hence, to Scalia’s? Of course, all of this (Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association). This simple argutheoretical apparatus is good and well, but the question still ment exemplifies the textualist commitment at its best. The remains: how is this interpretation applied and how can it point is that “speech” is a broad enough category to include possibly be consistent? video games just as it includes books and movies, just by vir For a textbook application of the textualist project, tue of the common characteristic that these mediums have, one need look no further than Scalia’s dissenting opinion in that they express ideas. Once again, Scalia does not intend to Smith v. United States, where, as Justice O’Connor sucexpand the interpretation of speech with an interpretation cinctly put it, the fundamental contention to be resolved was that is “consistent in spirit.” Instead he argues that, conceptuwhether “the exchange of a gun for narcotics constitutes ‘use’ ally, speech as a category already encompasses things which of a firearm” (Smith v. U.S.). Notably, Scalia argues that the express ideas independently of the particular tradition or hisword “use” ought not to be taken too literally, as the majortory of the medium. As always with textualism, it is helpful ity holds. In an exemplary textualist response, he expresses to dismiss the authorial intent line of reasoning (e.g. “would
Best Student Essays
the authors of the First Amendment concede that video games are speech if they were here today?”). Scalia does not appeal to authorial intent, but to the text’s semantic context. Citing Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v.Wilson, he further argues that “the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press, like the First Amendment’s command, do not vary when a new and different medium for communication appears” (Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association). The issue that these cases highlight is that a textualist approach to Constitutional interpretation is possible and feasible. The question of Scalia’s consistency in its application is largely irrelevant, considering that Scalia’s critic himself admits that: “he must have voted in at least two thousand cases as a justice of the Supreme Court” (Posner). Is it surprising that from this extensive career, critics are able to pull out a few inconsistent opinions? But, more importantly, why should Scalia’s ability or inability to correctly apply textualism be perceived as part of the theory’s inherently flawed structure? If Scalia can not conform to textualism, so much worse for Scalia. The real issue to be emphasized is that textualism is indeed deserving of a re-evaluation as a particularly advantaged interpretive tool to uphold the law, even if such a re-evaluation does away with the excess of Scalia himself. Works Cited Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. (2011) Griswold v. Connecticut, 496 U.S. 381 (1965) Posner, Richard A. “The Incoherence of Scalia.” The New Republic. The New Republic, 24 August 2012. Web. 28 February 2013 Scalia, Antonin. “The Role of U.S. Federal Courts in Interpreting the Constitu tion.” Philosophical Problems in the Law, 4th ed. Ed. David M. Adams. Canada: Wadsworth, 2005. 178-183. Print. Smith v. United States, 508 U.S. 223 (1993)
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
SHED Lauren Kenward “Memory is an act of ‘thinking of things in their absence,’ which may well be triggered in response to objects” -Susan A. Crane
The objects depicted in these photographs are pulled from five particular spaces, known to my family and I as Sheds A-E. Sheds are spaces designed for storage and collection. Over the past four decades, my dad has packed and piled objects into these physical structures, perhaps simply for the sake of being saved. By being placed into the environment of the shed, objects lose their physical connection to a definite space and time. Existing within a shed becomes a state of limbo. Because physical associations are severed, connections to space and meaning can then only exist in a psychological space, within the memory of the collector. By arranging these still lifes I hope to heighten the objects’ sensitivity to narrative. I am referencing the interior state of these sheds, where objects get lost in a cacophonous clutter of treasures on top of stuff on top of other treasurable stuff. I work toward excavating the memories attached to these objects, how they are saved, as well as why they continue to exist in this physical and psychological in-between space of the shed.
Best Student Essays
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
Best Student Essays
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
Best Student Essays
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
Best Student Essays
The Education of Love and Resistance Kelsey Martin When examining the eighteenth-century French print as a tool of sexual education, scholarly research is scarce. Existing research involving this topic primarily derives from scant chapters or articles pertaining to a broader analysis of French genre painting,1 and exhibition catalogues that tend to lack a more rounded visual analysis involving social context. In contrast, much has been published on eighteenth-century theoretical perspectives involving the literary education of love during the French Enlightenment. Most commonly, this research investigates the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778) and Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784).2 By applying the available research on the literary education of love—such as the prevailing theoretical perspective of Rousseau—to a visual analysis of two reproductive engravings after the eighteenth-century artist Pierre-Antoine Baudouin (1723 – 1769), one sees an association between prominent theoretical, public discourse involving love and sexuality and gallant imagery of the Rococo. Specifically, Rousseau’s ideas on female sexuality, and its association with nature, along with Rousseau’s formula of initial feminine resistance to masculine sexual advances, can be found within the ambiguous portrayals of consent in Jean-Baptiste Simonet’s Le danger du tête-à-tête (1772) and Nicolas Delaunay’s L’Epouse Indiscrète (1771).3 Often, the consensual, reciprocal nature of love is obvious within gallant imagery:4the smiling, serene, and even playful figures of women in paintings by François Boucher 1An example of a broader analysis of French genre painting can be found inKristelS-
mentek’s chapter in French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century: Studies in the History of Art. Smentek, Kristel, “Sex, Sentiment, and Speculation: The Market for Genre Prints on the Eve of the French Revolution,” 221 – 244. Also see Barbara Gaehtgens chapter, “The Theory of French Genre Painting and Its European Context” in The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, 40 – 59. 2 See Susan Groag Bell and Karen M. Offen’sWomen, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, Volume One, 1750 – 1880, Mary SeidmanTrouille’sSexual Politics in the Enlightenment: Women Writers Read Rousseau, and Rita Goldberg’s Sex and Enlightenment: Women in Richardson and Diderot. 3Le danger du tête-à-tête and L’EpouseIndiscrèteare original paintings done by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin, later appropriated into reproductive engravings by Jean-Baptiste Simonet and Nicolas Delaunay. 4 Gallant imagery is defined by an imaginary, lush setting that served as a backdrop to figures garbed in theatrical attire, often engaging in various stages of love or desire. Most often, these sensuous scenes focus on the relationship between two contemporary lovers who coyly participate in high society love games or frolick through nature. (See Jean-François de Troy’s (1679 – 1752) The Game of Pied-de-Boeuf (c. 1725) and Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s (1732 – 1806) The Progress of Love (c. 1771 – 1773).)
(1703 – 1770),5 and several small gouaches6 by Boucher’s student Pierre-Antoine Baudouin, exemplify this. However, in some of these gallant images the women are portrayed with a relative lack of agency, often in some state of vulnerability or sexual proclivity, such as: being observed unnoticed,7 masturbating to erotic novels,8 “accidentally” having a wardrobe malfunction,9 or resisting sexual advances.10 Male figures in these scenes are the more active agents, often vying for the attention of the object of their desire by pulling a woman towards them, holding them down, declaring their love, or peeping on their private moments. In particular, two of Baudouin’s gallant scenes are uniquely ambiguous when it comes to the nature of female consent: Le danger du tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète (or Les Indiscrets). In both scenes, the female figures are caught in the midst of a surprising sexual advance or declaration of love by a male. Baudouin attempts to capture the moment in these scenes where the women contemplate their next move as the men grab for them, leaving their undecided consent up to the interpretation of the viewer. These images of resistance can be seen as a reflection of popular discourse involving sexuality and morality during eighteenth-century France, based particularly on the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 – 1778). In addition, of all the artistic forms in eighteenth-century France, prints were the simplest to produce, which made them an easy way to propagate artwork.11 It also enabled an innovative market for the circulation of public discourse and philosophy, which were made available to a widely accessible 5In particular, Boucher’s The Rape of Europa (1747) looks more like a pleasant family
portrait than an abduction/rape scene. 6Gouache is a type of paint, similar to watercolor yet heavier and non-transparent. 7Seen in Isidore-StanislasHelman’s 1781 engraving after NiklasLafrensen’sLe Roman Dangereux. 8Seen in Emmanuel Jean Nepomucène de Ghendt’s 1778 engraving entitled Les Heures du Jour: Le Midi, after Pierre-Antoine Baudouin. 9Seen in Emmanuel Jean Nepomucène de Ghendt’s 1778 engraving entitled Les Heures du Jour: Le Soir, after Pierre-Antoine Baudouin. 10The theme of resistance seems to be spread throughout the eighteenth century. Early examples include Antoine Watteau’s Le Faux Pas c. 1716 – 1717, Nicolas Lancret’sThe Bourbon-Conti Family c. 1737 and La ServanteJustifee.
DimitriOzerkov states that of all art forms, prints were “easy to produce and thus widely available.” (45) In addition, KristelSmentek assesses that prints were the “principle means of diffusion of genre imagery,” often keeping art alive after exhibitions at salons or after they were sold. (221.)
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
audience. It is important to note that eighteenth-century France was not home to one overarching discourse on the sexes, gender, or the role of women and men in society. On the contrary, numerous philosophical accounts regarding these issues, both traditional12 and modern,13 circulated throughout France. It was due to such clashing theoretical frameworks that eighteenth-century France saw a rising tension between the traditional identification of women as a basic derivative of men—a paradigmatically Aristotelian approach—and an accumulating bourgeois interest in the emancipation of females from males. Social perception of important distinctions between the sexes originated within medical research, and was fostered through a drive for knowledge and a concentration on science that largely developed within the Enlightenment. Traditional models, developed by ancient philosophers such as Aristotle (384 B.C.E – 322 B.C.E.) and Galen (129 – c. 200), reasoned that the inverted sexual organs of females were inferior to males, and this was thought to be the extent of the difference between the sexual organs of men and women.14 By the eighteenth century, some medical discourse rejected these ancient theories regarding the sexes, as “experts” (philosophers, scientists, etc.) began to consider women as distinctly separate from men due to their opposing biological characteristics, particularly within the reproductive organs.By establishing an innate biological difference between the sexes over the traditional argument of biologically inferiority, women began to be emancipated from negative medical discourse. Female and male body parts which had once shared the same names became linguistically separated, such as the ovaries and testes.15 As the debate over structural characteristics of the human body flourished, the relationship between female biological attributes16 and their sociocultural capabilities became paramount to the redefinition of the male-to-female
relationship. Among the many theories of female sexuality, no other eighteenth-century philosopher most exemplifies an obsession with sexual difference and its cultural implications than Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Thomas Walter Laqueur refers to Rousseau’s work as a “complicated antifeminist account [which] is perhaps the most theoretically elaborated of the liberal theories of bodies and pleasures.”17 In particular, Rousseau’s Émileou De l’éducation (Émile, or on Education)(1762) promotes the author’s interpretations of how the sexual distinctions between males and females must manifest culturally. In Book V of Émile, Rousseau uses the characters Émile and Sophie to represent masculine and feminine society as a whole—a discussion not always based in a perspective of equality. Rousseau’s discussion of Sophie’s upbringing centers solely on her imminent role as a submissive wife.18 In order to achieve her status within society, Sophie must learn to restrain her natural desires and moderate her passions—all “natural inclinations” that must be channeled “in order to prevent excess.”19 For Rousseau, this ‘excessive’ desire and passion manifests in female sexuality. He believed that female sexual desires were most akin to nature itself: physical and insatiable almost to the point of wildness. It is here where we see the first of Rousseau’s distinct separations between male and female sexualities, where women are discussed as innately, naturally sexual and men’s sexuality is seen as largely culturally constructed. For example, Rousseau states: “if mankind still lived in a natural state, unspoiled by society, sexual maturity would come naturally, late in the life of a man” or even not at all.20 This construction of sexuality frames women as naturally controlled by their sexual desires, while male sexuality is controlled through cultural provocations.21 In gallant imagery of the early eighteenth-century, we
“For Rousseau, this ‘excessive’ desire and passion manifests in female sexuality.”
12Traditional treatises such as Aristotle’s Masterpiece and Nicholas Venette’sThe Art of
Conjugal Love continued to transfer Classic knowledge of the sexes and their place in society to thousands of readers. Laqueur Thomas Walter, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, 151. 13Concurrent with the re-publication of traditional treatises, modern Enlightenment thought nurtured a growing debate surrounding the role of women, which was centered on the sexualizuation of female existence. This is discussed largely in LieselotteSteinbrugge’sThe Moral Sex: Woman’s Nature in the French Enlightenment. 14Laqueur Thomas Walter, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, 149. 15Laqueur, Thomas Walter, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, 149
Laqueur refers to women as “the perennial other,” assessing the common issue that women are often considered as “other” in comparison to the standard or norm of male. Laqueur, Thomas Walter, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, 150.
17Laqueur, Thomas Walter, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, 198
Steinbrügge, Lieselotte, The Moral Sex:Woman’s Nature in the French Enlightenment,55
Author includes Rousseau’s description of the “appetites, passions, and needs” a woman must restrain from, such as “all those qualities usually considered feminine, such as a fondness for finery, curiosity, coquetry, adroitness, and garrulousness.” Steinbrügge, Lieselotte, The Moral Sex: Woman’s Nature in the French Enlightenment, 56. 20Kraakman, Dorelies, “Reading Pornography Anew: a critical history of sexual knowledge for girls in French erotic fiction, 1750 – 1840,” 542. 21Denis Diderot’s Sur les femmes (1772) most closely mirrors Rousseau’s interpretation of the wild nature of females. He expresses his belief that women, through their utter dependence upon their raging sexuality, are prevented from progressing to a higher form of civilization (presumably akin to the sophistication and restraint found within men.) Women are therefore resigned to a primitive and savage state in which they are “ever threatening to sully man’s cultural achievements with an uncontrolled outbreak of her powerful natural sexuality.” Steinbrügge, Lieselotte, The Moral Sex: Woman’s Nature in the French Enlightenment, 44.
Best Student Essays
can see an association between women and nature through the depiction of sensual scenes or amorous liaisons in overgrown, lush gardens, or forestry. If the gallant scene takes place indoors, such as in the reproductive prints after Baudouin’s Le danger du tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète, there are often references to nature through flowing garlands of flowers, a potted plant, or even an open door or window leading outdoors. In Jean-Baptiste Simonet’s engraving of Le danger du tête-à-tête, thousands of flowers are strung into garlands and lavishly hung throughout the room the couple occupies. Two lush and overflowing potted plants also appear in the scene, one to the left of the couple and the other hung in the upper right of the room. In particular, several garlands of flowers appear intertwined behind the couple, crisscrossing around plush drapery as they lead the viewer’s eye to the center of the scene. Here, the man has been so moved by his passion that he has fallen from his seat to crouch before the woman. The woman, whose surrounding symbols of sexuality in the group of flowers that reside in her hair, pushes against the oncoming man in resistance. The flowing fabric of her right sleeve and the awkward, twisting position of her body seem to suggest that she has just whipped around in surprise at the man’s declaration. In addition to the sensuous, overflowing depiction of flora within Baudouin’s elegant interior scene, an opulent fire glows to the left of the couple, providing the only source of light to the room. This could be an allusion to what D.T. Bienville called the “natural fire” of women in his 1771 treatise titled, La nymphomanie; ou, Traité de la fureur uterine.22 Bienville proposed that women of all ages were naturally at risk for nymphomania,a disease he defined as “an insatiable desire for sexual intercourse with delirium.”23 Bienville proposed that all women were easily overcome by their “natural fire,” often finding themselves participating in imprudent or hasty practices. Therefore, in Le danger du tête-à-tête, the woman is surrounded by symbols of her supposed rampant and uncontrollable sexual desires, with both allusions to nature and the presence of the fire. Even the title of the print alludes to the danger of such “unwise” practices Bienville warned against, which apparently manifest here through a private conversation that has turned into something more.24
In Nicolas Delaunay’s version of Baudouin’s L’Epouse Indiscrète, there seems to be less direct reference to nature than in Le danger du tête-à-tête. However, the huge expanses of flowing drapery and plush blanketing within the boudoir scene seem to dwarf the couple. In both Le danger du tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète, the female figures resist the advances of their male partners, pulling away from their lunging and grabbing gestures. It seems that even in representations of female resistance, nature is almost always present, alluding to the “excessive” and “insatiable” sexual desires within women, and perhaps excusing a situation which leads to a resisting female figure. The allusion to nature serves as a reminder to woman’s natural and wild sexuality. However, the question remains: why are the two female figures of Baudouin’s Le danger du tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète resisting, and what is the purpose of the ambiguous portrayal of consent? Rousseau’s theories may hold the key to deciphering the nature of these images, again found in Book V of Émile. In Emile, the author discusses the innate differences between men and women, suggesting that men should be “strong and active,” while women should be “weak and passive.”25 Rousseau believed that due to male strength and relative agency, men must contain both power and will within sexual relationships, while “it is sufficient for [women] to offer little resistance.”26 The author proposes that ultimately, it is a woman’s position to please a man, while a man may or may not choose to please a woman (“the necessity is less direct”).27 Most interestingly, Rousseau develops a formula for relations between men and women, stating: If woman is made to please and to be subjugated to man, she ought to make herself pleasing to him rather than to provoke him; her particular strength lies in her charms; by their means she should compel him to discover his own strength and put it to use. The surest art of arousing this strength is to render it necessary by resistance. Thus pride reinforces desire and each triumphs in the other’s victory. From this originates attack and defense, the boldness of one sex and the timidity of the other and finally the modesty and shame with which nature has armed the weak for the conquest of the strong.28
“The allusion to nature serves as a reminder to woman’s natural and wild sexuality.”
22Sheriff, Mary D., Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth Century France, 128. 23Sheriff, Mary D., Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth Century France, 128. 24Sheriff, Mary D., Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth
Century France, 128. 25Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 44. 26Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 44. 27Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 44. 28Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
Rousseau is therefore examining the separation of the sexes in not admit any real violence; both nature and reason terms of opposing characteristics such as strength/resistance, oppose it; nature, in that she has given the weaker attack/defense, boldness/timidity, and strong/weak. At first party strength enough to resist if she chooses; reablush, this assessment falls into a role of gender binaries, in son, in that real violence is not only the most brutal which men are active and assertive agents of sexuality while of all acts but defeats its own ends, not only because women are seen as submissive—almost passive—partners in man thus declares war against his companion and love and desire. gives her the right to defend her person and her However, it is important to note that Rousseau is, liberty even at the expense of the aggressor’s life, in a sense, giving power to the eighteenth-century woman, but also because the woman alone is the judge of by stating that she harbors strength in her ability to compel the situation and a child would have no father if any men through stimulation of their desires. This power requires man might usurp a father’s rights.31 that women use their charms to resist men in order to arouse Here, the key to recognizable sexual consent for them, providing women with the ability to guide the Rousseau is a woman’s strength to choose whether or will of men for their own personal inclinations. not she will participate in a sexual relationship. According to Rousseau, a women’s power to This decision-making process is what “Rousseau resist makes men “dependent on woman’s reports as most titillating to therefore attributes to Rousseau good will and compels him…to please men, who ponder on the reasoning for a women powers of her so that she may consent to yield to his woman’s eventual consent. As the author 29 superior strength.” Rousseau moves to modesty and charm—tools states, “is it weakness that yields to force state that a woman’s reciprocal desires or is it voluntary self-surrender? This which, when cultivated by will be best communicated through the uncertainty constitutes the chief delight vigor of her resistance, continuing to of women, can be used to have the man’s victory, and the woman is refer to the quest for love as a battle to be usually cunning enough to leave him in men bend to their won or lost: doubt.”32 Further, Rousseau reports that a Whether the woman shares the man’s woman most desires to give in to her sexuality, wills.” desires or not, whether or not she is willing to which is demonstrated by a certain faux-weakness that satisfy them, she always repulses him and defends could ultimately be used as an excuse for her eventual assent: herself, though not always with the same vigor and Women’s minds exactly resemble their bodies; far not, therefore, always with the same success. For from being ashamed of their weakness they revel the attacker to be victorious, the besieged must in it. Their soft muscles offer no resistance; they permit or direct the attack. How adroitly she can pretend that they cannot lift the lightest loads; they force the aggressor to use his strength.30 would be ashamed to be strong. And why? This is Rousseau attempts to create a canon for love and sexual not merely to appear delicate, they are too clever conquest that must always begin with resistance, regardless of for that, they are providing themselves beforehand a woman’s feelings towards the man who instigates his with excuses and with the right to be weak if need desires. The philosopher creates two ways in which a woman be.33 may express her consent. First, she may eventually permit the Rousseau therefore attributes to women powers of modesty advances of her oncoming lover, or second, she may direct his and charm—tools which, when cultivated by women, can be advances in some other way from the very beginning. There- used to have men bend to their wills. fore, a woman’s skill lies in her ability to coerce a man to use In Le danger du tête-à-tête, it seems almost too early his strength upon her, from which she must always (initially) to infer how much “vigor” the female character will use in resist. her protest. The woman has just turned to face the man who To ensure his audience that his theories of love professes his love, her expression void of any emotion except revolve around playfulness and not violence, Rousseau presses perhaps slight surprise. Will she give in to her natural sexual that: desires, alluded to by the glowing fire and the almost The freest and most delightful of all the acts does unnecessary amount of flora in the room? Or will she use her Documents, 44. 29Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 45 – 46. 30Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 45.
31Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 45 32Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 45 – 46 33Bell, Susan Groag and Karen M. Offen, Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents, 46.
Best Student Essays
modesty and shame, tools given to women by nature to duction of consent, though it does appear compromising for defend themselves from the sexual advances of men, to the trapped young woman. However, to Rousseau and to the ultimately decline her partner’s advances? The woman’s lack viewers of these images, the power may remain in the hands of decision, seen in the absence of joyous or frightened facial of the woman as she wrestles with herself, attempting to deexpression, combined with her culturally-trained initial resis- cide whether or not this is what she wants. As we can see in tance, lends to an ambiguous reading of the consensual nature L’Epouse Indiscrète, the concordance of the male’s and female’s in this piece. However, if Rousseau’s assertions are true in that wishes are not yet clear. Here, the boundaries between men find most enticing the uncertainty of a woman’s reason- coaxing and violence, half-hearted resistance and unconsent, ing for self-surrender, then Baudouin’s decision to capture remain blurry. Whether this woman will give in—either due this moment, and Simonet’s choice to reproduce it for the to her own weakness or due to her “voluntary self-surrenmasses, was shrewd. According to the theories of Rousseau, der”—the viewer does not know. such gallant portrayals of women in the process of resistance The ambiguous nature of such prints as Le danger du or self-surrender would have been sexually tantalizing, creat- tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète attests to the surrounding and ing a market for the widespread dissemination of artwork in varied debate over the nature of female sexuality and how this the manner of printmaking, manifests through relations of the sexes and matters of love. In Delaunay’s L’Epouse Indiscrète, the female figure As these prints are within the context of their time period, seems to be in a more compromising position than reflecting the growing literary interest and philothe woman in Le danger du tête-à-tête. Here, sophical debates regarding the construction of ...the sexuality, one can observe the implications the young woman has fallen backwards, almost swallowed by the flowing drapery moment of choice, the of Rousseau’s theories upon artistic incliand representation of the sexes, and blankets that surround her. Although decision between “yes” and nation which were often used in the education she too seems to have been caught by surprise, the scene feels slightly more “no” where women hold the of love. As literature reflected a rising interest in philosophical debates on aggressive than Le danger du tête-à-tête. most power in their sexual morality Lending to this aggressive nature is the and sexuality, the artwork that twisting body of the female as she ataccompanied this growing appreciation for relationships. literature may also reflect such theories. tempts to pull away from her attacker. This woman seems more helpless, stuck in her posi A close examination of gallant scenes, partiction deep within the plushness of linens. The man has ularly as reproduced in the popularity of printmaking, also moved further along in his sexual advances than the male reveals the reverberating echoes of Rousseau’s separation of in Le danger du tête-à-tête. Here he holds the woman’s right arm the sexes. This is particularly seen in the association of female tightly away from her, as he reaches for her breast with his free sexuality with nature, along with often ambiguous portrayals hand. of Rousseau’s formula of initial resistance present within Le The juxtaposed gestures of the two figures seem to danger du tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète. These prints capture follow Rousseau’s application of gender binaries, in that men the moment of choice, the decision between “yes” and “no” are to exude strength while women resist, men are to attack where women hold the most power in their sexual relationwhile women should remain on the defense, men should be ships. However, as the decision has been left out of Baudouin’s bold in contrast to women’s timidity, men should be strong paintings and therefore, the reproduced engravings, the conwhile women should be weak, and so on. According to Rous- sensual nature of the depicted tryst seems ambiguous. Colin seau, this woman is attempting to resist with enough “vigor” Bailey attests that Baudouin tended to leave some details of to render the attack unsuccessful. If Rousseau is correct in his paintings and drawings ambiguous, attempting “to allow deducing that resistance is the surest way to arouse a man’s wide differences of interpretation” for audiences.34 It seems strengths, then the level of advancement this man has made in as though Baudouin employed this technique within Le danger du tête-à-tête and L’Epouse Indiscrète, successfully capitalizhis conquest in L’Epouse Indiscrète is no surprise. What does remain unclear in this gallant scene is the ing upon these growing debates over the sexuality of women, level of consent from the female, who, as we have seen, has while leaving the nature of female consent up to his viewers. been taught to resist sexual advances regardless of her desires. Bilbliography Sarane.“Education in Love in the Age of Enlightenment.” In The Triumph Again we see a lack of expression in Delaunay’s figure—al- Alexandrian, of Eros:art and seduction in 18th century France, edited by Frank Althaus though the male seems to be smiling coyly. The dominant po- and Mark Sutcliffe, 35– 44. London: Fontanka, 2006. 34 “Catalogue” in The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French sitioning of the male over the female does not aid in any de-
Genre Painting, ed. by Colin B. Baily, 240.
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
Bailey, Colin B. “Genre Paintings in Eighteenth-Century France: The Huntington Col lection.”French Art of the Eighteenth Century at the Huntington, edited by Shelley M. Bennett and Carolyn Sargentson, 337 – 348. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. Bell, Susan Groag& Karen M. Offen. Women, the Family, and Freedom: The Debate in Documents. Volume One, 1750 – 1880. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983. Bernier, Olivier.The Eighteenth-Century Woman.Garden City, New York: Doubleday &Company, Inc., 1981. Bryson, Norman. Word and Image: French Painting of the Ancien Régime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. “Catalogue” in The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, edited by Colin B. Bailey, 121 – 345.New Haven:Yale Uni versity Press, 2003. Darnton, Robert and Daniel Roche. Revolution in Print: The Press in France, 1775- 1800. LosAngeles: University of California Press, 1989. Dejean, Joan E. “Man of Mode: Watteau and the Gendering of Genre Painting.” French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century: Studies in the History of Art, edited by Philip Conisbee, 39 – 48. New Haven:Yale University Press, 2007. Duncan, Carol. “Happy Mothers and Other New Ideas in Eighteenth Century French Art.” In Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, edited by Nor ma Broude and Mary D.Garrard, 201 – 220. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1982. Duncan, Carol. The Pursuit of Pleasure: The Rococo Revival in French Romantic Art. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1976. Gaehtgens, Barbara. “The Theory of French Genre Painting and Its European Con text.”The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting, edited by Colin B. Bailey, 40 – 59.New Haven:Yale University Press, 2003. Goldberg, Rita. Sex and Enlightenment: Women in Richardson and Diderot. Cam bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984. Grasselli, Margaret Morgan. Colorful Impressions: the Printmaking Revolution in Eighteenth Century France. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 2003. Holloway, Owen E. French Rococo Book Illustration. New York: Transatlantic Art Inc., 1969. Hunt, Lynn. Eroticism and the Body Politic. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press, 1991. Hunt, Lynn. The Invention of Pornography: Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500 –1800. New York: Zone Books, 1993. Hyde, Melissa. Making up the Rococo: Francois Boucherand his Critics.Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2006. Kampen, Natalie Boymel. “The Muted Other: Gender and Morality in Augustun Rome and Eighteenth-Century Europe.” In The Expanding Discourse: Fem inism and Art History,edited by Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard. Westview Press, 1992. Kraakman, Dorelies. “Reading Pornography Anew: a critical history of sexual knowledge for girls in French erotic fiction, 1750-1840.” Journal of the history of sexuality 4 (1993):517 – 548. Lajer-Burcharth, Ewa.“Genre and Sex.”French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Cen tury:Studies in the History of Art, edited by Philip Conisbee, 201 – 220. New Haven:Yale University Press, 2007. Landes, Joan B. Visualizing a nation: Gender, Representation, and Revolution in Eigh teenth Century France.Cornell University Press, 2001. Laqueur, Thomas Walter. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge,Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990. Leith, James A. The Idea of Art as Propaganda in France 1750-1799: A Study in the History of Ideas.University of Toronto Press, 1965. Levey, Michael.Painting and Sculpture in France 1700 – 1789.Yale University press, 1993. Levitine, George. “French Eighteenth-Century Printmaking in Search of Cultural As sertion.” In Regency to empire: French printmaking, 1715 – 1814, 10 – 21.Baltimore Museum ofArt, 1984.Mourão, Manuela. “The Representa tion of Female Desire in Early Modern Pornographic Texts, 1660 – 1745.”Chicago Journals 24 (1999), 573 – 602. Ozerkov, Dimitri. “French Prints of the Gallant Age in Paris and St. Petersburg.” In The Triumphof Eros: art and seduction in 18th century France, edited by Frank Althaus and Mark Sutcliffe, 45 – 53. London: Fontanka, 2006. Rand, Erica. “Diderot and Girl-Group Erotics.”Eighteenth Century Studies 25 (1992), 495 –516.
Rix, Brenda D. French printmaking of the eighteenth century: exhibition. Toronto, Canada: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1988. Rosario, Vernon A.The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of Perversity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Rousseau, G.S. and Roy Porter.Sexual underworlds of the Enlightenment.Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988. Schroder, Anne. “Genre Prints in Eighteenth-Century France: Production, Market, and Audience,” In Intimate Encounters: Love and Domesticity in Eigh teenth-Century France,69 – 86.Hanover, New Hampshire: The Trustees of Dartmouth College, 1997. Schroder, Anne L. “Reassessing Fragonard’s Later Years: The Artist’s Nineteenth Century Biographers, the Rococo, and the French Revolution.”Art and Culture in the EighteenthCentury: New Dimensions and Multiple Perspec tives. Edited by Elise Goodman, 39 – 58.Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001. Sheriff, Mary D. Moved by Love: Inspired Artists and Deviant Women in Eighteenth Century France. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004. Siegfried, Susan L. “Femininity and the Hybridity of Genre Painting.” French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century: Studies in the History of Art, edited by Philip Conisbee, 15 – 38.New Haven:Yale University Press, 2007. Smentek, Kristel. “Sex, Sentiment, and Speculation: The Market for Genre Prints on the Eve of the French Revolution.” French Genre Painting in the Eighteenth Century: Studies in the History of Art, edited by Philip Conis bee, 221 – 244. New Haven:Yale University Press,2007. Spencer, Samia.French Women and the Age of Enlightenment.Indiana University Press, 1984. Steinbrügge, Lieselotte. The Moral Sex: Woman’s Nature in the French Enlightenment. Translated by Pamela E. Selwyn. NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1995. Stewart, Philip. Engraven Desire: Eros, Image and Text in the French Eighteenth Cen tury. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992. Trouille, Mary Seidman. Sexual Politics in the Enlightenment: Women Writers Read Rousseau. New York: State University of New York Press, 1997. Vogel, Lise. “Erotica, the Academy, and Art Publishing: A Review of Woman as Sex Ob ject.”The Art Journal 35 (1976), 378 – 385. Work, Rest & Play: Women and Children in Prints after Chardin. Produced to accom pany an exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum: University of Cambridge, 2011.
Best Student Essays
Negro y Azul
Breaking Bad and the Insertion of Drama into Reality Through the Use of Narcocorrido Rodrigo Guzman
Translation by: Socorro Pla Pino
“That homie’s dead, he just doesn’t know it yet.” -Los Cuates de Sinaloa, Negro y Azul (narcocorrido)
In his memorable essay E Unibus Pluram:Television and U.S. Fiction, David Foster Wallace points out the development in metafiction and the metaspectator as characteristic features of American television of the last twenty years. Metafiction describes the double complicity of the spectator and the TV show, recognizing the fantasy of fiction itself through constant self-referentiality. There is no doubt that content in American television reflects on itself and the industry and its logic are equally exposed. This is evident in comedy and melodrama where self-reference and fantasy acknowledgement are already canonical; staging becomes visible. However, it appears as if drama (in television, as well as in movies) is taking a different road. Maybe because of the nature of the genre, drama is inclined to generate a neo-mimesis that searches to fuse with reality in a more unnoticed way. Tools used to perform this insertion range from choice of themes (becoming increasingly realistic),to construction of dialogue, uses of the camera and selection of cast and locations. The Breaking Bad series exemplifies this trend of inserting fiction into reality, which seems to be popularized in contemporary drama production for television and movies. The story has two dimensions that together contribute to this insertion. On one side, through the emotional and moral internal struggle of the main character, Walter White, and on another, through White’s experience and participation in a broader social, political, and economic problem of drug trafficking. Although most of this series’ first season focused on the first plane (personal struggle), the following seasons focused on developing the second one. In episode seven of the second season, entitled Negro y Azul, I identify the culmination of this dimension where the series’ fiction is subsumed into the reality of drug trafficking and international efforts to combat drug cartels. With this in mind, the creators chose neither to mention a specific cartel nor to include the name 28
of a real individual (drug lord maybe?) in the plot, but to appropriate an aesthetic popular form of narration, the narcocorrido. Corridos are popular Northern Mexican ballads that recount events and exploits related to bandits and valientes, with origins dating back to the late nineteenth century. Corridos grew considerably more popular during the Mexican Revolution. The narcocorrido is a version of corrido, which tells stories related to drug trafficking, the cartels, and their capos. The narcocorrido Negro y Azul, composed by Pepe Garza, with lyrics co-written by Vince Gilligan (creator of Breaking Bad)and Los Cuates de Sinaloa, tells how Heisenberg (character Walter White’s pseudonym) rose to fame due to the exponential popularity of the methamphetamine he produces and sells in the Southwest. This narcocorrido is presented at the beginning of the episode of homonymous title; however, it appears dislocated from the plot. The song is presented as a video clip that runs before the actual episode takes place. The singing group, Los Cuates de Sinaloa, sings the song while images of Heisenberg, drugs, money, and guns appear intermittently. In the final scene, a human figure (maybe Heisenberg himself) appears, lying face down, presumably dead in a puddle of his own blood. The reaction to this scene from fans and critics was somehow benevolent. It seems that, more than a gesture of spontaneity, a narcocorrido of Heisenberg was a required. It is not only the use of this type of popular music in an American mainstream series that provokes my reflection, but also the implications of such action. There are two subjects that deserve special attention and analysis. First, the dichotomy in the diffusion of a highly controversial music genre, which has been banned from Mexican radio and television stations. Second, the way the song itself interacts with the plot.
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
The narcocorrido has generated a big debate within Mexican legislation in recent years. It has been a debate that involves issues of freedom of expression, censorship, crime, and complicity. First efforts were made in the 1990s to prohibit the broadcasting of this music.1 Since then, several laws on the subject have passed.2,3 Now the question arises: What is the functional distinction between a “real” narcocorrido, where the figure of a capo (drug lord) is idealized and exaggerated, and a “fictitious” one, where a fantasy character is inserted into the social reality of this problem? Would there be a difference between a drug dealer that commissions someone to produce a narcocorrido where his virtues are praised, and a TV producer that makes the same commission to wrap a fictitious character within a specific narrative? Let us remember that the creators of Breaking Bad decided to use a real narcocorrido band, Los Cuates de Sinaloa, which writes and sings about drug trafficking and drug traffickers. In the controversy over legislations regarding narcocorridos, is it the music, the language, and the theme that is being banned, or is it the veracity of the character that is being praised? From my point of view, tension is generated by this fusion of fiction and reality that the series presents through the use of narcocorrido. I do not know whether or not broadcasting this series on Mexican television would require censoring this scene. There is no doubt, with this particular case, that the link between fiction and reality turned out to be a self-recursive, even seemingly contradictory tangle. On one hand, the narcocorrido as a fantasy form of exaltation of reality. On the other hand, Negro y Azul as an appropriated tool from reality to validate a fantasy. Although Heisenberg mentioned in Negro y Azul is fictitious, I consider this ballad to be extremely real, even “hyper real,” borrowing Baudrillard’s terminology. I maintain that this narcocorrido is real because of the way it treats the character of Heisenberg. The song’s lyrics say: The cartel’s running hot because, they weren’t getting respect
And the chorus ends: The cartel’s about respect, and they ain’t forgiving. That homie’s dead, he just doesn’t know it yet. Thus, even though the main character is indeed Heisenberg, and the threat he supposedly poses to the cartel is acknowledged, the band does not “betray” the Mexican cartel (whichever they are referring to), since ultimately the cartel will take revenge and claim what innately belongs to it: the territory, the monopoly of drug distribution in the Southwest, etc. Negro y Azul does not flatter Heisenberg, but confronts him. The narcocorrido seems to say to Heisenberg: If this corrido is about you, it is to legitimize and reinforce the power of the cartel; and it replies to Breaking Bad this way: If you want to use me in your show, it will be under my logic, my rules, and my narrative. The use of the narcocorrido is just one among many strategies that the series employs in order to make possible the link between reality and fiction, but from my viewpoint, it works as an especially complex crossing point where a fantastical, yet real, popular form is appropriated, re-outlined, and assimilated to subsume fictional narrative into reality. Nevertheless, the narcocorrido defends itself and claims its own truth. In this sense, it operates as a simulacrum41that provides reality through fiction yet at the same time, it includes such fiction within its own reality by imposing its logic, its own rules. This points out who is the threat, who is the hero, who lives, and who dies.
“...a debate that involves issues of freedom of expression, censorship, crime, and complicity.”
1For instance, when Arturo Herrera, president of CIRT (Spanish acronym for Radio and Television Industry Chamber) of Michoacán proposed such prohibition in 1998. 2The broadcasting of the narcocorrido is prohibited in Article 63 of the Federal Law of Radio and Television. 3In May 2011, the Governor of Sinaloa, Mario Lopez Valdez, decreed an amendment to prohibit the narcocorrido and the music of the so-called Altered Movement.
Bibliography Baudrillard, Jean. “The Precession of Simulacra.” Media and Cultural Studies(2006): 453. Fabela, Reyes Luciano Álvarez. “Los corridospesados; música y violenciauna forma alterna de contar la historia de México.” Música oral del Sur: revistainternacional 9 (2012): 194-219.“Making of Ne gro Y Azul: Inside Breaking Bad.” AMCtv.com. Accessed February 2013. http://www.amctv.com/breaking-bad/videos/inside-break ing-bad-making-of-negro-y-azul. “Q&A - Los Cuates de Sinaloa (Narcocorrido Band).” AMCtv.com. Last modified April 21, 2009. http://blogs.amctv.com/break ing-bad/2009/04/los-cuates-de-sinaloa-interview.php. Ramírez-Pimienta, Juan Carlos. “Entorno al primer narcocorrido: Arqueología del cancionero de lasdrogas.” A Contracorriente 7, no. 3 (2010): 82-99. Wald, Elijah. “Corrido Censorship: A Brief History.” Elijah Wald’s Website. Ac cessed February 2013. http://www.elijahwald.com/corcensors.html. Wallace, David F. “E UnibusPluram: Television and US Fiction.” Review ofCon temporary Fiction 13, no. 2 (Summer 1993): 151-194. Wellinga, Klaas. “Cantando a los traficantes.” ForoHispánico 22, no. 1 (2002): 137-154.
4In the sense given by Baudrillard, as a form that exists to legitimize reality and truth. The simulacrum is the express fantasy that allows reality to be pure truth.
Best Student Essays
Negro y Azul
Breaking Bad y la Insercióndel Drama en la Realidad a Través del Narcocrrido Rodrigo Guzman
“Ese coma ya está muerto, nomás no le han avisado.” -Los Cuates de Sinaloa, Negro y Azul (narcocorrido)
En su memorable ensayo E Unibus Pluram:Television and U.S. Fiction, David Foster Wallace señala el desarrollo de la metaficción y del metaespectador como rasgos característicos de la televisión norteamericana de los últimos 20 años. La metaficción estaría dada por la doble complicidad (por parte del espectador y del programa de TV) de reconocer la fantasía de la ficción misma mediante una constante autorreferencia. No cabe duda que, cada vez con mayor frecuencia, los contenidos de la televisión norteamericana se vuelcan sobre sí mismos, y tanto la industria como su lógica son igualmente expuestos en los programas. Esto es especialmente evidente en la comedia y en el melodrama donde la autorreferencia y el reconocimiento de la fantasía son ya canónicos, la puesta en escena se hace visible. Me parece, sin embargo, que el drama (tanto en televisión como en el cine) ha tomado un camino diferente. Tal vez por la naturaleza misma de este género, el drama se ha inclinado por generar una neo-mímesis que busca fundirse con la realidad de manera más inadvertida. En este ejercicio de inserción las herramientas utilizadas van desde la elección de temas (cada vez más reales) y la construcción de diálogos, hasta los usos de la cámara y la selección de actores y locaciones. La serie Breaking Bad es un ejemplo particular de esta tendencia de inserción de la ficción en la realidad que parece estarse apoderando de la producción de dramas para televisión y cine. La historia contiene dos planos que, en conjunto, coadyuvan a esta inserción: por un lado, la lucha interna emocional y moral del personaje principal, el doctor Walter White y, por el otro, su participación en una problemática social, política y económica en la que varios países del continente están inmersos, el tráfico de drogas. Si bien, durante la mayor parte de la primera temporada la serie se centró en el primer plano (la lucha personal), a partir de la segunda temporada la serie se centra en desarrollar el segundo. Identifico en el capítulo séptimo de la segunda temporada, titulado Negro y Azul, el pináculo de 30
este plano en donde la ficción de la serie se subsume a la realidad del tráfico de drogas y los esfuerzos internacionales para combatir a los cárteles. Para este fin, en este capítulo los creadores optaron no por mencionar a un cártel en específico ni por incluir el nombre de un personaje real (algún capo) dentro de la trama, sino por apropiarse de una forma estética popular de narración de hechos, el narcocorrido. Los corridos son baladas épicas populares que narran sucesos y hazañas relacionadas con “bandoleros y valientes” y cuyo origen seremonta a finales del siglo XIX, teniendo un considerable crecimiento y popularidad durante la Revolución Mexicana. El narcocorrido, por tanto, es la versión del corrido que relata historias relacionadas con el tráfico de drogas, los cárteles y sus capos. El narcocorrido Negro y Azul, compuesto por Pepe Garza y con letra coescrita por Vince Gilligan, creador de la serie, y los Cuates de Sinaloa, narra la fama que Heisenberg (seudónimo de Walter White) ha cobrado tras la exponencial popularidad de la metanfetamina que produce y vende en el sur de los Estados Unidos. Esta canción se presenta al inicio del episodio de nombre homónimo, pero aparece dislocada de la trama; se trata de un videoclip que figura antes de la acción del episodio. El grupo, los Cuates de Sinaloa, cantan la canción mientras imágenes de Heisenberg, drogas, dinero y armas aparecen alternadamente. En la escena final del videoclip, una figura humana (Heisenberg mismo, tal vez) aparece tirada boca abajo, presumiblemente muerta, sobre un charco de su propia sangre. La reacción ante esta escena por parte de fanáticos y críticos fue más o menos benévola. Parece ser que la creación de un narcocorrido de Heisenberg, más que un gesto de espontaneidad, era un hecho requerido y orgánico… se tenía que hacer. Lo que me genera reflexión no esúnicamente el uso de esta forma musical popular dentro de una serie norteamericana de gran producción y consumo, sino las implica-
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
ciones de este acto. Dos grandes temasmerecen especial atención y análisis: por un lado, la dicotomía en la difusión de un género musical altamente controversial (que ha sido incluso prohibido en las estaciones de radio y televisión mexicanas) y, en segundo lugar, la manera en que la canción misma, dentro de su narrativa, interactúa con la trama. El narcocorrido ha generado un gran debate dentro de la legislación mexicana de los últimos años, un debate que involucra libertad de expresión, censura, crimen, complicidad y legitimación. Mucho tiempo ha pasado ya desde los primeros esfuerzos, en los 90, por prohibir la radiodifusión del narcocorrido,1 hasta las últimas leyes sobre el tema.2,3 ¿Cuál es la diferencia, sería la pregunta, entre un narcocorrido “real,” donde se idealiza y se exagera la figura de un capo, y uno “ficticio” donde un personaje de fantasía es insertado a la realidad social de esta problemática? ¿Habría diferencia entre un capo del narcotráfico que comisiona un narcocorrido donde se exaltan sus virtudes y un productor de televisión que realiza esta misma comisión para envolver a un personaje ficticio en cierta narrativa? Recordemos que los creadores de Breaking Bad decidieron utilizar a una banda de narcocorridos real; es decir, una banda de música, los Cuates de Sinaloa, que realmente escribe y canta sobre narcotráfico y narcotraficantes reales. En la controversia sobre la legalidad del narcocorrido, ¿es entonces la música, el lenguaje y el tema lo que se veta o la veracidad del personaje que se alaba y exalta? Esta tensión, desde mi punto de vista, se genera por la fundición de ficción y realidad que la serie de televisión presenta mediante el uso del narcocorrido. No sé si la programación de la serie en la televisión mexicana sería censurada en esta escena o no, habrá que esperar. Lo que no cabe duda es que el empalme ficción/ realidad ha resultado, en este caso, en una maraña recursiva y hasta contradictoria: el narcocorrido, por un lado, como forma fantasiosa de exaltación de la realidad y Negro y Azul, por el otro, como herramienta apropiada de la realidad para validar la fantasía. Aunque el personaje referido en Negro y Azul es ficticio (Heisenberg), yo considero esta balada como “muy real”, tal vez incluso “hiperreal”, para utilizar un término
prestado de Baudrillard… y el narcocorrido es muy real porque trata de forma real al personaje de Heisenberg. La letra dice Anda caliente el cártel, al respeto le faltaron Y termina el coro con El cártel es de respeto, nunca a nadie ha perdonado. Ese compa ya esta muerto, nomás no le han avisado. De esta manera, aún cuando el personaje central es Heisenberg, y aún cuando se reconoce la amenaza que él supone para el cártel, la banda no “traiciona” al cartel mexicano (cualquiera al que se refiera) puesto que, en última instancia, el cártel terminará por tomar venganza y reclamar lo que naturalmente le pertenece y todo, por supuesto, mediante su propia metodología. Negro y Azul no halaga a Heisenberg, sino que lo confronta. El narcocorrido le dice a Heisenberg: si este corrido habla de ti es para legitimar y reforzar el poder del cártel; y, así, le responde a Breaking Bad de la siguiente manera: si quieres utilizarme en tu programa será bajo mi lógica, mis reglas, mi narrativa. El uso del narcocorrido, claramente, es sólo una de las tantas estrategias que figuran en la serie para realizar este empalme entre realidad y ficción, pero funciona, desde mi punto de vista, como un punto de cruce especialmente complejo donde una forma, fantástica sí pero verdadera, es apropiada, re-enunciada y asimilada para subsumir la narrativa a la realidad. El narcocorrido, sin embargo, se defiende y reclama su propia veracidad, en este sentido, operando como un simulacro41que proporciona realidad a la ficción pero que, al mismo tiempo, incluye tal ficción dentro de su propia realidad al imponer su lógica, sus reglas… marcando claramente quién es la amenaza, quién el héroe, quién vive y quién muere.
“...un debate que involucra libertad de expresión, censura, crimen, complicidad y legitimación.”
1Por ejemplo, cuando Arturo Herrera, presidente de la CIRT (Cámara de la Industria de Radio y Televisión) de Michoacán propuso tal prohibición en 1998. 2La radiodifusión del narcocorrido está prohibida por el artículo 63 de la Ley Federal de Radio y Televisión. 3El gobernador de Sinaloa, Mario López Valdez, decretó una reforma para prohibir los narcocorrido y la música del llamado Movimiento Alterado en mayo de 2011.
4En el sentido que le da Baudrillard, como una forma que existe para legitimar la realidad y la verdad. El simulacro es la expresa fantasía que hace ser a lo real verdad pura.
Best Student Essays
Can You Hear Me? Lee Martin I was at home angrily typing away on my laptop. I cursed the day under my breath and asked what the hell I had done to deserve such punishment. I was trying, hopelessly, to eradicate a very stubborn virus on my computer that was determined to steal my credit card information. Two and a half hours of my afternoon had already been sunk into this problem and the remedy didn’t seem to be getting any closer. It was October. The days were getting shorter and I could hear my puppy chewing on an old plastic milk jug as she impatiently waited for a daily walk that may not come. I hadn’t made any real progress in over an hour, so I resolved to take a break. She could use a little exercise, and I was quite nearly at the end of my wits. I grabbed Leia’s leash and clipped it to her collar, trying to avoid her maw of playful puppy teeth. Then we set off toward the nearby park on a route that was growing increasingly routine since her adoption. We walked down the road as I browsed through the familiar songs on my iPod, when my phone started ringing. It was my brother Zane calling to tell me that the gun show I opted to skip was nothing special, and that he and Brandon were at his apartment, bored. But there was something else in the tone of his voice. He wasn’t just bored with the afternoon, he was bored with everything. Looking under the same worn stones again and again, searching for an arrow that would point him in the right direction. I could relate. Every day I felt a void whose presence had become so familiar I barely acknowledged it any more. I had convinced myself that everyone felt this thing. I had learned to cope with this black hood that hung heavily on my neck and shoulders. Something about “this is the way it’s supposed to be” seemed to make me feel better if only for a while. Then, after a time, the void would close in again and I would lose myself in its shadows.
My brother and his friend mentioned they wanted to grill out at my house that night. They wanted to make sure we got one more cook out before it got too cold. I was in no mood to entertain, so I used what has become my favorite excuse, “Let me check with my girlfriend and see if she has made plans for us.” Hanging up I continued walking down the twisting neighborhood lane trying to formulate a believable excuse in the time it would take me to make that hypothetical call to my girlfriend. Rolling various thoughts around in my head, I slowed my pace and looked around for inspiration. It was one of those perfect afternoons that I had become so used to in Albuquerque. The sun’s rays warmed me from high in the western sky and cast plenty of light with which to see out across the river valley on my right, and up the slope to the looming mountain’s crest to the left. It was the kind of day where it was so comfortable outside one gained that extra sense of perception.You could see the lizard darting from the bush and scurrying over a driveway to hide under a car.You could hear the radio playing classic rock in a man’s garage across the street as he scrubbed his van with a sudsy brush. You could feel the slightest breath of breeze as it kissed softly at your bare skin. Effortlessly my frustrations melted and I actually began enjoying our walk. Leia and I arrived at the park, but it turned out to be crowded with enthusiastic parents chatting away while their children stumbled over a soccer ball and rolled it toward the goals set up on either side of the field. I knew the pup would never be able to settle down, let alone play, so I turned left and started heading up the small dirt path that I had been interested in exploring for some time. The path’s sand was loose and slippery under my feet, making the climb up the small incline more difficult for the both of us. I could feel Leia starting to lag behind, her enthusiasm for being out of the house battling the growing fatigue she didn’t want to admit she felt. But the more she and I
“Every day I felt a void whose presence had become so familiar I barely acknowledged it any more.”
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
climbed, the better I felt. The stress of the day subsided, I thought to myself that I wasn’t going to let a sour mood spoil what could be a fun Saturday night with friends. Cresting the hill and approaching a busy street, I pulled my phone out and dialed my brother. “Hey dude. So let’s grill out at my place,” I said. “Maybe some burgers and brats? Chips and salsa?” “Sounds good to us,” said Zane. “Do you want us to pick up any ingredients on the way?” “Naw,” I replied. “If you guys just want to pick up some beer that’ll be cool. Me and Caitlin can go to Whole Foods.” Zane started to reply but I didn’t hear a word he said. I froze as my attention was drawn to a loud metallic screech off to my right. Over there the road bisected a wide arroyo. Its four lanes descended from either side and met at the bottom where a walkway, complete with a hand rail, rose up from the community college below. From my perch on the lip of the arroyo I had stadium seating for the events that were beginning to unfold. I watched as a white pickup slid sideways down toward the trough of the road, slowly rotating its nose away from the direction that the rest of the truck headed. I remember sighing into my phone, muttering, “Oh, Shit,” as my jaw went slack. I don’t remember counting how many times the truck would roll once airborne over the curb, but my brother would later tell me I got up to five. Debris exploded out from the truck in every direction like a giant grenade going off. A few buckets and a weed whacker flew out of the bed and landed in puffs of dust. Paper, trash, shirts, and a jacket seemed to defy gravity as they hung in the air above the chaos. A tool box burst open in mid air like a firework made of stainless steel wrenches and sockets. Through all of it though, one missile caught my attention on its strange trajectory flying high and away from the still rolling wreckage. It was somebody, rather some body, flying through the air easily forty feet above the ground. His mass crested at my eye level before beginning its inevitable return trip. Down. “I gotta go.” That was all I thought to say before hanging up on my brother. With that I took off running down the hill, little Leia in my arms, just as the truck was sliding to a stop ahead. My mind was racing as I simultaneously tried to hurdle bushes, dial 9-1-1, and keep Leia far enough away from my face to stay out of range of her excited nips and licks.
I saw a short girl in jeans, a black tee shirt, and ball cap above on the sidewalk with her phone pressed against her ear, stumbling down the hill toward the wreck franticly whipping her head in every direction, searching for something; maybe a street sign or landmark. Seeing that someone had been more successful in dialing 9-1-1, I pocketed my phone and doubled my sprint. Scrambling up the small rise to the elevated running path some fifty feet away from the steaming truck, I plopped Leia down and started tying her leash to the hand rail. While my hands were busy I could see cars from the corner of my eye that had witnessed the wreck begin their slow procession past the scene. Each driver was careful not to scratch their paint jobs on the debris strewn all over the blacktop. Their curiosity and concern only held as long as they could get a clear view of the truck down below before speeding off. I cinched the knot and began tearing down the hill with my heart steadily working its way further and further up my throat, threatening to suffocate me. I got to the truck, and did my best to start absorbing information. There was a lady on her knees about twenty feet away, with her hands resting on the twisted body of a large man. I got to the passenger side of the truck and called out to her, “How many people were there?” Not waiting for a reply, I reached my arms in through the twisted metal and shattered glass and started brushing random pieces away, searching for anything that looked human. “I only see this guy. He’s got no pulse,” she answered through heavy breaths. We were joined by two more men. One was tall, average looking, and blonde who ran with me to the fallen man. The other stood to the side of the wreck frantically looking for something to do. As I headed toward the injured man, I noticed Shorty on her phone with the 9-1-1 dispatcher. Clearly in shock, she was speaking gibberish and having a hard time describing where she was. I told her to give me the phone and I started rattling off as many relevant facts as I could, never pausing. “Southbound Juan Tabo west of the street in the arroyo single car roll over one victim unresponsive no pulse.” Then, for the second time in the past three minutes I couldn’t hear a word the person on the line was saying. The sight in front of me lashed out and grabbed my retina, burning its image into my brain like a red hot iron. There, face down against a dry bush, lay a large man. A wide, shallow scratch across his heavy lower back showed
exploded out from the truck in every direction like a giant grenade going off.”
Best Student Essays
through his torn green tee shirt. Curly black hairs at the small of his back had fine dust on them turning the hairs a light brown color. It appeared that he was missing an arm, but upon further inspection I saw that it was just wrapped tightly, unnaturally, under his body. I got down on my hands and knees and looked at his face. It was the dark face of a Hispanic man who spent a lot of time out in the sun. His cheeks were smeared with blood so dark it was almost black. As I watched, blood continued to ooze from his open mouth into a growing puddle under his face. His forehead had a few pebbles embedded in the flesh so tightly they would need to be cut out. His eyes were closed. His face was still. His whole body was still. I felt for a pulse and there was nothing. The skin on his neck was tight and elastic under my fingers. The lady who had first gotten to him was lightly shaking him and rhythmically, calmly repeating the mantra, “Sir? Sir, can you hear me?” I snapped back to myself and heard the dispatcher saying, “How does the victim look sir?” I remember hearing myself say, “I don’t know man. I think he’s done.” “Do you want to start CPR? Do you think it would help?” “I don’t know man.” “You need to tell me sir,” said the dispatcher with a touch of annoyance in his voice. I stopped listening again. I don’t want to touch him anymore. I don’t know why she is shaking him. I had a very strong desire to just back up and wait for someone else to come and say they would take care of it. What else could I do? I knew now was the time to help, but the situation felt hopeless. Or was it me who felt hopeless? I looked over my shoulder and saw Leia pulling and twisting against her leash. Anxiously yelping and barking while she tried with all of her might to find freedom. I was breathing hard, looking at that pool of black blood under his face, and suddenly calmness washed over me. My hands stopped shaking and shallow breaths grew deeper. I could feel great pillars deep in my heart building up to support my wavering resolve. Then I just started doing. I looked up at Shorty who was standing behind me, the one whose phone I had, and said to her, “Hey, go turn that truck off, it’s still running. Don’t cut yourself.” She nodded and bounded off. I turned back to the victim and grabbed him by the belt loop. “We’re going to start chest compressions,” I said not only to the dispatcher but to the group gathered around the still man. “Help me roll him,” I called out. Me,
the mantra woman, and the average guy rolled him over onto his back. The man’s arms flopped out spread eagle as his large mass shifted. His eye lids rolled half open and Average opened each one looking into them as he called out trying to rouse some sort of response. Then not skipping a beat, Average started pressing hard against the center of the man’s chest where a large slick of blood had soaked his shirt black. Mantra counted off compressions as I pressed the phone to my ear with a shoulder and held the man’s head still. Again I heard the dispatcher asking how the victim looked. I noticed a large laceration that stretched from either end of the man’s left palm. I saw bone. I saw fat tissue. But it wasn’t bleeding. I had never seen an injury that severe in person before, but some part of me, both primal and sentient, told my rational brain that I should be seeing blood flowing. Its absence shook me in a way I am still struggling to understand. “I don’t know man.” But I did. Average kept pressing, Mantra kept counting, and I kept cradling and talking until the paramedics arrived a few minutes later and relieved us. As we waited, and watched the paramedics work, Average and I shook bloody, sticky hands. He introduced himself as Chris and I thanked him for being there with me. I looked around for Mantra but she had disappeared. I’ll never know her name. I returned Shorty’s phone and she introduced herself as Maria. I thanked her as well, hugged her, and told her how good of a job she did. She smiled at that. Together we stood there as the paramedics more or less confirmed what we had already known. He was dead. Not the kind of dead a Hollywood actor miraculously comes back from to the great relief of the audience. Just dead. Nevertheless, they placed him on a back board and quickly loaded him into the back of their ambulance. I still wonder why they chose to do that with such urgency. What was the rush? I fear it was just for show. Another procedure put in place in order to protect the public from the notion of death. Once a victim is rushed into an ambulance, a passerby is free to imagine that George Clooney’s character from ER and Dr. House are waiting expectantly at the hospital to save the man’s life. But that illusion was lost on us. We had seen his death, witnessed it from beginning to end, and touched the aftermath. That stillness. That cold black blood soaking into the dirt. The same blood that was dry and crusted on my palm. After the man was driven away, I collected Leia who had never been more excited. I recounted everything I could
“I felt for a pulse and there was nothing”
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
remember about what I had witnessed to the police. They took down my contact information in case they had further questions, and said I was free to leave. As I left the scene and headed home I felt something that came as a surprise to me. Peace. How on earth could I feel that way after what had just happened? After what I had just seen? I wanted to cry for him. I couldn’t. I wanted to be scared for myself. I wasn’t. All I did was walk home, peacefully, stopping only once when a man with two dogs of his own asked about my pup. He commented on how beautiful a day it was and, to my surprise, I agreed with him. Not the kind of polite agreement when someone asks how you are doing and you just reflexively say, “Good.” This was real. There was real beauty and real goodness still out there in that day. If you had asked me six months ago whether or not I was a religious man I would simply reply that I am open to the idea of a god, but don’t really see the need for it in modern life. It just doesn’t seem to apply. I found the thought of God and an afterlife to be romantic. I would think to myself how cool it would be if all the stories were true. Still not for me though. But now? After that stroll home with my dog, the feelings I felt, that new presence knocking on the door that led to the void within me, the answer to that question has become much more complicated. Nothing about that day was easy and as I distance myself from it with time I’m still struggling to define what I should do from here on. I finally cried for him. That was a start. But then how does one go about exploring all the questions he already thought he had answered? That night I opened the Bible, a book that had sat neglected for some time, to a random page. Neither the verse nor the chapter had any direct significance to what had happened to me that day. Its words didn’t resonate perfectly in the way they seem to magically do in so many stories. I didn’t have a divine epiphany or an out -of- body experience where I drank a beer with Jesus and Moses as they filled me in on the meaning of life. I just read a story that billions know by heart and smiled to myself. Because I felt peace and I felt grace. And I knew the story I was reading will go on. And so will mine. And so will his.
In Loving Memory of Karen Taschek. Thanks for believing in me.
Best Student Essays
The Power of Caricature in the Political Arena
Thomas Nast’s Anti-Corruption Crusade against the Tweed Ring Yvonne Gandert I. Introduction Time Magazine writer Stephan Kanfer declares, “A century of history has brought little change. Corruption is still ubiquitous—but so, happily, is the editorial cartoon, grinning out from banks of gray prose” (Kanfer 1975). The editorial cartoon emerged as a persuasive and powerful tool to expose the ulterior motives of powerful politicians and shady establishments in order to bring justice to the people. Editorial cartoons possess a valuable advantage in politics because they do not require the audience to be literate in order to understand the intended message. Shaw points out that, “cartoons are by their nature ephemeral and were drawn and produced in response to contemporary events” (Shaw, 2008). In the late 1800s, American cartoonist Thomas Nast embarked on a ruthless campaign against the corrupt New York City Tammany Hall boss, William “Boss” Magear Tweed. Tweed successfully ran a ring of corruption; an estimated $30 million to $200 million was stolen from the New York City Treasury, equivalent to around $4 billion today (Alder 2008). Nast’s unrelenting negative caricatures of Tweed and his main political allies were published in Harper’sWeekly Magazine, and proved instrumental in exposing the corruption and fraud inflicted upon New York City, and led to the downfall of Tweed and the Tammany Hall Democratic political machine that he tightly controlled. The purpose of this analysis is to identify the most salient themes used in Nast’s campaign against the Tweed Ring, and suggest which of these contributed to the campaign’s success. The editorial cartoon’s power and position of importance within media is supported by Jeffrey Jones’ notion that, “the merging of politics and entertainment produces multiple opportunities for citizens to engage in political news. If we are reading and watching popular culture and if that popular culture contains important political information, where’s the harm?” (Cramer, 2008). I found this opinion to be particularly compelling, as it often seems that we have evolved into a society that thrives on insignificant and trivial banter. I will use the Tweed campaign as a historical example that reinforces the need to integrate politics 36
into entertainment, while highlighting the successes of the campaign. By continuing to integrate important matters of public opinion and politics into entertainment, we can more effectively reach our society, despite its dwindling motivation to be informed and involved citizens. Today, successful platforms that use satire as a means to communicate issues of political and social importance are common and often preferred to conventional news channels. Satirical shows such as The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are seen by some people, particularly younger generations, as more worthy of trust than conventional news channels such as Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and CBS. Just as Nast’s cartoon campaign achieved success in bringing down the ring, shows such as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show have been instrumental in rallying the people together for the promotion of democracy and positive change, through the use of humor and satirical comedy. Before the invention of television, satirical entertainment, particularly editorial cartoons, were arguably the most popular form of entertainment in the United States. II. Literature Review Thomas Nast was an American cartoonist and late nineteenth century celebrity, best known for his visual attack of the Tammany Hall political machine of William M. Tweed, and his creation of the Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant as enduring political symbols. Thomas Nast was a Radical Republican, a liberal, progressive, nationalistic, and Protestant wing of the party (Ohio State University Libraries, 2002). Some critiques have referred to him as the Father of American Caricature, and his lasting impact on the editorial cartoon is arguably unmatched. Originally from Landau, Germany, Thomas Nast was born in a Bavarian military barrack in 1840, where his father worked as a trombone player for a military band (Richie 2006). Nast and his family immigrated to New York City in 1846 to escape the political turmoil and revolutionary upheaval of the 1840s. His drawing talents were immediate-
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
ly apparent and he was accepted into the Academy of Design, where he further perfected his drawing style and technique. In 1855, Nast was hired as a reportorial artist for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, and by 1859 he had set his prospects on a higher-paying job and began working at the NewYork Illustrated News. By the summer of 1862, Nast had secured a job with Harper’sWeekly, the editorial publication that he would later use to reveal the corruption within the Tammany Hall political machine. Nast began working for publisher Fletcher Harper, who told Nast to “not simply illustrate the scenes that he saw, but to use his imagination to make pictures that would tell a story” (Ritchie 2006). Nast was particularly keen to expose corruption, scandal, and political mischief. Although he usually had similar political views to the editors of Harper’sWeekly, occasionally a cartoon would put him at odds with his employer. Nast was quick to point out that his work reflected his own political standpoint and not that of the publishers of Harper’sWeekly. In regards to his artistic style, “[Nast] skillfully used allegory and melodrama in his art to support the cause he believed was just” (Ohio State University Libraries, 2002). During the final decades of the nineteenth century, American society underwent a period of great change resulting from the effects of urbanization, industrialization, and rise of the working class. This period saw progressive change, but was also a period riddled with strikes, riots, confusion and anger. The period was dubbed “The Gilded Age,” a title of a novel written by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, which described the time as beautiful on the surface but tarnished underneath (Cramer, 2009). It was during this time that the people were in need of “entertainment and escapist forms of media”(Cramer, 2009). There was an anti-elitist sentiment among the working class, and forms of media that poked fun or fought against the corrupt institutions, such as the Tweed-controlled Tammany Hall political machine, were hugely popular. Beginning in 1869, Nast ran a series of cartoons in Harper’sWeekly attacking the Tammany Hall Democratic political machine that dominated New York City. The New York Times and Harper’s Weekly embarked on a three-year attack on the corrupt Tammany Hall administration, which was led by Tweed. Nast’s anti-corruption campaign targeted not only Tweed, but frequently featured the likeness of his principal allies, including: New York City Mayor Abraham Oakey Hall, aka “OK Haul,” New York City Chamberlain Peter Barr Sweeny, City Controller Richard B. “Slippery Dick” Connolly, and furniture-maker and ally to Tweed, James Ingersoll.
Between 1865 and 1871, it was estimated that Tweed and his associates conned anywhere from $30 million to $200 million from the City of New York (Alder, 2008). During this time, the Tammany political machines controlled the voting and counted the ballots. This guaranteed Tweed the democratic nomination for office, and gave the Tweed Ring a monopoly over who would be elected. The Tammany Hall political machine also controlled the distribution of jobs and city contracts, and Tweed and his associates required bribes from anyone soliciting nomination for office or municipal contracts. In 1867, Tweed began to fully integrate the corrupt practices of Tammany Hall into New York City government, and established and strictly enforced these methods as universal norms. He raised the kickback percentage required to obtain a city contract from ten percent to thirty-five percent, and used the proceeds from bribery in order to purchase votes and bribe public officials (Nevada Observer, 2005). In 1868, the New York State Legislature passed the Adjusted Claims Act, which gave the City Controller the power to adjust existing claims against the city and to obtain money by the issuing of bonds. Tweed’s greed continued to escalate and he imposed a fifty-five percent payout on all claims. It took him less than a year to raise this amount to sixty-five percent, and by 1869, he had raised the kickback rate on supplies to eighty-five percent (Nevada Observer, 2005). In 1870, the Tammany Hall political machine had extended its influence to the Republican Party and created a bi-partisan ring that allowed corruption to flourish throughout New York. Newspapers were not exempt from the corruption of the Tweed Ring, and Tweed frequently used bribes that enabled him to censor and obscure information which he did not want published. Tweed purposefully targeted Irish immigrants by expediting the naturalization cost to become an American citizen. Through this exploitation, Tweed and his cohorts generated a large percentage of votes. Because many of his supporters were illiterate, Tweed was rarely concerned with negative press coverage. He did, however, recognize the power of Nast’s cartoons and realized them to be fatefully damaging to his credibility. Tweed is famously quoted, ‘‘Let’s stop them damned pictures. I don’t care what the papers write about me, my constituents can’t read; but damn it, they can see pictures!’’ (Lamb, 2007). He attempted to shut down the publisher of Harper’sWeekly, but the cartoons continued despite his efforts. Tweed offered Nast a generous bribe in the form of a gift that would allow him to study art
“Nast was particularly keen to expose corruption, scandal, and political mischief.”
Best Student Essays
in Europe. To humor him, Nast bartered with Tweed and one year later and fled to Europe. City chamberlain Peter increased the value of the offer substantially before promptly Sweeny resigned from office and fled to France with his refusing. brother, and in 1877 he repaid $400,000 to the City of New As Nast waged his three-year campaign against the York. Former New York City Mayor A. Oakey Hall was later corruption of the Tweed Ring, widespread knowledge of the indicted and put on trial for embezzlement, but got a “hung scandal generated massive amounts of public outrage and jury.” His reputation in politics, however, was permanently sparked the creation of an alliance of local reform groups, ruined. who worked in union to expose the crimes committed by the In November of 1873, Tweed was convicted of nineTammany Hall political machine. In 1871, infuriated New ty of the one hundred and twenty felony offenses charged York City voters cast out the majority of the politicians asso- against him (Nevada, Observer 2005). He was sentenced ciated with the Tammany Hall political machine. The public to twelve years imprisonment and a $12,000 fine, but only attention focused on Tammany Hall destroyed its original served one year because an appellate court reduced his intention to steal the election, as they had in the past. sentence. Tweed’s confidence and greed failed him During the last few days before the election, once again when he tried to make a political Nast published numerous cartoons blasting ...widespread comeback. He was arrested on charges the members of the ring. One of his most stemming from his part in the corruption knowledge of the famous cartoons was “The Tammany Hall and theft within the City of New York. Tiger Loose,” ran in Harper’s’Weekly two He was released on $3 million bail and scandal generated days before the election, and showed a he fled the country. In Vigo, Spain, a shattered ballot box laying in the sand massive amounts of public guard recognized his face and used one next to the Tammany tiger mauling the of Nast’s caricatures to convince his suoutrage... republic in a Roman Empire style public periors of Tweed’s identity. Tweed was area. then extradited back to the United States, where he died in prison on April 12, 1878 Reformers called for a mass meet(Nevada Observer, 2005). ing, which included two hundred and twenty-seven vice presidents and fifteen secretaries chosen III. Research Question & Method from many prominent citizens in the community (Nevada This study on the rise and fall of the Tammany Hall Observer, 2005). The meeting resulted in the appointment of the Executive Committee of Seventy, whose purpose political machine through Nast’s editorial cartoons sought to was to overthrow the ring and hold the members criminalidentify the most salient features in Nast’s depiction of Tweed ly accountable for their actions. They demanded that the and identify the features that made the campaign against him city accounts be examined, and that City Controller Consuccessful. The research paper studies ten editorial cartoons nolly produce the records the following Monday. Monday that negatively depict Tweed and other Tammany Hall polmorning, Connolly outraged reformers and citizens when iticians, and uses a textual analysis to classify the dominant he announced that 8,500 vouchers had been stolen from features that contributed to the demise of Tweed and his the glass case where they were stored (Nevada Observer, political machine. All cartoons were drawn by Thomas Nast 2005). Connolly’s statement generated huge amounts of and were originally published in Harper’sWeekly between the public outrage and Mayor Hall requested that he step down. months of August 1871 and January 1872. From the sample, Connolly refused and his actions caused a near-riot outside I identified five dominant themes, which I believe contributCity Hall. Many of his friends advised him to flee the couned to the effectiveness and eventual success of the campaign. try. Concerned that he would be blamed for the bulk of the These features are: crime, Connolly instead turned on the members of the ring 1. The use of allegory and/or metaphor to communicate the and allowed a subcommittee of the Executive Committee of intended message. Seventy to examine the accounts (Nevada Observer, 2005). 2. The integration of relevant historical events and/or variThe social backlash against the ring and the research of the ous literary references. Executive Committee of Seventy resulted in criminal per3. The persistent portrayal of Boss Tweed and his closest secutions for many members of the ring. Despite his efforts political allies. to deflect blame, Connolly resigned as city controller on 4. Powerful use of labels to identify businesses and people November 20, 1871 and was arrested five days later and held involved in the Ring. on $1 million bail (Nevada Observer, 2005). He posted bail 5. The constant use of recognizable physical and material
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
characteristics of William M. Tweed.
for the storm, which signifies the bad publicity and emerging accusations of corruption, to blow over. In the cartoon “Can IV. Findings the Law Reach Him? The Dwarf and the Giant Thief,” Tweed, 1.The use of allegory and/or metaphor to communicate the intended the giant thief, is easily twice the size of the policeman, who message. is struggling to reach him, which symbolizes that Tweed may I was able to identify the use of metaphors and be too big for the law. With his other hand, the policeman is allegory in a number of the cartoons. In the cartoon “Twee- also holding onto a dwarf-sized prisoner, which Nast denotes dledee and Sweedledum,” Tweed and Sweeny to be a poor man who stole a loaf of bread to feed are dressed in clown suits, and are meant to his family. Nast represent the fictional characters from old 2.The integration of relevant historical events English nursery rhymes. Tweedledee and and/or various literary references. established the Tweedledum have since become synon Nast frequently used time-releTammany Tiger as a ymous in western popular culture slang vant political or social references to for “any two people who look and act in events in his cartoons. In the ”Not a symbol for the identical ways, generally in a derogatoBailable Case” cartoon, Mayor “Mare” ry context”(Wikipedia 2012). Tweed is Hall is depicted as a sickly mare, and Tammany Hall also wearing a shield, as well as acting as Nast’s intention was for his audience a shield, to obscure the corrupt practices of political machine... to relate the image to the “horse plague,” the Tammany Hall political machine. In order which broke out in New York City that year to successfully shield the people, Tweed used charand caused a major disturbance in horse-reliant itable handouts that he would give to the working class to transportations. Harper’sWeekly posits that the title served to keep his public image intact. This cartoon is referring to a remind the people of Greeley’s controversial action in May $50,000 handout he gave to members of his old district that 1867 to help guarantee the security of a bond for the release supplied coal to many in need during a particularly severe from federal custody of Jefferson Davis, the former presiwinter (Nevada Observer 2005). These sorts of acts allowed dent of the Confederacy (2005). In the cartoon “Two Great him to temporarily maintain his popularity. Questions: Who Stole the People’s Money?” Nast’s depiction of the Tweed ring may have been attributed to a headline in Nast established the Tammany Tiger as a symbol Greeley’s Tribune that read, “Widening the Circle – Fixing for the Tammany Hall political machine and used the tiger’s the Responsibility.” likeness in numerous cartoons during the campaign. The Nast also habitually used quotes or symbols that Tammany Tiger appears in true form in “The Tammany Tiger referenced the works of authors such as Mark Twain and Loose” and the tiger’s head also appears in “What Are You Laughing At? To the Victor Belong the Spoils,” and “The Boss Shakespeare. In Nast’s cartoon titled “Stop Thief ” the following quote from Oliver Twist was used as the caption on his Still has the Reigns.” In Nast’s portrayal of Tweed as “The Brains,” Tweed’s head is a giant moneybag, which symbolizes cartoon, “They no sooner heard the cry, than, guessing how the matter stood, they issued forth with great promptitude; the driving force behind the Tweed Ring’s motive. The cartoon “The Boss Still Has the Reigns,” shows Tweed, alongside and, shouting ‘Stop Thief!’ too, joined in the pursuit like Sweeny, holding the reigns of a stagecoach led by two horses. good citizens”(Dickens, 1839). This is an additional reference The stagecoach is a metaphor for the Tammany Hall political that supports the lack of accountability and denial of responsibility that existed amongst the Tweed Ring. machine, and Tweed holding the reigns of both horses signiThe cartoon idea behind “What Are You Laughing fies the bipartisan control that Tammany Hall held over New At? To the Victor Belong the Spoils,” originated as a quote York City. An additional example of the use of metaphor apmade by New York Senator William L. Marcy, “to the victor pears in Nast’s cartoon titled “A Group of Vultures Waiting belong the spoils of the enemy,” referring to the Jackson for the Storm to ‘Blow Over’—‘Let Us Prey.’” The vulture victory in the election of 1828. A spoil system is a form of has been signified in western culture as one who preys on political campaigning that involves the promising of governthe sickly and dying; the vultures also gorge on meat when ment jobs and rewards to those most loyal supporters upon it is plentiful (which is represented in the cartoon by the victory. Essentially, it provides an active incentive to remain copious grouping of bones), and then sit in a sleepy state, to loyal to the party. Jackson was widely criticized for “the digest their food. In this cartoon, Tweed and his associates conferral of office on people based upon political concerns are digesting their already accumulated ‘prey’ and waiting rather than fitness for office” (U.S. History.com). Nast used
Best Student Essays
this historical reference to incriminate Tweed for his mirpayer,” “liberty”, and “justice.” The New York City Treasury rored actions against the City of New York. is also labeled here and frequently throughout the entire 3.The persistent portrayal of Boss Tweed and his closest political sample of cartoons. In “The Boss Still has the Reigns” the allies. stagecoach is labeled as the Tammany Hall political machine, During analysis of the collection, I paid close attenand the two horses are labeled democrat and republican. In tion to the identities of the various contributors depicted the “Not a Bailable Case” cartoon, Connolly is fanning the in Nast’s campaign against the Tammany Hall. As expected, sickly Mayor “Mare” Hall with a fan which reads, “City Fan, William Tweed was present in all eleven cartoons that I Cost $10,000.” This reinforces a particular instance that the surveyed, and he was most often in the presence of New Tweed Ring had unfairly charged the city, and builds crediYork City Chamberlain Peter Barr Sweeny and New York bility. Nast often used the phrase, “What are you going to do City Mayor Abraham Oakey Hall, both of whom were in about it?” in his cartoons. This was Tweed’s signature reseven out of the eleven cartoons surveyed. City Controller sponse to allegations of corruption and was featured in “The Richard B. Connolly was present in six of the cartoons, Tammany Tiger Loose.” and James Ingersoll, a furniture-maker and prin5.The constant use of recognizable physical and matecipal affiliate to the Tweed Ring, appeared in rial characteristics ofWilliam M.Tweed. “...he three cartoons. In Nast’s entire campaign, Thomas Nast created a scathingly accentuated certain accurate he caricatured over twenty different city portrayal of Tweed. Being that officials and members of the ring. Also recognizable traits and it was done in the style of caricature, he present in the cartoon sample were certain recognizable traits habits of Tweed, to ensure accentuated members of the Erie Railroad Comand habits of Tweed, to ensure that pany, which Tweed tightly controlled the public could recognize his likeness that the public could and Horace Greeley, editor and founder from the cartoons published in Harper’s recognize his likeness...” Weekly. Tweed was a large man in stature, of the NewYork Tribune. Former New York City Mayor and then State Governor John T. tall and overweight, he had a balding head, a Hoffman was also frequently portrayed in Nast’s distinctive head shape, a long beard and desocartoons, however he did not appear in any of the late, and darkened eyes. These features were exagcartoons that I chose to sample. gerated to create the cartoon Tweed. Nast drew Tweed as 4. Powerful use of labels to identify businesses and people involved in extremely overweight, with a recognizable rotund stomach the ring. and a gigantic presence. He was always drawn considerably Nast frequently used labels in his cartoons to make larger than the others in the cartoons, which symbolized his it easier to identify the salient message and meaning begreed and position on the hierarchy of civic control. In the hind each of his cartoons. In the cartoon “Tweedledee and cartoon “Two Great Questions: Who is Ingersoll and Co.?” Sweedledum” Tweed and Sweeny are shown taking money Tweed’s shape looms at the front of the crowd and a numfrom the Public Treasury and making small charitable donaber of his counterparts are hiding behind him and peering tions to the people, while intending to keep the bulk of it. through his coat tails. Nast always included Tweed’s signaTweed’s signature diamond pendant is labeled $15,500, the ture diamond pendant that he frequently wore, and made it alleged price of its luxury. In “Two Great Questions: Who a symbol for Tweed’s need for extravagance and excess. Also Stole the People’s Money?” Nast uses labeling deliberately a recognizable trait of Tweed’s was his preference for outand effectively. The Tweed Ring stands in a circle, and ten rageously extravagant architecture. In the cartoon, “Not a men have labels on their back. These labels are in reference Bailable Case,” Tweed and Sweeny hide behind an ornate wall to businesses that have worked in alliance with the corrupt that has William Tweed’s initials carved into the woodwork. practices of the Tweed Ring. Some examples include, Keyser It was customary of Nast to include Tweed’s preference for & Co., Ingersoll Co., and A.L. Smith Carpets. One man extravagant but prodigal architecture in order to help solidis labeled ‘Tom, Dick & Mary” a further stab at the lack of ify his greedy image in the eyes of the public. Much of the accountability which persisted in the Tammany Hall political Tweed Ring’s exploits came from grossly overestimating and Machine. In “A Group of Vultures Waiting for the Storm to overcharging the city for contracts related to construction ‘Blow Over’—‘Let Us Prey,’” Boss Tweed and his associates and building. are perched atop a human representation of the New York V. Conclusion City Treasury, alongside a plethora of human bones. The In regards to corruption, the following statement skull bones are labeled with words such as “rent payer,” “tax 40
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
regrettably holds true today as companies such as, British Petroleum, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Purdue Pharma, and countless other multi-million-dollar corporations operate as criminal enterprises for the pursuit of capital. Gustavus Myers declares, Any corporation, however extensive and comprehensive the privileges it asked, and however much oppression it sought to impose upon the people in the line of unjust grants, extortionate rates or monopoly, could convince the Legislature of the righteousness of its requests upon “producing” the proper sum (Myers, 2004). Just as in today’s culture, members of the Tweed Ring received extremely lenient sentences and paid out heavy fines to reduce time served. We are a society that still thrives on bribery, intimidation and the relentless pursuit of capital. The fall of the Tammany Hall political machine demonstrates the powerful potential of the editorial cartoon and illustrates the usefulness of satire within entertainment. The event also expresses the potential power held by the people to join together and push for progressive change. Chris Lamb argues, The editorial cartoonist tries to point out what is wrong, often by making it look ridiculous or even sinister. This sometimes requires producing an image so stark it reaches up from the newspaper and grabs the reader by the collar and shakes him or her out their slumber (Lamb 2007). We must all emulate the artistic style of Thomas Nast, who once said, “I try to hit the enemy between the eyes and knock them down” (Richie, 2006). By continuing to integrate politics and important issues into entertainment, we can create a more informed public. The success of our nation is dependent on the cultivation of public awareness, and defined by the sentiment that we are not powerless against the powerful. Through persistent push for reform of government policies that are unjust, and by fighting for our natural rights, we the people can prevail, again and again, against the various forms of oppressive control in our society.
gov/exhibits/treasures/trm044.html (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “The Tammany Tiger Loose.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, November 11, 1871. From Encyclopedia Britannica Online. http:// www.britannica.com/EBchecked/media/72086/Thomas-Nast-car toon-picturing-a-Tammany-Hall-Tiger-hampered-by (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “The Arrest of Boss Tweed.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, November 18, 1871. From Princeton University Digital Library. http://arks. princeton.edu/ark:/88435/jd472w59f (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “What Are You Laughing At? To the Victor Belong the Spoils.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, November 25, 1871. From Ohio StateUni versity Online Database. http://cartoons.osu.edu/nast/what_are_ you.htm (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “H. G. Diogenes Has Found the Honest Man.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, December 9, 1871. From Harper Weekly Online Database. http://nastandgreeley.harpweek.com/subpages/cartoon-1872-Medi umA.asp?UniqueID=26&Year=background (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “The Rivals.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, December 16, 1871 From Harper Weekly Online Database. http://nastandgreeley.harpweek. com/subpages/cartoon-1872-MediumA.asp?Unique ID=27& Year=background (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “Can the Law Reach Him? The Dwarf and the Giant Thief.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, January 6, 1872. From Prints Old & Rare. http://www.printsoldandrare.com/thomasnast/ (accessed April 8, 2012) Secondary Sources Cited Kanfer, Stefan.” Editorial Cartoons: Capturing the Essence.” Time 105, no. 5 (1975): 80. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost. Accessed March 12, 2012). Lamb, Chris. “Save the Cartoonist.” Masthead 53, no. 3 (2001): 25-26. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost. Accessed March 30, 2012 Lamb, Chris. “Drawing Power.” Journalism Studies 8, no. 5 (2007): 715-729. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost. Accessed March 16, 2012. doi:10.1080/14616700701504666 Ohio State University Libraries. “Thomas Nast.” Last modified January, 2002. http://cartoons.osu.edu/nast/index.htm The Nevada Observer. “The Tammany Hall Corruption Cartoons of Thomas Nast.” Last modified March 1, 2005. www.nevadaobserver. com/TNOReferencePageFile/PhotoPage2.htm
Primary Sources Cited Nast, Thomas. “Not a Bailable Case.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, August 12, 1871. From Harper Weekly Online Database. http:// nastandgreeley.harpweek.com/subpages/cartoon-1872-MediumA. asp?UniqueID=22&Year=background (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “Two Great Questions.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, August 19, 1871. From Harper Weekly Online Database. http://nastandgreeley. harpweek.com/subpages/cartoon-1872- MediumA.asp?Unique ID=23&Year=background (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “A Group of Vultures Waiting for the Storm to ‘Blow Over’—‘Let Us Prey.” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, September 23, 1871. From Harper Weekly Online Database. http://nastandgreeley. harpweek. com/subpages/cartoon-1872-MediumA.asp?Unique ID=21&Year=background (accessed April 8, 2012) Nast, Thomas. “Stop Thief!” Cartoon. Harper’s Weekly, October 7, 1871. From American Treasures of the Library of Congress. http://www.loc.
Best Student Essays
Statements from the Cover Artists
Front Cover Art: “Tourist of Exhaustion” I was visiting the Trinity Library in Dublin and snapped a photo of this tired couple in the courtyard. I felt the windows and large building created a beautiful frame around them. After a long morning of walking, they took this break for a well needed a rest. I made it black and white because I believe it is the best way to show off the textures.The couple almost seems to disappear in the space, like the building is taking them in, and it’s exactly where they want to be.- Rebekah Holdridge
Back Cover Art: “Moan” “Moan” is a collograph print. The title comes from an accompanying poem I wrote several years ago. The poem was meant to capture a certain kind of atmosphere. One that is a bit stale and lost but aching and wanton beneath the surface. I wanted the viewer to get a sense of narrative, but take from it what they wanted as well. I hoped to invoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, I think being a two-dimensional artist is an interesting concept. I like being able to pull a person in using only flat visual techniques.- Mia Cassea
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
Best Student Essays Submission Guidelines
Best Student Essays is now only accepting electronic submissions. Students may submit written essays, photo essays, and cover art online at beststudentessays.submishmash.com/submit. Details and instructions are below and on our website: beststudentessays.org. All forms are available on our website. Directions: 1. Carefully read the complete Submission Guidelines. 2. Have a UNM faculty member or instructor nominate your work by filling out the electronic Faculty Nomination form. 3. Go to beststudentessays.submishmash.com/submit to create a free account and submit your electronic Submission and electronic submission form. Guidelines for Submission All submissions, excluding submissions for cover art consideration only, must be accompanied by a faculty nomination. Nomination forms must be filled out and emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by the nominating faculty member or instructor. Submissions without faculty nominations will not be considered for publication. Submission forms are available on our website. Each student is limited to two submissions. Essays longer than 10-12 pages may be edited to accommodate space limitations. Upload your electronic submission and submission form to beststudentessays.submishmash.com/submit. All documents must be .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf format. Nonfiction Submissions Turn in complete nonfiction essay submissions electronically at beststudentessays.submishmash.com/submit. A complete submission consists of an electronic copy of the essay and a completed electronic submission form. Photography/Art Submissions Turn in completed photography and art submissions electronically at beststudentessays.submishmash.com/submit.A completed submission consists of the photo essay or cover art image files (JPEG format), a completed electronic submission form, and an electronic copy of an artist statement. Artist statements may not exceed 300 words. Photo essays submitted for publication within the magazine must have a faculty nomination. Photography and artwork submitted strictly for cover art consideration do not need a faculty nomination. Submitting on Submittable (formerly Submishmash) To submit, go to beststudentessays.submishmash.com/submit. You will be asked to create a free account in order to upload your submission and submission form. After creating your account, you can upload your work and our staff will be notified of your submission.
For questions, concerns, or for more information contact BSE at: email@example.com
Best Student Essays
A Final Word Elizabeth Thayer
About Best Student Essays Best Student Essays is a student-produced magazine that publishes nonfiction writing by undergraduate and graduate students at the University of New Mexico. The magazine was established over twenty years ago when Paul Bleicher, a graduate student on the Student Publications Board, proposed the idea. Bleicher felt that while outlets existed at UNM for journalistic and creative writing, there was no venue to recognize high-quality, nonfiction academic writing. The first issue of Best Student Essays was published in the spring of 1989. Since then, BSE has published biannually: one issue every fall and spring semester. Best Student Essays is the only campus-wide publication that highlights the nonfiction work being produced by our students. In recent years, BSE has included photo essays as explorations in nonfiction that are perhaps less conventional yet equally deserving of recognition. There is also often a cash award granted to the “Best Essay” submitted, adding even more prestige to the merits of publication. The BSE staff is entirely composed of students, and in order to aid their evaluation of essays submitted, all submissions to BSE must be nominated by a UNM faculty member. The magazine accepts nonfiction work produced for UNM courses, work produced at other institutions, and students’ personal work. BSE publishes all genres of nonfiction, including academic essays, scientific writing, foreign language with English translation, research papers, memoirs, and photo essays. The cover art is also solicited from UNM students, making every aspect of the magazine entirely student based and student produced. Now in its twenty-fifth year, BSE continues to present high-quality writing within a high-quality medium: a well-designed and carefully compiled professional magazine. Here’s to many more decades of celebrating student work.
Volume 25 - Spring 2013 - N0. 1
The University of New Mexico