The End (For Now)

This post not only marks the end of my class, but the end of my undergraduate study. I feel like I have been pulled through college on the back of a rocket you’d find in a Looney Tunes cartoon. I have ran into pulls, soared through a clear field, and had to repair the rocket a few times, but overall it has been a pleasant ride. This is the end for now.

This class not only was my last class, but it has been one of my more insightful classes as I for once did not enjoy the people for the most part. The energy was not only low, but it was almost disappointing. Maybe it was coming in with high expectations of a class in looking at trauma and recovery after the seriousness of War and Human Rights. Maybe it was me expecting more from a complex topic from the students. Maybe it was the classroom.

The classroom was abysmal. The room had poor lighting, was loud, and was not safe in the case of a fire. The lighting on multiple occasions made it hard for me to see, especially with my photosensitive vision following as LASIK procedure. There was an awful sound which I think belonged to the automatic windows in AW that would begin and go on for a 30 second distraction. Most of all, there was too much mismatched furniture with no room. This over-sized furniture not only made the classroom seem smaller, but less safe. In terms of an emergency evacuation there is not a clear evacuation path due to so little room.

I felt the readings were appropriate to the subject matter although I believe an updated book on the dangers of depression may be needed. Solomon’s book has not aged well and is a remnant of the post-modern period in the 1990’s where everything is over-explained. I believe an updated outlook similar to Solomon would be incredibly beneficial.

The most important part of this class remains the freedom of a writing topic. Being able to write on what you feel is correct and right to write about is outstanding. The freedom for one’s ideas to change and for topics to shift are so accommodating and allows for the student to shine. This allows students to be able to explore what they want to look at which is valuable for a course this late into an undergraduate’s career. It is a bridge between undergraduate and graduate work and allows for students to broaden horizons.

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5 Minutes to Midnight?

The world is a crazy place. I have been paying close attention to the United Kingdom’s response to the political assassinations in the U.K. over the past few weeks and I feel like I am watching appeasement. If the Russian government did, in fact, order an assassination on their citizens in a sovereign country that would be one of the most blunt actions of national intimidation since the collapse of the USSR. The usage of a gas agent is not only frightening, but is bone-chillingly ominous. Not only does the Russian Federation have access to major nuclear weapons, but they have the ability to deploy gas weapons despite international concerns. I am reminded of the idea of the doomsday clock and Alan Moore’s excellent graphic novel, The Watchmen. What happens when situations are so bad it feels that we are only five minutes from extinction? Each tick of the clock brings us closer to the absurd situation we all see in life. Each tick of the clock brings with it new dangers and new destruction.

Why are books belonging to Jewish Studies being destroyed by students? Why is there such a hatred of a faith that an individual or possibly a group of individuals feel it is necessary to destroy an object of learning, an object of teaching? This destruction on WWU’s campus is not only scary, but another example of the clock getting ready to tick on. Why is it that we need to protect knowledge in these times? Why is it that we need to protect anything in these times?

More importantly what could cause the clock to tick back? What can reverse something strong enough to push time? What could that be?

I would like to leave this piece of cinematic music from 2009’s Watchmen. This music is not only ominous but almost frightening, Countdown- Tyler Bates.

 

Privilege of Freedom

Looking back to a few weeks ago, one thing still stands out to me after hearing Auschwitz survivor, Noemi Ban, tell her story. Her focus on the idea of freedom and the complacency that some people of my generation have come to associate with the word. What do we know of true freedom, the idea of being free just is hard for us to comprehend. We have grown up around the ideas of freedom, the ability to drink clean water, to eat substantive food, to speak what language we choose to speak, and what I think is the most important, the ability to think and speak one’s mind without legal repercussion.  Noemi felt the lack of freedom and when she gained it she never took it for granted. Her focus on the refreshing hold of water is fascinating as it is water. I complain about water quality when I can taste even a little bit of mineral taste. Noemi focused on the freedom of being able to not only drink water but have water. I feel like I appreciate my freedom, but here I am dehydrated with an empty water bottle next to me.

They way Noemi speaks about her family is beautiful. She speaks so gently about them and remembers so much about how they were and the characteristics that matched them. Her grandmother struck me as the most interesting person who wished to keep part of her life, the candlestick. That candlestick represented their prior sense of freedom before the rule of the Nazis. A single item that reminded them of what they had before only for it to be what could kill all of them just for that little taste of freedom.

The most important part of Noemi’s speech is her response to the perpetrators. Not Germans, but rather calling them Nazis. Not every German was a perpetrator of the Holocaust, but every Nazi was. I think this is useful when finding a hardcore definitions bout the perpetrators because how should we lump in the Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, etc. into the group of perpetrators that helped to advance the Holocaust. They can all be Nazis which gives a name and an identity to all of the perpetrators despite their background.

The experience of hearing a survivor talk is one I will never forget and one I will never wish to forget. Noemi’s story is one that is not only fascinating, but unique in her own reflections of the events of the Holocaust.

This week I listened to Béla Bartók a Hungarian composer. His work helped me write this and the playing of the linked Romanian folk music is wonderful.