Insanity of Awareness

We’ve read some very interesting, thoughtful, adventurous novels/ texts throughout the semester that have been truly eye opening to me not only as a writer and a literary analyst, but also as an aware human on this hectic earth. All of the texts give us a lot of insight into South African, Mexican, and Egyptian societies and the issues that take place everyday all around the world. Utopia gave us a valuable lesson about the wealthy vs. the poor and the mishaps that can occur when both sides get triggered and experience a power struggle. Signs Preceding the End of the World opened our eyes to the true struggle and adversities people face when crossing the Mexican/ U.S. border into the United States. Tram 83 creates an exaggeration of the true corruption and carelessness of the government. Baho! shows us what can happen when too much power falls in the wrong hands and when silence is a good thing or a poisonous stalemate.

All of these novels creatively provide us with truths about the world we live in, the world we struggle in. Reading texts written by authors from these worldly different societies and cultures makes these terrible stories we hear in the news palpable. Even if the novels are fiction or science fiction, truth is what underlies each and every one of them. In today’s selfish society it is important to stay aware of worldly issues so we can be knowledgeable of them and recognize them in our own society.

“Awareness is the enemy of sanity, for once you hear the screaming, it never stops” (Emilie Autumn). This may be quite true however, we live in a world of insanity and being ignorant to the issues going on around us will not serve us well. The world doesn’t stop for anybody.

“If, then, I were asked for the most important advice I could give, that which I considered to be the most useful to the men of our century, I should simply say: in the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you” (Leo Tolstoy).

All in all, this course has taught me that analysis of literature leads to truth and awareness of subjects that I am not normally exposed to and to recognize similar issues in our own society.

Stay aware; History repeats itself.

“The past presages the future” (Baho!, 1).

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This ———————>to this

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The Poisonous Silence

Silence. When you hear this word do you think of a peaceful setting with no voices to be heard or do you think of an uncomfortable, awkward, maybe even painful situation? Silence can mean many things however, in Baho!, by Roland Rugero, the author emulates Africa’s silent struggle through the main character Nyamuragi.

“His father spoke little and drank much. Always in silence…For a long while his father would remain crouched before the fire, his son imitating him. Words were rare in that family, laughter even rarer” (p.9).

Children do what they see. They imitate. Teaching a child at a young age that speaking is not necessary and that laughter is rare can only lead them down a dark path…and in this case it turned Nyamuragi into a mute. In his early childhood he simply did not care to talk much because it was peaceful, it connected him to the earth. African existentialism makes the point that you should live in the moment and be connected to what and who is around you. Nyamuragi chooses not to speak because he was living in the moment. However, after a certain point it became an issue because he is now not able to speak, he does not know how. Because of this he is in a life or death situation that is out of his hands and he has zero control over.

At a certain point South Africans had not spoken up about their plethora of issues that they became silenced. Even if they had spoken up a little, would anyone do anything? Would anyone care to help after that long? Trauma can silence people, especially when silence is all they see, it’s all they know.

“Nyamuragi had come to believe that his father suffered, but, in the reverie that pervaded their dwelling place, suffering was grounded in silence and so, unencumbered, the world pressed on” (page 10).

Suffering in this time became almost a common ground and this family, and Africa, decided to let silence overcome them.

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Democratic Republic of Corruption (DRC)

In Tram 83, by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, he demonstrates how the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC), located in central Africa, is based on belly politics, corruption, and an incompetent government.

I mentioned how the government is incompetent and by that I mean the government is ruled by wealthy people/ tourists that come to the DRC; because of this the government takes away from its actual people and citizens.

“The court, which was corrupt to the core, had found a cash cow” (p. 102).

They will do anything to save money and make things easier for themselves.

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The most common image we see in this novel is the unfinished railroad track. It mainly exports goods but it still does serve the citizens as a form of transportation- deadly transportation. The people that actually work for the government are basically deemed disposable considering the fact that the government did not and will not take the time to finish the wonky railroad structure that could potentially fall apart at any moment, killing citizens, and ruining their precious export goods.

“It was essentially an unfinished metal structure, gutted by artillery, train tracks, and locomotives that called to mind the railroad built by Stanley…” (p.1).

An unfinished metal structure seems quite safe for citizens to be using.

However, the unfinished railroad is more than just an unfinished metal structure; it is a symbol for the crumbling system of the City-State. This railroad has been “gutted by artillery” just like the city-state when they faced war. Just like the city-state the railroad is unpredictable because they never know when a train is going to arrive. They never really know when the government will turn off the power or raise the already ridiculous prices/ taxes. And, as I previously stated, the train mainly exports goods, which is the city-state’s main concern as opposed to safely transporting actual people on the trains.

The corrupt city-state is run by money and does not care about the wellbeing of their citizens, which shows prominently through the comparison of the unfinished metal structure and the city-state itself.

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U.S. in Disguise

The dynamics of the world as of lately have been tragic and disturbing. Towfik does a nice job of displaying literal and abstract borders that correlate with the modern world. Towfik created a dramatized version of today’s world and displays the disappearing of the middle class, “A society without a middle class is a society primed for explosion” (108).

A somewhat different way to look at it is the separation of politics, the two radical sides of conservatism and liberalism. They both believe they are superior to one another and butt heads constantly but do they even remember what they’re fighting about? Their ancestors started this uphill battle that has somewhat plateaued due to ignorance and arrogance.

The Utopians believe they achieved social order by separating themselves from the poor and making themselves the “superior” population. What even makes them think they’re superior? Material items. You could easily compare this to the modern world because “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer”. Nowadays it’s not actually about what is right it has become a battle of attaining the most “stuff”. The Utopians believe since they have everything they could ever need and want they have achieved this level of superiority to those who have to eat rats and be covered in their own filth…The wealthy in the U.S. have grown selfish and only seem to care about their well-being while they cling tightly to the one thing they cannot take to their graves.

Then, on the other hand, you have the Others who dreadfully hate the Utopians for isolating them and leaving them with, well…shit. Instead of being proactive and deciding to build themselves up from nothing they live in the disaster and continue to hate the Utopians and rally against them. It’s almost a stalemate between the two populations. You could argue that some of the poor population in the U.S. decide to hate the rich and not do anything else about it, because let’s be real this is a country with many opportunities but you have to be proactive to get what you want. (This could all get really complicated so for the sake of length I am going to stop here.)

In both “Utopia” and in reality we see that the government is ruled by the wealthy. There is government in Utopia but not necessarily in the land of the Others. As long as the government gets the money they so badly crave, everything is in order…even though the large remainder is struggling and in deep poverty. Another example of this is the “Hunger Games”. You have the wealthy class striving while the rest live in poverty.

 

Seduction of Death

7068bfd474a598ba9891305a691377c2Imagine a world where your worst nightmares become an all too palpable reality; where rape is glorified, giving birth is like brushing your teeth, and death seems like the beautiful way out. Did you picture “Utopia” by Ahmed Khaled Towfik? I hope so, because in the novel “Utopia” Towfik manages to create a futuristic Egyptian society where all these scandalous misadventures become actuality.

The Utopians, or the wealthy members of society, decide to alienate themselves inside a large gated community to keep out the inferior…a.k.a. the poor members of society. Utopia becomes a plethora of sex, drugs, rape, and almost anarchy. Because the Utopians have everything so readily available to them, including Phlogistine the drug they endure many times a day, life begins to bore some members making them want something more exciting..so what image becomes more exciting than living a redundant everyday life? Death.

“…at that moment when death becomes larger than life itself, at the moment that death becomes a kind of artistic beauty. The scene was fearsome, especially since it wasn’t on the television screen. Everything was real and terrible and cruel and, and…and seductive. Please don’t deny it” (Page 3, Towfik).

This quote is the narrator talking about the “Platoon” (the 80’s movie) poster he has hanging over his bed. He is a young [less than 20] man living in Utopia who has had sex with every girl he has ever been interested in, who ingests Phlogistine like it’s water, and his only use for his parents is their money. Death to him becomes this beautiful image and almost something he wants to attain. In a world where you have everything you could ever need, a surplus of it at that, life becomes an unappealing, repetitive routine. If you can simply have whatever you want, what is there to live for? What is there to battle for? To aspire to? I feel like Towfik used this to demonstrate how people need to stop being so greedy in this day and age because in reality owning everything you’ve ever wanted leaves you with nothing.

I also feel like he truly believes death is beautiful; we always say life is beautiful so why not death, why not the other side? It’s this seductive thing, we never know when living and breathing will come to a halt and when everything will turn to nothing. When everything we’ve done and accomplished and lived for will flash before our eyes; every book we’ve ever read, every person we’ve ever loved, every place we’ve ever visited, every song we’ve played on repeat ’til we can’t listen anymore…will flash before our eyes…then be gone. forever.

Scary or seductive? You decide.