Noisy Noise

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In the poetry book “Buzzing Hemisphere” by Urayoan Noel, the buzzing that happens in everyday life is often seen and heard as noise. Noise is often a negative term that describes a sound that is annoying or distracting to someone. For the author, Noel, the buzzing noise that is in his way can be a number of different things. Whether it be another language, a person, or the deterritorialization that he is trying to attempt, noise is everywhere. In the majority of his poems, noise is present and it can come in different forms.

In his poem “Rumoreos,” both Spanish and English are side by side with no punctuation in between the two. The only difference is that the words that are in English are bold, while the Spanish is in regular font. This is form of noise. Being bi-cultural and bilingual can be tough. Often times we want to go back to the roots of our parents and embrace their cultural and language, but the other culture and its customs can get in the way. In this poem, the English being bold represents his parents’ culture being overshadowed by the other, and that can be very noisy. So noisy that we just can’t ignore it. It’s tough trying to juggle both worlds at once, and depending where we live and who we are surrounded with, determines which culture we tend to lean more towards.

Noel is being overtaken by the noise of the American culture by the boldness of the English language. The two languages may be next to each other, but the darker font is immediately more prominent and is seen as more important, almost. Looking at the page, my eyes automatically go to English, and the first time reading it, I just read the English because it was easier and more out there than the Spanish. I’m sure that is how Noel feels sometimes, and that is why he incorporated it into his poem.

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Although the noise can be noisy, acknowledging it and trying to push through it is the first step to attempting to empty out the noise in our lives.



Repetition, Repetition, Repetition…

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In Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, translated by Roland Glasser, his writing devices are strategically weaved into the novel to create a more heightened experience of the reading. One device he integrates through his novel is repetition. For example, when Lucien was forced to lead the desperados to the merchandise, Mujila used repetition to enhance Lucien’s situation.

When Lucien showed them the way, the repetition of a Bible verse and “the dogs continued to chuckle” (132) is prominent; with another sentence or two also incorporated. As the structure goes on, the repetition becomes more simplified. Mujila uses repetition to build a rhythm to reflect the tension of the situation that Lucien is in. He is terrified for his life, and he is obviously tense from the danger that he is in. As the repetition of the pattern gets shorter and quicker, it mirrors how Lucien is feeling: his tension is becoming tighter and tighter as he fears what might happen next. The stress that he is in leads him to think quickly, and it corresponds with how the repetition gradually becomes less and less in length.

The quote “the dogs continued to chuckle” (132) is used to show how even the dogs knew what trouble Lucien was in, and by repeating it multiple times until it reaches an ellipses, emphasizes how in control the desperados were, and how helpless Lucien was.

The Bible verses that he recites are not all real, and I believe that Mujila did that to show how stressed Lucien was. He was in a tense and dangerous situation with no help whatsoever near him, and he just wanted to be out of it. By him saying nonexistent Bible verses, it shows how desperate he is to disappear. He is stating what he thinks might help him, and in his stressed and tense altercation, he was willing to try and say Bible verses that did not even exist in order to attempt and get some help from God. Mujila repeated more than one fake Bible verse to further push how scared Lucien really was.  

Violence is the Norm

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In the novel Utopia by Ahmed Khaled Towfik, translated by Chip Rossetti, violence is normalized by the rich and the poor. Anybody can do a senseless act of violence and no one will bat an eye or get punished.

For example, when Alaa demanded Germinal to “get out” (130) so he can rape Safiya, Germinal was disgusted, but she didn’t even attempt to stop him. She let it happen, and even though she was obviously disgusted, it was only because he wants to have sex with one of the Others.

Germinal isn’t surprised at this act of violence; instead, she feels insulted. Germinal knows that Alaa has sex with a number of other girls, but this situation is different because Safiya is a poor, sick girl who is seen as less than them; so Germinal is disgusted at the fact that Alaa would want to have sex with her in the first place.

“Did you enjoy yourself” (133) and “Have you finished” (132) is what Germinal asked Alaa when he was finished. She only asked him that out of spite and jealously that another woman had his attention other than her. Even in the face of a disgusting act, she still thought about how he wasn’t giving her all his attention.

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In the world of Utopia this isn’t out of the ordinary. Alaa knew that nothing would happen to him if he did this to the girl, because since violence is so normalized, no one really cares. Alaa himself is extremely immoral and has no empathy for sympathy for this girl. Since Alaa grew up having everything he ever needed and wanted at his disposal, he inherited this sense of entitlement, so he knows that he will never be punished for any act of violence that he commits. The only reason he raped Safiya is “to have a souvenir” (130) of his trip. An act of violence that dehumanizes and violates another person is seen as a souvenir in his eyes, and that perfectly explains how normalized violence really is.

Mexico vs. U.S.

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In Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman, a young woman, Makina, makes her way through the border into the United States. When she first crosses, it “had hardly been more than a few dozen yards” when she noticed that the sky was “already different, more distant or less blue.” By thinking this, Herrera is implying that the United States is simply less than Mexico.

As usual, many U.S. citizens and a great deal of Mexican citizens believe that the United States is obviously better than Mexico in every way possible. But why is that? If the sky is already visibly different, then the whole entire atmosphere of the United States is different. If the sky is already more distant, then the U.S. is farther away from maybe it’s own citizens. If the sky is already less blue, then the U.S. is automatically less vibrant and colorful than Mexico.

So then why did Herrera want to make that assumption so clear and dominant in the book? Because crossing into this so-called ‘great’ country isn’t as glamorous as it seems.

Makina only crossed in order to retrieve her brother and bring him back into the U.S. It was never for her benefit. By making it about bringing the brother back to Mexico, Herrera is suggesting that not every single person who doesn’t live in the U.S. necessarily wants to live there. Herrera constantly bags on the U.S. in a negative and demeaning way through sly situations that Makina goes through, and it may not be picked up on. But Herrera does it in such an integrated way because he only wants it to be implied and not said out directly, or else the whole undertone of the book would be ruined.

Herrera is implying that the U.S. is not seen as the ‘better’ country in most Mexican citizens eyes, and he does this in order to elevate his main character’s personality and to shut down the well-known belief that the U.S. is a wonderful country.