“We can be than…

“We can be thankful to a friend for a few acres or a little money; and yet for the freedom and command of the whole earth, and for the great benefits of our being, our life, health, and reason, we look upon ourselves as under no obligation.”
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I believe that Seneca is referring to an obligation to care for the Earth as human beings who dwell upon its terrace. It seems that it is in our nature to want to divide, claim, and partition every last segment of land, call something “mine,” make it our property. That sense of ownership obligates us to care for what we have domesticated, tamed, called our own. So then, what is the difference between our claimed acreage and all the rest of the world. Is it wild? Does it fend for itself? Are we not called to collectively tend to our whole earth and our brethren– that which has been granted to us by nature?

a schizophrenic symphony

a schizophrenic symphony

The Soloist, based on true events, is directed by Joe Wright. Actor and musician Jaime Foxx portrays homeless schizophrenic Nathaniel Anthony Ayers. Steve Lopez, (portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr.) a down-on-his-luck Los Angeles reporter who stumbles upon the ex-Julliard cello prodigy. Lopez intends to “decode” Ayers’ mind in an attempt to write an article that will save his career. What follows is an unlikely story of friendship.

”Life has a mind of its own” reads the tagline of The Soloist, as demonstrated in the short clip from the film. In context, this color sequence is a powerful example of symphony and color blended together from the creative mind of a schizophrenic musician. When Lopez and Ayers attend a Beethoven symphony at the Los Angeles concert hall, the onscreen imagery of color in sync with the orchestra allow the audience to see music through the eyes of Nathaniel. It may provoke such questioning as: Does mental illness inspire creativity? Are schizophrenics more apt to being artistically inclined than the rest of society?

Music lovers will be drawn to this sentimental piece that displays the healing effect of music, especially on mental illness. Film-goers may appreciate writer’s Susannah Grant’s dramatized screenplay based on the novel written by the real Steve Lopez. This piece is also a loose biography.The following is an excerpted interview of  Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez that depicts their real life friendship : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHt6e7jqY5U 

The film conjures up issues of mental illness and the alarming reality of homelessness in the United States- especially the scenes depicting daily life on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, one of the largest homeless communities in the country. There is also no definitive cause or known cure for schizophrenia today, meaning that Nathaniel will never see recovery and will most likely be persecuted by delusions his whole life. However, this is also a story of hope and healing: through the power of music and of friendship.

fleeting sanity

“All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy
beg, borrow or steal
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say
All that you eat
everyone you meet
All that you slight
everyone you fight
All that is now
All that is gone
All that’s to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
There is no dark side of the moon really.
Matter of fact it’s all dark.”
-Eclipse

I grew up listening to music from my parents’ era, classic rock especially. Among my favorites from the 1970s is Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.  This concept album is a psychedelic journey into the depths of the complexity of human nature. It focuses especially on the mind verging on insanity. The famous album cover features an image of a triangular prism reflecting a rainbow on a background. It can be speculated that the prism represents a warped perception of reality.  Lead singer Syd Barret narrates about deteriorating mental states, possibly his own. Themes of psychological issues such as: death doubt and confusion, looming threat of insanity due to isolation, lack of control, significance of the human life, and true nature of our identities are apparent lyrically and melodically. Pink Floyd is often recognized for its experimental instrumentals, sound effects, and use of multi-track recording. For example, at the beginning of the first track and finale of the last track, a human heartbeat can be heard to symbolize vitality or weakness of life, dependent upon which stage of life one is undergoing. Female vocals featured on most of the tracks represent delusions of grandeur, hallucination, and paranoia. Haunting synthesizers give a presence of ominousness throughout.

Law.com offers this definition of criminal insanity: “Insanity.n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollableimpulsive behavior.”

The Dark Side of the Moon raises endless questions. How does the album illustrate mental illness and the human experience? What is reality and what is fantastical? Is there an escape to suffering? How is obscurity represented, physically and psychologically? What causes deteriorating mental states?

Medicine categorizes mental health on a spectrum, so there is no clear cut way to define the manifestations and causes of mental processes and behaviors considered to be insane. Heredity may to be to blame, but I believe that outside stresses and unhealthy forces one is exposed to in their environment contribute much more strongly to mental state than genetics. Is the current system of medical diagnostics enough to address these outside pressures?

are you still there, God?

It’s me, Tara. Are you still listening? Where are you in my broken moments?

I’d like to talk to you,  but whenever I start to pray, it’s like picking up the phone to dial an old friend you haven’t spoken to in ages and hanging up before the final ring. I know it’s not supposed to be like that, I mean the least I could do is leave a voice mail. All humor aside, deep down it’s comforting to know you’re always listening to my hopes, my fears, my anxieties, my requests. I just don’t know where to begin again with my faith. I know it’s fallen to the wayside. Where’s my heart during church? Do I really belong there? What was I put on this Earth for? I don’t want to go though all the motions. I don’t want rules and regulations. I want a real, captivating story of love.

All in all,in this life I want to love you and love others wholly. We both know what these open arms are for.  I know I should forgive. I feel like that’s what perpetuated this disconnect for so long. And I’m sorry. The mistakes I’ve made… All my pride… The things I hide… All my selfish thoughts…My apathy… Everything that I could have done without or wish I could have taken back. They’re not a pretty sight to see.  This is me on my knees asking you to take that all away. This is my song and my prayer. I want to love unconditionally like you. I guess this is me coming crawling back like the prodigal son asking for a clean slate, to be made new again.

I just want you & me, nobody else to tell me how our relationship should look like: “Act this way” “You’re not a true Christian if you…” , “Don’t do this or that”, “the Bible says this is the only way…” We don’t associate with those heathens.” That’s close-minded. That’s not the Jesus I know. You don’t fit neatly in a compartmentalized religious box. I hate the word religion and I hate what has tainted the word Christian. You are so much bigger than all of that.

You are freedom and You are love. And that’s all the answer I need.

put it in writing

Stolen from my GEW class writing prompt. Warning: this may become a habit!

No one can deny the power of a well-equipped lexicon. Allow me to present a montage of events from the last thirty minutes of today to demonstrate: As I draft this narrative and prove my point, I eavesdrop on two yuppie-esque characters with impressive vocabularies sip coffee and quip about the high risk of pregnancy sans contraceptives.  A Hispanic couple strolls past with their infant son and I catch bits of their conversation: Vamos a Barnes y Noble! On the drive over to Encinitas Starbucks, I was also tuned into a program on NPR entitled “A Way with Words.” The hosts were discussing the origin and definition of the slang term “wonky.” However their usefulness proves communicatively, unless recorded these verbal exchanges are only temporary, then gone from existence once sound vibrations in the eardrum cease. As Kurt Vonnegut once penned in Slaughterhouse 5, “So it goes.”

As demonstrated, language is extremely important. Verbal linguistics encompasses a massive part of human communication; yet written communication provides a permanence that spoken word does not.  For example, dystopian novels Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 explore the effect on society of censoring classical literature.

Once inside Barnes & Noble, I peruse through an anthology of Walt Whitman. I admire his word-choice greatly and consider returning later to purchase it. His testament is set in stone; it has been written, published, and will remain for forever. This is the only example from my visit that has really stuck in my mind. If I had not written down the others, they would have most likely faded from my short term memory. However, because of its lasting effect on me, a book title and its contents is transferable to my hippocampus where long term memory is stored.

I am an avid reader. I intrinsically add to my vocabulary by reading and digesting the thoughts of other authors.  I have often been told I have an inherent gift for stringing words together, which I suppose this prompt is a casual testament to. I am allowing myself the liberty of voicing this piece of writing stylistically under the assumption that it is ungraded. In conclusion, as I have gathered from my impromptu field study, spoken words fade; written work is a permanent means of communicating ideas to one another. It is the key recording device for lasting observation, analogy and means of making sense of the busy world that surrounds humanity.

true story

True Story

Identity- Sexual Orientation & Stereotypes: Identifying as Gay

The film Dog Day Afternoon portrays the true events of a bank heist facilitated by novice criminal John Wojtowicz. (He was renamed Sonny in the screenplay for creative licensing purposes and to build a unique identity for the character in the film.) The film explores Wojtowicz’s/Sonny’s uncanny motive for the stick-up: his illicit lover Leon needs the money for a sex change operation. To be noted especially is Al Pacino’s unlikely casting as the deeply troubled Sonny. Director Sidney Lumet aimed to construct an, although outlandish, relatable character. Pacino’s brilliant performance aids to the director’s goal of portraying Sonny’s inner conflict without instantaneously labeling the character as a typical gay male. There is still  a certain societal stigma attached to identifying as a member of the gay community. Consider especially this film’s 1975 release date. Casting directors worried that if the role was overacted, Dog Day Afternoon would become laughable and forgettable. Lumet’s vision was to create a credible piece without stereotyping; his desire for the audience was to take the film seriously and sympathize with Sonny’s unusual plight. The following scene from the movie demonstrates the tension inside of the bank:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SR4O2gcXYA

Currently watching: Dog Day Afternoon

Stolen from GEW Tumblr Post.

wherever you go…

… There you are.

Am I excited to be moving back home this summer? Yes and no in different ways; here in San Diego I get a taste of freedom to set my own schedule, explore but it’s difficult being away from friends, my boyfriend, and family. Moving back will allow for stronger connections. I’m definitely excited to be able to see all of them more.

Everything’s falling into place education wise- I know my exact plan for the next four years- however the cost of living down here has been astronomical on both my parents and I, so I can see the financial benefit of coming home.

I want to be able to establish the same independence at home that I’ve been allowed here! Ultimately, my goal for the next year, wherever I am, is to be content in all circumstance and achieve to my highest potential :)

class in session…

and college textbooks have robbed me blind. Enter: $320 libro de texto. Welcome back. But I’m excited to be back. Determined to make the most of my time left in San Marcos. First day of spring semester at CSU Stair Master leaves blisters on my tired feet, my rested brain hungry for knowledge, my wallet disappointingly light, my heart aching for home, and my spirits high. (IMPORTANTE: practicar Espanol con mi novio y mi mejor amigas! :D) Estoy feliz; Bienvenidors a colegio!

vigilante

need to find a way to change those comments I left through my phone into legitimate posts. (finally going back and editing that today.) It will be updated in the near future once I find time around school starting up again. As if I couldn’t have accomplished that over Winter Break…

this post was regarding a series of films I watched over the break: Death Wish, Death Sentence, and The Boondock Saints, all regarding, as construed in the title, vigilantes- those who take the law into their own hands.

so my food for thought is: Is anyone above the law? Is vigilante action justified?