Literature

E.E. Cummings said, “To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any humanRalph Waldo Emerson being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

This is a common theme throughout history; the greatest thinkers have praised originality.

This is a concept worth continuing a discussion about because the dangers of conformity are as alive as ever.

Perhaps one of the greatest manifestos on individualism is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance. Indeed, in perfect union with Cummings’s philosophy is Emerson’s quote that:

Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

Here are a few other remarkable statements from that essay:

  • To believe our own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost…
  • Insist on yourself; never imitate.
  • Where is the master who could have taught Shakspeare?  Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton?  Every great man is a unique.

For more quotes and their meanings, see this link

 

E.E. Cummings

E.E. Cummings by Edward Weston (Photograph courtesy of the Center for Creative Photography)

So, if you didn’t know, E.E. Cummings is delightful. His words have this strange way of making you feel warm and wonderful inside. It’s probably because he’s a hoper, and hopers inspire.

This is prose. It’s a poetic narrative but not a poem.

It’s about the power of feeling feelings and how feeling feelings is the hardest thing in the world – harder than blowing up the world, actually. And it’s about how feeling feelings makes you the realest you.

From a hoper to (hopefully) another hoper, I present: A Poet’s Advice to Students by E.E. Cummings.

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feeling through words.

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel-but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling-not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time-and whenever we do it, we’re not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world-unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

For more information, check out this article by Maria Popova.

It’s riveting, really
Ideals and abilities, learning agility
Growing affinities
Higher amenities
Documentaries countering
The movies that lied to me

Buddy cop flicks from the 80s
Creating the standard of ladies
It’s black magic and masochist
Boppity bippty of luxury lavishes
Marked and established the standards of femme mystique

Breed the discreet
50% are set to be sexed or meek
Take to the streets and reveal the disease

Meat in Ibiza
Popping their pills and then smoking their reefer
Corruption of youth who live for the season
Egos in leaders who lead without meaning

The artists are saviors
Revealing the racists
And places where traces
Where our ancestors’ histories bleed

The darkness of cultural ease
Built on the backs of unwilling passengers
Carried by caravans directed by power’s conceit
The oppressive elite

The daughter who wasn’t empowered
Our sons, they sit in their towers
Our fathers who art in their power
Say prayers to the players in games

Say praise to the almighty dollar
On high, please let me win the new lotto
I am a humble new follower
In the dogma of Western armata
I offer my honor and martyr
Please! If not the lotto, I’m fine with a Honda

Sure, you can state the exceptions
Yes, bonds, they have been lessened
And many don’t give in to greed
But many do, so I’m telling you
It’s important to heed this decree:

The wealthy in towers indulge in gluttonous feasts while many minorities, people in poverty, women, and ebonies can’t get a mezzanine
And power and cowardice trample inhabitants from which you can’t get a drink

Note: This is one of the darkest things I’ve ever drafted. In hindsight, I don’t necessarily agree with all the assertions, but I still believe they’re worth consideration. Human nature is complex and nuanced. A discussion of the issues is critical, but it’s important to realize there are a lot of good, loving, and saving qualities to appreciate.

A young black activist
Tragically massacred
Majority white
Captured in hazardous prejudice
We’re all savages
Angered by different establishments
Our might
Trampled by lovers of avarice
We’re all brothers and sisters and mothers and uncles and cousins
But suffering is something that don’t get no loving
So tell me, my friend, who do we our trust in
Media telling us winning at every expense is an action of substance
It’s actually rubbish
The pageantry mastery is selfish and ugly
Money is something that always feels wanting
It’s puzzling we’re running and bustling to get some more coverage
Infirmities swarming
Motives maliciously lurking
The furnace is churning the logs of injustice
We wonder
How we can stand to let these things be
Together we grow our communities
We’re parts of a tree, the veins of a leaf
We must stand up for peace
…Not rest easy in silence

Note: This opens with a discussion of race that suggests that I am referring to an idea that a majority of people who are white are prejudice. This is not my intention. It’s meant to provoke a consideration of race in America in a broad sense. It’s a commentary on the division in America we’re all experiencing and how that division is often carried to the extreme.

We’re all fighting each other on ideologies and sometimes feel compelled to win at all costs. Meanwhile, there are many greedy people who are profiting at the expense of many people’s well-being. My hopes are evolving and compel me to more definitely ask for a reflection on the need for empathy and consideration of other points of view. Anger, fear, and ignorance are frequently the cause of much dysfunction and hurt. I would like to promote ideas that call forth unity and a vision of more whole communities.

The Boat is an epic and tragic story of the 16-year-old Mai, whose parents make the decision to send her alone on a boat to Australia after the fall of Saigon created by Matt Huynh. The story is told in an interactive graphic novel format as part of Australian broadcaster SBS‘s multi-platform recognition of the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and 40 years of Vietnamese resettlement in Australia.

The Boat unites hand-drawn artwork, animation, text, sound, and archive to explore this important moment in history through an innovative mode of storytelling that pushes the existing boundaries of the graphic novel form.

Check it out here.

And if you’d like more information, you can check out this article from Screendiver, the page from which this information is pulled.

 

 

Serial materialism
Extinguishing the real for the vain
Distinguishing identities
Vying for the recognition of name
Nations plundered for greed
Families soiled for seeds
Wealth which grows exponential
Lost potential in families who can’t afford a rental
While people lease cars they can’t afford
Or go to stores to forge the world’s acceptance
Heaven is a mess if it’s a reflection of our efforts, our treasures, our measures of self-worth
We’re cursed to be murderers, partake in self-slaughter, abandon our neighbor’s daughter, mock the Right’s martyr, stomp our forefathers, so we can rock Madison Square Garden
Fighters are few and far
Starvers are worth it for a fast car
Or a quick buck
Or a woman with no grounding in a sense of morality
Western culture’s capital vultures and partisans like Ann Coulter will sour our homes and provide premonitions for high mortality

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the power duo behind a number of cultural-defining cinematic booms, including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, and – my favorite movie – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Because I’m such a fan of the lastest Spider-flick, I decided to check out this interview they recently did with Joshua Johnson at 1A.

At the end of the interview, Miller gives some advice for a young fan about how to get into animation. Quoting some tips from a teacher of Chuck Jones, he says “you have 10,000 bad drawings inside you, you’ve gotta get them out as quickly as possible.”

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse attempts to capture the realities of diversity in an urban context. It is smart, even existential, while remaining optimistic, family-friendly, and hip.

 

Adding in his own words, “the more pencil-miles you get, the more practice you get making things, the better you’ll be, and don’t worry about failing. Don’t worry about chasing after something that you think someone else wants to see. Just make things that interest you, that you want to see, and eventually, you’ll get there.”

This is classic advice. It calls forth a similar idea from another illustrator, Stephen McCranie, who is attributed with the quote “The master has failed more than the beginner has ever tried.”

So, from a fellow trier, just keep on going. You got this.