Claudia Morales (LCSW) recently put out a post with the caption “how does it feel to be in your body?” The question and corresponding images really reminded me of the ongoing discussion around the body/senses/placement within the world. So, I figured I would post the pictures and ask how they make everybody feel/how it makes them feel in considering the descriptions we’ve seen in our readings. I know that the idea of space between the mind and body really hit me, and that the idea of the body as a simultaneously lifeless vessel and a personified entity forcing us all to face our realities really brought me back to the girl’s panic attack in The Gangster We Are All Looking For among other things.
Guess I’m talking about this!
[uh, trigger warning for suicide in the context of it being dealt with in Vuong’s poetry.]
There’s a whole lot to feel things about in Night Sky with Exit Wounds. There’s a lot that’s so much that I won’t ever comprehend it. And even this thing that I’ve been focusing on maybe too much, where I circled every instance of it being mentioned, isn’t something I’ve gone through. I have never had a group of close friends and lovers end their lives in close succession.
But… that is the thing I keep thinking about. Because being young and gay right now doesn’t mean that precise thing occurs, but it does mean that at heart you’re scared of it happening. It does mean that if you think too long about the number of friends of yours who have been through things they shouldn’t have had to go through at all, you can’t actually not cry. Which is why both times I did a reading from this book and both times that we discussed it afterward I’ve just wanted to… sit in silence for a few hours and recalibrate.
That’s it, that’s my Dreaded Personal Connection Post. That I’m … terrified at the thought of these parts in the book, but that I’m glad he wrote about them, incredibly so. Once more, it comes down to I exist. And also, maybe, I’m still here. Even when you didn’t know you would be.
As we talked about and read in the poem we discussed today, life is funny. You don’t exactly expect that your favorite professor will have trouble breathing at a cookie decorating party, nor that suddenly the responsible one has to be you (Katia, you know this feeling, I’m sure). However, I’m glad I was able to be there for Dr. Scanlon. I bring this all up to say that, however much of a cliche it is, life is funny. Maybe not hilarious, something more like interesting and possibly amusing, at times. You never know what situations you will find yourself in and how your past experiences and trauma will play into that. When we were reading the poem today, I kept thinking about how easily I find myself in unusual situations and how these have shaped my personality today. Because that’s just it–just like how Vuong has these concepts of light-hearted humor next to ideas of terribly tragic things, life hurls the weirdest, unorganized things your way. One minute, you might be laughing at how someone is struggling to decorate a cookie and the next, you’re in a situation where someone’s life could be in your hands.
Anyways, I’m sorry for exposing you, Dr. Scanlon, but I thought I should share how I connected today’s reading with our experience. And needless to say, I’m glad that you’re okay!!!
I always find it really powerful to hear the author read out their poetry, so here’s a video of Ocean Vuong reading out “Notebook Fragments”! It was really interesting to hear his reading pace and the softness of his voice as he read aloud. Let me know what you guys think of it too!
brought to you from the floor (!) of Combs xoxo
I just recently purchased a book that I think ties into a lot of what we learned this semester, as well as the RMP Michelle and I did earlier in the year on Japanese Internment. In our RMP, I cited George Takei as one of the many voices of those who were interned. He wrote the graphic memoir, They Called Us Enemy, which is about his experiences being interned.
Throughout the book, we get to see glimpses of what life was like and how his family was treated. Similar to the other books we read regarding Japanese internment, we see situations where they are shielded away from the outside world and are forced to go from horse stalls to camps in the desert. Being a graphic novel, this is a far different experience from just hearing Takei talk about it in his interviews and his Ted talks. Seeing these pictures showing intimate and personal moments from his life during this time forces to reader to reconcile with what happened to him. I encourage everyone to read this book, and if you have read it, let me know what thoughts you had.
Over break, I sat down with a number of the books from this course to start my final project, trying to pick a central topic to work around. As I was doing this, my grandmother turned on one of her favorite movies Crazy Rich Asians, which I had never seen. I stopped my homework (the first step in procrastination) and watched with her. One of the key ideas of the movie is the Chinese-American status of the female protagonist, Rachel Chu, and the lack of value her boyfriend’s mother gives to her for not being “Chinese.” This reminded me of the discussions we had in Donald Duk, as well as No-No Boy and a few other novels concerning the “double status” associated with Asian Americans.
It never really occurred to me that this was still a concept that is dealt with. (the book the film was based off of was published in 2013). This got me considering all the talk about self-identity and the concept of “home” for each novel and seeing how every piece interacts with the idea of expectations v. reality of self-identity and home.
Just wondering if anyone else has seen this movie and maybe thinks about it differently now that we’ve read so much literature from Asia, or if anybody else has thoughts on how home has/hasn’t been defined.
Hello everyone! I hope that you all got the much needed rest before the rush of our last two weeks. I have just a short thing to share with you all. Last night, I was with my grandparents, and I was reading Night Sky with Exit Wounds for class tomorrow. I was surprised–well, that might not be the right word, but in any case, I was having a lot of intense feelings about the poetry we were reading. At one point, I put the book down and began discussing the class and the book with my grandparents. My grandfather left the service a few months before the Vietnam war began, so he was very close to having gone to the war. He expressed his irritation over how American soldiers were treated in the U.S. about the war. We both agreed, however, that it was those in power that were the issue. I told them about the Vietnamese side of things, which they both knew little about. It was a tough conversation, but one I was glad that we had.
Has anyone else had any similar conversations with family or friends?
Like our community, the blog will continue to exist beyond the parameters of this semester. But for the purpose of assessment, it will “close” at midnight on Sunday, December 8. Until that point, any comments or posts contribute to your participation grade for the course, and naturally you may feel free to write about any book from the semester or indeed to reflect on the whole lot of them.