He Surrounds Us

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Charlie & The Weaverbirds

March 17th, 2011 · Uncategorized

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The Lottery

March 9th, 2011 · Uncategorized

English 162W Response 4 – The Lottery

Christopher John Labbate
Professor Dominique Zino
English 162W
Blog Post #4 – March 10, 2011

The Lottery, Localized Values and Beliefs

Through Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the reader can clearly make a connection towards Tuan’s ideas in his chapter, “Mythical Space and Place.” One quote that not only supports but summarizes the village people and their values would be on page 86, where Tuan states: “The spatial component of a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities.” Throughout the reading, one learns that these village people (who seem to be secluded from other villages) take up a practice where they draw papers and one “lucky” person will have the privilege to be stoned to death. As words come from Old Man Warner’s mouth, “Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery” (Jackson, 250) one could see that this tradition and the values of these village people have been implemented greatly for quite some time. These village people have the audacity to come as a group, pile up stones from round to sharp edged ones and carry out the act of unjustified killings every week. Tuan helps us understand that these localized people have created such a long tradition of choosing a scapegoat every week and condemning them to death. With remarks like, “Be a good sport, Tessie,” or “Time sure goes fast,” shows the reader that this tradition is some type of activity that these people enjoy and go forth with every week. In regards to space, the villagers tend to lessen their community of members each week, one by one.
Tuan also speaks to us briefly about the Chinese people and their community as a whole. He explains to us that the Chinese use certain symbols within their culture to help them establish their mythological beliefs. For example, they use the symbol “White Tiger,” which symbolizes weapons, war, and executions (Tuan, 93). We also learn from Tuan’s reading that the Chinese are at the center of space and surrounding them are different symbols, good and bad. Something that seems rather interesting in connection to the Chinese way of life and their symbols is the black box in Jackson’s short story (Jackson, 250-252). Black not only symbolizes dark, but danger and death. The villagers, one by one, pick a piece of paper out of this “death box” and see if they are alive or dead at that exact moment. When chosen, everyone around that condemned person surrounds him or her in the shape of a circle. After the formation (along with giving that person his or her final space of life), the community as a whole throws stones towards that scapegoat.
With that being said, one could clearly see the connection in Tuan’s reading and the idea of localization, values, and activities in Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery.”

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First Paper – Gregor’s Individual Freedom

March 7th, 2011 · Uncategorized

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Blog Number 3

March 3rd, 2011 · Uncategorized

English 162W Response 3

Christopher John Labbate
Professor Dominique Zino
March 3, 2011
English 162 – Blog Post #3
Robert is Not Quite Different

In Tuan’s “Spatial Ability, Knowledge, and Place” chapter, ones learns that Tuan expands on the idea of that a person has a certain relationship with space and its surroundings. One of the major concepts that Tuan stresses in this chapter is that human beings need spatial ability and knowledge to survive. Individuals are more prone to have greater knowledge due to their experience of hard work and great developed, whereas groups of certain kinds have it easier, due to their dependence on one another and we learn that their knowledge is less developed.
The major group that is compared in Tuan’s chapter is the Temne of Sierra Leone compared to the Eskimo people of Arctic Canada. When reading this chapter, one learns that the Temne people have it easier due to their climate, vegetation, and so forth. The Eskimos on the other hand live in a difficult climate, learn within themselves, and hunt and fend for themselves as well. “The spatial skills of the Eskimo are far more superior to those of the Temne.” (Tuan, 78) The Eskimos are “good mechanics” (Tuan, 78) whereas the Temne people have it easier, for example the “Temne land is covered with bush and other vegetation.” (Tuan, 78) With this being said, one can certainly understand that the Eskimo people on an individual level have a greater spatial ability and knowledge, for they know where to fish, hunt, how to carve, and so forth. The Temne people on the other hand, have an easier life and rely on one another.
Tuan most certainly connects with the story of Raymond Carver and his short story, Cathedral. We see that the blind man in the story, Robert, is more signified as the Eskimos in Tuan’s chapter. Robert did it all: “They’d married, lived, and worked together, slept together –had sex, sure – and then a blind man had to bury her.” (Carver, 96) For someone who is quite at a disadvantage in the world, has the ability to learn his spatial knowledge through his ability to act upon his experiences and actions. Robert may be blind, but he never asked his friend or the husband for any help bringing his suitcase upstairs or feeding him. In reality, the blind man seems to be just as normal as any human being. He doesn’t have any trouble finding the different types of food on his plate nor praying at the dinner table. In the end, we see that Robert uses his strong ability of drawing and experience of cathedrals to help the husband give him a new perspective on life. The man is lifted in a whole new different space and is given a new type of approach to his life. “My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn’t feel like I was inside anything.” (Carter, 103) With that being said, one could see that Robert, like the Eskimo are set at disadvantages, but manage to live their life without help an continue to still live successful and prosperous lives.

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Paper 1 Draft 1

March 1st, 2011 · Uncategorized

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The Open Boat

February 24th, 2011 · Uncategorized

The Open Boat & The Crew

Christopher John Labbate
Professor Dominique Zino
English 162W
2/24/2011 – Response 3
The Open Boat and The Crew

One could most certainly see that Stephen Crane’s, The Open Boat, connects significantly with some of the ideas of Tuan and his chapter, “Spatial Ability, Knowledge, and Place.” We learn from The Open Boat that there are a close group of characters, the correspondent, the captain, the oiler, and the cook. We also learn that these fishermen go out into open water on the coast of Florida and end up becoming stranded and in need of help.
Tuan states that, “A person needs only to have a general sense of direction to the goal, and to know what to do next on each segment of that journey.’ (pg. 72-73) To contrast within the story that we have just read, the captain most significantly connects to this quote. The captain is the oldest and wisest on the ship. He gives his crew orders, directions, hope, and comfort as he tries to save them by finding a shore to land on as well as looking for rescue boats to help drag them in. Arguably, the captain could either agree or disagree with this quote because in the story it seems that the captain enters a place in which nature does not seem to help him in anyway. The waves are roaring, the winds are pushing them, and no one seems to understand their cries for help. On the other hand, the captain, like the Eskimos in Tuan’s chapter, has basic survival skills and a sense of direction in which he knows what to do in a time like this. “Geographical knowledge also means a conscious and theoretical grasp of spatial relations among places that one seldom visits. (Tuan, pg. 80) Agreeing with Tuan, the captain seems to know the water in which many normal people would have no idea on what to do. Arguably as well, the captain seems to be in an area of open water which he has never encountered before. In conclusion to these ideas, the captain has a new place, but the boat as a certain space that he isn’t new to.
“..The white waves paced to and fro in the moonlight, and the wind brought the sound of the great sea’s voice to the men on the shore, and they felt that they could then be interpreters.” (The Open Boat, pg. 201) What one could learn from the final paragraph in Crane’s story is that these characters who survived could finally have a relationship with nature due to the fact that they have been stranded on a boat for thirty hours and have developed a personal and close space relationship. With that being said, the beach goers who kept waving, swinging their shirts, and talking, certainly cannot connect to the select few who were trapped in open water. Tuan would use these beach goers as the “Temne society,” whereas one could see these water crew members as the “Eskimos” who have made maps, plenty of routes of travel, and have great conceptual knowledge. (Tuan, pg. 78-79)
Tuan states, “Island navigation is also a body of detailed knowledge that can be taught and learned formally.” (pg. 82) Tuan gives us the example of a senior navigator teaching his students how to canoe and make diagrams. The way this connects to Crane’s story is that the captain could be viewed as the senior navigator who has the most experience in this wide body of water. “Yes, Keep it about two points off the port bow.” (The Open Boat, pg. 195) A short example from the text, the captain has a fine set of island navigation skills that give knowledge on dilemmas like these and unknown water areas. While the orders come out of the captain’s mouth, the oiler and cook connect with him in following his commands.
With that being said, space and place most certainly play a major role in Crane’s The Open Boat. Tuan’s space would come into effect with the characters who cuddle up within one another and have personal relations as well in the small boat. Although Tuan states that a place has to be known and one must have some type of knowledge, I believe that the open water had great of connection for the crew members since they have found nature in a sense of coming onto shore after being stranded for thirty hours.

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Idea Map

February 19th, 2011 · Uncategorized

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February 17th, 2011 · Uncategorized

English 162W Response 2

Christopher John Labbate

Professor Dominique Zino

February 16, 2011

English 162W

Response #2

Freedom Vs. Captivity


            In Franz Kafka’s, The Metamorphosis, one could grasp the fascinating connection to Tuan’s Space & Place.  One main idea that is greatly implemented in Kafka’s short story is the notion of not only space being taken up with Gregor, but also his freedom.  Tuan’s chapter of “Spaciousness and Crowding” is most certainly shown throughout Kafka’s entire story. 

            There is one main quote from Tuan’s chapter that summarizes the entire life of Gregor and his connection between work relations, his family (mother and father to be specific), and his surroundings: “Freedom implies space; it means having the power and enough room in which to act.” (Tuan, pg. 52)  By page 315 in The Metamorphosis, we learn that his father is quite healthy but hasn’t worked for almost five years while his elderly mother was supposed to support the family but unfortunately never went in effect.  And with his sister having an asthma problem, she couldn’t move more than a few feet without grasping for a breath of air.  Gregor is indeed the only one who is reliable enough to take a traveling sales position and to use that small amount of money to support his family.  Lastly, the third person narrative also shows us that his family is not the only one who relies on Gregor, but also his boss who is usually breathing down his neck.  With the narrator giving us this information, we could conclude that Gregor doesn’t have an easy life.  The furniture in which Gregor’s mother put in his room without Gregors consent also shows us that Gregor has little say over what he wants or how he feels.  With that being said, Gregor seems to be trapped almost in a jail cell and has very little freedom and a major responsibility to his “so called” loved ones along with his boss.  Since, Gregor has no power in his life, no space in his life, and no choice; one could have the connection to Tuan’s quote that he solely has NO freedom.

            I want to propose the question, does Gregor ever have freedom or is he doomed in this story?  Personally, I think Gregor finally receives relief in his overall restraint of his life when he actually gets used to becoming an insect.  Further into the reading, I most certainly can see that Gregor does: “He especially enjoyed hanging from the ceiling; it was completely different than from lying on the floor.  He could breathe more freely…”  The narrative states that turning into an insect, Gregor finally receives the comfort that he has been looking for all this time.  With Tuan’s quote, Gregor finally has the power to ignore his mother and father along with his boss.  Gregor tries new things from crawling on the floor to hanging on the ceiling; Gregor finally has the power, the ability, the space, and lastly the freedom to do these things.

            On a final note, with Tuan’s passage of “Spaciousness and Crowding” and Kafka’s short story showing the exemplary actions and ideas, one could see the clear distinction between no say, crowded space, and captivity versus the great things in life, power of say, comfortable space, and the freedom to do as he or she wishes.

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Tuan Vs The House on Mango Street

February 10th, 2011 · Uncategorized

Tuan Vs The House on Mango Street

Christopher John Labbate

Professor Zino

February 9, 2011

English 162W

Tuan’s Space, Place, and The Child and The House on Mango Street


            After finishing both, Space and Place and The House on Mango Street, one could see that both of these readings connect within one another in some way or another.  In the chapter, Space, Place, and The Child in Tuan’s book, he speaks of how children at a young age act and relate to the world much different as if they were adults.  He explains to us that children, when young, have their own imagination along with using such language to express certain actions.  Children tend to say “this” or “that,” “hear” or “there” along with pointing to what they want or need.  How is this connected to Sandra Cisneros The House on Mango Street? 

            The reader learns that the author is speaking as if she was six years old.  Tuan notes that children like to use small language to address their issues along with pointing to give direction an answer.  In Cisneros short story, the nun questions Cisnero where she is currently living, whereas we read, she answers by saying “there,” along with pointing to the third floor.  She also uses another gesture by nodding to agree with what the nun had to say.  This supports the idea of Tuan and his agreeing with children uses small talk and hand actions.

            Another area that Tuan touches on is how children begin to grow in which their minds begin to expand geographically.  On page thirty one of the chapter, Tuan explains to us that a child’s interest and knowledge may focus on the local community, then the city and may jump from one place to another. Children tend to become curious around the age of 6, which was the age of Sandra Cisnero at the time.  “At age five or six a child is capable of curiosity about the geography of remote places,” “..a child can enjoy news of distant places, for he leads a rich life of fantasy and is at home in fantasyland before adults require him  to dwell imaginatively in the real countries of a geography book.” (Tuan, pg. 31)  Tuan states that children have a much greater imagination at that age, whereas when one grows up, the imagination tends to slow down.  The House On Mango Street greatly connects to what Tuan has to say about this notion.  Sandra Cisnero, being at the age of 6, recalls that she lives on Mango Street and that her house, which is no greater than the last, is crumbling down, the paint is peeling, and so forth.  Cisneros wants a “real house.”  With her at such a young age, Tuan explains that children tend to live in fantasyland which Cisneros most certainly does.  Her idea of a real house is where “running water and pipes work, real stairs, not hallway stair, but stairs inside like the houses on T.V.”  She also imagines having three washrooms, white to be the color of the house, trees surrounding it, and a “great big yard and grass growing without a fence.”  Tuan notes that children tend to become close with their parents and tend to follow them around.  Not only do they follow, but also hear and learn from them.  This would be one of the best examples that Cisneros short story connects to Tuan’s idea on how children imagine, repeat, and learn (Since Cisnero picked up all this information from her father as he had a lottery ticket held up in the air). 

            With that being said, I feel that when one reads Tuan’s arguments and studies on the Child along with his or her space and place, one could also see the connection on how it is being used in The House On Mango Street.  In the story, The House on Mango Street, the author in the end seems to leave us on the idea (connecting with Tuan) that when children tend to grow up; they finally realize and see the big picture on how life really is.  It seems to me that Cisnero looked at her father realizing that she isn’t ever going to have that big dream house her dad spoke and her imaging about.  I also feel that Tuan’s notion of growing up, children become brighter and more open to the real world, in which they see what is possible and impossible to happen when living life.

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