Let me know if you’ll have any issues with the assigned time or if I’ve left you off and you’d like to meet.
I went with Chopin’s Funeral March for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s something I feel most people have heard, but are unaware of. The reason I chose it , as it relates to the reading (White Teeth), is because the opening chords have a dreary vibe. I am relating this specifically to when Samad reflects on sending Magid to Bangladesh and Milat’s disconnection from his father’s culture. Samad enters a man vs self crisis of conscience, and begins questioning his parenting. The opening chords are symbolic of this bleakness, followed by the explosiveness of the higher pitched sounds. This, I connect to Samad affirming in his mind that sending Magid back was a good idea, and that he made the right decision, despite it being a tough one.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to see the rock exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a brilliantly well done exhibit, with comfortable layout, easy traffic flow and informative plaques and videos. What struck me, however, was how emotional the experience was. The guitar featured in the above video was there. The video is from Joni Mitchell’s 1983 world tour and is a song I have loved all my life. I wasn’t born at the time this video takes place, but I know that guitar and recognized it before I read the plaque next to it. When I stood near it, I felt like I was closer to her, whose music has had such influence on me throughout my life. And in that moment understood the act of Pilgrimage and just how much objects associated with people can resonate with us. I love going to museums and enjoy looking at historic objects, but never before have I felt such visceral awe just standing near something. If you, dear reader, have the time and enjoy rock, go on Pilgrimage to the Met before these objects go, and may it have the safe effect on you that it did on me.
The song I’ve chosen for the assignment is “Nikki” by Logic. In the song, Logic talks about his addiction to nicotine. He tries to overcome his addiction, but it hardly works out as he constantly mentions that he’s “a slave to the nicotine”. Logic feels it in his lungs, in his veins and admits that it’s an unhealthy addiction, “I hate that I need you, Nikki.” He begins to question what kind of man he is to allow this drug to consume his life, “Every day, I wonder who I am / Who will I be? Where will I go?” Aware of where this path of addiction will lead him, Logic wants to desperately let go but nicotine is everything that he craves. This reminded of Samad’s relationship with Poppy Burt-Jones. Samad wants to be a man of his religion but is held back by his sexual desire for Poppy. Samad brings up that he’s never felt such desire in the past ten years and now his every waking thought is consumed by her. He commits acts that aren’t exactly praised by Allah such as masturbation and drinking. Samad is also aware that these actions don’t make him the man he wants to be which leads to a pang of weighing guilt over him. He tries to justify his actions by making deals with his God, giving up masturbation to drink and/or fasting when he’d masturbate to make the playing field even, one sin being canceled out by the other action. Even with Samad’s deals and mantra’s, to the pure all things are pure, he continues to be tortured by his actions but shows no signs of stopping.
Just to bring things in the class full circle, I wanted to share a photo from the Met’s Play it Loud exhibit: a pair of basses owned by Kim Gordon, whose memoir, of course, we read excerpts from.
The exhibit includes dozens of other instruments. It sometimes felt hard to believe that they’re all under one roof. For those of you who couldn’t make it, I highly recommend you check out the exhibit if you can!
Today I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and ended up having more fun then I thought. It was cool how a lot of popular rock and roll bands and artists came together to celebrate the history they had of distributing awesome music. I was awesome to see how Steve Miller made use of the electric guitar in his song “Fly Like an Eagle”. This music gave me a futuristic feel that I just really adored. Another song that caught my attention was Jimmy Page’s “Kashmir”. It made me flashback to memories I’ve had hanging out after school acting all cool and chill. This song even gave me confidence through times that were challenging and rough. Speaking of Jimmy Page, there was a mannequin portrayed as Jimmy Page posed as playing the guitar. It looked stylish and realistic with how the coat was made from leather and had flames on it. I really do appreciate the effort they put into detailing every aspect of his coat. When I Tom Morello was performing, he was using an effect pad to make it sound wacky and funky which was cool. It just shows that there are different ways you can play guitars rather than just using a base which was rather unique! There was a section that had many recognizable rock and roll posters from back then. Seeing all these posters made me nostalgic, I felt like I was back in the 1990s on the streets of New York seeing the poster for the very first time. Afterward, I visited the gift shop seeing many different souvenirs you could purchase to your liking. There was a miniature zebra guitar that was handcrafted from scrap. This was very interesting since this looks like something you would see out of a stop motion picture or show. Speak of the devil the store wasn’t only selling records and books, but also out of nowhere Bob Dylan T-Shirts. It was hilarious because I learned that Bob Dylan has a brand of his own T-Shirts, the same man who stole songs from artists and songwriters making them his own. Overall, I had a fun time going to this event. It was awesome to learn about the history of rock and roll but to also learn new things along the way. I’d totally recommend anyone to go here, it was worth the trip. If you or your friend enjoy listening to rock and roll, then this event is for you.
I choose the song, “Leaving on a jet plane” by John Denver, which is a sad romantic song and I can relate it on some point with our recent course “Vietgone”, a play written by Qui neng chen.
On one hand, this play shows the story of a guy name, Quang who is a pilot. He have a wife and two children but he had to leave them behind in vietnam during the the vietnamese war and was not able to go back because his helicopter was thrown into the sea by the American to make space for other aircrafts. Even though he have a chance to live peacefully in America, he still has a hope to fly back to vietnam to see his wife and children. In the play, Quang mentioned, “My country’s now fallen, a new mission’s now calling, America’s withdrawn, my call’s to finally come home and Trade in my gun for my son, my soldier’s life is now done Got 99 problems, but the war ain’t one I’ll hold my kids in my arms again—Do you hear me? Nothing stopping me—easily—Do you feel me? My family’s gonna be with me—Do you see me? Gonna make it back to my home—even if it kills me..” It shows that he still have a hope and still believing that he will fly back home to see his wife and children.
On the other hand, the song “leaving on a jet plane” by John Denver is also about a guy going to a war and he is not sure when he will be back again to see his love. In this song, it says “Oh, kiss me and smile for me, Tell me that you’ll wait for, me Hold me like you’ll never let me go, ‘Cause I’m leaving’ on a jet plane, Don’t know when I’ll be back again, Oh babe, I hate to go, But, I’m leaving’ on a jet plane, Don’t know when I’ll be back again, Oh babe, I hate to go.” He has to leave with no choice but he don’t want to go and stay apart from his love. It shows that he has a hope to see his love again but not sure when that time will be. Therefore we can totally relate it with Vietgone, consiquences made them far away yet hope to see their love ones.
Avicii – The Nights closely related “Vietgone” by Qui Nguyen by living at the moment for your life and don’t be afraid of what you find and live your life at the fullest even during at a new place and starting a new life. This also says’’ when face to face with all our fearsLearned our lessons through the tears Made memories we knew would never fade” related to the poem in ‘’Vietgone” living through a refugee camp and living a faraway land without knowing their culture. The Night and Vietgone are similar telling it the reader to live at the moment and you only live once.
Your in-class final exam asks you to write a short essay (roughly 4-6 paragraphs) discussing how the excerpts from White Teeth represent themes of cultural essentialism and cultural hybridity. We should, therefore, define these terms and begin thinking about how they apply to White Teeth.
At risk of defining the concept in a circular way, in cultural studies, “essentialism” refers to the idea that cultures have unchanging “essences.” An “essentialist” argument would assume that there are distinct, separable, and “natural” elements that define a given culture.
By contrast, the term cultural hybridity refers to an “anti-essentialist” position: the idea that cultural “essences” do not exist. Anti-essentialists deny that cultural identity is inherent and instead focus on how culture is historical—that is, how cultures are socially constructed and change over time. Cultural hybridity, by extension, names the ways that cultures and cultural identities are always “mixed” and “fragmented” and never “pure” or “stable.”
As we turn to White Teeth, we can see that the main character of this section of the novel, the Bangledeshi immigrant Samad Iqbal, struggles to negotiate his “essentialist” sense of cultural identity with his “hybrid” existence in London. Let’s consider, in more detail, how.
Since our current essay project asks you to become a “music critic” and consider why Qui Nguyen presents Vietgone (a Vietnam War-era story) in a seemingly anachronistic hip hop/rap style, we’ll need to think more closely about how his choice of musical genre reflects the broader themes of migration in the play. To do so, let’s get creative.
For this exercise, the class will be broken into four groups. As a group, you will be assigned a passage from Vietgone‘s “Music Cue 03,” Quang and Tong’s rap “I’ll Make it Home.” Then, you will be assigned a musical genre (options might include country, hair metal, jazz crooner, folk, grunge, disco, you get the idea). Your task will be to rewrite the passage, adapting it to the conventions of your assigned musical genre.
You’ll have to consider what stylistic conventions characterize your assigned genre and how they might be used to express the themes of migration and homesickness in “I’ll Make it Home.” You don’t necessarily have to rewrite the passage line by line (this would take too long). A representative verse and/or chorus will do—and you can define this in a way that makes sense for your genre.
After we share our adapted lyrics, we’ll move on to part two of the exercise. Here, you will compare and contrast your adapted lyrics and musical genre to the original lyrics and Nguyen’s chosen genre of hip hop. How would writing Vietgone in your assigned genre have changed the tone and representation of themes in the play? What does hip hop as a genre offer thematically that your assigned genre doesn’t? Use these reflections to collaboratively write a few sentences that make an argument about why Nguyen might have chosen to represent Vietgone in a hip hop style rather than in another genre.