May, 2011

Urban Landscape video

Last blog/comment- “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau

In the passage “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau, wilderness and civilization is two main themes that are brought up to his attention. He speaks for wilderness and the old world as an effort on preservation of nature. It is important to take Henry Thoreau’s criticism of society seriously and not take it for granted. Human’s role in nature has been criticized for its lack of efforts in trying to preserve nature. Every aspect in human culture in this era revolves around the modernized use of technology due to the significant changes in this industrialized world.

Thoreau is coming from the perspective of supporting the old world; nature. After the Revolutionary war, America has become the new world where industrial changes had great affect in its futures’ building and planning. “I am a good horse to travel, but not from choice a roadster. The landscape-painter uses the figures of men to mark a road. He would not make that use of my figure” (Thoreau 265). This quote I found most interesting by Thoreau because it portray his views as a profound philosopher and a real naturalist. The quote explains that he is constantly escaping civilization. Although the landscape painter designed this path for society, Thoreau has his own views and opinions that differ from the mainstream. Heading into a world of modernization, it seems to be difficult to disagree because as a society, we are advancing and becoming more knowledgeable as a unit. Thoreau is trying to say that it is the best ideal for society. We are living in a world today where America does offer us to live differently and think differently but we as humans are becoming more dependent, relying on the new world’s lifestyle of not learning how to do things manually. Living in the old world allows us to experience the life of nature and appreciate the gratitude of nature’s blessings. The Amish are a great example of a community where they believe that their reluctance to adopt the new world’s lifestyle. It proves that they cherish nature’s blessing and believes that it is only right to preserve the world.

The Search for Marvin Gardens by John McPhee

This story unfolds with a narrator playing the game of Monopoly. While playing, he talks about the physical parts of Atlantic City. Certain places with cities and street names that may sound familiar in the the game of Monopoly is derived off from certain areas across America. After reading this story, I just noticed I was never curious about where the names came from while playing Monopoly. I never bothered asking anyone how these street names came to be. However, these street names do correlate to actual places in reality.

Throughout time, places have changed significantly with a blink of an eye. Spending a sufficient amount of time within an area results in familiarity in places and knowing where one place locates. “The sidewalks of St. Charles Place have been cracked to shards by through-growing weeds. There are no buildings. Mansions, hotels once stood here” (McPhee 9) This quote is specifically describing a drastic change within time. McPhee mentions this to show that certain places no longer exist. It displays a meaning behind its history to the area.  In the story, narrator discusses how the founder of Monopoly, Charles B. Darrow went to different areas of Atlantic City. He went to different areas to see the history of how the names came to be, what it is known for, and the specific descriptions of the places that once existed.

In the story, the narrator analyzes the once well-recognized city called Atlantic City located in New Jersey. For now, he is in the search for Marvin Gardens and asked everyone if they knew where it was located. The narrator even went through the Boardwalk, Atlantic, Ventor, Illinois, and Indiana and still could not find Marvin Gardens when he realized he needed Marvin Gardens. I find this significant because the narrator is relying on Marvin Gardens.  Marvin Gardens can help him beat his powerful opponents despite his opponent owning many hotels on Virginia State and St. Charles. Marvin Gardens is a “citadel and sanctuary of the middle class” because people rely on places like this (20). The setting is more private and consists of solid buildings. This area is known for its nice houses and for its unique setting. In the end of the story, the narrator felt embarrassed and ashamed that most people that lived in Atlantic City does not know how to find Marvin Gardens. The narrator explained to himself that he enjoys where he lives and finds out that most people would die to live in areas such as Marvin Gardens.

Marvin Gardens can be compared to my neighborhood of the Upper West Side. I find this area very similar to the Upper West Side because of its private homes and its peaceful private streets. It is the citadel and sanctuary of the middle class because the middle class want to move into areas like these where it is convenient to get around. Similar to Marvin Gardens, the Upper West Side is based on its surroundings. It may not be the city’s main attraction but security is provided and it is a one of the safest areas in Manhattan.

Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

The excerpt called Sonny’s Blues written by James Baldwin portrays the constant struggles faced by any teenager living in Harlem. The narrator in the story revealed his younger brother having difficulty in trying to escape a drug-addicting life because he was struggling as a teenager using and selling heroin. When the narrator had flashbacks of the time when before his mother died, he recalls when his mother told him to look out for his brother just like how his mother looked out for his father. “I think I may have written Sonny the very day that little Grace was buried. I was sitting in the living room in the dark, by myself, and I suddenly thought of Sonny. My trouble made his real” (Baldwin 65). This turned out to be significant because the narrator’s daughter named Grace died at a young age due to polio. As a result, the narrator was contained in his own darkness, similar to Sonny’s darkness of drug addiction. It has made him accept reality, realized that life is too short to hold grudges and should be more accepting and caring toward others such as his younger brother Sonny.

Constant struggles were emphasized when the narrator mentioned about his students in class. As a math teacher teaching his students about Algebra, he realized that any of his teenagers could be in the position to become like Sonny. “Yet it had happened and here I was, talking about algebra to a lot of boys who might, every one of them for all I knew, be popping off needles every time they went to the head. Maybe it did more for them than algebra did” (Baldwin 52). This quote shows the narrator’s perspective of the students attending middle to high school can be easily persuaded to fall into the accessible road of drugs as one of the constant struggles faced by a teenager. I agree with the narrator that teenagers are prone to street influences. Attending school educates the young minds but does not keep the children away from street influences.

In Sonny’s perspective, we learn that Sonny escapes Harlem in hopes to escape the drug influence. We can tell that Sonny is not a bad person at all. He is trying to escape the influence of drug addiction and he uses music as a way to escape reality. Although he was cutting school and did not tell his brother, he showed that music was the only thing that maintained his comfort level around his brother’s wife’s family home. Isabel tried his best to look out for Sonny’s best interest but he did not have any interest in school. His music was his life and it gave him a goal to strive for. It caught my attention when the narrator actually had a chance to see his brother perform live and play in front of other people, being the star he wants to be. It showed a sense of love between the brothers when the narrator ordered some drinks to the band stand and Sonny sipped his drink after turning his head toward the narrator showing his acceptance of appreciation.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar