Sunday, November 6, 2011

Class Assignment on MLK's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Not Preventing Injustice Supports Injustice: Targeting the Audience Non-Violently
            “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people” (579). Passive silence is equal in atrocity and injustice as actions of those unmoral. To sit by and observe an act of violation against human rights would be the same as to put oneself in the shoes of those committing the violation. When trying to reform or protest all groups, directly involved or not, must participate. There proves extreme power in peoples opinions and beliefs regardless of whether or not they are effected.
            Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK Jr.) makes an indisputable point in his Letter from Birmingham Jail addressing the white moderates of the country whom are those that sit by and witness the discriminating events before them while doing nil. MLK Jr. is labeled an extremist and imprisoned due to a method of non-violent protesting, whilst African Americans are being violently abused by the very people that sentenced his entrapment. In his quote he states how when looking back on history the white moderates who chose not to play a role in the movement will be the ones responsible for tragedy.
            Were those good that express “appalling silence” to stand up and represent their beliefs then history would be significantly different. MLK Jr. would gain much more praise and be heavily supported in his efforts to protest non-violently as a means to obtain ultimate peace among the races of the country. While other radical groups chose different approaches such as support gained through violent propaganda, MLK Jr. devised an approach that would harm no one. The reason for the aggressive suffocation of Black Nationalists is due to minimum amounts of persons with authority who opposed the injustice actually standing up for what they believe in and revolting against the wrong actions being committed.
            Racial indifferences play an effect on people nationally, not just of African ethnicity as MLK Jr. references when stating, “Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgesit, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice” (580). This is prevalent in Sherman Alexie’s A Good Story where Alexie discusses the hardships of discriminations that American Indians face through the rarity of a good story. Alexie has his character tell a story within a story that elaborates on the occasion of a not to frequent good story about a boy who skips out on his field trip to make the day of an old man who looks forward only to seeing the children at the end of the day. The story is relevant to MLK Juniors message due to the similar themes of oppression that American Indians face as well.
            To connect his message to all peoples MLK Jr. references another example of pacifistic methods to execute ways to obtaining an ultimate goal that does not include force by quoting another extremist Jesus, “Love you enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (581). Here MLK Jr. uses another example of non-violent action said by a man that the majority of the country worships to justify his approach to reaching peace, and doing so in a way that is relatable to people of all colors.
By stating this quotation in a strong message against white moderates MLK Jr.  poignantly directs his frustration and disappointment towards the cowardice and lame of the country that reside in their comfort zone without making efforts to give their due part. MLK Jr. uses a method of guilt tripping to the audience he addresses by not directly attacking them, but instead portraying his opinion and sadness on the fact that what he speaks of occurs. Not only does he direct his message towards white moderates in order for them to recognize their wrong, but he also addresses the issue so that those who do not fully comprehend the situation may learn where the core of the dilemma resides.
Writing Strategy: Martin Luther King Jr. uses the strategy of targeting his audience indirectly with a message of retrospect. He addresses them as if he were to after the events discussed have passed. By doing this he effectively conveys his opinion of the targeting audience in a way that would leave a direct impact on the guilty person reading his letter.
            This technique intrigues me due to the way it grabs the reader. In a persuasive piece this technique of address can prove useful in my own writing if I were to want to sincerely target a reader with the message I were trying to present.
            The impact of MLK Juniors words are also important for me as a writer to analyze because of it firm connection to those reading it. His message does not beat around the bush and is incredibly direct in meaning, something I should learn to develop in my own writing.


I Understand: Connecting Concepts to the Author and Audience
“Concepts are the special terms, the jargon, that insiders use and that anyone who wants to become part of the conversation needs to learn (128).” They are what help us understand and assess. Conceptions act as an invaluable relatable learning material. A universal tool used to connect with individuals of certain interest bringing ideals into their own realm. A point may be made in argument to a group of people pointing out different concepts to different people when elaborating on a subject. Concepts are relayed through connecting topics of relation to the reader.
            In the case of Linh Kieu Ngo’s essay on cannibalism, Cannibalism: It Still Exists, he discusses the concept of cannibalism being more than just a method of survival. The idea that the purpose expands beyond the constraints of desperate times and can be known to actually be practiced for purposes of diet and religion. Here Ngo uses concept to enlighten those ignorant of cannibalisms roots to show the prevalence in our history.
            Examples are made through conceptions. In Ngo’s essay he depicts a scenario that happened to Vietnamese refugees escaping the communist grips of Vietnam. Fleeing away from their country they become stranded on boat and resort to eating human flesh in order for survival. Using the real time circumstance of desperation Ngo is connected to the reader, causing them to understand the drive for such an act. Through concept he causes the reader to comprehend his information rather than stating cannibalism may be used for survival without example.
            A variety of situations over the course of history depicted in the essay give visual connection to the concept being discussed concerning cannibalism. The learning connection of giving several anecdotes to illustrate the origins and purpose for cannibalism. Necessary examples of concept give the reader something to absorb. Grasping a subject can prove difficult without a portrait to hold onto.
            Concept connection becomes exemplified again in Rich A. Friedman’s piece, Born to Be Happy, Through a Twist of Human Hard Wire, when he touches upon the subject posing a psychiatric mirror to chronic depression, hyerthymia. Hyperthymia causes certain individuals to have a constant positive disposition and outlook on life. Friedman proposes the concept of how a person goes about achieving happiness. He does this by detailing both ends of the spectrum and elaborating on their causes. Using examples of depressed dysthmia patients Friedman relates the disposition of those who are affected by hyperthymia, connecting the concept using relatable terms.
A concept of how the application of storytelling affects the evolution of the human race may be done effectively through connecting example. In Jeremy Hsu’s The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn he portrays the universality of storytelling through cultures throughout history using references from prehistory hieroglyphics to modern day movies. A concept developed through relating topics.
            The special terms of concepts provide explanation via the reader’s interests. The use of such a tool acts as a vital task for the author to connect to their audience. The strategy allows their message to be conveyed using a strategy that integrates your idea into the reader life.

Writing Strategy: The persuasive piece opens with a statement that directly describes what the essay will discuss, almost as if acting as a thesis. While grabbing the reader’s attention the sentence also sharply tells the reader what will be argued. This technique gives the essay a strong informative feel that reassures the topic. After reading the first line I became intrigued in the topic of concepts and how they play a role in language and life. The topic sentence molds to not only the whole piece, but the pieces that follow.
            This technique can be used in multiple ways in my own writing. I can use the strategy to strengthen my introduction paragraph, strengthening my thesis. By instantly grabbing the reader with what the essay elaborates on firmly, I can lead into a powerful thesis that has clarity.
            I may also take advantage of this technique when writing fiction. Were I to write a narrative in first person I could begin with a statement that immediately opens with what I will discuss, rather than a technique that grabs the reader imprecisely.

Who I Am As a Reader

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth. The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions.
I cherish and thrive on reading. I use reading as a tool, a friend, and a teacher. Over the period of my maturation reading has followed beside me. Reading defines attribute, hobby, and occupation. In essence, what I read describes the kind of person I am, and why. Whether due to wanting a smile or to better my career, I read because of my love for comedy, story, and ways to produce more sophisticated and technical forms of writing.
Everyone loves a loud laugh. I find my laughter amongst novels of witty genius. Humor integrated into the text glues a book to your hand, not allowing the story to be closed until the end. Absurd hilariousness that embodies The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglass Adams targets my laughter likings precisely, “This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” A quote derived from the novels introduction that chases the heart that homes my laughs. Douglass captures the reader with such a mundane sense of humor that the average person just would not think of. The effect results in you slapping your knee and crying. The idea of characterizing money seems weird and hysterical. Douglass Adam’s became the foundation for why I read for laughs. Executed with grace, lathered with wit and intelligence. A novel that will make you chuckle will be a novel you court.
Humorous novels capture your love in several ways, one of them being to learn. I read to laugh, as well as to make others laugh. Reading humor in a way can be like a manual for funniness. By reading comedic literature you can pick up on witty concepts and learn how to use that humor yourself. It teaches personal comedic value. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five plays on how we perceive humor. Rather than just plain slapstick comedy, he approaches with a different technique. Using dry, dark, and ironic humor Vonnegut makes laughs when the reader may not know if they should be. A famous line by him, “So it goes.” A depressing, grim, and also funny quote used throughout the entire novel. I am amazed by the quotes universal nature and ingeniousness. It adds a lighthearted tone to all the drama that surrounds the book and our lives. Used both when mundane events happen, as well as when someone passed. Vonnegut uses it so often that it becomes silly, like expected. An aspect such as that teaches you how humor can be found in so many different ways. Literature exposes you to varieties of forms that you may not experience in your everyday interactions.
Adventure also is an aspect of reading that sucks myself in. Traversing across country, or exploring a new world fascinates me. How people are able to create these alternate realities that function almost too realistically. It probes incredibly interesting delving into an adventure of the author’s dreams. Learning about how their mind works and comparing your dreams of story to theirs. When young I would develop wild stories, act them out, or draw about them. As I aged I began to instead write about them, decent or not. When I read other stories of adventure I become sucked in because of the creativity of some authors. The first novel that really pulled me into its adventure I discovered in my English class, Walter D. Myers Fallen Angels, detailing the experience of a platoon in Vietnam. The story is told through the narrative of an eighteen-year-old boy as his self and his company get stranded throughout the jungle. It marks an adventure I could not even make up, for its depiction of war and terror becomes so real and so personal. A novel such as that truly explains an author experiences. The main character gets involved in battle after battle that painfully tears apart his platoon, killing everyone around him. During an investigation of the village one of the main characters close companions wanders in a local. As he enters an enemy surprises him from under a rug and attempts to fire upon him. Stunned because the enemy’s gun has jammed he freezes and a moment goes by that they share right before the soldier of the platoon brutally mutilates the enemy’s face with several clips of ammunition. Events like these are difficult to replicate for their power it instills in the reader. A very strong hollow feeling gets put into the reader as they get into the adventure of the cruel world soldiers faced in Vietnam. I crave those adventures to try and look into the eyes of others.
Not only does adventure fuel my interests, but it also offers a place for myself to escape to. A sanctuary to lose yourself in, to relax and to enjoy simple fun. When I read fiction to escape I enjoy lighthearted engaging novels such as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series, an adventure of a twelve-year-old boy who radically discovers his relationship as the son to the Greek god Zeus in modern day. As I read the series I became completely integrated and lost in the adventure as the boy and his company channel through all the greatest Greek legends in their own brilliant fictional world. Rick Riordan with his extensive knowledge of Greek mythology develops an alternate world in present day that becomes so believable you wish you could experience it. In the first novel of the series The Lightning Thief the main character sends off to retrieve Zeus’s symbol of power, the master lightning bolt. As the main character escapades through Greek mythological America I felt that the world Riordan creates. I wish it were true, I lose myself and become focused on only his world. In a scene where the main character stumbles upon a roadside curio-shop in upstate New York, he gets introduced to disguised Medusa. Medusa veils herself as the owner of the shop making her character seem so believable. The way Riordan can integrate the two cultures absorbs you. Escaping into an adventure empowers your own.
Reading offers both recreational and professional uses for me. A primary reason that I delve myself into literature it to develop techniques and strategies of other writers. When I read I try to learn ways that authors use to grab readers attention so I may incorporate that same usage in my own writing. Reading lends itself as my teacher to guide me to reach my ultimate goal of becoming a professional writer. Due to my age I have not yet experienced life to the fullest so there are topics and concepts I cannot yet elaborate on. Through reading a wide variety of literature I can touch upon such concepts. Grow from teaching myself about their experiences. A novel that fascinates me for its unbelievably well written intricate genius is Stieg Larsson’s A Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, about of series of characters with intertwining conflicts that shake you when they clash. The way Larsson perfectly uses dark theme and character to pull the reader into his sadistic world. Using profound knowledge of the journalism world he was apart of and the culture of Sweden the reader becomes engrossed. Using sex and murder and vengeance Larsson never lets his readers go in a way that executes exactly how it should. The main character leaves on a quest to discover a long forgotten murder mystery in an old Swedish town. When he first begins to catch on to a trail, Larsson throws curve balls at the reader that make you unable to figure out where the novel will take you next. I want to be able to write using that genius. I want to develop a natural skill for words that allows me to hold the reader in and dictate when I want them to wander and when I want them to be grabbed.
Learning how to develop characters contributes an amazing aspect of reading. I read to learn about the various types of people, attributes, cultures, characteristics, so in my own writing I may compile all the knowledge I gained from reading and channel it. A character makes or breaks a story; they must be real and must make a connection to the reader. My ability to write characters is strengthened by every novel I read. In the infamous graphic novels written by Art Spiegelman Maus I & II, Art depicts a story of the holocaust through his grandfather. Using mice as Jews and cats and Germans Art creates this immediate segregation of characters. The characters Art and his Grandfather are so amazing because they are so real. As you read through the novel you become bonded with the characters, become upset when they do, become happy as they do. While they lay to waste in the concentration camp Auschwitz you sympathize for them. When they are abused and tortured and cheated of life you become angry. After you put down the novel when you come to the end you feel as if you know the characters. To develop such a strong bond between character and reader is what will make you a successful writer. It is what I need to perfect and experiment with. I cherish and thrive on reading. I use reading as a tool, a friend, and a teacher. Over the period of my maturation reading has followed beside me. It is a defining attribute, hobby, and occupation. In essence, what I read describes the kind of person I am, and why. Whether it be due to wanting a smile or to better my career, I read because of my love for comedy, adventure, and ways to produce more sophisticated and technical forms of writing.