Once again, a different experience altogether for this week’s readings. It was simpler for me to follow, and its structure made sense to me. Let’s start off with David Zuern’s Ask Me for the Moon. It was very beautiful and poetic, building up scenes of people’s lives that weren’t so beautiful and poetic. The place of Waikiki in Hawaii, would be a place where one would dream of vacationing or relaxing; a getaway from tough and harsh reality of life. Of working every day, or getting up early and going crazy to earn some greens ($$$). But Hawaii is a dream getaway for us, the tourists. Not the people working there. We desire to leave for a few days but then it becomes a burden for the workers there. And it’s not just us, they have to work for every customer that walks through those doors, whether native or not. Hotels, grocery stores, you name it, someone is working hard. And their benefits? That will only come if they are a union member, but what about the ones who aren’t? Who are considered the “outsiders?” There is separation and differentiation in every aspect of life, whether religion, culture, or even union laborers. The land is heavenly, but the lives of many workers, hellish. There is the “secretion of hope and work.” With their “…pulse of expectation [they] hear their own breath.” Their lives are spent “in frigid kitchens, in fluorescent corridors…” and “all work, is night work.” Their days are literally turned upside-down, inside-out. They stay awake when everyone is sleeping and experiencing a dreamscape, while the laborer hands are becoming hard and rough with scrubbing and cleaning. Throughout the story, there was a very sudden static yet creepy sound that lasted for a few moments. I am not too sure if that was something wrong in my computer or it was done by the author for a certain purpose. It could be possible that it was supposed to give an eerie feeling to be able to comprehend how night life would be as a laborer, with strange sounds occurring everywhere you go. Maybe? I really liked how there was an option for notes, provided with background information associated with this “poem.” It gave me a clearer understand of what the context and purpose of this “poem” was, even though I had a rough idea. But you know how it is. There is always a sense of doubt somewhere in the back of your mind if what you think is correct. There was historical piece of information also added, discussing the phrase “fragment of the body.” The source discussed how Menenius Agrippa, a Roman patrician, prevented the overthrowing of patrician rule by comparing the current government and the significance of patricians to the body. This made me wonder if this analogy was used because of how laborers were vital to the economy of Waikiki and Hawaii in general, just like every body part is vital for a healthy mind and spirit, as well as the functioning of the body itself.
One stanza is very powerful, as written: “hospitality, what we might have created, in a clasp of hands, or exchange of breath, we produce, without touching, in the frigid room, on the clean shop floors, of the welcome factories, sanitized, breathless.” No matter how hot or cold, dirty or clean, early or late, these laborers produce quality service every single time. They will be breathless, but they will not fail to serve. Another elegant analogy is the following: “the rustle, of palms, the broom, against the pavement.” The comparison of the sweeping broom to the rustle of the palm trees was something I found very unique and captivating. There’s beauty to the eyes with the sight of trees in Hawaii, but there’s disturbing sounds to the ear with the laborers working late nights to make ends meet.
In terms of Window, I couldn’t access the actual piece so the opinion I will be giving will be based on the video provided in the website. There were images of views outside a window, with a variety of different sounds. Nothing special, but that’s what makes it special. They were ordinary sounds, things we hear every single day of our lives. But it was celebrated in this piece; it was revered. The images kept changing, as months kept changing. For March, “fence panels fight the wind.” A sound we wouldn’t give a second thought about, but Cage did. As the video progressed, there were a couple of stories told. “We stop to listen and suddenly we are here, at home in these quite unnecessary sounds – the important detritus of our daily lives.” It couldn’t be written better. I looked up the definition of “detritus” because I didn’t know what it meant; better yet understand the connection to the story. It read “waste or debris of any kind.” So, these sounds, these present moments are debris? Are waste? At first, I found that very harsh to think but I realized within a few moments that it’s true. We don’t value time as its going by; we don’t value the small minute details in life that should make us grateful for being alive. It’s all music and art around us, but we don’t have the eyes for it. We trash it; let it make a mess around us without thinking of picking it up and noticing each piece. We are instead busy making “touchscreen connections.” We would rather find reasons to like our life via a touchscreen than with people and things in front of us, next to us, in us.
These readings taught me something interesting this week: to value our lives and to appreciate the things around us. No place is perfect, no person is perfect so finding perfection is probably a goal that can never be achieved. The thing is, flaws are what create beauty in us and in our surroundings. Like Waikiki, things that seem beautiful and perfect on the outside are hiding a lot of pain and sadness behind its picturesque views. But like Cage, the little things that are in our own view, things that we can personally experience, is what should be respected the most. Next time, look around you. Look around and “observe a change in the sky or hear [if] the wind is up, or notice some other shift in our co-existence.” Observe, accept, appreciate, enjoy, repeat…