The New Age

Working by Studs Terkel;  The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx;  On The Nature of Things by Lucretius;   A Vindication of Women’s Rights by Mary Wollstonecraft;  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FItzgerald; Gilgamesh

Working Working by Turkel is my favorite piece of literature from this semester. Working is a collection of dialogues from various working class people. Some of these people include garbage men, construction workers, paper boys, secretaries, etc. Each has a very interesting story on how they ended up in their field and gives insight about their job that one outside of the field wouldn't expect. Reading this collection of short dialogues gives readers a new level of respect for the individual and his or her job. The stories prove that no job is too small or insignificant. Everyone makes some sort of impact. Working fits into the New Age because this library is all about literature that caused me to challenge my current beliefs or to change my way of thinking. Working challenged me to look at the way I view others jobs. Why did I look down on jobs that require a little more elbow grease but admired the ones that required a suit everyday? Working made me want to advocate for the regular worker and promote their importance. The average working citizen should be commended for the role they play. As my favorite book from the semester, I give Working a ++ rating.
The Communist Manifesto is a key piece of literature for Communist style government. Although communism catches a lot of negativity by most democratic powers, Marx makes some very valid points in this piece of literature. Why should the lower class have to stay down and oppressed by the wealthy? They should be able to rise above the powers that are holding them back. This text made me think of present day America. In the USA, the top 1% owns most of the wealth in America while the other 99% are expected to happily take the scraps. The Communist Manifesto basically tells us that we shouldn't have to accept that as our standard. We should fight back toward this controlling group and get what is owed to us. This piece was a challenge of beliefs to those who read it in the 1800's and is still a challenge to this day. Before class I had heard about this book but had never read it. After class, I can now classify it as a skimmed book that I have a very neutral opinion on.
Histories The Histories examines how different royalties claimed their way to power. The author Herodotus, travels many distances to talk to first hand witnesses about what they know in relation to the royals. He makes sure to speak with as many first hand characters as possible to make sure he is getting quality and accurate information. Herodotus takes pride in collecting histories. He knows that his reporting is what will stick with the generations that will follow him. He refuses to be halted in his journey, no matter the obstacle or distance. His drive is admirable as he goes to all costs just for stories. While this book started out very interesting, the small details which Herodotus probably thought were useful, caused the story to drag out more than it needed to. I partly enjoyed this reading and read a good portion of it before the skimming began.
On The Nature of Things Lucretius questions many aspects of life in The Nature of Things. One in particular is the way humans interact and believe in the gods. To most, the gods are omniscient figures in the heavens who can cast down blessings or punishment based on your actions. However, Lucretius argues that the gods could care less what the humans are doing. The gods have their own lives to be concerned with. The gods enjoy one another just as they do in this painting. I imagine the gods Lucretius talks about to have godly parties and feasts. While I am a christian who believes in the principles set in the bible, this piece did make me wonder about God. Is he really disturbed when His people do wrong or is he just chilling as bad things happen? With so much going wrong in the world, it is easy to see why it appears the higher powers don't really care.
On The Nature of Things (back cover) With so many points involved in The Nature of Things, I found it hard to just choose one cover. Another principle that Lucretius noted was that every thing on this earth has some matter and some void. Regardless of what it is, there has to be some void to complement the matter that makes up object. When reading this portion of his work, I found myself repeating "duh...duh...duh" to myself many times. It seems like such an obvious concept, but I'm sure this type of thinking was next level in Lucretius's day. Furthermore, while everything has a void and matter, these two all have to come from something. The flowers in the trees, that hair growing from the top of your head, and the sun shining down on us, all have a root. More or less, nothing comes from nothing. We arise from dust and return to dust at the end. This book was very hard to get through and I often found myself skimming and grazing over the pages. I give it a SB-- rating.
This semester we read A Vindication of Women's Rights by Wollstonecraft. This book is a key piece of literature for feminism. Wollstonecraft does a good job of illustrating that women and men are inherently equal and should be treated as so. She discusses how it is time to do away with gender roles and let women flourish. This piece inspired women to elevate to a new level. Women are able to do anything they put their minds to. Although this text was written over two centuries ago, the points are still quite relevant in 2015. Women are continually fighting to be seen equal to their male counterparts, not just by society, but also by the common boss in the fight for equal pay. As someone who is all about women empowerment, I give this reading a ++ rating.
The Great Gatsby Out of the many differing pieces of literature we read in high school, I must say that The Great Gatsby was one of my favorites. The Great Gatsby is a story about a wealthy man who many say gained his fortune in unlawful ways. Every weekend, Gatsby throws elaborate and elegant parties. While most would see this as him just flaunting his money, he was really hosting them just to attract the attention of a past lover, Daisy. After many parties and schemes, Daisy and Gatsby were finally reunited. The sparks flew but there was one pesky obstacle in the way of this love, Daisy’s husband (not that that stopped Gatsby). The great lengths that Gatsby went to in order to regain the affection of the love of his life, was tragically beautiful. Whenever I think of his failed attempt, I think of the lyrics to the Frank Ocean song, Bad Religion: "It's a bad religion to be in love with someone who could never love you". No matter how much Gatsby loved Daisy, there was no way she could leave her life with Tom. Regardless of his countless efforts, Gatsby could never reap the fruits of his desire
Gilgamesh An older text but a classic for the Intellectual Heritage department is Gilgamesh. This story is about Gilgamesh who is on a quest to leave his mark in the world. He doesn't want to die as an average person, but wants to be remembered for doing something legendary. In the beginning of his quest to set this legacy, he preys on the innocent around him. His frustration causes him to lash out on humans and gods alike. Once his newly found best friend comes into his life, he employs him to help with his journey towards a legacy. Although warned many times to be careful of his actions, nothing will stop Gilgamesh from trying to attain the fame and glory that he thinks he deserves. Just as Kanye says "you can't tell me nothing", the same mantra applies for Gilgamesh. I admire the persistence that Gilgamesh possessed. Although gone about in all the wrong ways, he didn't let anyone stand in the way of what he felt he deserved. He never settled for mediocrity which inspires me to never settle in any of my ventures. He set his goals high when he said he would kill Humbaba. I want to set high goals that I will ultimately attain with some persistence of my own.
All in all, how do these books relate to New Age? New Age is my challenge to myself and anyone who reads books from this library. Challenge yourself to drop societal norms and preset notions. Challenge your ways of thinking and beliefs. Find out what is important to you and what is worth fighting for as many of these characters have done. Have persistence in everything that you do. Search until you find your answer. Take a stand for something. And after all is said and done, love yourself for whatever point you are at. Whether you are conquering your oppressor or choosing to be careless, elevate and accept yourself in this new age.
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