Monthly Archives: June 2016

In Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” (1836) and Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk About Love” (1981), both writers implement their genre and style of writing on how the couple in their short fictions interacting and treating their love relationship. It is also depicting how their styles of writing fiction affecting the love relationship between the couples in the story—Mr. Hoper and his fiancée, Elizabeth in Hawthorne’s fiction and Mel McGinnis and his second wife, Teresa in Carver’s fiction. Moreover, it makes the couples in these two different stories having very different characteristics toward his/her own partner caused by two factors: the different genre and style of these two writers and the different cultural-historical background.

In “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Hawthorne presents the female character, Minister Hoper’s wife, Elizabeth, as a disloyal pledged wife when she decided to leave Hooper in his misery in the middle of social exclusion (6). Regarding that this Hawthorne’s fiction is one of the romanticism fictions in that time, the story having a tendency to become a heroic story and it is supported by the endless misery of the main character. Moreover, in order to dramatize the misery of the main character, Hawthorne makes the depiction of Elizabeth as a betrayer and a weak girl. By making that depiction, on the other hand, the reader will have an assumption that the Minister Hooper as a heroic, idealistic and sympathy needed character and made him the victim of his fiancée too.

Her disloyalty and weakness are also presented when Elizabeth is crying after she cannot convince her fiancée to unveil his black veil and then leave him forever (6). It is quite illogical how a minister’s pledged wife just leaves him after only one failure trial of convincing her fiancée. While, as we know that for Christian believers, moreover for a minister like Mr. Hopper, doing such a thing could become a big dishonor but, it seems like it doesn’t becoming a serious problem for them. Even, after that conversation that leads to Elizabeth departure, no one of them is trying to find each other in order to searching for the way out to save their future marriage. This illogical situation, once again, is one of the results from the romanticism influence of this story which more concerning imagination over reason and intuition over the fact (Manggong: 2016) as long as the story can be built as interesting as it can be.

On the other hand, if we analyze from the cultural and historical background, the way they lived their love relationship is quite relevant with the American condition in that time when the toleration was not that popular and having a real impact like it does nowadays. If this story happened in the America lately, Hooper’s choice to wear the black veil over his face would not become that controversial as in 1836. Elizabeth and the other townspeople would not exclude him with his progressive views that actually could not fit with the American values in those years. It is also relevant to Randa G. Keeley argument which is written on her thesis “Merging The Public And Private Spheres: The Representation Of Gender In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”,”The Minister’s Black Veil,” And “The Birth-Mark”:

“This fits in with what has already been stated in this paper in regard to humiliation, because it seems that Hooper is unable to convince the remaining townspeople of his progressive views. Consequently, he has been embarrassed in his profession because he is an unsuccessful minister, but even more he is unsuccessful in relationships as well against mid-nineteenth-century standards.” (Keeley: 42-43)

Besides the toleration issue, another cultural background which is affected this couple’s love relationship in this story is the feminism. In 1836, the American woman emancipation movement had a big impact on the American society that time in spite of the fact that the movement is not as massive as the first wave of the United States feminism movement, twelve years later in 1848. The majority of Americans who joined the antislavery and woman’s rights causes in the 1830s—in many cases the same individuals—came usually from deeply religious, reform-oriented families. That historical fact supported the theory that Hawthorne’s depict the couple, Father Hooper and Elizabeth as the feminist that is indicated by their deeply religious background, especially, Father Hooper as a progressive-viewed minister.

On the other hand, we may have an assumption that the male-centric and male-domination issues of this story affect the couple, but actually, it is only caused by the heroism of the male main character, Mr. Hooper. More than that, Hawthorne also implied the other feminism implementation on Mr. Hooper – Elizabeth love relationship like the other romanticism fiction that is having some implicit symbols. This Hawthorne style of writing also supported by the argument of Randa G. Keeley who wrote the thesis about three Hawthorne’s short stories and one of them is The Minister’s Black Veil. She argues in her thesis:

“The men in Hawthorne’s stories are governed by their egos and as a result are unable to leave behind contemporary mid-nineteenth-century values that stand in their way of establishing a more progressive society. Likewise, each story depicts female characters that are malleable and easily adjust to the changes in society. Therefore, Hawthorne seems to favor women in his stories, and more specifically their gendered character, over the men.” (Keeley: 65)

While in “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love”, we can see a whole big different type of lover couple from the previous couple in “The Minister’s Black Veil” short story. The different is caused by the two factors that were mentioned before: the different genre of these two short stories and also the cultural and historical background difference. Like Hawthorne’s “Minister Black Veil”, this Carver’s fiction also depicting the couple as the part of the genre, style, and cultural and historical background representation.

In the Carver’s fiction, actually, there are five couples that involved in the story. They are Mel McGinnis and his second wife, Terri; Nick the narrator and his, wife Laura; Teri and his former boyfriend, Ed; Mel and his former wife, Marjorie; and the old couple who became Mel’s patients. From all those five couples, Mel McGinnis and his second wife, Terri is the most dominant couple character in this short story and could be analyzed deeper than the other couples. They become the most dominant couple is caused by the genre of this short story, the contemporary genre which doesn’t have any heroic or anti-heroic character like the Minister’s Black Veil has. Because of it, the focus of the story would be topic-centric rather than a certain-character-centric. As the result, Mel McGinnis and Terri having the largest portion to affect the story because they are more experienced on the topic of the story, which is love, rather than Nick and Laura—in spite of Nick himself is the narrator of the story.

On the other hand, Mel and Terri love relationship, analyzed from the genre of the story, is far more realistic than the Mr. Hooper and Elizabeth love relationship. Despite that he is considered as the contemporary fiction writer, Carver included some realism value in some of his works that make the story become more realistic rather than blurring the lines of reality and mixing the fantasy and nonfiction like the common contemporary works. That argument is relevant to Brian Charles Seemann’s argument in his Thesis:

“Carvers status in American literature comes from the credit he receives for rejuvenating the short story in the latter part of the twentieth century alongside other writers admired for their realistic viewpoints and the inclination to capture an arresting essence of life drawn from classic realism.” (Seemann: 1)

Carver’s style of writing that influenced by classic realism made the couple in the short story seems to be more faithful and tolerance to each other. Different from Elizabeth and Hooper, Mel and Terri represented the common couple in the real life. Like the other realism fiction, the story is told like it was, focus on lives of ordinary people and rejected heroic and adventurous (Manggong, 2016). In this story, even Mel and Terri having so many disagreements, they still love each other because the high toleration like the other American people nowadays. In so many occasions, Mel argued his wife, but after that, immediately he shows his affection towards her:

“Honey, I’m just talking.” Mel said. “All right? I don’t have to be drunk to say what I think. I mean, we’re all just talking, right?” Mel said. He fixed his eyes on her.

“Sweetie, I’m not criticizing,” Terri said.” (4)

But actually, that is the reality and the common sense of love when someone would not stop to love his partner because of one clash in an occasion. Oppositely from the unrealistic relationship of Hooper and Elizabeth, Mel and Terri having the tendency to be more tolerant and more forgivable to each other.

Related to the historical and cultural background, Carver presented Terri as someone who has a big impact on her relationship. Relevance to the rise of woman’s right by time to time until nowadays on the top of the amount of existence, on this Carver’s fiction, a woman is depicted far more independent and stronger than the depiction of Elizabeth in Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil”. Seemann in his argument in his thesis that supported the theory of feminism in the Carver’s fiction:

“Characters react to conflict and despair in an assortment of ways, but one identifiable trait in many stories throughout each collection is the determination and intuitiveness of women … feminine impact evolves throughout Carver’s work, and looking at these women creates a better awareness of the effect gender has in Carver’s stories” (Seemann: 3)

Terri depicted as someone who can keep her point of view, nonetheless of her husband disagreement when they are talking about love. She also in several occasions, is depicted stronger and more mature than her husband, mainly while they are drunk. While Mel is getting drunker that caused the cursing and digressing while he talked, Terri seems to be having more control to her consciences, even she is trying to take care of her husband, yet she is in the middle of drinking the alcohol too.

As the conclusion, by comparing both short stories, Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” and Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love”, firstly, we can conclude that two contradictive genres of these two short stories—romanticism and contemporary-classical realism, making the characteristics of the couple toward his/her own partner are different. As the result, the couple characteristic in the Carver’s short story is far more common and make-sense than the couple in the Hawthorne’s short story. Secondly, the two massive different historical and cultural backgrounds also affected how the couples’ characteristics are built. Considering that Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” is written in 1836 while Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk About Love” is written in 1981, makes each of the stories have the different American society value—especially related to feminism and toleration issues. Even in the early nineteenth century, the period when Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” is written, some of feminism and toleration movement is promoted and having the real impact on the American society, the period when Carver’s fiction is written is even giving the feminism and toleration movement at their best that never reached before. It makes the female in the couple, Terri in Carver’s fiction having a big influence in her relationship unlike Elizabeth in Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil”.

 

Preferences

Carver, Raymond. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. 1981. New York: Vintage Contemporaries, 1982.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Minister’s Black Veil.” Comp. Roy Harvey Pearce.                Nathaniel Hawthorne:Tales and Sketches. New York: NY: The Library of        America, 1996.

Keeley, Randa G. “Merging the Public and Private Spheres: The Representation    of Gender in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” “The                         Minister’s Black Veil,” and “The Birth-Mark”.” Order No. 1499030 Texas             A&M University – Commerce, 2008. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 21 June         2016.

Lestari Manggong. “Week 1, Literature in America: Nineteenth Century to Contemporary Period.” American Literature Lecture. Universitas    Padjajaran, Jatinangor. 2016. Lecture.

Seemann, Brian Charles. “”what is it?”: Exploring the Roles of Women        Throughout Raymond Carver’s Short Fiction.” Order No. 1439078 Wichita             State University, 2006. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 21 June 2016.

 

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The Lazy Song: The Anthem of our (Procrastination) Generation

When the laziness does come to you, whether you want to fight it or accept it, music has always a big impact for you to support your decision.

Well, congratulation if you are the one who choose to fight the laziness every time it comes to you. There are so many songs that you can listen to avert the possibility of you become a procrastinator.

But oppositely, if you’re on the way to accept that you’re a part of this procrastinated generation, don’t be so guilty for it. A recent study from the University of Carleton found that if you forgive yourself for procrastinating, chances are you will procrastinate less on the next task at hand.

But, how we could apologize for being a procrastinator? perhaps the answer is to realizing that there is a song about procrastinating–consisted with every procrastination and laziness element in it, could be one of the best-selling digital singles of 2011 and with sales of 6.5 million copies.

And this song also definitely having a cure for your guilty feeling.

The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars consists all the procrastination element in both lyric and music arrangement. Even the process of making “The Lazy Song” began while Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine were hanging around the studio and didn’t feel like working. It makes this song just very frank lyrically and musically due to the real feeling they had on that time.
Musical Arrangement and Video.

The song’s musically light and simple and having so much reggae beat influence. This song’s filled by massive ukulele guitar and electronic sound beat. It just gives procrastination at its best.

While the music video is also describing how hard and bad procrastination disease that Mars’ has. The video only took one continuously shoot from one camera’s angle and took place in a messy bedroom. Perhaps, the only thing who needs so much effort for making this music video is to train a group of chimps how to dance hip-hop collectively.
Lyric of the song

The conspicuous and to-the-point lyric is written by Bruno Mars as he impressed that being lazy in a whole day is not a bold wicked sin (except when you’re on the deadline day for the final examination). He gave us another perception about being lazy when he told in this song that it’s okay for doing nothing a whole day just when you felt that you want to, not because you have possible time for doing nothing.

This song’s also represented some college student procrastinators (like all of us(?)) in the second verse of the song. It indicates that doing procrastination is even worth even you have to delay getting your college degree and make your father wait for not uncertain time. But please, do consider the relative scale of calmness that a father has!
Remember, use this procrastinator anthem just to make you less guilty by knowing that procrastination has normally happened to many youngsters like us rather than you make this laziness anthem as the reason you don’t change your habit.

And if the recent study from the University of Carleton above about forgiving our procrastination habit doesn’t work, at least you should become the most creative procrastinator like Bruno Mars did.

 

References

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/bruno-mars-the-lazy-song-20110503
http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2012/may/09/students-procrastinating-exams
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lazy_Song#Critical_reception

The Old Man no More Dying

Dying. A father worked for his children was dying. A couple that loved each other and thinking that they had the most blessed life were dying. Or even a newborn baby with his first crying was dying. Everyone was dying if dying means a process for approaching death. And so we were. We were all approaching death. Included him, he had been dying too.

And in this term of dying, some of us pretended to forget that we are dying and I never knew someone who tried to do that as hard as Mr. Sambas. I usually called him Om Sam. People who know them dare not to say him Kek or even Pak to him even though his hair almost all white and his wrinkle all over his skin. I expected he was about 66 years old or even more.

On that day, the Warteg was quite busy because it was about 5 o’clock in the evening. Our Warteg was located in the slum of the Jakarta suburb, among the offices and the factories buildings. Some workers from the banker, taxi driver, the salesman, and laborer or the other, finally having time for relaxation before going back to their own family or continuing their overtime work. It was the time when the smell of coffee and the smoke of cigarette full-fill the room and covering the worst smell of the working class sweat here. At the one corner of the room, the chair sets half-rounded for about 8 men there who were sitting while talking about a news program on the TV informing the quick-count result of the Indonesia’s Presidential election.

“We still need SBY for the next five years,” said the first worker-man while looking to the TV screen.

“No. He is so tired to rule this abnormal country. Even his under-eye bags
has the other bags”, said his friend while laughing but still also looking at the TV screen.

“I don’t even care who will become the president.” said the other man

“Why don’t you care?” asking the first man who began the conversation

“If the chosen president is the ideal one, could I still have money without going to work? Is the difference will be that significant? Well, I don’t think so.” And no one responded that last argument. This chair set was set for them who didn’t bring the topics to the Warteg. The old, dusty TV screen became the central focus of their vision and talking without looking the listener was a normal thing for them.

In the right corner, there was also a full-round chair set surrounding the square wooden table. It was the group where everyone could talk about someone’s sin, about the national political and security or about the ghost that stealing money, true story, fake story—everything but a preach. There are no more the banker, the taxi driver, the salesman or whoever they were before—they were only the storyteller, the sinner, and the listener when they sat in this corner of Warteg.

But something had changed in the Warteg lately. There was an empty chair among the other filled-chair in this democratic-liberal corner, the right corner of the Warteg. The frail green plastic chair without the backrest that moors to one side of the Warteg’s wall where the Old Man usually reclined his crooked back to it lately lost its owner. This corner of Warteg was never as vivid as before since that Old Man left the chair alone.

I was not the one who sat there with him, I only saw and listened to him from my office, through the steam of the hot chicken soup above the or through the glass desk with white transparent curtain while listening to what they were talking about. And when the Old Man taking his part to tell the story, I began leaning my head to the source of the voice. I hated when sometimes the sound of the fan—the old, dirty, dying fan covered his voice. When I did this irresponsible habit, I left the business mostly to my co-worker, Surti—a quite beautiful, diffident Javanese girl. She wore the floral skirt with yellow, or blue or green Pollo shirt every day she worked like she had a dress code

“Nasi nganggo endog, tahu tempe digawe seporsi mas, ya” with his Jogja dialect, he ordered the food. After I finished his order, I neared to the right corner of the Warteg and I found that He had been ended the story. Well, I hate my customer sometimes.

The square wooden table in the Warteg seems becoming his platform to glorifying his wonderful past. He was the oldest person in the Warteg and as I could remember, he was the oldest customer in the Warteg too. It’s about six years since the first time he knew this place. And I think that’s the reason why people here having so much respect for him.

Sometimes, he told us every war that he was ever in as the ex-member of TNI-AD and my favorite story was when he told about the Seroja Operation, the biggest TNI’s military operation. For many times, I never reach the end of this story.
The Warteg itself for the Old Man is not only the place for he stopped by, but it is the place where he felt alive the most. In one conversation I ever heard him talking about his family.

“Just stay here a little bit longer, Bud”, the Old Man talked to his friend Budi, a Taxi driver

“I am sorry, my wife called me that I should go home right now” Budi replied.

“Well, go then. If my late wife was still alive, I’ll go home immediately too.”

“Well thank you, you used to be a good husband I guess.” “See you!”

“Well, it’s you and me again, Karso” He talked to me like he knew that I was looking at him for the first time.

“Yeah, Om. But, is this okay for you to going home this late?”

“Why not? No one cares. I live with my cat now and I think my cat would never care to me as long as I feed him well.” He answered without looking at me. He looks down but I can see his smile in his face trying hard to cover his wrinkled skin all over his face.
There was the time when I had so much sympathy for him, and so people in the Warteg does. But not until that night was coming.

It began when Surti and I were going to close the Warteg. As the other night, our last customer was the Old Man and he seemed to enjoy his last coffee that night. I left the Warteg for a while to buy a pack of cigarette to the mini market across the street. That night was quiet and the wind was blown so hard and cold. Maybe it was also the reason why I need the cigarette. When I was back to the Warteg, how surprised I am when founding Surti was crying on the floor.

“Surti! What Happened Surti? Are you all right” I asked her in a rush

“Mas Karso, That Old Man molested me, He hug me from behind and kissing me,” her crying even louder than before, “I asked him to stopped, I cried and cried but he still didn’t let me,”

“Are you sure that it was him, Surti?”

“Yeah, I am sure, but he looked crazy, he seems didn’t see me as Surti, even he called me Surinah, he said that I am Surinah, his wife” Surti still crying. I could imagine how shocked she was that night. A good, coy maid like her was never imagines that kind of thing would happen to her.

When she stopped her crying, I accompanied her to her rent house and I give her support as I could to make her relief from that unexpected, strange accident before.
Since that night, I never see The Old Man again. People in the Warteg asked us about his condition. But, Surti and I had been agreed that we would not talk that accident to everyone to keep Surti’s honor as a young maiden.

For next days since that night, there are so many questions on my mind. Who is that old man, actually? Perhaps we know that he was an ex-member of a soldier who felt lonely because his members of his family left him. But, that’s all I know about him. For six years he came to our place routinely but is that all about him? We don’t even know what is his name and where does he live?

I was very sad that day. But, I recognize one thing that no one can hide that they were dying, and it would be getting worse day by day, included the Old man. Included you and I. The old man gave us the lesson for you and me.

FASA/1989-182: A Four-Legged (should not) Admire a Two-Legged

No one would remain forever in the classroom as long as them. The students and the lecturers would leave the classroom as soon as they could—immediately as the bell was ringing almost running, they down the stairs.

And so were the janitors and the custodians, in every weekday, the things were always the same for them: to leave the college building after each classroom was cleaned and the chair was arranged in certain position.

But, there was no human being would spend her or his time, each night and day in the classroom of this college building, watching every single thing inside the classroom. Therefore, neither no one would talk that it was impossible to see that they—a group of chairs, were talking when humans were not around them.

It was a Thursday night in the last week of the second semester, and tomorrow would be a judgment day for every chair in the classroom. Some of them—the wrecked, rusty or bad-looking chairs, would be taken out of the class.

In the second row near the window and the door, the two leftmost chairs were talking to each other in the middle of a dark, silent night.

“How if I tell my deepest feeling toward her tomorrow?” the oldest chair in the class—the silver-painted student chair asked to his younger companion, a glossy black-painted student chair.

“Don’t be silly. You’ve been here since 1989, and now you will ruin all the vows that we’ve been made as chairs, won’t you? And you’re the most blessed chair I’ve ever known. You’re once in a blue moon. For 27 years and 27 times, you passed all the eliminations,” said the younger chair.

“Yeah, I know. Thank God—and of course thank all the joiners and the carpenters all over the world. But boy, have you been in love before?”

“Yeah, of course, I’m falling in love with FIB/2012-079,” he mentioned the number which is stamped in the backrest of a female chair back there—about three rows apart from them. It had been their habit to take the number on their backrest as their name. “and my point is, I’m in love with a chair, the same being with us.”

“Then what should I do? Give up to this unfair condition? And I do believe in destiny—I’m her special chair since the first time she entered this class until now after she has become one of the lecturers in this college. God keeps me stay here to give me more chance with her.”

“And perhaps tomorrow your chance will be all over.”

“Why are you guys—the youngsters nowadays—always very pessimistic with anything? Can you become more optimistic sometimes?”

“Well, old-man, perhaps we come from a very different age. I’m just trying to make everything easier for you. The easier way for your old rusty screw, isn’t it good for you?”

“You mean an instant way, eh? You, the generation of yours, are just too mellow and I think it has something to do with how God created you with the industrial-instant mass production way.”

“Slow-down, old-man, we’re just talking about a girl—I mean a woman, or even worse, a married woman. However, we are still the same creature, a chair.”

“No, you’re just a robotic chair generation without heart and chairity,” he meant to humanity in a chair term.

“Well, then tomorrow you will reveal to this human that you, a chair, love her. And once again, forgive my cynical way of thinking, but I think this human will run out of class and then jump from the second floor even before you finished your first sentence,” the younger chair said in a slow tempo and with several stresses in some parts in order to show how sure he was.

“Well, that is the worst scenario that can happen, from you—a young boy,from a pessimistic, realistic and hopeless generation of today. Can you, just for a while, become a little bit more positive of something?”

“Well, let’s say that this woman will understand you and she will love you too. But, I think you still remember that God will punish, with a very bad suffering, a chair who show human their ability to talk, to listen, to think, and to feel. Our duty from God as a chair is only to be sat by humans, no more than that”.

“Yeah, perhaps you’re right, no more than that. But, screw god, at least she knows all my feelings toward her. I will…”

In a sudden, the door was opened in one immediate motion. All the wind of night was blowing so hard into the class and it seemed trying to deliver something from the outside.

“I hear all of them. You don’t need to speak anything to me, tonight or tomorrow. Because now, I already know,” she whispered while she down his knee and leanedhis head over that one particular chair.

The night inside the classroom never became so silent like that night, right after the woman ended her whisper.

Preference: “Rico de Coro” by Dewi Lestari