Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wasted Talent

by Anonymous

One of my most favorite and beloved films is A Bronx Tale (1993). Its genres are crime and drama. It was the first movie directed by Robert De Niro and was written by Chazz Palminteri.

This story is about the Anello family, comprised of Lorenzo (the dad) Rosina (the mom), and Calogero (the 9 yr. old son). They live in the Bronx, NY in the 1960’s. Calogero and his friends are fascinated by the local mobsters that live in the neighborhood. Sonny is the leader of the crew and is Calogero’s idol. One day Calogero witnesses a murder committed by Sonny. When the police investigators question him about the murder he keeps quiet and does not rat. Sonny then takes a liking to Calogero, befriends him, and nicknames him “C”. When Lorenzo finds out that his son had been spending time with Sonny and the crew, he attempts to put a stop to it. Lorenzo warns the two to stay away from one another. Regardless of how Lorenzo felt, “C” didn’t care and still hung out with Sonny whenever he could.

Eight years pass. “C” is put in several situations where he has to decide what and who is right. To me the most inspiring thing about this film is its message. Lorenzo tells “C”, “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.You could have all the talent in the world but if you don’t do the right thing then nothing happens, but when you do right good things happen." At 9 years old, “C” doesn't understand the true meaning of that message but as a young man he soon realizes its depth and chooses virtue.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Hero and Her Burning Skull of Fire

By: Maria Bhadra Kali Little, March, 2015

The story of Vasilisa and Baba Yaga, in the adaptation, "The Doll In Her Pocket: Vasilisa the Wise," from Clarissa Pinkola Estes' book, Women Who Run with The Wolves, is a great and empowering tale of a young woman’s heroine’s journey.
  • The story includes several significant and well-known archetypal characters.
  • It masterfully blends in lessons and values gained through Vasilisa’s hero’s journey.
  • It follows the hero’s journey steps and pattern flawlessly.
This story is essentially about a girl learning to listen and trust her intuition, and inner guide. Vasalisa transforms from being too kind, naive, and overly accommodating to her abusive stepmother and stepsisters, to discovering her own personal strength, and inner worth after an audacious adventure through the eerie woods, and the several tests given to her by the horrifying, and ever powerful Baba Yaga; the wild and ferocious supernatural forest guardian woman, who possesses the ever burning skull of fire.

Vasilisa's journey takes her from her home with her unkind superficial family, to the woods with Baba Yaga. Her pocket doll (which represents her intuition/inner guide) a gift from her long dead but nurturing mother, leads her to master all of Baba Yaga's impossibly tedious tests (if she had failed it would result in her death and eventual consumption by Baba Yaga) and return home with the skull of fire. In the end, the skull burns the eyes out of her cruel and cowardly relatives when they stare into its flame.

This tale reminds us to be kind, but not to lose sight of our own wisdom, personal integrity, and the value of listening to the inner self. Also, it reminds us of exactly how powerful inner sight and wisdom is, as represented in this ancient Russian fairytale, by the ever burning skull of fire, whose light will turn all fraudulence to ash.

Estes analyzes several different fairytales or stories from different cultures around the world, some of which were taken by the Brothers Grimm and turned into common fairytales we know today. The reason Estes' interpretations and ideas around the stories are so important is that she is looking at the roles of women and how their power has been stripped away from society and its stories. She wants the feminine to be reclaimed by all women and society. She looks at archetypes and really takes apart each story piece by piece in an engaging and accessible manner; she brings to life versions of common stories that may have never been heard or properly understood.  

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Sleepwalker's Guide to Enlightenment

by Anna Woodall

I remember that I'm invisible and walk softly so as not awake the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.” 
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
When I was 16 years old I read Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison for the first time and I fell in love with the story. The story starts out with the protagonist introducing himself as an “invisible man.” His invisibility is not the result of some supernatural incident or miracle but simply because he is black. To those who consider him beneath themselves because of his race, he is in essence invisible. It also seems to him that the people around him are sleepwalking through life, lost in a dream. Yet he has an aching need to be seen, to be considered the same as everyone regardless of his color.
There are many reasons why a person might feel invisible:

  • Feeling that people don’t see you as you really are.
  • Believing that your current life is in some way unreal or at least it’s not the life you’re meant to be living.
  • Feeling that you don’t fit in with modern society.
  • Being bothered by the injustice that surrounds you.
  • Wanting to do more then just get by; wanting to change the world and not knowing how to begin.
For much of my life I have felt like something was wrong with the world. Or maybe it was something wrong with me? In reference to the ideas presented in Ellison’s story, we must understand that most people really don’t see what is going on around them. Maybe they are oblivious or they just choose not to see but in a subtle way this is a form of sleepwalking. It’s hard for me to stand by impassive and not speak out in some way. As a result of my rebellious nature, I have had difficulty fitting into the society in which I was born. I am constantly trying to figure out who I am and what my purpose is. Like the invisible man, I see what’s going on in the world and I’m angered by it. For him it was race and class segregation. For me it is corporate America, its genetically modified food; it’s the blinders that everyone likes to wear when they are sleepwalking.