Note, Interminable Rambling will be on break for the next two weeks. Check back on Tuesday, January 7, 2020, for new posts.
I have been blogging at Interminable Rambling for four and a half years. Over that time, I have written 432 posts specifically for this site. Today, I want to take a look at the past year and highlight some of my favorite posts from this past year, an eventful year in so many ways. Before looking at those posts, though, I want to highlight the top five posts, by views, for the past year as of December 8, 2019.
- “Robert Hayden’s ‘A Letter from Phillis Wheatley, London 1773′”–1,906
- “Phillis Wheatley’s ‘To Maecenas’ and Subversion”–1,764
- “‘Theresa, A Haytien Tale’ and the Tropical Sublime”–1,370
- “Judges 19 and Arnold Friend’s Enigmatic Code”–1,346
- “Harriett Jacobs and the Cult of True Womanhood”–1,168
Buck Wild Posts
I started off this year with four posts on Buck Wild, a satirical Luke Cage in Dwayne McDuffie and M.D. Bright’s Icon. His appearances in Icon served as commentary on the problematic history of representation in comics, specifically using Luke Cage as the central figure. Until this year, I had not had the opportunity to read much from Milestone Comics, but this year proved eventful because I had the chance to read multiple series, teach Icon in my own class, Skype in with John Ira Jennings’ class to talk about Buck Wild, and to co-edit an online forum with Sheena Howard over at Black Perspectives on Milestone Comics. All of this, I hope, leads to a larger engagement with Milestone and its continued impact on the media landscape. These posts, as well, led to my post “#lukecagesyllabus” that drew on Tara Betts’ work.
The Buck Wild posts culminated in “The Death of Buck Wild,” a post that looked at Buck Wild’s funeral in Icon #30. What caught me in this issue, apart from the satire, was the positioning of characters during the funeral. In one panel, we look up from the casket, in Buck Wild’s position, as the preacher waits in silence for people to speak about Buck Wild’s impact on them. In another image, we see Buck Wild in the coffin, this time as we take on the position of the audience, and see Icon standing above him, at the pulpit as he says, “Were it not for him we would not be here today.” These images highlight, as the rest of Buck Wild’s story does, the problematic nature of characters like Luke Cage but also their impact.
Norwegian Art: Dahl, Astrup, and Munch
Over the past year, I went to numerous place from York Minster and the Brontë Parsonage to the d’Orsay in Paris, and I wrote about each of these. While each of these was engaging its own way, my favorite posts about some of my travels and what I saw has to be the post I did on Norwegian artists. Before I went to Norway, the only Norwegian artist I had heard of was Edvard Munch. I was excited to see his work, and I was able to see it multiple times. However, after learning about Johan Christian Dahl and Nikolai Astrup, I began to have other favorite Norwegian artists.
I enjoy Dahl, I think, because his work focuses on Bergen, the town where we lived last year. He painted the landscape and the city in the late 1700s till the early 1800s, and these painting highlight the ways that the city, and Norway, has changed over the years. Astrup, though, quickly became my favorite of the three. His work embodies Norway, in my mind, and the depiction of the landscape, almost as a living thing, drew me in, especially in “March Morning,” a painting that depicts a tree awakening from the long, cod winter.
Here is a video I did of the three artists.
Music has always played a large role in my life. This year, I’ve written about Karpe, a Norwegian hip hop group, P.O.S., Dessa, my favorite “emo” albums, and more. Yet, “Musical Interlude,” a post that highlights some of the music that I have created, has to be my favorite. In “Art and Creation,” I talk about the fact that not everyone will hear or read the “art” that I create, and I am good with that. However, that does not mean that what I created is not “art.” I adhere to Rainer Maria Rilke when thinking about this. In Letters to a Young Poet, he told Franz Xaver Kappus, “Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you to write. Put it to this test. Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest places of your hear? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write?“
While Rilke specifically focuses on writing, his questions could apply to anything from music to painting. Throughout my life, I have had moments where I would answer yes to each of those questions. When I wrote music, I would delve into the deepest recesses of myself, I would want to create music more than anything else, and I would say, “Yes, I must create.” The same can be said, now, for writing, and this blog. I always question whether or not I have anything to say. I question whether or not I want to keep writing. But, even when I ask these questions, I always come back to “I must write.” Writing this blog helps me dive into myself, wrestle with myself, learn about myself, and this is what music did/does for me as well.
Back in July, Trump commented that four U.S. Congresswomen, all U.S. citizens, needed to “Go back to your country.” On the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Doug Collins (GA) shouted down Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA) as Swalwell listed off racist comments and actions by Trump. This event prompted the post “False Hope and False Fear,” a post that really gets in to my continued thoughts about the ways that children take in racist rhetoric, beliefs, and actions. I have been thinking about this a lot over the past few years, and the post, a long with countless others, is my attempt to work through these issues and to unequivocally state that these things harm everyone.
I keep going back to Lillian Smith when I think about this. She talks about the effects of racism on the white psyche, specifically on children, and she notes, constantly, the importance of building bridges and being open to others. Writing to an English teacher in 1959, she told him, “And then there is always what you learn when you build bridges to other people: to one, then to one more, and on and on.” If we fail to build bridges, and instead build walls, then we will fail to connect with those around us.
This year, I started my new position as the director of the Lillian E. Smith Center. This post has allowed me to do more social media work, specifically in the creation of short videos and podcasts. (The podcasts will start appearing early in 2020.) Every week, I record a short video for the LES Center’s social media accounts. These videos look at Smith’s work and relate it to other artists or to historical events. I enjoy doing these videos, and they provide me an opportunity to work beyond just the typed page. In this post, I highlight some of the videos I have done, to this point, for the center’s account and I provide the scripts for each video.
What has been your favorite post this year? As usual, let me know in the comments below, and make sure to follow me on Twitter at @silaslapham.
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