Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How Abusers Trap their Victims by Manipulating an Audience

By: Dianne Heath


     The abuser needs background pressure that influences the victimized individual's perceptions of their environment, belief of available options and then induces subsequent dis-empowered behavior. One form of background pressure is creating and manipulating an audience for the relationship. Abusers deploy what I call, public entrapment. Public entrapment derives its efficacy and power from tools used privately to entrap a victim which usually involves teaching the individual to dishonor him or herself. I will focus on public entrapment because Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran offer a timely case study. 

     A predominate tool in the toolbox is how the abuser manipulates their shared social environment so that the victimized individual ceases to generate sympathy from the public. This is why Chris Brown consciously or unconsciously prefers for his breakups with Karrueche Tran to be on the stage for public consumption, despite the ridicule of both parties that invariably ensues. Depleting the sympathy of the public whether it’s the victims’ family, mutual friends or in this case fans is used as a trap by abusers.

Karrueche Tran's Christmas gifts by Chris Brown
Depletion of Sympathy 
     The victim must appear to hold an enviable position. Perceptions by the public or the relationship's audience of the victim's enviable position creates an illusion of the terms of condition for their eyes. The victim must be in an outwardly enviable position that invites jealously and third party pressure for the victim to feel gratitude for their supposedly good fortune. Never mind that the despite the external rewards the abuse is destroying the victimized individual inwardly ironically negating the benefits for the enviable position. Never mind also that the external rewards aren't for the victimized individual's long term benefit but a tool of control for the abuser. The abuser doesn't want to provide internal enrichment with genuine love (and may not even have the capacity to provide love) because healthy mind that loves itself is less easy to trap. Self-love strengthens the capacity and resolve to exit ruin. The abuser wants the victimized individual to continue pursing external rewards that the abusers control the individual and the perceptions of the relationship’s audience. These deceptive rewards obstruct the victimized individual from their healing. But the public doesn't perceive this and the abuser can manipulate this collective blindness to their advantage against the victim. The public can't see these motives but green eyes can gaze upon a luxury vehicle and diamond rings (use picture of rings). Many times even the victim will outwardly compare themselves to others and believe this deceptive narrative his or herself, while overlooking the long term damage to their emotional and psychological health. 

     The abusers are benevolent dictators who have bestowed upon you a platform or designed the template for your only chance at success. Or they abused you for your own good because that was the only way you have achieved, diminishing your innate drive and qualities. If a person was willing to deal with the abuse to achieve, wouldn't that imply that the individual's  intrinsic motivation would had compelled them to strive and thus do not need abuse? Your intangible value becomes invisible. Even when a victimized individual is reduced to being a punching bag, this resilience has intangible value to the abuser who has someone to absorb their hatred so that they wouldn't unleash the self-destruction on themselves. Without the victim to feel powerful that abuser wouldn't have the motivation or energy to even build an illusion or the talent to exploit. Chris Brown needs the public to know that he sacrificed for her and without him she wouldn't have her status. Yes, the relationship is not perfect but you have 2 million Instagram followers and the "haters" who are telling you to leave don't. In abusive households there can be the illusion of upstanding, successful with good parents to assuage the public image while there is private decay. Abusers with less resources are largely limited to providing transient emotional and psychological rewards. But these rewards are conditional and shallow. From the outside the victimized individual can appear loved but are truly despised. 

     The idea that someone else might be more fulfilling inwardly despite having less external rewards is not discussed. Other scenarios are not presented to the audience, only an image that serves the abuser. Perhaps the abuser noticed the victimized individual’s essence and targeted the individual for exploitation and then lied by pretending they created the individual’s essence. Perhaps the abuser created such an abusive environment they transformed what individual loved into something painful thus covertly limiting the individual’s potential. Perhaps they stressed the individual which dampened their capacity to capitalize on opportunities you have showered on them. Perhaps the abuser took over the individual’s life making it impossible to realize their full potential or discover their own profitable niche. Perhaps they stunted the individual’s growth or overemphasized one profitable aspect of the while the others remain anemic. Or controlled the individual with bad advice masquerading as caring advice. Perhaps the abuser covertly sabotaged the individual while in front of an audience bragged about what they've done for the individual. Perhaps the individual succeeded in spite of the abuser and not because of their malevolent presence. 

     But these instances are not presented to the audience and are usually not in the consciousness of the victim who devalued his or her positive attributes while the abuser’s minor contributions are disproportionately attributed to their success. Privately the victimized individual has dishonored their capacity to make it as far without the abuser and have emphasized deceptive external rewards over a healthy heart and mind. It was not a team effort with you providing most of the intangibles but their external rewards. Abusers will conveniently ignore the initial power and resource imbalance to create the image as a savior even though you actually put more effort in relation your power, time and available resources. The individual's subsequent behavior must honor be them as a savior. Abusers with less resources than Chris Brown will create an enviable situation like telling someone your past successes or achievements. Others may harp on your enviable physical traits or talents in front of others with poor body image. 

     Constant public breakups are opportunities for abusers. Each breakup most be more critical and believable than the next. Not only is this the reorientation process, but it depletes the sympathy of audience the individual desperately needs in support of in such a dangerous and vulnerable time. This works to create universal disappointment and an incredulous social environment that disrespects the individual. If the individual is in an enviable position that the abuser has created, the narrative of a woman desperate to maintain her luxurious lifestyle, despite abuse may float in people's minds. In reality since the audience’s participation is only public and passive yet not private and intimate, their comprehension of events would be impossible. 

     The public especially stops rooting for the victimized individual when the individual chastises the audience for celebrating the dissolution their demise and then defends the abuser. People hate feeling foolish. Now the public resents the individual and have a natural suspicion of the individual's intentions. Now the abuser has manipulated the individual's identity to the public as a complicit, masochistic and sick individual trying to exploit their sympathies even though the individual secretly knows they are not leaving. A individual ready and willing to be punished, who knows exactly what he or she is getting into and is undeserving of continued sympathy. Now when the individual is truly serious about escaping, the support needed is gone and background pressure intensifies. 

Entrapment by Dishonor 
     Now that the victimized individual is depleted of sympathy, the abuser moves to create a hostile environment by "exposing"  the individual while they simultaneously become the only person willing to redeem and work with this inherently soiled individual. Victims who are already in vulnerable circumstances, have unfamiliar characteristics or struggles (which can be conveniently defined by the abusers to fit their purpose) or marginalized are easier to control with background pressure because the public is already biased against them. They attach stigmatized behavior that imply the individual’s tainted nature and identity so that no decent individual can identify with them or want to support them. They need to misconstrue the individual’s behavior, failures, struggles and unique characteristics. The individual didn't fail because he or she was depressed and trying to recover from a traumatic event, the individual failed because he or she inherently doesn’t value opportunities and therefore doesn't deserve to be saved by someone loving. Now the abuser and victim are both equally flawed and perfectly suited for each other despite the discrepancy of harm inflicted. 

    By claiming by Karrueche had threesomes validates that she was willing to the reprehensible to stay in the relationship, so she really doesn't feel abused. Most importantly it implies that she is immoral and too dirty for a stable and loving relationship. Abusers enjoy exposing individual by divulging in the dirty details of what you were willing to for them; never mind that the individual was probably manipulated, didn't understand the implications what they were doing, had low self-worth, was threatened or the abusers has been steadily manipulating perceptions of individual of who they are. Now the victimized individual is punished for obeying, even though abusers demand obedience as love. With enough exposure and humiliation the victim sees her support dissolve and she feels become worthless to her social environment. The fact that she was accused of cheating on him supposedly negates his behavior. Only questions of her loyalty is shared for public scrutiny. Now they are equally perverse. My question... why does he still want her if she so horrible enough to cheat, so soiled, so perverse and enjoys abuse?
Apology Art

Notes about the Victim 
     Does the victim have perfect intentions in the relationship? No. Was the victim taught these new priorities for the relationship? Yes. Is the abuser being exploited as they claim? Absolutely not. Usually a victim has low self-esteem and/or low self-worth. Their definitions of a loving relationship and their priorities in a relationship are malleable, which is perfect for the abuser. At the beginning the victimized individual is desperately looking for love. The victim might be suffering through a horrible situation and asks for emotional support. But the victim doesn't even know if they truly deserve emotional support or in extreme cases doesn't know what emotional support looks like. So what does the abuser do...well they don't want to give love, they just want power so they'll give the victim money instead of emotional support and tell her that is emotional support. They teach the victim what to accept as love. Eventually the victimized individual with low self-esteem will give up on genuine expressions of love and accept gifts or the controllable external rewards as love. But this works against the victim because this changes her priorities from something honorable to dishonorable. When the victim attempts to escape, the abuser can take on the position as the victim who was exploited. 

What the Victim Must Do 

     A victim’s decision to escape should not be manipulated by these questions. These questions of how much of their partner’s behavior is deliberate are important for planning the escape because they have implications but if the victim doesn't like their treatment, whether it is love does not reduce the damage. For example, financial abuse may not feel like abuse if the abuser can manipulate perceptions and declare it’s for the victims own good, but in the end the damage to credit, work history and personal control is very real. The abuser has already taught you that the core of your identity is being a victim and has rewarded you for being a victim by implicitly socializing the individual their painful definitions of love. But now it is time to pan out and evaluate the situation in its entirety. The stories about the uncontrollable yet loving abuser and you the victim can cloud judgment. Eschew these deceptive narratives or you'll remain entangled. Take away narratives about the abusers identity, their implicitly narratives about your identity and peek into reality. Then you can take on rational behaviors.

This post was inspired by the Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran debacle and by the book Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen. 
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

When a Break Up Really Isn't a Break Up

By: Dianne Heath

      There are millions of pages devoted to prying open the minds of abusers to reveal the venomous thinking patterns directing their behavior. Some are heart-wrenching stories that read like psychological thrillers while others attempt to scientifically probe into the madness using a clinical and detached approach. There is a compulsion to peer into the deceptively irrational to make it rational, intelligible and explainable. Just consider this another one of the millions struggling to decode the enigma that is the abuser (for part two click here).

     Abusers rule with confusion. I believe that an abuser's behavior is at the peak of confusion when the individual they are victimizing becomes aware of the toxic dance and starts to wriggle from its cruel grasp. During breakups, it is usually the victim's confusing and seemingly irrational behavior that is scrutinized under judgment’s glaring microscope, but I would like to investigate what victims are directly responding to.

Chris Brown "packing" Karrueche Tran's bags in 2012. Part Two: When Abusers Manipulate Family & Friends

Implicit Reorientation

     While for most relationships, breakups signify the messy severing of bonds, for abusers, breakups are the prime opportunity for a power grab in the form of reorientation. The abuser already assumes that the breakup is temporary. Reorientation is the abuser implicitly demanding to increase your threshold for emotional pain, the bulldozing of protective boundaries and the starving any forms of empowerment, all for the comfort of the abuser. The abuser is demanding for more abusive behaviors to be acceptable; for new norms, new lows, even if unpleasant, for the relationship. 

     Generally the abuser causes so much obvious damage that the individual being victimized is forced to breakup or at least re-evaluate the relationship. For example undeniable betrayal such as cheating that the victimized individual has previously considered as unacceptable and grounds for breakup are directly bluffed by the abuser. The individual may have opened up at the beginning of the relationship by recanting about how the brutal divorce of her parents caused by cheating caused a significant amount of pain that she would never want to go through this, the victim is unknowingly outlining a boundary for the relationship and creating a rule to be broken. The abuser sees this as a threat to his power and using cheating as a tool to obviously challenge this threat.

     Instead of being honest about their intentions, abusers takes on the role of the victim, begging for forgiveness and using guilt by implying they are willing to change if the heartless individual would just give them a chance. Little does the individual being victimized knows, is that the abuser secretly feels entitled to abuse the other. The victim dared to exercise a semblance of power and control over their environment; even though  in reality the individual is probably just too brokenhearted to continue with the relationship. Unfortunately instead of candidly explaining the victimized individual  "I feel entitled to cheat on you even though I expect you to be faithful to me" or "I believe that physical abuse if a great way for me to get what I want while neglecting your needs" the victim is depleted of explicit information and thus the confidence and power to make a rational decision. Just when the victim is putting the last pieces of the frightening puzzle together, the blood stained images and jagged shapes mutate into something soothing. Perhaps what the individual visualized didn't really exist in the first place? There's the confusion of abuse and then there’s abuser's remorse and desire for the relationship. 

      Now if the victimized individual was to reinitiate a relationship with the abuser, not only will the victim be reoriented into a new acceptable low, but this will slowly manipulate the perceptions of his or her identity. Reorientation implicitly manipulates you by showing you who are really are... a willing victim. Now the abuser doesn't have to risk telling you what they are entitled to, you subconsciously believe it. They are re-orientating you on what is love... them unleashing unbearable abuse and you accepting it, even after some resistance, and eventually moving on. You are now the resilient punching bag. This also increases your emotional investment and psychological ties to the relationship thus increasing their power. The imbalance of hurt and investment is creates a significant power imbalance. Few people would easily walk into these harsher terms of conditions, especially if the abuser started off charming. So the abuser takes out their entrapment toolbox that produces background social pressure even if not obvious to the victimized individual. Read part two of the series: how abusers manipulate the victim's social environment!

This post was inspired by the Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran debacle and by the book Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen. 
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Dangers of Using History to Compare with Today's Issues

By: Dianne Heath

It's a typical news day with reports about the economic crises delivered under a veil of monotone composure. This time the reporter is droning on about the possible implications of TARP, a controversial corporate bailout. Ben usually avoids the news, but since his financial fate is intimately entangled in Great Recession he decided to tune in. There have been uneasy murmurings at his workplace about possible layoffs. Just as Ben begins to doubt his decision to get more informed via cable news and lethargically reaches for the remote, a fiery commentator is invited to present his scathing quips. The commentator is full of righteous indignation and begins to forcefully warn about "Fascism, corporate fascism!" Ben's head becomes flooded with images of merciless, bloodthirsty and brainwashed masses marching in unison as a ruthless dictator's arm guides them to the next kill, as the commentator rants in the background. Suddenly his shoulders are filled with tension and a rush of urgent emotions flow over him. He is no longer lethargic as his mind is actively reaching epiphanies about corporate fascism taking over government.
The Shortcut

     Associating and comparing historical events with problematic present issues, attempts to highlight, clarify, enlighten, familiarize, normalize, simplify and even romanticize or inspire. Associations utilize a store of available emotions, instead compelling the public to sap away potential emotional energy with intellectual pondering needed to grasp the intricacies of complex and perplexing events. By using direct comparisons, seemingly unprecedented issues with a blank slate with imprecise and shallow emotional and intellectual attachments, can take on greater meaning since deep emotional investment to historical events can be applied to new instances that you might not have cared as much about. These emotions make sure to highlight the significance of the new event, convey what is important and make sure that it is not ignored. This is especially important when a shocking crisis when urgency is almost demanded. But this also stifles other emotions and consequently actions that are more suited to the occasion. This dilutes the quality of citizen participation.

      But why do some historical events have the capacity to generate such a powerful emotional response? Well, horrific historical events are generally infested with emotional wounds such national regret. Events with a paradox of emotional pain and triumph, is ripe for generating a visceral emotion filled reaction, especially if the negative emotions are suppressed and unresolved. These historical wrongs must have widespread awareness that is infused with cultural meanings and shared understandings on what should have happened. Usually associations manipulate historical traumas when, before the triumph, mass scale efforts were futile, when the masses are perceived to have acted as sheep consenting in their own demise or simply remained as weak bystanders.

     Some historical events always with today’s issues more than others because some wounds are more valued than others. For example, events with pain that can remain overlooked since it’s overshadowed by the eventual triumph like in the Great Depression and the Holocaust are frequently evoked as opposed to the Stalin's forced famine that killed millions. Referring to the well-known emotional wounds of other nations that were saved by your nation can be safer and less painful. The goal is not to conjure helpless and paralyzing emotional pain but just enough to scare away the apathy.

Courtesy of  the Library of Congress;
Coming Soon! A mini case study about monopsonies being confused for monopolies.

Ben has now turned in a Googling maniac. He looks up corporate fascism, and then he looks up talking points about TARP. The resemblance is uncanny. The context and inner-workings of neoliberalism, the rise of 1980's deregulation in a backlash against the New Deal and financial dominance are rendered useless and fade in the dejected background. Its fascism, point blank and a sinister corporate takeover abounds. Ben is livid, nervous and stricken with horror that compels him to act. Now he has the confidence to oppose TARP. What exactly should he and can he do?

      Direct comparisons to history bestow the misleading illusion of thorough knowledge and education. The new challenge appears deceptively familiar because nuanced details that don't fit the figure's agenda are slyly escorted out the narrative or strategically misapplied. Thinking you know more than reality stifles genuine curiosity to learn more, demand more information and encourages you to uphold undeserving demagogues as experts. Then the brain is subconsciously constricted to a narrative that is under a historical context and events appear to neatly reflect on another.

    In addition, cultural narratives of history are often riddled with assumptions that tell you how to interpret the new event, thus constricting the meaning and implications of the new crisis. When historical narratives are recklessly applied to new issues, your reaction is framed and misdirected accordingly to the historical crisis. But the dynamics of today are new so updated reactions are required since modern life isn't stagnant.

      When a figure uses historical comparisons as a template for comprehension and not as a loosely based guide or reference point, the question should become what is the agenda? What emotions does this figure or entity want me to feel then what type of action based on these emotions to take. For example, if you directly relate the Great Recession to the Great Depression, you'll perceive absolute calamity and sure financial collapse. You might be more willing to accept government intervention in the form of TARP and relate it to the celebrated New Deal. If you truly believe that the Great Recession is directly comparable to the Great Depression, then you will possess perpetual imperfect information since your interpretations of current economic conditions will be faulty and you will be unable to make the rational decisions to survive in the maturing capitalist system.

      What's even more disconcerting is that popular understandings about historical events are not wholly accurate. Culture interpretations are often too shallow, biased and filled with imaginations that depart from reality for genuine understanding. For example, background events become nonexistent which creates a lopsided and one dimensional image of history. Overarching lessons about the stock market and greed contributing to the Great Depression erases a background contributor to the bubble, the discrepancy between the maturing manufacturing industries and speculation. As evidenced, focusing on a single factor within a false narrative will completely misconstrue the present.

How can this be combated? Fight it with contemplation and investigation. Broaden your knowledge of history from a variety of perspectives, learn about obscure events with less happy endings and don’t box yourself into any narratives about current events.
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ode to the West Wind Analysis, Percy Shelley's Exaltation of Nature's Power

By: Dianne Heath

In "Ode to the West Wind", Percy Bysshe Shelley eloquently expresses his private thoughts about nature and humanity by honoring the virtues and power of the Wind. The consistent rhyme scheme demonstrations his dedication to praising the Wind and admiring nature. "Ode to the West Wind" is heavy with descriptions, allegories, stunning imagery and hidden themes which reveal Shelley’s close observation and life long commitment to the subject. Most importantly the poem is brimming with emotion, ranging from adulation, worship, desperate pleading, sadness, and humbleness. Shelley elevates the Wind by treating the Wind as if it's a divine figure so that the underlying message and theme is more pronounced. Just as the ancients recorded their deepest vulnerabilities and fears through open prayer while simultaneously adoring their deity; Shelley also uses the same technique throughout the poem.

Fall at the Dallas Divide, Courtesy of Matt Santomarco
The untamed, powerful and majestic Wind gifts life to seasons and fuels nature's movement, explains Shelley, "thou breath of Autumn's being". The wild Wind has the power and freedom to breathe life into the seasons just like a deity would breathe to life to humans. The Wind is an unseen force yet powerful guardian of nature. It can objectively take away life in one season and lay nature to its death; while spurring reproduction to bestow life in another season. Like a mystic conjuring up a spirit and then fleeing its production, this is how fast the leaves are floating away from the source of their life after contact with the Wind. Shelley uses this metaphor to highlight the incredible & frightening strength of the wind. The leaves anticipate and rapidly accept their morbid fate. 

There’s no gloomy mood but a “hectic red”. Shelley then begins to use human like characteristics to relate nature to our stories and experiences. He uses extensive imagery so that we can see and feel the pertinent message. “Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red pestilence-stricken multitudes,” evoke visuals of decaying victims of a  deadly plague. Autumn is like a deadly epidemic, slowing sickening and sapping away the life of the leaves that are desperately clinging on. However the Wind, like a king, majestically“chariotest” away the deadened leaves and guides them to their grave, "their dark wintry bed," with dignity. The phrase, “O thou” is conspicuously unrhymed for distinct reverence and to redirect attention to the subject of exaltation. Shelley manages to compress observations about two seasons in the first two stanzas which sets the tone for the message of the poem; seasons, life, death and power. 

Shelley describes the seeds as winged to indicate the freedom they are endowed with once in contact with the Wind. They are “like a corpse within its grave” until spring Winds blow new life. Shelley uses blue and azure color imagery throughout the poem to indicate the Wind’s presence in its various forms and to apply Wind-like qualities to other aspects of nature.

Like a loud harmonious trumpet (e.g. religious events, battle cries, festivals, which grabs the attention of multitudes due to its importance and emotional investment by the inhabitants) that fill the city; the spring Wind is boldly declaring a new season by breathing life into seeds. The winged seeds are now described as buds to quickly snapshot the cycle of life from seed to bloom. The buds are driven to the sky "like flocks to feed in air" and lifted up by the Wind to reach its nourishment. The spring Wind fills the earth with living hues and sweet odours. This scene contrasts sharply with the autumn colors, signaling death "yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red." 

 Shelley directly states with reverence, the Wind’s omnipresence "which are moving everywhere" and its dual power as "destroyer and preserver". He entreats this wild Spirit, to “O hear” his humble request. 


The same power who initiated "earth's decaying leaves" to shed is the same power bringing more commotion in the sky and loosing up the clouds. The Wind’s power is evident from the heavens and the ocean. Percy uses the word heaven, as if the Wind resides as a deity. 

The Wind’s angels are rain and lightning, who are spread on the wind's surface, the sky, like "bright hair on the head". Shelley uses more religious undertones, "some fierce Maenad and "thy congregated might", demonstrating rain's and lightning's strong devotion to the Wind. Shelley also uses death connotations, such a "dirge" and "sepulchre" to express how these elements congregate to end the day. Night is like a dome encompassing the entire earth in its darkness. 

Wind is now in the form of vapor, the solid invulnerable sky who directs powerful "black rain, and fire, and hail" to burst without fear. The authors uses actions words such as commotion, uplifted, shook and burst to describe the powerful relationship between the Wind and natural processes. The Wind is too powerful to incur damage in the process and not prone to be intimidated by other powerful elements. Once again Shelley is entreating the Wind to hear.

Natural Bridges, State Park Courtesy of  Lori Branham

Shelley continues praise and admire the omnipresent Wind in its many forms. He acknowledges the Wind as a formidable ally and demonstrates why its powers are suited for his humble plea. Once again we see the color blue. The Wind has taken form in the summer within the Mediterranean waves as the engine for stream. The Wind is so powerful that although this function requires a tremendous amount of energy, the Wind is lull'd. There is power in calmness.

Even the grandest man made structures such as "old palaces and towers" and "pumice isle in Baiae's bay" quivers with the Wind's intense motion when it's just laying down. The word blue, a characteristic of power associated with the Wind,  describes the moss and flowers that overtake these structures like a ornament. Their scents are so sweet that you are enamored by what you imagine them to look like. But the powerful vegetation that appear to level with the Atlantic are still at the mercy of the waves produced by the Wind's force. They "cleave themselves into chasms" at its presence. 

Shelley breaks rhyme scheme again to bring attention back to the subject with the simple yet respectful, "Thou". He uses the "sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear the sapless foliage of the ocean" to reflect how is feeling at his lowest state when not beautifully taking over the world like the flowers or moss. At Shelley's strongest and weakest, he respects, trembles and despoils himself with recognition of the Wind's power and role in nature. Shelley has waited so long to make this request that, he "suddenly grow grey with fear" but he courageously asks for the ear of the Wind, O hear!"


Shelley is now directly addressing the Wind directly as if it were a powerful divine force, a deity worthy of worship. There is no more mention of azure or blue because now we are interacting with the power; we know its forms and force. "If I was a dead leaf thou mightest bear." If Shelley was a leaf, he could still have more power from the benevolent Wind who powerfully guides and generously bestows immortality. Shelley is not interested the illusion of power as a human which can be unpredictably and maliciously swept away. He realizes the limitations of humans and wants pristine freedom. He would love to be lifted up by the by the Wind in a wave or fly with the Wind as a cloud to behold the wonders of nature. He wouldn't be a powerful as the wind and only immortal on borrowed force. But at least more free and protected than as a human since he is under the "impulse of thy strength". Yes the elements work tirelessly and pant but they are not brutalized or enslaved by the Wind. Although the Wind can be dangerous and wild it is not deliberately cruel. 

Yes the leaves, clouds and waves have less power but they are "only less free". The Wind powerfully guides the seasons but it doesn't unduly subdue its subjects but instead invites all of nature to share its majesty. Wind does not target individual elements with death; it objectively guides the process. Shelley acknowledges that the Wind is uncontrollable, but he continues with his request. He refers to an innocent time in boyhood and wishes he could had been a friend of the wind wandering over heaven instead of through the limited experiences of humanity. Nature is Shelley's heaven. 

What the wind has the power to do, Shelley couldn't have even strove for. Now Shelley admits that this is an emotional prayer spotted with apprehensive pain. He is desperate yet full of trepidation. He wants to the Wind to lift him up as a "wave, a leaf, a cloud." He alludes once again to religious protestant allegory of unpredictable death from prosecution. "I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed." 

Time is eloquently described as a "heavy weight of hours" who has the power to chain the human existence. The hours are symbolic of impending death. Humans are chained to the passing years; which becomes the enemy of youth and life. Asking for time to stop and death to never come is too bold and a seemingly impossible request. He hopes to circumvent this "tameless and swift and proud" character and have the Wind be his protection against this character. The Wind is just as powerful as Time and could be the most formidable defense death by granting immortality and lifting his fruits to another season.

Snow Covered Cars. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Courtesy of  emilydickinsonridesabmx

Shelley wants the Wind to artistically use him like instrument; to flow through him creating soothing yet strong melodies just as the forest is a lyre for the Wind to sweep through. Shelley already experiences pain, sickness and death so why not it be for the glory of the Wind as a "tumult for thy mighty harmonies."

The deep autumnal tone signals impending death due the upcoming winter, but it isn't as morbid or unpredictable as the human's cold end. The leaves are pale and falling leaving a sad bare tree. However this scene is also sweet and comforting. It's just another appreciated cycle guided by the powerful Wind who provides protection and certainty of rebirth. He entreats the Wind to let its Spirit work through his spirit.

He doesn't want bleak mortality but like the leaves experience the seasons. He wants the wind to drive "my dead thoughts over the universe" and chartiotest throughout nature. He longs for the Wind to use his thoughts to "quicken a new birth" and provide nourishment to hasten growth for spring. He asks to be immortalized through his words and his poems to fertilize humanity's new insights. 

His requests for his words to scatter like "ashes and sparks" from a hearth that can't be distinguished among mankind. He wants a guarantee of spring after the autumn and especially after the winter. He wants the wind to lift his words through his lips to "unawken'd earth." The Winds' movements are prophetic as it boldly indicates which seasons are next. The Wind is "the trumphet of prophecy" spurring the seasons and cycle. Atleast in the natural world if death and winter is looming surely spring and rebirth isn't too far behind. Shelley hopes that this phenomenon is possible for him to.

Percy Shelley is awed by nature's ability to have immense power without intentional cruelty. Thus he feels comfortable being vulnerable to the Wind even though it is wild. The Wind encompasses all the elements without exploiting them. Humans often interpret power as who can procure the most evil but the Wind does not need evil to be powerful. The Wind has no gender identity because it is supposed to be above human concepts of behavior. He wishes that he could fully experience natures power, which although terrifying at times, is emotionally safe and soothing. Shelley praises the seasons and nature's capacity for rebirth. He wishes that he could intimately be a part of it to defy time.
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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Economic Insecurity: A Hidden Reason Why Applications are Flooding Elite Colleges?

By: Dianne Heath

Widener Library, Harvard; courtesy of Atlantic Saints

Does the Economy Play a Crucial Role in the Record Breaking Applications to Top Colleges?

Despite the drop in college enrollment, New York Times reports that there is a puzzlingly increase in applications to elite colleges that is causing the admissions process to be "more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever." Sources in the article speculate that the rise in applications, which procures the low admissions rate, can be linked to ambitious students sending more applications such as Issac Madrid profiled in the article who spent $800 in applications to apply to 11 colleges. Others speculate that the electronic age ameliorates the application process and encourages more students to apply to elite colleges, other sources point to students applying to colleges beyond traditional regional borders due to " so much information online now, so every school seems local" and some attribute this predicament to "colleges’ increasingly aggressive outreach to prospective students, with mailings, emails and advertising". Critics are dismayed at what appears to be the collective shallow aspirations for prestige and a fancy degree instead of simply appreciating a solid education. 

However is the disproportionate amount of applications to top colleges just vanity or does it reveal deeper implications about economic trends and underlying ideologies that molds society? Perhaps students are unconsciously reacting to broader structural issues. I speculate that economic instability, insecurity and inequality subtly compels ambitious high school students to compete for refuge in top colleges. These elite institutions have a seemingly stable concentration of resources and prestige that can assist students in confronting these complex economic issues. Interacting structural and social issues are generating a overwhelming demand for a prestigious degree, which confers them disproportionate amount of power in relation to colleges that are less esteemed. Consequently these colleges will receive the disproportionate amount of applications.
Union membership rate is at 11.3 percent
Neoliberal hyper individualism has become the underlying ideology that fuels and legitimatizes the post Fordist/ post Keyensian economy and has steeped into our identities, social relations and interaction with institutions. The sentiment that flows from this ideology focuses on internalizing blame for a paltry economic status while absolving more powerful forces of guilt or responsibility. Neoliberalism is permeating globally, even in countries mired in poverty. The editorial, Zigzag capitalism, describes the outlook of development institutions in impoverished regions who increasing "depict social problems as issues of individual responsibility," and encourages "young people to blame themselves for their situation". Ambitious yet disadvantaged youth in the global south are turning to entrepreneurship while some segments of youth in the U.S. are coping by dedicating themselves to the individual pursuit of legitimatizing oneself through elite and prestigious education instead of political action such as through a union. Since unions are no longer a strong advocate and union membership is steadily declining, a degree from a top college becomes your new silent yet powerful advocate for bargaining for individual employee rights. Now job security and high wages isn't dependent on union participation, but your willingness to travel the gilded avenue to build your individual brand for access to these elusive secure positions. While low wages workers are perceived and denigrated as undeserving for union bargaining and living wages, students are attempting to circumvent this obstacle by using prestige as an advocate and indisputable evidence of deservingness.

43 percent of the working age population has full time jobs
Precarious economic conditions have made extensive job training too burdensome of a liability. Petter Cappellli revealed in his book, A Training Gap, not a Skills Gap, that "1979, young workers received an average of two and a half weeks of training per year. By 1991, only 17% of young employees reported getting any training during the previous year, and by last year, only 21% said they received training during the previous five years. Even training departments have been eliminated in response to the Great Recession".  Recently hired employees are expected to expertly divulge in complex and specialized work duties with minimal to no training. Employees are inadvertently demanding more investment from colleges. Eight Ivy League schools have less than 1 percent of U.S. college students but almost 17 percent of all endowment money. The top 3 percent of schools ranked by endowment size have more than half the funds. Just by comparing the endowments alone of top colleges versus less esteemed colleges, the obvious disparity in capacity of colleges to meet this challenge is exposed. The endowments also indicate the relative unequal budgets colleges have for student investment and prestige building. The inequality of donations, endowments even media attention, which helps to influence the allocation of donations, directly correlates to the stratification of resources and tools for professional development to meet the ever changing, unpredictable market demands. Most top colleges were able to weather the Great Recession, thus leaving their students less vulnerable to job market.

The inequality in college wealth and resources also correlates the inequality in social networks. The powerful alumni that are more keen to providing desirable internships to students who need solid experience, disproportionately hold degrees from top universities. Even the executives in secure positions that are in stable industries with high profits and ruthless companies that are too big to fail disproportionately have degrees from top universities

The economy is replacing more middle income jobs with undervalued low skill and low wages jobs. In the most influential cities where highly profitable industries and companies are headquartered as command centers, labor is increasingly organized to produce stratification in employee rights and benefits. As David Harvey explains in The Condition for Postmodernity, "The core - a steadily shrinking group according to accounts emanating from both sides of the Atlantic - is made up of employees with full time, permanent status and is central to the long term future of the organization. Enjoying greater security, good promotion and reskilling prospects and relatively generous pension insurance and other fringe benefits rights" while one group of periphery workers is made up of expendable full time, clerical and middle skill employees and the other group of periphery workers are "part timers, causals, fixed term contract staff, temporaries, sub-contractors and public subsidy trainees, with even less job security than the first periphery group." As the availability of full time jobs in the core contracts, there is an unconscious understanding that the stakes are high and education can either place you in the secure core or the degraded periphery.

53 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed
High unemployment and underemployment rate has intensified the necessity for students to have their resumes standout among the hordes of desperate competition. In the most extreme and publicized cases there were 23,000 applications sent to get one of 600 jobs at Walmart in Washington, D.C. while in Maryland an ice cream packer company received 400 applications for 16 jobs. Markers of academic prestige on a resume is just on powerful tool for students hoping to transcend the label as just another ordinary applicant. Top universities often perceived as being elite incubators of innovation and research, so students want to be connected to this perception.

Many fear being a part of the marginalized masses that have been permanently cut off from the core and in gloomier cases even the periphery and not even given the chance to compete in the restructuring, contracting, deindustrialized economy. Harvey explains, "the new labour market conditions have for the most part re-emphasized the vulnerability of disadvantaged groups." High loan amounts has added the pressure to secure a well paying job and have emphasized the importance of education and skill acquirement.

Many students are choosing different methods for coping with contemporary struggles. Some are focused on majoring in the hard sciences and math, while others are focusing on filling their resumes with meaningful leadership activities and others are building their social networks. However getting a degree from a top college is another method to have privileged access to the job market.

Harvey, David (1991). The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Capital, pp 150, 152.
Sassen, Saskia. The Global City: Strategic Site/New Frontier.
Editorial (2013). Zigzag capitalism: Youth entrepreneurship in the contemporary global South. Elsevier.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Britain is Cutting Aid to India by 2015

By: Dianne Heath
Individual Poverty vs. Overall Economy 
The political institutions within Britain are ignoring large pockets of individual poverty and using rudimentary measurements, such as the World Bank’s decision in 2007 to move India from a low income to a lower middle income country, as the basis for discontinuing aid by 2015. Although 400 million people in India live on less than $1.25 a day, 1.6 million children died due to poverty and "malnutrition figures are among the worst in the world", India's GNI, 4.749 trillion, almost dwarfs Britain's GNI at 2.331 trillion. In fact, the UK's aid only contributes 0.03% to India's national income which makes a strong argument that India is growing more competitive with "developed" nations.

According to reports, India's economy “continues to grow at a faster rate than other large economies." Therefore, Britain has decided that the extreme poverty in India is due to internal inequality as opposed to global inequality. The assumption is that as India continues to develop social & political institutions dedicated to alleviating poverty and allocate more of their newly acquired economic growth to social programs then the vast disparities will decrease. Britain cited India's capacity to lift "60 million people out of poverty just by doubling the amount of money they spent on education and health care since 2006." Britain has decided that the individual poverty within India is not due to economic underdevelopment and that overall measurements of India’s economy are sufficient to measure the necessity for aid.

Capacity for Partnership & the Threat of Competition 
The definition of development seem to evolve according the agendas of those who have the power categorize countries and implement social policy in based on these definitions/categories. As Britain suffers through a recession, many politicians are appeasing the electorate by proclaiming that its rising rival is no longer in need of aid. Instead of using indicators such as life expectancy, education, per capita income or purchasing power as determinants to discontinue aid, Britain and other developed nations are focused on the change of power relations. The U.S. Agency for International Development noted that India's growing power "creates an opportunity to evolve the traditional donor recipient model of development into a true partnership."

Britain doesn't want to fund a potential competitor but they want to maintain their interests in India. Since India's economic institutions appear to mirror Britain's economy, they can engage with each other in a “bilateral relationship” (equal partners & cooperation) as opposed to vertically (exploitation). Britain mentioned being partners in skill sharing (comparable education & industry), trade (integration into the global economy) and investments (India has the economic institutions in place for returns to be made). Skills, trade and investments are traditional components of a complex, monetized & developed economy. Since Britain has acknowledged these elements within India's economy, then India is perceived as developed and no longer in need of aid. Britain's reaction to India choosing a French company to supply fighter planes and Britain's protectionist practices against India's exports reveals India's position as a competitor and growing global power.
Indian Space Research Organisation, via European Pressphoto Agency

In the Image of your Colonizer
The most compelling argument is how India's growing likeness to developed nations is influencing the discourse on aid. As India moves away from being perceived as "other" and more in the image of their colonizer then the more they will be perceived as developed. For example, India's space program was a major indicator to Conservative MPs that they were no longer in need of aid. Space programs are milestones generally reserved for countries defined as First/Second World. Gradually India will be displayed less as an "exotic, mysterious, static" colonial territory that contrasts to the "technological development of the industrial revolution" but a modern country that participates in technological development . As the narrative of India as a less developed nations ends the narrative that they "can't do for themselves" will be forced to end also.

India is also reflecting their former colonizer's behavior by distributing billions in aid and credit to impoverished nations such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh. India isn't representing themselves as passive therefore challenging Britain's notions of India as an underdeveloped nation in need of aid. India’s move to what is defined as modernity is influencing other Britain’s perceptions of their development..

Ghosh, Jayati. "India Will Shed Few Tears over the End of UK Aid." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 9 Nov. 2013. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.

GNI, PPP (current International $)." Data. The World Bank Group, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2013.

Majumder, Sanjoy. "UK to End Financial Aid to India by 2015." BBC News. BBC, 9 Nov. 2012. Web. 9 Sept. 2013.

Mandhana, Niharika. "A Global Shift in Foreign Aid, Starting in India." India Ink. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2012. Web. Retrieved 9 Sept. 2013.

Sheppard, Porter, Faust and Nagar (2009) Chapter 2 ‘Measuring, Describing and Mapping Difference and Development’, in A World of Difference: Encountering and Contesting Development. The Guilford Press, New York

Williams, Meth and Willis (2009) Chapter 2 ‘Representing the South’. In Geographies of Developing Areas. Routledge, London: 27-52.
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