Edgar R. Jaramillo, THE OPERA MAN

FROM

Prof. Keefer's 100 Years of Jokes and Mistakes

Come here for Edgar's research paper OH SING CAN'T YOU SEE on music therapy

 

Yo! Word up! How’s it hangin’, homie? Are you illin or just chillin’?

I have the 411 on a new way we can all hang. It’s by layin’ the rap on heavy with one another. Except, dude, you have to do it together. Can you dig? Don’t be frontin’ me. You know that you’d rather be bustin’ the move with your partner than doin’ it James Dean Style. I was doing my minimum wage, as a top op in the hood, when I was approached by a nurse who heard me singing, Pavarotti Style. She said

The patients on her floor would love to hear that kind of music upstairs. So I thought, buy a tape sister, but I wasn’t raised that way, so I said "no problem". I went upstairs and soon thought I flew into the cuckoo’s nest. I mean sickos galore. I went into the rec. room and there were some patients sitting down waiting for me. I thought, psst, what the hell, let’s get it on! I sang "Ave Maria" you couldn’t hear "Ave Maria" alright. I heard it when I was a kid, so What? Then something happened. Their faces changed. I thought, I must be buggin’ out. It was like, they were somewhere else, but happy. Their lost frozen stares turned warm and full of emotion. Some smiled, some cried, some sang. Yet all seemed relaxed. I was relaxed. I felt connected. Connected to them. When I finished, there was a brief moment of silence that was followed by applause.

They all congratulated me, one at a time, together. Were they being kind and polite, or did they feel good about themselves and each other? I wasn’t that good, but what I did, seem to be very good. For the time I was there, the nurse told me that they have been very mean to one another, but often heard me singing in the stairwells as I did my ground patrols in the hospital. "They" wanted me to sing for them. Whenever I would visit again I saw new faces and old. No matter what problem there was, and there always will be, they would say to one another, "he’s the opera singer, he sings so beautiful". Others disagreed or didn’t care. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that there was something else special for them aside from the daily regime of medication. Try meals, recreation, isolation and group therapy. So you see my brother, I mean, young man, for our people to be in harmony, we must find that song which everyone can sing. You may never get there but we gotta learn more songs. More raps that other people know so we could yell in a groove.

You know the Olympic logo? Rings. Rings baby. Together we could form a chain.


THE FRONTIER

I have traveled much in my lifetime. Yet, I have gone nowhere. When I was younger, I traveled from state to state on a tournament circuit. I have seen a lot but have been nowhere. I believe that my feelings on the subject of the frontier lie predominantly with my intellect. I see where I am, I know where I am. My best experiences have been most closely tied with my dreams and imagination. There is my frontier. My imagination broadens my personal frontier or undiscovered country.

The present and its surroundings offer a limitless amount of variety. Not only can it be different, at different times (depending on mood, experience, or nature) but it can also be different due to a variety of perspectives. The physical realm allows deeply nurtured senses to be satisfied. Although, what many argue to be two very separate realms, are in fact very closely connected. If our brains were meant for just intellect, why would we then recognize pleasure and pain? Why is it that we feel intellectual pride, ego, or satisfaction? Is that why it is said that if you have a healthy mind, a healthy body usually follows?

The frontier of the physical world is the personal endeavor of an individual or group such as a civilization or entire human race to explore what they have or have not seen before. The intellectual world by comparison offers an infinite scope which we can barely "see through by means of scientific, philosophical and imaginative approach. Reason seems to give us explanations to our concept of life. It provides a lattice of structure in which we can build from. Although, if it werenıt for all the revolutionaries that used their imagination to fill this lattice with substance (Einstein, Newton, Renoir, Mozart) we would continue to build on sticks or have a transparent picture of life. The frontier into the future mostly depends on how we can higher our awareness of both realms with a spiritual sense in order that we may get a glimpse of the real "big picture".


I submitted a writing sample to Prof. Keefer after a fretful night of studying for a history mid-term. I produced a short story from the research I had in preparation for the exam. As I labored to correlate all the different dates and events that led to the first World War in Europe, I began to imagine myself in those times. This was an attempt to create a definite lattice in which I could draw from many details necessary for historical thinking. Weekly writing samples due for Prof. Keefer may have subconsciously influenced the rest. I began to write a narrative set in time frame I needed to study. The finished product enhanced my retention of the material. The positive results of a review session prior to the exam and 37.32 out of 40(approx.93%) as a midterm grade confirmed my feelings that the paper I wrote put it all together for me. I submit my notes of study that eventually led to the creative rally I began to explore in Prof. Keeferıs class.

The above scribbles are my "right brain" notes for the creative story, a marked departure from the neat linearity of my study notes. Here is the story:

A Legacy of Bitterness July 15, 1899

I write down on this leaf the many passages of my life in the hope that I may make sense of where I am going or where my life will lead me. I have already come across a book by Drumont called "Jewish France" (1886). Its content only brings me shame to be part of the same species as this man. The current Dreyfus case sets a despicable precedent for generations to come. I pray that the future provides us with a different warmth than the one produced by so much anger and bloodshed that continues to occur here in France. Please believe me when I say that my blood still burns from the loss of my brother during the "Bloody Week" of the Paris Commune twenty-eight years ago. I can never forget that day which changed the course of my life.

I was born in 1838 in Paris, France. My mother was a factory worker that produced cloth. My father was a machine specialist capable of repairing faulty equipment. The world in France was recovering from the Napoleonic fall and had a monarchy restored with Louis Philippe. I was ten years old when the democratic revolution took place. Nevertheless, my parents worked endlessly and managed to keep comfortable surroundings for both my brother and me on a third floor habitat (McKay 793). Mother mentioned that fatherıs job as a skilled worker (McKay 801) provided enough and that a man named Haussmann would soon change the way Paris looks.As I remember it, there were people literally sleeping on one another in the dark alley slums. The loss of my father shortly thereafter did not exactly put us out with the masses. Father was a union organizer. As mother explained, Louis Napoleon illegally dismissed the assembly in 1851 and seized funds for personal debt with the "coup". My parentsı employer has invested a lot of interest in politics and called upon our father for help in resistance to this act. When the factory owner came and knocked on our door to meet father that was the last time I saw either of them. Mother told me quietly "Dear, you see that man? Do not accept anything from him!" I never figured out how my mother was able to keep us together in that building on her wages alone. Perhaps it was that the factory owner cheated death and felt responsible for the loss of her husband. Some people rumored that it was because of the frequent visits he made to the card room (Perry, pg. 129) where mother worked. But that is another story.

From childhood well into my late teens, I spent a considerable amount of time in folly. I learned to play chess, the pianoforte and picked up Latin from the local church outside of Paris. Mother would never let me work in a factory as a child. On the other hand, my brother, only two years my junior, had become familiar with the skills needed to operate semi-skilled machines by the time he was ten years old. It was possible for mother to have me in the hands of priests everyday since primary and secondary education was being put back in the hands of the Catholic Church by the eventual hereditary emperor Louis Napoleon. My brother and mother would then walk back together to the factory site. Together they made enough for our survival, although I feared my brother became older than his years. At least in spirit he seemed so. He had begun to pick up the torch of our fatherıs trials when I left at the age of twenty for the university. It was in 1858 when I realized that the world was bigger than the communal slums of Parisian life. It was obvious to a privileged few that priests were the most secretive sources and couriers of information relevant to our time. That is how I learned of the many months of correspondence between Italy and France. France had sent troops to the pope in Rome, which led to the secret pact made in 1859 between a man named Cavour and Louis Napoleon to bring Austria into the war. It was just as well that I had left for the university before I began on my own crusade like Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War of 1853-1856, worse, being exploited by the priests in any way, shape or form. My motherıs only wish for me, as we said good-bye, was that I learn to give as I had learned to receive.

At the university, I came across many types of people that harbored great political thoughts. I encountered legitimists, republicans, clericals, socialists and the notorious Bonapartists. I learned that there was a struggle of classes and that Louis Napoleon became more authoritative due to his outreach to the masses. He established several banks, many which provided loans for property and industrial enterprise. Especially favorable to the masses were the department or super stores and the grocery store chains. For all that was occurring in France, my passion always took me to the heart of music and Italy. I had learned from the priests before of the great Mazzini and soldier of fortune, Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was already a legend. News traveled from England in 1864 that he received the most triumphant welcome ever offered to a foreigner...an unprecedented half million people cheered his carriage. Then there was the music of another Giuseppe, Giuseppe Verdi. Viva Verdi! Viva Victor Emmanuelle, Re d ŒItalia! Why didnıt France have the undying love for unity that Italy had for the unification of itsı country? Quickly, I thought why. In France we have a higher standard of living because of industry which creates division of classes. Northern industrial Italy is separated from the agrarian South. Nevertheless, declining peasant industries in turn create poverty and banditry. What more could they lose?

It was in 1871 that my whole life changed. Mother took ill due to years of poor working conditions. She died during the starvation of Paris, in January, at the end of the Franco- Prussian War. My brother became very prominent in society with his skill in machinery and leadership. His organization of unions, safety, housing and mutual enterprises brought him particular favor in many circles, though by March, with the death of our mother, he turned mad. Vive le France! was his method of dealing with his grief for loss of country and blood in Bonaparte style. He and the Paris Commune decided to take Paris themselves from control of the conservative French countryside. President Thiers and the National Assembly quickly crushed the revolution. My brother, mortally wounded, then confessed to me the unthinkable. He was sorry for not telling me sooner but mother made him swear not to tell me. Mother had been raped as a young woman in the factory. Father knew about it and wanted to settle her affairs and reputation honorably. He did love her, so they married. "It turns out, brother, that we are closer in blood than I let on. This happened again months after you were born. Those terrible working conditions could not protect her. She did not tell father for fear of scandalizing their union. I may not be his son, but I am definitely your brother. Please do something for me. Donıt allow what happened to mother to happen to anyone else. In my rage, I let go of what is important. A big strike to settle the affairs of work must occur. It must take place. The people need this, they need leadership. Donıt do it for me. Donıt do it for mother. Do it for the people of France." It was then that I decided to give back. I followed through with his plans for a great strike and the blow fell hard. My brother was a genius. He thought as Sorel did. The world did in fact stand still, even if for a moment. Many owners either conceded to demands or were ruined financially. Most compromised with the exception of one owner that gave the strike the greatest resistance. It was the owner of the factory in which mother had worked. I did not falter. I held until one of us would drop. The owner then committed suicide. This person invested so much of his accumulated interest over the years into the government that the German victory of 1871 (indemnity) meant his lifelong defeat. After his death, I received a letter sent by him. It read:

My Son,

I hired your mother long ago when she was barely a woman. There was a priest on the outskirts of Paris that took care of orphaned children with the pay he received from the State. As a novice entrepreneur, I promised the priest I would take some and provide work for them. He could not keep so many miserable and hungry children, so he agreed. Your mother was special. Her piety was more than my debauched loins could bear. I forced myself on her. In exchange for her silence I bestowed her a dowry which she used to send you away study. She never brought you to the factory because she was ashamed of how you were brought into this world. When she gave birth to you, she told me you had not survived. I believed her. The evil in me was greater than the good in her that I forced myself many more times despite her place in marriage. It was until the night I took your "father" away when I saw you and realized she had lied. Since then I have tried to appease my guilt-ridden soul by making provisions for her in some shape or form. When her husband died, I made arrangements with her landlord to subsidize the rent without knowledge. Now I take my sins with me to the grave of eternal fire. I pray for your forgiveness, that the lord hear my supplications, and help me to reach my destination in Godpseed.

Unsigned.

Perhaps these last words of repentance were the peak of his humanity. Since those days, I retreated to the church that took me in as a child and became a priest. There I had the opportunity to give back much that I had received. I taught music and secondary education. Now my future is not so clear. There are rumors that the clergy will no longer be paid by the State. A man named Jules Ferry has led the republicans of many small towns and villages to opt for tax-supported public education for girls and boys. God only knows what my plight will be. It is my mission to help others in need of direction or faith. "Learn to give as we have easily learned to receive." Mother continues to inspire me. Thank you mother. If France and the rest of the world could only take heed. God bless us all. Amen.


IDEA OR IMAGE?

Ideas are born every day. Often to support ideas, we need people who share the same vision. This vision or image could enhance or distort our reality. Hence our future. This concept could indeed be dangerous. Hitler used an image that couldnıt be any further from the truth. Erroneous as he was, it did not matter. He used a vision to suggest his ideas and what he wanted us to believe. A power such as this can be much to handle or ignore.

How does one become a "fury" (Ahem! Fuhrer)? Could it be the lack of pride in along history of secondary status in world politics during the eighteenth, and some of the nineteenth century? A Prussian "noble" attitude and that had allowed a Napoleonic Era to exist? An equilibrium in forces due to itsı many surrounding powers (Austria, France, Russia, England, Turkey) could have stalemated any aspiration for dominance? Or could it be that a modern "bourgoise" in Germany (comprised significantly by Jews) began to outpace the growth of industrialization and claim a majority in many aspects? Adding the freedom of Religion in a predominantly Protestant country begets concerns in a German hierarchy that wants an excuse in which to quell the spread of an anti-Christian class.

Reflections of German history, religion, social and economic issues can all contribute to the workings of a mind rationalizing cause for itsı errors or weaknesses. Choosing to single out the Jews as a threat to society and progression was a successful attempt to "racialism." A man with such ideas can reach thousands and eventually millions. Such philosophies lend great support to current regimes that want to reestablish their foothold on all internal issues. It was proported that Jews were responsible for the dismay and disruption of the "Germanic" way of life. Charismatic as Hitler was with his message of the lower races, his voice was as effectively heard as the brute force felt from it. Militia involvement sets in fear like a chain reaction. Consequently, both aggressor and fear grew.

The theory of a supreme race was an encouragement to aggressively pursue the cause of a "high German standard." The Olympic Games in Munich was indeed a test of the so-called "super race." Although Jesse Owensı performance provided negative results for this theory to the world, the preservation of the Aryan race (white, blond, blue-eyed and tall) continued with a passion. This image was necessary for Hitler in order to follow through with his plan; world domination.

The concepts of idea and image coexist. They are the basic molecule of human advancement not necessarily progress. Hitler needed the masses more than they needed him. For example, Moses (Hitler) needed to bring the people (Jews) out of Egypt (Germany) to the promise land (death). Moses was told by God to do this. Godıs "idea" was further developed with the help of Mosesı brother, Aaron. The people did not respond to an "idea" but rather were enticed by the "image" of promise Aaron provided. Hence, Hitlerıs annihilation of Jews (idea) was only facilitated by the German effort to preserve its motion of hereditary prowess (image). One could not work without the other.

Adolph Hitlerıs bathroom mirror was set too high he could not see his own reflection before putting on his uniform and boots. Whenever he woke. His ideas of an Aryan future marched in his brain, rank and file, like tank soldiers. I conclude that the "extermination" of a race from the planet fresh on his mind before his first cup of coffee could have been avoided if someone would have just given him a stepladder for Christmas.

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