Jo-Anne McArthur And Walt Whitman

Jo-Anne McArthur And Walt Whitman

"Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul."
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On January 21, the Canisius College philosophy department screened Liz Marshall's documentary, "The Ghosts in Our Machine," and the next evening, JoAnne McArthur gave a presentation and answered a few questions. Using her photography skills as a means of activism, McArthur photographs animals confined in industries such as meat, fur, and laboratory testing. Her documentary shows her speaking with magazine editors, trying to show people the realities of many products they support through purchases.

Jo-Ann McArthur’s activism focuses on viewing all animals as individuals and making personal connections. In many of her photographs, McArthur emphasizes an individual animal, who is usually gazing into the camera. Looking into the cow’s eyes on the cover of the film, every viewer can understand that all animals are sentient beings capable of distress, just like humans.

As an English major, I couldn’t help but think about Walt Whitman’s poetry while listening to her presentation. Whitman was a war nurse during the Civil War, and he wanted his poetry to unite and heal the country. A Romantic poet, his poetry implies that all humans can form connections, no matter how seemingly unrelated; through a transcendental moment, usually a physical touch, this connection becomes spiritual. When we all feel connected and we feel like we're a part of this collective identity, we have stronger empathy and are less likely to be complicit about the suffering of others.

McArthur takes this one step further, including both human and nonhuman animals in this way of thinking. "The Ghosts in Our Machine" highlights several individuals, so the viewer can make personal connections. For me, this tactic was very effective, especially when the documentary followed an adopted beagle who was rescued from a testing site, and whose face looked almost exactly like my beagle at home.

She wants everyone to know that all animals have personalities and quirks, just like humans. As Whitman writes, we are all “disintegrated, yet part of the scheme," all living beings share this earth and we are all equally entitled to a dignified life. She talked about many individuals she has encountered, including a pig who recently gave birth and a rescued ape with a foot fetish.

One of her many photographs depicts a woman and an ape touching hands through bars (the human is in the cage). It reminds me of the poem "Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night," where Whitman forms a connection with a fallen soldier, and later gives him a burial to the best of his abilities. He uses physical touch to make the connection, and while this touch makes Whitman empathize with a single unknown soldier on a battleground that holds thousands of bodies, McArthur’s photograph illustrates the connection between the two individuals and shows the ape’s ability to forgive and love humans, despite everything they have done. It captures a grandiosely intimate moment, and as Whitman writes, “I merely stir, press, feel with my fingers, and am happy, / To touch my person to some one else’s is about as much as I can stand.”

For Whitman, the Civil War was a time of destruction, bloodshed, and unnecessary death; thousands of animals face similarly gruesome deaths every day. This isn't the vicious wilderness where animals live in their natural habitats up until the moment a lion kills them in minutes; instead, the true suffering occurs in the small cages minks are forced to live in their entire lives, and in the inadequate conditions and painful procedures animals face before their deaths, such as filthy living spaces, physical mutilation, and electrocution. Only when we finally understand that all human and nonhuman animals are a part of Whitman’s collective community, and we understand that all lives are just as valid as our own, can true change occur and unnecessary suffering can end.

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10 Things I Threw Out AFTER Freshman Year Of College

Guess half the stuff on your packing list doesn't really matter
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I spent the entire summer before my freshman year of college so WORRIED.

I also spent most of my money that summer on miscellaneous dorm stuff. I packed the car when the time finally came to move in, and spent the drive up excited and confused about what the heck was actually going on.

Freshman year came and went, and as I get ready to go back to school in just a few short weeks (!!), I'm starting to realize there's just a whole bunch of crap I just don't need.

After freshman year, I threw out:

1. Half my wardrobe.

I don't really know what I was thinking of owning 13 sweaters and 25 T-shirts in the first place. I wear the same five T-shirts until I magically find a new one that I probably got for free, and I put on jeans maybe four times. One pair is enough.

2. Half my makeup.

Following in the theme of #1, if I put on makeup, it's the same eyeliner-mascara combination as always. Sometimes I spice it up and add lipstick or eyeshadow.

3. My vacuum.

https://secure.img1-ag.wfcdn.com/im/d5ea3c03/resize-h2000-p1-w2000%5Ecompr-r85/3021/30217778/Express+6+Volt+Cordless+Bagless+Handheld+Vacuum.jpg

One, I basically never did it. Two, if I REALLY needed to vacuum, dorms rent out cleaning supplies.

4. Most of my photos from high school.

I didn't throw them ALL away, but most of them won't be making a return to college. Things change, people change, your friends change. And that's okay.

5. Excess school supplies.

Binders are heavy and I am lazy. I surprisingly didn't lose that many pens, so I don't need the fifty pack anymore. I could probably do without the crayons.

6. Cups/Plates/Bowls/Silverware.

Again, I am lazy. I cannot be bothered to wash dishes that often. I'll stick to water bottles and maybe one coffee cup. Paper plates/bowls can always be bought, and plastic silverware can always be stolen from different places on campus.

7. Books.

I love to read, but I really don't understand why I thought I'd have the time to actually do it. I think I read one book all year, and that's just a maybe.

8. A sewing kit.

I don't even know how to sew.

9. Excessive decorations.

It's nice to make your space feel a little more cozy, but not every inch of the wall needs to be covered.

10. Throw pillows.

At night, these cute little pillows just got tossed to the floor, and they'd sit there for days if I didn't make my bed.

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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We're All Thinking It, I'm Saying It: Too Many People Are Running For President

I'm all for options, but man, do we really need 24? I mean, I can barely pick a flavor of ice cream at Baskin Robbins let alone a potential President.

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There are, currently, 23 Democrats running for President. On the Republican side, there's, of course, Trump, but only one other candidate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. Democrats have a whole range of people running, from senators to congressmen, a former vice-president, and even a spiritual advisor. We can now say that there are DOZENS of people running for President in 2020.

Joe Biden has been leading the pack for quite some time now. He was even leading polls before he announced his campaign. Although he is the frontrunner, there really is no big favorite to win the nomination. Biden has been hovering around the mid-30s in most polls, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. Other minor candidates in the hunt are Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris.

After the surprising defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, Democrats have become electrified and have a mission to take back the White House after winning back the House of Representatives in 2018. There are so many people running in 2020, it seems that it will be hard to focus on who is saying what and why someone believes in something, but in the end, there can only be one candidate. This is the most diverse group of candidates ever, several women are running, people of color, the first out gay candidate, and several more.

There could be a problem when it comes to debate time. I mean, the first debate is next month. Having around 20-plus people on stage at the same time, debating each other kinda sounds like a nightmare. How can someone get their point across in the right amount of time when someone else is going to cut them off? Debates are usually around an hour and a half. So, if you divide it up, each candidate would get just under five minutes to speak. That would be in a perfect world of course.

Democrats seriously believe that they can beat Trump in 2020. They say they have learned from the mistakes of 2016, and have the guts and the momentum to storm back into the White House. By July of next year, there will be only one candidate left. Will they be able to reconcile the divide during the primaries? We will see. It will surely be a fun election cycle, so make sure to have your popcorn ready and your ballot at hand to pick your favorite candidate, no matter what party you lean towards.

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