Journey into Mohawk Country by George O’Connor is the tale of Harmen Meyndertsz Van den Bogaert and his journey with two of his mates from the bottom of Manhatas Island to Mohawk Country in seek of new friendships to strengthen the Dutch trade.
Coming from different cultures leads to clashes between the Native Americans and the Dutch explorers, but since the two sides were able to tolerate one another and even become friends in the end, the only underlying tension was prejudice coming from either side in the course of their travels.
A specific example of prejudice coming from the Dutch side is when Bogaert mentions the keepsake that most people keep as a sign of their faith and he seemed to have been a little put off by the fact that the keepsake in that tribe was a “marten’s head,” while Bogaert’s own keepsake is a cross he wears around his neck. So the difference between the two icons made Bogaert kind of step back from his reality and realize how far on each side of the spectrum the two cultures are.
An example of prejudice from the Native American side is every instance when Bogaert and his friends arrived at a new tribe. The masses of people that wanted to get a look at the light skinned foreign men that had just arrived never ceased to astonish Bogaert. He would constantly explain how they would “throw each other into the fire,” to take a peek at the Dutch explorers. It’s understandable that they never encounter light skinned people but to the Dutch men it could be taken offensively the more it occurs to them.
Overall, the book was a fun adventure from the point of view of the main Dutch explorer. I liked the fact that what was left untold by words was told by pictures and it broadened the actual content of the graphic novel and it’s plot. There were many cases of prejudice or bias but all those instances are completely understandable since the two types of cultures never really come together and they’re all from different places on earth. The same type of instances still happen all over the world and it’s due to the little amount of bridges between cultures even to this day.
Shaun Tan’s beautiful graphic novel about the story of an immigrant and his journeys through his brand new world and life hit pretty close to home for most Americans. Being a country formed by immigrants makes this book all the more relatable when thinking of one’s own journey, or their parent’s, or their grandparent’s.
The audience experiences the journey of a man leaving his family behind in their home country to come to a better one before sending after them. He escapes the “creature” in his home and makes it to the dream world safely. After exploring and getting aided by other immigrants, the man manages to send after his wife and daughter. Before doing so, we see the man journey on a ship to the dream world, arriving and looking for a room, finding a very small one and making it as homey as possible with a photograph of his family, finding a pet that he goes almost everywhere with, looking for jobs, visiting the market and making friends, and finally the arrival of his family.
The Arrival captures the true immigrant experience in many ways. From the long journey to a new land, to leaving a family behind in hopes of a better future for them all. I found myself thinking of my parents arriving in this strange new land seeking better opportunities for themselves and the future family they were to have. The “creature” aspect of the comic was great and it made me think of communist leaders or any type of rebel group or terrorist groups in other countries and how they are part of someones decision to escape their reality and come to the “dream world” that Tan re-imagined in his book. Immigrants helping one another out was another really great and true point that the author drew about and it made me think of one of my favorite movies, Paraiso Travel (2008), in which the main character gets lost and a woman begins to help him; the woman’s husband begins to scold her for helping out a “miscreant” and she says if they don’t help each other who will?
Being out of place was also a huge part of the book and it made me think back to my Sports Management class. I love the class and all but the majority of the time it’s just the teacher talking about football or baseball and all the guys in the class getting riled up over something that I know absolutely nothing about. It makes me feel a bit inadequate about my knowledge in my own major, but then I think about how the majority of them would be absolutely lost in a class that just spoke about soccer (which would be my ideal class) and I just try to go along with it all.
The Arrival was overall very insightful in what it would be like to be an immigrant and putting in work to bring your family over, and it gave me an image of what my family members did when they arrived to this country. It was truly a beautiful story told through amazing illustrations and it had no need for words to accompany the drawings.
Light vs. Dark, Day vs. Night, God vs. Satan, all very intriguing conversations to never mention on a first date (the same goes for politics and your stance on zodiac signs). But it’s definitely okay to it mention here on this blog, yes sir. Superman vs. Batman.
In an excerpt from Grant Morrison’s Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero, Morrison discusses the origins of both of these famous superheroes and how they are similar and how they contrast. Superman was first introduced as the unstoppable force that was yet to be declared a hero or villain, we go on to meet his alter ego, Clark Kent, a seemingly insecure and weak journalist who pines after Lois Lane, his coworker, who thinks even less of him. His origin story of being a hero for the people, coming from a different planet, being nonhuman and superior, and fighting less menacing criminals compared to Batman, all come into play when the idea of him being a sort of Messiah and figure of light is contrasted against the brooding Batman.
Batman fights at night, is a sort of vigilante, fights darker villains, is a human and has a more powerful playboy type alter ego who comes from old money, Bruce Wayne. He couldn’t be more different from Superman and that’s why they’re pitted against each other. The God vs. the Devil or even, God vs. Man.
Morrison’s comparisons were at their peaks when bringing into play the idea of the two heroes shadowing as God and Lucifer, but along with the contrasts came the author’s similarities. Similarities such as the idea of superheros not being two dimensional and having alter egos, the mystery that came along with their presentation to the world, the need to have such heroes in order to escape our reality, and their fight for justice that eventually brings the two together when the Justice League is formed.
In Morrison’s excerpt, a lot was said about both heroes and interesting facts and concepts were formulated when exploring two of the biggest comic book figures to ever exist, but the most interesting focus was that of the two heroes being on completely different ends of the spectrum and how this correlates to our ideas of God and Satan.
This past Saturday my Discover New York classmates and I made our way to the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem. I unsuccessfully took the 7 train which was then stopped at Queensboro Plaza, forcing me to take the N to then later transfer to an Uptown Bound 6 train to make it to my lovely destination. I arrived around 20 minutes early and waited patiently for the rest of my class and Professor, and when they finally did arrive (along with our lovely tour guide whose name was Erin I believe) we made our way to the third floor.
We took a look at some photographs, courtesy of Mel Rosenthal, before heading over to the Roz Chast exhibit which we were there to explore. The exhibit was fun to walk through, it was all very colorful, lively, and humorous. Bits of Chast’s memoir and another one of her graphic novels stood out to me the most.
Specifically, in her memoir, Chast wrote about her experience when her mother was on her deathbed and how she felt years after both her parents died. There was one page where she was visiting her mother and she explained that she lamented not having been better friends with her. Chast’s mother didn’t seem moved and it was typical of her to do so, but Chast explained she expected her mother to have agreed with her. That page showed me one time that another person’s heart had been broken which you don’t typically encounter in a comic form in a museum.
When our tour was over, I made my way to the second floor and took a look at an exhibit of the beginning of the city of New York. There was one painting I almost walked past that I’m glad I didn’t. I inched closer to this one painting and looked at it absentmindedly before taking a closer look. It was an early draft of the Forest Hills Gardens in Forest Hills, Queens. This particular painting struck me because I had spent the last four years or so constantly visiting and walking through the Gardens. Having gone to Forest Hills High School, the Gardens, Austin Street, and Rego Park become your backyard after your school day is over and it was the first time I had thought about the Gardens in a long time. It was cool to see what the Gardens were intended to look like and then imagine how they actually turned out and what they look like now.
The museum was a fun experience, and there was a great exhibit on movements in the city’s past and present as well. The painting of the Gardens caused me much nostalgia and Chast’s artwork, especially that of her memoir, struck me just as much. I’d gladly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone interested in the history of the greatest city in the world.