Category: Journal Art

“I Will Work Harder”

Tonight’s journal entry is about my favorite character in George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm. Boxer is a noble, loyal, hardworking horse at the Animal Farm. He was respected not just for his great strength but for his willingness to take on more than his fair share of the work. The farm was built on the  back of his labors. He was the driving force behind all constructions in it, and for the positive attitude of the long-suffering beasts that work alongside him. No matter how frivolous or ill-conceived the job may be, he worked to make the visions of Napoleon the pig a reality through his sheer strength and size. He, like most of the animals in the farm, subscribed to Napoleon’s cult of personality. He never questioned him and his posse of pigs and dogs, he took his word as truth even if he had doubts. “Napoleon is always right”, he says.

Whenever the farm gets damaged by war, or there’s a food shortage (and there always is), or whenever it becomes apparent that the quality of life is not improving for the animal workers at the farm, his only answer is “I will work harder”. He woke up earlier, worked longer and harder, hoping that the lives of his fellow animals will improve and the promised utopian farm will become a reality. Every time there is a great need, his response was always the same “I will work harder. Napoleon is always right.”

He only realized that he was nothing more than a means of production to Napoleon when he was dying and instead of being sent to the doctor, he was sent to the butcher for profit.

Boxer was strong, noble, loyal. He didn’t complain, he was always willing to take on more work to the detriment of his own well-being. He subscribed to the cult of personality because he thought it would make him a better citizen of the farm. He didn’t understand that even if he worked himself to death it would not make a significant improvement on the situation of his fellow workers. He was not inching towards a utopian Animal Farm. For as long as the leaders are greedy and self-serving, and the system is designed to benefit only the few, and the few are indifferent to the suffering of the many, then the animals will continue to be oppressed and expected to be grateful for it.

Oftentimes the system is so broken that no matter how hard you work, it doesn’t open doors or make opportunities available. People who are born with the privilege of not having to fight for survival each day can find it easy to tell struggling people to just “shut up and work”. They can never understand the struggle of being born into abject poverty in an oppressive society unless they really work on understanding it.

These days, with the current situation of the nation’s economy, I come across so many people on social media clamoring for the poor to just shut up and work. A lot of people still subscribe to the over-simplification that people are poor because they are lazy and they complain too much. Not all poor people are lazy. In fact, an overwhelming majority do backbreaking labor for a pittance. The success of a lot of people, the smooth operation of businesses and households rely on the willingness of these people to do the work nobody else wants to do and be paid a pittance for it.

To berate them for speaking out and voicing their discontent with how the system works is just incredibly cruel. To make light of their daily struggle is insensitive and narrow-minded. It’s like the well-fed, comfortable pigs in the farmhouse telling Boxer and the other animals to just shut up and work while they sit back and do the “difficult” job of overseeing everything.

Comrade Napoleon

Today’s journal entry is about my thoughts on the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. How a story filled with barnyard animals can be so terrifying and poignant is very fascinating. The character of Napoleon the Berkshire boar is particularly interesting for me. I’ll probably write a longer journal entry about the book and the many themes that it touches on. George Orwell’s story and the way that he wrote it is haunting. Especially these days. I read some of his works before but they never resonated with me as much as they do now.

The world will always need to contend with Comrade Napoleons, I suppose.

Eskimo Mouse Trading

 

Farmer Mouse is a hard worker. ^_^

In Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska, I read about two Eskimos that he met at Deering–Millie and Gladys Iyatunguk, who practice what they call “Mouse Trading”.

Every early September, they look through the fields where little field mice have been gathering mussu root and storing them in little underground food caches so that they can have food for the winter. Gladys and Millie would look for slight disturbances on the ground and they would very carefully open it up and take out the cache of mussu root. Some mice would clean up the roots of little strands of hair before stacking them neatly in a pile. Some would just stuff them every which way. Mice aren’t all the same, just like people. Then, instead of just taking the mussu root that the mice have gathered for themselves, Gladys and Millie would replace the cache with potatoes, carrots, and celery, then carefully cover back the food cache so the mice would have something to eat for the winter. They trade instead of just take.

How awesome is that?

This kind of kindness shown towards little creatures show how beautiful their connection is to the world around them. I only hope to be more mindful in my ways as well. What a gem it is to meet such people.

Salmon Run

I am currently reading Peter Jenkins’ book, Looking for Alaska. It’s such a fascinating book, and I read it sparingly, in between other books. Sort of like a palate cleanser. I feel strangely refreshed while reading it, and I feel an urge to go out and look up at the sky, feel the breeze on my skin. I love a lot of what I read so far, but my favorite is how he described fishing on a salmon run. I think it’s fascinating how salmon venture out in to the ocean from freshwater, and then they somehow find their way back to the freshwater rivers where they were born. Until now, Ichthyologists still don’t know why salmon do this and how. Unlike salmon raised in fish pens, wild salmon fight their way upstream, back to where they came from. The harder the climb, the more oil their body produces. It’s all very fascinating.

“All these humans with their nets and fast, sleek boats, putting themselves up against what the misinformed think are dumb, small-brained fish. Yet these salmon are able to make their way down from the cold creeks in which they hatched to places of mystery hundreds and hundreds of miles away in the Pacific Ocean, then orient their way back again. A human can’t get from one airport to another in the protective metal skin of a plane without sophisticated electronic navigational devices, often assisted by multimillion-dollar satellites. How do these salmon do it?” ~Peter Jenkins

Materials used:
Parker 75 inked with Troublemaker Inks’ Bantayan Turquoise, Pilot Custom Heritage 92 inked with J. Herbin Lie De The. Tomoe River paper.

Minik

Last week, I was immersed in reading this book about Minik, the New York Eskimo. It was such a sad story, and I’m glad that anthropology (which was at its infancy at that time) has evolved since then, and new laws in the US took effect since the 1990’s. This means that museums need to return skeletal remains on display or in their collection if they are asked for it, and that exhibits shouldn’t contain skeletal remains or religious artifacts anymore. Before all that, though, was Minik and the other five Inuits brought to New York by Robert Peary at the suggestion of the American Museum of Natural History.