Reflection: Abstract ways of thinking about Empire and its Ruins


It’s fascinating to see that the idea of empire is so prevalent within present day society in the smallest ways that I had never even considered. I always thought of empires in a different sense, only thinking of the Roman empire and Latin American empires like the Inca, Aztec, and Mayan empire; pretty much historic and ancient types of empires. And to be honest when I found out that the theme of this yearlong course was going to be Empire and its ruins I thought to myself “ugh, how boring”, simply because of how ancient and irrelevant that idea seemed to me, or at least I thought so because it turned out to be one of the many misconceptions I had of this course.

When looking at the fall lecture schedule and readings I was a bit surprised and reluctant to believe that something like Rousseau and an epic poem like The Aeneid related to empire. But I’ve come to learn that all sorts of genres of literature and film relate to empire in the present day. Having a common theme to tie in universal things is actually pretty stimulating, making me think in depth about the world we live in and how things come about. Instead of just living in it, this course has allowed me to inspect society today and to see beyond what most see and simply live within without realizing. Instead of seeing my life on a superficial level, this course and these blogs made me think of such topics like agency, finding oneself, and the human in its natural state in an abstract way. Literally, at several points during this quarter I felt exactly like my brain felt like it was going some sort of stimulation like the GIF at the beginning of this post shows. 

It has been such an incredible experience looking back and analyzing how much my thinking has developed, and not only that but my writing because I have learned to think outside the box and to expand my horizons. Every single detail in a film, in a piece of writing, and in present-day life has so much more to offer on an intellectual level if we really try to make ourselves aware of them and allow ourselves to go that deep we will eventually get places with it, which is what I have taken away so far from being in the School of Humanities. It’s just a matter of really taking time to take a step back and bringing awareness to yourself about things that affect you daily even in subtle ways.

Empire and its components are everywhere around us, we live in one of the biggest empires in the world today, we are affected greatly by the past and the things that have resulted from them. The American empire and the Anglo-Americans that first began their God-ordained quest to conquer land they were supposed to take over has given me so much to think about; so many great things that resulted from having a wrong and unethical way of thinking. The barbarian way and inferior labels given to people that inhabited this land is the place to start, particularly because of how people within this world have this mentality still today within these borders, an example being President-elect Donald Trump. But all these aggressive ways of doing things and thinking of others all stem from somewhere, there has to be a starting point and I really do believe that it comes from places that Rousseau discusses in his discourse. This is where texts and readings from this quarter come into play significantly, because an idea and theme from one ties and leads up a connection and epiphany of the other; in other words they have helped me understand the other in a more abstract way–the abstract idea of barriers and borders.

Personally, even though Rousseau was a bit of a pessimist and contradicted a lot of what he said I agree with him in a sense that society corrupts us and the peaceful manner in which we are supposed to live in accordance with nature and amongst ourselves. So much greed and thinking of oneself in a superior manner brings about many problems to the world and mankind altogether, some which are evident in all aspects of readings we have done like in the world of The Aeneid, Edward Said’s Orientalism, and even today in America. Without the integration of texts like these I would have certainly not have had a holistic understanding of how things like Manifest Destiny and that which has resulted from it came to be, which has greatly impacted my way of thinking. One idea leads and opens up different interpretations of another, ultimately serving as a gateway to understanding and writing about this world on an honest and intimate level.

  GIF: Psychedelic Experience of the Brain 


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