Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black Rainbow: What lies at the end?

Loyola University Maryland. Baltimore City. That had been the extent of my knowledge of anything that had to do with Loyola or Baltimore. As a senior in high school in Cleveland, Ohio, my major concern at the time was looking for the right fit at the collegiate level. That meant determining where I could nurture myself and allow myself to discover the inside, uncharted territories.

My first step in discernment was visiting these schools and learning more about them. At every school, the same feeling overcame me. I did not belong here. I could not discover myself. I then stumbled upon Loyola and this is where the journey of self-discovery begins.

My college counselor told me of Loyola as an option. He felt that it would be a perfect fit for me. I started reading all the literature and “testimonies” for Loyola. I was interested but completely unsure. I went on the visit and really felt at home. I felt that this was the place that I would be able to learn who I was. I would be able to journey myself.

Fast forwarding summer orientation and freshman orientation, I find this narrative in the heap of freshman housing in Apartment style at Campion Tower. I was living with males from the East Coast. Keep in mind; I am nothing but a Midwesterner. And to be honest and straightforward, there is a difference between people in the Midwest and the East Coast. As I observed, a majority of East Coasters really don’t like interacting with by standers in the street or even in the grocery store. That is apart from campus and faculty and staff at Loyola. I made this observation when I was out in Baltimore City going to M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens vs. Browns game. I was having a hard time getting there and when I asked someone for direction they told me, “[Expletive] off.” It was a bit of an adjustment but it was something that I could totally do. But I think being a Midwesterner made discovering who I was even more imperative. Being unable to relate to my other roommates and practically, half my floor, forced me to go out and just explore the world around me and determine who was the person inside Anthony Santiago and what can he make of the world he is in.

Starting from the outside trying to get into the inner circle could potentially be easier than leaving a clan or group to discover a new one. As a freshman, it was even easier since Loyola set up so many programs to discover your niche and run wild with it. The opportunities were there. All that needed to be done was really follow your set directions and get to your end. And so I did. I went to as many clubs and meetings as possible. I visited ADAPT, College Republicans, and so much more. I tried community service. It wasn’t until my FE100 class that I determined what would be my world, what would be the place that holds the key to unlocking my identity. I was blessed to have John Devecka as my instructor who happens to be presently the moderator of WLOY, Loyola’s Radio station. He helped me start DJ’ing and have my own sports talk show. He started me off with a half hour show and then bumped me up to an hour when the time was right. While being at the station, I felt at home with myself. I felt that someone inside of me was unlocked and set free. I connected easily with everyone at the station and picked up on things quickly. I made it to the end of my journey.

Currently, I am the sports director for WLOY. I was offered a job because John saw it was mine from the start. In many ways, Black Rainbow illustrates my story in it. The main character sets out on this journey of self-discovery through puzzles and mazes and only he can find the end of “his game.”

The main character in Black Rainbow is nameless up to the point read for class. He finds himself in a futuristic New Zealand, in which an all-knowing President and his tribunal run the government. The Tribunal is stressed throughout the entire reading to being everyone’s family. We find the character in the very beginning going through his morning routines with his wife, who is also in fact nameless. They are going on a morning run and just discussing normal, morning gibberish. He then goes on to meet with a man named John who escorts him to have hearings with judges on behalf of the tribunal. He tells the panel everything about his life, what makes him, him. Eventually, they say he is fit to be a citizen and they send him on a journey to find his wife and children, following instructions on the way.

First, it is critical to understand why the character is nameless. It seems that the protagonist is on a journey of discovery, as beforehand mentioned. He cannot have a name if he does not in fact realize who he is. Being nameless gives him the opportunities to put on different masks and pretend to be others. An example of this could be found when he finishes talking to the manager about the receptionist and how rude she was to him. He goes on to say that he “felt new, properly attired to suit his new status.” (pg 53) He goes on to say bye to a fictional character, Philip Marlow, and then replaces him with another fictional character like James Bond. He uses these characters to describe him, but can interchange himself with so many that it makes his true personality, his true identity lost and unknown.

The whole game that the character is playing is an image for readers to see how he is traveling to search for his wife but in reality really searching for himself. In a way, his family is his identity. Albert Wendt, the author of Black Rainbow, is saying that family is the mirror image of our identity. The only way that the main character becomes whole again is only when he is reunited with his family. His wife and kids serve as the motivation for him to continue pushing through this “journey.” The same way that I went through different trials to search for my identity, the character follows his instructions, hoping to reach his family and become one with them. As I joined clubs blindly, looking for a connection, the character follows his instructions, not knowing who is hunters are, not knowing what is in store for him or what his next set of instructions will be.

Wendt’s voice exemplifies the character’s self through the style and tone. In the writing, Wendt makes the story run smoothly and quickly. Events happen one right after the other. Being so quick, it causes readers to lose sense of the present moment and what was in the past. Everything gets blurred together simultaneously. At times, the writing style will change. The character will explain some aspects fully in regards to his wife. He will try to build upon points in the characterization of the “masks” that he uses to describe himself. Going back and forth illustrates to readers how he is trucking through territory that can help him learn who he is but also possibly distract him from the truth as is warned by his instructions for the labyrinth club.

As I went on my journey of self-discovery, the character does the same with his instructions. Will he find the truth or, as this book has proven to me as a reader, have a surprise in the end and completely turn everything happening on itself?

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