Category Archives: Commonplace Book


The painting that I am writing about for this weeks commonplace is a very famous painting from one of my all time favorite painters. This is titled “nighthawks” by Edward Hopper. The first thing to notice when looking at this painting is the diner. The thing that hopper was famous for was the way he painted his windows; or lack thereof. Hopper never painted glass, it was always just assumed to be there. This is very prominent in this image. The dinner consists of a large curved glass wall, yet you can’t actually see the glass. It’s like the glass isn’t actually there. This is done to show the relationship between the subject and their surroundings. Here we can look at the people as the subjects or even the diner itself as a subject. We see a lit up diner in the middle of a lights out, empty street. This painting was done right around the time of pearl harbor, where the U.S would have blackout drills. Everyone would turn off their lights and close their blinds in case there as another bombing. So maybe hopper wanted to show the fearlessness of these people in the middle of maybe one of these blackout drills. 

Commonplace 12

The image that I am writing about for this weeks commonplace is a painting by René Magritte. This painting is titled “The Son of Man”. There are many speculations regarding this painting including the man’s relationship to water and any religious affiliations. However, I believe that this painting shares similar ideologies to the painting I wrote about in last weeks commonplace. Magritte liked to challenge the idea of identity and viewer’s relationship to something they assume to be a fact. In this painting, viewers assume there to be a man’s face under the apple. But because this is a painting the only thing there is a painting of an apple. There is no mans face painted under the apple. That’s just what we assume. Just like we assume the word apple to represent a physical apple. We assume there to be a face under the apple here. Magritte liked the idea that language assumed hierarchy. That the word apple is greater than the apple itself. An apple would never be an apple without its label. This painting is almost a visual representation of that idea. That assumptions are even made visually, not only verbally.  

Commonplace 11


The commonplace image that I am choosing to write about today is a painting by René Magritte titled “ Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. The painting consists of a pipe, and the words written underneath. In english, this french sentences translates to “ This is not a pipe”. This image is a from a collection of Magritte’s “treachery of images”. The treachery of images is a collection of paintings that all convey a similar message. Magritte is arguing that, us as a society, tack on and assume words and physical objects are the same thing. We assume the material object of a pipe and the word pipe are the same thing. Magritte is playing with the concept that meaning and thing have no relationship. Almost like the word is merely a shadow of the thing it’s representing. This philosophy parallels plato with his philosophy of the cave. Where the people in the cave see the shadows of the passerby’s as the real thing because that’s all they know. But when set free from the cave, they soon come to realize that the shadows they were seeing were a smaller fraction of a larger picture, and that the relationship between thing and the representation of the thing are two very different things. This painting is merely exemplifying that philosophy saying that a pipe and the word pipe aren’t the same thing.

Commonplace 9

The quote that I am going to be analyzing is from Plato’s Apology, spoken from the perspective of Socrates.


All I know is that I know nothing.”


This quote was said by socrates during his time on trial. At the time, socrates was being tried for corrupting the youth and taking power away from the gods and government at the time. On a shallow level, this qoute could be read as himself pleading not guilty. Socrates could just be claiming that he has no knowledge of him corrupting the youth, or perhaps he had no intention of disrupting the powers that be at this time. However, philosophers at this time had a very humble opinion of themselves. Even Though socrates was a teacher of the sort, he claimed he knew nothing. All philosophers for that matter claimed they knew nothing, and their purpose was to discover the truth and enlighten themselves. They were by no means dumb, but they also were nowhere near knowing the answers. The word philosopher actually means wisdom seeker. The whole point of a philosopher is to discover more wisdom and the truth. Furthermore, when socrates says all he knows is that he knows nothing, he is in fact saying that the nothing that he knows in something. The possession of the idea of nothing is a achievement for a philosopher. Because they know nothing, it opens up the opportunity to know more.


Commonplace 8

The text that I am going to be talking about today is a rap song by the rap group the Flatbush zombies titled “ Amerikkkan pie”


“That fear a black man with tattoos and bandanas

But when a white man wear tattoos and bandanas

And joins a biker gang it’s all cool where the balance?

Hate my black flesh, bet you’re mad that I came up

You cannot change, rearrange my chemical make-up”


This is a very interesting song, quite to the point. First off, the title of the song reads “ Amerikkkan pie” The way that I read this title is both a play on words as well as a metaphor. American pie could first off be read as a symbol of America as a whole, giving off a the connotation of a perfect utopian society. When one thinks of an American pie, a favorite dessert of the country, they think of red, white and blue and  flawless patriotic country. Spelling American with three K’s foreshadows the racism that is present in american today as well as taints the perfect image of an american pie. The phrase Amerikkkan pie both symbolizes perfect America as well as tainting the american dream with racism. The rapper Meechy darko speaks on the double standard that is present in the united states. He raises the question of why society okay with white men in biker gangs when a black man in a regular gang causes more conflict, where the only changed variable in this situation is the difference in skin color. The next two lines illustrate that he, Meechy Darko, is black and that fact is unchangeable. Him being black is just as out of his control as a white individual’s skin color is. There should be no reason for society to discriminate against merely a color.  

Failure is Great

Commonplace 7

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Beckett)

Here, I believe that Beckett is speaking about the beauty of failure and how it is a crucial step in growth and progress. He first starts by asking if you’ve ever tried. Trying implies that you have an urge to get somewhere, you have to make a journey before you can get to your destination. The question of if one has tried asks “ have you attempted to make a journey?” The word better in the phrase “ fail better” undermines the preconceived idea that failure is a negative thing. Failure is a good thing, and the more you do it the more aware you are of your wrong doings, making the the sum of your failures equivalent to a solution. This sentence structure consists of multiple short sentences without a subject. This shows the ambiguity of the sentence in regards to who its refering to and as to what it is referring to. This could be talking to anyone and about anything. We read this sentence more as a fact or a statement. I don’t hear any voice or tone.

Commonplace 6

Commonplace 6

The quote that I am going to be talking about is an excerpt from the screenplay of Whiplash. Whiplash is a movie released in 2014 and stars J.K Simmons and Miles Teller. The movies screenplay was written by and Directed by Damien Chazelle. After the student, Andrew, was kicked out of school for getting into a physical altercation with his music teacher for being too hard of a teacher and showing tough love, this quote was spoken by J.K Simmons.  

“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.”

I feel that this quote captures not only the personality and motives of Jk Simmons as a music instructor, but it also encompases the over all tone of the movie. Throughout the whole move, Simmons is a very verbally abusive, stubborn and strict music teacher. He never praises anyone for doing anything correct and he picks on every little aspect of their performance that was flawed even the slightest bit. This is because he believes the moment he tells anyone they’ve done a good job, he feels that he’s telling them that they’ve reached the peak of their performance, when in reality there is always room for improvement. This mentality was foreshadowed when Simmons speaks to Teller before his audition telling him to try his best. He uses this quote to describe it.

 “charlie parker became ‘the bird’ because joe jonas threw a cymbal at his head”


The Allegory of the Cave

For this commonplace I am going to be taking a look at Plato’s The Republic, more specifically the section regarding the allegory of the cave.

How could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads”

To give context to this quote, the way the allegory of the cave goes is that there are three prisoners chained up in a cave with a fire burning in front of them. The shadows casted on the wall in front of them was the only sense of reality that they ever have known. Sooner or later of of the prisoners breaks free and escapes the cave, seeing the world for what it really is. After being blinded by the sunlight, he returns back to the cave to tell the other two prisoners what he witnessed. The other prisoners think he’s crazy, not deviating from the only truth they know for such a radical alternative.

This quote highlights how trapped and hopeless the prisoners are. In a metaphoric sense, how trapped and hopeless the greater population is, living in ignorance and not making efforts to look beyond what they know. “ never allowed to move their heads” encaptures how the greater population ( not philosophers) are so controlled and given such a narrow point of view by the government.  Socrates and Plato mean two things by this analogy. They first believe that this is how it feels to be a philosopher. Philosophers are always seeking and discovering new truth that the rest of the world, governments and pre existing social standards don’t understand.  I feel that this is how socrates felt as he was sentenced to death for “ corrupting the youth”. In socrates mind, he was just trying to expose the truth to the ignorant, trapped and hopeless individuals who are scared of difference and change.

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For this weeks commonplace I am going to be talking about the lyrics from Kanye West’s song “Blood on the leaves”

“I throw these Maybach keys

I wear my heart on the sleeve

I know that we the new slaves

I see the blood on the leaves

I see the blood on the leaves

I see the blood on the leaves

I know that we the new slaves

I see the blood on the leaves

They throwin’ hate at me

Want me to stay at ease

Fuck you and your corporation

Y’all niggas can’t control me” (West verse 1)

I find this song to be one of West’s’ best songs for multiple reasons. Not only is the production amazing, with the organ type synths along with the melodic simplistic quarter notes scattered throughout the song, but also, the song contrasts and juxtaposes the relationship between the old slaves and the new modern day slaves. Here Kanye is referring to the fashion world, making consumers slaves to the brand name. In these lyrics, Kanye gives the example of the luxurious car, Maybach, and the luxurious clothing line,Comme des Garçons

, trademarked by their red heat logo. What I find interesting about Kanyes point of view in this song is that he acknowledges the fact that he is a slave to the cooperation. “ I know that we the new slaves” and “ I wear the heart on my sleeves” both demonstrate kanye’s understanding that he is part of the problem of the modern day slavery, however later in the verse he states “ fuck you and your cooperation”. Therefore, even though he sees this as a problem, he is still subject to the appeal of the clothing. “ I see the blood on the leaves” this lyric not only refers to slavery as a whole, but also is an homage to another song on his album that has its only political and social undertones. This album is a masterpiece made up of masterpieces.


Born In The USA

For this commonplace, I am choosing to write about the song “ Born In the U.S.A” by bruce springsteen.

“ Got in a little hometown jam

So they put a rifle in my hand

Sent me off to a foreign land

To go and kill the yellow man”

From first glance, this song seems like a patriotic song about guns and America. However, when you dive deeper into the lyrics, I soon realized that this song was satirical. In this excerpt, the lyrics talk about how America forced the speaker into fighting a race oriented war due to legal troubles that he faced back home. Addressing the government as “they” implies the impersonal and almost negative relationship the speaker has with the government. In addition to this, springsteen words his lyrics in a way that makes it seem like he’s being forced to war against his will. Using statements like “ Sent me off” and “ to go and kill”. These statements don’t seem voluntary. Painting a negative and flawed government system that America holds.