Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lacks Nothing

Journal No. 2
English 48A
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

I. "This land, in short, lacks nothing to be regarded as blest."

II. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca finds the Americas to have plenty of wealth and richness of culture and fertile soil. He believes that though the native peoples have very little in terms of European standards for riches, they have more than what most people could wish for.

III. Cabeza de Vaca speaks of a land that he has found himself stranded on and of a people with whose customs he is unfamiliar with. Yet, he understands the wealth that lies in the richness of culture and fertile land. While Columbus found no virtues in the Americas, Cabeza de Vaca finds beauty and wealth in spite of all of the troubles that he and his men have been through. While we can not help but be at least a little hesitant in believing the writings from these first explorers of the Americas, it seems that Cabeza de Vaca has the most to lose in championing his cause for a land of which he knows very little. However, Cabeza de Vaca places himself in jeopardy many times by deliberately disagreeing with those above him in great positions of power. Becoming a prisoner for speaking out about his beliefs, Cabeza de Vaca shows that he has not his own best interests in mind, but those of a people who can not stand up for themselves. This is certainly as different a position as you can find from that of Christopher Columbus'.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nothing of Importance

Journal No. 1
English 48A
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Christopher Columbus

I. "They traveled three days' journey and found an infinity of small hamlets and people without number, but nothing of importance."

II. Christopher Columbus is writing to Luis de Santangel about his journeys into the Americas. He has sent two men to search for "a king or great cities" (Columbus 32).

III. Christopher Columbus has been paid by Spanish monarchs to travel to other countries to obtain wealth and riches. Upon his travels, Columbus writes frequently to narrate his journey to his benefactors. During this time, Columbus writes of successes frequently and downplays (or even completely alters) any mishaps. However, as Columbus is writing to his financial supporters, it seems as though his lack of enthuisiasm requires no effort. He seems to flawlessly "act" as though people have no importance and that the only riches are those of monetary value. I may be judging him too quickly and I may be biased due to the revelations of his true "conquests" since the original letters, but I do feel that even as a diplomatic reader, it would be hard not to believe that Columbus feels that the people that his voyage has affected do not matter. Disrupting the lives of countless people and traipsing through their land as though it belongs to you should conjure up a bit of remorse. I sense none in Columbus' letters and don't believe that he truly saw much beyond furthering his own career for the sheer purpose of obtaining more of his own wealth and fame. I understand the value of what he did for the Americas, but I'm not completely sold on the ideals that so many others have placed on him.