Starting the quarter I was told repeatedly to drop Humanities Core because of its rigorous workload. Ten weeks later I recommend this class to anyone interested in studying the history of man and how the human evolved into what we are today. I believe to have a similar mindset from fellows-like the Romans, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes- living hundreds of years ago. The intriguing part is that many of their own beliefs are still being followed as of today.
When I saw the painting of The American Progress in lecture it caught my attention because it can be interpreted differently due to the different perspectives. George A. Crofutt asked John Gast to make an image for Crofutt’s western tourist guide. Crofutt wanted,”an illustration of ‘the grand drama of Progress in the civilization, settlement and history of this country.”(Greenburg 149). I can see why it got its name, “The American Progress”. from my interpretation the right side of the painting represents the advancements or “progression” of the Americas. As you move across the painting to the left it shows the “uncivilized” moving west as the land has been taken over with new technology.
Much like Thomas Cole’s: Course of Empire I believe that the American Progress has a course too. Starting from the left to right it would go:
1. New Settlement
2. The Uncivilized
3. Start of Civilization
4. Great Advancements
As the progress continues it is interesting to learn about the very land that we stand on today was the prize in winning a war or just claiming the land for that matter. Watching the movie The Revenant by Alejandro G. Iñárritu made me think about what happened long ago on this land. The outsiders took over the land without hesitation making the natives to leave and/or relocate elsewhere or in a smaller territory. Even after the French claimed and conquered territory the Elk’s Tongue felt as if the French couldn’t share. In the movie, the scene about a business transaction between the French trappers and Elk’s Tongue showed the two perspectives of the ownership of the land.
TOUSSAINT (cont’d) Tell your man no horse.
But Elk’s Tongue isn’t telling his man anything.
TOUSSAINT (cont’d) (to a Trapper) Get him away. I don’t want that animal’s stink on my pony. As the Trapper moves toward the Warrior…
ELK’S TONGUE (in broken French) It’s your smell that covers our land.
…and everyone freezes… because Toussaint and his Men are shocked by Elk’s Tongue’s use of their language. And Elk’s Tongue suddenly seems smarter… more dangerous… especially with the way he’s looking at Toussaint right now.
ELK’S TONGUE (cont’d) (still in French) We take your horses.
In this particular scene there is a hint of John Locke in there. It is fascinating to see the incorporation of the Law of Nature. The Revenant’s setting was explained on Bustle, “the experiences of Glass in Montana and South Dakota in 1823, it also chronicles a fascinating time in history before all orginal 50 states were formed into what we know as the United States of America”(Christine Jun). John Locke is known as the “Father of Liberalism” and also for the Treatises of Government in England. He was born in 1632 and died in 1704 which is about hundred years prior to Hugh Glass’s journey. It shows that the Natives had an idea of how humans should interact fairly with each other. Lecturer Lazo discussed John Locke’s Law of Nature as:
“We are all equal and independent no-one ought to harm anyone else in his life, health, liberty or possessions”(Lazo Hum. Core Lecture).
After Locke died his writings become an inspiration to men such as French Enlightenment writer Voltaire and American founders Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
If we all followed Law of Nature would the world continue to progress? Would it create world peace and restore humanity? Leave a comment of what you believe about the Law of Nature.
Like the angelic figure in The American Progress I will leave my progression and move forward towards new wonders that I believe Humanities Core will bring.
Greenberg, Amy S.; Manifest Destiny and American Territorial Expansion:A Brief History with Documents, 2012