Monday, September 20, 2010

Genius lives on, all else is mortal

After traveling to the Walters Art Museum in the Mt. Vernon district of Baltimore, I have come to question things about this city that I haven’t really thought about before, even though I have lived around the Baltimore area for my entire life. Although I am on familiar terms with the fact that within Baltimore City, there is much more diversity than where I live and the fact that within the city there are certain areas that are known as places not to go. But for as long as I have lived here and entering my 3rd year at Loyola, I have not noticed how segregated the city truly is until I took the trip down Charles Street to the Walters Art Museum. It was interesting to see, that from Loyola to the Walters, there was such dramatic changes in some of the areas and surroundings that you could see while going down Charles Street. Starting at Loyola, where most people would consider a relatively nice area compared to other parts of the city, going down through where John Hopkins University is, I noticed that many different types of people were walking and jogging around with complete confidence in their surroundings. The areas from Loyola down to Hopkins and then almost to North Avenue appeared to be nice multicultural areas where everyone is comfortable with their surroundings. But no more than a mile before North Avenue the change in the environment happened. The area was nowhere near as clean and there were not many people walking around and it appeared to be a more predominantly African American area. But then a few more miles down the street you entered Mt. Vernon, Baltimore’s Cultural District. Whose goal was to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood through means such as: investing to improve the physical environment, providing clean and safe streets, attracting residents and businesses, and promoting the unique nature of the neighborhood to the public.
Why was this area, a mile or two north and in between Loyola and Hopkins not as nice of an area? After going through the nice areas where everything from the road to the buildings seemed to be much more clean and intact, then to a much more down graded area, back to a beautiful area, I started to question why areas of Baltimore are like this. Is it on purpose or is it just the way things happened? The same types of things are happening around Loyola, for as everyone knows once you are off campus and travel less than a mile to York Road, the area is nearly the complete opposite of that directly around Loyola. These questions that started to come up in my head made me question what it would take to possibly balance out these areas more, rather than have such dramatic differences in the areas.
While at the Walters Art Museum I spent time in nearly every era and century of art that they had on display. Although I find the different areas of art all interesting in their own ways there was one quote that was written which attracted me the most. It was located in the 17th Century Flemish Collection, in the Collector’s Study. Within the Collector’s Study there were objects that people would collect in the 1600s, such as pocket watches, cocks, vases, fossils, bones, and keys. But the thing that was most interesting that directed me to the quote was that on the desk there was a skull and in the 1600s it was thought that people should keep a skull of a past relative on there desk at all times to remind them of their mortality and it was supposed to implement the idea to essentially live life to its fullest. The quote that intrigued me most was, “Genius lives on, all else is mortal.” This made me think of Cofer’s Common Ground in the sense that she basically tells the story of life and that everyone eventually dies, but she realizes that her family lives on in her and notices her father, mother and grand mother all in herself. Which then led me to think about how past family lives on through those today and how those traditions and cultures pass down from generation to generation. Thus the quote made me feel that genius, relating to more of thoughts and science can also be taken in the sense that it means family and culture also live on, while all else is mortal.
I then on the way back to campus began to wonder if this quote is possibly what is happening within the surrounding areas of Baltimore. While I have been alive I have noticed changes within the city, than that from what I was told it used to be like and what I have noticed personally by myself. It appears lifestyles are changing in Baltimore City and people are trying to help to improve those who live in the less wealthy areas. it made me feel that giving back to the community and helping in anyway possible is the way to allowing the genius in saving Baltimore's less fortunate areas to live on and not allowing Baltimore City to ever become mortal.

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