Philosophers, scientists, religious leaders and other thinkers alike have grappled with the question of what makes a man. While opinion is divided on the nature of a man, no definite answer has emerged with any arguments facing rebuttal. Anis Mojgani in his poem For Those Who Can Ride in an Airplane For the First Time explores the question of identity and through self-evaluation and questioning, attempts to find out who he is as a man. However, Mojgani fails to arrive at a meaningful conclusion even after turning to God. In this poem, Anis Mojganis central point revolves around the modern man in the world today. The poem describes how the society including the media has self-definitions of what a man should be. He argues that the society today defines a man in relation to his integrity, morals and virtues (Anis). This poem points out where the society goes wrong when setting specific definitions for a man. He instead argues that one's character is important in defining a man rather than ignorant models the society sets.
The poem also talks about the difficulties a man in a society goes through to identify themselves. The society and the media today have shifted priorities from individuals to objects. For example, the poem states that today the tabloid is used to measure one's ego. He adds with the Afghanistan war that places much importance on oil over the life of people (Anis).
Identity is a critical aspect of an individuals life since understanding ones identity is an important aspect in determining how we relate to the world. However, when an individual doubts their identity, identity crisis can take place. As Morales observes, doubting ones identity makes people the fundamental aspects of their existence (8). Similarly, Alice Roberts echoes the sentiments put forward by Morales. Roberts argues that identity crisis shakes an individual to their core and makes them question their reason for existence (11). However, the poem shows that the society is misleading people in the standards they set to define people. It also points out that the world today does not value peoples character. As long as one identifies with the world definition of a man, then one is acceptable. Anis does not leave out the fact that society does not encourage a man to be who they are but stifle ones individuality. Anis uses his argument to expose the negative influence culture in the society today. The poem targets the media and the society to acknowledge that they have failed when it comes to the definition of man in todays world.
Anis also articulately points out to them how they have successfully managed to confuse people by setting pre-constructs that define people. This poem also addresses the youth in the society by identifying the struggles they face when they try to define themselves in the society (Anis). They are faced with a dilemma about choosing to be oneself or rather fit in with the societys idea of what is acceptable. A pattern emerges that alludes to the fact that questioning ones identity affects an individual to their roots. John Henrik Clarkes experience show the search for identity begins when one tries to understand the world around them. While Anis Mojgani in his poem faces identity crisis as an adult, many people experience it as adolescents when they try to fit into the world (Boudon 28). An identity is essential to understanding the world too (Carlsburg 646). Howard (30) argues that understanding ones identity enables one to be at peace with their environment.
Anis Mojgani uses spoken word to craft his argument to reach his audience. Mojgani uses spoken word to express his arguments as it is a platform that allows him to be free and express his ideas without having to be limited by the constraints of the society. Spoken word also establishes a primary connection ground with the audience. A poet here is free to elicit all their emotions and engage that of the audience too. This way through observation, the audience is able to personally connect with the message and reflect on how this message affects them. People remember messages that are presented to them in person rather than what they read and Anis chooses spoken word to effectively deliver the message.
According to this poem, my interpretation lies on the double standards set by the society. A society is defined as a group of people held together by common norms and beliefs. It should pride itself in defining people through their integrity morals and virtues as Anis Mojgani states in the poem. The society should strive to uphold these beliefs but according to Anis, the society is trying to stifle beliefs people have. He uses metaphors by describing how society today compares beliefs to nap, meaning that they bare temporary and one can wake up from them to create their own reality. Mojgani also uses practical common examples to show how the social order is negatively influencing a mans definition. For example, Anis in the poem says that the society definition of a man is having a six-pack, driving tanks and being movie stars.
In his performance, Anis constantly uses repetition of the phrase what a man means to bring out his main point. This phrase helps me come to this interpretation. He uses this phrase to draw attention to the differences between his understanding of a man and that presented to him by the society. The poem encompasses personal experiences that seek to empathize with that of the audience. For example, he starts the poem by saying that he is thirty years old and but still struggles to figure out what being a man means (Anis). He goes on to remember his childhood days what wanted to be when he grew up but now that he is grown he has not achieved his dreams. In addition, he is still in a dilemma of what he is supposed to embrace as a definition for himself, he wonders if he should accept what the society wants him to be or to carry on with his childhood beliefs about the definition of a man. All these instances in the poem helped me come with the interpretation of the society having a negative influence on beliefs and definitions of what being a man is all about.
Identity is an integral aspect of an individuals life. Without an understanding of identity, it is not possible to understand the environment. This is because identity provides a base to view the world from. Identity puts things around an individual in perspective. Without an identity, individuals would not be in a position to understand or relate to their surroundings.
Anis, Mojgani. "For Those Who Can Still Ride An Airplane For The First Time". Vimeo,
2010, https://vimeo.com/9526797. Accessed on 2 February 2017
Anis, Mojgani. "For Those Who Can Still Ride In An Airplane For The First Time (Aka
Quentin)". Genius, 2013, https://genius.com/Anis-mojgani-for-those-who-can-stillride-
in-an-airplane-for-the-first-time-aka-quentin-annotated. Accessed on 2 February
Boudon, Raymond. "European Sociology: The Identity Lost?" Sociology in Europe, vol. 22, 1993, pp. 27-44.
Carlsburg, Gerd-Bodo von. "Children in Search of Identity." Bildungswissenschaft auf der Suche nach globaler Identitat- Educational Sciences in Search of Global Identity, 2013, p. 646.Howard, Alex. "In Search of Self Counselling and Identity." Counselling and Identity, vol. 5, 2005, pp. 29-61.
John Henrik Clarke .A Search for Identity." Social Casework, vol. 51, no. 5 (May 1970): 259-
Morales, Ed. Living in Spanglish: The Search for a Latino Identity in America. St. Martin's
Griffin, 2003.Roberts, Alice M. The Celts: Search for a Civilization. Heron Books, 2015.
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