Monday, October 23, 2017

The City of the Sun: Exploration in Utopian Literature

     The City of the Sun, by Tommaso Campanella, is an essential early utopian political, religious, philosophical and prose dialogue written after the author’s imprisonment during the Inquisition for heresy and free speech in 1602. Inspired by Plato’s Republic, The City of the Sun is a conversation between a grandmaster of the knights and a sea captain. Campanella, of the Dominican Order, was educated in medieval fashions. Logic and revelation defined the pathway to truth, yet Campanella revolted against absolutes. The City of the Sun signifies a shift in thought from old to new in direct relation to the suffering the author experienced due to his religious and political ideals. This utopian work means to reflect an order where freethinking individuals can flourish, a theocratic society, where goods, services, women, and children are equal.

     The story begins when the grandmaster questions the captain and the captain speaks of “the City of the Sun”, a utopian state from whence he came. The first dystopian themes appear when the captain states, “I came upon a large crowd of men and armed women.” (Campanella, The City of the Sun).  Secondly, when the sailor describes the city, he reiterates how secure it is. “. . . so that he who wishes to capture that city must, as it were, storm it seven times” and continues with “ . . . I think that not even the first wall could be occupied, so thick are the earthworks and so well fortified is it with breastworks, towers, guns, and ditches.” (Campanella, The City of the Sun).  

     Utopia signifies ideal perfection, a society that incorporates social improvement and political perfection where equality and peace exist, a community that embodies simple states of happiness and fulfillment. Yet the captain describes to the grandmaster a dystopian world, one where people are armed. The fashion the city is built describes a modern day military complex. This “utopian” city is not a welcoming place. One must bombard it in order to enter much like current oppressive societies, war, and revolution. 

     Furthermore, a main ruler, as well as various rulers for diverse subjects, is in place in this “supposed” utopian city, “The great ruler among them is a priest whom they call by the name Hoh, though we should call him Metaphysic. He is head over all, in temporal and spiritual matters, and all business and lawsuits are settled by him, as the supreme authority.” (Campanella, The City of the Sun). The captain continues to relate to the grandmaster how the ruler, Hoh, is responsible for all matters relating to war and the military arts, attending to all aspects of ruling in a “warlike” nature. There are soldiers, munitions, military planning, and armories. There is mention of hate towards a sordid legislator under Hoh.

     While love claims to be the foremost ruler in charge of this city and race of people, everything regarding breeding, marriage, education of children, medicine, agriculture, food, clothing, and sexual intercourse requires governing. In addition, along with Hoh, three separate rulers are responsible for the crux of decisions that affect this community. “Metaphysic, then, with these three rulers, manages all the above-named matters, and even by himself alone nothing is done; all business is discharged by the four together . . .” (Campanella, The City of the Sun).

     This “City of the Sun” is far more dystopian in nature than utopian. This not only mimics our current state of government, but of an even further “right” and “left” government that we currently do not have. This city replicates a combination of medieval society with a strictly political and religious governing body. Equality is not mentioned, only rulers, ruling, and supreme decisions made by four people, not by the citizens, of the people, for the people and by the people, but by four people. Considering the publication of The City of the Sun, 1602, during the Inquisition, it is understandable how the current state of the world was desirable, however, from the perspective of 2017, this “utopia” is far too close, if not worse, than what exists. 

Works Cited
     Campanella, Tommaso. The City of the Sun. 1602. EBook release 2009. Last updated 2013. (  


Friday, October 20, 2017

"il caffé" in Helen: A Literary Magazine

Thank you to Helen: A Literary Magazine
for publishing my flash fiction in their Fall 2017 Issue. 

You can check that out > HERE.

il caffé

by Susan Marie

Her name was Juliana.

I met her in a coffeehouse ducking out of an icy New York rainfall. I didn’t notice her at first.  She is that type of woman, alone, in a dark corner, mysterious. I didn’t plan to stay long, wished to grab a cappuccino and get back to my apartment to relax.

I made the last payment on my Jeep and desperately needed to slip out of my work clothes. Credit card in hand, I walked over to Zeke, owner of the café, to inquire about a part-time job opening as a barista.

That was when Juliana noticed me.

All it took was a slight turn of my head, our eyes met, and I was blinded.  Everything around us faded into background. The only sound, my blood, pumping, sending oxygen to my cheeks, rising, ripe as apples in October.

She motioned to me and I nodded. I slung my leather backpack on one shoulder and held my books under the other arm trying to juggle my coffee.  She stood up to help me, smiling as she approached.  She had the softest brown eyes I ever saw.

I could stare into them forever.  That evening, I did.

She spoke, introducing herself.  I studied each strand of her mane, that of a thoroughbred, wild and shining.  It was just past shoulder length, straight and black, and she kept waving it away from her eyes.

She was painfully adorable.

Juliana asked if I had any plans for the evening. I shook my head no. She took my hand, in silence, leading me out of the café.

I opened the passenger door for her. She slid into the Jeep I now owned. I somehow knew a drive along Route 5 along Lake Erie would be a reprieve from the dankness of this day.

She popped a CD in the player and sang as I drove. Tilting my chin upward, I glanced towards her out of the corner of my eye.  Silence gathered in sultry air.  We both recognized that stare.  

In that moment, I was falling in love with a complete stranger. 

Join My Goodreads Giveaway For My 2017 Book "Shahada"

This book is available now in print @ $11.95 
and Kindle @ $4.99 on Amazon >  HERE 
Please join my Goodreads Giveaway for a free print signed version >  HERE  

I am thrilled to announce my second book of poetry published on August 31. 2017, titled, Shahada
Shahada is a noun meaning, To observe, witness, testify. 
This is a volume of pure stream of consciousness, poetry derived from years of talking with the world, myself, the human condition, based upon existentialism, raw sexuality, passion, the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine, Mother Earth, Father Sky, wind, water, wood, metal and fire. 
The art of survival in a time of dying.

These words are a result of years of paying attention to my intuition, to absolute stream of consciousness, to being alive, aware, mindful and grateful for all that is.

Please support me in gifting another words from a most open and grateful heart.

I promise you will NOT be disappointed. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Approach

Bronfenbrenner's Bioecological Approach

The developmental theories presented, Urie Bronfenbrenner's bioecological approach and Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory on development, will compare with my own life experience to assist with the integration of developmental perspectives and theories. My argument is (1) To present a basic understanding of Urie Bronfenbrenner's bioecological approach to development.  (2) To integrate Urie’s model, along with Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory on development that relates to my own childhood experience.

 [Keywords: Vygotsky, developmental theory, bioecological approach, childhood development].

"The bioecological model, introduced by Uri Bronfenbrenner, is a theoretical approach that focuses on human development from a gene-environment perspective. Urie discovered, after his original theory, the ecological systems theory, that areas of human development were overlooked regarding environmental factors. Bronfenbrenner saw this theory as a “lifespan” approach, meaning it affects children and adults. The emphasis of this model highlights the crucial aspects of not only the individual, but also the environment one is raised in, “The bioecological approach suggest that five levels of the environment simultaneously influence individuals.” (Feldman, 2011).

Microsystem, the first level of the bioecological model involves the immediate environment. For example, when I was five years old, my family consisted of my three older sisters, ages ten, twelve and fifteen, my mother, my uncle, my biological father, my stepfather, two dogs and a few cats. We were happy enough, considering we were lower middle class financially. My uncle that lived with us was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. My mother was an alcoholic, as well as my stepfather.  My parents had recently separated after twenty-two years of marriage. We had no idea my parents were separating. One day, my Father just left. My stepfather became my new father. He was an outstanding human being even though he was an alcoholic, which did not intrude on raising us.

My biological father was not a nice man so his leaving was not that much of a loss to me. I was just confused as to why he left because that was never explained to me. My uncle was severely ill and that was extremely difficult to deal with along with my mother’s alcoholism. The adults all worked full time. Healthy communication in my family was nonexistent. I attended an extremely strict Catholic school; my first teacher was Sister Mary Laurana, who was loving and understanding.  She passed away the same year she taught me. Our community was supportive and family oriented, no one was perfect, and everyone struggled in some fashion. It is in this level that most of child development ensues. 

, the second level, are similar to links on a chain, meaning connecting parts of the microsystem together. For example, my mother was always friendly except for when she drank. That was like existing with two completely different people, a nice one and a nasty one. My father was always distant; he never checked on us or cared for us emotionally or financially after he left. Even when my father lived with us, he was always someone to be feared and emotionally distant. There was no hugging or words of encouragement, only punishment or fighting regarding my parents. My schizophrenic uncle and my alcoholic stepfather were the adults that showed us love, ironically.

My biological parents did not interact with teachers at my school or helped with my schoolwork. Our community was exceptionally supportive of the school and parish. Our house was always full of people. My mother, uncle, stepfather and sisters constantly had friends over. It is in this level where direct and indirect behaviors of family members to one another and family to community exist. 

Exosystem, the third level, maintains influences such as societal intuitions, government, places of faith, school and work. This level affects both the microsystem and mesosystem. For example, both of my parents worked full time, as well as my uncle. My mother and uncle both worked at Mercy Hospital and my stepfather worked at Republic Steele. We did not take any family vacations. There never seemed to be enough time or money to do these things even though there were three full time working adults in the household. We would take short trips like going to the park or the beach. We had one vehicle but only for a short time. Our school was supportive yet extremely strict.

It was around this time, shortly after my parents separated, that they divorced. It is in this level that qualities such as the educational system, media, religious affiliations, and society in general have a greater impact on a child’s long-term cognitive development. 

Macrosystem, the fourth level, is about cultural affiliations and influences. Ethics, morals, values and mores are parts of the macrosystem. For example, my family consisted of mostly Irish ethnicity, half German, and American raised in the Catholic faith. My family was middle to lower middle class. The year was 1976, the bicentennial. Gerald Ford was the current United States President and was almost assassinated by Sara Jane Moore, who was caught and sentenced to prison.

This year, the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution for Palestine as a free state, Steve Jobs formed Apple and Patty Hearst was sentenced to prison. In addition, this year, Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford as President of the United Sates. As a part of culture, things that occur in society affect the individual. The value placed upon things that happen in a specific group of people affect the values of those living in that culture. 

Chronosystem, the fifth level, combines all previous levels of the bioecological theory. This stage includes global events and gradual changes that affect someone over time. During this time, more women worked, women’s rights were prominent in society, protesting was still a part of society that included homosexual, African American and Native Indian rights. The face of television changed and shows represented more true to life scenarios.

There were more single working parent households, higher divorce rates and more crime. Reflecting upon each level of development, in addition to my own experience added as examples, I am able to observe how all of these levels added together affected me gradually. A solitary experience did not drastically change me; all of the issues challenged me later in adulthood. 

One developmental theory that applies along with Urie’s bioecological model and my own experience at age five is Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory on development. This theory supports Urie’s bioecological model involving the environment one is raised in, as well as the role of society in general, “. . . a full understanding of development was impossible without taking into account the culture in which people develop.” (Feldman, 2011).  This includes cognitive development due to social and cultural relations.

In my own experience, applying the bioecological model, it is plain to see that every stage of development affected me whether that was familial, societal, institutional or global. In my late 20’s, I was diagnosed with panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. By utilizing each level of the bioecological theory, keeping in mind, Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, it is obvious as to why gradually, as an adult, the experiences of my childhood emotionally and mentally surfaced.

I have since overcome these difficulties, yet Urie Bronfenbrenner's bioecological approach to development plainly relays to me the “what, when, where, how and why” of my own cognitive and human development from a five year old to a twenty eight year old. From an anthropological perspective, “the bioecological approach is of considerable importance to child development, suggesting as it does the multiple levels at which the environment affects the children’s development.”  (Feldman, 2011).

Feldman, Robert S. (2017). Development Across the Life Span. Chapter 1.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Republic and Paradigmatic Shift

The Republic and Paradigmatic Shift

The first Utopian work, 360 B.C., from Greece, is Plato’s Socratic dialog, The Republic. This text focuses on a society that is equal for everyone. Ten books within this ongoing philosophical debate alternately discuss social and governmental structuring along with legislation and resource distribution necessary to sustain a society. Initial comprehension of The Republic at first is dystopian in nature. Presented are strict class systems, referrals to slavery, and veneration of kings. However, one must realize that to our present existence, in relation to this ancient world, 360 B.C., Plato’s belief is radical idealism.
Morality and ethics play an immense role in the formation of Utopian societies and in The Republic, justice is of utmost consideration. Robin Waterfield, editor of the Oxford World's Classics edition of Plato's Republic, states via video, “Plato did not write philosophy like a dry text book, he wrote it like a living conversation . . . Plato asks this absolutely, fundamental question, “Why should we bother to be good?”. . . He [Plato] asks the question, “What is justice?”
The brilliance of paradigmatic shifts is numerous. For example, in Book I of The Republic, during conversations between Socrates, Polemarchus, Cephalus and Thrasymachus, starting with, “And a just person is good?”, Socrates examines and refutes each conversationalist with another equally essential question leading up to a final answer that not everyone agrees with. This mode of truth leads to sabotage because Thrasymachus repeatedly attempts to take over the conversation, yet is restrained. Eventually, Thrasymachus attacks all speakers with rage by roaring, “What nonsense have you two been talking, Socrates? Why do you act like idiots by giving way to one another?” (Plato. Complete Works. The Republic. Book I. Page 981).

A second paradigmatic shift occurs within the same question, “And a just person is good?” Most speakers answer with a resounding, yes. Socrates asks another question to their answer, again a “what if this?” question leads to yet another scenario. Essentially, every answer leads to another question that leads to another answer than what was originally thought. In turn, the minor change in thought leads to an entirely new world. The worlds that can be created via Plato are endless. It all depends on the perception of the individual.
In conversations between Socrates and Glaucon, the utilization of satire in this dialog is for the sole purpose of shaming current ideals about inequalities into improvement starting with, “the only difference between them [men and women], is that the males are stronger and the females weaker.” (Claeys, Gregory, Sargent, Lyman Tower. (1999). The Utopia Reader. Chapter 2. Page 27). The dialog then continues to ask questions to answers to prove that men and women are equal and share responsibilities and passions.
In conclusion, Plato examined Utopia and justice by posing hypotheticals and questioning rationales normal to his time in order to cause people to think, more importantly, to allow people to decide for themselves how they need to be thinking first, followed by action. As Plato's best-known work, as well as the world’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory, The Republic teaches us that our perception enables the creation of our existence.


Plato. (2008). The Republic. The Project Gutenberg EBook of Plato's Republic, by Plato

Plato. (1997). The Republic. Complete Works. 

Claeys, Gregory, Sargent, Lyman Tower. (1999). The Utopia Reader. Chapter 2. Pages 27-56. 

Waterfield, Robin. (2011). Why Read Plato's "Republic"? Oxford University Press.