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Mark's section: POV 5

Muni's picture

The original design of Eastern state forced people to really look into themselves and their actions, alone in a cell with nothing to do but explore your own mind allows a person to form a new perspective on themself.

Eastern State seemed more like a place of torture than reform. Solitary confinement can quickly make a person go mad, so I understand why Eastern State had so many problems, especially after getting a short glimpse at what the prisoners experienced.

ESP is an important but also overcelebrated milestone in American history with an interesting and rich history. ESP cells are lonely but also made me realize our own dependence on technology.

I found the cell to be interesting. Due to time constraints, myself and two others sat in the cell at the same time, but we did our best to ignore each other. I meditated for the half hour, found it very relaxing. Found myself annoyed by the little sounds the others made, very annoyed by the passing tours (and, admittedly, amused then they exclaimed about ‘how creepy’ the people in the cell were).

It is a cold penitentiary consisting of 10 cells, which are both better than how I thought it would be, and also worse than my original imagination.

The cell is cold and a little bit smelly. I am afraid and do not want to stay any longer at all. The grey walls around me make me feel lonely and constrained. 

The penitentiary is a record of past horrors, but one whose ghosts have long since fled. 

If I had been truly alone I would have gone crazy like some of the prisoners did, but the people walking by distracted me enough that I could be okay being in the cell--any less than that and I could see how the Quakers expected contemplation on the prisoners’ lives.

Eastern state was a cold, somewhat menacing, but still contemplative, cell, separated from everything.

5 minutes in, I began checking in with my body. I realized I had to pee and was holding lots of things. 10 minutes in, I became worried that I should text my parents to let them know where I was, but I stopped myself. I paced a lot and zoned into my own thinking. I started doing some arm exercises. Different tourists walked into my cell, so I pretended to be interested in random things. I also walked around observing my cell.

Spending only thirty minutes was torture. I can’t even begin to imagine how much the prisoners suffered locked away in isolation and darkness. 

ESP left a haunting feeling with me, even in the brief time I spent alone in the cell I felt scared and isolated, without access to anyone or anything. I realized how terrifying spending time alone with yourself can be, and I cannot imagine how awful this place would have been for the prisoners. 


Prisoners are so close to me--different from the people who were regarded as either docile or uncooperative, they are so real that they still have their own thoughts and emotions.